Winter Season Sports Wrap 2016-17

Basketball, soccer, and rock climbing bring thrills and challenges.
This year’s wet, wet winter is behind us, the feeling (and scent!) of spring is in the air, and it’s once again time to take stock of the season behind us. The usual dedication, teamwork, tenacity, and lively spirits were on display in the Afternoon Program, along with a fantastic mix of individual and team accomplishments and edge-of-your-seat games.

“This was a fun season to watch in terms of competitiveness and sportsmanship,” said Athletic Director Pete Fagan. “For soccer, dealing with the elements was a challenge but these kids took it in stride. They traveled long distances and played back-to-back games with heart and passion. Both boys’ and girls’ teams were highly skilled and played against some very tough opponents (many of who went very far in the postseason). Our coaches, teammates, and fans couldn't have been more proud of them.”

“On the hardcourt, we had some of the most exciting games seen in Thacher history,” he continued. “On the girls’ side the varsity basketball team took a victory to the wire in back-to-back games. Against Villanova, Jessica Donohue ’19 hit a runner with 3 seconds left in the game. They beat Grace Brethren, with Jordan Perry ’17 hitting one of the biggest shots against them (see below). Against arguably the best team in the division, our players held court and took home a victory. On the boys’ side the varsity team rolled to a huge home victory against Foothill, who they ultimately shared the league title with. On top of their impressive record, they didn't lose a home league contest all season. Overall, I would classify this as one of our most successful seasons on record.”

Key highlights included:

  • All four varsity teams (girls’ and boys’ basketball and soccer) qualified for the postseason with automatic bids and won their first round of play.
  • All teams at both the varsity and JV level posted records of .500 or better.
  • Boys’ varsity basketball tied with Foothill for the league title and beat every other team in the league at least once; Sam Richardson ’17 and Pierre Weil ’17 were named First Team All-League.
  • Girls’ varsity basketball team had to the wire back-to-back games. Against Villanova, Jessica Donohue hit a runner with 3 seconds left in the game. Against Grace Brethren, who was 21-1 at the time and went on to the CIF Finals, Thacher won in an exciting game at home. Jordan Perry hit a three-point shot with 1.4 seconds on the clock in regulation to tie the game and Elizabeth Swindells ’17 hit a foul shot with .9 secs on the clock to win in overtime. Jordan was named First Team All-League.
  • Girls’ varsity soccer notched quality wins over Cate, Bishop Diego, and Santa Clara and won their first round playoff game with an overtime winning goal by Zanna Gulick-Stutz ’18. Sarah Finch ’18 and Zanna were named First Team All-League.
  • Boys’ varsity soccer beat Santa Clara this season, a tough team that went on to be the Division 7 CIF Champion. They traveled all the way to Bishop to knock off Mammoth Lakes High School in the second round of the playoffs. Ryan Jackson ’17 and Andrew Eaton ’17 were named First Team All-League.

Go Toads!

Boys’ Varsity Soccer
Under the excellent leadership of senior captains Homa Bakhiet, Ryan Jackson, and Andrew Eaton, this year’s squad closed the season with a very solid 8-4 league record and 12-6-1 season record. This motivated, excited team started things off strong with a 2-1 win against crosstown rival Nordhoff High School in the first game of the season. They continued their ongoing development of a quicker, passing-oriented style of soccer that set them apart from most of the teams that they played. Oscar Luna ’18 continued to be an important goal-scorer for the team; his strong technical skills saw him score some of the best goals in the league this winter. Chris Robinson ’18, who came to Thacher never having played soccer, has made huge strides and became the main goalie this season. He and Griffin O’ Neill ’18 also did a great job sharing the position and pushing each other to improve their skills. JJ Mazzola ’19, Max Golbere ’19, and Tarek Khattab ’19 were called up from the JV squad throughout the season and, although their play time was limited, they had a significant impact whenever they stepped onto the field. Despite a midseason slump, the team rallied back from the brink and ultimately qualified for postseason play. They beat Redlands Adventist 17-2 during a wild card game, beat Mammoth Lakes High School on the road 3-1, and ultimately fell to Whitney School 1-0. At the end of this strong season, Ryan Jackson and Andrew Eaton were named to the First All-League Team; Homa Bakhiet was named to the Second Team; and Oscar Luna, Joe Hardwicke ’18, and Michael Ratsimbazafy ’18 received honorable mentions in the league. Finally, captain Ryan Jackson was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Team.

Most Valuable Player(s):  Ryan Jackson ’17 and Andrew Eaton ’17
Most Improved Player(s): Joe Hardwicke ’18 and Chris Robinson ’18
Happiest Player: Julian Amaya ’19
Best Teammate: Harrison Marshall ’18
Most Inspiring: Andrew Eaton ’17

Girls’ Varsity Soccer
Led by captains Sarah Finch ’18, Zanna Gulick-Stutz ’18, and Lexie Silverman ’18, this scrappy team came away with a 7-6-1 league record and a 9-7-1 season record. Despite a number of injuries that slowed the team down throughout the season, they played hard and turned things around during a critical home game against Bishop Diego, which, with just three weeks left in the season, secured them a spot in the playoffs. Arguably their best showing of the season, the players battled as a cohesive team and successfully executed a quick passing game, firing on all cylinders throughout the contest. They ultimately finished the season 4th in the Frontier League and won a challenging wild card game against Garey High School on the road 2-1 during overtime before falling to De Toledo High School 2-1 in the first round match. Sarah and Zanna were named to First Team All-League; Béa Pierrepont ’18 and Libby Hatton ’18 were named to Second Team All-League; and Olivia de Polo ’18, Reina Nadeau ’18, and Lulu Patterson ’19 received honorable mention.

Most Valuable Player:  Sarah Finch ’18
Most Improved Player: Devon Roberts ’19

Girls’ JV Soccer
Under the captainship of Maya Wendel ’19, Olivia Driscoll ’18, and Abby Romo ’19, the girls’ JV soccer team closed a season of excitement, improvement, and strong performances with a 3-5-1 league record. A 4-1 win against Cate on our home turf was a major highlight. Chrissy St. George ’20 was a scoring machine (and the fastest player) as a striker. Alice Tang ’19 scored an amazing goal from 35 yards. Lindsey Greenhill ’19 was a force to be reckoned with in the midfield. Abby Romo stepped in as the goalkeeper during the second game of the season and ended up being voted Most Valuable Player. Caroline DelVecchio ’19 and Grace Zhang ’19 played nearly every minute of the season as anchors of the defense. Luca Pieretti ’20 was an incredible force all over the field, scoring on a great set piece and kicking corners. Tea Wallmark ’20 inspired the team with her tenacious play, centering the midfield. And Samantha Hollins ’19 guarded the best player on nearly every team, all with a huge smile that belied her ferocious play.

Most Valuable Player: Abby Romo ’19
Most Improved: Chrissy St. George ’20
Most Inspirational: Tea Wallmark ’20

Boys’ JV Soccer
In the third year of higher competition in the Frontier League, this JV soccer team really stepped up to the plate for a very competitive season that saw players constantly improving. Led by captains Finn Keilty ’18, Adam Marcelo ’18, and Aeddon Edwards ’18, they were the undefeated Frontier League Champions, notching an impressive 4-0-4 league record and 7-0-5 season record. Novice players developed sound fundamentals, which allowed them to improve rapidly and enjoy making the ball do what they wanted it to. The team had a particularly special ability to fight back from behind and, through great persistence, either win or tie the game. They simply never gave up. The coaches described them as “very responsive to coaching and a delight to work with toward a common goal” and noted that “several JV players will contend for a spot on the varsity team next winter.”

Most Valuable Player: Jake Mitchell ’20  
Most Improved Veteran: John Han ’19
Most Improved Novice(s): Braden Roh ’17, Henry Hancock ’18
Most Inspirational Player: Finn Keilty ’18

Boys’ 3rd Team Soccer
This group of juniors, sophomores, and freshmen had a fun and eventful season this winter. In particular, the players worked hard to improve in all areas of the game, helping them to hold their own against mostly varsity and JV teams. Most of the players also got the chance to test their mettle in one or two JV games during the course of the season.

Most Valuable Player(s): Julien Luebbers ’19, Henry Hancock ’18
Most Improved Player: Orrian Arnold ’19

Girls’ Varsity Basketball
Senior captains Natasha Brown, Tiffany Butler, Jordan Perry, and Elizabeth Swindells expertly led their team through a particularly strong season for the Thacher girls’ varsity basketball program. With hard work and focus they closed with an impressive 10-4 league record and 14-7 season record. They were also undefeated at home, notching a perfect 9-0 record on the hard courts of the Voit Gym. Among the season highlights were their two solid wins against rival Cate, with scores of 40-30 and 37-25. The undeniable peak came during a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat home game against Grace Brethren, a team that came in with a 21-1 record and ultimately went deep into postseason play. The Toads pulled off a one-point win during a tense overtime, thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jordan Perry that sent them into overtime and a free throw by Elizabeth Swindells with .3 seconds left in a tie game to seal the 60-59 win for the Toads. During postseason play the team won their first game 40-33 against Wildwood and ultimately lost in their second game against Bellarmine-Jefferson. Jordan was named to First Team All-League, Elizabeth was named to Second Team All-League, and Jessica Donohue was given honorable mention in the league.

Most Valuable Player: Jordan Perry ’17
Most Improved Player: Piper Stacey ’19
Most Inspirational Player: Jordan Perry ’17

Boys’ Varsity Basketball
This fantastic, cohesive season for the boys’ varsity basketball program was made possible by the standout leadership of senior captains Pierre Weil, Laurence Jackson, and Sam Richardson and all around play by everyone on the team. Closing with an 8-2 league record and 13-6 season record, the team took home the Frontier League title and advanced to the 2nd round of the CIF playoffs. During the regular season, the team was unbeatable during a program record nine-game winning streak and pulled off some very convincing home wins against Providence, Foothill, and Cate. Say the coaches: “The team prided itself on ‘togetherness’ and being a ‘family,’ and the boys have much to be proud of, as this was a truly special season.”

Most Valuable Player: Pierre Weil ’17
Most Improved Player: Reese Proctor ’17
Best Teammate(s): Pierre Weil ’17 and Laurence Jackson ’17

Boys’ JV Basketball
This year was one of steady improvement and player growth. The team notched four wins (a happy improvement over last year’s single victory), including a win on the road against rival Cate. Elias Ceseña ’18 was the motor of the team this year as its most consistent scorer and ball handler, as well as the guy they relied on to initiate their offense. Eric Mao ’19 proved himself very capable of making splash plays, whether it was a big three-point shot or an impressive drive and finish at the rim. He also had a special ability to slow downs games for his teammates during high-pressure situations and demonstrated poise on the free throw line late in games. Bob Farrelly's ’17 length gave opponents fits down low, and more often than not he was in the right position to make a defensive play on the ball. Trevor Duggins ’19 put his all into every practice, propelling his skills forward by leaps and bounds throughout the season. Wesley Porter ’19 hustled with heart and energy throughout the season and earned the respect and support of his teammates. Bjorn Lynge ’18 was the recipient of the Coaches Award, which goes to the player on the team who most consistently displays great effort, focus, determination, and the desire to get better every day.

Most Valuable Player: Elias Ceseña ’18
Most Improved Player: Trevor Duggins ’19
Most Outstanding Offensive Player: Eric Mao ’19
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Bob Farrelly ’17
Hustle Award: Wesley Porter ’19
Coaches Award: Bjorn Lynge ’18

Girls’ JV Basketball
This season was a particularly memorable one for the team, marking quite possibly the most successful in the history of the girls’ JV basketball program. Senior captains Ava Penner and Annie Everett set the tone with expectations to work hard, have fun, and support one another, which helped them close the season with a strong 7-3 league/season record. On top of the hard work, talent, and effort that went into the season, the coaches noted that “the camaraderie on the team was one that you hope for as a coach...every player motivated one another and cheered for one another in competition.” The starting line-up of Annie Everett, Amanda Ibañez ’17, Libby Kern ’17, Alex Varon ’17, and Poppy Brittingham ’17 was a force to be reckoned with, finding chemistry on the court on offense and challenging every team they played with their press and zone defense.The first win of the season came against crosstown rival Nordhoff, a 30-21 victory that showcased both strong offensive and defensive play and saw Libby Kern and Poppy Brittingham each scoring 10 points. In the closest and most exciting game of the season against Cate, the team came back in the fourth quarter when they were down 7-14, using their press and zone defense to shut down the offense and limit Cate to just two points in that quarter. Libby scored 6 points in the fourth quarter and Poppy scored another basket, getting them ahead 15-14. Though Cate ultimately won, Thacher’s cheering fans enjoyed watching these Toads find their momentum and fire. Other highlights included Poppy’s season high of 16 points against Villanova; Annie Everett leading scoring with 9 points, including the only three-pointer of the season, during a game against Malibu; Defne Egbo ’19 scoring four points against Malibu; Ava Penner’s fast break and basket against Bishop Diego; Joelle Rubeli ’18 and her much-cheered first basket of the season against Bishop Diego; and Alex Varon ’17 with the best game of her season against Nordhoff, featuring her game high of 7 points. Poppy Brittingham was the highest scorer of the season with 85 points and Libby Kern scored 55 points and was one of the toughest defenders on the court at all times.

Most Valuable Player(s): Poppy Brittingham ’17  and Libby Kern ’17
Most Improved Player: Defne Egbo ’19
Leadership Award: Annie Everett ’17
Sportsmanship Award: Amanda Ibañez ’17
Most Spirited Player(s): Joelle Rubeli ’18 and Ava Penner ’17

Boys’ Freshman Basketball
Overall it was a great season for the boys of the freshman basketball team. Despite limited practices due to the freshman schedule, the team played with passion and heart in every game and came away with a 3-0 league record and a 3-1 season record. In the most exciting game of the season, the boys came back from being down six with less than a minute to play against Foothill. After hitting a big shot to cut the opponent's lead to three, the team implemented a full-court press to force a turnover; Owen Dexter-Meldrum ’20 drove to the hoop to get the basket. On the subsequent inbounds play, the Toads stole the ball again and scored to go up one with 10 seconds left in the game. The defense also rose to the challenge and prevented Foothill from getting a shot. An exciting game, and season, for this team!

Most Valuable Player: Owen Dexter-Meldrum ’20
Most Improved Player: Kevin Williams ’20
Hustle Award: Bryan Yoo ’20

Rock Climbing
This year the rock climbing program made the transition to holding rock climbing in the winter season after many years of climbing during the fall and spring sports terms. They kicked things off with a climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park, tackling long routes on the Saddle Rocks Formation. The Orange Flake climb, despite its innocuous sounding name, was a true challenge that required a mental commitment to ultimately reach the top. Although a fellow climber they met had warned them that the climb was exceedingly difficult and awkward, they climbed it anyway and did so in good style. They also climbed Walk on the Wildside. Back at Thacher, they worked in two groups: the students new to climbing and the returning rock climbers. Strength training sessions, bouldering, top roping on the gym wall and climbing at the beloved Banjo Cave and Y-Crack Crags on campus characterized their days. They made another trip to Lizard Mouth Boulders in Santa Barbara and enjoyed superb climbing in a beautiful location. The students themselves noted some highlights:

“My favorite parts of this season were the late afternoons we spent out at Y-Crack and Banjo, learning new skills and climbing. Having all my close friends climbing, and getting to spend time with them in a spot as awesome as that, was the highlight for me.”

“Finally climbing the Nose [of Jameson Rock] on the last day of the season.”

“The last day of climbing before winter break when I first climbed Meditation. We stayed out really late until it was getting dark and then the sunset was beautiful.”

“When I made it up Y-Crack for the first time and sat at the top for a few seconds, enjoying the view of the Ojai Valley.”

“Traveling to Santa Barbara to climb over the weekend, and staying until sunset to finally get the face on the last day.”

The Brotherhood/Sisterhood of the Rope: Edel Galgon ’17 and Ronan Byrne ’17
Mentor Climbing Award: Ronan Byrne ’17
Most Improved Climber: Poppy Brittingham ’17
Finest Ascent/Most Impressive Climb: Ronan Byrne ’17 on Meditation 41 on the Jameson Boulder; Luke Leasure ’17 on multiple feats of strength on the climbing wall and Drea Boulder

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