Storm poised for big fall season
The St. Luke’s Varsity Cross Country team is looking forward to some cooler weather as fall kicks in, but the heat has not hindered the team’s preparations.
Preseason training got underway on Monday, August 20 and head coach Corliss Spencer says the group has been working hard throughout: “We were down at Waveny most of preseason, so we were able to spend a lot the time in the shade when running. It was significantly cooler, so we were able to get a lot done despite the heat.”
As well as putting in the miles on the track, Spencer says the runners have focussed on core strength and yoga to help with injury prevention: “This year we incorporated some yoga into our workouts. It was hugely successful because it was physical yoga and worked the core and upper body and the kids were super receptive.”
The 10-year veteran plans to continue the cross-training throughout the season with St. Luke’s strength and conditioning coach Mr. Havens: “We are trying to work with Mr. Havens on a regular basis to help with injury prevention. Our attendance at preseason has been excellent, and we have managed to make it through the first couple of weeks without any major injuries, which is fantastic.”
This year’s squad will be captained by seniors Carolina Warneryd and Christian Pizzarelli, and Spencer has been impressed with both: “Carolina came back in superb condition and did extremely well in the two preseason races. Christian is also in great shape as he spends most of the summer guiding canoe trips which involve a lot of physical work.”
Spencer has also been encouraged by the leadership shown by her two captains: “They are essentially running the practices as I communicate to them what I want to get done and they try to keep the runners focused. They lead the warm-ups, the cooldowns, and the core exercises. I am also encouraging the runners to communicate with the captains as much as possible. They have done an excellent job so far.”
The team only have three FAA meets this year, down from five, so will compete in the Wilton Invitational, the South Kent Invitational and the Sub Varsity Warrior race before the FAA and New England Championship races.
The annual fun run will again take place at Homecoming on Saturday, October 13 and Spencer would love to see St. Luke’s students, families, faculty, and friends join the team: “We are really going to make this a fun event this year, so we invite everyone to come and join us. It’s a great way to kick off Homecoming and the team is already looking forward to it.”
The St. Luke’s Field Hockey Team welcomes a new Head Coach with a deep connection to St. Luke’s. Seeley Fancher ‘14 played four years of Varsity Field Hockey for the Storm and another four at Skidmore College where she received the Tim Brown Scholar-Athlete Award.
Fancher is happy to be back on the Hilltop and has been very impressed with the group: “It definitely feels different to be back here as the coach but it’s been really great. There are some traditions that have remained on the team which is awesome and the girls work just as hard.”
The new coach has had just three weeks to put her stamp on the team but is confident the players are buying in: “Preseason has been really good despite the heat putting us back a little bit. We have worked through it though and the girls are connecting really well. We have put a real focus on the basics as well as making sure the team chemistry is right.”
Much of the team-bonding exercises and events have been coordinated by the team’s captain Kendall Boege ‘19 and Katherine Pellegrino ‘19 and Fancher is looking for the two seniors to continue showing their leadership qualities: “They have been awesome. Their biggest focus, from day one, was to work on the team dynamics and they have done a great job of getting everyone involved. They are also a great branch between players and coaches and I can really rely on them to relay information to the team. They have high expectations for themselves and each other which I think will really benefit the team."
Fancher is expecting some of her other upperclassmen to play key roles this season. Emma Cropper ‘19 returns in goal and Abby O’Meara ‘20 will play alongside Boege in the midfield: “Emma will be huge for us. She has been keeping us in games so far during the play day and our season opener against Holy Child. She is just so consistent and really uses her voice to hold the defense together. Abby has great stick skills and vision on the field and will be a key piece of our line-up holding down the center.”
There are also some players new to the program who Fancher believes will be important to the team's success this year. Andrea DiTeodoro ‘22 and Macy Millones ‘23 have impressed during the first few weeks and the new coach is excited to see what they can add to the team: "Andrea came back in super great shape and really strong. She has done camps over the break and you can see she has had her stick in her hand the whole summer. Macy is a very good player and is very coachable. She had a seamless transition despite being young and not having played with the group before. She is very versatile and someone we can really rely on.”
The 2018 season looks to be an exciting one for the Storm Field Hockey team and despite an opening day loss to Holy Child and another 0-1 reverse against The King School on Friday, September 7 the team will look to bounce back this week with three games against Kennedy Catholic, Masters, and Hopkins.
Fancher concluded: "Ultimately, I just want the girls to be having fun and working hard. I will never be upset with them if they are giving 100%.”
The St. Luke’s Football team looks to be in great shape heading into the 2018 season with it’s largest roster for many years.
The St. Luke’s Football program continues to put player safety at the forefront and will be wearing the top-ranked helmet in the National Football league as well as continued use of Roger the MVP and other inanimate objects for tackling purposes.
Head Coach Noel Thomas returns for his sixth season in charge of the Storm and has been buoyed by what he has seen during preseason. “The first few weeks have been a great experience. As a team, we are stronger than we have been in a long time and most of the guys came back in great physical condition,” said Thomas.
The team only graduated four seniors so Thomas has many of last year’s group returning as well as a number of new players: “We have six new players on the team as well our freshman class. We have 36 on the roster which is the most we have had during my time here so that gives us a lot more flexibility. We have more of an opportunity to rotate and rest players which should help keep the team healthier.”
Thomas knows the team has some holes to fill with Brendan Casey ‘19 (UConn), Ben Joseph ‘19 (Monmouth), and Shaka Moales ‘19 (Choate) all moving on but is confident he has the players to step into the roles. “Austin Andersen [‘19} is healthy again and he is our defensive catalyst. He is emotional and animated and the whole team feeds off that energy. We also have Christian Haas [‘20] and Frank Intrieri [‘20] who have both played Varsity Football before and have had a seamless transition. Christian is very high-energy and an experienced lineman and Frank has done a really nice job too,” said Thomas.
This year’s squad is captained by Michael Hage ‘19, Shamond Moore ‘19, Juan Rosario ‘19 and Seth Kim ‘19. Thomas is excited by what they will bring to the team. “Shamond will be 100% healthy very soon. He is a playmaker and a vocal leader so I expect him to lead from the front. Juan is a Division one prospect and a prototypical lockdown corner. He is super fast and a huge talent. I’m expecting him to carry a load on both sides of the ball. Seth is very mature and ready to handle leading the team. He’s physical and he’s got the attitude and the personality to be a great leader for us. Michael suffered an unfortunate injury in our first game but he will still be around the team and will have the full support of the St. Luke’s Football family.”
Hage suffered a season-ending injury in the 27-6 win over Rye Country Day School on Saturday with freshman Everett Andersen taking over at quarterback midway through the second quarter. Thomas was impressed with the rookie’s performance. He said, “He already knows most of the playbook and is unflappable. He is up for the challenge and it’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve. I think he’s ready and everyone is rallying behind him. He executed the offense about as well as you could. He was mentally focused and ready to go and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from a young guy in that situation.”
The win at Rye was a fantastic start for a team that went 4-5 last year and the head coach is hopeful that the Storm can turn the tables on a few teams this season. “We are looking for some redemption against a few teams who beat us heavily last year and who will provide our biggest challenge again. King, Capital Prep and Hamden Hall will probably be our toughest three games this season but we’ll be ready,” Thomas said.
St. Luke’s Varsity Football continues its season with another road trip this Saturday to Albany Academy but the head coach saved his last words for Hage. “Losing a senior QB who is a captain and has worked as hard as he ever has done in his life is extremely tough. I appreciate everything Michael has done and I know he will come back stronger. Our hearts are heavy for the fact that he has an extensive injury and I just hope he and his family are okay. We as a Storm Football family are going to do everything we can to support him and each other," said Thomas.
Expectations are always high for the St. Luke’s Girls Varsity Soccer team and the 2018 season is no different.
Despite graduating seven players from last year’s squad the Storm is looking to make another challenge for the FAA title with a number of new additions.
Head coach Dan Clarke returns for his eighth season and is excited by what he has seen so far. “We have a number of new players who have done very well during preseason. Combined with the strength of our returning players we look to be in good shape,” he said.
Julia Lombardo ‘20 and Audrey Magnussen ‘20 are two of the new players who have really impressed in wins against Westhill and Hopkins and Clarke is pleased with how they have settled in. “They both have had seamless transitions into the squad, and I think they will just get better and better as the season goes on. It’s always tough coming into a new environment but they have shown tremendous character and their performances have been excellent,” Clarke said.
The team will be led by Senior captains Sydney Napolitano and India Otero as well as Junior Lea Panagiotidis. Clarke expects the trio to continue to help the new players enjoy the experience and to lead the team on and off the field. “Our three captains have all been around GVS for a long time and I am looking for them to really foster inclusivity and make sure we have great team chemistry. I’m confident they can show great leadership and maintain high standards throughout,” he said.
The Storm opened up the season on Wednesday, September 12, with a comprehensive 5-1 win against The Hopkins School but Clarke was cautious when asked about the team’s chances this year. “We always want to mount a challenge in both the FAA and New England’s but we still have a lot of work to do before even thinking about those things. Wednesday was a great start against a good team but we can’t get carried away as it’s just one game,” he said.
Goals from Panagiotidis (3), Caroline Lau ‘22 (2) gave St. Luke’s an opening-day victory for the first time since 2015 and Clarke heaped praise on his team. “I thought we controlled the game for large periods and looked very dangerous going forward. Defensively we were very solid too and I thought our back four of Ryan Weil (‘21), Jackie Thompson (‘20), Audrey Magnussen and Ellie O’Meara (‘22) were great throughout,” said Clarke.
The team narrowly missed out on a place in the FAA final last year losing in overtime to Greenwich Academy and Clarke expects it to be just as difficult this season. “We know who our biggest challenges will be so it’s about preparing in the right way. We have a lot of talent in this team but talent is not always enough. We have to continue to work hard and take it one game at a time.”
St. Luke’s Boys Varsity Soccer squad heads into the 2018 season with a great deal of optimism. An impressive opening-day victory over Rye Country Day School on Thursday, September 13, has only added to that hope.
Head Coach Ryan Fairhurst returns for his third year with the team and believes preseason has been the best one of his tenure. “Preseason has been excellent. We had 18 of the squad choose to attend an All-Prep School residential camp prior to our first day on campus and that has proven to be very beneficial. The guys had the opportunity to really bond together as well as getting a lot of touches on the ball,” he said.
BVS graduated some key defensive players but Fairhurst is confident he has the athletes to step into those roles. “We lost Ryan Neafsey ('18) who was our starting goalkeeper and one of our captains. Neafsey was a very strong player for us so we are looking for Kenny Lam ('19) or Mack Lemkau ('20) to really step up and take on that responsibility. We also lost an All-State center back in Chase Zammit ('18) but I believe Bear Crystal ('20) and Desmond Pratt ('20) are more than adequate replacements and can fill that void.”
The Storm had scrimmages against Trinity Catholic High School, Darien High School, New Canaan High School, and St. Joseph’s High School before the 2-1 victory over FAA rival Rye. The head coach has been very impressed with his squad. “The returning varsity players have been superb during preseason. They have shown great maturity and athleticism. I feel like we have a very good core of players to build around and help some of the younger players.”
This year’s team will be captained by Lam, CJ Woodberry '19, Phil Platek '20 and Crystal with Fairhurst looking for the quartet to set the tone. “I expect the four of them to drive the standards throughout the season. I’m looking for them to rally the troops when needed and set extremely high standards both on and off the field. I want them to go about things the right way and they have been doing a fantastic job so far,” he said.
Fairhurst believes one of the team’s strengths this year will be their technical ability with a number of the group hoping to play at the next level. “I think the last couple of years we have had to rely more on our athleticism but this year we should be able to keep the ball a lot better because of the number of gifted players we have. Our midfield three of Julien Velez ('20), Landon Bachman ('20) and Max Mitchell ('20) will be very important to us this season. We will be looking to them to get control and dictate the pace of the game.”
Another player who has been in fine form so far is sophomore striker Jake Kavan. Fairhurst hopes he can supply the attacking threat to cause the opposition a lot of problems: “I think we will be leaning on Jake heavily this year. He has a tremendous amount of quality and if he can nurture that into getting a few more goals for the team that will be huge.”
The Storm knows it will have to be at its best in a very competitive league but spirits are very high heading into the campaign. “Hopkins is definitely the favorite again going into the season but King has improved a lot,” Fairhurst said, “Our goal is to make the FAA playoffs and we want to compete in a championship game. We are pushing for that as a group but have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”