Three Raiders Sign Letters to Continue Playing Sport in College

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Charlie Breitrose

Three Watertown High School seniors, from left, Maddie Leitner, Emily Koufos and Jonna Kennedy, were honored Monday in a ceremony for athletes who will play sports at the college level.

Charlie Breitrose

Three Watertown High School seniors, from left, Maddie Leitner, Emily Koufos and Jonna Kennedy, were honored Monday in a ceremony for athletes who will play sports at the college level.

Three outstanding Watertown High School athletes made it official Monday, they will be taking their game to the next level. Two field hockey player and a track and cross country runner signed their letters of intent during a ceremony in the Watertown High School Gym.

Jonna Kennedy

Watertown’s field hockey goalie Jonna Kennedy will be playing for Boston College next year. She has been part of three state championships and hopes to win another one this week.

Watertown field hockey coach Eileen Donahue said her goalie played both for the varsity and JV her freshman year. Sometimes playing with such a talented team in front of her can mean little action, but Kennedy responds when called upon.

“It is so hard to save one shot, or the other day, two shots and be sharp,” Donahue said. “She has done so well, and also played at the USA level for the USA Under 17 team. It looks like there are a lot more accomplishments in your future.”

Kennedy committed to play for BC at the beginning of the summer heading into her junior year. Along with wanting to play for the Eagle’s field hockey team, other parts of the school appealed to her.

“I just really liked the campus and the academics,” Kennedy said.

Last summer Kennedy traveled to the Emerald Isle with Team USA Under 17 team to play three games against Ireland.

“It was just a really high level,” Kennedy said. “It was really fun to play against another national team. We beat them three times.”

This year she will try out for the USA Under 19 team.

Emily Koufos

Early in her high school career, Emily Koufos played field hockey team, but changed to distance running and has had amazing success.

“She is the finest distance runner in the history of Watertown High School,” said WHS cross country and track coach Tom Wittenhagen.

Some of the firsts that Koufos has accomplished for WHS are: the first winner, male or female, of the State Sectional Cross Country Championships in 2016 and this year she was the first girl from WHS to win the Middlesex League cross country meet.

WHS has hosted cross country meets at Arsenal Park for 17 years and Koufos set the course record. She also has three of the top five times for Watertown runners on the course, and five of the top seven times, Wittenhagen said. She also fares well when comparing the runners from other Middlesex League teams competing at Arsenal Park – two of the top five times and four of the top 10 times.

Koufos looked at a few colleges in the Boston area, and said she liked the track program at Boston University when she made her official visit, but did not see herself in an urban location. Then she went to Holy Cross for her visit.

“When I visited I knew it was the school I wanted to be at,” Koufos said. “I met the team and I could see myself running with them. I have a lot in common with them.”

Koufos will run cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and Holy Cross next year but she has more running to do for the Raiders. She finished fourth at the Sectional meet this year and will compete in the All-State Meet on Saturday and will travel to New York City to compete in the Footlocker Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships. Then she has the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

Charlie Breitrose

WHS athletes signed their letter of intent to play collegiate sports. Jonna Kennedy, right, will play field hockey at Boston College, Emily Koufos (center) will run track and cross country at Holy Cross and Maddie Leitner will play field hockey at LIU Post.

Maddie Leitner

Watertown field hockey player Maddie Leitner was been part of the field hockey team that made history for setting the longest unbeaten streak and the longest winning streak in U.S. high school history. The team also won four Middlesex League titles, four North Section titles and three State Championships and the team is two wins away from a fourth.

Through her career Leitner has played where Donahue needed her. This year she is one of the last lines of defense for the Raiders, and often is left on her own to play balls as opponents bear down on her.

“Maddie is an excellent defender,” Donahue said. “She played a number of positions before we figured out where she does best.”

This year she is one of the Raiders’ captains.

“She has done extremely well, and I appreciate her leadership,” Donahue said.

After looking around at a number of colleges in the Northeast 10 Conference, Leitner decided to attend Long Island University Post.

“I liked the school a lot,” Leitner said. “When I went to campus I really liked it.”

The school in Brookville, N.Y., has enjoyed success this year, winning the NE10 Tournament and making it to the Final Four of the NCAA Div. II Tournament. Leitner expects to play defense for LIU Post, but added, “I will play where ever coach puts me.”

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