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Conard High School Spring Sports Preview

Gabriel Suarez (left) and Kayla Oriola. Photo credit: David Heuschkel

Previews of spring sports at West Hartford’s Conard High School have been compiled with input from coaches.

By David Heuschkel, West Hartford Press Sports Editor

Conard boys lacrosse should remain competitive

When Matt Cersosimo took over as head coach of the Conard High boys lacrosse team two years ago, he faced a daunting challenge. There was a mass exodus of seniors the previous year, leaving him many spots to fill.

As Cersosimo has put his stamp on the program, Conard has remained competitive in the Central Connecticut Conference. The Chieftains have gone 8-7 each of the last two seasons, 12-6 vs. CCC teams.

With six returning starters and several others stepping into starting roles, Cersosimo expects his team to be competitive again in the CCC. But like many other lacrosse teams in the conference, the Chieftains tend to struggle against teams from the southern part of the state.

In its season opener April 1, Conard lost 18-6 to Daniel Hand at Madison’s Surf Club. The game wasn’t as close as the matches between the teams in Cersosimo’s first two seasons, with Hand winning by one goal in 2017 and two goals last year.

On April 4, the Chieftains defeated South Windsor 17-7.

Senior captains Gabe Suarez and Cole Johnson will lead the Chieftains. Johnson, a defender, is the only returning all-conference player back this season.

Seniors Patrick Mahon and Derek O’Connor are attackers and senior Shea Henderson joins Suarez as middie.

Conard once again plays a competitive non-conference schedule. Besides Hand, the Chieftains will see Fairfield Ludlow, Trumbull, Somers and Xavier.

Girls lacrosse

Meg Cersosimo, in her 10th season as head coach, is four wins shy of 100 with the Chieftains.

Conard’s best player is senior midfielder Kate Shaffer, voted as a 2018 US Lacrosse All-American. She will share team captain responsibilities with Anna Czajkowski and Cailin Flaherty.

Conard sophomore Coco Haverty, an attack, was All-CCC last spring. Senior Ali Turner and Czajkowski will also play attack.

The defense should be solid with the return of seniors Lauren Massaro and Flaherty. In all, there are seven returning starters from the team that went 10-6 and lost to Fairfield County power Ridgefield 18-8 in the first round of the Class L tournament.

In their first game, Conard defeated East Catholic 18-6.

Cersosimo has plenty of skilled hardworking players who are athletic. How fast the younger players step up and contribute will be a key.

“I expect us to have a solid and competitive season,” she said. “I am excited to see how our team comes together.”

Baseball

The Chieftains went 12-8 a year ago and then got thumped by Hamden 15-4 in the first round of the state tournament.

Twelve wins is a very good season for Conard. Most of the regulars from that team graduated, so winning that many games this spring will be a challenge.

Conard’s best player is Jeff LaRosa, who hit .333 with two homers, two triples and six doubles last season. The top returning pitcher is Matt Beazoglou (2.57 ERA).

Head coach Sanjay Rambhia has a young but energetic team. He expects it to qualify for the state tournament.

The Chieftains have good speed that he feels will help overcome the inexperience.

The team beat Northwest Catholic 13-3 in their first outing.

Softball

Things are looking up with the softball team, according to head coach Carrie Hess-Marcoux. Not so much in the season opener, a 23-7 loss to Glastonbury.

The Chieftains, who failed to qualify for the state tournament the last two years, have five returning players from a team that went 6-14 last spring. Among the group is junior pitcher Kayla Oriola.

Sophomore catcher Brianna Segar has a strong arm, and junior Abriana Teodoro projects to be the shortstop.

Hess-Marcoux expects the defense behind Oriola to be solid. The team is hopeful some new freshmen will help to solidify that defense and inject some power into the offense.

“Looking good this year,” Hess-Marcoux said during the preseason. “We have a great team vibe this year and are excited to see what happens. Our returning players are strong, conditioned and ready to play hard. Our new varsity players are dedicated, hardworking and enthusiastic about softball.”

As of Friday, the team is 1-2 after a 16-14 (9 innings) win against Northwest Catholic and a 21-5 loss to Southington.

Other sports  

Luke Carroll and Matt Chorches, the best players on the boys golf team the last few years, will be tough to replace.

The best returning player on the young Chieftains is Garrett Brown, who earned all-conference honors as a freshman last season. Max Leyland is the only senior on the team and the only other player besides Brown who were regulars in the lineup a year ago.

Sophomore Charlie Kristofak figures to fill one of the remaining three spots. Some freshmen or sophomores will compete to be in the lineup throughout the season, Brett Franklin said.

“Many players worked hard on their game last summer and played tournament golf,” head coach Franklin said. … There are about 20 players in the girls golf program, head coach Tom Verrengia said. Three have a lot of experience. Zoe House, Katherine Simpson and Madeleine Scott played in just about every varsity match last season. Isabella Bailey and Danielle Sterling also are returning players with varsity experience. The work ethic is strong, but Verrengia said the team must come together quickly to qualify for the state tournament. … The boys volleyball team has four returning starters who will help to push the team to compete. Sophomore Ryan Roller, junior Marcel Vicente, and seniors Thomas Burnett, Noah Theriault, Erik Youngstrom, Nate Gonzalez, and Rusalraj Ghimire will be in the lineup.… The boys track team, which opened the season with a 111-37 win over Farmington, could pose a challenge to Hall in some of the track events. The Chieftains have a strong group of middle distance and distance runners that includes brothers Gavin and Callum Sherry, Tyler Remigino, and Ian Sagers. … For the girls track team, seniors Molly Binder (mid-distance), Liana Eisler (distance), Chloe Scrimgeour are strong runners. Isabella Glynn was Class L runner-up in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles last spring. Claire Ittleson was fourth in the pole vault.

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