Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A MARVELOUS NIGHT AT THE MEAD

The right side of the tree-lined lane that leads to spacious and beautiful Tunxis Mead Park was decorated with staggered signs honoring the seniors on the Farmington High girls soccer team.

On the left side, a little further ahead, the six seniors on Nelle Andrews' resurgent field hockey team were given their due.

The soccer field, named after the inimitable godfather of Farmington soccer Al Bell, was brightly lit with the junior varsity teams from Farmington and East Catholic squaring off. The baseball field, named for venerable Farmington sportsman and educator John Grocki, had its outfield adapted to host the field hockey team as is done once a year so the girls can play under the lights.

The field hockey parents had a gas grill smoking, churning out burgers and hot dogs to the folks on hand to watch Farmington play its last home game as an independent team. No FHS program will benefit more from the school's move to the Central Connecticut Conference next year. For the first time in generations, the girls who don the skirts and wield the curved sticks will get a chance to play for a league championship next fall.

The field hockey game started at 6:30 p.m. after the seniors were honored. The soccer game went off at 7 p.m. What a brilliant night for girls sports, for two teams that figure to go deep in their respective tournaments that begin next week.

Depth and determination were keys to two Farmington victories.

The stickers grabbed a 2-0 lead, ran fresh legs out in the second half and a decent Watertown team (6-6-1) couldn't keep pace. And Farmington, after getting a week off due to the cancellation of a match with Northwest Catholic, will end up playing five games in seven days.

"They're tired," Andrews said. "It's definitely been stressful. A lot of them have tons of schoolwork going on with the end of the quarter last week. It's frustrating, but it's definitely because we've been a non-league team and we have to get squeezed into everyone's open week. We'll be in a league next year and hopefully won't have that problem."

The booters withstood a game East Catholic squad, that outplayed Farmington early and had the game tied at 1 until Bonnie Boornazian, Kaylin Berger, Holly Cherlin, Taylor Escajeda, Kelly Boudreau and company took control.

Boornazian, a junior who had the game-winning goal in the state championship as a freshman, proved that she has recovered sufficiently from knee surgery. Her game gets better and better by the day. She scored twice in the 3-1 win over East.

"Two years ago, we lost to East Catholic on senior night and we didn't want to let that happen again," she said. "This was the last time playing in (the Northwest Conference) so we wanted to play well for our seniors and ourselves and end on a good note."

Boornazian had surgery January 31 and nobody was sure what kind of impact it would have on her game.

"The season was hard for me," she said. "I worked a lot but I finally got back to where I want to be. ... Coach (Steve Jarvis) said I'm getting my confidence back and that's all I want -- to get better every game."

Grocki Field went dark first. As the lights went out on Bell Field shortly thereafter, Farmington athletic director Jack Phelan had reason to smile. It was a marvelous night at the Mead.

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