Sports

Fall Sports Report 2022: Middlebury Union High School

TIGER GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

MIDDLEBURY — The most successful teams at Middlebury Union High School in the fall of 2021 were cross country and boys’ soccer, and both appear poised to do well again. 

Football will be looking to bounce back both from a mid-pack Division I finish and a tough opening loss; girls’ soccer will look to once again host a D-II playoff game; and a young field hockey team will seek to find its footing.

Meanwhile, bass fishing appears to be hooking on at MUHS, while the school’s golf program has re-established itself. 

CROSS COUNTRY 

The Tiger cross-country program is coming off another solid campaign, with the boys’ team finishing behind only powerhouse U-32 at the Division-II title meet, and the girls’ squad taking a respectable third in 2021 competiton. 

Coach Chris Anderson is looking for more of the same, particularly for the boys. They return four of the five scorers at the 2021 state meet, losing only a senior who led the way, one place ahead of now junior Baxter Harrington in 13th. 

Three runners who are now sophomores rounded out the 2021 scorers, Baker Nelson (16th), Haaken Olsen (22nd) and Matthew Berg (32nd).

“On the boys’ side we’ve got a strong group coming back,” Anderson said.

TIGER BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

The boys’ team has also gained senior Ben Seaton, an accomplished 800- and 1,500-meter track athlete who signed on. And that’s not all, according to Anderson.

“We have two freshman boys who are running pretty well, and we want to get them into the rotation,” he said, naming Matias Citarella and Kaden Hammond, while also noting other runners could work hard and emerge.

The cupboard is not as full on the girls’ side, but it is far from bare. Sophomores Beth McIntosh and Ava Schneider and senior Seina Dowgiewicz all cracked the top 15 at the 2021 state meet. Anderson is confident freshman Mary Harrington will join that trio as a scorer.

“She’s running right along with those other three,” he said.

The most likely candidates for the other three starting varsity spots are three seniors, Ari Graham-Gurland, Mary Conklin and Dahlia Harrison-Irwin, and one sophomore, Sarah Benz. Anderson again would not rule out other runners surprising. 

Overall, Anderson said the boys could nip at U-32’s heels this fall, and the girls could finish high in the standings as well.

“U-32 is usually well out ahead of the field, but I would almost expect Middlebury might be a little closer to them this year,” he said. “Four girls should be right up there near the front. So, yeah, I’m encouraged on both the boys’ and girls’ side.”

TIGER BOYS SOCCER

BOYS’ SOCCER

Boys’ soccer for the second straight season reached the Division II semifinal round before again bowing out to nemesis Milton. 

Coach Chris George hopes this year’s team can clear that semifinal hurdle. 

“We’ve got a lot of experience coming back, and I think their biggest strength is ambition. They know what a semifinal looks like, and they want to see what the next step looks like,” George said. 

The Tigers return veteran players on defense, at midfield, and on the attack. Senior Owen Lawton is a four-year starter in goal, where freshman Lyle Carey will serve as backup. Senior Toby Wells-Spackman returns at one of the center back positions, and in the preseason George projected junior Noah Doherty-Konczal to pair with Wells-Spackman in the middle. Junior Eliot Heminway can spell them. 

Junior Gus Hodde, who can slide into the middle, and senior Henry Hunsdorfer will line up on the flanks, with seniors Graham Mattrick and Trevor Schnoor and sophomore Ian Sinclair ready to step in there. 

Central midfield starters are seniors Oliver Anderson and Trey Bosworth and sophomore Ollie Choudhury, all returners although Bosworth assumes a new role, with senior Zach Wilkerson and junior Eddie Fallis, also veterans, running wide. Juniors Iver Anderson and Milo Rees and senior Bronson Schoelzel will back them up.

George said he is confident in both those groups. “We’re going to be able to knock the ball around and possess it,” he said. “And it’s going to be hard to score against us.”

Senior Ronen Silberman will run up top, with classmate Eliot Schneider probably the first off the bench at striker, with seniors Nathan Bingham and Carter Lee also in the mix. 

“We have plenty of goals in the lineup. If those guys start firing we’re going to be tough to beat,” George said.

George added if the Tigers believe in themselves they should be tough to defeat.

“I think the sky is the limit,” he said. “There’s nothing but ourselves preventing us from another deep run.”

TIGER FOOTBALL

FOOTBALL

Coach Dennis Smith’s football team will be looking to bounce back from a campaign that by program standards was disappointing — a .500 regular season and a first-round playoff loss. 

Smith, speaking before a tough first-week setback to 2021 finalist CVU (after which he remained reasonably upbeat), said the potential should be there for Tiger football to step forward. 

“It’s been a good two-week preseason,” he said. “We moved the ball well. We didn’t turn it over … Defensively we didn’t give up anything.”

Smith listed a couple strengths. 

“We’ve got a lot of quickness. We’ve got a lot of kids returning that are hungry,” Smith said.

Offensively, the Tigers also bring back junior quarterback Jackson Gillett, who had to jump off the dock and learn to swim last year — he had never played a game of tackle football, thanks to COVID — after being pressed into action following an injury to the starter.

Smith said Gillett is more prepared to run the offense and can also throw the ball well when asked. 

“Jackson has come a long way, and he’s really accepted the role this year,” he said. “He’s had to make a big jump, and he has.”

Gillett will hand off most often to senior fullback Cam Stone and running backs Cole Schnoor, a senior, and Gavin McNulty, a junior. Sophomore Avery Carl will back up Stone, and junior Cole Warren got a few carries vs. CVU. Senior Charlie Stone, if healthy, could also be featured in the backfield; he sat out the opener with an injury.

When Gillett throws the top targets will be the backs; wideouts Cole Ashelin, a senior, and Brady McDonough, a junior; and tight ends Penn Riney, a senior, and Angus Blackwell, a sophomore. 

The starting line features sophomore Kyle Stearns at center, senior Sawyer Cadoret and junior Tim Whitney at guard, and senior Kagen Besser-Jones and sophomore Joseph Bergevin at tackle. 

The program has tweaked its defense to a set with three down linemen, four linebackers, and four in the secondary.

Smith said the move was made to take better advantage of the quickness of his personnel and to combat the spread passing attacks many other teams have adopted.

Cam Stone (and Charlie Stone if healthy) will see plenty of time up front defensively, along with senior Matt Brown, Besser-Jones, Bergevin and Cadoret. 

The linebackers are Carl, junior Aiden Laduke, Whitney, Schnoor, Blackwell and McNulty.

Junior Jacob Kemp and sophomore Tucker Morter will start at corner, with Gillett and McDonough at safety. Sophomores Luke Nuceder and George Devlin provide depth in the secondary.

Looking back, Smith said some of the inconsistency of the 2021 team can be traced in part to the lack of contact and running plays of the 7v7 all-passing 2020 season, a problem for a program that emphasizes a rushing attack. He expects better continuity this year. 

“When you’re a running football team there’s so much verbiage and learning the kids have to comprehend from one year to the next, and we just lost all that,” he said.

As for an outlook?

“I feel as we get a couple of weeks under our belt we’re just going to get better and better, and the kids will just get more confidence in themselves,” Smith said. “We’re looking for a good season.”

TIGER GIRLS SOCCER

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach Reeves Livesay’s girls’ soccer program in 2021 did well enough to earn, and win, a home playoff game. But about half the starting lineup received their diplomas in June, and the team has a new look this fall. Livesay remained hopeful about the Tigers’ prospects, however, as he expects a half-dozen returning seniors to set the tone for the team — and they did split their first two games. 

“I think we have a really nice group of seniors who are excited to take on new roles and are doing a really good job leading the team and helping bring us together,” he said. 

He has asked the Tigers to use their quickness to play more aggressively on offense rather than always rely on a patient buildup. 

“The team is really excited to explore playing a little bit of a different style this year and really play to our strengths,” he said.

The Tigers will have a reconfigured back line. 

Sophomores Meredith Horne, who has played at least some in the back in the past, and Elsa Burrows are new starters in the middle of that defense, with junior Harper Werme returning on one flank and probably junior Simone Duquette-Hoffman on the other. But Livesay said he could shake things up by moving senior Elisabeth Crawford into a starting role in the back.

Senior Stella Andrews, sophomore Amelia Quesnel, and freshmen Cooper Cannon and Esra Anzali will back up the defenders. 

Livesay expects his defense to steadily improve. 

“We have some new people on defense,” he said. “But every practice they’re learning and improving, and they’re coming together very well.”

Sophomore Kassidy Brown takes over in goal, with classmate GeorgiaPeach Parmalee-Varkoutas her backup. “Kassidy has really stepped up and embraced being in goal after playing in the field last year,” Livesay said.

Senior Lia Robinson returns to coordinate the attack at center midfield, where also freshman Solstice Binder will line up. Versatile senior veteran Cady Pitner will start either at center midfield, forward or flank midfield. Also in the midfield mix are senior Rebecca Orten and juniors Audrey Carpenter, Caroline Nicolai and Isabella Wilbur.

Senior Lily Lapiner, Crawford and sophomore Jazmyn Hurley are the top forwards, with senior Mary Johnson, junior Max Carpenter and sophomore Lily Dame ready to step in.

Livesay said he hopes the Tigers will peak after the leaves turn.  

“Our goal is the same every year,” he said. “We want to build toward the end of the season and feel like if we can get the process right, we’ll be at our best in the postseason.”

TIGER FIELD HOCKEY

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach Brandi Whittemore’s field hockey program was more competitive game to game in 2021, but she acknowledges after the graduation of a number of starters and a roster this year with only two seniors and two juniors the program is looking at a reboot. 

Whittemore said the Tigers discussed what they hoped to accomplish during the preseason, and much of it had to do with laying the groundwork for success. 

“Growth will be huge,” she said. “Effort, communication and confidence were things that they wanted to focus on this year.”

Leadership will help keep the Tigers on an even keel, and Whittemore expects to see that from her veterans, notably senior central midfielder Hana Doria, junior flank midfielder Erin Mulcahy, and sophomore central defender Lila Cook Yoder.

“We have a young team, but we also have strong leaders to help set the tone,” she said.

Yoder will lead a defense that Whittemore said will see senior Adelaide Riche on one side and freshman Maya Breckenridge on the other, with sophomore Meredith Cameron the first off the bench and freshman Marolyn Bingham and Elizabeth Bunt spotting in.

Returning starting goalie Jolee Heffernan was injured as the season began, and sophomore Michaela Charbonneau took over.

Joining Doria and Mulcahy at midfield will be freshman Quinn Doria. That leaves an all-freshman front line, with Kenyon Connors, Navah Glickman and Ireland Hanley the likely starters and Ivy Gates spotting in. Another freshman, Stella Gray, is new to the sport.  

Whittemore has faith her younger players will develop their skills.  

“There is strong talent in the underclassmen,” she said. “They’re very coachable.”

But it might take time, even if it will be boosted by what she saw as good team camaraderie in the preseason. 

“The dynamic they have already created off the field, the friendships, I think will help them work together on the field,” Whittemore said.

And Assistant Coach Lindsay Lalonde added another goal for the program this fall. 

“Something Brandi just told them is ‘Have fun.’ Don’t forget to also have fun,” Lalonde said.

TIGER GOLF

GOLF

MUHS golf Coach Joe Crodelle is disappointed no girls signed up, but was happy about the program’s numbers, which roughly doubled from the fall of 2021. In part he believes VPA’s move of the sport to the fall a couple years back is beginning to boost participation, at least at MUHS.

“We have 12 active kids on the boys’ team,” Crodelle said, adding, “And I’m very happy with the incoming players.”

And some of them should be consistently strong scorers, Crodelle said, naming senior returner Colin MacGuffie, junior Kellan Bartlett and sophomore Landon Kean.

Most likely to join them scoring at meets might be returning sophomore Ben Fuller, senior Willem Berry, and juniors Riley Disorda and Dylan Stowe.

Several of the others are newcomers and are learning fast, Crodelle said, and could make an impact. 

“I would definitely say we will be more competitive than last year,” Crodelle said.  

Crodelle also noted the Tigers were set to host two regular season events early in September.

He also said only one Tiger went to the state championship qualifying tournament in 2021, and the program hopes to send a full five-player slate this fall. And that qualifier is at Ralph Myhre Golf Course on Oct. 6. 

“It’s at home, which is another added bonus,” he said. “So we’re really hoping to have five there and show and do well and see what happens from there.”

TIGER BASS FISHING

BASS FISHING

MUHS this year is also launching bass fishing, a new VPA-approved activity as of 2021, as the school’s newest varsity sport. The interest was solid, with 11 students signing up with a wide range of ages: three seniors, three juniors, a sophomore and four freshmen.

Coaches Jason Betourney and John Fitzgerald will lead their charges into bass fishing’s two scheduled competitions, both to be held at the John Guilmette Access Area in South Hero. One is the VPA Classic High School Tournament on Sept. 17, and the other is the championship tournament on Oct. 8.

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