Memorable weekend for CM at Chowda Cup

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
SCITUATE, Mass. -- Midway through Saturday afternoon’s Chowda Cup Championship game between Catholic Memorial and Scituate, the question wasn’t who as going to hoist the trophy after the game, but which Knights player would be awarded the tournament MVP.

Catholic Memorial opened up an 8-2 halftime lead over the Sailors, en route to a 14-8 victory and their first Chowda Cup title. For the Knights it was their fourth appearance in the title game since they joined the annual tournament five years ago.

Senior attackman Zach O’Brien scored six goals in the win and found the net 10 times during the duration of the tournament and seemed like a lock for the MVP award. But the superb play of Joe Zegarelli between the pipes earned him the award given to the top player in the two-day tournament.

“I wasn’t expecting to get the award,” Zegarelli said. “I thought it was going to go to Zach O’Brien, he really deserves it with all the goals he scored.”

Zegarelli didn’t see the quantity of shots that he did Thursday evening in the semifinal win over Cohasset, but for the sophomore goalie it was quality over quantity.

In the third quarter, Zegarelli robbed Scituate’s Frankie Ragge from deep down low in the zone to highlight to phenomenal day.

“We were focused on playing good solid one-on-one defense and I thought Zegs made the saves when he need to, really a team defense approach,” CM head coach Kevin Lynch said.

The Knights owned a heavily lopsided possession battle throughout the game and Colin Casey was the reason why. The freshman was 17-for-23 on faceoffs, giving his team a big possession advantage.

The beneficiaries of Casey’s big day on the faceoffs were O’Brien and Frank Cosolito, who combined for 10 of the Knights 14 goals.

“It really started with Colin Casey our freshman,” O’Brien said. “He was getting the ball to us on offense and constantly getting the win on faceoffs and getting the looks we needed and finishing.”

Scituate struggled throughout the game, looking like a shell of the team that took the field in Thursday night’s overtime win over Marshfield. The Sailors were sloppy with the ball, turning it over and airmailing passes through the zone.

“As good as we played against Marshfield, we just couldn’t get that same level of energy up,” Scituate head coach Mark Puzzangara said. “You can just tell when we needed that big play, it’s a dropped pass or a lost stick or throwing the ball out of bounds, we were just getting caught up in the moment.”

Thursday Thriller: The headliner of the Chowda cup semifinals was the matchup between No. 14 Catholic Memorial and No. 18 Cohasset. But it was the second game of the evening between No. 22 Marshfield and Scituate that stole the show.

With the Rams holding a 5-3 lead with less than two minutes remaining and Marshfield goalie Trevor Scollins pitching a shutout in the second half, the Rams were in prime position to advance to the title game.

But the Sailors’ Trevor Ciessau scored two goals in the final 1:45 of the game, including the equalizer with just two seconds left on the clock to force overtime.

Less than a minute into the extra period, Ragge netted the game winner from the right wing to advance the Sailors into the title game.

“We showed tremendous heart and courage and they really rebounded and rallied around each other and put together an effort we all knew they could,” Puzzangara said after Thursday’s game.

A coaching milestone: Lost in the wild finish of Scituate’s overtime winner was the milestone hit by Sailor coach Puzzangara. The win was No. 200 of his career was achieved in dramatic fashion.

“I think winning a state championship is pretty big but that was a heck of a game to get it in overtime against a team like that, its pretty sweet,” Puzzangara said.

Pair of heavyweights: The premier matchup of the day got the seventh annual Chowda Cup underway with the Knights pulling past Cohasset 10-8.

CM went on a 4-0 run in the third quarter to separate from the Sailors and advance to the title game.

Zack O’Brien was the star of the game, netting four goals in the win, but nearly missed out on the game, showing up right before the game started.

“I put Scituate High School in my phone and didn’t look at what state it was in, drove all the way to Rhode Island and saw the sign and had to turn around and showed up late,” O’Brien said of his blunder.

Cosolito scored three times and Gunnar McKenzie added two more goals in the win for Catholic Memorial.

Recap: No. 15 Malden Cath. 4, No. 9 Billerica 2 (9 inn.)

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
BILLERICA, Mass. -- The ebb and flow in this one changed nearly as much as the swirling winds gusting across Hall of Fame Field. Saturday's contest between Malden Catholic and Billerica had as many momentum shifts as it did busts. Opportunities, on both sides, were seized and lost in an instant.

Yet in the end, the Lancers were able to take advantage of a questionable balk call which would lead to a pair of ninth inning runs en route to a 4-2 victory.

With the game deadlocked through eight innings, Indians reliever Kyle Murphy began the ninth by issuing back-to-back walks to Austin Batchelor and Steve Passatempo. With pinch-hitter Dan DiMare at the plate, and showing bunt, Murphy spun around and faked a throw to second base. The junior, who is already committed to Northeastern University, was immediately charged with a balk for buckling his knee, advancing both runners into scoring position.

DiMare then proceeded to lift a soft single to right, plating Batchelor with the go-ahead run. Ian Steckel (2 hits) followed that up with a hard single to right to put MC ahead by a pair. Murphy was able to get out of the frame without further damage. But a two-run lead at this juncture appeared safe in many people's eyes, except for Billerica who thought differently.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians would load the bases against relief pitcher Zach Coles with only one out. But the 220-pound senior righty managed to tight-rope his way out of danger by getting Brian Doherty to foul out on a nice over the shoulder catch by first baseman Passatempo and get Brad Fisher to ground out to secure the win.

"It was an up and down game between two good teams," said Lancers head coach Pat Driscoll, his club now evening its record to 4-4. "Billerica is a great team but I was proud of my guys today. They were very resilient. They kept working and it eventually paid off for us. Some guys who hadn't gotten much playing time this year stepped in and did a great job."

MC got a serviceable outing from starting pitcher Dan Marini. The righthander kept the offensive-prone Indians off-balance by locating his fastball and breaking pitches extremely well. Marini, a junior, surrendered nine hits in 7 1/3 innings while fanning seven.

"Marini did a great job," Driscoll said. "He really mixed it up. Billerica is a great hitting team and he just did a good job of keeping them off-balanced enough and allowing them to hit the ball in play and allowing us to make the plays."

MC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in its half of the second. Steckel took starting pitcher Rob Gambale's first offering deep to left for a double. After moving to third, Steckel scored on Russell Libby's ground out. Billerica threatened in its half of the frame. Singles by Adam Mahrez and Dylan McDonough put two on with none out.

After Marini struckout Kevin Faria, Cam Climo followed with a shot to deep left. Aided by the strong winds, the ball continued to slice away from Steckel in left field. But junior had the poise to stay with it, making the catch just in front of the foul pole. Mahrez, thinking it was a base hit all the way, never stopped running and was forced out trying to get back to second base.

Two innings later the Lancers got to Gambale (7 IP, 4 hits, 8 Ks) for another run. Passatempo singled. Two outs later, Marini smashed a drive high off the right field fence, that missed a home run by a foot, that plated Passatempo to make it 2-0.

The Indians answered in the bottom half of the frame as they finally began to solve Marini. University of Maine commit Chris Murphy opened the inning by lining a double to left. With Doherty in to pinch run, he would advance to third on a ground out.

McDonough next lined a single to center putting Billerica on the board. Faria followed with another double and Gambale walked to load the bases. After McDonough scored on a pass ball, Marini was able to work himself out of the jam, keeping the game tied.

"A couple of things we could've done better today and might've had a different outcome," Indians head coach Joe Higgins said. "We played a good team and feel we can play with anybody. We had our chances but you have to tip your cap to Malden Catholic today. Now we need to rebound because we have a tough game against Lowell on Tuesday.

"We have a great bunch of guys on this team. We have good pitching and we can also hit. Today was just one of those games where we just didn't get that break we needed."

Over the next four innings things remained even. Billerica had a chance to win it in its half of the eighth after loading the bases but Coles, who entered with two on and one out, came away unscathed. One inning later, MC had its opportunity to move in front and didn't disappoint after coming up with some timely hits with runners on base.

"It was a really back-and-forth game," said Steckel. "Everyone played well and Marini pitched great. We've been in a lot of close games and we've gotten used it by now. Games like this are only going to help us later in the season.

"Beating Billerica is huge for us after losing two straight. Coming back the way we did today is a really good feeling and now we hope that continues."


BRAINTREE, Mass. -– With a strong arm blessed enough to earn a commitment next season to UMass, it’s not often that baserunners test Braintree catcher Gino LaRossa, one of the state’s best backstops.

In fact, when Newton North coach Joe Siciliano put on the steal sign in the top of the 10th inning for his fastest player, Ben Porter, it was the first time all game they had made an attempt. But Porter himself is regarded for his speed on the basepaths, honed during sprint events during indoor track and field season in the winter, enough of a calculated risk to give it a shot.

Porter came in cleanly at second, then scored two at bats later when junior Tom Joyce flared a singled up the middle, for the go-ahead run in an eventual 2-1 win over the Wamps in a battle between two Top 10 stalwarts in Massachusetts.

“It feels good being able to say I won it for the team, but I didn’t really win it,” said Joyce, who went 1-for-5 on the afternoon. “It came down to pitching and defense. It was an all-around team win, it felt good.”

The Tigers (4-0) indeed got solid production from two pitchers to keep the heavy Wamps (4-1) bats at bay. Senior lefthander Teddy Rodliff had a no-hitter going through the first five innings, going seven strong with three strikeouts, four hits allowed and an unearned run. Senior rightnander Dylan Sbordone gave the Tigers three innings of relief, allowing just one hit and fanning three.

“The big thing with him is mental toughness,” Siciliano said of Rodliff. “He’s got that idea, and he’s got that confidence. Plus, he’s got great disposition for a pitcher.”

Senior catcher Alex Joyce (1 for 2, RBI, 2 BB) gave the Tigers the initial lead of the game in the top of the first inning, taking a fastball to right field for an RBI double that scored Porter (2 for 2, 2 BB, 2 runs). North had arguably its biggest scoring chance of the day thwarted in the fourth inning, when Braintree third baseman Connor Columbus stabbed a grounder to the left side of the infield and made an unassisted tag at third.

The Wamps evened it up in the sixth thanks to some heady base running from Matt Bickford. The senior beat out a 4-6-3 double play throw to first, then moved to second on a base hit from Columbus. In the next at bat, Rodliff’s pickoff attempt of Bickford sailed into the outfield, and Bickford made it all the way home to tie it at 1.

But similar woes with runners in scoring position did not evade the Wamps either. In arguably their best chance of the afternoon, they juiced the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out, only to come up empty with back-to-back putouts to first base.

“We’re a pretty good defensive team, I don’t think we showed it today, but we just gotta get some more timely hitting,” Wamps head coach Bill O’Connell said.

In the second at bat of the top of the 10th, Porter drew a walk on seven pitches, then beat La Rossa’s pickoff throw to take second, and moved to third after John Little reached on an error.

“I was happy coach gave me the sign, because I wanted to get that winning run,” Porter said.

Tom Joyce then sent Porter home with his shot up the middle off a fastball from Bickford.

“At that point, I’m letting Tom Joyce swing away,” Siliciano said. “He and his brother are bright baseball coaches, you don’t have to coach them much.”

Southpaw sui generis: “Jeez!” Siciliano yelled out to Rodloff as he gathered his belongings from the visiting dugout, continuing with a laugh, “Two years ago here, you threw one pitch and got the win. So, we owe you, you know? Baseball, it all evens out.”

It was around that time, too, that Siciliano tried with no avail to fix Rodloff’s delivery after watching him sidearm infield throws from first base during a practice. After watching four more conventional throws sail to the backstop, Siciliano threw up his hands and said, “Forget about it, do whatever you want”.

Lefties, they’re all the same, in that they are all different.

Rodloff’s pitching motion and delivery is among the more unique styles one will see this spring, one that has carefully been crafted over a decade. Rodloff says he initially started out trying to throw submarine style (coincidentally, around the same time famous knuckle-scraping submariner Chad Bradford threw relief for the Red Sox), but switched to a sidearm very early in his little league career.

Adding a twist to his fastball-slurve repertoire is his unorthodox follow-through, in which his back foot drags and finishes kicking out to the side, instead of coming along for the ride like more traditional pitching motions.

“I started out with more of an underhand, but my dad told me I was going to blow out my arm by age 10,” Rodloff said with a laugh. “It just sort of works for me, so I go with it.

“It just felt right. Being a lefty is weird enough, but my dad told me to get any sort of advantage you can against the other team. People don’t see that every day, so that was my way of getting ahead.”

For O’Connell, who typically bats several lefties, Rudloff’s unique matchup problem influenced his decision to counter with a batting order comprised solely of righthanded bats.

“He was tough,” O’Connell said. “He had a fastball, and then a little giddy-up fastball. It seemed like he was chasing his fastball speeds, had a two-seamer going then a little slider. He was tough. He’s about as good as you’re going to see.”


The Manchester-Essex Regional High School boys' and girls' lacrosse teams will host the Ipswich High School Tigers on Friday, May 9, at Hyland Field in Manchester in games to benefit brain cancer research. This is the third year the school has hosted lacrosse games to benefit cancer. The first two years all funds raised were donated to breast cancer research.

The girls game will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the boys game to follow at 7 p.m. Ticket prices will be $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens.

Each player will be wearing the benefit t shirt designed especially for this event during warm-ups prior to each game. T shirts will also be available for sale at the game. All proceeds realized from this event will be donated to brain cancer research.

Recap: No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury 11, No. 5 A-B 6

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
ACTON, Mass. -- It started as a battle between two of the top teams in Massachusetts, but in the end it was a statement win for Lincoln-Sudbury.

The Warriors racked up eight second-half goals, and cruised past Dual County League rival Acton-Boxborough, 11-6, Thursday afternoon.

“I'm happy we won,” Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Brian Vona said. “[They’re a] very good team. We're going to play them again and probably again after that in the playoffs.”

A-B led 4-2 early in the third quarter before the Warriors’ motor hit sixth gear and took off.

Eric Holden scored all three of his goals in the second half. Greg Roder, in his first game back from injury, scored two of his three goals in the second half.

“It just felt good coming back,” Roder said. “We had a slow first half, but at halftime we had a reality check and it opened up on the offensive end.

“We got a lot of goals in transition; that's how we like to play. We want to make sure that when we bring it over that's when we want to attack. We don't want to play six-on-six offense. We want to go when there's less guys to slide; we like to dodge and shoot. That's what we ended up doing in the second half and I think that's what led to our success today.”

The Warriors attacked in bursts. L-S had four pairs of goals scored less than a minute apart.

The turning point in the game came late in the third quarter when Holden put on a successful ride deep in the Colonials’ end that forced a bad pass that turned into an own goal. The goal put L-S up, 7-5, and took the wind out of A-B's sails.

“An own goal there is tough to swallow,” A-B head coach Pat Ammendolia said. “It happens and you can't dwell on those types of mistakes. I think we tried to, but it just didn't quite work. I thought our effort was there throughout the game. They just outplayed us in the second half.

A-B forced the action early and brought physicality to the game. Hunter Arnold stepped up for the Colonials with a hat trick. Arnold's first two goals put the Colonials ahead going into halftime.

“Hunter's a great player,” Ammendolia said. “[He’s a] three-sport captain, and he's been with us for three years and he's gotten progressively better as an athlete every year we've had him.”

Long possessions and key ground ball wins kept L-S on the attack for long stretches. Faceoffs and ground balls were even, and each team was able to put shots on cage regularly. However it came down to sliding on the defensive end, the Warriors held A-B scoreless for a 13:57 stretch of the second half, and solid goaltending.

When the Colonials responded Jack McCready was there. McCready continued his stretch of solid play with an 11-save performance.

“Jack made a few good saves today,” Vona said. “He's been steady for us; he's been that way all year for us. I thought he played great.”

Recap: No. 9 Burlington 2, No. 17 Lexington 0

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
LEXINGTON, Mass. -- It is a known fact that revenge is viewed as a valuable asset for teams. However, it can also become a huge distraction, as it so often takes away from a program's initial premise.

Burlington avenged an earlier loss to Lexington on Thursday, defeating the Minutemaids, 2-0. The victory served as nothing more than another step towards this program's overall goal of returning to the Division 2 state final. The Red Devils have reached the title game in two of the last three years, having lost to Wahconah Regional (2011) and Grafton last year. They are considered by most as being one of the favorites to return this year.

"We really didn't think about that first game against (Lexington) very much," said junior Kaela Hersee. "We just came out and proved that we can play against them. Overall, I think our entire team is playing very well right now."

Back on April 9, when the two clubs first met, Lexington pitcher Maddie Orcutt struck out 14 en route to a 1-0 triumph.

In the re-match, Orcutt, a senior who will attend Cornell University next fall, continued her dominance over the Red Devils early on. Through the first three innings, the righthander breezed through the Burlington line up, offering up just one infield single while striking out three.

"This game was similar to the earlier one," Lexington head coach Frank Pagliuca said. "It was a pitchers’ duel again for the most part. Today, they were able to string some hits together and take advantage of some opportunities. We really didn't do that today. Pitching-wise Maddie [Orcutt] was great but we need to execute a little better at the plate and that's something that has been an issue for us.

“I was encouraged by how we played for the most part but we just didn't execute offensively the way we needed to. Maddie pitched great against a good, aggressive team. She had to make a couple of adjustments which she did and kept us in it."

In the Red Devils' half of the fourth, things started to shift. With one out, Samantha Gibson singled. Hersee followed by lining a hard liner to left. Lexington left fielder Jane Casey-Fleener appeared to have a bead on the ball but at the last second it tailed away from her, rolling out to no man's land in deep left. With Gibson scoring ahead of her, Hersee never stopped running until she crossed the plate for a two-run homer.

"I was just trying to do my job," Hersee said. "After I hit it, I was just thinking that I needed to keep running."

The two-run cushion served well for Burlington pitcher Jillian Ghio, who replaces all-everything hurler Kelly McCarthy in the circle this year. The righty overwhelmed the Minutemen (3-1) throughout the cold and breezy afternoon. She had not allowed a hit over the first five frames. But in the sixth, the no-hit bid became a memory after Caitlyn Burke lined a shot that caromed off of Ghio for Lexington's lone hit in the contest.

Ghio finished her day with seven strikeouts.

"Seeing [Orcutt] for a second time we knew what she had this time around," said Red Devils coach Kristen Mahoney, her team having now won three straight and improving to 4-1. "We knew how to attack her and the girls got it done. We graduated five starters from last year's team and we have great kids taking their spots, and I feel Jillian is going to be great for us. I'm very excited to have her on this team."

Recap: Central Catholic 6, No. 20 Chelmsford 1

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
CHELMSFORD, Mass. -– It was a windy and chilly early spring day, but that didn’t bother Central Catholic pitcher Pat Silk. The senior bent a few times, but didn’t break, as he progressively got stronger as the game went on.

The Raiders came away with a 6-1 victory over league rival Chelmsford at Ayotte Field on Thursday afternoon, to improve to 2-1 on the young season.

Cody Demers led the way with two RBI while Stephen Jaskelevicus, Aaron Hall and Cam Devaney each plated one.

“Today was actually the first day we had some consecutive hits. We were able to move some runners and play some small ball,” said Central Catholic coach Marc Pelletier, whose team was able to break the game open with three runs in the top of the sixth.

Pelletier was pleased with his team’s ability to come into a difficult place to play on a challenging weather day and come away with a victory.

“This is such a dangerous place to play. I’m real proud of them," Pelletier said. "Chelmsford at Chelmsford is a good win because they’re a real good team."

Complete game: Silk threw a one-run complete game at a very small ballpark, but what made it more impressive was the way he did it. He worked his way out of two bases loaded james early in the game, once in the first inning and once in the bottom of the fourth.

“We dodged a bullet in the first inning with the bases loaded,” said Central Catholic coach Marc Pelletier.

Silk, who fanned six Chelmsford batters, did a good job of mixing up pitches and hitting the paint.

“He dominates the strike zone," Pelletier said. "He’s not a swing and miss kid, but he changes speeds. We need our pitchers to throw strikes and he did that today."

Chelmsford hit into some hard outs and made a few base running errors that certainly helped Silk and CC get out of some precarious situations.

“We couldn’t get the big hit at the right time, but give their pitcher credit. He did a nice job keeping us off balance. [Silk] did a good job and it’s just typical of the game of baseball,” said Chelmsford coach Michael O’Keefe.

Devanney’s defensive wizardry: Devanney, Central Catholic’s stud shortstop, made several really nice plays, including one from deep in the hole to end the bases loaded jam in the bottom of the first inning.

“We talked about making plays in the first inning versus the seventh inning," Pelletier said. "They are just as important. Cam is a special kid. There is no question about it."

“They made some really nice plays in the field,” said O’Keefe of his team’s opposition.

O'Keefe added, “Their short stop [Devanney] is an excellent player. He was the player of the year as a sophomore. He plays the game hard, the right way. He’s a difference maker defensively. He made some great plays out there today."

Early season reflection: Central Catholic has done some experimenting early in the season, including using three different lineups in the first three games.

“We’re trying to figure it out. Some guys get hot and some guys get cold," Pelletier said. "The kids are all working hard in practice. We’re just battling. The target on our back is pretty big. We’re seen as everybody’s Notre Dame so the kids know we have to bring it every game."

Despite the setback, O’Keefe is still encouraged and staying positive about his inexperienced team.

“We’re a very young team. We’re going to have some growing pains," O'Keefe said. "[Thursday] was one of them. We have to learn. Everybody is in the same boat. We haven’t had a lot of practice. We have to turn it around quick and learn from the situations that have happened.

“I like my team a lot. We have some good kids. We’ve come out and swung the bats really well, but we’ve faced some tough pitching in Andover and Central. We have to figure out a way to play better defense, be better base runners and execute on all matters of the game.


With move up, Pembroke (N.H.) coming under fire

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
In what some are calling an attempt to have Matt Alosa removed as Pembroke Academy’s boys basketball coach, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division I athletic directors and principals are not including Pembroke on next season’s Division I schedule.

Alosa has guided Pembroke to the last two Division II championships, but Pembroke successfully petitioned to move from Division II to Division I starting with the 2014-15 season. A group of Division I athletic directors met with Pembroke officials last month, and explained that the decision to not include Pembroke on the schedule stemmed from concerns about players transferring to Pembroke and recruiting allegations that have been directed at Alosa and the Pembroke program.

Last December the NHIAA ruled that two Pembroke players were ineligible because of “residency issues.” Both players transferred to Pembroke after the 2012-13 school year, and both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa (Matt’s father).

“In my opinion it comes down to our coach, the coach’s father, the Granite State Raiders and the people who think they’re funneling players to our program,” Pembroke headmaster Mike Reardon said. “In the meeting (last month) I said, ‘Let me ask you. Given our situation what would you do?’ I had an AD tell me: ‘You need to fire Matt Alosa.’

“Matt is not only an outstanding basketball coach, Matt has conducted himself in exemplary fashion. Could something be going on that I’m not aware of? Absolutely. But we don’t have that information. We never have. If I had anything to act on I would act on it instantaneously.”

Alosa was a standout player at Pembroke who later played at Providence College and the University of New Hampshire. He became Pembroke’s coach in 2006, and has guided the Spartans to a 49-1 record during the past two seasons.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Matt Alosa said. “I haven’t recruited anybody. I’ve done nothing but my best to help the kids of Pembroke.

“We had two players suspended and they paid their penalty. We were allowed to petition to Division I. I don’t understand how we can have an elite program and not be allowed to play (in Division I)? Because of a few false allegations? It’s unjust stuff.

“This is unprecedented, but I can tell you Pembroke isn’t going to cancel the basketball season.”

According to Pinkerton Academy athletic director Tim Powers, Pembroke was told it would be allowed to compete in Division I next season if it presented a plan that would prevent players from transferring to Pembroke for primarily basketball reasons. Pembroke came up with a plan, but the Division I athletic directors and principals deemed it unsatisfactory.

“They submitted a plan, but we still had concerns and told them we were going to move forward with the schedule without them,” Powers said. “I don’t know what their next step will be. We just want to make sure we all abide by the same rules.”

Both Powers and Reardon said a return to Division II is not an option for Pembroke. The Spartans could play out-of-state opponents, but to be eligible to compete for an NHIAA championship a team must play at least 50 percent of its games against New Hampshire opponents.

“I think the concerns are that Matt Alosa is the coach,” Reardon said. “If he’s gone we’ll probably get a (Division I) schedule. If he stays, no schedule.

“I’m not going to terminate someone’s employment based on innuendo and rumor.”
It's been a star-studded week for New Mission's boys basketball team. First, there was a trip to the State House, where the Titans were honored for capturing the MIAA Division 2 State Championship last month, the program's third in the last five years.

Then today, the Titans received a visit from Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, head coach Brad Stevens and guard Phil Pressey. For Pressey, this was a bit of a homecoming. The Dallas native played with the Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC) and spent two years at Cushing Academy, in Ashburnham, before finishing his high school career back home in Texas.

Courtesy of Damon Kelton and Titans head coach Cory McCarthy, here are some photos of the visit:

Pagliuca, Stevens and Pressey were appearing at the Hyde Park-based school as part of a "pep rally" being put on by the Boston Scholar Athletes program. Here's some more information on the event from BSA:

Following up on a promise John Fish of Suffolk Construction made to Boston Public School students, the Boston Scholar Athlete (BSA) program will host Boston Celtics’ very own Phil Pressey, Head Coach Brad Stevens, and co-owner Steve Pagliuca this Thursday at the Hyde Park Education Complex for an inspirational pep rally.

Number 26 Celtics Guard Pressey will address 800 students from New Mission High School and the Boston Community Leadership Academy on perseverance in academics and athletics. Pressey grew up in Massachusetts and will speak to the students about his experience with bullying and having overcome his reservations about his height before going on to become a college Basketball player at Missouri, and finally an NBA icon. This event aligns with the themes promoted by the Boston Scholar Athlete program.

St. John's of Shrewsbury sophomore offensive lineman Sean Ragan received his first Division 1 offer, from nearby Holy Cross, the Pioneers coaching staff told this morning.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Ragan started at offensive guard this season for the Pioneers, who went 9-4 with a No. 4 finish in's final statewide poll after reaching the inaugural MIAA Division 2 State Championship. He generally projects at either guard or tackle for the next level, and will also dabble in some defensive line this fall for the Pioneers.

Ragan's father, John, played tight end at Boston College from 1987-90.

Recap: No. 7 Medfield 9, No. 15 D-S 7

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
DOVER, Mass. - Medfield coach John Isaf would not reveal exactly what he said to the Warriors at halftime, but whatever it was lit a fire under his players.

After a sluggish opening 24 minutes that saw the Warriors trail for the first time this season, Medfield outscored Tri-Valley League rival Dover-Sherborn 5-2 in the second half to come away with a 9-7 victory on Wednesday night at Searle Field that gives them the upper hand in the league title race.

“It was more about playing the way that we’re supposed to play and playing Medfield lacrosse,” said Isaf about his second half changes. “I think our guys played a little bit looser and a little bit tougher for us then we did in the first.”

Medfield (6-0) shifted its offensive sets and it paid early dividends in the second half when sophomore Nigel Reiff collected a loose ball behind the net and came around to score and tie the game at 5-5. Three minutes later, senior pole Jimmy Ganem raced forward out of defense and caught D-S in transition. He picked out sophomore Matt Treiber who finished and gave Medfield its first lead of the game.

With 1:10 left in the third, another sophomore, BU-commit John MacLean, stepped with his second goal of the game to make it 7-5. D-S (4-2) would cut the lead to one goal early in the fourth on a laser from freshman Bailey Laidman, but on the ensuing face-off an unlikely hero emerged for the Warriors.

Jack-Henry Vara, who had just been pulled up from the J.V. after the top two face-off men went down with injuries, won the faceoff (he won 14 of 18 in the game) and took the ball the length of the field before bouncing one past the stick of D-S goalie Jack Fontaine.

"Any time that you can make a play like that, especially when they’re not expecting it -- that’s a great play," Isaf said. "Jack-Henry has been patient; he’s been working down at the JV level…we gave him the opportunity and he did a great job. We’re fortunate to have that kind of depth.”

D-S was not without its opportunities in the second half, but Medfield goalie Robert Treiber made several huge stops to keep out the Raiders.

“I think he’s one of the best goalies in the state,” said Isaf. “When he’s one and making stops…that might be the difference in a one- or two-goal game.”

Another change that worked well for Medfield was the move of long-stick midfielder Blake Frasca back into close defense to work against D-S senior attack Grant Gregory, who was making his first appearance after being out with an injury. Gregory scored two and caused havoc in the first half, but was limited to just two shots in the second and did not get his hat trick until the final 10 seconds of the game.

“I didn’t think we shot particularly well in the second half,” said D-S coach Brian McLaughlin about the turnaround in play after the break.

He added, “I thought the defense still played strong, but I thought they made the shots that they had to and I thought that we missed on a few that we could’ve had shots on. Their goalie made some great saves…but I thought, you know, we could have shot and finished a little better.”

The combination of Gregory (three goals), who has committed to play at BU, and Laidman (two goals), who has already committed to play at the University of North Carolina, was a positive that McLaughlin thinks the Raiders can build on.

“It’s the first time that [Grant] and Bailey have stepped on the field together, so we have a lot of growing to do as a team,” McLaughlin said. “We really haven’t had everybody together, so in that sense it’s a positive. We played a lot better than we did on Friday and a lot better than we have in the past couple of weeks.”

After having a relatively comfortable start to the season with several routine TVL wins, Isaf was happy to see that his team could step up when it was challenged.

He said, “What I think it said about us is, I think, we’re tough. Things weren’t going our way in the first half, it was the first time that we’ve been down in a game, and the kids responded. That’s what you hope to see from a team.”

Medfield has a quick turnaround to host Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) on Thursday night. D-S will be back in action next week in the annual Coaches Challenge Cup.
After just one year at the helm of the boys basketball program, legendary coach Jack O'Brien is stepping down, principal Tad Tokarz confirmed to

The news was first reported by Thomas King of

Over a span of two decades in stints at Charlestown and Salem, O'Brien built powerhouses, winning a combined six state champions and producing some of the most legendary names in Massachusetts high school basketball, from Rick Brunson to Scoonie Penn, Rashid Al-Kaleem, Ridley Johnson and Tony Lee. O'Brien's most recent state championship season, with Charlestown in 2004-05, was chronicled in a best-selling book, "The Assist".

O'Brien returned to coaching basketball after a seven-year hiatus when he accepted the Central job last September, taking over from Mike Labrie, a year and a half removed from the Golden Eagles' first Division 1 state title in two decades. The early returns were promising, but the Eagles sputtered to a 10-11 finish after a season-opening win over Amherst, finishing 10-11. That included two 30-point blowouts at the hands of archrival Putnam, which won its second straight MIAA Division 1 State Championship last March.

Compounding things were an extremely difficult commute for O'Brien, who maintained his residence in Medford and his job in the physical education department at West Roxbury High School; sometimes, his daily commute back and forth exceeded 200 miles.

"He did everything we asked, and we were extremely happy to have him," Tokarz said. "We knew coming in, the drive was going to be [difficult]...It was all contingent on him getting to Central. It was always a concern, but for us and him, it was too good not to try.

"We can say we tried. He tried, and he did fantastic job. But to do it over the long haul, from a sustainability standpoint -- especially with the winter this year -- it didn't seem feasible. I don't know if it could have continued much longer."

Tokarz said he will be posting the open position "immediately", with plans to have the new coach in place in time for the summer.

B-R debuts at No. 1 in softball Top 25

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Bridgewater-Raynham starts the season ranked No. 1 in our statewide MIAA softball Top 25 poll.

The Trojans, who spent a good portion of last season in the top spot, lost just one game last season, coming in the Division 1 South final, look to take the next step forward behind a pair of All-State performers in pitcher Sarah Dawson and shortstop Madi Shaw.

For the complete poll, click HERE.

Here are a couple other points of note:

South up for grabs: While B-R nabs the top spot to start, the Division 1 South race should be compelling throughout, with all of the three top teams in our poll hailing from within the district. Silver Lake is on the Trojans' heels at No. 2 while North Attleborough checks in at No. 3.

Third time's a charm?: Burlington begins the season in the Top 25 for the third straight season. The two-time Division 2 state finalists and North sectional champions are looking toward a third straight trip to Worcester State, but hope to come away with some hardware after twice being knocked off by Central champion Grafton in the state final.

The Red Devils start the season at No. 7, while Grafton enters at No. 13.
Xaverian High junior defensive end Joe Gaziano has verbally committed to Northwestern University for the fall of 2015, he announced last night on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Gaziano was named ESPN Boston's Defensive Player of the Year last season after leading the Hawks into the MIAA Division 1 State Championship, their first appearance since 2009. Leading one of the state's top defenses, Gaziano recorded 53 tackles, 12 sacks, three blocked punts and an interception. He also set the edge as an in-line tight end on offense, and handled kicking duties on special teams.

"Joe is a really outstanding student and he's interested in pursuing medicine, so I think he really focused on the medical school aspect when he went out there," Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. "Other than that...He was comfortable out there, and that's kinda what he based his decision on. He didn't want to go through the process anymore, he felt happy enough with that."

Gaziano also held offers from Boston College, UMass, Rutgers and Vanderbilt at the time of his commitment.

"Joe is a tremendous athlete, smart kid, he's a tough kid," Stevenson said. "I think he's presently the 19th-rated defensive end in the country -- I think he's better than that myself, but that’s for others to decide. He's one of the best players we've ever had, and he's a really great representative of Massachusetts football."
DUXBURY, Mass. – A swirling wind and – at times – a driving rain had both No. 3 Duxbury and No. 18 Cohasset out of sorts in Tuesday’s cross-division battle of South Shore powers.

But the Dragons were just a bit crisper, going on a 7-0 run to earn a 9-5 win over the Skippers.

“The weather made it a little bit sloppy and tough to handle the ball, but in the end we had plenty of chances to increase our lead and just didn’t seem to finish inside,” Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet said. “But that’ll come as the season goes on. We’re still trying to put together a complete game.”

The Dragons (5-1) surrendered the first goal, but ran off a string of seven straight goals, spanning into the third quarter. Although the Skippers (6-1) had a run of their own in the second half, whittling the lead down to three midway through the fourth quarter, Duxbury largely held them at arm’s length behind a strong defensive effort and, all the while, winning the time of possession battle.

“You want to shorten the passes up, protect the ball,” Sweet said of controlling the ball during inclement weather. “You’re not thinking about going to the goal so much, just taking care of the ball and usually when you do that, especially in these conditions, defenses usually get a little impatient and make a mistake.

“Then, it becomes obvious when to go to the goal.”

Despite their “impatience” with the ball, as Sweet termed it, the Dragons possessed for long stretches of the first half and took a 6-1 lead to the locker room. Brendan Burke paced Duxbury with three goals, while Trevor O’Brien and Wes Quinzani popped in two goals each.

The possession gap between teams was also a result of Dragons defensive effort however. Sweet lauded the trio of Hunter Marston, Victor Moitinho and Liam Strauss for keeping things clean out in front of goaltender Nick Marrocco.

“I love this defense,” he said. “Our poles that are out there are all very athletic, they’re fundamentally sound and they move the ball well on clears. They communicate well. And, now, they’re playing great.”

Tuesday’s game marked just the second home game for the Dragons against MIAA competition, after hitting the road to take on some of New York’s best (Pittsford, a 6-5 loss on April 5) and Connecticut state power Fairfield Prep in a 9-6 win on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the game marked a bit of aberration for the Skippers, who are considered to be among the favorites to win the Division 3 state title this year. Head coach James Beaudoin said Tuesday’s was his team’s sloppiest performance of the year. While he wasn’t about to blame the weather for the Skippers’ inability to hold onto the ball at times, Beaudoin found the time of possession disparity played a greater role in his team’s first loss on the year.

Despite a pair of second-half goals from Danny Axelson, Cohasset was unable find rhythm in its offensive sets – at least not early enough in the afternoon.

“We were using some new offensive sets and getting the ball to the attack because they didn’t have the ball for most of the game,” Beaudoin said. “That was one of the keys was attacking their defense, but we weren’t getting it into [the attack’s] hands.”

He added, “That was the frustration for us was that the middies were taking it down, they were gassed from playing defense and that one pass just wasn’t crisp enough.”