Athletic Director Details Fall Sports Highlights

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VHS football capped a 12-0 season with divisional, sectional and regional championships.

Verona High School Athletic Director Robert Merkler hailed the achievements of the fall sports teams in a presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday night. “It was a great fall season this year,” he said, “as our teams competed in their sports starting in the summer heat and ending it in the cold of MetLife Stadium.”

Merkler noted that field hockey completed its first season this year, playing a strictly JV schedule. “The girls competed hard every day and will continue to get better,” he said.

Boys cross country finished 3-6 in the American Division and placed sixth in the section. David Navarro was named honorable mention All-Division. Girls cross country medalled at the state sectionals and qualified for the state group championships. Veronica Valera and Jenika Ying took home second team All-Division honors while Annalie Ying and Lauren Kobernick received honorable mention.

The girls cross country team, seen here celebrating their finish in Group 2 sectionals, had a very strong season.
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Boys soccer finished with a 10-8 record, which Merkler noted is a five-game improvement over last season. They advanced to the second round of the state tournament and also beat Group 1 champion Glen Ridge twice. Graham Weber and Ben Batson were named first team All-Division, Declan Maisano and Aidan Murphy were second teamers, and Christian Despecci and Jerry Strippoli were named honorable mention.

This year’s boys soccer seniors were Andrew Castillo, Alejandro Celi, Max Handler, Aiden Murphy, Nick Napoli, Liam Patel, Jerry Strippoli and Sam Zamloot.

Girls soccer finished the year 7-9 overall and 4-3 in division. “They advanced to the state tournament where they lost a heartbreaker,” Merkler said. Emma Zalewski earned first team All-Division, Rebecca Siclari and Maggie Lonsinger were named second team, and Olivia Vogel and Karen Andre were honorable mention.

“Girls volleyball had another outstanding season as the young squad finished the year with a 21-9 record and a final ranking of #4 in Group 1,” Merkler noted. Volleyball advanced to the sectional finals for the fourth straight season where they fell to Kinnelon. “They return a number of players next year, so it should be an exciting one,” he added. Kelly Waterman and Ashley Duhaney were named first team All-Division while Patricia Rakova was named second team. Jessica Loudon and Megan Meehan both were named honorable mention.

Volleyball advanced to the sectional finals for the fourth straight season.

The VHS cheer squad again competed in a Cheer for a Cure event at Bloomfield High School and held their own Cheer for a Cure event in Verona. “Both events benefitted breast cancer research and raised thousands of dollars,” Merkler said.

Girls tennis finished 16-6 this year, which Merkler noted is a nine-game improvement from 2018. They captured the Colonial Division championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the county tournament and the semifinals of the state tournament. Tennis had four first team All-Division selections in Alyssa Deo, Ashley Baumguard, Sara Sexton, and Gillian O’Donnell. Kylee Gallagher was named second team and Brooke Anquillare was named honorable mention.

Girls tennis finished 16-6 this year, a nine-game improvement from 2018.
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Merkler saved the accomplishments of the VHS football team for last. Football had a 12-0 season, and in that undefeated season they captured the White Division championship, the North 2 Group 2 sectional championship as well as the North Jersey regional championship with a 41-0 win over Lyndhurst. “It was a truly dominant season as the average margin of victory was 39-11,” Merkler said. A number of students earned All-Division or All-County honors including first teamers Isaac Skrivanic, Christian Dionisio, Zach Bucher, Shane Lawless, Cael Zebrowski, Frank Riggio, Jake McConnachie, Nick Gonzalez, Ryan Stanisci and Steven Luehs. Second teamers include Rich DiGeronimo and Nick Algieri, while Ryan Huze and Griffin Jordan were named honorable mention.

Field hockey returned to VHS this year after an absence of several decades.

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