High School Roundup: Conant, Mascenic are some of N.H. cross-country’s best; WLC, Conant square off on soccer pitch

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant cross-country team hosted Mascenic on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosted Wilton-Lyndeborough on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/27/2020 2:31:23 PM

All eyes were on Eva Shirey as she approached the finish line during Saturday’s cross-country race at Conant. The Orioles’ senior co-captain didn’t have another competitor in sight as she strode over those last 100 meters, teammates, coaches and family cheering her on to a 15th-place finish that was the biggest victory of the day. 

Shirey was just two months removed from spinal fusion surgery that left her unable to walk for two weeks with rods and screws implanted in her back.

“I was exhausted all the time,” Shirey said, “but after that I got back up on my feet and slowly started walking around.”

Eying a late-season return to prep her for a successful senior track season, Shirey had worked hard to build muscle before her surgery to shorten the long road to recovery. She eased herself back into training and jogging, participated in “dumbed-down” versions of Conant’s intense workouts, and eventually, that road to recovery led right to Saturday’s race. 

“That’s a huge victory for all of us,” said Conant head coach Bill Edson. Edson said Shirey came to him earlier in the week and said she felt good enough to walk the course on Saturday; walking turned into jogging, and jogging to running.

“I said ‘You know when you stand up at that line, it’s going to be really hard for you to walk any of it,’” Edson said. 

Shirey said she’d expected a 40-minute-plus finishing time in her first race back; she crossed the line to cheers in just 33:16.

“It felt really good, especially that last 100 meters across the field, I loved that part of the race,” Shirey said. 

And her only regret? 

“She told me ‘Coach, I could have gone faster,” Edson said. 

Regional supremacy

In a normal season, Saturday would have been the first big measuring stick of the cross-country schedule – the Manchester Invitational, bringing all of New England’s top teams together on New Hampshire’s divisional championship course. 

This is no normal season, to be sure. Hundreds of kids from different states converging on Manchester could be a superspreader nightmare, and the New Hampshire schools adopted regional cohorts to reduce the possibility of exposure – limiting exposure to both COVID-19 and to the state’s best competition. But in this southern portion of New Hampshire, competition is still pretty fierce.

“Between Mascenic, Conant, and Monadnock, we’ve got probably the top three teams in the state battling it out all season long, so it will be interesting coming to states to see how all that shakes out,” Edson said. “We’re in a good position to push each other for a state championship this season.”

There’s no one around better than Landen Vaillancourt, Mascenic’s reigning Manchester Invitational and Division III champion. Vaillancourt strode across the varying terrain at Conant Saturday with ease, finishing first in 17:04 with nearly a minute between himself and the next finisher, teammate Connor Traffie (18:03). Vaillancourt, often mild-mannered, has found his leadership voice in his senior season, as so many of Mike Smith’s boys seem to do; when you have that much distance between you and the rest of the pack, there’s plenty of time to catch your breath and bark orders of encouragement at your teammates. 

Vaillancourt and Traffie seem poised to carry Mascenic far enough to compete for what would be a school-record fourth straight Division III title. 

“We didn’t lose much to graduation, so we knew we were going to be solid,” Coach Smith said. But after nearly eight months of unstructured training during remote learning and an uncertain, hands-off summer, Smith said he’s just hoping his runners get back up to speed safely.

“For me, if the kids get through the entire season, that’s the best thing that can possibly happen,” Smith said. 

Conant’s chances on the day were hampered by soccer and SATs, as two of the Orioles better runners, Austin Poikonen and Ethan Vitello, were unavailable. With that in mind, Edson said he strategized to improve his middle-of-the-pack runners, so crucial to a team championship run. 

“As a competitor, to have the chance to race against the top team in the state, that’s a tough thing to let go,” Edson said, “but it was the right thing to do today.”

Conant’s top two, Matt Bernier and Ethan Weinhold, were right up front, taking third (18:13) and fourth (18:32) respectively. John Mormando (19:26) landed in seventh, but Mascenic took seven of the top 10 spots for the team win.

Behind Mascenic’s top two of Landen Vaillancourt and Connor Traffie were Jethro Somero (fifth, 18:43), Drew Traffie (sixth, 19:14), Ryan O’Shea (eighth, 19:59), Payton Vaillancourt (ninth, 22:05), Dom Cicchetti (10th, 22:08) and Jimmy Crawford (16th, 33:25).

Also finishing for Conant were Eamon Gregory (11th, 22:14), Austin Richard (12th, 22:57), Trent O’Neill (13th, 23:12) Joey Cooper (14th, 24:27) and John Ciglar (15th, 25:27). 

Mascenic’s stalwart Quinn Aldrich took first place in the girls’ race in 21:25, the long-legged senior showing improvement on the type of broken-ground course that’s given her trouble in the past. Despite missing their No. 2 runner freshman Skye Lambert, out briefly with an injury, the Vikings were able to snag a team victory, thanks in no small part to the rest of the strong incoming freshman class. 

“A lot of times freshmen come in and they’re really green,” Smith said. “These girls have been at it together for so long that the transition’s been reasonably seamless.”

After senior Sydney Bane (fourth, 23:43), it was freshmen Emma Schaumloffel (sixth, 24:14) and Amelia Smith (seventh, 24:58), followed by teammates Maya Callahan (eighth, 25:22), Victoria Smith (ninth, 25:32) and another freshman, Gracie German (10th, 25:48).

Rounding out the finishers for Mascenic were freshman Florrie Schaumloffel (12th, 28:03) and sophomore Charlotte Crawford (16th, 35:52). 

Conant’s other finishers were Kylie Aho (fifth, 23:45), Zolie Pothier (11th, 26:18), Laurel Bennett (13th, 19:25) and Ellie Cassidy (14th, 29:27).

Mascenic hosts that tough Monadnock squad Friday, while Conant is in action at home hosting Division I Merrimack on Saturday. 

GIRLS’ SOCCER

WLC 5, Conant 2

Elisabeth Jacob scored all five of the Warriors’ goals Wednesday evening as WLC’s top goal-scorer picked up this season right where she left off last fall. 

Brooke Lane, Bri Fish and Adri Bausha provided the assists.

Head coach Dan Ayotte, who originally planned to take a year off from coaching, returned to the team last week after all. Ayotte said he’s got a short bench this year with only one sub after losing senior captain Sam Yurcak to a preseason ACL injury; Ayotte is hoping for some middle school call-ups to bolster their ranks. 

Heather Gonyea scored twice for Conant in the loss. 

Conant 3, Wilton-Lyndeborough 2 (OT)

Conant wasn’t going to let Elisabeth Jacob beat them again. The WLC junior scoring machine hit the Orioles with five goals in Wednesday’s matchup, and Conant head coach Adam Patria was determined to slow her down in Saturday’s rematch. 

“It was Liz 5, Conant 2 the other day,” Patria said. “For an opposing coach, that’s unacceptable. We dedicated a few practices this week to commitment to defending and today was the product of that.”

Even with the extra attention, Jacob – who’s had plenty of experience in Warrior opponents’ crosshairs –  still broke through for two WLC goals in the first five minutes of the game, and for a moment it looked like things might go the Warriors’ way in another blowout.

That’s when Ireland Aucoin made her presence felt. The Conant freshman forward got two right place, right time rebound goals and tied the game up for the Orioles. From there, Conant backup keeper Kelly Williams settled in and made a number of great saves to keep the score tied, including a stop on a Jacob penalty kick that would have won the game in the final two minutes. 

“She’s a really good goalie,” said WLC head coach Dan Ayotte. “And, we made it easier for her because we were shooting the ball right at her.”

Kaia Colby kept up the defensive pressure on Jacob while Megan Graff patrolled the midfield for Conant; Brooke Lane did a little of everything for WLC while Bri Fish kept the Warriors’ defensive end clear, and the two teams finished regulation tied at two.

In the overtime period, Conant forward Heather Gonyea earned a direct kick; the Warrior shield wall screened keeper Tiffany Cuddihy, and Gonyea’s kick was perfectly placed in the right corner for the golden goal. 

“The team came together,” Patria said. “Today was an accumulation of hard work, recommitment and getting a little frustration out.”

Conant (1-2) hosts Keene Wednesday at 4 p.m. WLC (1-1) is at Keene Wednesday at 4 p.m. (Keene has both an Orange and a Black team as they compete against non-Division I programs this season).

BOYS’ SOCCER

Keene 5, Mascenic 0

The Vikings were shut out to start their season under new head coach Jeremy Taylor. The Blackbirds scored three in succession to end the first half and piled on two more in the second. First-year keeper Jarred Sullivan made nine saves, and Shea Zina and Jack Cocozella helped blunt the Keene attack on defense, Taylor said. 

Mascenic 7, Keene 4

The Vikings beat the Keene Orange team on Saturday. Striker Joe Cocozella got the scoring started to give Mascenic  an early lead. Keene was able to answer about ten minutes later, but striker Sean Agonis was able to cut through Keene's defense to score two unassisted goals to put Mascenic up 3-1 at half. 

Mascenic opened the second half flat, head coach Jeremy Taylor said, and miscommunication in the midfield allowed Keene to score three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead, but this awakened the offense, and close to midway through the second, Dylan Barthel provided an equalizer and Agonis completed his hat trick to take a 5-4 lead. Shea Zina converted a penalty kick late, and in the 78th minute, Wyatt Duval finished the scoring with a beautiful header off of a Blaine Krook corner.

Keeper Jarred Sullivan had nine saves on 13 shots, and center back Jack Cocozella added a save of his own. Krook finished the day with three assists from the left midfield position.

Mascenic (1-1) is at Monadnock Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

WLC 1, Conant 1

Wednesday’s Wilton-Lyndeborough/Conant boys’ soccer showdown featured new coaches and new faces, but the result was the same chippy, competitive action viewers have come to expect over the past few years of this interdivisional rivalry. The two teams are evenly matched – so even, in fact, that Wednesday’s game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Bananas and chocolate milk were on the menu for first-year Conant head coach Tom Harvey’s boys Wednesday night after their second straight double-overtime game to start out their season.

“We’re really excited about what they’re giving us in terms of effort,” Harvey said. “They’re working hard in practice.”

WLC was able to get on the board right off the bat on a corner kick by Paul van Blarigan that hooked inside the post in front of Conant’s replacement goalkeeper Jordan Nagle. With Garrett Somero – who Harvey said is “probably the best goalkeeper in the state in Division III” – out for a couple games with an injury, Harvey tapped Nagle to play in net, and besides his one early positioning miscue, Nagle kept the visitors off the board. 

“He’s one of those examples of a good, young athlete who’s got great hands – he’s a basketball player – and he can hustle around, and he’s an intelligent kid,” Harvey said. 

The Warriors got on the wrong side of the referees early on, drawing a pair of yellow cards which are par for the course in this physical rivalry. Their penalties would end up costing them in the second half, when Conant speedster Ethan Vitello earned a direct kick and put it in the right side of the WLC net along the ground past keeper Joe Krug to tie the game with 28 minutes left to go. 

Both teams had their chances in the rest of regulation and both overtime periods, but Krug and Nagle kept their rapidly tiring opponents out of the goal, and the Warriors fired a few balls off the crossbar or over the net entirely.

“We had a bunch of shots at the end of the game,” said WLC head coach Dan Nelson, “but we’ve got to get the ball down. That’s been our biggest thing.”

WLC 7, Conant 0

With both teams banged up after Wednesday’s double overtime dustup, it was a much different game between the Warriors and Orioles Saturday morning. Conant coach Tom Harvey said he left eight players back home to rest and played a lot of his second string Saturday. WLC took advantage of that and a good week of practice to cruise to a blowout win and improve to 1-0-1. 

“Our players brought practice to the games,” said WLC head coach Dan Nelson. “I had a totally different team than the other day.”

Matt Hadley had a hat trick and an assist for WLC; Paul Van Blarigan and Austin Kimball added two goals each; Troy Brennan had one and Sean Brennan scored on a PK to round out the scoring. Sam Townsend added two assists. 

Conant (0-2-1) is at Keene Wednesday at 4 p.m.

FIELD HOCKEY

Conant 1, Keene 0

Bella Hayes broke a scoreless tie late in the fourth quarter to propel Conant to a 1-0 win over Keene Wednesday.

“We played well, we communicated and we stayed composed,” said head coach Jackie Brown.

Elizabeth Gonyea assisted on the gamewinner. 

Conant 4, Keene 0

The Orioles shut out Keene’s Orange team Friday with many Orioles playing out of position to get coach Jackie Brown’s nine freshmen some playing time. 

Junior Teagan Kirby scored twice and senior Elizabeth Gonyea and freshman Meg Newton scored once each. Ella Weinhold and Chelsea Dupuis had an assist apiece. Newton, Natalie Lambert and Bella Hayes all had good games, coach Brown said. 

Conant (2-1) is off until Oct. 6 at Monadnock. 

Keene 4, Mascenic 0

The Vikings fell victim to some growing pains Thursday in their shutout loss to Keene. Ally Adams played well in net for Mascenic, head coach Selena Shaw said, and stopped a penalty stroke.

GOLF

The Mascenic golf team held off Conant and Monadnock at Bretwood Wednesday to win the three-team match. Joseph Lisio shot an even par 35 to take medalist honors as the Vikings shot a 187 as team. Ryan Goodrich (44), Bryce Traffie (50), Spencer Sikkila (58) and Casey Brox (64) also shot well for Mascenic. 

Conant’s Hayden Ketola shot a team best 42 for the Orioles, followed by Jordan Ketola (50), Grant Ketola (50), Draven Seppala (57), Jacob DiPasquale (58) and Francesca Ketola (58). 

Conant finished in third place with a 199, just behind Monadnock’s 193.

Both teams are back in action Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Shattuck.


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