2018 Taft Day Preview

by Roger Wistar

With almost every Hotchkiss team traveling to Taft on Saturday, it seems like a good time to preview the matchups and give an update for each team. The cross country teams will be making the trip to Avon for the New England championships. Thanks to several coaches for contributing reports for their teams, as noted below.

NOTE: The autumnal monsoons that have struck the Litchfield hills have resulted in several last-minute changes to times and locations, so please check the website for the latest information about each game. Go Bearcats!


Girls Cross Country (2-4) at New England Championships
The Rhinos edged out the Bearcats 33-22 at the team's only head-to-head matchup on Oct. 6. Notes head coach Anna Friedman: "At Founders, our JV team tied for first, ahead of Taft, who finished fourth.  Taft's varsity squad came in ahead of ours, but with a few stand-out races, we are still hoping we might edge them out this weekend."

Varsity Field Hockey (11-1-1) vs. Taft (11-3-2)
From head coach Kait Leonard: "Going into the Taft day matchup, we're looking forward to meeting another strong Taft field hockey team to cap off the regular season. Both teams have had an equally successful season so far, and we're excited for another test of our strength on the field. I've been proud of the way our team has come together as a unit this year, and building off of that, we'll be looking to play a consistent game for 60 minutes, focusing on poise and patience while finding the right moments to attack. 

JV Field Hockey (3-1-4) vs. Taft (9-1-1)
Both teams come into this game hot, having lost only one game all season. In Taft's case, the Rhinos dropped their season opener and then have gone undefeated the rest of the season, including six straight wins. The Bearcats enjoyed a string of ties to open the season, but have won their last three games.

Thirds Field Hockey (4-2-1) vs. Taft (1-5-2)
From head coach David Bolmer: "With one game left in the season, thirds field hockey has a good, but small, record of 4-2-1. A handful of games have been canceled and the weather has been consistently wet, but this young team of 20 players have played hard and done well. There have been a couple of exciting game endings. In one game we scored with 24 seconds left and in another we scored with just 2 seconds left!  Having won the earlier game with Taft at home way back in September, the team is expecting a more difficult challenge on Taft Day."

Girls Varsity Soccer (8-2-5) vs. Taft (6-4-2)
From head coach Christy Cooper: "We'll be looking for a big win against a strong Taft team.  Taft is always ready for us; no matter what our respective records are, the game is a battle.  I know the girls will give all they've got to end the regular season on a high note for our ten graduating seniors, a group of fabulous people who have meant a great deal to our program!"

Girls JV Soccer (6-3-1) vs. Taft (4-3-5)
From head coach Patrick Boor: "After Hotchkiss beat  Taft 4-1 on the opening day of the season, the Rhinos will be looking to exact revenge on Taft Day. Taft was missing some key players during our first matchup, so we expect a more intense game this time around. One of the team goals we set at the beginning of the year was to beat Taft on Taft Day, which hasn't happened in a couple years. The girls are working hard this week in practice to add a capstone to an already very successful winning season."

Girls Thirds Soccer (8-0)
It goes without saying that an undefeated season is a successful one, so kudos to coaches Bridget Dixon Moon and Sam King, captains Britney Douglas '19 and Amanda Maia '19, and the rest of the Bearcats for closing out the season with three hard-fought, one-goal victories!

Varsity Volleyball (5-8) vs. Taft (15-1)
From head coach Eileen Sullivan: "Varsity volleyball is looking forward to the opportunity to upset #2 seed Taft on Saturday. Led by seniors Ginny Barnes and Nia Warren, our defense generates a strong offense, and we are excited about finishing up our season with a win!"

JV Volleyball (10-6) vs. Taft (13-1)
From assistant coach Katherine Boyd: "Our spirited team of thirteen girls, spanning all class years at Hotchkiss, came together beautifully.  And while roughly half of the girls had never played together, you would never know it – they supported each other through every point and every match. We are looking forward to confronting and confounding the Rhinos this Saturday."

Thirds Volleyball (10-3) vs. Taft (1-5)
The mighty thirds volleyball squad heads into Taft Day coming off a 3-0 sweep of Loomis on Wednesday. The Bearcats enjoyed another dominant season, with sweeps in eight of their ten victories. Two of their three losses came in five sets. Both of the teams' two earlier meetings this season ended in 3-0 victories for Hotchkiss.

Boys Cross Country (8-1) at New England Championships
From head coach Pierre Yoo: "I am excited for both of our teams this weekend at New Englands.  Our varsity team finished undefeated in dual meet competition vs. Founders League schools and we will continue to run as one unit focused and determined as we sprint to the finish off this season.  The JV team has had an undefeated season.  The coaches are proud of what this team has accomplished and are excited to see what they have in store for one more race.  We will continue to run for each other."

Varsity Football (0-7) vs. Taft (6-1)
From head coach Danny Smith: "The Hotchkiss Football team has overcome a rash of injuries and a number of close, gut-wrenching losses this fall. The kids, however, have pulled together and supported one another throughout the season. They play hard and play with emotion. The Bearcats look forward to the opportunity to represent the school on the gridiron this Saturday."

Boys Varsity Soccer (5-9-3) vs. Taft (12-2-2)
From head coach Jay Thornhill: "I'm extremely proud of our team for their dedication and commitment this season.  Despite the records, they have accomplished a lot and have demonstrated their ability to compete at the very highest level.  They will be charged and ready to compete against Taft."

Boys JV Soccer (8-1-4) vs. Taft (9-1-1)
Boys JV soccer should produce another exciting result in the rivalry between the two teams. This year's contest represents an irresistible force (Taft) against an immovable object (Hotchkiss). Once again the Bearcats are stout on defense – only twice this season have they conceded more than one goal in any game. The Rhinos, on the other hand, come into the game as an offensive juggernaut, having scored at least four goals in nine of their 11 games.

Boys Thirds Soccer (10-1) vs. Taft (9-3-1)
The two thirds teams should also put on an entertaining show. Coach Fall's squad has won its last seven games in a row by a combined score of 22-4. The Rhinos also come in hot with wins in five of their last six games, including a 12-2 demolition of Trinity-Pawling on Wednesday.

Boys Varsity Water Polo (2-11)
The boys water polo team established a new foundation this season under new head coach and program alumnus Kurt Hinck. Three of the team's losses were by four goals or fewer, and the team was ahead or tied in several games. Kudos to the leadership of captains Fernando Elizondo Junco '19 and Andrew Lim '19 and the other seniors. The Bearcats will return 15 players next season to continue their progress.

Varsity Mountain Biking
Last week the varsity mountain biking team concluded their first full season as an officially recognized varsity program. Kudos to coaches Mike Fitzgerald and Ted Miller, captains Alex Kulicki '19 and Jackson Wolf '19, and all eight members of the team for their hard racing this season. The team competed in five races this year, up from four last year, and finished second or third in each race.

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