As the third and final season of sports rolls around, there are a couple of rising stars to watch in lacrosse and outdoor track. Students like Caitlyn Hocker (‘20), John Gatt (‘19) and Savannah Bromley (‘19) have major potential for the spring season.
The McMahon girls lacrosse team has started to climb the ladder of success over the past two years by making States for the first time in eight years last season. Returning starter, Caitlyn Hocker, has had a great time with the team for the last three years and explains how their growth is phenomenal. They averaged eleven goals per game, which is twice as high as the boy's lacrosse team.
“I think MLax [Brien McMahon Lacrosse] has a very bright future. The program is building and our coaches have worked hard to bring up the intensity of the program.”
Not only has girls lacrosse gotten better over the years, but boys lacrosse has also started to improve. With star goalie Peter Ripperger having left for University of Delaware, John Gatt must try and fill his shoes to keep McMahon’s record where it was last year, or even better.
“I think the future is really bright for McMahon lacrosse. We truly have one of the best coaching staffs in the FCIAC that are dedicated to us becoming a top program. I hope that in a few years that we'll be able to compete with the best teams in the state.”
Savannah Bromley also has big goals for her spring track season. After making Outdoor Nationals last year, she aims to increase her main event, high jump, as well as the 4x100m relay, 200m and, hopefully, the 4x400m relay.
“I was pleased with how our 4x100 relay team did this year but I wish I did better in high jump.” Bromley explained.
Andrew Trujillo (7) Brian Andrade (11) Carlos Trujillo (15) Will Acuna (16)
Lacrosse season is starting soon and the boys are ready to go off this season as they start their first game is home on April 1st against Staples High School. The captains for the team are Bret Rodgers (‘19), Andrew Trujillo (‘19), John Gatt (‘19), and Ian Campbell (‘19).
Carlos Trujillo (‘19) feels that this team will have a chance to states. Having lost their star player from last year, Peter Ripperger(‘18), the team hopes this year they will be able to work together and try even harder to get a chance into states and FCIACS. The team has also recruited new players.
“There’s a lot of new people that are starting to play, so we hope this team will grow and go for a better record this year” said Carlos Trujillo.
With the lacrosse team having a new coach, they hope to build a chemistry and go undefeated this season.
“Our new coach is amazing! He’s the best coach I know, he treats us all like family and he actually wants us to succeed” added Trujillo.
Malik Goethe (19’) is entering his second year playing lacrosse and feels that this season is going to look very promising. Goethe really enjoys this sport and is glad to be part of the team again stating. “I can’t wait for this season to start and show everyone what I can do on the field. New year, new me.”
The best sports event of the year is back and madness is sure to ensue in the following weeks. Starting officially on Thursday March 21st, the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament will tip off. Who will win it all this year? Who will be the cinderella story of this year’s madness? What teams could possibly upset the heavyweights? What are some players to look out for? All the answers to those questions will be answered in this article. So grab some popcorn and be on the edge of your seat, this year will be nothing but MADNESS.
An upset is when a lower seed in the tournament, beats a higher seed. Some cases are more drastic than others (see last years Virginia Vs UMBC game) but every upset is sure to be dramatic and jaw dropping and will make you say “No way!” With that being said, let's dive in!
Maryland (6 seed) Vs Belmont (11 seed)
Maryland went 22-10 and play in the big 10 which is a significantly harder conference than Belmont who plays in the Ohio Valley conference. However, Belmont went 27-5 and won the regular season title for the OVC and can absolutely light the scoreboard up. They average 87.2 points per game which is top five in the entire country. Belmont has no trouble scoring, what this game will come down to is if Belmont can stop Maryland on defense. If so you are looking at a big upset.
Marquette (5 seed) Vs Murray State (12 seed)
This game will come down to two factors. Will Marquette be able to stop Ja Morant? Who is a possible NBA draft lottery pick and can absolutely torch a defense. Ja morant won Ohio Valley Conference player of the year and averaged 24.6 points per game. The next factor that will decide how this game goes is if Murray state can slow down Big east player of the year Markus Howard who averaged 25 points per game. Both of these teams are very similar because they’re team success revolves on how one player does in a game. This game is one of the more intriguing matchups in the first round of the tournament and is must watch TV.
Wisconsin (5 seed) Vs Oregon (12 seed)
Oregon comes into this game scorching hot. Having won nine games in a row and coming off a conference title, the ducks have no shortage of confidence. Wisconsin on the other hand is a regular in the NCAA tournament so they have no shortage of experience in these type of games. The badgers will have to rely on senior Ethan Happ who is one of the best players in program history to avoid a first round upset.
In each region of the bracket there is a one seed. In the east is Duke. Duke features a young lineup with the likes of freshman phenoms and future top 10 draft picks, Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. Zion Williamson is arguably the best player in college basketball right now and is even being compared to Lebron James. Duke will have to rely on these core players to win their sixth national championship.
The next one seed is Gonzaga in the west region of the bracket. Gonzaga is a perennial powerhouse and has a solid squad every year. This year is no exception. Gonzaga went 30-3 in the regular season and 16-0 in conference play. The Bulldogs are led by Rui Hachimura who averages 20.1 points per game. However, they don’t just rely on him to score. Gonzaga averages 88.8 points per game so it really is a full team effort every single game. Look for Gonzaga’s high octane offense to carry them deep into the big dance.
In the south region the number one team is Virginia. Virginia for the second year in a row has the best defense in the country. However, last year that did not help them much. Virginia lost in historic fashion to 16 seed UMBC. That was the first time a 16 seed has ever upset a 1 seed. Virginia is back for revenge though this year. They're defense is absolutely suffocating. The Wahoo's only allow a measly 55.5 points per game. If they want to win they're defense will be put to the test against the best offenses in the country.
Finally rounding out the one seeds is North Carolina in the Midwest region. The tar heels probably have the most solid team in the country. The Tarheels can hang with the best of them. They beat Duke not once, but twice. They also took down another one seed in Gonzaga and also have two quality wins against Louisville and Florida State. If anyone has the best chance at winning the big dance it's the Tar heels.
Possible Cinderella Team
Every single year there seems to be a low seed that makes a deep run into the tournament and knocks off high seeded teams along the way. A team that everyone writes off early in the tournament. Last year that team was Loyola-Chicago. Loyola-Chicago was an 11 seed going into the tournament and went all the way to the final four. It was an absolutely amazing story. Who will be that team this year? Well, keep an eye on the Murray State Racers(12 seed). Led by possible Wooden player of the year Ja Morant, The Racers went 27-4 overall during the season but can light the scoreboard up averaging 83.3 points per game. Also, not many people in the country can guard Ja Morant. You can double team him, but that will just leave some open on the court. The racers will have their hands full in their region. They will have to knock out possibly teams like Gonzaga, Florida State, Michigan and Texas Tech whom are all by no means pushovers. Keep an eye on the Racers this year,they could surprise a lot of people.
The NCAA tournament is the biggest of stages in college basketball. And when the lights come on, the best players show out. They’re are some serious studs sprinkled all over the bracket but we are just going to focus on a few.
Starting with the most likely number one overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, Zion Williamson. Zion is known for his electric dunks and huge frame of a body. Checking in at 6’7” 284 lbs, Zion is an absolute bully down in the post. Zion averages 22.1 points per game but in any game he can easily go off for 30 or more points. Not many people in college basketball have the size to guard him and most times Zion makes it look easy when he is playing basketball. Don’t be surprised if Zion carries the Blue devils to a 6th national title and wins MVP along the way.
Ja Morant of the Murray State Racers exploded onto the college basketball scene this year. Known for his jaw dropping, gravity defying dunks, Ja can do everything. He averages 24.6 points per game but is by no means a selfish player. Ja can dish the ball with the best of them averaging a whopping 10 assists per game. The Big dance is Ja’s coming out party and when its his time to shine, look for Ja Morant to be a star.
Grant Williams of the Tennessee volunteers is a stud. The vol’s title hopes run through him. He is the team’s “Quarterback.” What I mean by that is the offense lives and dies through him. Grant Williams averages 19.6 points per game and a solid 7 assists. He is the leader of this team and is one of the main reasons why Tennessee is a 2 seed in this year’s tournament. Grant Williams will put on a show in this year’s big dance.
If you have ever spent your Saturday morning at Ben Franklin, you’ve most likely witnessed the coming together of high school boys from different towns, schools, and sports, to play a game of recreational basketball.
However, for these boys, its a lot more than a pick-up game of hoops. “It taught me teamwork and I was able to create awesome memories with people I met from other schools,” Says Erik Hernandez (‘19). Hernandez goes to McMahon and has been participating in the basketball league since he was a sophomore.
Young men from Brien McMahon, Norwalk High, Fairfield Prep, and other surrounding schools may have nothing in common except for their love for JBA.
Sebastian Fernandez, a senior at Fairfield Prep says, “I have a bunch of friends from the Norwalk schools but don't get to spend a lot of time with them so JBA really was a chance for me to do that and bond with people I rarely see.”
Even with a strong cross town rivalry between McMahon and Norwalk High, when the boys hit the court, everyone is family. “I met a bunch of kids from McMahon that I never would’ve even talked to if it weren't for JBA,” Says Trevian “Trey” Taylor, a sophomore at Norwalk High.
This league, however, wasn’t just for making friends. “My coach and the boys on this team taught me about family. No matter where you came from, we were all brothers.” Adds Taylor.
Because of this league, the boys who don't play basketball for their high schools were able to show their talents. “I play soccer at Norwalk High but I love basketball so competing in JBA was a good way to switch stuff up,” Says Gianluca Trofa, a senior at Norwalk High.
Even though basketball might not be his main sport, Trofa was always seen putting his all into these games.
Despite coming from different schools, this mix of guys had one goal in mind this season; winning the championship game. Donyae Shavers (‘19) of Brien McMahon says, “My team, the Bulls, won back to back championships this year and last year and it was such a great feeling.”
PrideTime Senior Editor
McMahon baseball is expected to be one of the better teams in both the school and FCIAC this upcoming season. Only losing two starters from last season's 10-9 record, the senators have nothing but high expectations.
The big problem for the Senators last season was consistency. They had huge wins over FCIAC powerhouses Staples (15-4) and Ridgefield (16-4) - however, they also gave up major losses to teams like Wilton (7-9) and New Canaan (7-9), which kept them out of the FCIAC playoffs. Coach John Cross blamed inexperience for the lack of consistency saying, “we were young last year which attributed to our lack of focus.”
His team definitely doesn't lack experience this time around. They are a senior led team with seven on the roster, as well as returning seven starters in the field and all of their pitching staff.
Two pitchers received All-FCIAC honors last season: Frankie Greco (All-West) and James Stefanowicz (2nd Team) who are both seniors. Another pitcher to watch is Max Pomponi who did a great job on the mound last season yet lacked consistency. Senior pitcher, Frankie Greco has high expectations for this upcoming season saying, “I think we have one of the best rotations in the FCIAC. Not many teams have three seniors they can always rely on when they take the bump.”
In the field, they lose catcher Anthony Socci (2nd team), yet they return sophomore catcher, Peter Meyerson who received 2nd team all FCIAC as a freshman. The other starter they need to replace is 1st baseman Chris Ehlers, but coach Cross has high praise for replacement Chris Clemens saying, “Chris Clemens could be an electrifying bat filling the first base void.” Other important players in the field with big expectations are Korey Morton, James Stefanowicz, and Shane Popkins.
Cross’ squad considers this season a revenge tour. Their eyes are on teams they lost to last year. Morton commented on the schedule saying, “we look forward to every team we lost to last season, we also are obviously excited for Norwalk high and also powerhouse Staples.”
Anna Makover (‘21) Left
The now sophomore star lacrosse mid-field player, Anna Makover, has taken McMahon by storm. She scored the highest amount of goals (43) on her team and helped put them over the edge of going to States for the first time in eight years.
“It’s evident that the McMahon girls lacrosse program has been improving over its past couple seasons. I think this year we will be able to make States again and hopefully move forward in the tournament.”
She plays lacrosse non-stop during the offseason, while also participating in soccer and indoor track during the other sports seasons at Brien McMahon. Her drive to be the best not only carries out in lacrosse but in her academics and arts as well.
“I have been playing lacrosse non-stop and working out when I can and I feel like I have worked hard in the offseason...I’m expecting it’ll benefit me once we get into the season” says Makover.
“In school so far, I’ve been able to balance my work with sports. Playing soccer in the fall, running track in the winter, and playing lacrosse in the spring while maintaining high grades has been a difficult task that I’ve been able to achieve.”
Playing lacrosse in college has always been Makover’s dream and she is hoping to be committed by the fall of this year. Girls college lacrosse has gotten very competitive over the last couple of years, so in order to reach that level, Anna has been working as hard as she can.
“I have always loved playing the sport and meeting new people, so I think I would really enjoy being on a college team.”
With Darien beating our McMahon players for top college spots, Makover has had to participate in outside-of-school clubs like the CT Grizzlies which is one of the most respected club teams in our area and she has been competing with them since just fifth grade.
“Each summer I play in tournaments on a very competitive club team [CT Grizzlies], which takes up the first two months of my summer. Competing on this club team is a major accomplishment for me, being the only player from NHS/McMahon in the club in general.”
With her entire summer being filled with lacrosse and work, Makover has very little time to relax, but instead of hitting the pool, Anna went hiking through the Alps for the last three weeks of summer.
Between the years of 2013-2017 the girls lacrosse team averaged 3.25 wins and last season they nearly tripled that with nine. They hope to further that improvement going into this season.
The Brien McMahon Girls Lacrosse team looks to keep up the momentum, intensity and hard work from last season. The team ended up with a 9-7 record and a state run last year.
“Last season our team definitely did a lot better than we have in the past. We made states which was a great accomplishment for us and competed well with a lot of difficult teams,” said senior Charlotte Hussey.
With five seniors graduating last season, the team looks to rebuild and keep the program moving forward. “Last year’s team was a lot more upperclassmen heavy, and since we lost so many seniors, I think there's going to be a ton of new freshmen and lowerclassmen brought up to varsity,” said senior Delaney Oak.
The team has a better opportunity to place higher in States and FCIAC´s has they don’t play the top FCIAC teams like Wilton, New Canaan, and Darien this season.
The team looks to keep improving in every aspect of the game but they hope to key in on the ability to score goals which is crucial in winning games. McMahon girls averaged 11 goals per game last season and they need to increase that average drastically if they want to surpass the top teams like Darien who had an average of 16 and Greenwich who had an average of 15.
“Last season we were very good at getting the ball down to the attacking side of the field, but we weren’t aggressive enough in getting the ball into the goal, so I think this year we'll be working on a lot more plays in order to get a shot off, ” said Oak.
The team has a lot of expectations for this season and hope to achieve as much as possible. “This season we will definitely aim to make states again and work to go further in the tournament than we did last year” Hussey added.
Both seniors want to leave everything they have on the field knowing that this will be their last season. “I want to help contribute to the team in whatever way is necessary to get us to win games and compete against other teams. I also hope to help pump up other players about the sport and get them feeling confident enough to reach all their potential on the field,” said Hussey.
The team’s first game of the season is a home opener against the Danbury Hatters on April 2nd and they hope to start the season off with a win.