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Two New Head Coaches Lead Teams to States

By on December 18, 2017

Derek Annechino, a lifelong Greece resident took the reigns as the head coach for the Aquinas Varsity Football team this season.  Coach Annechino who is an AQ graduate (89) is no stranger to AQ football. He has been assisting the coaching efforts for 19 seasons at Aquinas and stepped up into the head coach position replacing highly respected Coach Battaglia.

Annechino had big shoes to fill with his young team this year. The team was comprised of only 15 seniors of the 48 students on the team. The season began with a highly competitive game losing to Victor. The close game against such a strong team helped give Aquinas the boost of confidence that they needed to help drive them towards the States. “We have a great bunch of kids and we worked hard to put the best product on the field at every game,” said Coach Annechino.

AQ senior TJ Jones was impressive especially after being forced to sit out his junior year as a transfer student from Spencerport. TJ plays running back, linebacker and kickoff returner. Nick Annechino of Greece, a junior at AQ, is a second year starter (Center). The Debonis brothers are from Greece. Danny is a senior, and starter Offensive/Defensive line, his younger brother Joe, a sophomore, is also a starter on the defense end. Bryan Magee, another young player is an AQ sophomore from Greece. He played tail back, full back and special teams. Coach Annechino led his young team to the state championship where the season ended to their loss to Lancaster. AQ finished 9/2 and ranked 13 in the state. “The team has a few weeks off but we will soon be starting back up with pre-season with hopes to take it further next season,” said Annechino.

Girls Varsity Soccer at Aquinas also had a new head coach take over this season. Adam Schwartz of Greece replaced Dan Shoniker who retired. Schwartz a lifelong Greece resident (Cardinal Mooney graduate) came to Aquinas with 25 years soccer coaching experience. He is a long time Olympic Development Program coach, Assistant Director of Coaching for Fairport Youth Soccer, coached on college level, coached Rochester Ravens and most recently the Rochester Lancers. Schwartz is licensed by the United States Soccer Federation National B and National Youth License. Schwartz inherited a team that was unranked in the preseason and surprised many when he led them all the way to the States.

Aquinas Girls Soccer now shares the coveted title of state co-championships after a sudden death tie against Syracuse Westhill.   Reflecting on his first season at AQ Schwartz said, “I could not have scripted it any better.” His team had 15 seniors coming in but he also lost three juniors to US Developmental Academy. Despite the Academy, Schwartz said, “We had leadership all over the field with these girls.” Aquinas Girls soccer was flying under the radar when the season began until the team began to impress with their winning streak.

Captains Renee Vito, Emily Wolak, and Alana Piano, all Greece residents, were amazing players and leaders according to Coach Schwartz. Alana Piano, a senior at AQ, rewrote the Aquinas record book with her 30 goals in her senior year and 70 career goals. Ashley Plane (senior) and Leah Annechino (sophomore), also from Greece, were also strong players. Emily Cook, Greece resident and a junior at AQ, played a strong center back and Leah Campbell of Greece, a freshman, played back and midfield. Other impressive westsiders were Maura Palmer of Hilton (senior at AQ), and Erika Knapp the goal keeper, from Churchville. Coach Schwartz commented, “This is the hardest I have ever pushed any group of players I have ever worked with.  Their work ethic and desire were amazing. I tip my hat to the girls this year for working so diligently day in, day out.” Next year the Girls Varsity Soccer will be much younger with 15 girls graduating this year, but Schwartz feels confident the team will continue playing strong.

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