Winter season sports brought lots of success for Thacher teams. Boys’ soccer advanced to CIF finals. Girls’ basketball won the league championship with their 8-0 record; and boys’ basketball made it into the CIF playoffs. Even the teams whose efforts and spirit weren’t reflected in their final scores honed their skills, developed new relationships and exercised grit in practice and in their competitions.
Athletic Director Peter Fagan recapped the season:
Another season has come and gone for Thacher athletics and once again, the level of achievement for these high schoolers is nothing short of remarkable. Our players take the field and courts with tremendous passion for their sports and teams. We were treated to buzzer-beating plays, long playoff runs, crowd-deafening noise, and the utmost in community spirit. It’s always a treat to witness these games and I couldn’t be more proud of the players, coaches, dedicated fans and students for their involvement. Go Toad Nation!
Highlights for the season would have to start with the boys’ varsity soccer team. This team came back from winter break a little rusty, but by the time they reached the end of the season, they had come together as a unit and secured a berth in the playoffs. And what a playoff run it was, making their way all the way to the CIF finals against a tough San Dimas team! Although they went down in defeat to San Dimas, these boys should be proud of their efforts. They overcame some injuries and three consecutive road trips to get to the finals and never gave up. They beat higher seeded teams along the way, playing with heart and toughness. Coach Sánchez did a stellar job with these boys, and this season will not long be forgotten. On the hoop courts, both our boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams had successful runs this year, as well. The girls’ basketball team topped every team in their league, winning the Frontier League title. On the way to earning this title, Jessica Donahue ’19 was named the most valuable player for the league and coach Whitney Livermore was named coach of the year. Both Jessica and Whitney were well deserving of these awards. In the first round of the playoffs, the girls took it to Fontana High School for a first round victory. Unfortunately, in the second round, the ladies had to play at a tough Marshall Fundamental School of Pasadena and couldn’t pull off the victory. Nevertheless, they entertained us during the season with some great victories and team spirit. Go Toads! On the boys’ side, Jason Carney’s squad played in a tough, competitive Frontier League, in which on any given night, all the teams had a chance of winning. The boys had some big wins (against Cate and Laguna) and also felt the agony of defeat, losing three games to last-second desperation buzzer-beating shots. They still managed to make it to the playoffs, despite finishing third in the league. In their first round, they drew a tough draw having to travel to Palmdale Aerospace Academy and came away with an spirited upset win. In the second round, they traveled to number two seed, Loma Linda Academy, but came out on the short end. It was a memorable season in the Voit gym, with enthusiastic cheering that would rival any college. At the JV level, the teams were robust and active. Each team had full complements of players who played hard and had a lot of fun. From the girls’ JV soccer team to the boys’ freshman ballers, we were never without the entertainment and camaraderie of high school athletics. It was awesome to watch!
Toad Nation has never been stronger or prouder, and that is due to the commitment to excellence of everyone associated with Thacher Athletics. Go Toads—onto springtime!
Varsity Boys’ Soccer
This season, the boys’ soccer team experienced the most success they have had since 2003, by reaching the CIF Finals and earning second place in the CIF Division 7 playoffs. Coach Juan Sánchez said, “One of the main highlights of the season is that the team played as a team. We did not rely on just one player. It does not mean we do not have some excellent players, but that they complemented each other instead of competing against each other.” Scoring was distributed across the squad, with five players scoring four or more goals: Jake ’20 (10), Roman ’19 (8), Max ‘’19 (8), Julian ‘’19 (4), Peter ’21 (4).
The team finished the season with a 5-2-1 record for league play. In the run-up to the final game, the Toads won an impressive seven of their last eight games. The quarter-final (2-1 vs Woodcrest Christian) and semifinal (1-0 vs Linfield Christian) games were particularly challenging, as they were away games, played after long bus rides.
While Thacher ultimately lost to San Dimas in the finals, the 5-4 game came down to the wire with two Toads scoring in the last four minutes of the game. Max ’19 scored at the 76-minute mark, and Jake ’20, scored the third of his three goals in the final minute. The Thacher team struggled in the first 20 minutes of each half, and San Dimas took advantage of the errors. In the last 20 minutes of the game, however, the Toads were able to execute the kind of play that had made them so successful all season long, with short, on-the-ground passes and lots of off-the-ball movement. Despite an exciting three-goal comeback, they simply ran out of time to get the win.
Several of the players received all-star honors from the Frontier League. First team: Julian ’19, Max ’19, Patrick ’21, Roman ’19. Second team: Luke ’20, Oakley ’22, Satto ’21.
Congratulations to the players and the coaches for a well played season!
Most Valuable Player: Julian ’19
Most Improved Player: Omar ’19
Best Teammate: Julian ’19
Varsity Girls’ Basketball
The varsity girls had a stellar basketball season, going undefeated in league play (8-0) until their season-ending loss in the second round of CIF playoffs. The team had a rough start to the season, winning only two of their first six games (primarily to larger schools). But once they hit their stride, they won 10 games in a row. The winning streak included a 39-34 rematch with Cate, to whom the Toads lost their first game of the season. The three point overtime win against La Reina at home was another season highlight.
The team enjoyed strong senior leadership, which reflected in the postseason Frontier League all-star awards: Jessica was named most valuable player; Evan, first team; Lily, second team; Piper and Jaeda, honorable mention. As a reflection of the hard work, dedication, and success the team demonstrated this year, Coach Whitney Livermore was voted coach of the year by the Frontier League. She sees great potential for next year as she will have nine returning players: two juniors, five sophomores, and two freshmen.
Most Valuable Player: Jessica ’19
Most Inspirational Player: Lily ’19
Most Improved Players: Jaeda ’19 and Abbey ’20
Varsity Boys’ Basketball
Coach Jason Carney paid tribute to the fantastic leadership that the team received from the five seniors this season and singled out Dylan ’19 for his passion, loyalty and great overall work as team manager. The team experienced a balanced season both in league play 4-4, and overall 10-10 against stiff competition.
There were some true highlights to the season. Skyler’s block at the rim on Loma Linda’s best player, who was going in for a dunk, brought the crowd to its feet. The team also enjoyed a 27-point home win against Cate in their first meeting of the season. And, in the first round of the CIF playoffs, the Toads upset Palmdale Aerospace Academy with a 68-59 win.
Interestingly, seven boys received votes for hardest worker, which is no surprise given the team's collective improvement from the end of last season and their overall commitment to the sport. Jesse, Seniors, Jason, and Alika, mainstays in the program, will be moving on. They will be greatly missed, as well will guard Preston ’19 and Dylan who came on board this season to help create a special season.
Four players received Frontier League recognition. Jesse ’19, first team; Skyler ’20 and Marcus ’21, second team; Owen ’20, honorable mention.
Most Valuable Player: Skyler ’20
Hardest Worker: Jason ’19
Best Teammates: Alika ’19 and Jesse ’19
Varsity Girls’ Soccer
The Thacher girls’ varsity soccer team jumped into the season with two early wins, one being against CIF qualifier, Dunn. In spite of high spirits and effort, the girls struggled through the league season (1-6), which included games against larger schools: St. Bonaventure and Foothill Tech.
Ultimately, the three senior captains were awarded all-league recognition. Libby received second team honors and Lulu and Sydney received honorable mention.
Most Valuable Player: Libby ’19
Most Improved Player: Annika ’20
Coach Brian Pidduck shared comments from the climbers. Andrea ’19 noted that she liked, “spotting and cheering my friends on as they climbed, [and] running shoulder to shoulder with my teammates and feeling the team united together.” Will ’20 wrote, “One of my favorite moments from this season was on my birthday when the whole team sang to me in the gym; it just made me realize how close of a team we all were.”
Several climbers noted the mental benefits they received from the season of climbing. Margaret ’19 was able to improve her mental and physical strength through bouldering. Fiona ’19 said, “I learned that I am capable of way more than I think, and often my biggest setback is overthinking how hard something is or underestimating my ability to climb it.”
The scenic climbing area here on campus was the focal-point of many comments: “all the sunsets, ” Fiona’s ’19, “sunsets from Street Justice,” Tony ’20 and from Yao ’19, “watching the sunset everyday after climbing.”
The Most Improved Climber Award: Karina ’21
The Mentor Climber Award: Toby ’20 and Jake ’20
The Fellowship of the Rope Award: Fiona ’19
JV Girls’ Basketball
JV girls’ basketball had a fun season. The girls worked hard and improved tremendously throughout the season. They played some skilled teams, which pushed them to step up their game, and they came away with two wins and one close overtime loss. Despite not having a winning season (2-8), the girls maintained positive attitudes and were always eager to learn and improve. “Practices were upbeat, and we often paused to take in the pink moment as the sun set on the mountains of Ojai,” shared Coach Yuan.
Most Valuable Player: Saga ’20
Most Improved Player: Isabel ’19
Most Inspirational: Defne ’19
Coaches Award: Celia ’20 and Alexa ’21
JV Boys’ Basketball
After a tough loss in the season opener against Santa Paula, the JV boys’ basketball team managed to put together a nice four-game winning streak. Hard-earned wins against Villanova (home and away) and Grace Brethren were gratifying for the players, but nothing topped the feeling of beating a talented Cate squad 48-24 at home. The Toads dropped two of their last three games against some tough teams, but played hard in these contests and ended the season feeling very positive about the growth of both the collective and the individual players. In spite of the massive roster (18 players), every single healthy player saw the court in every single game, and they supported each other with true Thacher team spirit.
Most Valuable Player: Eric ’19
Most Improved Player: Wesley ’19, Trevor ’19
Most Inspirational: Wyatt ’21
JV Girls’ Soccer
In a very competitive league and against tough non-league opponents, the JV girls held their own while improving greatly throughout the season. Four of the 18 girls had never played the sport before Thacher. Another four girls had very limited experience. Nevertheless, with great leadership from captains Abby, Grace, and Georgia (all seniors) the team exceeded early expectations. Everyone put in great effort and maintained a never-give-in attitude, even when the opponent was clearly superior. In the end, they had a balanced season with five wins and five losses and came in second in their league. Both Coach Coleman and Coach León considered the season a great success. Great fun was had by all.
Most Valuable Player: Julia ’21, Alice ’20, Abby ’19
Most Improved Player:(Novice): Emmy ’19
Most Improved Player:(Veteran): Maggie ’21, Katie ’21
Most Inspirational: Abby ’19
Best Sportsman: Abby ’19
JV Boy’s Soccer
Championed for the second year by Coaches Arceo and Sullivan, the boys’ JV soccer team experienced another great winter season in the Ojai Valley. Statistically rounding out with a 3-3-1 record, the season was characterized by efforts aimed at sharpening the boys’ technical and tactical skills of the game, with the overarching theme of “learn by playing.” The team was seemingly successful on this front as more than 12-players received votes for most improved player this season. The team also fostered a positive culture of fun-intensity, as the boys were able to seamlessly switch between being goof-balls during warm ups, to playing hard-ball during drills and small-sided scrimmages. This was due in large part to the leadership of the senior players, Alejandro, Brooks, Evan, Jake, John, and Orrian, who helped set a tone of positive communication from the start of the season—encouraging each other and creating an inclusive environment, while holding to expectations of daily improvement.
Coach Arceo wrote, “The highlights of the season include a set of hard-fought games, one against strong-opponent Foothill Tech, and the other against archrival Cate. While we lost against Foothill Tech, we came back from a 3-0 deficit at half time to end the game 4-3. The team showed a tremendous amount of grit that evening despite the end result. In regard to our game against Cate, we played 70-minutes of clinical soccer: the team moved the ball along the pitch fluidly and dominated possession for the majority of the match, outshooting Cate 13-2. With Cate’s two shots on goal, however, they were able to escape our clutches, forcing us to a 2-2 draw. We’ll get them next year! The other key highlight of our season was when one of our captains, Orrian, who ordinarily doesn’t play striker, scored a superb upper-ninety shot during our last home game of the season. It was a perfect way to wrap up our time on the Thacher Lower Fields.
In short, the team had a fun soccer season this winter, competing in exciting matches, and improving in their understanding of the “beautiful game,” while creating lasting memories out on the pitch with each other. The coaches hope that the players remain proud of their collective achievement, while looking forward to their continued growth next year’s as J(ust) V(arsity) soccer players!
Offensive Most Valuable Player: Alejandro ’19
Defensive Most Valuable Player: Henry ’22
Most Improved Player: Noel ’20 and Hadrien ’20
Most Inspirational: Orian ’19
Best Teammate Award: Eliot ’21
Coaches Award: Evan ’19
Freshman Boys’ Basketball
The freshmen boys’ team had an excellent season marked by a number of resounding victories, and ended with a 7-1 record. The team was filled with natural athletes who shared a love for basketball. They played with an intense energy on both sides of the floor which resulted in an exciting level of play. The defense created frequent turnovers and transitioned to hard-driving fast breaks. This energy enabled them to jump out to early leads in all but one of game, and everyone on the team got a lot of time on the court. The lone loss came against a strong Santa Clara team when Thacher was without Cyrus ’22, the team’s strongest ball handler. Coach Seth Boyd said, “It would be nice to take Santa Clara on again, at full strength, as our chances against them would be good.” He added, “We had an excellent season that was defined by the great team camaraderie. I have never been on a team where the players supported each other so much, and where they expressed so much joy in watching each other succeed.” This attitude, paired with the freshmen’s talent and dedication bodes well for future of Thacher boys’ basketball.
Most Valuable Player: Conor ’22
Most Improved Player: Jack ’22