Hornets’ Football Beats Stratford for First Victory; Both Soccer Squads Post Shutouts
Senior captain quarterback Sean Kelly ran for three touchdowns and also had a TD toss when the Branford football squad defeated Stratford by the final score of 39-22 in a home game on Sept. 22. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Senior Spencer Landsbach rushed for 75 yards and a score to help the Hornets get their first win of the year with a 39-22 triumph versus Stratford last week. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
The Branford football team picked up its first win of 2019 when the Hornets notched a 39-22 victory versus non-conference opponent Stratford in a home game on Sept. 20. Branford improved its record to 1-1 with the win.
Senior captain quarterback Sean Kelly turned in a huge performance for Branford by rushing for 133 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, in addition to going 5-of-7 for 128 yards and a TD through the air. Kelly didn’t even throw an incomplete pass until the fourth quarter. Senior Spencer Landsbach carried the ball 10 times for 75 yards and a touchdown for the Hornets, who gained 232 yards on the ground as a squad.
Branford jumped on Stratford by scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter. Junior Kamryn Holmes returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a TD, after which senior Jake Bodner kicked the first of his three extra points for a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game. With 6:35 to play in the quarter, Kelly plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0. Kelly took home a 37-yard TD rush with 2:27 remaining to give Branford a 21-0 lead through one.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Kelly scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0. With 2:14 to go until halftime, Landsbach took it across the goal line from one yard out to give the Hornets a 33-0 command at the break.
Stratford scored its first touchdown of the night during the third quarter to make it 33-8. With 5:57 to play in the contest, Kelly found senior Cameron Mills for an 80-yard touchdown pass that gave Branford a 39-8 advantage. Stratford scored the last two TDs of the night for the 39-22 final.
Branford is playing another non-conference game this week. The Hornets are on the road to face New Fairfield at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Hornets played one game last week when they traveled to Hamden to square off with Sacred Heart Academy on Sept. 20: Branford notched a 5-2 victory against the Sharks to put its record at 1-1 this year.
Senior Molly Zaffino had a big game for Branford by netting three goals in the victory. The Hornets also received goals from senior Brianna Shaw and freshman Scout Engstrom. Sophomore Julia McHenry, senior Karly King, and freshman Lauren Kendrick each had one assist. Senior goalie Gianna Messina made 13 saves to help Branford secure the win. Head Coach Pete Frye said that Branford was also bolstered by excellent contributions from seniors Madison Acquarulo, Maggie Martin, Gianna Benni, and Hailey Brunner.
Branford started off its campaign by playing a pair of contests last week. The Hornets battled to a 4-4 with Hamden in their season opener and then posted a 4-0 win against Shelton to begin the year at 1-1.
On Sept. 17, Branford was on the road to face Hamden played the Green Dragons to a 4-4 tie. Junior Alayna Boileau scored a pair of goals to help the Hornets earn the draw. Senior Sydney Panczak had a goal with an assist, while fellow senior Melanie Sachs also found the back of the net for Branford.
Then on Sept. 20, the Hornets hosted Shelton and claimed a 4-0 victory versus the Gaels. Sophomore goalie Macey Girard made 11 saves to get the shutout in net. Sachs scored the first goal of the game, after which Panczak netted a goal on a direct kick from 30 yards out to give Branford a 2-0 halftime advantage. In the second half, Panczak scored her second goal of the game on a beautiful shot from outside the 18-yard box. Freshman Ava Ferrie scored on an assist by Sachs to make it 4-0.
Jen Kohut returns as Branford’s head coach following a season in which the team went 5-10-1.
The Hornets split a pair of games last week to move to 2-1 this season. On Sept. 17, Branford dropped a 5-3 decision to Hand in a home game. Three days later, the Hornets notched a 5-0 road win over Notre Dame-West Haven in their SCC Quinnipiac Division opener.
Branford fell into a 2-0 hole versus Hand, before senior Andrew Wirtz scored a goal to make it 2-1 at halftime. In the second half, junior Ralf Ciarleglio scored on an assist from fellow junior Matt Cordero to tie the score at 2-2. Hand scored the next two goals, but Wirtz responded by netting his second goal to cut the deficit to 4-3. Hand scored the last goal of the game with five minutes left to solidify the victory.
In the Notre Dame game, Branford broke open a scoreless tie by scoring five times during the second half. Ciarleglio scored the first goal on a penalty kick and then assisted Wirtz for a breakaway goal and a 2-0 advantage. Ciarleglio scored his second goal on an assist by junior Mykael Zuniga Cordova to increase the lead to 3-0. Sophomore Sebastian Verdesoto scored from senior Cody McCarns to make it 4-0, after which junior Din Durmic headed home a corner kick on a Verdesoto assist for a 5-0 lead.
During the previous week’s action, Branford defeated Barlow by a 1-0 score at home in its season opener on Sept. 14. Wirtz converted a free kick during the first half for the only goal of the game.
Branford took two defeats last week to move to 0-3 on the season.
On Sept. 16, the Hornets took a 3-2 road loss to Hamden. Then on Sept. 20, Branford hosted Law for its SCC Oronoque Division opener and dropped a 3-0 decision.
Girls’ Cross Country
The Hornets traveled to Middletown to take on Mercy for a road meet on Sept. 17. Branford dropped a 26-29 decision against the Tigers and now have a record of 2-2 this season.
Sophomore Bella Finta paced her way to a first-place finish for Branford at the meet. Sophomore Isla Lionetti came in third place, while freshman Hannah Jackson finished in sixth. Junior Steph Toste and senior Juli Dillon also competed for the Hornets against Mercy.
Boys’ Cross Country
Branford went up against Xavier in a meet that took place at Mercy High School on Sept. 17. The Hornets took a 15-50 defeat versus the Falcons to move to 2-2 on the year.
Senior Pat Zdunek led the Hornets by taking 10th place versus Xavier. Sophomore Cheng Wu finished in 12th place, senior Andrew Betzig came in 13th place, sophomore Wyatt Reynolds finished 17th, and junior Brennan Hynes came in 18th place for Branford.