Summer is fast approaching and that means the spring season in high school sports is coming to a close too. State tournament’s are right around the corner and this week’s Athletes of the Week, Newington’s Mike Ganley and Jessica Pierzchalski, are crucial players on teams that will be competing in their respective sport’s tournament.
The Newington boys lacrosse team just finished its regular season and it was one of the most successful seasons the team has had in quite some time. The Indians went 8-8 and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in four years.
Ganley isn’t the player that leads his team in goals and while he won’t have any sort of eye-popping stats, he is still invaluable to his team because of what he brings.
“He really is the only player we have that can take faceoffs,” head coach Zach Zarookian said. “He is so good at taking and winning those faceoffs and it makes him such an important part of this team.”
Ganley did finish the regular season with eight goals, so he is capable of helping the team out offensively, but he knows that where he can help the team most is after goals are scored.
“I came in as a freshman and it was just me and one other kid, a senior, that would do faceoffs,” Ganley said. “He helped me work on it and then after he left I took over and have really been working hard at getting even better.”
Taking faceoffs and then running right off the field afterwards, which Ganley does most times, isn’t the most glamorous job on the lacrosse field but it is a crucial one. Both Ganley and Zarookian know that he can be asset on the offensive side of the ball but the team just doesn’t have anyone else capable of taking faceoffs, which is a tiring job.
“I would love to get him out there on offense more,” Zarookian said. “When he does stay out there on offense he is capable of scoring but he is too important on faceoffs to tire him out.”
“It’s a little bit frustrating because I think I can help the team on offense,” Ganley said. “But at the same time I understand that I’m the only one and I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
The Newington girls golf team is similar to the boys lacrosse team in that it is enjoying its best season in quite some time. Through more than two-thirds of the season the team is 10-4 and has already qualified for the state tournament.
Pierzchalski is a big reason why as she has consistently been the top golfer all season as she has earned medalist five times with a top score of 42 on a par-36 course.
“Jessica is so important to the Newington High School girls golf team,” head coach Rich Condon said. “She can’t do it all herself and she has a very good supporting cast but she is the glue that keeps this team together and doing well day-in and day-out. Without her we would not be where we are. She is without a doubt the leader, the hardest working and the best of this good team.”
The junior has been golfing on the varsity level since her freshman season and she has steadily improved every year. She is starting to earn some recognition state-wide and is clearly among the elite player in the conference, according to Condon.
Pierzchalski was an all-conference selection in each of her first two seasons at Newington and is well on her way to a third. On top of that, she is a co-captain on this year’s team and earned a leadership award as a freshman.
“This season has been amazing not only because of the scores and wins but because of how much we have all improved individually,” Pierzchalski said. “I worked really hard last summer and fall in order to do well this spring season. I am thankful for all the help I have received from my coaches Coach Condon and Miller, my instructor Adam D'Amario, and my stepfather Manny DaSilva. I can't wait to see what else I can accomplish this year.”