While others rake up leaves in November, several area Catholic high-school teams and athletes have established a tradition of raking in trophies.
This fall featured repeats of sectional playoff successes dating back to at least last year. Members of that distinguished list are Aquinas Institute football, which won its eighth consecutive Section 5 title and advanced to the state-championship game; Our Lady of Mercy girls’ volleyball, which earned its third straight Section 5 crown and also reached its third state final in a row; and Mercy golfer Christine Schmitt, who won her fourth consecutive individual Section 5 title to add to her status as defending state champion.
The Little Irish won 19-6 over Elmira of Section 4 in their state Class AA semifinal game on Nov. 23. AQ overcame fierce wind and snow at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester in a battle of undefeated teams, raising its record to 12-0 thanks to two rushing touchdowns by Luch Pietropaolo and a TD pass from Jake Zembiec to Marcus Conner.
AQ had reached the state’s final four with a 48-34 win over Jamestown of Section 6 in quarterfinal play on Nov. 16. Zembiec led the way by throwing for 313 yards and four touchdowns — three to Donato Clemente — and rushing for two more TDs.
Prior to states, top-seeded Aquinas cruised to its eighth straight sectional crown with a 50-6 thumping of No. 3 Rush-Henrietta in the Class AA final on Nov. 9 as Pietropaolo and Clemente each scored twice. That was preceded by a 28-7 semifinal won over No. 4 Pittsford on Nov. 2, with Clemente scoring all four touchdowns. In sectional quarterfinal action on Oct. 25, AQ won 41-7 over No. 8 Webster Thomas behind Zembiec’s four scoring passes.
The Monarchs entered the state Final Four with a 16-1 record, thanks to a 25-16, 25-22, 25-19 over Frontier of Section 6 on Nov. 9 in the Class AA quarterfinal round. They then qualified for the state final with a 4-2 mark in pool play on Nov. 16. Mercy split 25-23, 22-25 with John Jay of Section 1 and 26-24, 21-25 with Baldwinsville of Section 3, then won 25-13, 25-17 over Massapequa of Section 8.
Mercy’s bid to defend its state crown fell short as it lost 15-25, 25-21, 15-25, 19-25 to Baldwinsville on Nov. 17 in a rematch of last year’s state finalists. Sisters Terese and Hannah Cannon represented Mercy on the all-tournament team.
Mercy had narrowly qualified for states in winning the Section 5 Class AA final on Nov. 1. The top-seeded Monarchs held off No. 2 Penfield, 32-30, 23-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-18. Mercy had reached the sectional final by winning 27-25, 25-19, 25-13 over No. 8 Rush-Henrietta in quarterfinal play on Oct. 25, and 25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-17 over No. 5 Fairport in the semifinal round on Oct. 29.
Schmitt, the Monarchs’ super senior, won her fourth straight Section 5 girls’ golf title on Oct. 15. She shot an 83 at Stafford Country Club to finish two strokes ahead of second-place Courtney Walker of Pittsford Sutherland.
Schmitt’s victory qualifies her for the state tournament, where she is defending champion, to be played in June 2014. She won her first state title last spring in record fashion, shooting rounds of 72 and 71 at The College Course at Delhi for a one-under-par total of 143 to win by six strokes. Her score was the lowest in state-tournament history. Schmitt’s excellent showing also helped Section 5 capture first place in sectional team scoring.
* McQuaid Jesuit boys’ volleyball, which was coming off its third straight state championship in 2012, had another standout season this fall but didn’t make it back to the state tournament. The Knights were undefeated heading into the Section 5 Class A final, where they were the top seed. However, they were dealt a 25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 25-22 defeat by No. 2 Fairport on Nov. 7, as they settled for an 18-1 record this season. The Knights had reached the title match by winning 25-16, 25-17, 25-22 over No. 4 Webster in semifinal play on Nov. 2.
* Also posting second-place sectional finishes this fall were Aquinas girls’ tennis, in Section 5 Class B; McQuaid cross-country, in Section 5 Class A; and Mercy swimmer Krista Barbeau, in the Section 5 Class B 500-yard freestyle event.