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The Week That Was

The Bishop O'Connell Sports Blog

 Assistant Athletic Director Tommy Orndorff provides us with his perspectives on the good, the better and the best on the playing field, on the track, in the water and on the court.

It's always a great day to be a KNIGHT!

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AquaKnights prosper in pool!

Some of the more popular blogs through the years have been Q&A sit-downs with our coaches. That noted, this week’s The Week That Was is a Q&A session with first-year varsity swimming coach Katie Scott.

Photos of relay swimmers

Q: You are a first-year head coach on the scholastic level here at DJO. Give us – the readers and myself – a little background on yourself.

Coach Scott: I am a Marymount University alumni, and I am originally from New Jersey. Non-swimming fun fact: I used to raise seeing eye dogs. I have been swimming since I was about four years old, and competed throughout high school and college. Currently, I am an assistant coach for Marymount University and Clark Swim Club. When I am not on the pool deck, I am usually swimming – training for my next open water event. I recently found out I will be swimming the English Channel in August of 2016. After that, my next exciting adventure will be getting married in June 2017.

Q: Back to coaching O'Connell swimming...Are you pleased with the season so far? What have you learned about yourself and your team over the last couple months?

Coach Scott: All in all, I believe our season went well. It was definitely a learning curve for me, as this was my first head coach position. I learned that I thrive when I have such a great and large group of talented individuals who truly love the sport. I know the team does much better when we are all together at meets. The environment is awesome! I think something to improve upon is being able to adapt and change with things as they come at us, whether that is a new coach, a new event or last-minute changes.

Q: Talk to me a little bit about the team itself, really summing up how the season went and what the future holds for both programs – the boys and the girls - both in swimming and diving. Share with us any highlights on the season to date.

Coach Scott: Our team has HUGE potential moving forward. While we are losing a lot on the men's side of the team, the women have a very solid group of underclassmen and upperclassmen remaining. What they should take from those graduating is the sense of leadership they exhibited throughout the year, reaching out and recruiting for the team. Highlights of our season would have to be the four meet records in a row set at the National Catholic Invitational and the senior meet. Both events really illustrated the group as a team, cheering/screaming for each other at both ends of the pool.

Q: Who are our top swimmers, and what makes them special? Why are these swimmers who they are?

Coach Scott: Madeline Donahoe and Sydney Catron are two standout swimmers to start off. They do not practice together, but when they are racing in the pool, it is evident they feed off of each others’ energy. Both girls posted top three times in our conference, Sydney going a 1:53 in her 200 freestyle at the NOVA Invite and Maddie's 4:47 All-American qualifying time in the 500 free at WMPSSDLS. On our men's side, the relay team of (John) Stahlman, (Sean) Bergmann, (Andrew) DiBenedetto, and (Grayson) Jazwick (all pictured top) was always a great race to watch. Our team will have a lot to make up next year as three of them are graduating. At the NOVA Invite, Andrew DiBenedetto was awarded Male Swimmer of the Meet, while John Stahlman set a new meet record in the 100 breaststroke.

Q: Looking at the season in its entirety, are you pleased with how the 2015-16 campaign transpired? Any surprises or major disappointments?

Coach Scott: As stated before this was definitely a learning year. It is exciting to see what kind of potential this group of men and women have and what they will do with it in the future.

This is Tommy Orndorff and that was The Week That Was.

Posted by torndorff in boys swim/dive, girls swim/dive on Thursday February 18
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Playoffs loom for DJO skaters!

Hockey photo - Vogel

Some of the more popular blogs through the years have been Q&A sit-downs with our coaches. That noted, this week’s The Week That Was is a Q&A session with varsity ice hockey coach, Flip Collins.

QUESTION: It is Year Three of the Flip Collins’ regime, and I am just trying to catch up as to the goings-on in the program. If I am correct, I believe that we are now 7-4-2 overall – losing twice to The Hun School, a nationally-acclaimed powerhouse program out of New Jersey, in the Purple Puck Invitational over the Christmas holidays. Talk to me a little bit about our season to date.

COACH COLLINS: We are now 9-4-2 after two wins this weekend in league play. Once again, we have put together one of the toughest high school hockey schedules in the Mid-Atlantic region. We are playing 14 teams who made their respective leagues’ playoffs last year. We had a successful run in this year’s Purple Puck – making it to the semi-finals for the first time since 2007, before losing to The Hun School.

Hale in goal

QUESTION: Also, share with myself and our readers some of the team’s highlights on the season. It is my understanding that we defeated DeMatha, 2-1, early on and tied top-ranked Gonzaga in the Purple Puck. That, in itself, is awfully impressive.

COACH COLLINS: Yes, we beat DeMatha in the first game of the season in a back-and-forth classic hard-hitting game. We also tied Gonzaga for the second year in a row, 1-1.

QUESTION: Talk to me about this year’s strengths, and any weaknesses or concerns that you may have with the regular season winding down and the playoffs on the horizon.

COACH COLLINS: Our strength, without a doubt, is our defense and goaltending. We play a defensive style and are comfortable playing with a one-goal lead. Our blue line has one senior, two juniors and two freshmen. We are definitely challenged offensively and run a low/high offensive with lots of shots from the points. Defense wins championships, so we will stick to our defense first scheme.

QUESTION: And, speaking of the post-season, where do we stand in the playoff picture? Who are the top teams this season? What are our goals come playoff time?

COACH COLLINS: It looks like we will be the 5th seed this year in the NVSHL. Stone Bridge, once again, is the top-rated team in the league, and they will be tough to beat. Our goal every year is to play for championship, and we are hoping to make it to the state championship game on Feb 26th at Kettler.

QUESTION: Who are our top players, both below the Blue Line and on the offensive side – and why are they so? What skills do each feature in their games?

Hockey - Burnham

COACH COLLINS: Senior captain Robert Burnham (pictured right) is one of the best defensemen in the league and quarterbacks our power play. Junior defensemen Jimmy Zinter, who stands 6’3”, is a monster and uses a combinations of skill and muscle to patrol the blue line. Junior defensemen Zack Cosgrove (pictured below) has an absolute cannon from the point. Offensively, we are led by junior Jason Vogel (pictured top) and freshmen Jake Smith, who both bring their lunch box to the rink everyday constantly out-working their opponents and finishing at the net. In goal, we are led by senior and last year's 2nd Team All-Met Zach Hale (pictured in goal, above), who can carry the team when he is on a roll or steal a win when we are short-handed.

QUESTION: Are there any personnel surprises this winter on the ice who have really stepped up their games?

COACH COLLINS: Without a doubt, our biggest surprise has been freshmen goalie Jack MacKinnon, who has three wins in his young high school career.

QUESTION: Also, talk to me a little bit about the Varsity 2 Team and what it entails. List some of its accomplishments/highlights over the course of the 2015-16 campaign. Also, who are our top players on the V2 team?

COACH COLLINS: The Varsity 2 team is our development team and plays in the NVSHL JV league. We have several travel players and new players sharpening their skills with this team. We design their practices to teach them the fundamentals and challenge them to work hard. This year we had a big freshmen class, and most of the players are freshmen and sophomores. Freshmen Kyle Leverone and sophomore Kennan Murphy have been leading the way.

Cosgrove - Hockey photoQUESTION: Anything else that you would like to add about your season, the program, or the direction that you see the DJO ice hockey program going under your guidance and leadership?

COACH COLLINS: I am never satisfied and always pushing our players to be better human beings and student/athletes. This spring we plan on having a rising 8th grader/freshman team in the Kettler Spring League. This will be an under-aged team and will give them great experience playing against older high school players. Next year we have applied to have both our teams play in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League with DeMatha, Gonzaga, Georgetown Prep and Calvert Hall to name a few. I have been wanting to have both teams in the MAPHL since I started coaching at DJO. The time is right and it falls in line with my long-terms goals for the hockey program.

This is Tommy Orndorff and that was The Week That Was.

Posted by torndorff in ice hockey on Tuesday February 9
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DJO girls on the threshold!

Taylor photo

First things first: I really, really like this team! Immensely!

For the first time in over 20 years, the varsity girls basketball team is ranked among the area’s elite in two recent Washington Post Top 20 polls. And, deservingly so!

It’s year four in the Aggie McCormick-Dix era, and things are looking up. Coming off a 16-16 campaign a year ago and an appearance in the Virginia Independent Schools State Championship Tournament finale, it appears the program is oh-so-close to becoming a factor in the nationally-acclaimed Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

Not since the days of the Finney twins and Michaal Tuttle has the program gained the accolades and recognition that are now evolving under the veteran mentor. And, being optimistic, I truly believe that this is just the beginning. This is not just a one-year aberration. Besides a trio of outstanding seniors, there are some nice young players in the system now.

But, it’s those three seniors that give this team a chance to be special. The 2015-16 edition is at the threshold, with the opportunity to finish top two or three in the WCAC and, once again, become a legit contender come state tournament time. Lofty expectations, but also very, very realistic.

At the forefront is Jasmine Taylor (pictured above), a versatile 5’11” athlete who can do it all – and, in essence, does. The ultimate competitor, Jasmine is first and foremost “a winner.” She can take you off the dribble or stick the trey from long range. She is a matchup nightmare for the opposition. Besides her awesome skill set, “Jas” has tremendous instincts for the game. She is as nice a talent as we have had on the girls’ hardwood in a long, long time. Just love her game and demeanor on the court. She’s all business out there – playing with a sense of purpose intent on prevailing when all is said and done. The Boston College signee plays with a drive and determination that is beyond compare. Never was that more evident than earlier in the campaign against a highly-touted McNamara contingent. She was not going to allow her team to lose that game. She has a great feel for the game. She redefined the word “winner” on that night. She’s the real deal!

Clemmons

Her side-kick, Janiya Clemmons (pictured right), is also an extremely gifted talent. A four-year varsity standout, her game has improved each and every year. She is an adept ball-handler who is at her best scoring off the bounce with her pull-up jumper, especially 17 feet in. Unlike many of her counterparts, the Columbia University-bound senior is extremely effective creating her own shot, elevating and displaying a nice touch as her shot finds the netting. Like “Jas,” Janiya plays hard and with a purpose. She has a tremendous work ethic, both on and off the playing court. The Ivy League is getting a good one.

The third member of that trio, Alicia Gonzales, was off to the best start of her four-year career at O’Connell – sparking her teammates with her play at both ends of the floor with her defensive tenacity and aggressive offensive game. An ACL injury has since sidelined her for the season, a tremendous loss for the team. As the team’s defensive stopper in the backcourt, she was invaluable – as Coach McCormick-Dix is quick to point out. Nevertheless, the little lefty is making her presence felt on the bench – providing insight to her teammates as to the x’s and o’s and just the game itself. She is taking her talents to Case Western at the collegiate level.

Perpignan

But the reason for long-term optimism is the supporting cast, most especially Brie Perpignan (pictured left) and Maddie Cherry.

Going back to the McNamara game in December, as good as Taylor was (and she was great), another coach said to me afterwards: “Brie was the best player on the court tonight.” And, somewhat amazingly, that was my exact thought at the time. Brie Perpignan was, without question, the best player on the floor that night. She was that good! Her game has come so far over the last 12 months. The little sophomore point guard has supreme quickness and speed, a good handle and can knock down the three from long range. She’s at her best taking the ball to the basket. This has been a break-out season for her. If her game keeps evolving, she could be big-time. She’s that good!

Cherry Photo

Another good one is junior Maddie Cherry (pictured right). She is the Knights’ best outside threat, dialing long distance night-in, night-out from three-point land. She a streak shooter “who can shoot the lights out when she is hot.” Her court awareness and savvy make her the player that she is, more often than not finding open teammates with her on-target passes. She is also active going to the boards and has really stepped up her game on the defensive end. To her credit, she has become a more well-rounded player this winter.

Rounding out the first five is Kirsten Knauf – a 5’8” sophomore who is finding her niche in the Knights’ scheme, whether it be knocking down a baseline three-pointer or matching up with an over-sized post player. She just does what she is asked to do, and, to her credit, does it well. She has nice instincts for the game, which is not a given in the girls’ game. Without question, the soph standout has been a pleasant surprise for the DJO girls.

Hovis

Mainstays coming off the bench for Coach McCormick-Dix’s team have been freshmen Anna Hovis (pictured left) and Maura Leverone. Hovis’ contributions in the post have really been outstanding recently, manning up in the paint, going strong to the boards and displaying a nice touch down low in around the basket. The six-foot frosh was especially impressive in a recent loss to perennial power Good Counsel. Her upside is big-time. Leverone, on the other hand, has been pretty impressive since Day One – providing a spark off the bench with her defensive tenacity and offensive skill set, draining it from long range and taking the opposition off the dribble and driving the lane for scores. The little lefty is a nice talent.

Sophomores Julianne Ludwick, Sydney Kennard and Linden Beasley and freshman Alexandria Lee have limited roles, seeing time off the bench on occasion. Junior Sydney Morrow is another ACL-casualty, who is sidelined for the season.

The DJO girls are at their best when they are sharing the ball, making the defense move with good ball movement and finding an open teammate with a pass. Like most of your championship caliber teams out there, this contingent thrives when it is playing outstanding team ball with the sum being greater than the individual parts. What this team lacks in size (in truth, no true big girl in the paint), it more than makes up for with their drive and determination to win, while also possessing good savvy and instincts for the game. Those attributes were demonstrated in victories over Holy Child, McNamara and Georgetown Visitation – all ranked in The Post Top 20 at one time or another this winter

I really, really like this team. Get a shot, take in a game – and I think you will too. They do a lot right on the high school hardwood.

This is Tommy Orndorff, and that was The Week That Was.

Posted by torndorff in girls basketball on Thursday January 14
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