Silver Chips Online

Fall Sports Review

November 23, 2010
Last night Blair sports teams brought the fall season to an official close with the annual Fall Sports Awards Banquet, which celebrated outstanding athletes of the 2010 season. For many teams, this was a year of heartbreaking losses and unforgettable victories. Varsity Football delivered an exciting Homecoming win against Walter Johnson. Freshman Morgana D'Ottavi rocketed to the lead in Cross Country, at both Regional and State levels. Boys' soccer's slim loss in double overtime in the playoffs after a successful season was a tough reminder that you can't know the outcome of a game until the clock runs down. Whether they were fighting for every point or putting away multiple goals per game with ease (we're looking at you, girls' varsity soccer) Blair's sports teams have provided fans with an exciting and extraordinary season.

by Eli Schwadron
Blazers push forward towards their 21-14 win over Spring Brook. Colin Wiencek
Blazers push forward towards their 21-14 win over Spring Brook.
The varsity football team finished its 2010 season with a record of 4-6. The Blazers finished strong, winning their last three games, but failed to reach the playoffs in a tough Montgomery 4A East that featured Sherwood (10-1) and Springbrook (7-4) atop the division.

Senior co-captain Caleb Furlow was disappointed in the team's losing record. "We didn't come close to our expectations. We planned to finish over .500," he said. Senior co-captain Assani Mudimbi echoed Furlow's feelings concerning the team's end result. "We planned on being 7-3, but we just didn't get some of the breaks we needed," he said.

Furlow said the team struggled to close out games. "We had to overcome some really tough losses against Paint Branch, Springbrook and BCC," he said. "They were all winnable in the last minutes; they just didn't go our way."

Although Blair failed to reach post-season play, the team came up with exciting wins, including a 43-42 victory over Wheaton thanks to a game-winning touchdown by Jonathan Aiken in the game's final minutes. Furlow pinpointed a homecoming win over Walter Johnson and a 16-8 victory over Northwood as other season highlights.

Mudimbi and Furlow carried much of the load on offense for the Blazers, combining for well over 200 yards of total offense in almost every game. Quarterbacks Elisee Francois, Robert Clingman and Carlos Flores, who shared snaps, all contributed greatly to the team's four wins. Defensively, senior Chris Hinton provided steady, consistent play from the linebacker position while junior Peter Gondor hauled in four interceptions on the season.

Both Mudimbi and Furlow have high hopes for returning players next year. Next season, the team will lose around eight to ten starters on offense and six or seven on defense. "It will be a re-building year with a bunch of [current] juniors on the team," Mudimbi said. "Hopefully they do well. They have a lot of young talent coming up from JV," Furlow said. The Blazers hope to compete for a playoff berth in 2011. "We'll just have to wait for the schedule to come out," Mudimbi said.

Field Hockey
by Molly Nicholson
Despite losing a disappointing playoff game to Sherwood, the varsity field hockey ended a successful season with a 7-6 record and high hopes for next year.

According to head coach Christine Denny, although the team had seven losses, Blair improved every game and implemented the lessons they learned from each game. "We played teams that have improved, and we held our own," Denny said.

Senior co-captain Miranda Bernard fights hard to beat a Sherwood defender to the ball.  Bernard scored Blair's only goal against the Warriors. Lorena Kowalewski
Senior co-captain Miranda Bernard fights hard to beat a Sherwood defender to the ball. Bernard scored Blair's only goal against the Warriors.
The team made tremendous strides to be a contender in the county playoffs, including beating Paint Branch for the first time and going into double overtime against Clarksburg. "Clarksburg is an extremely difficult team, but we held our own," Denny said.

The team will lose five seniors, three of them captains. According to Denny, the team will graduate almost all of their midfield and five of the strongest players on the field. Both Denny and senior co-captain Miranda Bernard expressed confidence in the skills of returning players. "We have good sophomores and juniors, as long as they play in the offseason, next year should be a good year," Bernard said.

Next year, junior goalie Molly Flannagan will continue to control the goal. "She was instrumental in all the wins," Denny said. According to Denny, Flannagan had over 100 saves this season and always showed confidence in the goal.

According to Denny, players to watch next year include junior Sarah Harper because of her versatility during the 2010 season and sophomore Zoe McCarthy, who was one of the top scorers this season.

Denny expects the team to adjust well next year after the seniors are gone, and knows the team will continue to improve every game throughout next year's season. "Winning is just a bonus," Denny said.

Editor's Note: Sarah Harper is a staff writer for Silver Chips Online.

Boys' Soccer
by Melissa Haniff
After a heartbreaking double-overtime playoff loss to Wootton in the first round of the playoffs, the boys' varsity soccer team finished an otherwise strong season with a 8-5-1 record.

Senior Santiago Orbes fights with Springbrook defenders for possession of the ball. Molly Ellison
Senior Santiago Orbes fights with Springbrook defenders for possession of the ball.
Despite starting the season beleaguered by injuries, the team pulled together and won to games by two or more goals. Blair's 2-1 win over Northwood in this season's Battle of the Boulevard was a major victory for the Blazers. "They have never beaten us and this year they had some talent...we were underdogs going into the game," senior goalie and co-captain Kit Durban said. The win helped the squad gain footing after they lost their first game to Northwest by a score of 1-0.

Freshman striker Donald Benamna, juniors Kevin Fallet and Sebastian Soto Daza as well as senior Santiago Orbes all made their mark this season. Benamna helped lead the Blazers' offensive attack this season after being called up from junior varsity, while Soto Daza and Orbes led the midfield and supported both the offensive and defense. After making the move from striker to center back, Fallet was able to lead Blair's defensive line effectively through the season.

However, the surprising playoff loss to Wootton left the Blazers a bit disheartened at the end of the season. "It was disappointing for the season to end the way it did--we beat Wootton 4-1 in the regular season and then lost on penalties in playoffs," Durban said. According to Durban, the team's expectations going into the season had been high, but the team wasn't able to capitalize as the season wound down. "We had hoped to make a run deep into states, but we let ourselves down towards the end of the season," he said.

The squad will lose seven seniors to graduation this year, including Durban and several other defense and midfield starters.

The team has a number of players returning next year, including Fallet, De Rossi, Soto Daza and junior Evan Horne, who will all be instrumental for the team to succeed. Head coach John Haigh noted that the high number of returning players should make for good team chemistry in next year.

Overall, both Durban and Haigh believed that the squad was strong this season despite some early struggles. "We lost a couple of games we probably should have won, but still managed to have a pretty good record," Durban said.

Girls' Soccer
by Myla Sapp
The girls' varsity soccer team completed the season with a 12-5 record and won a total of two playoff games. Their season ended with a close semi-final loss to the two-time defending state champion Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

Although the Blazers were disappointed to lose such a pivotal match, head coach Robert Gibb was proud of the team's success and achievements. "We played exciting and entertaining soccer this season," he said. "Three players [Sofia Read, Salehia Mayer- Marks, and Jamie Kator] scored over 10 goals individually, which is a huge accomplishment."

Forward Jamie Kator looks to take a shot against a Baron defender. Ben Buchholz
Forward Jamie Kator looks to take a shot against a Baron defender.
Along with the superb offensive play, Blairs' defensive effort was equally impressive. Junior goalkeeper Lena Meyerson only allowed 15 goals throughout the season. The Blazers scored a total of 69 season goals, and broke a previous team record. Senior co-captain Sana Barclay attributed the team's success to their high standards for the season. "I think we did a great job of setting high goals and working extremely hard to reach them," she said. "We also did a good job of staying positive and encouraging each other in stressful situations."

As a team, Barclay felt as though the Blazers showed a large amount of improvement from game to game. "During practices we focused a lot on finishing our corner kicks," she said. "As the season progressed we improved exponentially and the hard work paid off big time."

The Blazers lose seven graduating seniors as the season comes to a close, including the leadership of co-captains Larisa Antonisse, Read and Barclay. Although the team dynamic for next season is sure to change, Gibb is confident in the team's ability for future success. "This season gave us the confidence and experience we need to be more effective in the competitive games," he said.

Editor's Note: Larisa Antonisse is Managing Op/Ed Editor for Silver Chips Print

Cross Country
by Liv Jacobson
This year's cross country season was one of success and high performance. The girls' team went undefeated (5-0) during the regular season and won their division. The boys significantly improved from last season's losing record to this season's 3-2 record. "It's a really huge improvement from last year," senior Dominic Florin said.

Freshman Morgana D'Ottavi is currently ranked eighth in Montgomery County for girls' Cross Country. Lorena Kowalewski
Freshman Morgana D'Ottavi is currently ranked eighth in Montgomery County for girls' Cross Country.
Both the girls' and boys' teams performed well at the county championships, with the girls placing tenth and the boys placing 15th. Unfortunately, since the team did not place twelfth or above overall, they could not move up from Division III to Division II. The team had a solid performance at the regional championships as the girls placed ninth and the boys placed tenth, but the season-long goal for the girls' team to qualify for states was not met.

Freshman Morgana D'Ottavi, however, qualified for the state championship and placed tenth overall at the state level. This was a momentous occasion for Blair cross country, as the team has not had such as strong performer at the state level in many years. D'Ottavi's performance as a freshman shows great potential for her future at Blair, and according to head coach James Demma there are high hopes for future state championships.

The team will lose 23 seniors next season, which will have a great impact on the team. Notably, the team will lose seniors Jeremy Arduany and Florin, who both won dual meets individually. The large number of graduating seniors will be hard for the younger team members. "I'll miss so many of the seniors that I've gotten to know so well over the season," D'Ottavi said. Demma, however, is optimistic about the incoming freshman runners. "There's a good crop of freshman for next year," he said.

Girls' Tennis
by Allison Daitch
After losing six senior starters last year, the girls' varsity tennis team entered the season with low expectations. But the Lady Blazers surprised themselves and emerged with a winning 8-4 record by the end of the season. They kept their Division I status and placed sixth overall in counties.

Second singles sophomore Janvi Raichura fights back in the longest match of the day. Lorena Kowalewski
Second singles sophomore Janvi Raichura fights back in the longest match of the day.
Before the season started, head coach David Ngbea feared that the girls' tennis team wouldn't have enough players to create a complete Division I team. His fears were proved wrong after the girls defeated three Division I teams, securing their status as a Division I team. "They really went beyond my expectations," Ngbea said.

Adding on to a successful season was the impressive performance of fourth singles sophomore Allison Whitney, who finished with the best individual record of 10-2. Ngbea was impressed with Whitney's improvement and overall performance.

The team also excelled in doubles, another area about which Ngbea had been worried. The doubles teams were a major factor in determining the teams' wins and they all finished with identical records of 8-4. "All of the doubles played really well and were very successful," Ngbea said.

The team will be challenged again next season when they lose another six senior starters. The Lady Blazers will lose first singles, third singles and all first and second doubles. Nonetheless, a team that surpassed expectations this season could realistically repeat their success in the next season.

Girls' Volleyball
by Valerie Hu
Though the Blazers ended the season with more losses than they preferred, head coach Christopher Klein believes the season allowed the girls to exhibit their highest levels of sportsmanship. "We improved in every way this year; in terms of skills, discipline, volleyball IQ, maturity and character," he said.

Junior Nika Lilley prepares to attack the ball. Ben Buchholz
Junior Nika Lilley prepares to attack the ball.
The Lady Blazers finished the season with a record of 4-10. After a loss to Magruder in the playoffs, the Blazers finished last place in the 4A West Division. However, sophomore captain Kathlyn Skolnik does not believe the Blazers' 4-10 record accurately reflects their capacity. "A record always represents performance, but this season it didn't represent our ability," she said. Klein agreed that the girls performed inconsistently, but always played competitively. "We were alternately frustrating and electrifying," he said.

In an unforgettable match against Springbrook, the Lady Blazers rose to victory from a ten-point deficit in the fifth set. "It was probably the most exciting single sports event I've ever coached," Klein said.

The Blazers look forward to an exciting season next year with a team of returning players. "We are sad to say goodbye to Anna Ferrario, our 12th grade Italian exchange student, but we are excited to look to the future," Klein said. "Our team will stay intact, so now we will just add more depth and complexity to our game."