Cavs Work Through Challenges to Find Success in Fall Athletics Season
Story by Bria Irizarry, Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Information
Durham Academy’s fall athletics teams excelled in yet another challenging season of ever-changing health and safety protocols. Major highlights of the season included three state runner-up finishes from boys cross-country, girls golf and volleyball; two state semifinal appearances by boys soccer and girls tennis; four conference titles, earned by boys cross-country, girls golf, boys soccer and girls tennis; 24 All-Conference selections; two conference Players of the Year; and seven All-State selections.
The DA boys cross-country team was named North Carolina Independent School Athletics Association (NCISAA) state runner-up after ninth-grader Ben Hornstein (seventh place) and senior Stewart Roessler (eighth place) finished in the top 10 at the state championship meet in Wilmington. Both boys were named to the All-State team and joined juniors Sanju Patel and Zebee Jewell-Alibhai on the All-Conference roster. The boys team also claimed the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference (TISAC) title after an exciting tiebreaker with Cary Academy that came down to the sixth runner.
The girls cross-country team placed fourth in the state and second in the conference this fall. The team was led by eighth-grader Audrey Crowder, who came in sixth place in the state meet and was named an All-State selection. She was also named TISAC Player of the Year and earned All-Conference accolades alongside teammates Allison Hall, a sophomore, and Anna Tricomi, a ninth-grader.
The Cavalier field hockey team finished the 2021 fall season 2–13. DA earned a spot in the second round of the state playoffs after defeating Cape Fear Academy 9–0 in the first round, but its season ended with a 4–0 loss to Cary Christian School. Seniors Mirella Kades and Talbot Waters and junior Siri Oehler were named to the TISAC All-Conference team.
On Oct. 1, the team marked the retirement of head coach Judy Chandler, who spent 30 years at the helm of the program, and honored her 382 victories, 10 state championships and 16 state final appearances. Coach Chandler was surrounded by former players and coaches as she accepted a framed DA field hockey jersey from former Director of Athletics Steve Engebretsen and current Director of Athletics Andy Pogach.
DA girls golf had an undefeated regular season, 8–0, and earned the TISAC title, scoring a 5-under-par 208. This set a new team record for lowest score to par and fewest strokes in 18 holes. The team continued this success in the state match, but finished just six strokes behind North Raleigh Christian Academy (217–223). Seventh-grader Jenna Kim scored a 69 in the match and was named to the NCISAA All-State team. Ninth-grader Saia Rampersaud and junior Ona Lukes were also recognized as TISAC All-Conference selections.
DA’s boys soccer squad completed the regular season 12–2–1 and with three overtime wins. The Cavs defeated TISAC foe Ravenscroft for the second time in a thrilling 11–10 penalty kick shootout in early October and were named TISAC champions later in the month. DA notched a 2–1 win over Covenant Day School to secure a spot in the state semifinal but eventually lost on the road at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School of Georgia. DA senior Diego Pastor-Valverde was named TISAC Player of the Year and earned All-Conference honors; he was joined by seniors Charlie Rand and Larkin Ng Cashin, as well as junior Max Brown as first-team All-Conference selections. Senior Lars Oehler and junior Collin Thornburg were named second-team All-Conference.
The varsity girls tennis team was named TISAC champion and earned the program’s seventh straight state semifinal appearance, going 11–7 in the regular season. After defeating Providence Day 5–2 in the quarterfinal, the Cavs’ season ended in a semifinal matchup with top-seeded Charlotte Latin School. The Cavs had two All-Conference selections in senior Mukta Dharmapurikar and sophomore Godiya Mangai.
Cavalier volleyball had a thrilling end to the season, as the team headed into the state playoffs with a 15–3 record. The Cavs swept Covenant Day School and Cannon School, 3–0, to earn a spot in the state final. DA fell to top-seeded North Raleigh Christian to earn the state runner-up finish. The team had two NCISAA All-State selections in juniors Hannah Kohn and Olivia Kohn, as well as three All-Conference selections in the Kohn sisters and senior Gabby Marchese.