Taft Day Preview (Boys Varsity Cross Country, Boys Varsity Water Polo, Girls Varsity Cross Country, Varsity Field Hockey, JV Field Hockey, Boys JV Soccer, Varsity Volleyball, JV Volleyball, Girls JV Soccer, Girls JV Cross Country, Girls Varsity Soccer, Girls Thirds Soccer, Boys Thirds Soccer, Thirds Field Hockey, Boys JV Cross Country, Varsity Football, JV Football, Boys Varsity Soccer)

Roger Wistar

Once again the Bearcats host the Rhinos on Saturday to renew their historic rivalry, so it seems like a good time to preview the matchups and give an update for each team. Thanks to several coaches for contributing reports for their teams, as noted below.

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Girls Cross Country (6-1) at New Englands (Andover)

From Coach Bell: “Girls Cross Country is heading to Andover for the NEPSTA Division I championships. We're hoping to use our hill-running strength to our advantage, on their roller-coaster course, and we hope we can outrun some teams who prefer to run on flat courses. It will be especially fun for the team to take an overnight trip, and it will be a great experience for the JV's to compete against elite teams and runners for the first time. Mostly, though, we're hoping for seniors Allie Sperry, Dylan Alles, Matilda Whitney, and Isa Johnson to return home to Hotchkiss with warm memories of the day and their years of dedication to Hotchkiss cross country.”

Varsity Field Hockey (10-0) vs. Taft, (11-3) 1:45 p.m.

For the second season in a row, the varsity field hockey team carries a perfect record into their season-ending clash with Taft. Although the team had to cancel four of its last five games due to the snowstorm, the Bearcats recorded a 3-1 win against Loomis on Wednesday. Says Coach Chandler: “Once again it will be a tough battle between two very strong teams fighting it out for the top position in Western New England and Founders.”

JV Field Hockey (6-0) vs. Taft, (4-3-3) 3:15 p.m.

The only other undefeated Hotchkiss fall team enters Saturday’s game with the hopes of securing a plaque and a little piece of immortality. The JV girls have outscored their opponents 21-4 this season and have never surrendered more than one goal to their opponents in any game. They should face a determined test from the Rhinos, who notched a dominating 6-1 victory over KO in their last game.

Thirds Field Hockey (5-2)

The thirds field hockey team suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime, 3-2 to Rumsey Hall in their final game on Wednesday. Coaches Biden and Janelli and the team enjoyed great success on the field for most of the season, however, beating every other opponent on their schedule.

Girls Varsity Soccer (9-6-1) vs. Taft, (6-3-3) 2:00 p.m.

From Coach Cooper: “Without question, our young team wants to go out with a win on Saturday. Though we have had a stretch of tough, close games in the last week, we believe we can find victory on Hoyt on Taft Day and in doing so, keep a flicker of hope alive for postseason play. It is our goal to finish strong and at least make the tournament selection committee think about us!”

Girls JV Soccer (7-2-1) vs. Taft (2-2-1), 2:15 p.m.

The JV girls soccer team has uncorked a high-octane offense this season, scoring three or more goals in each of its wins. The team eked out a more narrow 1-0 victory over Loomis in its last game on Wednesday, but it was the first JV win over Loomis in more than five years. Says Coach White: “We have lots of contributors, with all 24 girls on the roster playing in almost every game. Taft is always a tough team, and I expect them to be strong again this year, and to play a disciplined, well-organized game. It should be a great contest.”

Girls Thirds Soccer (1-4)

The girls thirds soccer team’s toughest opponent this season was probably Mother Nature. Five of the ten contests on their schedule were knocked out by a variety of circumstances, including the snowstorm and some early season downpours. Although the team recorded only one victory, the girls scoring output increased every game, including a 4-6 loss to Salisbury Central on Oct. 24.

Varsity Volleyball (7-6) vs. Taft (12-5), 1:45 p.m.

The varsity volleyball team has had the prototypical up-and-down season – with no winning streaks or losing streaks of more than two games. After coming off a tough 3-2 loss to Choate, the Bearcats bounced back to sweep Loomis on Wednesday. Now the team looks to consolidate their playoff berth with a season-ending win over Taft. The Rhinos, who beat Hotchkiss 3-0 on Oct. 5, enter the match coming off their own loss to Choate but having won the previous four matches.

JV Volleyball (7-5) vs. Taft (9-1), 1:45 p.m.

The JV volleyball team looks to avenge a close 3-2 loss to Taft back on Oct. 5 when they host the Rhinos on Saturday. The Bearcats have split their last six matches sandwiched around the snowstorm. They should face a tough test in Taft, whose only loss came to Choate on Oct. 15.

Boys Cross Country (6-2) at New Englands (Andover)

The boys cross country team is enjoying what is inarguably its most successful season in recent memory, with a 6-2 record in dual meets and a second-place finish at last weekend’s Founders championship. The runners on the team continue to improve their times with each week, and Avery Baldwin ’13 set two school records on the Hotchkiss course this season. Now the Bearcats will travel to Andover to aim for a high finish at the New England championships.

Varsity Football (1-5) vs. Taft (6-0), 3:00 p.m.

The varsity football team has faced literal and figurative blizzards this season, running into several very tough opponents on their schedule. Things don’t look to get much easier on Saturday as they face the undefeated Rhinos, who have scored at least 37 points in all six of their wins. Hotchkiss has won the last 14 games in this rivalry, including a dramatic 36-34 victory last year in Watertown. Says Coach Smith: “Hotchkiss will look to slow down the Rhinos’ high-powered passing attack.”

JV Football (1-5)

The JV football team ended the season on a high note with a victory over Berkshire on Sprole Field. The team recorded its best offensive performance on the day, also recording a safety and returning an interception for a touchdown.

Boys Varsity Soccer (9-3-1) vs. Taft, (11-1-1) 1:45 p.m.

From Coach Downs: “This year's boys varsity soccer game will be one for the record books as the game will once again take on a playoff atmosphere. Taft, posting its best season since 2003, will come into the match as the #1 Class A school in WNEPSSA. Hotchkiss, after its loss to Brunswick on Wednesday, will be looking to recapture the number one position in WNEPSSA with a victory over Taft. The game will also have strong implications for New England tournament bids and seedings.

Boys JV Soccer (2-8) vs. Taft (8-4-1), 2:15 p.m.

After struggling in the early part of the season, the boys JV soccer team has caught fire of late. The Bearcats have won their last two games by a combined score of 7-1 and can end the season on a three-game winning streak. To do that, they’ll have to beat a strong Rhinos team that won its last game 5-0 over Hopkins.

Boys Thirds Soccer (0-6-2) vs. Taft (1-4-5), 2:15 p.m.

The boys thirds soccer team enters Saturday looking for its first win of the season. The team has improved its defense steadily, allowing fewer goals in every game so far. As a result, the team has managed to earn two ties in its last four games, and will look to break through against Taft. The Rhinos have been the masters of symmetry this season, recording more ties than wins and losses combined. Taft is coached by former Hotchkiss teacher Chamby Zepeda, so the Rhinos should feel at home on the Taylor Field grass.

Boys Varsity Water Polo (3-6)

Sadly, the boys varsity water polo team’s record did not qualify them for postseason play this year. The team was forced to cancel its final two games during the snowstorm, so perhaps the final record could have been closer to .500. Always a crowd-pleaser, the Bearcats managed to win three of their four games at home, including a 21-11 win over Canterbury on Oct. 5.

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