Posted Monday, Nov 23, 2015
The career of arguably the best field hockey player in the program's history at Wilbraham & Monson Academy has come to an end.
"My four years at WMA has been unbelievable," Sydney Liptak '16 said. "Everyone has been so willing to help me. I'm thankful to have worked with Coach (Liz) Fontaine and the athletic staff, and I'm thankful for working with all the girls on the team. I couldn't be happier."
Sydney was named the team's MVP at the WMA Athletic Awards Ceremony Nov. 17. It was the second time she's earned the honor.
"I remember meeting Sydney in my classroom during a WMA Fall Open House," Coach Fontaine explained. "I had seen her play in a recreation league game and knew she would be a game-changer for our program.
"Sydney has been a game-changer for us over the last four years. This year she was our leading goal scorer and center back. I can't wait to see where your future takes her."
Sydney, who has been recruited by colleges of all levels, had the ability to dominate a game, and she did so multiple times during her senior year, especially in games played on turf. For the fourth consecutive year, she was selected to play in the league's all-star game.
"Getting the Most Valuable Player Award this year was different than getting it my sophomore year," Sydney explained. "Being a senior captain, I had more responsibility and I looked at the season differently. I'm honored to be named MVP my senior year."
Posted Friday, Nov 20, 2015
The Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys' Basketball team has 28 all-out battles this season, and those battles are about to start.
The Titans open their 2015-16 campaign Nov. 22 against the Canarias Basketball Academy of Spain at the National Prep Tip-Off at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn., at 6:30 p.m.
"My motto for my two years, in explaining to the players how the season will go, is that it's a grind, so they need to embrace the grind," Coach Mike Mannix said. "We play 28 games, and you just have to be ready every game. It's a heck of a schedule. But it's fun."
WMA's trip to the National Prep Tip-Off is just one of many college coach-filled tournaments on the team's schedule. Others include:
- Dec. 5 - Hoop Mountain Showcase in Rhode Island
- Dec. 12 - Thoroughbred Classic in Lexington, Ky.
- Dec. 16-17 - BasketBull Holiday Classic at Holyoke Community College
- Jan. 17 - HoopHall Classic at Springfield College
- Feb. 4-5 – National Prep School Invitational at Rhode Island College
"We're also playing the UPenn junior varsity team at the University of Pennsylvania," Coach Mannix said. "And the trip to Kentucky says a lot – that we're recognized on a national level. "There are only eight teams invited to the event. There are teams from Canada, Texas, California, Florida, I believe from Virginia. We're the only team from New England going to this."
For the most part, those tournaments don't include games against opponents from the AA Conference – a conference that sent approximately 20 players to Division I college basketball programs last season alone.
"The team that beat us in a semifinal last year, Tilton Academy, had four guys graduate and go on to play Division I," Mannix noted.
WMA has its share of Division I talent. Along with University of Kentucky-bound Wenyen Gabriel '16, the majority of the roster is getting looks from Division I schools.
"So many of our guys see they're in position to play in college at a high level," Coach Mannix explained. "What says a lot about our team is the work we've put in away from the court – so many of them are being recruited by selective academic institutions. This fall we had Harvard, Brown, Holy Cross and a handful of NESCAC schools, and a lot of calls from Ivy League schools. That's been nice to see and rewarding for the guys to see that their hard work in the classroom doesn't go unnoticed.
"Of our five juniors and sophomores, four are being recruited by the Ivy League, Patriot League and high-major programs."
Posted Thursday, Nov 19, 2015
With 24 minutes remaining in the season, the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Football team wasn't about to let something special slip by.
The Titans scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to beat The Gunnery 56-19 Nov. 14 and secure a winning record for the Academy.
WMA beat Pomfret, St. Thomas More and Gunnery to close out 2015 and give the team a 5-3 mark.
"It's great to have a winning record," Coach Jeff Vartabedian said. "We've been at .500 the last two years. We've been building toward this. It was great to come out and win our last three games and finish with a winning record. Of our three losses, two of them came to teams going to bowl games, and the other was in contention for a bowl game. Now we have to work into getting into bowl contention, but it was a great year.
"It was a fun group of guys. They guys clicked. They enjoyed being around each other and worked hard. We stayed healthy, for the most part. It was a fun and exciting group to be around and coach."
As it has been so many times this season, the offense was fun and exciting against Gunnery, especially in the second half behind three touchdown runs from Caelan Etti '17 (8 yards, 47 and 50) and Tony Barbieri '17 (9 yards).
"It was a tight first half," Coach Vartabedian said. "They had a fast start – pulling out all the stops and making some big plays. But we were pretty-much able to answer every time with a touchdown and we had the lead at halftime, but it was only by a touchdown.
"And then in the second half, our guys dominated. Our defense kept them out of any scoring opportunities and our offense kept clicking. It was great to have the offense run the ball the way we did in the second half – that was the best we've run the ball all year. Caelan and Tony had some great runs. It was good to control the second half and a great way for us to finish, especially for the seniors and postgraduates."
In the first half, quarterback Jack Faulstick '16 connected on touchdown passes with Steve Puzzo '16 (19), Jaelon Blandburg '16 (11) and Craig Green '16 (20). Caelan also scored on a 20-yard run.
Jack had an exceptional game, completing 14 of 18 passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Caelan rushed eight times for 134 yards, and Jaelon caught six passes for 67 yards. The team rushed for a season-high 251 yards.
Defensively, WMA forced four turnovers. Alex Claudio '17, Craig and Jaelon all had interceptions, and Dylan Dupont '16 forced a fumble, which was recovered by Steve. Alex finished with a team-high eight tackles.
Posted Thursday, Nov 19, 2015
It took one trip to a specific campus for Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Jalen Paul '16 to know he found his home for the next four years.
Just a few days after visiting Franklin Pierce University, Jalen signed his National Letter of Intent Nov. 11 to attend and play lacrosse for the Division II program.
"I connected with the coach," said Jalen, referring to Rick Senatore. "I felt like I was home. At that moment, I decided this is where I want to be and spend the next four years, academically and playing lacrosse. I'm glad and excited and I'm looking forward to the future."
"This has been a process for him," Coach Mike MacDonald said. "It can be a grueling process for all kids, but he was patient and did a good job communicating with me and his family."
Jalen, who features a strong shot and exceptional athletic ability, had a productive first year on the lacrosse field for the Titans.
"When Jalen's on the field, he's usually the best athlete on the field," Coach MacDonald said. "His stick skills are still developing and he's still learning the game, but sometimes you can't teach that athletic ability. Jalen has that naturally. We're looking for Jalen to learn the game a little more this year and to be a key contributor to the success of our season."
Jalen signed his NLI with most of his Titans teammates in attendance.
"It means a lot to me," said Jalen moments after he committed to the Northeast 10 Conference school. "That signing changes my life. I think it was really important and I'm glad for it to be over."
Posted Thursday, Nov 19, 2015
The Wilbraham & Monson Academy Girls' Soccer program sent this year's seniors out the best way possible – with a win against its archrival.
Katie Cronin '17 scored in each half as the Titans beat Suffield Academy 2-1 Nov. 14 on Senior Day at the Academy.
"It was a great match, with back and forth action throughout the game, although WMA was determined to have a strong outing on their home turf," Coach Don Nicholson explained. "We played well and controlled large aspects of the game. We built a 2-0 lead and won in the end, 2-1. It was a great win for our team and a great way to send off our seniors, Nichole Czuber '16 and Payton Grande '16."
WMA, which graduated seven seniors from last year's New England Class B finalist team, finished the season 5-9-1. However, helped largely with the return of Gianna Mitchell '17 and the team's work ethic, the team finished 2015 on a 2-0-1 run, with a come-from-behind 2-2 tie against Class A Greenwich, 8-2 pounding vs. Class A Deerfield Academy and the triumph against Suffield.
"Coach Nic has been telling us since our losing streak earlier in the season that we were building up to something good with all of our hard work. I think it started in the Greenwich game when we were losing 2-0 and we came back in the last three minutes to tie 2-2," Katie said. "He said that was a transition period because all of our hard work, and I think everything came together and paid off for us."
Posted Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015
The only two seniors on the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Field Hockey team have played with each other since they arrived at the Academy, and it was only fitting they spent their final high school game of their impressive careers on the field with each other.
Sydney Liptak '16 and Megan Wells '16, a pair of four-year starters and captains, played in the Western New England Prep School Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Star Game Nov. 15 at Suffield Academy.
Sydney, possibly the best field hockey player in WMA history, started at left back, while Megan started in goal. Their team won, 4-2.
"Megan and Sydney had a fantastic showing during the All-Star game," Coach Liz Fontaine said. "They were both impact players for their team. Syd made some fantastic passing plays, including back passes and quick one-touch passes up the field. During the second half, Meg made a flurry of saves to keep her team ahead. She made dives, splits and strong clears. During one save, Meg dove and Syd backed her up by pushing attackers out of the wall and cleared the ball. The all-star game was a terrific end to their WMA careers."
Remarkably, Sydney was playing in the all-star game for the fourth time. It was the second appearance for Megan. Both plan to play Division III field hockey in college.
"The all-star game was a lot of fun all four years," Sydney said. "My first few years, I was nervous because I was one of the young ones and the other girls were so good. But the last two years I've been able to come in with confidence and have a lot of fun with it."
"Playing in the all-star game was a great opportunity," Megan added. "I got to play with kids at a high level. And it was great to represent WMA and have Syd there with me."
Posted Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015
The future is bright for the young Girls' Soccer team at Wilbraham & Monson Academy.
Katie Cronin '17, Annika Bruce '17 and Val MacEachern '17 – three juniors – were named to the Women's Western New England Prep School Soccer Coaches Association All-League team, as selected by opposing coaches in the league.
Katie and Annika made the first team, while Val was named to the honorable mention list. For being picked to the first team, Katie and Annika were invited to compete in the league all-star large school game Nov. 15 at Loomis Chaffee School.
"Katie and Annika did a great job, playing against some of the top competition in New England," Coach Don Nicholson said. "Annika and Katie both played forward and midfield, and Annika scored a goal. They both had a great afternoon and represented Wilbraham & Monson Academy very well."
Annika's shot from the top of the box toward the left side went off the goalie's hands and into the net late in the first half, helping Annika's and Katie's team to a 2-0 victory.
"It was awesome to play against top competitors from teams you played against," Annika said. "It was great to see them in that kind of situation."
It was the first league all-star game for Katie and Annika.
"It was a really good experience to get to know and play with players normally we're competing against in our regular seasons," said Katie, who played in the match after scoring twice in a 2-1 triumph against Suffield in WMA's 2015 finale. "It was an honor for both of us to be selected by opposing coaches from the league."
Posted Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015
Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Spencer Marocchini '16 has known for four months where he was going to attend college and play lacrosse at the next level.
On Nov. 13, with the stroke of a blue pen, which matched the color of his shirt, he made it official.
Spencer signed his National Letter of Intent to enroll at Assumption College, where he hopes to be a key member of a Division II program on the rise.
"(Assumption) Coach Keith Loftus is turning the program around and doing a great job there," said Spencer, whose brother, Nick, also attends Assumption. "I loved the facilities and it was the type of environment I wanted to be in for the next four years."
"I'm really excited for him," Coach Mike MacDonald said. "Spencer and his family have been through the process of recruiting. Sometimes that can be a grueling process. They've been extremely patient and they've communicated with me well. Assumption's the right fit for Spencer. It's going to challenge him academically and athletically. We're excited for him. I'm more excited we have one more year with him and we're going to make the most of the situation."
Spencer has had a brilliant three-year career at WMA, with one season to go. He's already reached the 100-goal mark for his career, and he's twice been selected to the All-League First Team. Most of Spencer's teammates from lacrosse and soccer were at the signing.
"It was a great feeling having everyone here: family friends, coaches, teammates," said Spencer, who earned the WMA Lacrosse Coaches Award in 2015. "It was a great environment. I'm very fortunate to attend this school because without WMA and Coach Mac, I wouldn't be going to Assumption."
Coach MacDonald and Spencer share a healthy player-coach bond. The two have been part of the WMA community for the same amount of time.
"Spencer and I have a unique relationship," Coach MacDonald explained. "He's a student of the game. He's done everything I've asked to improve as a player. He's going to be fighting for one of those two top All-American spots in our league and I'm going to do everything I can for him to get it.
"Spencer's the type of kid who you don't worry about his attitude at practice because he comes every day with a great work ethic, ready to go. His leadership skills have developed over the years. He's been on some good teams and bad teams. I'm expecting him to be the leader and quarterback of the team this year."
Click here to see video of the signing.
Click here to see photos of the signing.