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2021 Fall Tryout Week Breakdown

Tryouts are Here

Portsmouth Christian Academy’s fall sports season has officially begun, with tryouts beginning for our Upper School athletes and coaches. Tryout Week brings out feelings of excitement for the upcoming season and maybe a little anxiety, as athletes meet new teammates, build relationships with coaches, and, for some, start playing the sport for the first time. Tryouts bring out opportunities for athletes to set the tone for the season early on. Upperclassmen will be building a foundation of support for their younger teammates, while motivating each player on the roster to give 100% on every rep.

Each athlete is also setting the tone for themselves. Tryout Week is when you gauge your ability, but it’s also when you gauge your commitment. Are you touching the line when coach makes you sprint? Are you taking reps off? Are you making sure your teammates are all on the same page? At the same time, coaches are looking for this year’s stand-out performers, leaders, and most coachable players.

Check out some preseason photos, below!

Building on Last Year’s Success

Our fall sports programs are coming off of strong performances from last season. Women’s Soccer returns to the pitch after a historic Final Four run in last year’s State Championship Tournament. Men’s Soccer hopes to build on a solid 9-3 record from last season. Our volleyball players step back onto the court with playoff experience under their belt, making a run that saw them reach the quarterfinal round of the NHIAA playoffs last season. Finally, our cross-country team looks to have another strong season this year, with several state championship-contenders returning to the trails this fall. As our athletes begin to develop chemistry with their teammates, and our coaches begin preparing their team physically and mentally for the upcoming season, let’s meet some of our student-athletes to watch for this season.

Student-Athlete Perspectives

Maddy Kniphfer | Senior | Volleyball

A true defensive specialist, Maddy Kniphfer has an impressive ability to cover the court and make sprawling saves, fueling the Eagles’ team performance. Kniphfer is also extremely versatile, filling many roles and needs throughout her volleyball career. Maddy is 5 aces shy of the 100 mark, leading the team last year with 44 on the season.  She currently sits at 264 digs all time.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Since we lost so many amazing players last year, I am looking forward to building new relationships with the upcoming players. I’m looking to improve my fundamental skills and grow physically and spiritually as a player.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I have high hopes for this season! I’m going in with an open mindset and high expectations.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited for our season to return to its pre-covid self. Since I’m a senior, I’m excited to put my all on the court and enjoy my last season with the girls. Our biggest obstacles are going to be building our team’s chemistry with so many young players on the team.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I’d want PCA fans to know I’m dedicated to my team and determined to help us reach our full potential. I’m full of enthusiasm and aggression in every play.”

Joey Skubisz | Senior | Volleyball

Joey currently sits at 172 career kills and, based on what we can expect from her this season, she should find herself within the top 3 all-time.  Skubisz is also in striking distance of the career blocking record, with just 22 to go (currently sitting at 39). Joey brings a lot of power to PCA’s front row. Skubisz’ length and vertical makes her an impact-player on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Says Coach Carreiro of Skubisz, “I expect teams to have a difficult time hitting around her, and I know there is no shot of hitting through her.”

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“I would love to see improved communication skills. Last season was some of the best volleyball I’ve ever played. We had, and have, so many incredible players. However, if we nail down communication skills, we could be unstoppable.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I am just overflowing with excitement and enthusiasm. Volleyball is what I love to do, and my team is who I love to be with. The prospect of a new season of competition and the prospect of being able to have fans really lights a spark in me. I am so excited to see what everyone has to offer and how we can put a team together.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I am most excited to hear the encouragement from the bleachers and the celebration when we have a great play. It is such a blessing to have so much support throughout our season, especially having gone without that privilege last year. I think our biggest obstacle will be lack of experience as a team. We have a lot of new faces coming into this season, which is so amazing, but it also poses a challenge to be prepared in time for the season.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I am absolutely determined to make this season a fantastic one. I will hit the floor before that ball does and I will scream louder than anyone else in that gym. I am so excited to see this team come together and so happy to be a part of it.”

Caleb Runey | Senior | Men’s Soccer

Runey, a tall, athletic, multi-sport athlete, looks to lead the Eagles back line with his speed, toughness, and leadership qualities.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Team Chemistry. Last year we got burned first round of the playoffs. Hopefully this year we can bond together and play cohesively.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“We’ve got a lot of young guys this season. Our main goal is to get them up to speed and adjust to getting in shape and learn to keep up with the pace of the game.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited for every guy on the roster. I think we all mesh together and enjoy being with each other. It’s going to be an obstacle to replace all of last year’s seniors on the field.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I leave it all out on the field. I want to show these guys what it looks like to hustle to make a play, and to be unselfish on the field. To see my teammates succeed is my ultimate goal, and I try to help them out by beating the other team to the ball on defense, which sets up my players on offense.”

Dylan Thyng | Senior | Men’s Soccer

A quick, experienced player with great ball control, Dylan Thyng looks to be an incremental part of PCA’s defensive line this season, with the ability to move the ball up the field to set up the PCA attack.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Coming off last year, personally, I’m trying to play more aggressively. But, I’m also trying to be more of a team player on the field.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I want to be aggressive. I’m working hard to have a great senior season.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m excited this season to be a leader on the team. I want to be a great example to the guys, both on and off the field. The biggest obstacle we’ll face this season will be having a young team, but that really isn’t an obstacle–we can improve, learn, and grow.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I’m an aggressive player, always looking to win. I love being on the field, playing with the guys, and getting to know them better. Soccer isn’t just a sport for me. This team is my family.”

Sierra Lignos | Junior | Women’s Soccer

Lignos is one of the fastest players on PCA’s roster this season. With Jewel Young having graduated last year, Lignos will be expected to help anchor the Eagles’ back-line this season.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“I’m looking to improve my confidence in games. I also want to improve my pace of play and decision-making”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I’m looking to improve and I’m excited for this season. The team has worked hard this summer, so it’s exciting to see everyone come together, officially.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m excited to see how the team works together. The biggest obstacle will be bringing our new players up to speed.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“I hope that people will see that I’m an encouraging teammate and that I’m willing to go to the ball and be aggressive.”

Lula Wamberg | Junior | Women’s Soccer

Returning as PCA’s second-leading goal-scorer last season, Wamberg will be expected to lead the Eagles’ attack this season.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Personally, I’m looking to improve my skills and change of speed.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“I’m very excited to begin the season and hope to see everyone improve. This season, I’m hoping to make it to the finals, as we made it to the semifinals last season.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited to see how we come together as a team. In years past, we have become one big family and I can’t wait to see it with this new team. This year’s obstacle will be developing chemistry on the field early on, since we’ve lost some important players from last year’s team.”

Luke O’Halloran | Junior | Cross Country

O’Halloran finished first in the majority of PCA’s meets last season, putting him in the drivers’ seat for being one of the top cross country runners to watch for 2021. O’Halloran’s lifetime 5KM PR of 17:30 stacks up very well in this year’s field. Luke is also this year’s team captain.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“Coming off of last season I struggled with keeping a competitive pace through hot weather. I’m looking to improve on my ability to run in difficult weather condition.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“My mentality so far is trying to take advantage of the preseason to improve and build myself back up to the best I can be for this upcoming season.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m most excited to be able to run with my friends and welcome the new runners to our team. I don’t think there will be many difficult obstacles this season, because I have faith that our coach will prepare us well.”

Describe your style of play, character, or personality on the court.

“Something the PCA community might not know about me is that I love to hear cheering and encouragement from supporters and spectators.”

Brianna Malone | Junior | Cross Country

Brianna returns to the trails this fall as reigning Division 3 State Champion in Cross Country. Malone also added another state championship in the 400m and runner-up in the 800m in her exceptional Spring Track season. Undoubtedly, she is expected to be very strong again this season. Using last year’s state championship time, Malone has more than a 30 second lead on the next competitor. Her 5KM PR of 18:39 puts her among the best in New Hampshire. In addition to her running ability, Brianna is a one of the women’s co-captains.

What are you looking to improve on this season?

“This season I’m trying to improve my mental game. Last season was really hard to be motivated to keep going.”

What's your mentality going into tryouts?

“My mentality going into summer workouts is to push myself hard enough to maintain my fitness without burning out before the season starts.”

What are some opportunities and challenges for your team this season?

“I’m really excited to have a normal season without staggered starts and masks and whatnot. I agree with Luke about the obstacles we’ll face.”