Monday, September 27, 2021

Sports

Warriors Boys’ Lacrosse Put Forth a Solid Effort in 2021

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Junior Duncan Rider and the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team had a solid showing in 2021 with 11 wins to their credit. Rider led the team in points with 101 on the season.

File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Junior Duncan Rider and the Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team had a solid showing in 2021 with 11 wins to their credit. Rider led the team in points with 101 on the season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Freshman Clark Burleson posted an impressive 23 goals and 24 assists as a first-year player for the Warriors this season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Freshman Clark Burleson posted an impressive 23 goals and 24 assists as a first-year player for the Warriors this season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Sophomore Ben Costanzo made a huge impact on faceoffs, winning 99 draws for the Warriors this season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Sophomore Ben Costanzo made a huge impact on faceoffs, winning 99 draws for the Warriors this season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Sophomore Leif Duval was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team for his contributions as a long stick midfielder with Valley. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Sophomore Leif Duval was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team for his contributions as a long stick midfielder with Valley. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

The Valley Regional boys’ lacrosse team put together a respectable showing for the 2021 season. A solid effort especially considering the team was coming off the heels of a canceled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and integrated a new coaching staff in Head Coach Jake Azzinaro and Assistant Coach Ricky Persico.

The Warriors posted a final overall record of 11-6 on the season including appearances in the Shoreline Conference Tournament and the Class S State Tournament.

Valley had a slew of talented players this season including a sizable group of seniors in Weston Belisle, Jackson Bisson, Tommy Burch, Jack Daley, Tate Ingham, Callum Miller, Axel Johsnon, Cormac Kline and Keenan Pindar. That group’s experience on the field provided a steadying presence for the Warriors throughout the year.

Kline led Valley in goals with 56 to go along with 17 assists and was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team, while Pindar scored 21 goals and made 12 assists on the season and was named the Shoreline Conference’s Short Stick Specialist. Bisson scored posted 11 goals and dished seven assists on the year, and he also won 92 faceoffs for Valley. Burch had two assists, and Belisle had one. Axel Johnson manned the net for the Warriors, he had a strong season making 192 saves on the campaign and earning All-Shoreline Conference First Team accolades for his play.

The Warriors also had some serious skill among the ranks of the junior class. Players like Duncan Rider, Benjamin Safran, Ian Silva, Cooper Strecker, and Reece Whitney helped make Valley one of the top teams in the Shoreline Conference in 2021.

Duncan Rider led the Warriors in total points at 101, which broke down to 48 goals and 53 assists on the year and earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors for his efforts. Strecker scored six goals, made 35 assists, and earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team recognition, while Whitney assisted on four goals and earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors for his defensive contributions this year.

The Warriors sophomore class included Ben Costanzo, Matthew Daniels, Leif Duval, Dylan Ingram, Michael Kollmer, Jacob McKenna, Holden Soboleski, and Mason Soboleski. Some key contributors from that grade were Costanzo who scored two goals to go with eight assists and 99 faceoff wins. Costanza also was recognized on the All-Shoreline Conference First Team thanks to his stellar work in the faceoff circle. Leif Duval earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team recognition as a long stick midfielder.

There were also several freshman who came out for the Warriors this season including Clark Burleson, Samuel Nickel, Sullivan Rock, Noah Santangelo, and Tyler Stegina.

Burleson came on really strong in his first year for Valley scoring 23 goals and making 24 assists for the Warriors.

Valley got out to a strong start taking the first two contests of the season. The Warriors won a 10-6 game at home versus North Branford on April 10, and two days later, Valley hosted Cromwell and blew out the Panthers by a score of 14-1.

After those two wins, the Warriors had a long layoff in between games and didn’t play for another full week when they hosted Old Lyme on April 20. Valley took a narrow 10-9 defeat against Old Lyme, who was one of the Warriors biggest rivals among Shoreline Conference foes in 2021.

On April 22, Valley played it’s first road contest of the season when it went up against Morgan at the Indian River Complex. The Warriors got back on the right foot with a sizeable 16-4 victory over the Huskies in the road meeting.

Two days later, Valley took another narrow defeat in a 9-8 road defeat at the hands of Northwest Catholic. Two weeks into the season, the Warriors held a record of 3-2 and were looking to hit their stride.

On April 29, Valley claimed a lopsided 14-7 road win against North Branford. On May 1, the Warriors took their first loss of the season that was decided by more than a single goal. Valley lost a 12-3 road matchup against Southington.

The Warriors got some much-needed home cooking on May 4, when Valley claimed a 20-9 home victory over Old Saybrook. Two days later, the Warriors took that momentum on the road and scored a 14-3 win against Cromwell.

On May 8, Valley took a 10-8 road defeat against Haddam-Killingworth, but then claimed a 12-11 home victory over the Cougars on May 11.

On May 13, Valley earned another narrow victory Old Lyme with a 12-11 road win. The Warriors hosted Morgan on May 18 and defeated the Huskies by a score of 13-9.

On May 21, Valley closed out the regular season with a 16-4 road victory versus Old Saybrook and headed into the postseason on a four-game win streak. The Warriors ended up with a regular season record of 10-4 on the year.

In the Shoreline Conference Tournament, Valley went up against Old Lyme in the semifinals and won a hard-fought 8-7 battle against the Wildcats on May 25. That victory sent Warriors to the Shoreline final where they would face off against Haddam-Killingworth.

On May 27, Valley fell just a little short of a title when they lost in the Shoreline final to the Cougars by a final score of 11-9.

After losing in Shorelines, the Warriors competed in the Class S State Tournament, but took a 12-11 home defeat in the first round against Sheehan on June 2.

Looking ahead to next season, Valley will have plenty of talented players returning to the fold, but the Warriors will also bid a fond farewell to a nine seniors. There will be adjustments to be made in 2022, but there’s plenty of hope that Valley can make another run next year.




Chris Negrini is the Assistant Sports Editor for Zip06. Email Chris at c.negrini@shorepublishing.com.

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