Category Archives: St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s gains D3 title with 46-44 win over Rockland

Coach Jeff Newhall with captains Abby Constine and Liv Abbott
Yirsy Queliz (17 points) hits the game winner with 24 seconds left

(Lowell) There were seven lead changes.

The score was tied in all four quarters.

Rockland had two possessions after the final tie (44-44 with 1:28 left).

But it was St. Mary’s making the outcome-deciders thereafter to slip away with a 46-44 win in the Division 3 girls title game on Friday night at the Tsongas Arena.

Yirsy Queliz (17 points) gave the Spartans the lead with a jump shot over two defenders with twenty-four seconds left.

Then it was Kellyn Preira blocking the tying basket as time ran out for the Lady Dogs.

Kellyn Preira blocks Julia Elie’s final shot
Maggie Elie and Yirsy Queliz

“What a heckuva game,” said Rockland coach Diane Mitchell afterwards.  “It was an absolute battle.  We didn’t come away with the win but no way was it from lack of effort.”

“Give Rockland credit,” said St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall post-game.  “They were excellent.  Emotionally, we were a little bit spent from the other night (against Bishop Fenwick).  We had just enough, and Kellyn made a huge play at the end.”

In each of the first three quarters, high-scoring St. Mary’s looked ready to gain significant separation from Rockland (21-4).  But persistent half-court defense and consistent rebounding by the Lady Dogs wouldn’t allow it.

Ball on the floor

“To hold that team to forty-six points was doing our job defensively,” said Coach Mitchell.

Down 15-8, Rockland rallied around baskets by Sydney Blaney, Maggie Elie (11 points), and Julia Elie to begin the second quarter even (15-15).

Behind 26-19 at the half, Maddy Hermenau and the two Elie sisters, generated points to even the score at 28-28.

After a drive and a free throw from Kellyn Preira (16 points) was followed by a three from Niya Morgen, Rockland trailed by six points but once again rallied into a tie (34-34) to start the 4th quarter.

Yirsy Queliz sees lane to hoop

Then the lead changes started, and the excitement built.  Both teams and their active student sections had plenty of highs and lows the rest of the way.

No one play ever wins or loses a team game.

“She could have made the two free throws and we wouldn’t have had the problem at the end with my heart rate,” said Coach Newhall.

Julia Elie and Kellyn Preira

“We missed free throws and had turnovers before the final play,” added Coach Mitchell.

Coach Newhall: “Yirsy (Queliz) is a scholarship guard.  I am grateful to have her for another year.  She lives for basketball.  She was our steadying presence all night on offense while everyone else was pretty much helter-skelter. She makes that (final) shot more often than not.”

Coach Mitchell: “Maggie (Elie) reached a new level in the tournament.  She turned the page and realized that beyond bringing the ball up she could be a facilitator.  She could take over.  She could get to the hoop.  She could get points and still get assists.”

Great setting at Tsongas.  Great views and well managed.  I was impressed with the lighting.

St. Mary’s   15     11    8   12   =   46

Rockland     13      6   14   11   =   44

(The pictures will enlarge.)

St. Mary’s celebrates
Rockland double-team
Yirsy Queliz to the basket
Charlie Kelleher and Niya Morgen
Kellyn Preira block in the first half
Kellyn Preira sets to block on the final play
St. Mary’s lines up post-game
St. Mary’s behind the banner
Rockland box
St. Mary’s box

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St. Mary’s defeats St. John’s 52-42

(The pictures below will enlarge if you click on them.)

St. Mary’s pressures St. John’s
Omri Merryman (10 points)

(Danvers MA) St. John’s Prep didn’t have the firepower to stay with St. Mary’s for an entire game.

When the (6-1) Spartans put baskets together in the second half the Eagles didn’t have answers and fell, 52-42, on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles led at halftime (18-17).

In the second half, St. Mary’s finished well inside while defending the home team into a low percentage outside game.

Kyle Webster (nine points)

Senior Kyle Webster was St. John’s top scorer with nine points.

The Spartans’ David Brown was very effective on both ends of the court.  David had eleven points with five assists plus seven rebounds and five steals.

David also had a crowd-pleasing dunk in the first half and a block in the final quarter. 

The Prep’s Jack Perry looked to be in free for a layup but hustling David caught up and got the exciting block.

David Brown (right) about to block Jack Perry’s shot
Mike O’Brien set to block

Derick Coulanges led St. Mary’s with thirteen points, all in the first three quarters.

Omri Merryman added ten points with seven boards.

Senior Henri Miraka finished with nine points including a dagger three in the final minute to seal the deal for St. Mary’s.

The Eagles’ defense was solid, but they didn’t have the points.  The Eagles graduated forty-two points per game in scoring and lost their best passer as well.  They’ll need to find some answers, but there is time.

Ali Barry was St. Mary’s top scorer last year averaging fourteen points per game.  Today he was limited to one point and few shots.

St. Mary’s is D3 and in the Catholic Central League.

St. John’s is D1 and in the Catholic Conference.

St. Mary’s   6   11   18   17   =   52

St. John’s  11    7    10   14   =   42

(The pictures will enlarge if you click on them.)

St. Mary’s box
St. John’s box
Eyeing a rebound
David Brown guarded by Steph Patrick
Jack Angelopolus
Steph Patrick
David Brown
Ryan Fraher
Ali Barry (4) and Kyle Webster (42)
Henri Miraka (nine points and six rebounds)
Rebound battle
Nathan Hendriks surrounded
David Brown (2) guarded in the lane
Ali Barry
Mike O’Brien surrounded
St. John’s coach John Dullea
Jack Perry (seven points)
David Brown (2) and Kyle Webster (42)

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Niya Morgen and Yirsy Queliz guide St. Mary’s past Pentucket 59-37

(The pictures below will enlarge if you click on them.)

Niya Morgen (27 points) in for a layup
Yirsy Queliz (18 points)

(West Newbury MA) St. Mary’s got better as the game went along defeating Pentucket, 59-37, on Friday night.

The Spartans junior guards (Yirsy Queliz and Niya Morgen) were a game-long problem for Pentucket in their season opener.

“They might have the best backcourt in the state,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards.

Niya had seven three’s in twenty-seven points while Yirsy added eighteen points.

Action in front of the Pentucket student section

The points were one thing, but the defense and court-sense of both players was noticeable.

“Our guard play eventually took the game over,” explained Spartans coach Jeff Newhall post-game.

“They’re good friends,” added Coach Newhall.  “They play AAU together.  They are used to playing together.  There is no weakness in their games.”

The Pentucket student section was in place as was an ever-playing band.  There was a playoff-game atmosphere.

Gabby Bellacqua (11 points)

The Sachems started well, and even had a 6-2 lead, as St. Mary’s tried to settle in. 

But as time went on, it became apparent that Pentucket was going to have trouble scoring and that St. Mary’s wouldn’t. 

Yirsy Queliz created a turnover with seconds left in the first quarter and cashed it in to give the visitors their first lead, 9-7. They would build on that lead the rest of the game.

Audrey Conover defends Niya Morgen

Niya Morgen carried St. Mary’s in the second and third quarters.  The Swampscott transfer drained six three’s in those quarters.

One of Niya’s three-pointers was a step-back three.

“Niya made some big shots to keep us alive,” said Coach Newhall.

The Spartans extended a 24-18 halftime lead to 41-28 after three quarters.

The Pentucket problem wasn’t a lack of shots.  The issue was making some shots. 

Yirsy Queliz and Coach Newhall

“We had some good looks,” said Coach McNamara, “but against a good team you have to make shots.  The defense can only hold on for so long.”

Abby Dube paced Pentucket with fifteen points.  Gabby Bellacqua added eleven points mostly on free throws.

This game was an endowment game so it will have no effect on tournament standings.

“We haven’t played Pentucket in ten years,” said Coach Newhall.  “The last time was in 2011 when we beat them in the Division 3 North semi-finals and went on to win our first state championship. Before that, we used to play them all the time.”

Alyssa Thompson and Bella Owumi

“John (McNamara) and I planned to have this game last year but couldn’t,” said Coach Newhall.  “Any time we can play a quality opponent on the road that can challenge us we’re willing to do it.  Some teams aren’t willing to host us.”

“We had nothing to lose in scheduling them,” said Coach McNamara, “since it’s an endowment game.  We knew that they were loaded.  It was a learning experience for us.  We start our season next week against Georgetown.”

Yirsy Queliz and Brooke Moloney

It was easy to be impressed with Yirsy Queliz.  Coach Newhall summed her up this way: “Yirsy has been a starter since she was in eighth grade.  She does everything.  She may not score a ton but she’s a tremendous ballhandler.  She’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the area.”

Yirsy’s teammate, Niya, is equally good at handling the ball and tonight showed the ability to hit outside shots and get to the basket.

Olivia Abbott and Lana Mickelson

“St. Mary’s is probably one of the top five teams in the state,” said Coach McNamara.  “They have four kids who can create their own offense.  There are probably three scholarship kids on that team.”

Coach Newhall was happy with the win and especially liked his team’s play at the end.  “I was impressed with our fourth quarter defensively and using the clock for good possessions,” he said.  “We had Yirsy with the ball, the court spread, and ran good sets.”

Yirsy said afterwards that “Pentucket was a tough team.”  Niya added that the “team had to chill out without fouling.”

Yirsy Queliz sets a pick for Niya Morgen

Both girls agreed that because they have played together so much, “they’ve built chemistry.”

Yirsy and Niya ran a perfect pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter.

This is the last season in the current Pentucket gymnasium.  Coach McNamara said afterwards that he was going to miss the place.

“One of my best memories of this place was beating a very good Masco team here my first year of coaching,” said Coach McNamara.  “They had been to the Tsongas the year before and had everyone back.  We were the new kids on the block.”

Kaylie Dalgar and Audrey Conover

Bob Romeo (former Masco coach and now North Reading coach) was in the house tonight.  I also saw Coach Dollas and some of his Amesbury players in attendance.

Graduated outside shooter Arielle Cleveland was also spotted afterwards.  Pentucket could have used her shooting tonight.

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

Pentucket box
St. Mary’s box
Bella Owumi guarded by Bethany Cloutier
Yirsy Queliz gets deliberate late in the game
Yirsy Queliz makes a steal
Gabby Bellacqua pressures Yirsy Queliz
AJ Hyacinthe
Audrey Conover
Emma Lopata

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Liv DeLong hits walkoff winner

Amesbury Indians are the Division 3 North champions
Ella Bezanson hits home with the game winner

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury captured the Division 3 North title with a 3-2, eight-inning walkoff win over St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.

Amesbury takes on D3 South champs Case on Monday night at 5PM at the Amesbury Middle School.

Liv DeLong had the big hit for the (15-0) Indians. The hard-hitting junior drove in Ella Bezanson with the game-winner.

“I couldn’t have had a better setup in the eighth,” explained Amesbury coach Jacqui Waters post-game.  “Those are my top two hitters.”

Amesbury had only five hits off the Spartans Lily Newhall but two of them came in the decisive eighth.

Earlier, Lauren Celia gave the Indians the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run single down the third-base line.

Lauren Celia had a two-run single

“It felt good to get a hit in a late-season game,” said Lauren.

But the runs didn’t hold up. 

St. Mary’s (21-3) took advantage of two Amesbury miscues and tied the score, 2-2, in their half of the sixth inning.

“I liked the way we came back after being down 2-0,” said St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca afterwards.

The Spartans put the pressure on Amesbury in the seventh and eighth.

Felicia D’Alessandro singled with two out in the seventh.

Brooke Mohoney singled and reached second on a Jill Kirby sacrifice bunt with one out in the eighth.

St. Mary’s captains

In both situations, Amesbury pitcher Alana Delisle had the defense behind her to keep St. Mary’s from scoring.

“We had an opportunity in the eighth inning and didn’t take advantage of it,” said Coach Pagliuca.  “Amesbury had the same opportunity in the eighth inning and took advantage of it.”

That similar situation was having a runner on second base with one out.

After an Ella Delisle popup leading off the decisive eighth, the Indians had their two best hitters whack the two hardest hits of the game.

“I felt it on the end of my bat,” explained Ella Bezanson who doubled to the right centerfield fence, “and I knew it was a good hit.”

In the sixth inning, Amesbury had runners on second and third with two outs.  On that occasion St. Mary’s decided to pitch to Alana Delisle even though there was an empty base.  The strategy worked perfectly as Spartans’ ace Lily Newhall struck Alana out to end the inning.

Liv DeLong at bat in the 8th inning

Now in the eighth inning, with Ella Bezanson on second base, the option of walking the next batter (Liv DeLong) was again available.

There was a long conference on the mound as the Spartans planned what they would do.

They would pitch to Liv DeLong.

“Liv told me that she was going after the first pitch,” said Coach Waters.

“I was up there ready to hit,” recalled Liv.  “I was ready to swing at anything.  I saw the first pitch coming and I said, ‘this is it.’”

Liv hit a rope to center field.  It hasn’t rained much lately, and the ground out there is hard.  Liv’s hit took an up bounce on St. Mary’s CF Marina D’Biasio and Ella was on her way home.

Liv DeLong’s hard hit bounces up on CF Marina D’Biasio in the 8th iinning

“When Liv hit that ball, I was jumping up-and-down inside,” said Ella.

Lily Newhall
Alana Delisle

I asked Coach Pagliuca about choosing not to walk Liv DeLong: “I won’t comment on what I told the pitcher.  The girl hit the ball.  It is what it is at this point.  Liv is a good player, and she took advantage of the opportunity.”

The pitching of St. Mary’s Lily Newhall and Amesbury’s Alana Delisle was very impressive.

“Lily kept a powerful lineup off-balance all game,” said Coach Pagliuca.

Lily gave up five hits and had eight strikeouts.  The junior had a no-hitter through four innings.

Alana also yielded five hits but had ten strikeouts.

“Alana is probably the hero of the game,” said Coach Waters.  “I had no doubt that I was pitching her today.”

SS Sam Porazinski makes a nice catch

“Alana did so well today,” said her sister Ella who is the team’s catcher.  “She hit every spot.  She’s so good.”

Ella calls the pitches for her older sister. 

“Rise balls and changeups were working, as well as a few screwballs,” said Alana.  “Ella was smart about how we used them.”

St. Mary’s had won twelve straight.  Their losses were to Gloucester and Bishop Feehan.

This season Amesbury has rolled through the Cape Ann League getting no-hitters from Alana Delisle and Liv DeLong as well as mercy-rule endings in most games.

The weather was pleasantly warm.

Good turnout with the spectators located beyond the outfield fence.

St. Mary’s box
Amesbury box

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

Amesbury team
Coach Waters with the AHS captains
Ella Bezanson and Liv DeLong with the team about to join
SS Olivia Levasseur throws to first
Alyssa Grossi on her way home with the Spartans 2nd run
Brooke Moloney scores St. Mary’s first run
Olivia Levasseur scores Amesbury’s 2nd run
Izzy Levasseur scores Amesbury’s first run
Lily Newhall throws to first base
Alana Delisle throws to first base
Lauren Celia tagged out at second by SS Sam Porazinski
CF Ella Bezanson
Brooke Moloney
SS Sam Porazinski
Lily Newhall
1B Liv DeLong
Alana Delisle

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St. Mary’s downs Rockland 53-37 to gain a D3 title shot

Maiya Bergdorf (13 points) was a key part in St. Mary’s strong second half

Lady Dogs close in on Nicolette D’Itria

(Boston MA) This one took a while to sort out.

Tied at 18-18 at halftime.

Rockland had size and had won sixteen straight.

St. Mary’s had a persistent defense and was capable of scoring seventy to eighty points.

Something had to give.

It was the Spartans (24-2) who turned things their way in the second half.

They continued to defend well and found a way to stoke their lackluster first-half offense.

Those ingredients led them to a 53-37 win in the D3 state semi-finals on Wednesday afternoon at the TD Garden.

St. Mary’s will face Hoosac Valley in a title game rematch from last season.

“Hoosac Valley is like UConn,” said St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall post-game, “they are there every year.”

Jannise Avelino and Julia Elie (14 points)

The Elie sisters, senior Caroline and sophomore Julia, carried the Lady Dogs in the first half combining for fifteen points. Rockland (22-3) was able to use their size advantages inside to turn lob passes into layups.

Rockland led 18-12 with 2 ½ minutes left in the second quarter.

St. Mary’s used Rockland’s scoreless time thereafter to get a shot-clock beating three (Gabby Torres) and a Yirsy Queliz steal that the freshman turned into an old-fashioned 3-point play.

“We were tied at halftime and our offense couldn’t have been much worse,” said Coach Newhall.

After two lead changes early in the second half, a pair of Maiya Bergdorf (13 points) free throws put St. Mary’s in front, 25-24, with 2 ½ minutes. They would never trail again.

Yirsy Queliz scores and draws a foul on Hannah Wyllie

“When #14 (Hannah Wyllie) was taken out because of foul trouble, we inserted Van Nguyen and went with four guards and Maiya (Bergdorf),” recalled Coach Newhall. The Spartans took off from there.

“We did a 4-1 to space out their bigs and open up the paint for Maiya,” explained senior Olivia Matela.

Defending the inside opened up outside shots for St. Mary’s. Defending the perimeter gave Maiya a chance to operate against a single defender.

“They had a lot of weapons,” said Rockland coach Diana Newcomb, “and they could bring them from wherever they wanted to.”

St. Mary’s pushed their lead to nine (38-29) after two Maiya free throws and a drive by Olivia Matela (nine points).

Olivia Matela (9 points)

The deal was sealed for the team from Lynn a minute later when Maiya and Olivia hit three’s on consecutive possessions. These triples raised the Spartans advantage to eleven (44-33) and there was no coming back for the Lady Dogs.

“Van (Nguyen) sparked the win,” said Coach Newhall. “She’s a role player who sat on the bench for 2 ½ quarters today. To contribute as she did under those circumstances was special. We matched her up against a forward defensively and put as much pressure as we could on the ball.”

Julia Elie (14 points) and Caroline Elie (12 points) paced Rockland.

St. Mary’s two losses were to teams (D1 Franklin & D4 Cathedral) that will also play for state titles in their next game.

You have to like St. Mary’s chances against Hoosac Valley in the title game. Why? Granted HV won that game last year but in December of this season, at HV, it was St. Mary’s 62, Hoosac Valley 32!

Gabby Torres and Caroline Elie (12 points)

Caroline Elie: “Since the beginning of the season we’ve grown tremendously on and off the court.”

Hannah Wyllie: “We would have wished for a better outcome but just to be here is a great thing.”

Olivia Matela: “We used the big court to our advantage. We play fast. The majority of our points are scored in transition.”

Maiya Bergdorf: “Coach (Newhall) kept encouraging me even when my shots weren’t falling. Players need to hear that.”

Coach Newhall: “We were here a year ago and our goal has been to get back to the state championship game again.”

Rockland coach Diana Newcomb

Coach Newcomb: “This is the best group to come through Rockland in twenty years. They won the South Shore League and reached the Eastern Mass finals.”

Twenty years ago, the RHS coach played for the Lady Dogs when they won the state title. “I was here for the Eastern Mass game. We beat Chelsea by a pretty good margin, and then won against Bromfield in the state championship game.”

Rockland box

St. Mary’s box

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

Referee smiles as both coaches protest the same call

Caroline and Julie Elie leave the game

End of the game

Hannah Wyllie drives on Gabby Torres

Julia Elie breaks out

Julia Elie and Maiya Bergdorf

Nicolette D’Itria

St. Mary’s team post-game

St. Mary’s pre-game

Sydney Blaney covers Yirsy Queliz

Van Nguyen surrounded by Hannah Wyllie

Yirsy Queliz guarded by Hannah Wyllie

 

 

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Gracie Doherty goal against St. Mary’s brings Amesbury to D4 North finals

Amesbury team celebrates winning the D4 North semi-finals

Chelsea Lynch (12) and Gracie Doherty (18) celebrate the goal

(Lynn MA) Amesbury’s next opponent might want to check to see who hasn’t scored for the #6 Indians so far and keep an eye on them.

Twice in this year’s D4 tournament, non-scorers have broken through for Amesbury.

Today in the D4 North semi-finals, it was junior Gracie Doherty.  In the D4 North First Round it was senior Sara Johnson.

Sara’s goal was part of a 4-0 win over Winthrop.

Goalie Alli Napoli on the ground. Kayla Demers in the air. Meg McElaney nearby.

Gracie’s goal today at Manning Field was all there was as Amesbury took out St. Mary’s 1-0.

That win gets the Indians (14-3-4) into the D4 North finals for the third straight year.

To hear senior Emma DiPietro tell it, the win was nice but not enough. “I got a taste of winning these last three years and I don’t want to lose again.  I think that we’re ready to win the whole thing.”

To get the state title Amesbury will need three more wins starting with the Manchester-Essex/Medway winner on Sunday at Manning Field.

The Indians are undefeated in their last ten games since losing to Manchester-Essex in October.

I saw St. Mary’s play Amesbury in the tournament last year at Landry Stadium in Amesbury.  I was unimpressed.  The final was only 2-0 but the Spartans displayed a game-long inability to generate any sort of an attack.

Riley Lynch (11) and McKenna Hallinan (1)

Today I saw a different team of Spartans.  For a little over a half, the play was in the middle of the field or in the upper half of the Amesbury end.

“We had a great first half, “recalled St. Mary’s coach Jim Foley.

There weren’t golden chances, but the Amesbury attack was seriously limited by St. Mary’s.

“We started off with two great chances in the second half,” said Coach Foley.  One was off a free kick by Joslyn Deschenes and the other came when Kayla Demers got in close.  Amesbury goalie Alli Napoli handled both advances.

And then Amesbury took over.

Sara Johnson (6) dribbles ahead

“We didn’t play our game in the first half,” explained Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau.  “We were playing as individuals.  I told them at halftime that if they didn’t play as a team the season could be over.  Our seniors stepped up because they don’t want it to be over.”

Amesbury had a great chance in close after nine minutes in their resurgent second half and then senior Emma DiPietro put two long shots on net during the next two minutes.

The pressure on St. Mary’s (13-7-1) was building.  Every clearance was being put back into scoring areas by the Indians.

The persistent pressure led to a free kick.

Alyssa Pettet took the kick from straight away.  Her kick came toward Spartans goalie Adrianna Bowker.  Chelsea Lynch was nearby contesting the oncoming shot.

The long shot bounced off the St. Mary’s goalie and right to junior Gracie Doherty.

Gracie put a charge into a shot and it hit the crossbar and caromed right back in her direction.

Gracie reacted by leaning into a header that settled in just under the crossbar at 27:27.

Sherly Feliz (24) and Emma DiPietro (11)

“What a time for Gracie to get her first goal,” said Coach Thibodeau afterwards.  “On championship teams you need goals to come from all over.”

Gracie’s reaction to scoring such a big goal wasn’t too surprising: “I was shocked that it went it!”

I assumed that St. Mary’s would start to press Amesbury with so much time remaining.  They called a timeout after the goal, but their offense never got started.

“We really didn’t get any looks after those plays in the beginning of the second half,” said Coach Foley.

Amesbury has now shut out St. Mary’s three straight years in the tournament. They are also unscored on in this year’s D4 North tournament.

It was not a lack of effort on the Spartans’ part.

The Indians had that “team” thing going defensively.  The long balls to no one were limited.  Instead, teammates were passed to and better control kicked in.

“Defense wins championships,” said Coach Thibodeau.

McKenna Hallinan gets point-blank attempt

Emma DiPietro: “We don’t give up.  We came back stronger.  We have always been kind of a second half team.  In the locker room we said, ‘This is it.  All or nothing.”

Certainly, an advantage for the Spartans was that even though they were the lower seed (#10), they ended up with a home game late in the tournament.  They have played twelve games at Manning Field this season.

I was very impressed with defender Morgan Mackey in the first half. She prevented the speedy Indians from getting any breakaways.

Ball in the middle

Gracie Doherty’s goal was unassisted although as Emma DiPietro explained, “she assisted herself.”

Not to be forgotten on the eventual game-winner was the terrific send-in by free kicker Alyssa Pettet.

Ten minutes after the Doherty goal, McKenna Hallinan broke in for as clean a look as you could hope for.  Spartans goalie Adrianna Bowker should have been arrested for unarmed robbery after she deflected McKenna’s shot wide.

Coach Thibodeau: “A culture was created on the soccer team three years ago.  It wasn’t about winning.  It was about doing the best we can.  That approach has gotten us to the North finals three straight years.”

Coach Foley: “We couldn’t clear it out on their goal.  Amesbury is a very good team.  Adam (Thibodeau) does a great job.  We’ve lost to them three years in a row.”

Fight for the ball

The weather was nice.

The parade of planes flying over, heading to Logan, always interests those of us who seldom hear/see planes of their size.

Despite the 3:30PM start, there was a good crowd in the stands.

Amesbury is in the Cape Ann League.  St. Mary’s is in the Catholic Central League.

College plans?  Emma DiPietro: “I have applied to go to Boston University.  If I go there, I will try to play some club or intramural soccer.  I am interested in studying biology and specializing in genetics.”

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

Amesbury GK Alli Napoli leaps to save

Chelsea Lynch (12) and Riley Lynch (11)

Sherly Feliz

High kick

Incoming

Joslyn Deschenes

 

 

 

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Amesbury softball surprises St. Mary’s 4-2 in Division 3 North semifinals

Hayley Catania ended the first and fifth with consecutive strikeouts

Emma DiPietro (triple) scored in the 5th inning to tie the game

(Lowell MA) Neither team expected to even be in this game!

St. Mary’s was young while Amesbury was seriously reconstructed.

On this afternoon, it was the reconstructed team that put enough pieces together to win the Division 3 North softball semifinals 4-2 at Martin Field in Lowell.

The top piece for Amesbury (15-8) was senior Hayley Catania.  The AHS pitcher allowed five hits (three of them in the first inning) and struck out ten Spartans.  But there’s more to the story: Hayley also had two hits and an RBI.  Her alert baserunning keyed one of the Indians runs in the 2-run fifth.

Shortstop Alyssa Grossi makes a nice running catch

Both teams had powered past quarter-final opponents.  St. Mary’s had four homers versus Pope John while Amesbury had three long ones against Lynnfield.

Today’s contest had only two loud hits and both of them were by Amesbury.  Emma DiPietro had a triple in the 2-run fifth and Hayley had an RBI double in the Indians 2-run seventh.

St. Mary’s (14-9) scratched out a run in the first.  Consecutive singles (Felicia D’Alessandro, Marina DiBiasio, Jordan Sullivan) produced a run.  This was where Amesbury’s Hayley Catania gave us a glimpse of the kind of game she would have as she then struck out Jennie Iudice and Taylor Sullivan to end the inning.

Amesbury had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but pitcher Lily Newhall kept the ball in the infield and escaped being scored on.

Starting with the 2 K’s in the first inning, Hayley retired eleven in a row including six strikeouts.

While the pitching was terrific for Amesbury they still trailed by a run until the fifth inning.

Emma Catania singled home a run in the 5th but was thrown out stretching it.

Junior Emma DiPietro tripled with one out over CF Christina Nowicki’s head.  Hayley Catania walked but on ball four the ball got away from catcher Jordan Sullivan allowing Emma to score and tie the game.  Hayley alertly took second when the Spartans concentrated too much on Emma crossing the plate.  That alertness paid off for AHS because when her sophomore sister Emma singled to center, Hayley came home with the go-ahead run.

Now down, 2-1, the pressure was on the St. Mary’s offense.  Alyssa Grossi singled to center opening the bottom of the 5th.  A sacrifice bunt (Katie O’Neill) moved her to second with one out.  But here came Hayley Catania, doing exactly as she had done in the first inning, striking out the next two batters (Angelina Catino and Christina Nowicki) to hold the slim lead.

Emma DiPietro’s triple goes over CF Christina Nowicki’s head

Both teams went down in order in the sixth.

The seventh was not for the weak of heart on either team!

Amesbury put two runners on with no one out on a walk (Emily O’Donnell) and Julia Campbell reaching on an error by pitcher Christina Nowicki.  Freshman Maddie DiPietro pinch ran for Emily.  That brought up Hayley and St. Mary’s coach Paige Licata had a meeting at the mound.

“We talked about walking her (Hayley),” said Coach Licata.  “I told Christina (Nowicki) to keep the ball away from her, and she did, but the ball was still pulled to left.  With a hitter like that you take your lumps and hope you can produce more runs.”

Hayley took that outside pitch over LF Julia Nickolau’s head bringing Maddie DiPietro across and getting Julia Campbell to third.  Senior Hannaih Burdick’s grounder to second enabled Julia to tally Amesbury’s 4th run.

Maddie DiPietro (8) and Julia Campbell (10) wait on the bases to see if Hayley Catania’s long fly will be caught….it wasn’t.

Hayley Catania happy to survive the St. Mary’s 7th

The Indians would need those extra runs in St. Mary’s final at-bats.  Things started harmlessly enough (for Amesbury) as two Spartans struck out.  Then Hayley walked Alyssa Grossi and Katie O’Neill followed with a 2-strike single to right.

Was a miracle comeback about to happen?

The Spartans created a rundown between first and second and Alyssa Grossi scored as Katie O’Neill got back to first safely.  Now the tying run was at the plate.

But Hayley got Angelina Catino to fly out to RF Karleigh Walker insuring Amesbury a trip to Saturday’s North final against Austin Prep.

The Indians reaching the D3 North surprised their coach (Jacqui Waters) as much as anyone: “I have only two players playing where they played last year.  This is all ecstasy to me.  I never thought we’d be here.”

Lily Newhall gave up five hits over six innings.

Coach Paige Licata was surprised that her team made it as well:  “We started 0-3 with a team with no seniors and two juniors.  Today we used a 7th grader (Angelina Catino) at first and an 8th grader (Lily Newhall) pitching.  There was no one crying afterwards because everyone will be back.”

Hayley Catania: “To beat St. Mary’s was a first for me.  My best pitch today (like against Lynnfield) was my drop curve.”

St. Mary’s had only three outfield outs, all to RF Karleigh Walker.

Coach Waters: “Our two seniors (Hannaih Burdick & Hayley Catania) have held this team together.  Often graduated seniors aren’t like that but our two have stayed attentive.  We practice three hours a day, six days a week on the basics and go at it as hard as we can.  We’ve gotten better and better as the season has progressed.  I learned that approach from previous coach Chris Perry and it has paid off.”

Weather looked as if it could rain at any time.

RF Karleigh Walker successfully handled three fly balls including the one that ended the game.

Funny moment: I asked Coach Licata about Hayley’s pitching and she said that she’d coached against her two years ago.  She then asked me laughing, “She’s a senior, I hope, isn’t she?”

No one I talked to afterwards knew when the last time was that Amesbury softball had beaten St. Mary’s.  Coach Waters guessed that it might have been 2005.  It had obviously been a while!

I did see Amesbury soccer defeat St. Mary’s in the tournament this season at Landry Stadium.

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

Christina Nowicki

Waiting for the game to start

Pitcher Christina Nowicki loses the ball attempting to tag Julia Campbell

Maddie DiPietro turns 3B and heads home in the 7th inning

Hayley Catania after the win

Victory hugs

2B Felicia D’Alessandro tosses to first

Hayley Catania throws to first

Shortstop Alyssa Grossi throws to first

Freshman Marina DiBiaso

3B Julia Campbell throws out bunter Katie O’Neill

 

 

 

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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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