Taft Day Preview

Once again Hotchkiss prepare to play gracious hosts to our archrivals from Watertown in the annual renewal of rivalries that is Taft Day. The cross country teams will be competing against the Rhinos a few hours away in the New England championships at Andover. Thanks to several coaches for contributing reports for their teams, as noted below.

As always, check the website Taft Day page for information, news, and updates. Go Bearcats!


Boys Cross Country (9-1) at New England Championships

The boys cross country team heads into their final race of the season coming off arguably the greatest result in program history, a first-ever win at the Founders League championships last weekend. The Bearcats enjoyed a comfortable 17-40 win against Taft in their only matchup this season. From head coach Pierre Yoo: “The newly minted Boys' Founders League champion at both the varsity and junior varsity level team, led by senior captains Huck Whittemore ’22, Owen-Zinn Keane ’22, Ben Johnson ’22, and Billy Meneses ’22, are hoping to continue to contribute to the win total.  In the past 10 years, we have finished ahead of Taft in both varsity and junior varsity levels in 17 out of the 18 races.”


Girls Cross Country (4-3) at New England Championships

Taft took the head-to-head matchup against the girls cross country team this year by a score of 41-19, so the Bearcats will look to get even on Saturday. From assistant coach Eva Liu: “Growth and teamwork are the two keywords of the season for the Hotchkiss girls cross country team.  Our runners have invested their time and effort into a grueling training schedule. Many runners achieved their personal best time of the season in the most recent race at the Founder's Championship. Runners run in packs during practice as well as during races. They push each other to perform their best. They also remind each other to stay positive even when the work gets hard, and their opponents are formidable.


Varsity Field Hockey (11-2) vs. Taft (12-4), 1:45 p.m.

The varsity field hockey game will be a pivotal contest that will decide the playoff fates of both teams as they hope to earn a berth in the tournament and a good seed to boot. After dropping a pair of games in mid-October, the Bearcats have responded with five straight wins. The Rhinos are also hot, with four wins in their last five games, including a 7-0 victory in their Wednesday matchup against Suffield.


JV Field Hockey (7-1) vs. Taft (9-2-2), 3:15 p.m.

Both JV field hockey teams bring a strong record into this year’s contest, the one and only matchup between the two teams. The Bearcats lost just a single game back in mid-October, and since that time have outscored their opponents 20-3. The Rhinos are just as hot, riding an eight-game winning streak into Saturday, with six shutouts. From head coach Maggie Crain: “Even though this is by far our smallest JV team with only thirteen players, we are mighty in effort and have won all our games with the exception of a 2-1 scrimmage loss to Sacred Heart. Captains Eliza Dana ’22, Margo Donahue ’22, and Sophie Davis ’22 have been great leaders for us this year and we are eager to take home another win on Taft Day.”


Thirds Field Hockey (3-3-1) vs. Taft (0-4), 3:15 p.m.

The thirds field hockey team will look to finish the season with a winning record after a tough 3-0 defeat on Wednesday to visiting Rumsey Hall. The Bearcats have only played the one game snice mid-October, but did get the better of Taft with a 2-1 win on Sep. 29 in the earlier meeting between the two teams.


Varsity Mountain Biking

The mountain biking team concluded its fourth season as a varsity sport with its championship race on Nov. 3. From head coach Mike Fitzgerald: “The Varsity Mountain Bike team has had a very successful season, led by captains Paul Shin ’22 and Charlie McLean ’22.  We had a core of experienced veterans joined by a fresh crop of new and younger riders, and all developed their skills and fitness on the bike this fall.  We competed in six races, with riders on the podium in every race across the classes.  Sadie Panaro ’25 won the season title for the Girls' class while Bea Conti ’22 and Sonia Rashid ’25 also saw the podium at least once.  Charlie McLean and Emmet Roswech ’25 both won A class races, and Charlie took second place for the A class season title.  Jeff Shi ’24 (C class), Sawyer Dillon ’24 (B class), and Adam Wright ’24 (B class) won races in the B and C classes before moving up mid-season. Beyond racing, the team participated in daily technical skills sessions, conditioning rides up Mt. Riga, and fun off campus trail rides on Saturdays.” 


Varsity Football (2-5) vs. Taft (4-3), 3:00 p.m.

The varsity football team will look to finish the season on a three-game winning streak as the traditional closing game of Taft Day. Both teams have identical 1-4 records against common opponents, so it should be a good matchup. From head coach Danny Smith: “The Bearcats are energized after two consecutive wins, including the epic 29-28 comeback win over Lawrenceville. Last Saturday at Kent, Brandon Ciccarello '22 rushed for four touchdowns and 174 yards to help lead Hotchkiss to an impressive 45-26 victory. Quarterback Cam Holland '24, end RJ Ihlefeld '22 and lineman Sean Donovan '23 have been standout players the past few weeks.”


Boys Varsity Soccer (7-6-4) vs. Taft (16-0), 2:15 p.m.

Like two years ago, the boys varsity soccer faces a stiff test in the undefeated Rhinos, who are the defending Founders League champion and a New England semifinalist in 2019. The Rhinos have won their last five games by a combined score of 35-2. The Bearcats are unbeaten in their previous three games, and this is the first meeting between the two teams. From head coach Mario Williams: “On Saturday, we compete against one of the strongest Taft teams in recent league history, and our boys want nothing more than to hand them their first defeat on the year. We acknowledge the challenge ahead of us but also relish the opportunity to solidify our position as one of New England’s elite boys varsity soccer programs and to end our regular season on a strong and positive note. Victory on Saturday will require a total team effort and a willingness to battle for the entire game, but we’re up for an all-hands-on-deck, scrappy dogfight.”


Boys JV Soccer (4-9-2) vs. Taft (8-3-1), 2:00 p.m.

The boys JV soccer team will have its hands full against a tough Taft squad on Saturday. The Bearcats will look to bounce back and end the season on a high note after a rough recent stretch. The Rhinos come in on a three-game winning streak, so the game will be a good test for both teams. This is the only meeting between the two teams this season.


Boys Thirds Soccer (8-2-2) vs. Taft (8-4-1), 2:00 p.m.

The always mighty fightin’ boys thirds team will have another titanic tilt with Taft on Saturday, as both teams enter the contest with sparkling records. Hotchkiss is riding a six-game unbeaten streak, including five straight wins and three shutouts. The Rhinos counter with wins in five of their last six games, including wins of 11-1 over T-P and 7-0 over Choate. The Bearcats got the better of Taft in Watertown with a 3-2 victory on Oct. 13.


Girls Varsity Soccer (10-4-2) vs. Taft (8-9), 2:15 p.m.

The girls varsity soccer team looks to make one more positive impression on the tournament selection committee with its season-ending game against Taft. The team has two wins, one loss, and two ties in its last five games. The Rhinos enter Saturday on a hot streak, having won four out of the last five games. From head coach Christy Cooper: “As is often the case, our last game of the season, the final game on Hoyt for our seniors, will be an important one for the team as we fight to earn a bid in the tournament again this year.  Scores around the league reflect great parity, so we know our game against Taft will be yet another hard-fought battle.  No matter what our records indicate, this always seems to be the case when the Rhinos meet the Bearcats.  We're looking forward to it!”


Girls JV Soccer (9-2) vs. Taft (9-5-1), 2:00 p.m.

Both teams head into Saturday’s matchup with impressive records on the season. The Bearcats had won six games in a row before dropping Wednesday’s contest against Loomis, so they will look to bounce back and end the season on a high note. The Rhinos enter the game with wins in three of their last five games. From head coach Missy Wolff: “The girls JV soccer team has fought tirelessly throughout the season, battling strong opponents and giving their all each game. Thanks in large part to our senior leaders, Aurora Smedvig ’22 and Sydney Goldstein ’22, the team knows when to focus and work hard, and when we can let loose and have some fun. Taft will be a formidable opponent, with skilled players and strong results this season. It will be a match up you don't want to miss!”


Varsity Volleyball (7-10) vs. Taft (4-11), 2:30 p.m.

Both volleyball teams have had tough seasons, but can finish strong with a win on Saturday. The Bearcats earned arguably their most dramatic win of the season against Taft back in October, rallying from an 0-2 deficit to earn a 3-2 match win. From head coach David Bolmer: “Our seniors have had an unusual experience the last few years, so it is good to end their volleyball career at home. It has been a season of close calls and quite a few key injuries, but the team is ready to end on a high note with another win against the Rhinos.”


JV Volleyball (8-5) vs. Taft (5-7), 2:30 p.m.

The JV volleyball team will look to finish another fine season against a Taft squad that has been scuffling of late. It has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for the Bearcats this season, with a five-match win streak, followed by a four-match losing streak, followed by another three wins in a row. Hotchkiss won the earlier-season matchup 3-1 on Oct. 6.


Thirds Volleyball (3-5) vs. Taft (5-5), 1:00 p.m.

The Taft Day festivities will begin on Saturday with this titanic clash between the two thirds volleyball teams. Hotchkiss swept Taft in the first meeting between the two teams, and hopes to repeat the feat to finish the season. From head coach Carrie Smith: “The thirds volleyball team has come a long way this season as far as individual skills and teamwork. Rosie Oberto ’25 led the way in serving up aces, followed by Poppy Morelli ’25 and Marisin McClain ’25.  Also of note was the strong role of our talented setters, Vanessa Weinert ’24 and Ophelia Cham ’25.”


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