Spring Sports Season Recap
May 20, 2019
The Cherry Hill East Boys’ Tennis Team is in the midst of one of its best seasons in the last decade. The boys have started the season 12-0, which has granted them the title of Olympic Conference American Division Champions for the third year in a row.
This year feels different for the Cougars, due to a strong emergence of leadership from the senior class. Adam Yu (‘19), first singles and a TCNJ tennis recruit, has had one of his best seasons yet, winning all three of his matches against Lenape, a rival to East. He also had an impressive win against Cherokee. However, it is not just Yu who is making an impact. The whole team is pulling their weight, including Nathan Belitsky (‘22) and Brett Schuster (‘22), two freshmen who have made an astounding impact on the varsity level.
“Right now we are -0, which is honestly like a dream start,” said Yu.
As the Cougars head into the Group IV South playoffs as a number one seed, they look to remain confident and keep fighting for every point. They also hope that this season ends differently than the last three: winning a sectional title. The Cougars have come up just short these past three seasons, but this year, the talent is like no other.
“We’ve been there three years in a row. We’ve lost We know how that feels. We’ve lost in all sorts of ways… This year I feel like we have the talent and the confidence to go out there and win,” said head coach Greg deWolf.
As the season comes to a close in the next couple of weeks, the Cougars will put everything they have in competing for the coveted sectional title.
The Cherry Hill East baseball team has been rolling through the first half of the season. Through the first 15 games, the Cougars have won twelve games and only lost three. These wins include a 5-4 walk off win against the number one team in the state and East’s rivals, Cherry Hill West. Other key wins include conference wins against Lenape and Cherokee. According to shortstop, Alec Rodriguez (‘19) East’s success comes from great teamwork
“We have to come in, get our work in, be serious…. We have to be within ourselves, we have to be smart and focus on what we are doing,” said Rodriguez.
Although the Cougars have played very well so far, they have a few bad loses. These include a 14-2 loss to Shawnee and a 11-1 loss against Bishop Eustace. According to Rodriguez, the team still needs to work on limiting errors and their approach at the plate.
“Overall we do a good job at minimizing the errors and strikeouts but we still need to work on being more consistent with it,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the Cougars’ ultimate goal is to win Group IV and he says the team is more than capable of achieving it.
“I know what we have in this team, I know what we can do… There is a lot of good talent and chemistry on this team and we are prepared to make a run for Group IV,” said Rodriguez.
Easts last few games of the season may be their most important. They play five straight conference games. Winning these games would help the Cougars win the conference.
It’s midway through the 2019 spring season and the Cherry Hill East Boys Lacrosse team’s goals are yet to be surpassed. So far this season, the team has lost a couple of close games that they should have won.
Justin Meyers, head coach, said, “I think this is the most talent we’ve had, [but] we aren’t getting up for every game and that’s not going to work in our conference.”
The key players to look out for on the team are midfielders Andy Murphy (‘19), Brendon Porras (‘19), Brandon Weinstock (‘19) and goalie Harrison Gutin (‘19). All four seniors are the captains.
Meyers said, “[Our] captains have really developed as leaders this season which I am very happy about.”
The team has a great relationship with each other and they treat each other as if they are family.
“The guys are very close on and off the field. There are a lot of team building activities, [and] team meals throughout the season,” said Meyers.
The practice schedule is intense, with two hours of practice after school from 3-5 and practices from 8-10 in the morning on Saturday.
“We try to keep an up tempo practice and move the ball as quickly up the field as quickly as possible,” Meyers said.
The team has many goals to round out the season. They have worked extremely hard in practice, and hope that it culminates in a couple of big wins.
“One of our goals was to beat Eastern because they are a Group IV team and we wanted to prove who we are, and we succeed and beat them,” said Murphy.
Meyers hopes that the team will aim for a spot in the playoffs since they will not go .500 for this season. While Meyers wishes that the team had a more intensive focus, he is glad that the boys have an amazing chemistry in order to come together and play the sport they all love.
When it comes to softball, don’t count the East girls out. With five wins, nine losses and six more games to go, this has been one of the most successful seasons to date. The season started out strong, winning against Shawnee, a team they haven’t beaten in 15 years. The season has been great so far but there are still goals to be met.
Head Coach Jen Peifer said, “Our goals are to have fun, finish strong, continue to get leadership out of our senior captains, to stay positive and win more games by keeping the mental mistakes to a minimum.”
The team is looking forward to more fundraisers and clinics to get them motivated for playoffs in the next couple of weeks.
“We are holding a softball clinic for young girls aged 9-12 that live in Cherry Hill on May 6 and May 9. Our varsity girls will be instructing and helping to develop these young players’ skills,” said Peifer.
Miranda Sheppard (‘19), one of the three varsity captains, has really helped the team feel like a family.
Sheppard said, “This year we are having much more fun as a group, we have some pretty good hitters that are consistently hitting this year. Myself, Carli Ciocco (‘19), and Elizabeth Massaro (‘19) are all co-captains. We have tried to make this a fun and memorable year. Having more social time rather than just having fun on the softball field is very important to have good collaboration when it comes to game time. For this being my last year with the most wins with five so far and possibly making the playoffs, I must say that this has been a great year.”
The team has really focused on bonding outside of the field this year. Massaro led a cookie dough fundraiser event in November. Not only did the team bond, but they raised over 1,500 dollars.
“I enjoy the team and the positivity they constantly demonstrate. They always give 100% in practice and games. They all get along well with each other and have developed more of a family atmosphere with this team,” Peifer said.
The team is working hard to be successful during playoffs in the upcoming weeks.
The boy’s volleyball season is already set and they are almost through their season. Although their season is beginning to wind down, they are bumping their way through. The boy’s varsity volleyball team holds a tight record of 7-8, hoping to come out on top with a record of 9-8 by the end of the season.
The team is mixed between the four grades, accepting a selected few of freshmen to step up and play varsity; Ansh Mehta (‘22), Akash Patel (‘22) and Owen O’Connell (‘22). The team has certainly faced many obstacles and struggles along their way, but they still managed to keep up the wins and fight back.
Captains Calvin Chan (‘19), Dhwani Patel (‘19), and Saurabh Shah (‘19) have been working together to balance out the team’s strengths and weaknesses to help and improve the team as a whole.
Shah said, “The volleyball team at East always has fun. We’re always pretty good compared to the rest of our conference, but we are definitely more fun.”
The team is proud of their work so far, including some impressive wins over some of their biggest rivals.
“We beat Williamstown who we lost to three times last year,” said Coach Brian Zaun.
Zaun has been coaching the team for five years and was disappointed to not make it to the playoffs this year, but hopes to see them ace their season next year and attempt to make it to the playoffs and win their conference.
Having the patience to putt perfectly is not an easy job. The East Golf Team this year has been crushing the competition with a record of 11-4, which is better than previous records. With a rotating starting six, the golf team so far has had a great season.
The Cougars have about nine people playing on the team, and each match has six starters. The team has been working on staying consistent and continuously pulling through with wins.
According to Jacob Fowler (‘19), one of the players, the game is all mental. The golf players have to keep their mind in a positive place and not let bad shots get in their way and affect what the previous holes will have ahead.
The coach, Mr. Ryan James, has been working hard to get the team ready for their matches. He tries to keep them motivated by staying calm, and inspiring the players to do their best. Having been an experienced coach, James knows what is necessary for a successful team.
The golf team has practice everyday except for days they have matches, and Friday. Practice varies, considering that everyday at practice they play nine holes. Nine holes may not seem like much, but these practices could last up to three hours each day.
Fowler, has expressed what the game is all about to him.
He said, “You always have to keep an upbeat and positive attitude which is probably the most difficult thing to do on the golf course. Half of the battle of golf is mental.”
The golf team has been puttin in great effort, and hopes to continue to increase their record.
Boys’ Track and Field
Cherry Hill East’s track and field program has had a well-acclaimed history. Consisting of consistent outstanding senior leadership and great training, the team has been successful year after year. While last year’s season set the bar lower for this season compared to years past, coach Anthony Maniscalco has been very pleased with his team’s performance so far.
Maniscalco said, “If I had to sum [the season] up in a sentence, it’s going much better than last year. Across the board in all domains we’re better.”
Seniors such as thrower Nick Kokolis (‘19), long distance runner Kyle Krell (‘19) and sprinter Marc Andre (‘19) have had strong seasons thus far and have led their team well. Kokolis’s performance in the shot put has put him in company with East greats from the eighties. Andre has succeeded greatly with the hurdles this year, and Maniscalco is confident Andre will reach the state competition level for the first time in his high school career.
“The season as a team has been going by very well… we have multiple underclassmen that are stepping up and are excelling in their respective events. We have our sights on winning the conference,” said Andre.
In the 3200 meter race last season, the Cougars only had one runner that broke the ten minute mark. This season the Cougars have had four runners break the mark: Oliver Adler (‘19), Aiden Eyre (‘21), Krell and Justin Whitney (‘21).
Adler said, “I think the season has been pretty successful thus far for a lot of athletes. I think that most people, including me, are hitting their stride right about now.”
“If you looked at us a year ago, we were just in that rebuilding stage… And honesty right now it’s just about building the confidence of a young team that’s really on the verge of great things,” said Maniscalco.
Girls’ Track and Field
Throughout the years, Cherry Hill East has consistently had a competitive track program for both the boys and the girls team. The girls track team and coach Yanell Holiday entered the 2019 season confident. The team possesses great senior leadership from Dani Lazarus (‘19), Georgetown track commit Maya Drayton (‘19) and Boston College cross country and track and field commit Sarah Pierce. With these girls leading the way and the team having many underclassmen with great potential, the girls had high expectations for the season.
“I think [the season has] been outstanding. We’ve been performing like I anticipated.We’re always a force. A team you can’t take for granted,” said Holliday.
The Cougars currently are number one in South Jersey in the distance medley thanks to great performances from Pierce and underclassmen Elliana Tonghini (‘22) MaryKate McCurdy (‘21) and Zeyonna Davis (‘21) at the Rowan University Open. McCurdy also won the 1600 meter race at the Camden County Championships and Pierce came in second. The Cougars came in fifth overall place at the meet, a mark that is very hard to reach. The Cougars have many goals they hope to achieve before the season ends.
Drayton said, “The season has gone by super fast so far and the bigger, important meets are coming up pretty soon. We have a lot of new people and new faces on the track team that have become a major role and asset on the team.”
“My goals for this season are to qualify for State Group Championships and advance to Meet of Champions and in the 1600 or 3200. I also want our team to break the 4×800 school record and advance to State Group Meet,” Pierce said.
In addition, the field team has also had a lot of success this season. The team is very yong, which is a positive for them moving forward. Key members have been Aliyah Anderson (‘19) and Paloma McNurty (‘19), along with a plethora of underclassmen.
“For me personally, it would be accomplishing if I set a new personal record in the high jump and cleared 5’2 because I have been consistently jumping 5 feet since winter season. For my running events and my relays, I want to decrease my time as much as possible,” said Aliyah Anderson (‘19).
Overall, the track and field team hopes to succeed in the final few laps of the season.
As the Cherry Hill East Girls Lacrosse team’s season come to an end, the year proved to be an immense improvement from the 2017-18 season. As the team finished with a record of 4-13 last year, they improved to a winning 10-9. While the season had several ups and downs, the team looked to be largely better than previous years.
While the team’s three top goal scorers, Paige Miller (‘21), Julia Cutler (‘20) and Sydney Cicha (‘20), will be returning next season, the team is losing strong senior leadership from Ellie Weinberg (‘19), Ali Kueny (‘19), and Juliane Calalo (‘19). The rest of the team plan to take the leadership from the seniors to improve in upcoming years.
“I am confident that the returning players will step up and fill the void… but three of the seniors were three year varsity staters and the team will definitely be different without them,” said Miller.
Julia Cutler coincides with Miller and a majority of the team’s feelings on their leaders.
“It’s going to be hard to replace our seniors. They were great assets on the field and they were great leaders to the team during every practice and game,” said Cutler.
While the team is losing many strong players, they had many successes throughout the season.
According the Cutler and Miller, their greatest success came from their against Kingsway with a score of 15-10. They played Kingsway earlier in the season and lost by five goals, however, in their second match, they came back and beat them by five goals.
“It was a huge win for us considering it was a conference game to a competitive team. It was a great team win and really gave the team more confidence” said Miller.
However, next year the team hopes to improve on their endurance and attitude during some games.
“We tend to lose hope when we’re losing and instead of coming back… we don’t try that hard and more goals are scored… when we try as hard as we can and work as a unit… we’re unstoppable,” said Cutler.
Overall, the team had a very successful and improving season, and many of the players look to grow on their strengths for next season.