Daily Archives: April 23, 2009

Triton Boys’ Lacrosse Defeats Newburyport on April 22nd

Triton coach Donna Andersen works out goalie Carson True before the game with Newburyport.

Triton coach Donna Andersen works out goalie Carson True before the game with Newburyport.

I was trying to get my usual weekly story for The Town Common and went into Tuesday (April 21st) with almost nothing.  A seemingly set up interview on Thursday (April 16th) vanished on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday morning.

What to do?  Could have thrown in the towel but God opened a door on Tuesday.

I heard about a boys’ lacrosse game happening on Tuesday morning between Newburyport and Triton at Newburyport.  I knew that the Triton coach was a woman from seeing a game last year.  I thought that I could find out in an interview about that arrangement and also discuss the game.

Some things sound good but can things be pulled together on such short notice. 

I hustled over to Newburyport – a mile from here – and met the coach (Donna Andersen) on the field ½ hour before game time.  She agreed to an interview back at Triton after the game.

I stood on the sidelines and used my big Canon.  It was quite foggy with rain likely before day’s end.

Both teams had won only one game and the play was rough.  Newburyport put some very solid hits on Triton kids.  Getting a penalty didn’t seem to lessen their willingness to hit hard.  Triton led throughout and won 15-9.  Three of Triton’s goals came when they had the man advantage.

Andrew Sokol (#9) and his "shadow" Bert Comins.

Andrew Sokol (#9) and his "shadow" Bert Comins.

Newburyport had one very impressive player (#9 Andrew Sokol).  Only a sophomore, he had a shot that was quick and accurate.  The longer the game went on the more Triton shadowed him.  #43 of Triton (Bert Cumins) was the shadow.

I went home after the game to warm up and then went to Triton.  I arrived just as the team was getting off the bus.  I had a nice chat with Donna Andersen inside the building.  I believe that the players were calling her, “Coach A.” 

She teaches phys ed at Triton and also coaches field hockey.  She excelled at both field hockey and lacrosse at UNH. 

She became coach seven years ago when the lacrosse program started at Triton.  Elizabeth McAndrews (AD at Triton then – at Amesbury now) needed someone to coach boys’ lacrosse and no one had stepped up to do it.  Elizabeth knew that Donna could handle mixed phys ed classes and had a lacrosse background.  Donna was surprised to be asked to take the job but accepted after a weekend’s consideration.

She likened the boys’ intensity playing lacrosse to the intensity of Division 1 women’s lacrosse. 

She said that she thought that the boys were comfortable with her as their coach.  She said that unfamiliar officials tend to think that JV coach Avery Woodworth is the head coach and she might be the trainer.

She told me that she doesn’t know of any women coaching high school level or above boys’ lacrosse.  She thought it was surprising.

( A regular story on Triton coach Donna Andersen will appear in The Town Common on April 29, 2009 )

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Filed under Donna Andersen, Elizabeth McAndrews, Newburyport, Triton

Matt Irwin: Amesbury’s Busy Goalie

Matt Irwin - Amesbury's junior goalie

Matt Irwin – Amesbury’s junior goalie

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how good a hockey goalie really is, especially if a cast of all-star teammates surrounds him.  Defensive breakdowns in his end of the ice are few and the other goalie sees most of the shots.

Matt Irwin of Amesbury has not been surrounded by all-stars but he has made a name for himself (Daily News All-Star last two years) anyway protecting the Indians net.

During a 2-16-1 season, he was under siege nightly (44 shots per 45-minute game). “Having to make a lot of saves was what I expected to do,” he told me in a recent interview.  “I know that I won’t be sitting back there with little action.”  By comparison, Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins faces an average of 31 shots per game in a 60-minute game.

“He has been our best player for the past two seasons,” said AHS coach Pete Cignetti of his junior goalie.

Coach Cignetti told me that Matt was a backup as a freshman but made “astronomical improvement before his sophomore season.”

Matt credited that transformation to Rob Day from Exeter (NH) who is also known as, “The Goalie Guy.”  Rob has specialized in training goalies for nearly 20 years.  “I owe everything to him,” Matt told me.  “I train with him on synthetic ice once a week during the off-season and schedule appointments with him during the season.”

Matt assured me that despite the many shots fired in his direction, “he’s never had any bad goalie dreams.”

It wasn’t as easy for his mother, Laura. “Being the goalie’s mom makes watching a little difficult,” she admitted in an email.  She also told me that her family had a hockey background.  She said that her father founded a youth hockey program in Western Massachusetts and her brother played hockey.  “I lived in a rink most every winter in my childhood,” she added.

Matt wasn’t always a goalie.  “When I first played I wanted to score goals,” he recalled, “in fact, I was scoring three or four goals per game.”

What caused the switch to being a goalie?  He laughed when he told me, “I was attracted to being a goalie because the equipment looked really cool.  I tried being a goalie in the mites and just loved dressing up in all the pads.”

Any hockey pads Matt has worn this season have seen plenty of use.  In one of his best games, he had 60 saves in a 3-0 loss to Masco.

Matt said that he wasn’t surprised by Newburyport’s great season.  “They had plenty of really good players including the goalie,” he said.

Amesbury played Newburyport twice during the season.  “We lost badly to them the first time,” he recalled.

The second time was much different.  “We ended up losing 3-1,” said Coach Cignetti, “but one goal was on a power play and another on an empty net.  Matt had 49 saves.”

Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens is Matt’s favorite goalie.  “He’s young (21) and already in the NHL,” he said.  “I like his style of play and how focused he gets.”

When Matt was younger, he also played baseball and lacrosse.  Now his other athletic activities are skateboarding and surfing.

“Matt is a quiet leader and lets his play do the talking for him,” said Coach Cignetti of his captain.  “He sets a good example with his work ethic and is always looking to improve.”

( This story appeared in The Town Common on April 22, 2009 )

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