Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Sports

Tigers Continue Winning Tradition with Perfect Season

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Senior captain Scott Testori finished his storied career with the Hand boys’ soccer squad by winning the National Player of the Year Award this year. Testori scored a school-record 86 goals, while helping the Tigers win a host of titles during his career. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source

Senior captain Scott Testori finished his storied career with the Hand boys’ soccer squad by winning the National Player of the Year Award this year. Testori scored a school-record 86 goals, while helping the Tigers win a host of titles during his career. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)

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Senior captain Christopher Porte dished out 15 assists for a Tigers’ team that took the SCC Division B championship with a victory versus Guilford in the tournament final this fall. 

File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source

Senior captain Christopher Porte dished out 15 assists for a Tigers’ team that took the SCC Division B championship with a victory versus Guilford in the tournament final this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)

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Senior Jack Wildermann earned All-SCC Division B and All-State accolades for his play in the midfield with the Hand boys’ soccer team in the 2020 season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source

Senior Jack Wildermann earned All-SCC Division B and All-State accolades for his play in the midfield with the Hand boys’ soccer team in the 2020 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)

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Senior Jason Wallack and the Tigers posted an unblemished record of 11-0 and won a divisional title during the recent fall season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source

Senior Jason Wallack and the Tigers posted an unblemished record of 11-0 and won a divisional title during the recent fall season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)

The Hand boys’ soccer team claimed its fourth-straight Class L state championship in 2019 and had its sights set on winning No. 5 come 2020. Although the Tigers never had a chance to get the five-peat, they put together an excellent season that featured a perfect record and culminated with a divisional title.

There were no state tournaments held this fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tigers’ Head Coach Greg Cumpstone came to the realization that Hand might not even have a season at all and simply wanted his team to get out on the field. The Tigers were able to do that and more by winning all 10 of their regular-season games and then claiming a 3-1 win over Guilford in the SCC Division B Tournament final to finish at 11-0 for the year.

“I am super happy with the way the season went. Just getting out on the field and being able to have a season was important, and there were lots of times when I thought that was going to be impossible,” Coach Cumpstone said. “Obviously, we are all disappointed that there wasn’t a State Tournament, because we felt we had a team more than capable of winning our fifth title on the trot, but I understand why having a State Tournament this year was not possible. It was a pleasure to watch my team play.”

Hand featured one of the best offensive teams in the state this season, led by senior captains Scott Testori and Chris Porte. Testori, a forward, finished his season with 28 goals and nine assists, while Porte, defender, had 15 assists for the Tigers.

Testori earned All-SCC Division B, All-State, and All-New England, and All-American recognition for his efforts during the 2020 season. He broke the school record for goals at Hand by scoring 86 for his career to go along with 32 assists. Testori is a two-time SCC Player of the Year and Connecticut Player of the Year award winner and has also made All-New England and All-American in each of the last two seasons.

Last week, Testori received the highest honor there is for any high school soccer athlete in the country when he was named the National Player of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches Association. Testori, who will continue his career at UConn, is the first player from Connecticut to be named the National Player of the Year.

“It was an amazing achievement for Scott, but also for our program and his teammates,” said Cumpstone. “I did think that Scott Testori and Chris Porte did a fantastic job as captains this year. They were always the first to arrive to training, and they really set the standard of what it means to be a Daniel Hand captain. Hopefully, the younger players made a note of that and will replicate that attitude in the years to come.”

Along with Testori and Porte, seniors Jack Wildermann and Jason Wallack were also pivotal to the Tigers’ success this year. Wildermann manned the midfield all season, while Wallack provided a spark on the attack for the Tigers. Wallack and Porte combined for 19 goals as both players garnered All-Conference and All-State accolades. Wildermann was also selected to the All-SCC Division B and All-State teams on behalf of Coach Cumpstone’s club.

“Jason gave us incision and dynamism in the attacking third. He finished in the top five in the conference in goals and assists. His ability to create space and beat players in [1-on-1] situations helped to create countless chances for his teammates,” Cumpstone said. “Jack was the player who knitted our team’s overall play together better than anyone else. As the defensive midfielder, he was responsible for linking our defense to our attack in possession and shielding the back line out of possession.”

One of the biggest difficulties for the Tigers this season was playing a condensed schedule. With only two games a week, Cumpstone felt that it was imperative for Hand to have strong practices on a day-in and day-out basis throughout a quite unusual campaign.

“We did get used to the precautions fairly quickly. We have to give huge credit to the athletic department at Daniel Hand and, in particular, our athletic trainer Terry Ajaski, who attended each and every one of our training sessions and games to help manage the safety protocols and take temperatures,” said Cumpstone. “Not having fans wasn’t and will never be normal. Without fans, soccer is not soccer. It was great that at the end of the year some parents were allowed to attend, but not having our student section was a real bummer.”

The Tigers saw several memorable moments throughout the course of their season. Cumpstone said that capping off the year by beating Guilford to win an SCC title was the best one of them all.

“We had several awesome moments—Sam Wheeler’s volley against Guilford to cap a 6-1 victory, the comeback [2-1 win] against Xavier after being down with about seven minutes to go,” Cumpstone said. “But the best moment has to be winning the SCC against Guilford at home to cap off a perfect season, which was our objective at the beginning of the year.”

Hand is graduating 14 seniors from a team that Coach Cumpstone said he will remember forever. Even though he wishes that his club had a shot at winning another state crown, Cumpstone feels proud about how the Tigers continued their winning tradition with a perfect season in 2020.

“I’d like to reiterate how special it was to work with these players. They gave their all from day one and were such incredible examples to the underclassmen and such fantastic representatives of the town of Madison and Daniel Hand High School,” said Cumpstone. “Their achievements are incredible. In their four years, they won nine titles and only lost seven games. How many high school athletes can say that, across their entire career, they picked up more silverware than they did losses?”

The Hand boys’ soccer team’s roster includes senior captains Scott Testori and Chris Porte; fellow seniors Eli Davies, Roman Barahona, Michael Wehrle, Evan Birdsey, Matthew Luongo, Daven Pelaez, Sean Burke, Ryder McMurray, Adam Laffargue, Jason Wallack, Joaquin Fernandez-Duque, and Jack Wildermann; and juniors Gavin Jorens, Rhett Newton, Jacob Kraft, Joseph Mazzarella, Aiden MacKay, Lucas Vest, Sam Wheeler, and Timothy Perez.




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