Vote: HAN-FCIAC Athletes of the Week

Two runners who didn’t breaks stride and a history-making kicker are among the nominees for HAN Network FCIAC Male and Female Athletes of Week 7.

As the official broadcasting partner of the FCIAC, the HAN Network each week recognizes the top male and a female athletes during each week of the season. 
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The HAN Network sports staff nominates male and female candidates. The winners are then chosen in an online poll and saluted on the FCIAC Gameday program before the HAN Network football game of the week on Friday or Saturday. Last week's winners were Will Sullivan of Wilton football and Phoebe Slaughter of Darien girls swimming.

This week’s winners will be announced Friday as Gameday leads up to the HAN Network’s coverage of Trumbull vs. New Canaan in FCIAC football, available live on live.HAN.Network Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. The game between the 6-0 Rams and the 5-1 Eagles will help further the rivals’ hopes of earning a berth in the FCIAC Championship, which is available exclusivly on HAN's Championship website,

FCIAC Tailgate starts at Friday at 4, followed by FCIAC Gameday at 5.

Voting closes at 2 p.m. Friday. The poll follows the nominees.

HAN-FCIAC Male Athlete of the Week nominees

Eric van der Els, Brien McMahon Cross Country

Ten days after winning an FCIAC championship, McMahon senior Eric Van der Els added a state title to his resume as he took first in the CIAC Class LL race Saturday at Wickham Park in Manchester.

Van der Els finished the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes and 52 seconds, edging Ridgefield’s Gabe Altopp by five seconds.

Van der Els became the first McMahon runner to win a state cross country championship, after becoming the school’s first FCIAC champion.

James Mas, St. Joseph Cross Country

Mas, a senior, won his second consecutive Class M state title at Manchester’s Wickham Park on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Mas’s time of 16:13 was good enough to best Brookfield High’s Tommy Consalvo, who finished in 16:22. Coach David Scrivines’ Cadets placed 10th as a team.

Peter Swindell, New Canaan Football

Swindell, the Rams’ kicker, set a state record with his 19th career field goal during New Canaan’s 52-14 win over Norwalk on Friday night.

He drilled a 29-yarder with 2:35 remaining in the first half, giving the Rams a 31-0 lead at the time.

Swindell was also a perfect 6-for-6 on PATs, as the Rams improved to 6-0.

Johnny McElroy, Trumbull Football

McElroy passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 35-15 victory over Brien McMahon from Norwalk on Friday, Oct. 30.

The senior completed 16 of 26 passes, as coach Bob Maffei’s Trumbull team improved to 5-1 on the season.

Jack Kniffen, Darien Boys Soccer

Kniffin scored both goals as the Darien Blue Wave defeated the Staples Wreckers, 2-0, in the FCIAC boys soccer quarterfinals on Thursday.

Kniffin broke a scoreless tie with 8:05 remaining in the first half, coming up with the loose ball on a play from the corner and sending it past the goalie and inside the right post.

Just 1:20 into the second half, Kniffin scored from the top of the box after receiving a pass from Pablo Martinez.

HAN-FCIAC Female Athlete of the Week nominees

Hannah DeBalsi, Staples Cross Country

DeBalsi became the first Connecticut runner to win three consecutive CIAC Class LL championships with her victory at the class meets in Wickham Park on Saturday.

DeBalsi, a senior with the Wreckers, finished the 4,000-meter course in 18:14, matching her own state record. She won by a wide margin, finishing 1:03 ahead of Newtown’s Sarah Mawdsley.

Her performance helped Staples take fourth as a team.

DeBalsi won her third straight FCIAC championship 10 days earlier

Chrissy Fiore, Darien Girls Soccer

The Wave had many a standout performance in its knock-down-drag-out 9-8 PK win over No. 2 Warde at Fairfield, in a quarters game that ended 0-0 in regulation time. Freshman Ellen Harnisch scored twice in the PK and senior captain Daphne Budd had two including the deciding marker. And she’s a defenseman. But, when Chrissy Fiore took over for senior sister Kate, knocked out of the game when run in the crease late in regulation, what she accomplished as sophomore back-up, is remarkable. See what she did and how she did it in the video posted here.

Claire Conley, New Canaan Field Hockey

Conley, a senior co-captain and defender, had a couple of big games for the Rams last week.

Conley had a goal and an assist in New Canaan’s 5-0 shutout of the warde Mustangs last Tuesday, helping the Rams clinch a quarterfinal game for the FCIAC tournament. She had three shots on three penalty corners in the second half, first assisting on a goal by Mariana Ferreira, who redirected Conley’s shot into the cage,

On her third shot, Conley blasted a low line drive through the circle and into the net to complete the Rams’ scoring.

On Saturday, Conley was a key part of the defense, which shutout the Greenwich Cardinals, 1-0, as the Rams advanced to the FCIAC semifinals.

Meredith Pellegrino, Brien McMahon Girls Volleyball

Pellegrino showed off all her skills on the court in leading the Senators to a 3-0 victory over Trumbull High on Tuesday, Oct. 27. She had 25 kills from the net, made 12 digs defensively, and had 13 service points, including two aces.

Ellery Baran, New Canaan Field Hockey

Baran scored the game's only goal with 1:30 to play in regulation as the Rams edged Greenwich, 1-0, in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

Meredith Heaney, New Canaan Field Hockey

Heaney scored two goals for the Rams in their 5-0 victory over visiting Fairfield Warde on Tuesday, Oct. 27. New Canaan improved to 12-3-1 overall and 10-3-1 in the FCIAC.

Erin Karczewski, Darien Girls Soccer

Senior captain Karczewski has been a crucial part of the team’s current five-game winning streak. Defensively, she works tirelessly and she is a ball winner.

She is a creative midfielder who consistently keeps vital possession and has recorded many assists this season.

She scored a crucial penalty during our FCIAC quarterfinal match-up against second-seeded Fairfield Warde and helped propel the team claim a spot in the FCIAC semifinals.

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Watch the FCIAC playoffs on HAN!

HAN's FCIAC postseason pay-per-view postseason coverage heats up with boys soccer quarterfinals this Thursday. The PPV events are part of HAN’s three-year broadcasting deal with the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. It costs $7.50 for a day pass or $35 ($25 if you subscribe by this Wednesday) for the entire package of 11 to 12 events. With the subscription, you can also watch the contests on-demand before they are open up for free on this site.  Click here for more information and details on how to sign up .

Here’s schedule by date, time, sport, round of playoffs, and location (seedings will be announced after the season ends on Tuesday, Oct. 27):

Thursday, Oct. 29, 3:30 p.m.: Boys Soccer FCIAC quarterfinals, Staples at Darien
Monday, Nov. 2, 5 p.m.: Boys Soccer FCIAC semifinal, Greenwich vs. Darien
Monday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.: Boys Soccer FCIAC semifinal, Fairfield Ludlowe vs. Danbury
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 5 p.m. Field Hockey FCIAC semifinal, New Canaan vs. Darien
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m.: Field Hockey FCIAC semifinal, Norwalk vs. Wilton
Wednesday, Nov. 4, 4:30 p.m.: Girls Soccer FCIAC Championship at Norwalk
Wednesday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m.: Boys Soccer FCIAC Championship at Norwalk
Thursday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.: Field Hockey FCIAC championship at Brien McMahon
Saturday, Nov. 7, 4 p.m.: Volleyball FCIAC championship at Fairfield Ludlowe
Saturday, Nov. 21, TBA: Football FCIAC Championship at Stamford
Thursday, Nov. 26, 10:30: Football Turkey Bowl: New Canaan at Darien

The HAN Network, formerly known as Hersam Acorn Newspapers, is the exclusive FCIAC broadcast partner through the spring of 2018. HAN Network’s broadcasting division replaced HANRadio.comwith a new focus on live video streams of high school athletics along with the Network’s news and lifestyle programming.

To advertise on the HAN Network broadcasts, click here for package options.