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Winter Sports Highlights 2.4.19

Basketball - First Girls'
Jan. 30: Basketball - First Girls’ 21 vs. Miss Porter's School 50
Westminster never had a chance in this one: the team turned the ball over, missed its first nine shots and played passively on defense and found itself down 22-0. The team rallied a little before halftime and also gave a better effort in the second half, but it was too little, too late. Margaret Kennedy '22 led the team on offense, while Laura Velez '20 played good defense in the passing lanes and showed some creativity on offense. Sam de Kanter '22 battled underneath and took the ball to the basket, as did Ella Varano '21. Allison Kijanka '20 contributed four points off the bench.
 
Hockey - First Girls'
Jan. 30: Hockey - First Girls’ 3 vs. Pomfret School 0
The first period started with some even play, but Pomfret soon got the edge as it drew a penalty in its offensive zone. Westminster settled into the penalty kill, but soon read the play and jumped into the play. Forward Jill Parsons '19 stepped up on the puck causing a turnover on the blue line and beat two other defenseman to shoot the puck past the Pomfret goalie to put Westminster up 1-0 with a short-handed goal. The remainder of the period presented chances to both sides, but the final 16 minutes ended with a 1-0 score. The second period was handily in Westminster's hands as it maintained offensive pressure and struck again at the 10-minute mark. Emma Gurnell '21 and Sam DeLeo '21 forced a turnover that landed on forward Jenny Guider's '20 stick. Guider rifled a shot from the high slot that went bar-down for the 2-0 lead. The third period was full of more Westminster pressure as Megan Rittenhouse '20 scored a power play goal off a great play from Parsons. Westminster goalie Tatum Courtmanche logged her first career shutout and in the end it was a good team effort.
 
Hockey - First Boys'
Jan. 28: Hockey - First Boys’ 1 vs. Williston Northampton School 3
 
Jan. 30: Hockey - First Boys’ 2 vs. Avon Old Farms School 1
Westminster has now won six in a row against the Winged Beavers, holding Avon off for the last three seasons. In one of the best rivalries in prep sports, this is a streak that has never happened before. This year’s contest went late into the third period before Westminster was able to get on the board, but the Martlets controlled the majority of the tempo and offensive zonetime throughout the game. Westminster dominated zonetime in the second half of this game and eventually tied it up with just fewer than seven to play when Sean Clarke ‘19 stuffed a rebound behind the AOF netminder. On the ensuing shift, Jake Monroe ‘20 won a battle down low and found Iggy Belov ‘20 in front. Belov buried it to give his team the 2-1 lead with five to play. Ian Shane ‘20 was great in net stopping 26 of 27 shots. Shots at the horn were 46-27 Martlets. 
 
Hockey - Second Girls'
Jan. 30: Hockey - Second Girls’ 4 vs. Deerfield Academy 0
The team was short some players due to the flu and long winter weekend travel, but nonetheless Westminster took on Deerfield. Mandy Busky ’21 came down from the First Team to help the Seconds out in net and had a shutout blocking almost 20 shots. In the first period, Natalie Rubin '19 scored off a rebound from Ellie Cramer '22. Thirty seconds later in the same shift, Cramer scored unassisted. Rounding out the first period, Abby Moss '20 scored off a beautiful double assist from Susie Mahoney '20 and Blake Cote '19. In the second period, Cramer scored again off an assist from Rubin, and Westminster ended the game 4-0.
 
Hockey - Second Boys'
Jan. 30: Hockey - Second Boys’ 1 vs. Avon Old Farms School 1
A shorthanded Seconds team limped up the Farmington Valley to face a strong Avon Old Farms Varsity B team (their Second team) on a bright and crisp January Wednesday. Depleted by injury and illness, the Martlets were reduced to 10 forwards and four defensemen and faced a full Avon squad boasting an impressive 13-1-1 record to date. The 14 stalwarts in Black and Gold were reduced to 13 when David Harris '21, who was playing with great energy and commitment, left the game midway through the second period with an injury. But the undermanned team was ready with a new, more defensive scheme in place — anticipating what was in store, the team spent most of Tuesday's practice working on it — and the Martlets played with real grit for 50 minutes, including a spirited overtime stanza. The team often found itself killing off penalties. (Avon had eight powerplays on the day to Westminster's none ... one penalty for a bench minor was assessed your humble scribe. Mea culpa.) Led by rock-solid goaltender Jack Schroeder's ’22 32 saves on the afternoon, the Seconds played tough defense in their end and kept the Winged Beavers from getting in on Schroeder's net for rebounds and second chances. Defensemen Rex Flinn '21, Ben Michaud '22, Nate Stevens '21 and Alex Tonioni '22 all played very strong games, often finding themselves one-on-two in the corners and battling in front of the net to keep Schroeder's view of the puck clear. All four played smart, disciplined hockey, doing exactly what the team needed them to do to give Schroeder all the space and time he needed to track the puck. For their part, the Martlet forwards battled in their own end and skillfully set and sprung a neutral ice/offensive blue line trap, bottling up the home side and forcing turnovers. In the first and second periods this approach led to some excellent scoring chances and sustained pressure in the Avon end; ultimately the Martlets had 24 shots in the game with some very near misses. Avon finally broke through the Westminster defense late in the second period when an Avon winger, receiving a quick pass off a loose puck in center ice, ripped a shot from the left faceoff dot over Schroeder's right shoulder with only two minutes to play in the frame. But the Martlets came right back on the next shift, and while they didn't score, the line of Aidan Petrie '20, Will Rizzo '21 and Hunter Johnson '21 put together a nifty combination that almost tied the game. That flurry energized the team and carried it through the end of the period. In that third period, Avon pushed hard to add to their 0-1 lead but the Martlets held firm, blocking shots and keeping the hosts honest with a few rushes of their own. Alec Paro '19 and Carson Roth '19 in particular threw themselves into the fray, each blocking several shots and working hard along the wall (both emerged from the game considerably battered and bruised — badges of honor). Working equally hard were Wick Carter '19, Will Mazzaro '21, Newt Cutler '22 and Walker Jones '20 — all four did a great job containing Avon and working the puck deep to keep the Winged Beavers from developing any rhythm to their game. As the final period war on, fatigue was clearly becoming a factor but there was no quit in the Martlets as they chased the lead. Petrie, who has quietly emerged as a terrific two-way player for the Seconds, forced a turnover just inside the Avon blue line. He advanced the puck to Rizzo, who put it right on the tape of Johnson's stick in the high slot — and Johnson did not miss, finding the upper left corner with just five minutes to go in the game for the equalizer. The end of the third period and the ensuing overtime were wide-open, and both teams had their chances but the opposing goalies were equal to the task. The 1-1 tie felt like a win to the Martlets, and credit is due the Winged Beavers: they are a talented and hard-working team. For Westminster, this was a true team effort with all oars in the water, and so also deserving mention is goalie Will Scott '20 who, while he didn't play this afternoon, spent the game supporting and exhorting his teammates as he worked the door — such a presence on the bench is invaluable in a tight game such as this one.
 
Hockey - Third Boys'
Jan. 30: Hockey - Third Boys’ 0 vs. Avon Old Farms School 8
Rolling two and a half lines, Westminster put up another strong effort to the very final whistle against a fast and offensively potent Avon squad. The two teams played each other close in the opening minutes, with the Martlet Thirds playing some of its most disciplined defensive hockey all season, before an Avon tip-in from the point got past stout goalie Rich Mugler '22 to begin the onslaught. While Mugler and reformed defender, Ben Ferrell '21 — who was forced to step back into net after Mugler was unable to play the third due to illness — made several key stops throughout, the incessant Avon attack proved to be too much, scoring almost all of its goals off tip-ins and second opportunity chances in front. This is not to say the Martlets didn't generate chances of their own; Nic Swahn '22, Finn Gerry '20, Jack Kelly '22 and Kendrick Freeman '21 played particularly hard-nosed offensive hockey throughout despite ultimately coming up empty.
 
Squash - First Girls'
Jan. 30: Squash - First Girls’ 0 vs. Hotchkiss School 7
The girls played their last match before the High School Nationals, where they will be the second seed in Division 3. Their opponents, the Bearcats, will be the top seed in Division 2, so the Martlets would have been decided underdogs even if they hadn't been without their No. 1 and No. 4 players. Unfazed by the strength of their opponents and the need for everyone to play up a spot or two, the girls put up a great fight in a 7-0 loss. In the first round, Ellie Bailey '21 played long rallies and played some of her best squash in a 2, 1, 4 defeat at No. 2. Rebecca Sargent '20 got a bit more traction, using tenacious defense and deft shotmaking to hang tough on her 7, 3, 7 loss at No. 4. Eve Cathcart '20 came the closest to a victory, storming back from two down with aggressive volleying and a clever mix of short and long before falling just short at No. 6: 2, 3, (6), (6), 9. In round two, Annabel Bradley '19 needed just a bit more firepower at No. 7 (5, 8, 6); Georgia Swank '19 could not solve the deft shotmaking of her opponent at No. 5 (1, 5, 5); try as she might, Natalie Fay '19 could not run down every shot at No. 3 (7, 0, 5). Perhaps the most inspiring play came from Kaylee Hunt '20 at No. 1. Absorbing pressure and seizing her opportunities to attack, she took the first game, but could not find quite enough openings to prevail in a tight match ((5), 7, 10, 9).
 
High School Nationals
Feb. 1: Squash - First Girls' 6 vs. HLM 1
On Feb. 1 the second-seeded girls advanced easily with a 6-1 first-round win over Harriton Lower Merion. All of the victories came at 3-0; the lone loss came against an Ivy-bound No. 1. Reaching the semis was much tougher sledding against the SquashBusters from Boston. Kaylee Hunt '20 won in three at No. 2 (6, 2, 9), but it would take two four-setters and a five-setter to secure the team win. Natalie Fay '19 won 5, 8, (11), 8 at No. 5. Rebecca Sargent '20 won 5, (9), 6, 5 at No. 6 and Ellie Bailey '21 used both skill and grit to earn the narrow win at No. 3 (11, (10), 10, (8), 5). The finals berth was earned with quality play up and down the line-up in a 6-1 win over Conestoga HS. The above four won again; they were joined by Georgia Swank '19, who closed out her No. 7 match with an exciting 16-14 fourth game, and captain Caroline Kelter '19, who combined touch and power in her 3, 8, 5 win at No. 4.
 
High School Nationals
Feb. 2: Squash - First Girls' 4 vs. SquashBusters 3
Feb. 2: Squash - First Girls' 6 vs. Conestoga HS 1
 
High School Nationals
Feb. 3: Squash - First Girls' 4 vs. Brooks School 3
The girls captured the team's first-ever division title at the High School Nationals with a 4-3 win over Brooks. The Martlets claimed the first point when Eve Cathcart '20 coolly prevailed at No. 7 (5, 11, 6). Kaylee Hunt '20 made it 2-0 at No. 2, but it required that she overcome a momentum shift in an entertaining five-setter (9, 3, (5), (5), 6). Brooks evened the score with the next two results, despite great efforts by Natalie Fay '19 at No. 5 (10, 10, 8) and Ellie Bailey '21 at No. 3 (9, 6, (9), 4). Given that Brooks' No. 1 was a virtual lock to win (which she would do), it fell to Rebecca Sargent '20 at No. 6 and Caroline Kelter '19 at No. 4 to secure the win. Sargent took care of business in three, responding to a 14-12 second game with a bagel in the third, setting the stage for Kelter. After a strong first-game win, she lost an epic second and a tight third. Her championship-winning rally was inspiring, as she roared back to win (7, (15), (8), 3, 4) and put the Martlets over the top.
 
Squash - First Boys'
Jan. 30: Squash - First Boys’ 0 vs. Hotchkiss School 7
 
High School Nationals
Feb. 1: Squash - First Boys' 3 vs. St. Andrew's School 4
Feb. 1: Squash - First Boys' 5 vs. Radnor 2
Overall, the Martlets had a good first day at the 2019 HEAD U.S. High School Team Squash Championships, splitting their two matches. Playing in Division V at Loomis Chaffee School, the Black and Gold lost a heartbreaker to St. Andrew's 3-4 and then came roaring back to defeat Radnor 5-2. In the first match, Alex Unruh '22 won in three games at No. 1 (3, 9, 3) and Peter Miller '22 won in three games at No. 7 (6, 11, 6). Khalil Walker '19 and Sean Gregg '22 both battled hard in their contests but both lost in three games, Walker going down (8), (6), (6) at No. 2 and Gregg losing (5), (6), (5) at No. 3. In a seesaw match at No. 5, Nate Swift '19 alternated victories with his opponent before falling in the fifth game 6-11. That result was reversed for Ethan Na '19 at No. 6. Na also split the first four games and was facing elimination down 3-8 in the final game before rallying to take that decisive game 12-10. The whole team was cheering Na on because it needed that match to have a chance to win the overall match. That left Sam Pagon '21 at No. 4 battling for the match. Pagon lost the first game 9-11 but then rebounded to win the second game 11-8. As the scores suggest, this was a very even match. Unfortunately, Pagon ran out of gas in the next two games, falling at (6) and (4). Pagon earned a measure of redemption in the match against Radnor by defeating his opponent in three close games (10, 7, 7). Gregg also won in three games at No. 3 (8, 8, 8), while Scott Lee '20 won his match at No 7 in straight games as well (11, 6, 6). Swift lost another tough five-game match at No. 5 and Unruh lost in four games at No. 1 to a very talented player, (4), (10), 4, (8). At No. 2, Walker found himself in a big hole after consecutive 9-11 losses, but he found a way to regain his stability and he won the next three games 6, 12, 4. The 14-12 win in the fourth game was especially impressive, as Walker had to fend off several match balls. Once again, the player of the match was Na who played nearly flawless squash in winning in four games, 3, (11), 6 and 4. It would have been nice to win both matches, but the boys battled hard and never conceded an inch. Tomorrow the Martlets will play the Shipley in the consolation semifinals at 2 p.m. (also at Loomis Chaffee). It was exciting for the boys to play against teams it does not normally face during the regular season, St. Andrew’s from Delaware and Radnor from Villanova, Penn.
 
High School Nationals
Feb. 2: Squash - First Boys' 7 vs.Shipley 0
The Martlets brought their A game to Loomis Chaffee's Kohn squash courts Feb. 2, defeating Shipley 7-0 to move to the consolation round finals. Most of the boys won in straight games, but Khalil Walker '19 at No. 2 won in four games, 11-7 in the fourth, while Sean Gregg '22 came back from a 1-2 deficit to take the final two games of his match at No. 3, 11-7 and 11-9. Nate Swift '19 rebounded from a couple of tough five-game losses Feb. 1 to win an exciting match at No. 5, outduelling his opponent 13-11, 11-6, 11-8. Ethan Na '19 and Peter Miller '22 continued their runs of outstanding squash at Nos. 6 and 7 respectively.
 
High School Nationals
Feb. 3: Squash - First Boys’ 3 vs. 4 Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School
In the finals of the consolation round, the Martlets fell 3-4 to a squad from St. Louis. Fittingly, it was a hard-fought and very even match that came down to the final game. In the opening round Khalil Walker '19 went up 2-1 at No. 2, but couldn't close the match, losing at (8) and (9). Meanwhile at No. 7, Peter Miller '22 played smart and controlled squash to defeat a talented opponent in three tight games, 11-8, 13-11 and 11-7. Nate Swift '19 won the final two games of his match at No. 5, 11-9 and 11-8, to put the Black and Gold up 2-1 in the overall match. Unfortunately, Sean Gregg '22, still recovering from the flu, just didn't have the legs to stay with his skillful opponent and lost at No. 3, (3), (4), (7). Ethan Na '19 just couldn't find his magic touch at No. 7 after playing outstanding squash Friday and Saturday, losing in straight games. But Alex Unruh '22 played his best squash of the tournament at No. 1, defeating his opponent 3, 3, 4 and evening the overall match at three apiece. All eyes and a raucous crowd were on the No. 4 match, the final match of the morning. Sam Pagon '21 lost the first game 6-11 but then came out strong to win games two and three (11-6 and 11-9). But Pagon's opponent had more left in the tank than Pagon and he controlled the final two games, allowing Pagon only four total points in those final two games. So, although it was a good weekend of squash for the Martlets, the team had to settle for being 10th in Division V of the High School Team Nationals. Overall, it was a fun and successful weekend.
 
Squash - Second Girls'
Jan. 30: Squash - Second Girls’ 5 vs. Hotchkiss School 2
Westminster squared off against Hotchkiss and came away with a satisfying 5-2 win despite missing two of its top seven players. Clara Ekholm '20 moved up to play her first match with the varsity after injury and illness forced coach Peter Ulrich to pencil her into the top eight. She played extremely well and fought hard before falling in four games. The Martlets earned wins at numbers 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 by Shelby Oken '22, Anna Veber '21, Daniela Mays-Sanchez '20, Wheatley Sutro '22 and Sasha van Vredenburch '21. The match of the day was played by Veber who raced out to a 2-0 lead but found herself in a tough battle after dropping game three. Veber regained her composure and closed out the match in four games sealing the win for Westminster.
 
Squash - Second Boys'
Jan. 30: Squash - Second Boys’ 0 vs. Hotchkiss School 9
The Martlets braved snow squalls and cold temperatures to make the trek to Lakeville, Conn. where they lost 0-9 to a talented and fundamentally sound squad of Bearcats. Gus Hartmann '20, playing at No. 4, earned 31 points and one game in his match, and he even had a couple of game balls in the fourth game. It was fun watching Hartmann hustle all over the court to keep his opponent under pressure. At No. 6, Ral Reyes '21 hung tough in his match for two games (8-11 and 9-11) before succumbing to shoulder pain in the third game, while at No. 8 Zach Eckerson '21 played his best squash of the year so far, earning 17 points in his match against a skillful opponent. As the only Martlet from the top to the bottom of the ladder to win a game, Hartmann earns the "nail" for the match.  
 
Squash - Third Boys'
Jan. 30: Squash - Third Boys’ 2 vs. Canterbury School 10
On the brink of their long weekend, the Martlets lost to a strong JV team from Canterbury. Johnny Van Leuven '22 and Max Hong '22 were responsible for the two Westminster victories, each with decisive wins in three straight games. Van Leuven eked out a first game win, 13-11, and then upped his game to the next level and won the next two in convincing fashion, 11-2 and 11-4. Hong played steady squash throughout, yielding a meager total of 12 points on his way to his win. However, the match of the day belonged to Shane Wahlberg '19, albeit in a losing effort. After dropping the first two games, Wahlberg rebounded back to win the next two, both by scores of 12-10. At this point, both players were tiring. The fifth game bounced back and forth, with neither player getting ahead by more than a few points. Wahlberg staved off a few match points, but finally succumbed 13-11. Both players should be congratulated for an exciting and well-played match.
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