Strong postseason performances earned two fresh faces the honor of â€śAthlete of the Week.â€ť They are Bristol Eastern soccer junior goalkeeper and captain Nathan DiLoreto, and Bristol Central volleyball player Kathryn Ross.
The only junior captain on the team, DiLoreto posted his 12th shutout of the season in the Lancersâ€™ win over No. 16-seeded Bunnell in the second round of the Class L state tournament and made four saves along the way.
DiLoreto made eight more stops against No. 8-seeded Guilford in the next round and nearly secured another shutout until he allowed a goal as time expired. It was just the seventh goal he allowed over 18 games this season.
â€śIn our first game from Conard on he came up with big plays,â€ť Eastern head coach Bill Sweet said. â€śI remember the first game we played, the Conard coach marveled at Jake [Woznicki], but he marveled at Nate [too]. Nate has been like that in big games he comes up with big plays.â€ť
DiLoreto anchored the Lancersâ€™ defense all the way to an undefeated regular season and top seed in the state tournament. The Lancers were eliminated in the following round by Guilford with the only goal of the match sneaking by him with no time remaining on the clock.
â€śThis season has been a rollercoaster, honestly,â€ť DiLoreto said. â€śI love every single one of these guys. These seniors meant a lot to this team this year. Going undefeated this year was amazing with these boys. This is year to definitely remember, winning our conference, coming a long way. Itâ€™s just amazing.â€ť
With one more season with the Lancers ahead of him, DiLoreto will be looked upon as a leader both on and off the field next year as the teamâ€™s only returning captain. His work in the offseason will be key to taking his next step as a player.
â€śHe came back a little stronger so his distribution has been so much better this year,â€ť Sweet said. â€śHeâ€™s able to kick and throw. We didnâ€™t use him on his throws as much but he can throw as well as anybody.â€ť
Ross led Bristol Central to the quarterfinals of the Class L state tournament with three team-leading performances. After landing 11 kills in the Ramsâ€™ first round matchup against No. 23-seeded Suffield, she finished with an astounding 32 kills in the second round against No. 26-seeded St. Joseph.
â€śSheâ€™s an intricate part of the success of this team,â€ť Central head coach Lance Pepper said after the win over St. Joseph. â€śShe has done a great job from where she was at the beginning of the season to where she is now. Sheâ€™s really starting to pick defenses apart. Her blocking [against St. Joseph] was great, she was able to press over and get a few points for us. She works very hard in the offseason and I canâ€™t say enough positive things about, not just her, but our entire program.â€ť
Ross closed out her senior season with nine kills, three digs and four total blocks against No. 2-seeded Avon in the quarterfinals. The Rams fell 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-19) but battled in every set.
â€śI think from an offensive standpoint when sheâ€™s hot thatâ€™s going to open up the outside pins,â€ť Pepper said. â€śSo when she continues to get those kills that opens everything else up and weâ€™re able to have success all across the board.â€ť
Ross helped lead Central to a 17-6 record and two seven-game winning streaks in the regular season. Her efforts aided the Rams in only playing one five-set match all year, which was a 3-2 loss to undefeated Bristol Eastern.
â€śI think weâ€™ve grown a lot as team,â€ť Ross said. â€śI think everybody here has grown extremely from the beginning of the season. I think itâ€™s all of us becoming one and playing as a team instead of as individuals and I think that this game showed it right here. When we play as a team as we play as one this is what we can do.â€ť
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com