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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
From start to finish, 2016-2017 was an incredibly successful year for Wellesley High School and youth athletics. All of the athletes who competed did so with honor, pure class, and extremely hard work. However, it would be a disservice to these boys and girls not to recognize the ones who went above and beyond, both through personal stats and records, and by helping guide their teams to success.
August 2016. Wellesley South Little League returned to Bristol, Connecticut for the New England Regional for the second time in five years as part of the Little League World Series. Wellesley took down Portsmouth, New Hampshire 10-0 via the mercy rule in the semifinals behind a solid performance on the mound by Mark Henshon (4 1/3 IP, 6 K, 3 H, 0 ER).
Unfortunately, Wellesley would fall to Warwick, Rhode Island in the New England finals, coming just one win shy of going to Williamsport. Despite the loss, the summer of 2016 is one that none of these Wellesley Little Leaguers will ever forget, and can only be described as an immense success.
September – November 2016. Of all the Wellesley High School athletic teams in 2016-2017, only one was able to go through the entire regular season undefeated, and that just so happened to be Grant Chryssicas, Brendan Dolan, and the WHS football squad. The Raiders won each of their first seven games, awarding them the No. 2 seed in Division 1A South. Wellesley took care of business in the quarterfinal round against No. 7 Hingham, prevailing by a final of 43-22 thanks to a four touchdown performance by Chryssicas (three rushing and one receiving), one score on a scramble by Jack Tishman, and one through the air by Dolan.
The Raiders would fall to No. 6 seed Bridgewater-Raynham 9-0 in the semifinals the following week, ending their postseason run. However, Wellesley concluded the season strong thanks to wins over Brockton (27-20) and rival Needham (34-14) on Thanksgiving.
November 14, 2016. Following an upset road win over No. 3 Silver Lake (3-2) in overtime, the Wellesley High School varsity soccer team earned a date with their arch-rivals to the east, Needham, in the quarterfinal round of the Division I South Sectionals. Sophomore goalkeeper Anders Pineau was stellar between the pipes, holding the heavily favored Rockets off the scoreboard throughout all of regulation. Unfortunately, Wellesley’s season would come to an end following a golden goal by Needham in overtime. However, 2016 was an incredibly successful season for Wellesley, as it proved that there is a lot of promise for the future with guys like Pineau and Colby Stakun-Pickering heading into the prime of their careers as juniors next season.
December 2016 – March 2017. Both the Wellesley High School boys and girls varsity hockey teams enjoyed stunning seasons in 2016-2017. The boys finished the regular season 14-5-1 and earned the No. 2 seed in Division I South, while the girls finished at 13-4-3 and earned the No. 10 seed in Division II. Along with the No. 2 seed came a first-round bye for the boys before upending Bay State Conference rival Natick (5-1) in the quarterfinals. The boys would fall to Braintree in the South semifinals, however, by a final of 1-0. The girls defeated Stoneham 3-0 in the preliminary round before falling to Westwood 2-1 in overtime three days later.April 2017 – June 2017. The Wellesley High School boys and girls varsity lacrosse teams each had extremely successful seasons, both within and outside of the Bay State Conference. The boys finished the regular season 13-5 thanks to the solid play in net by Penn State commit Teddy Darcey, as well as all of the offense supplied by Amherst-bound Grant Chryssicas and Skidmore-bound Brennan Conroy, and earned the No. 6 seed in Division I South. The girls, meanwhile, also finished the regular season at 13-5 and earned the No. 5 seed in Division I South, thanks in large part to the play of junior midfielder and scoring machine Caitlin Chicoski as well as sophomore midfielder Brooke Baker. The girls would defeat Braintree (12-10) in the first-round before falling to Needham in the quarterfinals, while the boys took down Mansfield (10-9) in first round before falling to Duxbury (10-4) in the quarterfinals.
June 14, 2017. Golf is often labeled as the hardest sport on the planet. But, don’t tell that to the WHS girls golf team, who took home the Division I state title on June 14 at Heritage Country Club in Charlton with a total score of 383. Caroline Lane led the way for the lady-Raiders, shooting a 93 on the afternoon. The title was a particularly redemptive one for the Raiders, who fell in the state championships to Notre Dame Academy (Worcester) last year. The Raiders’ victory in Charlton prevented back-to-back titles for NDA.
June 17, 2017. Unarguably the best Cinderella run out of all Wellesley High School athletic teams in 2016-2017 was that of the varsity baseball team. After a 12-8 regular season, the Raiders earned the No. 13 seed in Division I South. Wins over No. 4 Mansfield (3-2), No. 5 Barnstable (5-1), No. 8 Durfee (7-6 in nine innings), and No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham (3-1) awarded the Raiders the South Sectional crown and advanced them to the state semifinals. A complete game, 10-strikeout performance by Henry Weycker lifted the Raiders past Lowell in the Division I semifinals and into the state title game, but unfortunately, a 5-1 loss to Western Mass champs Taconic put an end to an absolutely incredible postseason for the Raiders.
Congratulations to all of these athletes on a wonderful season and for all of their success. Good luck in post-high school life to the 2017 senior class and to everybody else - we are looking forward to watching you compete again in 2017-2018.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.