A couple of Branford spring sports teams concluded their seasons on high notes: One, Boys’ Baseball, made it to the Class L state semi finals before being defeated by a heartbreaking 1-0 score, and the other, Girls Lacrosse, took it to the mountain for the second straight year, winning 11-8 over an arch rival their second consecutive Class M State Championship.
The Branford baseball team under coach Steve Malafronte finished the regular season winning 11 of the last 14 games, ending up with a 13-7 record and securing a spot in both the SCC and CIAC State Tournament. The Hornets earned an 8-5 upset win over eventual Class LL State Champion Cheshire in the SCC Tournament before bowing to rival Hand 6-3 in the semis.
They later defeated Masuk 2-0 and then Cheney Tech 11-6 in the CIAC tournament before getting a hard fought 2-1 win in eight innings over Bristol Eastern in the quarter-finals. That game was played over two days when rain postponed the game after six innings with the score tied 1-1. The game ended when junior Anthony Burzenski singled up the middle driving in Damien Maniscalco for the emotional Hornet victory.
The Hornets’ season ended the following week at the 2-year-old Dunkin’ Donut Park in Hartford, home of the Double A Hartford Yard Goats of the Eastern League, in a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to the top seeded Windsor Warriors. It was a fast-moving game with each team getting only three hits each.
Windsor’s only score came in the fourth inning on a double, single, and sacrifice fly. “It was a tough loss for us, but we played a very good team,” said coach Steve Malafronte, “and it was a great thrill playing in such a great facility as Dunkin’ Donut Park.”
For the year, Branford finished 17-9. Coupled with an 18-7 record last year, the Hornets have had their best back-to-back seasons since the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Four members of the club earned All Conference recognition including Carmen Mendoza, Damien Maniscalco, Alphonse Suppa, and D.J. Caron.
Girls’ Lacrosse Class M Champs
And for the second straight year the Branford girls’ lacrosse team has won the Class M State Championship, this time over archrival Hand 11-8 in a game played at Jonathan Law in Milford. Last year they defeated Pomperaug 15-8 in a game also played at Law.
Ironically last year, Pomperaug defeated the Lady Hornets 13-12 during the regular season and this year Hand defeated them by the same 13-12 score in their only game of the regular season. Branford got revenge both years with victories over the Panthers and Tigers in the title games.
The Lady Hornets finished the regular season with a 14-2 record losing only to SCC opponents Cheshire and Hand. They earned a 21-6 victory over North Haven in the quarter-finals of the SCC Tournament before losing to Cheshire for the second time 10-7 in the semis.
One of the season’s highlights for the girls’ lacrosse team was the 16-8 win over Guilford, giving coach Jackie Ceccolini her 100th career win.
In the CIAC tournament the Lady Hornets rolled to four straight wins defeating Fitch 19-5, Masuk 16-5, Pomperaug 12-11 in overtime and Hand 11-8 for the title to finish with a 19-3 record.
In 2017, Branford finished 17-5 while winning the title the first time. The two-year total of 36 wins is the highest two-year win total in school history.
Branford coach Jackie Ceccolini was chosen SCC Division 1 Coach of the Year and her brother Billy was recently chosen as the girls’ lacrosse Assistant Coach of the Year by the CIAC. To add to the success of lacrosse in Branford, boys’ coach Jim May was also selected SCC Division 2 Coach of the Year. In April, Ceccolini was recognized when she won her 100th game as coach of the Lady Hornets
Two weeks ago, the girls’ lacrosse team was brought on stage at the recent Branford Festival on Friday night to be recognized, sporting their new championship shirts, championship medals, and both championship plaques for the past two years.
Ceccolini was thrilled with the Hornets’ second consecutive title. She was a member of the first team as a player at Branford in 2000 and was appointed head coach in 2011. “It doesn’t get any better than that, winning back to back titles,” said the coach. “
Five seniors and a junior of the Lady Hornets were chosen All Conference by the SCC. They include seniors Sabrina Torcellini, LanLe Crotty, Autumn McHenry, Caroline Erickson, Sophie Spencer, and junior Grace Plaski.