Photo Credit: Steve Montambault and Julia Caruso
Let’s talk about the Woodland Girl’s Basketball Team. The team hasn’t been a large topic of conversation for the last few years- that is until now. This year the girls have transformed from a team constantly struggling to win games into a cohesive,true power within the NVL.
Last year, the girls ended the season with six wins and fifteen losses. However, that was last year, and things have changed quite a bit in one season. The girls have the current record of nine wins, and three losses with numerous victories to follow in the remaining season.
With history making wins, the girls have broken through barriers the team has never overcame before. Senior captains of the team, Cameron Caswell, Jill Chicano, and Carlo Piccolo, share the highlights of their season so far.
The girls explain the greatest moment they have experienced thus far as a Hawk: their victory against long time rival, Kennedy High School. This victory marked the first win the girls’ basketball team has had against Kennedy in all of the senior’s time at Woodland.
“Teams don’t prepare for us. We’re underestimated and we use it to our own advantage,” said Piccolo. “They take us as a guaranteed win. And then it’s half time, we’re winning, and they’re frustrated,” Caswell elaborates.
Although the team’s record speaks for itself, the girls have reached a milestone they haven’t achieved in over three years. After the team’s victory against Sacred Heart, they were hit with the realization that they were in a spot unimaginable this time last year: the team was going to states for the first time since 2012.
“We knew going in that if we won that game we would be going to states,” shares Chicano. “It was on our mindset the whole time, and was our motivation to succeed.”
However it takes more than just a mindset to transfigure a record from fifteen losses and six wins to three losses and nine wins. The girls describe the shift that has taken place this year that put the team in it’s current spot. Caswell, Piccolo, and Chicano express how practices have been brought to a new level of intensity. Before crucial games Head Varsity Coach, Jess Moffo, focuses primarily on varsity play drills and uses techniques such as “situationals.” The team describes these as specific high pressure situations that will help prepare them for real life game time.
“In past years they didn’t work as smoothly,” shares Piccolo. “However, this year we are able to take those skills we learned in practice and apply them to games.”
The girls also share that communication has played a large role in their ability to maintain a steady four quarters. In past years the girls would get frustrated and lose momentum by the fourth quarter, whereas this year the team remains calm and finishes the game with consistent effort.
Additions to the team that have attributed to it’s success include: juniors, Maddie Hupprich, Jenna Pannone, Jennifer Triana, Morina Bojak, and sophomore, Haley Andrews. Each athlete individually carries their own strengths, but what makes this group of girls so fluent as one team is their ability to work together as a single unit.
“As a whole, all our players this year learned to play for the name on the front of the jersey – Woodland,” shares Hupprich.
But above all, each athlete on the team credits this year’s success to their coach. Moffo is known to be one of the most passionate and dedicated coaches Woodland has to offer. With abundant support and faith in her team, no one pushes them to work harder than their head coach.
“She has so much faith in us,” shares Chicano. “As we get better, her expectations for us get higher and we are pushed to work harder.”
Following the trend the team is following, they will only advance more throughout their remaining season. Games to see include Watertown, this Friday at Watertown High School; Wolcott, January 25 at home; and Seymour, January 27 at home.
This year, the girls have proved to be a strong force in the NVL and shocked everyone with their winning streak. They have worked harder than ever before and are not to be underestimated in their remainder of their season.