By Rick Menning
NEW HAVEN, CT--Long before the leaves started to change colors, student-athletes at The Foote School were gathering on the fields and trails for fall season sports practices and a desire to play to their fullest potential.
Their primary objective? To wear the maroon and white uniforms with pride in their abilities and with a mission to succeed whether their sport of choice was cross country, field hockey or soccer.
Each and every challenge was met with conviction and purpose as the sixth- through ninth-grade participants represented The Foote School with one commendable achievement after another.
As the following season highlights will attest, the skill set among all the Falcons' players was on full display as the days grew shorter yet the accomplishments continued to shine brightly.
Perseverance and willpower were certainly prevalent as close races were commonplace, but so also were the Foote runners' conviction down the stretch.
In fact, at the middle school state championship meet, all 26 Falcons participants maintained their focus on excelling while enduring a five-hour delay in the race's start.
"We had some extremely tight finishes in which our runners overtook the competition right at the end of the race," noted Coach Laura Stanley.
Stanley made mention of how impressed she always is with how the first-year runners progress from having to walk at times during the first race to being able to run well in the last race.
Together with the veteran members of the squad, everyone formed a solid camaraderie, spirit and team bonding. All of the Foote runners gathered at the finish line to cheer on those still involved in the race.
Whether meets were scored mixed gender or gender-specific, The Foote School performed to a high standard.
In team scoring, Falcons' runners ranked first in three separate races and second in three others. Individually, the squad had two runners who consistently placed first or second: Alden Neuman and Cleo Roche. Kameron Shahid was another solid performer, placing in the top ten in any race.
Caw Caw Spirit Award -- seventh-grader Cordelia Thompson.
Steady Eddie Most Improved Runner -- sixth-grader Alora Hanson.
Smooth Operator Unsung Hero Award (co-winners) -- ninth graders Emilia Adams and Levi York.
Big Toe Award (co-winners) -- Cleo Roche and Alden Neuman.
Maya Abeles, Emilia Adams, Justin Aseme, Michael Batsu, Tal Berkowitz, Sasha Bindra, Felix Boone, Kia Bourne, Zachary Brenner, Miles Carter-Solomon, Lucas Charles, Maia Cort, Pablo Cruz, Natalie Curtis, Nathan Dai, Claire Driver, Archer Fitton, Zazie Gazzola, Cosma Gregg, Alora Hansen, David Ionescu, Mollie Jenkins, Elias Joseph, Gus Larsen, Cora Lloyd, Matty Matouck, Will McGill, Fionn Naples, Alden Neuman, Julian Peccia, Simon Podos, Lucy Rapkin, Cleo Roche, Kameron Shahid, Teddy Shin, Eric Silva, Logan Slebaugh, Prince Starling, Lulu Tang, Cordelia Thompson, Lydia White, Levi York. Coaches: Laura Stanley, Andrew Zielinski, Kelly Small, Mike McCabe, and Adam Solomon.
To say The Foote School field hockey team had a memorable season would be an understatement.
Wrapping up their schedule with only one loss, the fearless Falcons showed resolve and conviction during a highly successful season.
"We had a very large team this year ... they were enthusiastic and had incredible spirit. They completely supported one another throughout the season," said Coach Megan Williams, who took special pride in the squad's second-place showing at the Bement Jamboree in Massachusetts.
"I believe the games that stood out the most were during (that tournament)," Williams continued. "(Our girls) played teams that were stronger, but stepped up to the challenge and played incredible games -- not having one loss for the whole day despite the higher level of challenge and play."
Williams commended her eighth-grade participants for being team leaders on and off the field, and for the positivity and energy displayed by all the student-athletes in every game.
"(I was thrilled with) the way the team came together and supported one another throughout the season," she continued. "The eighth-graders were great leaders on and off the field and the team was positive and energetic throughout the season."
Eighth-graders Penelope Boone, Elaina Patutka and Lila Pisani were recipients of the award handed out annually to the players who are supportive of teammates, show consistency and accountability, display good sportsmanship, are team players, exert positive energy, are persistent and always try their hardest, are good listeners, take advice, are willing to try new things, and are versatile, patient and understanding.
Penelope Boone, Slater Boms, Kaelyn Bruce, Jill Capasso, Sofia Chun, Avery Eearnshaw, Desi Friedah, Noor Gonzalez, Pelin Kayaarasi, Isla Kelly, Gracy Kreitler, Zee Lang, Molly Larsen, Lucianna Lombardi, Aggie McPartland, Dorothea Meyers, Elaina Patutka, Lila Pisani, Caitlin Reilly, Eve Reilly, Alexandra Rouwenhorst, Esther Schonberger, Poppy Shor, Delphine Streeter, Ava Vidal, Rosemary White, Fiona Wiman. Coaches: Megan Williams, Sheila Lavey, Katie Larsen
BOYS VARSITY SOCCER
Perhaps the defining moment to a great season for the Falcons came in a dramatic 3-2 victory over Hopkins during which they twice trailed but showed character and spirit leading to the final outcome.
The triumph was made even sweeter by the fact that this Foote squad had lost to Hopkins 3-1 earlier in the season. The Falcons finished with five wins in seven games including one draw.
Aside from the Hopkins game mentioned above, another highlight was a 1-1 tie against a Kingswood Oxford team that took the field with a number of very accomplished soccer players.
"We were losing 1-0 at halftime ... (but) we managed to draw level with around 25 minutes to play," Coach John Hay said. "From that point on we had to defend heroically and withstand some serious pressure on our goal. Everyone worked hard, and we came away from the game feeling immensely proud of our efforts to hang on (for the draw)."
Although it took a total team effort, one student-athlete took the reins and delivered big-time results during this solid campaign.
Luhao Tang came through with not one, not two, not three but four three-goal performances over the course of the season for the varsity team. In one of the games, he even played in goal and saved a penalty kick.
The varsity squad put the bow on their season-long efforts with a runner-up showing in a tournament at Pine Point School.
Eighth-grader Lucian Halpern and ninth-grader Charlie Sudmyer were co-winners of this year's Dirty Cleat Award for their committed and courageous performances in every game.
This award acknowledges individuals who were fully committed and consistently displayed a positive attitude. Sudmyer and Halpern led by example and fought hard in every minute of every game.
Max Anestis, Matthew Bergantino, Ezra De La Cruz y Carmin, Poryaz Deniz, James Elliott, Max Garsten, Lucian Halpern, Daven Kaphar, Lukas Roberts, Jackson Shaw, Charlie Sudmyer, Luhao Tang, Owen Whang. Coach: John Hay.
Improvement was the name of the game for this season's Falcons, who concluded play with a solid .500 record in eight contests.
Two of those matchups in particular highlight the growth and progress the team made throughout the season.
In the opener against Rumsey, Foote went up against an older and more talented squad but used that encounter to grow as a team. Despite the setback, the Falcons fought hard right down to the final whistle.
"They used the disappointment (of that loss) as motivation to practice hard and challenge themselves throughout the season," Coach Kossouth Bradford said.
By the time the season finale against Pine Point rolled around, the Falcons were firing on all cylinders and cruised to a 4-0 victory in a complete team result during which two players scored their first goals.
The Orange Slice Award was presented to co-winners and ninth-graders Molly Romero and Ally Pine-Maher, who organized and ran drills during practice, encouraged and challenged their teammates during practice and games, and coordinated getting "goodie bags" for the team for the first away game of the season. Most importantly, Bradford commended them on being great role models.
Amelia Anderson, Lexi Baez, Kadija Benzinane, Shayann Bershstein, Avery Bruce, Sofia Caliendo, Salome Del Rio, Lola Giraldez-Greco, Silvia Gozar-Zimbrean, Anushka Gupta, Kaya Heeger, Willa Kennedy, Emma Lyons, Ally Pine-Maher, Ally McCormack, Molly Romero, Annabel Sheehan, Gopika Sheth, Lucy Sunshine, Tessa Wilhelm, Maryam Zagamount. Coaches: Kossouth Bradford and Jim Renehan.
BOYS JV SOCCER
The Falcons set the tone for their season right at the outset.
Trailing Renbrook 4-2 at one point during the first half and then 4-3 at the intermission, the Foote junior varsity squad rose to the challenge with three unanswered goals in the second half to prevail 6-4 in comeback style.
"I am so proud of them for fighting through adversity after being down early and coming together as a team after halftime," Coach Joe Reiser said.
Among the many highlights for these athletes were an undefeated record on home turf, scoring at least five goals in every victory.
From an individual standpoint, seventh-grader Sammy Fisher won the Dirty Cleat award for his all-around play, while Sid Srihari also stood out with Fisher as leaders throughout the season.
Of special note was James Elliot's performance against Renbrook. The sixth-grader scored four goals and also contributed an assist.
Bradley DeCew, Sammy Fisher, Jack Gianetti, Gage Lang, Owen Lasater, Gus Nast, Will Shipley, Sid Sidhari, Fischer Smith, Holden Smith, Rohin Turaga, Tyler Witkowsky. Coach: Joe Reiser.