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Terrific defense gets Amesbury past Winthrop (50-28) and into D3 North title game

Plenty of pressure applied game-long by Amesbury on Winthrop

Alli Napoli couldn’t keep herself from smiling as both fan groups chanted her name

(Wakefield MA) Everyone knew her name.

There was chanting and singing. All in Alli Napoli’s direction.

And she smiled through it as Amesbury ousted Winthrop from the D3 North tournament with a 50-28 win on Tuesday night.

The Indians (20-2) get a rematch on Saturday against #1 seed St. Mary’s at the Tsongas Center. At stake will be the Division 3 North title.

The Amesbury defense was active and effective all night long.

“Everyone we used played good defense,” said Indians coach Gregg Dollas post-game.

And who could argue? Amesbury held the Vikings (15-8) to only a point over the final seven minutes of the first period and went off to a 16-3 lead. Winthrop never recovered.

Maura Dorr and Avery Hallinan battle for a rebound

“We struggled to score,” said Vikings coach Joe Lowe afterwards. “It’s been that way all year.”

Alli Napoli (11 points) had two baskets, three assists, and several steals in the breakaway first quarter.

“Alli had a terrific game,” said Coach Dollas.

The Indians played very little half-court offense because their defense was so disruptive. On this night their on-ball defense was influential in creating twenty-four Winthrop turnovers.

“If we can’t score in the half-court, we’ll struggle to generate pressure,” said Coach Lowe. “They played well defensively so they were part of the reason we had trouble scoring points.”

Amesbury was up, 24-13, at the half.

Alli Napoli on the fly

The Indians put their defense/offense neatly together some more in the third period. In the first five minutes Amesbury went on a 13-3 run and stretched their advantage to 37-16.

Alli was again in the middle of the good play. The AHS senior sparked the offense and defense. She also made a long pass to a cutting Gabby Redford that had “next-level” written all over it.

“They’ve been doing that all year,” said Coach Dollas. “I’m going to miss that next year.”

Great crowd interaction during the third quarter. Winthrop had plenty of active fans. When Alli went to the free throw line they started chanting her name, trying to throw her off. Meanwhile, the Amesbury fans also started chanting her name at the same time.

Alli laughed about it afterwards: “Maybe it was because it was my 18th birthday? It’s fun to play in front of a big crowd.”

After Amesbury got the twenty-one point lead (37-16) the Vikings suddenly found their touch from beyond the arc.

Maura Dorr (11 points)

Maura Dorr, Julia Marccocio, and Caroline Earl produced consecutive 3-pointers. Winthrop was suddenly within twelve (37-25) 2+ minutes into the final quarter.

Coach Dollas reinserted some of his starters and the Vikings run ended. The Indians tallied that next ten points, including two baskets by Avery Hallinan (18 points), and they coasted in from there.

Avery Hallinan: “We always focus on turning our defense into offense. We don’t run sets very often.”

McKenna Hallinan: “We had to push the pace. We knew that they weren’t as quick as us. We tried to make it a track meet and run and score as much as we could.”

Alli Napoli: “Every practice it’s defense, defense, defense. He (Coach Dollas) drills it into our heads.”

Avery Hallinan (18 points) guarded by Maura Dorr

Coach Dollas on the Winthrop crowd: “The girls loved the Winthrop crowd. I was proud of the group Winthrop brought. They had fun and that’s what we’re here for.”

Coach Dollas on facing St. Mary’s: “There was a 45-point differential last time we played them. We may have to work on some defense! We’ll go out there and try to knock down one of the top private schools in Massachusetts.”

McKenna Hallinan on the St. Mary’s rematch: “We’re hoping to play our best and see where that takes us.”

Great lighting at Wakefield High School.

Maura Dorr made All-Conference in the Northeastern Conference. Caroline Earl and Luly Pulsifer were All-Stars.

Alli Napoli, Avery Hallinan, and Gabby Redford were honored by the Cape Ann League.

Amesbury’s two losses have been to Pentucket (#1 seed D2 North) and St. Mary’s (#1 seed D3 North).

In Winthrop’s D3 North quarter-finals win over Whittier, Lily Polsifer had twenty points while teammate Maura Dorr had sixteen points with fourteen rebounds.

Winthrop box

Amesbury box

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

Maura Dorr gets a block in front of the Amesbury bench

McKenna Hallinan

Sadie Kermelewicz

Izzy Cambece

Lily Pulsifer

Freshman Maddie Stiglets in the air

Avery Hallinan guards Maura Dorr

McKenna Hallinan in the lane

Carolyn Kinsella

Gabby Redford lines up a shot in front of the Amesbury crowd

Alli Napoli waits for a pass

 

 

 

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Amesbury on to D4 North semi-finals after 4-2 win over Winthrop

Grace Doherty (18) between Emma Holmes (24) and Alex Gibbons (8)

Alyssa Pettet (2 goals) defended by Jenna Dorr passes ahead to a teammate

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury started tourney play with a 4-2 D4 North quarterfinals win over Winthrop tonight.

The Indians will play Essex Tech in the semi-finals next Monday (2PM) on Whittier’s new turf field.

Junior Alyssa Pettet paced the Indians (12-1-6) with two first-half goals while her sophomore teammate MK McElaney added a goal and two assists.

Junior Maura Dorr (with over fifty career goals) added two more to her total for Winthrop.

Alyssa Pettet breaks past Julia Marcoccio (16) for a shot

Amesbury applied most of the pressure during the game, but Coach Adam Thibodeau wasn’t pleased with his team’s style of play in the early going.

“We hadn’t played for a while (eight days) and it showed in the first 10-15 minutes,” he recalled.  “We didn’t have the energy, so we relied on long balls.  We should have been passing to feet and sending players into space.”

“Passing to feet,” and “sending a player into space” kicked in for the Indians at 25:14 as Lilly O’Neill and Alyssa Pettet worked together on a nifty give-and-go.

“Lilly sent a pass between the sweeper and stopper,” recalled Alyssa, “and I just needed a step to be in on goal.”

Lily O’Neill (16) and Alex Gibbons (8)

Amesbury’s first goal was Alyssa’s 20th.

Nine minutes later the Holy Cross commit had her 21st off MK McElaney’s corner kick.

“MK and I have done a good job of connecting on CK’s,” said Alyssa.  “She places them perfectly.”

“It was a great kick by MK,” added Coach Thibodeau.  “She’s been working on it all year.”

Three minutes later the Vikings (11-9) came very close to cutting into Amesbury’s 2-0 lead.

However, senior Ashlee Porcaro (Cape Ann League All-Star) saved the day for the Indians.

On the near-goal, defender Meg McElaney, goalie Alli Napoli, and prolific scorer Maura Dorr became entwined. The ball got behind them and was heading for the goal. Suddenly, out of nowhere came Ashlee to clear the ball away at the last second.

Afterwards, Ashlee (14 in the picture above) downplayed her part: “I was just at the right spot at the right time.  Things happen.  We practice for mistakes like that.”

Gabby Smyth (17) and Miya Grein (2)

“That non-goal would certainly have been nice,” said Winthrop coach Tracey Martucci.  “It would have changed the tempo.”

But the goal didn’t happen.

“Ashlee made a huge play,” added Coach Thibodeau.  “She recognized the hole there and played it perfectly.”

Recently returned sophomore Avery Hallinan increased Amesbury’s lead to 3-0 seven minutes into the second half.  MK’s lead pass to space was all that speedy Avery needed to break free and score.

“Avery has been out since Columbus Day when she rolled her ankle,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “It was great to have her back.”

Maura Dorr was carefully marked by Amesbury throughout the game, but she found a chance to possess the ball and face the goal with thirteen minutes left and capitalized.

Winthrop, however, could not narrow the two-goal deficit the rest of the way.

MK McElaney returns a rebound for Amesbury’s 4th goal

MK McElaney’s rebound bullet from straight away stretched Amesbury’s advantage to 4-1 early in the last five minutes.  MK moved up full-speed on the long rebound and two defenders turned their heads as the ball whizzed by them and into the upper center of the net.

Maura was able to pick up her 2nd goal of the game in the closing seconds after a dangerous play infraction by the Indians led to an indirect kick from very close to the Amesbury net.

“The referee called it a dangerous play which was why it wasn’t a penalty kick,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “One of our players had fallen and landed on the ball.  It was the right call.”

Avery Hallinan ahead of Stefania Spinzzola (15)

Coach Martucci: “We played well but Amesbury is a great team.  Their speed put a lot of pressure on us.”

Alyssa Pettet: “When I play striker, I move wherever I want.  When I feel we need more help on defense I move back.  We wanted to finish more opportunities today.”

Alyssa on Holy Cross: “They are at my club games and showcases.  They see me play center defense in club.  They give me pointers and encouragement.”

In nineteen games the Indians have scored thirty-two goals.  Alyssa has twenty-one of them.

Today’s four goals are the most Amesbury has scored in a game this season.  The same was true last year against Winthrop in the Indians 4-0 First Round victory.

Maura Dorr

Maura Dorr holds the all-time scoring title at Winthrop and is only a junior.  It is interesting that the school scoring record was held by Coach Martucci before assistant coach Julie Dawson broke the record.  Now it belongs to one of their current players, Maura Dorr.

Junior Julia Campbell replaced All-CAL goalie Alli Napoli in the latter part of the second half.  “We had a lead and the grass was wet,” explained Coach Thibodeau.  “I wanted to give Julia minutes.  She’s been working hard all season.”

The Vikings reached the quarterfinals when Maura scored in overtime against Mystic Valley.

Don’t ask me about the lights at Landry Stadium.

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

Alyssa Pettet (5) heads home her second goal

Alyssa Pettet’s second goal celebrated

Beverly Browne

Ella Marinopolous

Goalie Manuela Mejia makes a stop for Winthrop

Avery Hallinan and MK McElaney celebrate Amesbury’s 4th goal

McKenna Hallinan in the middle of two Vikings defenders

McKenna Hallinan (1) and Emma Forsyth (21)

Nora McCarey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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