Spectacular season from boys' soccer leads the way for Blair
Highlighted by an impressive run by the boys' soccer team, Blair varsity sports finished their fall seasons in fine fashion. 2006 saw its share of triumphs and hardships, but in the end, all the teams had seasons to be proud of. We say goodbye to the seniors who have donned Blair colors for the last time and look to the next generation of Blazers to lead the way into the future.
Hoping to build on last year's solid 6-4 record, Blair football entered the 2006 campaign with high hopes but could not duplicate their past success. The Blazers ended their year at a disappointing 2-8. Plagued by injuries across the board, the team struggled from day one, starting the year with a demoralizing seven-game losing streak that all but guaranteed a losing season. Despite the countless disappointments, this season was not without its bright spots. Late season wins over Einstein and Blake saved the year from being a complete embarrassment. Versatile senior Ross Williams played through numerous lingering injuries and performed exceptionally at multiple positions, including running back, wide receiver, quarterback, punter and punt/kick returner. Fellow seniors running back/fullback Rodger Brown, quarterback/wide receiver/cornerback Darius Smith and offensive lineman Scott Lavon contributed nicely as well. Although the loss of key seniors like Williams, Brown, Smith and Lavon will hurt, next season holds optimism. Freshman quarterback Alex Egber, who was handed the starting job midseason when William suffered an injury, will continue his development as he will likely be next season's opening day starter. With an offseason regiment in the works and an experienced quarterback, a return to respectability is well within the realm of possibility.
Boys' soccer finished at 12-2 this year, one of the best seasons in recent memory for any Blair sports team. The magical season ended with a heart wrenching 3-0 loss to Walter Johnson in the division 4A West semifinals. Both losses this season came at the hands of WJ, the eventual state co-champion. Blair easily captured the 4A East/West divisional title for the first time in three decades with a 11-1 regular season. This season's extraordinary run also included an 11 game win streak to start the year, an upset of local powerhouse Churchill and a spot in the Washington Post top ten rankings. In the playoffs, the team handily defeated Quince Orchard in the first round before falling to Walter Johnson. Duplicating this season's success next year will be difficult, as the current squad packs an astounding 18 seniors, including the team's four captains, Alex Asare-Wassow, Alec McLean, Mike Worden and Josh Zipin, as well as goalie Matt McClain. But with the pending return of super scoring sophomore midfielder Mikey Funes and a solid JV team in tow, coach Adrian Baez's squad is hopeful for the future. While a repeat of 2006 is a longshot, a streak of successful seasons is within reach.
The girls' soccer team followed up 2005's record-breaking run with another solid season in 2006, finishing with an 8-8 record and a playoff loss to top-seeded Wootton. 2006 saw runs of dominance and struggle alike, with a three-game win streak followed by a three-game losing streak before the team closed out the regular season with a win and an even 7-7 record. In the playoffs, the girls defeated Northwest before falling to Wootton in the regional quarterfinals. Coach Robert Gibb's squad loses 10 seniors, including captains Devon Madison and Danielle Peck as well as goalie Maggie Sullivan. Still, the team looks strong for the future with many deft underclassmen, including sophomore striker Annie Worden. With another strong season to build on, the program will look to be a strong competitor in 2007 and beyond.
The field hockey team finished with a 4-9 record and a close loss to Blake in the playoffs. This year was one of the first competitive seasons for the Blazers, with increased offensive production, including a seven-goal game, and many other contests decided by one or two scores. Seniors Maura Druhan, Claire Harper, Jessie Hallberlin, Christine Kim and Andrea Wilkinson had excellent years, with All-County play from Druhan, Hallberlin and Wilkinson. Coach Brook Franceschini is "very optimistic" about the future of the team. She saw considerable improvements from Julia Stratton, Eve Kenney and Claire Onley, who will look to emerge as key players next season. The current JV team packs considerable talent, and winter league play and private offseason coaching are in the works as well. After a promising 2006 season, the field hockey squad looks to emerge as a top contender for years to come.
Struggling with the loss of seven starters from last year's team, girls' tennis managed to hold their ground, finishing with a 5-7 record. Give the girls credit; nearly every returning player vaulted up in their positions on the team and performed at a high level to hang in there. Number one singles player Bonnie Ding feels as though the team members performed admirably at their new spots, especially the doubles teams. "For doubles, you've really got to be comfortable with your partner and get along well," she said. "Our doubles teams had never played together before and one even got switched around during the season." Walter Johnson and Churchill took advantage of the adjusting team early in the season, both hammering the Blazers in 7-0 wins, before the Blair found its groove. Senior captain Jess Cutler will be missed next year, but the opening of her fourth singles spot will spurn players to work even harder during the offseason to grab it. During the next season, girls' tennis will look to bank on the solid play of returning juniors and singles players Ding, Priyanka Gokhale and Jasleen Salwan.
This year's girls' volleyball team managed to scrape through with the same 7-7 record as last year. Although the team's the outstanding play did not result in a winning record, the team had an outstanding year, according to co-captain and setter Julie Zhu. "We used our strengths to our advantage and everyone had a chance to play," she said. The team played with high energy and spirit throughout the season even after losing to tough opponents. Many of the games were lost due to poor teamwork, but the squad was always quick to their feet for the next game. The team could improve in all aspects of the game for next season, especially passing and serving, according to Zhu. After a successful JV campaign, Katie Hague is expected to step up to varsity next year, and the team will need as much help from the dominating JV team (11-1) as possible; both starting outside hitters, Wendolyn Quintanilla and Felicia Olawuni, will graduate this year. The first-round tournament loss was no doubt disappointing, but the team will re-double efforts next year in hopes of a more impressive finish. Look for Zhu, Hague, and co-captain setter Julie Brice to get varsity rolling through the season next year.
Andrew Kung. Andrew Kung is a rising Magnet junior who is psyched for a year of Chips Online. He has lived in New York, Michigan, and New Mexico prior to his current residence in Maryland. As a cynical sports fan, he is not often disappointed, but not … More »
Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »