Category Archives: St. Mary’s

Amesbury advances to D4 semis with 2-0 win against St. Mary’s

Amesbury put pressure on the St. Mary’s defense. Here Sherly Feliz (24) is chased by Brooke Taylor (7)

Michaela Halloran’s tap heads for the goal line as a lunging Morgan Mackie tries to stop it.

(Amesbury MA) The scoreboard at Landry Stadium wasn’t up to speed but the Amesbury girls’ soccer team sure was as they defeated St. Mary’s, 2-0, in the Division 4 North quarterfinals.

The Sunday evening matchup featured a heavy dose of pressure by the Indians on the Spartans.  There were plenty of passes away from the middle that gave Amesbury’s speedsters opportunities to create scoring chances.

“When we play fast, we play our game,” said Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau afterwards.

Ashley Pettet (8) chased by Joslyn Deschenes (16)

The Indians (14-5-1) scored both of their goals (Hannaih Burdick, Michaela Halloran) in the first half.  Instead of playing conservatively in the second half, Amesbury just kept attacking.

And there was only one reason why this didn’t end up being a seven or eight goal game: Alex Iacoviello.  The St. Mary’s goalie faced shots from just about everywhere in the second half and dazzled everyone with the saves she came up with.

“She (Alex) kept us in the game,” said Spartans coach Jim Foley.  “Several of her saves were unbelievable.”

Chelsea Lynch stopped by Spartans goalie Alex Iacoviello

“Their goalie was absolutely spectacular,” said AHS coach Adam Thibodeau.

By keeping the heat on the St. Mary’s defense, Amesbury was able to limit the chances the Spartans had.  But the team from Lynn did have several anyhow.

St. Mary’s top scorer (Kayla Demers) had a good look in the second half.

There was also a situation where Amesbury GK Alli Napoli had the ball get away from her after attempting a save.  The ball was loose close to the corner and a St. Mary’s player was about to take a shot at an unguarded net but three Amesbury players slid in to block any straight shot at the goal.

That’s what makes Amesbury so tough: Not only are they fast into the attacking zone but they are also fast to get back to help on defense.

Amesbury GK Alli Napoli (green) gets help from three teammates

“Amesbury is probably the best team in the D4 North,” explained Coach Foley.  “We ended up meeting them a little earlier than I had hoped.”

The #6 Indians will meet #2 Essex Tech in the semifinals on Wednesday night at Manning Field in Lynn.

Freshman Alyssa Pettet (5) pressured by Kayla Demers (27)

Hannaih Burdick’s goal was set up by Emma DiPietro seventeen minutes into the first half.  A throw-in from the left side reached Emma.  Instead of trying to go toward the goal, Emma passed further right to an uncovered Hannaih.

The shot was a long one but Hannaih had experience taking it from that far out.  The shot was a high one and sailed into the top of the net on the left side.

“I thought that the shot had gone over the net,” recalled Hannaih afterwards.

The battle AFTER Michaela’s shot had crossed the line

The second Amesbury goal was set up by Chelsea Lynch.  Down the middle she came with defenders on either side.  Alex Iacoviello came out to challenge and Chelsea’s shot bounced off her and over her.  The ball headed ever so slowly toward the net.  Michaela Halloran saw it and tapped it just enough to get it across the goal line.  Michaela and Morgan Mackie battled for possession inside the net, but the goal had already been scored.

In the second half, St Mary’s (9-8-3) couldn’t get the goal that would have made things more interesting down the stretch.  “We’ve had trouble scoring all season,” added Coach Foley.

The speed of Amesbury has been noted.  Also important is to have players in the midfield who have the dribbling skills to make players miss.  Most opponents attack someone with the ball at full speed.  The talented players often make those attackers miss by pulling the ball back.  Those of us who enjoy watching Charlie Brown attempt to kick a football with Lucy holding the ball know what I mean!  Midfielders Ashley Pettet and Emma DiPietro make players miss on a regular basis.

Freshman Susannah Cornell (17) and senior Ashley Pettet (8)

Morgan Mackie was a standout on defense for St. Mary’s.

Part of the scoreboard was not working.

The lighting in Landry will test the quality of the best of cameras.

Pleasant night in the 50’s.

Pretty good crowd for a Sunday night.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Captains Brooke Taylor (7) and Caitlin Foley (3)

Chelsea Lynch assisted on Amesbury’s second goal

Morgan Mackie

Alex Iacoviello

Maddy Creps in for a testing shot that went just wide.

Michaela Halloran surrounded by Spartans

Chelsea Lynch in on goal

Jenna Foley (22), Maddie McGrath (4), Maddy Creps (2), and Kayla Demers (27)

Waiting to head

 

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Bishop Fenwick reaches D3 North finals again with convincing 56-40 win over St. Mary’s

Bishop Fenwick celebrates a win over St. Mary's and a trip back to the D3 North finals

Bishop Fenwick celebrates a win over St. Mary’s and a trip back to the D3 North finals

Sydney Brennan (17 points) hit four 3's for the second straight tournament game

Sydney Brennan (17 points) hit four 3’s for the second straight tournament game

(Hathorne MA) Bishop Fenwick (20-4) had all the right answers as they eliminated St. Mary’s, 56-40, on Tuesday night at Essex Tech in the D3 North semi-finals.

The Crusaders had a glittering first period putting up seventeen points while the Spartans could manage only two points.

St. Mary’s (19-5) would get within ten (21-11) 3 ½ minutes into the second quarter but BF answered with eight straight points (layups by Ellen Fantozzi and Jaxson Nadeau, drive and jump shot by Fredi DeGuglielmo) before the quarter ended.

Fredi DeGuglielmo (14 points) defended by Kayla Carter and Katie Dixon

Fredi DeGuglielmo (14 points) defended by Kayla Carter and Katie Dixon

On a night when the Spartans struggled from long range (two 3’s) the Crusaders nailed seven. Senior Sydney Brennan (17 points) clicked four times from deep including two in the second quarter. Sophomore Fredi DeGuglielmo (14 points) notched two 3-pointers.

St. Mary’s 2-point first quarter surely brought back memories of the two team’s previous get-together on February 12th. In that 45-27 loss the Spartans were held scoreless in the first half.

The Crusaders full-court pressure paid dividends garnering turnovers (eight in the first quarter) and forcing St. Mary’s to play much faster than they wanted to. The Spartans rushed their way into a bunch of high-percentage shot misses.

Colleen Corcoran uses an Ellen Fantozzi screen to drive to the basket

Colleen Corcoran uses an Ellen Fantozzi screen to drive to the basket

Key player in the game in my opinion was Colleen Corcoran. She got BF off to a good start with the game’s first two baskets. She ended up with nine points and eleven rebounds. To me her greatest value was being the outlet in the backcourt. St. Mary’s applied plenty of pressure too but when BF’s primary ball-handlers were in trouble Colleen was there to get the ball up the court for them.

St. Mary’s had five turnovers in the first two minutes. Most of the miscues were from bad passes.

BF went out 6-0 on two scores by Colleen and a runner by Sydney Brennan.

Olivia Nazaire (15 points) chased by Jaxson Nadeau

Olivia Nazaire (15 points) chased by Jaxson Nadeau

Senior Kayla Carter broke the ice for STM converting a rebound 4 ½ minutes into the quarter. It would be five minutes of game time before the team from Lynn would get more points.

And while the Spartans struggled to score, the team from Peabody struck three times from deep (Sam Mancinelli, Sydney Brennan, and Fred DeGuglielmo) before the first quarter was over.

Down by fifteen after one period, the Spartans moved to within ten after a layup by Kayla Carter and a three from Mia Nowicki. But the Crusader then ran eight unanswered and BF led by eighteen (29-11). Marnelle Garraud drained a three in the final minute but BF still led 29-14 at the half.

Sydney Brennan floats in for two

Sydney Brennan floats in for two

You might imagine that in the second half St. Mary’s would start making some shots, especially long-range, and that Bishop Fenwick would cool off. Didn’t happen.

Sydney Brennan doused any comeback plans by St. Mary’s with three 3’s in the first four minutes of the second half to usher BF into a 40-20 spread.

The Crusaders collected only one point in the final 4+ minutes of this game but the Spartans on this night couldn’t put any long-range accuracy together to get close.

Sophomore Olivia Nazaire (15 points) collected thirteen of her points in the second half.

What a season so far for Bishop Fenwick! They won their first Catholic Central League title since 1997. They also ended eight years of losing to St. Mary’s and have now defeated the Spartans all three times they met this season.

Colleen Corcoran gets one of her eleven rebounds

Colleen Corcoran gets one of her eleven rebounds

Bishop Fenwick moves on to the D3 North title game on Saturday. They will face the winner of the Latin Academy/North Reading game. The Crusaders lost in the D3 North title game last year to Winthrop.

To call Bishop Fenwick’s defense “swarming” may have been an understatement. There were very, very few open looks for St. Mary’s from anywhere.

BF had some breakaways from the Crusaders’ twenty turnovers.

Colleen Corcoran has committed to play basketball for the LeMoyne Dolphins (Syracuse NY) next year. LeMoyne is in the Northeast-10 Conference. Merrimack and Southern New Hampshire are also in that conference.

Eyeing a rebound

Eyeing a rebound

First time at Essex Tech for me. Impressive. The seating was steep but it gave everyone a good view of the game.

Bishop Fenwick box

St. Mary’s box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Sydney Brennan on the break

Sydney Brennan on the break

Jaxson Nadeau finishes a layup

Jaxson Nadeau finishes a layup

Marnelle Garround chased by Sydney Brennan

Marnelle Garround chased by Sydney Brennan

Olivia Nazaire looks to score

Olivia Nazaire looks to score

Marnelle Garraud pressures Sam Mancinelli

Marnelle Garraud pressures Sam Mancinelli

Fredi DeGuglielmo looks for an opening

Fredi DeGuglielmo looks for an opening

Colleen Corcoran in action in front the the Fenwick crowd

Colleen Corcoran in action in front the the Fenwick crowd

 

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St. Mary’s defeats Amesbury 8-5 to take Division 3 North softball title

St. Marys (2014 D3 North champs)

St. Marys (2014 D3 North champs)

Coach Chris Perry accepts the runner-up trophy for Amesbury

Coach Chris Perry accepts the runner-up trophy for Amesbury

(Lowell MA) On Saturday, Amesbury fell behind by two runs in the first inning and came back to defeat Lowell Catholic, 3-2, in the D3 North semifinals.

On Sunday, that fall-behind-thing didn’t work so well as the Indians trailed St. Mary’s (Lynn), 7-0, after two innings and ended up losing the Division 3 North title game, 8-5, to the Crusaders at Martin Field.

St. Mary’s moves on to the state semifinal game versus Greater New Bedford (South winner) on Wednesday night (5PM) back at Martin Field in Lowell.

Spartans start to celebrate

Spartans start to celebrate

The Spartans (17-7) won state titles in 2009 & 2010.  Last year they lost in the finals to Assabet Valley.  The most remarkable thing to me about past performance was that St. Mary’s has been in the D3 North finals for NINE straight years.  If experience means anything in big games they have it.

Amesbury (17-7), despite being down big early, never quit and put runners on base in the innings that followed and left the bases loaded in the fourth (after getting two runs) and in the seventh (after getting one run).

St. Mary’s picked up an insurance run in the sixth inning when Cassi LaFauci’s two-out double scored Alexis Mango with the Spartans eighth run.

That run loomed large in the Amesbury seventh after reliever Mia Nowicki walked in the Indians fifth run with two outs and had to face the Cape Ann League’s MVP Amanda Schell.  Mia escaped by getting Amanda to ground out to second baseman Jen Mucciarone to end the game.

Mia Nowicki

Mia Nowicki

St. Mary’s totaled ten hits but had five of them in their seven-run second inning.  Amesbury had three errors in the game and unfortunately, for them, all three came in the second inning.

In that second inning, the Spartans loaded the bases with two hits and a walk with one out.  Pitcher Rachel Cyr then bobbled Jess Martinello’s grounder and Vanessa VanBuskirk scored.  With two outs and the bases still loaded, another grounder and this time the throw home was over catcher Amanda Schell’s head and two runs scored.  Later a single (Molly Doyle) to center went through CF Sam Stone allowing yet another tainted run.  All seven runs were unearned.

Amesbury began the long road back with two runs in the third and two more in the fourth.

Autumn Kligerman and Rachel Cyr picked up RBI in the third.

collision course

collision course

Jordan D’Orsi started the fourth inning for St. Mary’s.  Consecutive doubles (Zoe Fitzgerald & Lauren Fedorchak) produced a run and after a walk Mia Nowicki came on in relief.  Mia hit the first batter (Amanda Schell) she faced and walked the next batter (Alexis Boswell) forcing in a run.  Here was a key point in this game: bases loaded with one out and Amesbury within three runs.  Mia, however, came up big for the Spartans registering a strikeout and a popout to escape further damage.

Mia Nowicki fanned seven Indians in her 3 2/3 innings of work.  The freshman has plenty of speed and a devastating changeup.

Michaela Hamill pitched three innings for St. Mary’s giving up two runs on five hits.

Third baseman Autumn Kligerman and second baseman Lauren Fedorchak had terrific catches on infield popups.

Alexis Mango

Alexis Mango

Alex Fisher, Alexis Mango, and Mollie Mello each had two hits for St. Mary’s.

Lauren Fedorchak had two hits, scored a run, and had an RBI for Amesbury.

St. Mary’s won an April 22nd game versus Amesbury, 4-1, at Amesbury.  Vanessa Van Buskirk had three RBI in that one.

Weather?  Sunny/Cloudy with an off-and-on breeze.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Sam Stone tries to get back to third

Sam Stone tries to get back to third

Alex Fisher heads for home

Alex Fisher heads for home

Maddie Napoli (25) and Sam Stone (13) chase the same popup

Maddie Napoli (25) and Sam Stone (13) chase the same popup

Autumn Kligerman takes a cut

Autumn Kligerman takes a cut

Meg Aponas slides back into third as Mollie Mello takes the throw

Meg Aponas slides back into third as Mollie Mello takes the throw

Rachel Cyr

Rachel Cyr

Second baseman Jen Mucciarone gets an assist on the final out of the game

Second baseman Jen Mucciarone gets an assist on the final out of the game

Vanessa VanBuskirk

Vanessa VanBuskirk

Zoe Fitzgerald flips to first

Zoe Fitzgerald flips to first

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Amesbury plays well in 4-1 loss to D3 powerhouse St. Mary’s of Lynn

Augie relaxes between innings of the St. Marys/Amesbury softball game

Augie relaxes between innings of the St. Marys/Amesbury softball game

Pitcher Mia Nowicki gets congratulated by teammate Katie Terban

Pitcher Mia Nowicki gets congratulated by teammate Katie Terban

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury didn’t make a full recovery from the nightmarish 16-15 loss to Newburyport last game but their improved play was noticeable.

The Indians (2-2) lost, 4-1, to a very strong St. Mary’s (Lynn) team in a non-league game on a beautiful Tuesday morning.

Sophomore Vanessa VanBuskirk drove in three runs for St. Mary’s (4-1).

The Spartans pitching (sophomore Michaela Hamill and freshman Mia Nowicki) gave up seven hits but it was their ability to strand nine Indians that made the difference.  Twice St. Mary’s pitchers were confronted with bases-loaded situations but yielded just one Amesbury run.

The Spartans scored two runs in the second and two more in the sixth.  The Indians collected their lone run in the fourth.

Pitcher Rachel Cyr gets one of her seven assists.

Pitcher Rachel Cyr gets one of her seven assists.

Rachel Cyr went the distance for Amesbury and pitched well.  The senior was victimized by a trio of infield bleeders in StM’s 2-run second and two walks in the 2-run sixth.

In the Spartans’ second inning, juniors Molly Doyle and Mollie Mello reached on slow rollers that neither AHS shortstop Maddie Napoli nor third baseman Autumn Kligerman had easy chances on.  (Senior Alexis Mango ran for Mollie Mello.)  A wild pitch moved both runners up and Mia Nowicki’s grounder to pitcher Rachel Cyr enabled Molly Doyle to score St. Mary’s first run.  Alexis Mango reached third on the play.  Vanessa VanBuskirk then hit a blooper over the pitcher, but in front of the shortstop, with plenty of spin on it that fell in and drove across the Spartans second run.  Nothing was hard hit but St. Mary’s was up, 2-0, after two innings.

Rachel Cyr gets back to third as Katie Terban applies the tag

Rachel Cyr gets back to third as Katie Terban applies the tag

Amesbury cut the lead in half in their fourth inning and came very close to having an even bigger inning.  Rachel Cyr started things off by reaching on a dropped popup by senior second baseman Jennie Mucciarone.  Autumn Kligerman bunted Rachel to second.  Next batter junior Meagan Aponas took a full swing and got a dribbler to go down the first baseline.  None of the St. Mary’s fielders reacted to it and so Meagan reached first.  Sophomore Sammy Stone then hit a grounder back to pitcher Michaela Hamill who tried unsuccessfully to get Rachel Cyr off of third.  So Amesbury now had the bases loaded with just one out.  They did get a run as Lauren Fedorchak’s fielder’s choice scored Rachel Cyr but Michaela got freshman Maddie Napoli to pop out ending what might have been a much bigger inning.

Mia Nowicki pitched the final three innings for the Spartans.

Against Mia in the fifth, the Indians got senior Lucy Scholz (3 hits) to third with two outs but failed to capitalize.

Jess Marinello scores the Spartans 4th run

Jess Marinello scores the Spartans 4th run

The Spartans put up two runs worth of insurance in the sixth inning.  Rachel Cyr’s only two walks of the game proved costly.  With two outs, St. Mary’s runners (Molly Doyle and pinchrunner Jess Martinello), who had reached on walks, were on second and third.  Vanessa VanBuskirk delivered the two of them with a hard shot to centerfield.

Amesbury trailed, 4-1, with two out in the bottom of the seventh.  But the Indians didn’t go quietly getting consecutive hits from Alexi Boswell and Lucy Scholz.  Amanda Schell extended the inning with a walk loading the bases.  However, Mia Nowicki got Rachel Cyr to fly to senior centerfielder Alex Fisher to end Amesbury‘s hopes for a last-inning comeback.

Amesbury is now in Division 3 as is St. Mary’s so it was a good chance for both teams to check each other out for a possible D3 North tournament game later on.

Vanessa VanBuskirk leads teammate Jennie Mucciarone to the bag

Vanessa VanBuskirk leads teammate Jennie Mucciarone to the bag

Jennie Mucciarone (going to Tufts) was part of St. Mary’s D3 basketball state champs as was Mia Nowicki.

Pitcher Rachel Cyr had seven assists.

St. Mary’s reached the state D3 final last year before losing, 5-2, to Assabet Valley.  The Spartans were 20-6 last season.  Amesbury was 19-3 in 2013 but in Division 2.

Amesbury is scheduled to visit Ipswich tomorrow for a 10AM game……..weather permitting.

Weather?  It is nice to go to an outdoor event in April and feel over-dressed. This was one of those mornings.

St. Mary’s box

Amesbury box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Lauren Fedorchak eyes a popup

Lauren Fedorchak eyes a popup

Alexi Boswell

Alexi Boswell

Maddie Napoli throws to first

Maddie Napoli throws to first

Vanessa VanBuskirk

Vanessa VanBuskirk

Mollie Mello

Mollie Mello

Michaela Hamill

Michaela Hamill

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St. Mary’s routs Hoosac Valley 74-36 to take Division 3 state title

Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders with D3 state title trophy

Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders with D3 state title trophy

(Worcester MA) Hoosac Valley’s plan was to use their speed, force turnovers and make three’s.

Those three had carried the Hurricanes to a 23-win season.

Then along came St. Mary’s in the Division 3 state finals on Saturday morning at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Brianna Rudolph, Sharell Sanders, and Jennie Mucciarone on the break

Brianna Rudolph, Sharell Sanders, and Jennie Mucciarone on the break

Nothing worked for the team from Cheshire and they were buried by the Spartans from Lynn, 74-36, ending a seventeen-game winning streak.

Brianna Rudolph starts to drive

Brianna Rudolph starts to drive

Before the game I had a chat with someone who hadn’t seen St. Mary’s play.  I told them that I doubted that Hoosac Valley had faced a player like Brianna Rudolph.  (I had seen Brianna carry St. Mary’s past Archbishop Williams, 47-45, in the D3 state semi-finals.)

It didn’t take Brianna (Division 1 UMass Lowell commit) long to prove my point.  The Spartans broke away from the Hurricanes in the first three minutes with Brianna (26 points) tallying eight straight – three layups and a jump shot.

That run in the first period gave St. Mary’s (24-2) their initial separation and there was no looking back.

Jen Gale eyes the hoop

Jen Gale eyes the hoop

The ‘Canes were able to stem the tide a couple of times but the lead kept growing.

The Spartans, winners of nine straight, had point runs of: eight, ten, thirteen, eight, and nine.

The only run that the Lady Canes from the Berkshire Country League put together was eight, late in the final quarter.  Three’s by freshman Kailynne Frederick and Maddie Ryan keyed those consecutive points.  Those were the only 3’s Hoosac Valley would get.

This game went from “still undecided” to “out-of-reach,” four minutes into the second half.  During a five minute stretch, starting with a minute left in the second quarter, St. Mary’s outscored the Lady Canes, 21-2, on their way to a 53-19 advantage with twelve minutes of playing time left.

Gianna Moschella (14 points) looks for a rebound along side #22 Maddie Ryan

Gianna Moschella (14 points) looks for a rebound along side #22 Maddie Ryan

Jennie Mucciarone had a layup and three assists in the big run.  Reserve Gianna Moschella added an old-fashioned three and two layups.

Softball has a mercy rule and I couldn’t help thinking that the need for those final twelve minutes to be played (with a team down 34) didn’t seem necessary.  But it was played and St. Mary’s won, 74-36.

It was obvious early on that HV was not going to be able to force the Spartans into turnovers that would lead to quick baskets.  Too many good passers and dribblers on the St. Mary’s team.

Unable to turn pressure into scores the Lady Canes fell back into a half-court defense that had no answers for the take-it-to-the-basket Spartans.

Senior Sharell Sanders ended up with thirteen points including eleven in the first half.  The terrific point guard will be playing for Division 2 Caldwell College (New Jersey) next season.

Sharell Sanders (13 points) finds a direct route to the basket

Sharell Sanders (13 points) finds a direct route to the basket

Another Spartans senior, Jennie Mucciarone sat out the second period with three fouls but was big in St. Mary’s pull away in the second half.  Jennie will play at Division 3 Tufts next season.

Brianna Rudolph (26 points) ended her Spartans career in wonderful fashion.  She was part of a man-to-man defense that had HV going east-to-west in the front court most of the game.  Brianna will be at UMass Lowell in the fall.

Sophomores Kayla Carter (10 points) and Gianna Moschella (14 points) would suggest that the well is far from dry at St. Mary’s.

Maddie Ryan paced Hoosac Valley with ten points.

There was never a lack of effort on HV’s part.  They finish 23-2.

St. Mary’s boxscore

Hoosac Valley’s boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

McKenzie Robinson

McKenzie Robinson

Spartans coach Jeff Newhall with Brianna Rudolph afterwards

Spartans coach Jeff Newhall with Brianna Rudolph afterwards

team picture afterwards

team picture afterwards

Fallon Field drives on Sophia Holmes

Fallon Field drives on Sophia Holmes

Sharell Sanders

Sharell Sanders

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Brianna Rudolph brilliant in St. Mary’s 47-45 win over Archbishop Williams – Hoosac Valley next in D3 title game

Sharell Sanders gets open in the lane for game winner after pass from Brianna Rudolph

Sharell Sanders gets open in the lane for game winner after pass from Brianna Rudolph

Jennie Mucciarone signals the win as Brianna Rudolph (31 points) dribbles out the clock.

Jennie Mucciarone signals the win as Brianna Rudolph (31 points) dribbles out the clock.

(Amesbury MA)  St. Mary’s 47, Archbishop Williams 45.

Quite a remarkable game.  I saw the end of it and took some pictures of the excitement.

Anyone who saw that game on Tuesday afternoon at the TD Garden will use two words to explain how St. Mary’s won: Brianna Rudolph.

The MIAA may have had Brianna’s name wrong in the program (“Nicole,”) but both teams were keenly aware of her.  I never saw a Spartans’ possession in the frontcourt where the ball wasn’t in her hands.  For the Archies, every Brianna free-throw attempt was an opportunity to swing into the Christmas spirit with a student-section rendition of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Brianna Rudolph took thirty shots including this tough one in traffic

Brianna Rudolph took thirty shots including this tough one in traffic

The second-half numbers clearly reveal the impact Brianna had in getting St. Mary’s a Division 3 state semifinals win.  The Spartans’ senior was directly responsible for twenty-three of St. Mary’s twenty-seven second half points.  After Brianna reached nineteen points in the second half she then assisted on the tying basket (Kayla Carter) and the winning basket (Sharell Sanders) late in the game.

Brianna (UMass Lowell commit) did finish with thirty-one points but those last two assists were more important to the final score than any of the points.

The entire early run of stories about the St. Mary’s/Archbishop Williams game missed the significant point that Alana Gilmer was defending Brianna.

The last two games I saw the Archies play were in last year’s D3 state semifinals and finals.  Alana put up points but it was her defense that paved the way for AW wins over Pentucket and Lee.

Alana Gilmer had six blocks including this one on Brianna Rudolph

Alana Gilmer had six blocks including this one on Brianna Rudolph

Against Pentucket (state semifinals), 6-foot Alana limited Coley Viselli to three points.  Against Lee (state finals) Alana held Stephanie Young also to three points.  Both of those talented seniors were 1000-point scorers who had shot over and driven around many previous defenders.  But not Alana.  She is tall enough to make the 3-point shot less wide open and fast enough to keep contact on a drive.  She is very good at blocking shots and got Brianna several times.

Anyhow, my point in that this was no random defender on Brianna.  But she got thirty-one points.  How?  Speed and a quick jump shot off the dribble.

That jump shot allows a shorter player to be into the jump shot before the taller defender is set to block the attempt.  Brianna used that jump shot to get open several times against Alana who is four inches taller.

The Archies did a terrific job against the Spartans’ 1000-point scorer Jennie Mucciarone.  A very helpful stat sheet (Thank you, MIAA!) revealed that Jennie missed all fifteen shots she took.  There’s more to that story………at least ten of those shots were blocked!  AW had sixteen blocks.  The Archies were able to throw Jennie off her game the same way Alana had thrown Coley Viselli and Stephanie Young off their games the previous tournament season.

St. Mary’s last two baskets were very similar.  Brianna drove in from the left into a double-team.  Both times she had the good basketball sense to realize that teammates were open……..and they were open in close.  First it was sophomore Kayla Carter in the low key wide open, and then it was senior Sharell Sanders in the same spot for the eventual game-winner.  In both cases, Brianna’s passes turned into perfect setups.

Alana Gilmer (18 points) takes a last-minute shot defended by Kayla Carter and Sharell Sanders

Alana Gilmer (18 points) takes a last-minute shot defended by Kayla Carter and Sharell Sanders

Archbishop Williams had a timeout and twenty seconds to do something about STM’s two-point (47-45) lead.  I never doubted that Alana (18 points) would get the final shot.  She ended up with a contested (Kayla Carter & Sharell Sanders) jump shot along the baseline which rimmed out.  After a scramble, Kayla came up with the rebound and called a timeout with 2.3 seconds left.  After a timeout, the Spartans got the ball into Brianna’s hands to dribble out the clock.

The win earns St. Mary’s a trip to the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday for a title game against Hoosac Valley at 10:45AM.

Hoosac Valley is from Cheshire which is in the northwest corner of Massachusetts about fifteen minutes from the New York and Vermont borders.

The Hurricanes are 23-1 and won their state semifinals game by two points over Bellingham.  HV lost that same game last year.

Brianna gets inside Alana for two

Brianna gets inside Alana for two

Their only loss?  To a team from Ohio (Austintown Fitch) in Florida during winter break.

In twenty-two of the Hurricanes’ wins they have won by more than ten points.

According to Hoosac’s coach (Ron Wojcik), Austintown Fitch was the, “only team able to handle our pressure and keep turnovers down.”

St. Mary’s had only six turnovers against Archbishop Williams.  Look for them to keep the ball in the hands of Sharell Sanders and Brianna Rudolph.

St. Mary’s won the state title in 2011 over Lee.

Halftime box

Full-game box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

team picture

team picture

Leah Spencer (14 points) leads a break

Leah Spencer (14 points) leads a break

Alana Gilmer

Alana Gilmer

Brianna Rudolph shoots

Brianna Rudolph shoots

Jennie Mucciarone gets her shot blocked by two Archies

Jennie Mucciarone gets her shot blocked by two Archies

Sophomore Victoria Dean

Sophomore Victoria Dean

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St. Mary’s reaches the D3 North finals with 5-2 win over Matignon

Mia Nowicki closes out the win

Mia Nowicki closes out the win

Pitcher Brooke LAbbe cheers as the fourth inning ends with a double play

Pitcher Brooke LAbbe cheers as the fourth inning ends with a double play

(Lowell) The St. Mary’s Spartans got back to a familiar spot (D3 North finals) with a, 5-2, win over Matignon on a cloudy Thursday afternoon at Martin Field.

The Spartans will face Whittier on Sunday at noon in a battle for the D3 North title.

St. Mary’s (18-5) has won the D3 North championship in four of the last five years.  The lone miss was last year to Matignon (3-1 on June 10th).

Both teams are from the Central Catholic Large division.  They had faced each other twice this season and the Spartans registered a 2-1 win in April and a 2-0 win in May.

Obviously runs were scarce during the regular season which was why St. Mary’s 3-run fourth inning in this game was the difference maker.

In that crucial inning the team from Lynn turned little things into something big.  They started with a walk and a well-placed bunt to get the first two runners on.  A bloop single (Alex Fisher) to center brought home a run (pinch runner Alexis Mango) to give St. Mary’s a 2-1 edge.

Alison Butler - big double in the fourth inning

Alison Butler – big double in the fourth inning

If the inning had ended there the final outcome might have been different.  However, with two on and two out Alison Butler did a wonderful impersonation of Johnny Damon and Ichiro Suzuki before launching a 2-run double over Nat McAllister’s head in left.

Damon & Ichiro?  In their primes, those two were notorious for fouling off pitch after pitch to keep an at-bat going.  Alison did the same thing.  I’m guessing the left-handed batter fouled off at least five pitches before stoking the biggest hit of the game (in my opinion).

Matignon (16-7) cut a run off the Spartans’ 4-1 lead in the fifth but St. Mary’s got the run back in their half of the sixth.

Brooke L’Abbe and Jordan D’Orsi limited the Warriors to four hits over five inning.  Mia Nowicki pitched a hitless sixth and seventh for the save.

Sophomore Sydnee Bessler went six for Matignon yielding seven hits.  Three of those hits were in the game-deciding fourth inning.  Sydnee had eight of her ten strikeouts in the first three innings.

Two-base throwing error allows Julia Graf to score

Two-base throwing error allows Julia Graf to score

Julia Graf had two of Matignon’s four hits.

Allison Butler and Tatiana Doucette each had two hits for St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s (#4 seed) tallied its first run in the second inning.  A double by Cassi LaFauci drove in teammate Molly Doyle who had started the inning with a double.

The team from Cambridge tied the game with an unearned run in the third.  A two-base, two-out throwing error by Spartans shortstop Molly Doyle allowed Julia Graf to score.

Matignon (#8 seed) picked up a run with some clever base running in the fifth inning.  The Warriors had runners on first and third with one out.  The runner on first (Julia Graf) broke for second drawing a throw from catcher Tatiana Doucette.  Once the throw was made, the runner on third (Nat McAllister) headed for home without drawing a throw.

St. Mary’s final run came in the sixth.  Tatiana Doucette led off with a triple and scored on Mia Nowicki’s grounder to second.  The second baseman (Julia Graf) tried to get Tatiana at the plate but the throw was high.

Alex Fisher is sent home in the fourth

Alex Fisher is sent home in the fourth

So, it was that fourth inning that extends the Spartans season at least into Sunday.

The mid-afternoon, weekday 3:15 PM start had forty folks in the stands when the game began.  Quite a few more arrived as the game progressed.

There were enough clouds in the sky to make me think that there would be rain before the game ended.  Thankfully, that didn‘t happen.

Nice to hear the National Anthem played before softball games.  I know that retiring Ipswich head coach Doug Woodworth had the Anthem played before his home games but I don’t know of anyone else who does it.

Spartan closer Mia Nowicki is an eighth grader.  She throws hard and has a very nice changeup.

Olivia McDonald

Olivia McDonald

Two of Matignon’s starters (Shawna McGaffigan and Olivia McDonald) are seniors.

St. Mary’s has won nine of their last ten games.

I have seen shifts but the one that St. Mary’s put on against freshman Sam McKean was unique.  With Sam’s reputation as a bunter in place, the Spartans had eight players in the infield dirt and one player a step out in the outfield grass.  It worked.  I kept thinking that any sort of hit into the outfield would be for extra bases if not a home run.

Matignon squandered a nice chance in the fourth inning.  Nicole Sylvester reached third after a double and a sacrifice bunt (Joe Tagher) with one out.  Kayla McKinnon then hit a hard grounder to third.  Spartans 3B Kaleigh Finigan made the stop, tagged Kayla and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.

Matignon had runners in scoring position in four different innings without cashing in.

St. Mary’s boxscore

Matignon boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

well placed bunt

well placed bunt

Joe Tagher and Olivia McDonald

Joe Tagher and Olivia McDonald

Jordan DOrsi

Jordan DOrsi

Tatiana Doucette slides in with the fifth Spartans run

Tatiana Doucette slides in with the fifth Spartans run

Nicole Sylvester

Nicole Sylvester

Sydnee Bessler

Sydnee Bessler

Kaleigh Finigan

Kaleigh Finigan

Cassi LaFauci drives in the first Spartans run

Cassi LaFauci drives in the first Spartans run

Elusive popup

Elusive popup

Victoria Viger squares to bunt

Victoria Viger squares to bunt

Nicole Sylvester races for second

Nicole Sylvester races for second

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Filed under Matignon, St. Mary's