Video: Recapping MIAA boys' lax championships

June, 15, 2014
Jun 15
BOSTON -- Another season of MIAA boys' lacrosse is in the books, with three state championship games played at Boston University's Nickerson Field on Saturday.

ESPN Boston correspondent Kelly Emerson has the highlights from all three while and is joined by editor Scott Barboza, taking a final look back at the season that was in this segment produced by Greg Story:

D3 boys' lax: Cohasset 10, D-S 9

June, 15, 2014
Jun 15

BOSTON – Good things happen to those who wait, and for the Cohasset athletic program, they have waited long enough.

Between last season’s lacrosse team and this year’s football and soccer programs, just about everyone had that taste of the championship game experience, but with no title to show for it.

But this time around and just hours after Cohasset’s graduation, the Skippers got the title that has eluded them so often, holding on to defeat Dover-Sherborn in a rematch of last years Division 3 championship game, 10-9, at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

“We said last night raise your hand if you have been in a state championship game and just about every hand in the room went up so we said there is no reason to be nervous,” Cohasset coach James Beaudoin said.

Rather than feeling the pressure of having to deal with the possibility of another disappointing end, the Skippers looked at it as having experience on their side.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure and much as I would call it drive,” senior Colin Whelan said. “There are so many good athletes on this team, multi-sport of course. It just drove everybody, they needed that championship after getting shutout in the finals three times before that.”

For the 10 seniors that took the field, it was day they will never forget. Those seniors walked across the stage in their graduation ceremony early in the afternoon before making the short trip to capture a state championship.

“This whole day has been incredible,” Whelan said. “No better way to get prepared for a game like this and to be with my fellow teammates all day.”

Beaudoin added: “This senior class is terrific, they’ve earned it. They have been so close so often and knew this was their last shot.“

Dover-Sherborn held a 3-2 lead after the first quarter, behind a pair of beautiful goals from freshman Bailey Laidman and another from Chris Williams with 27 seconds remaining in the quarter. But that is where the Skippers dialed up their defense and scored all six goals that were scored in the second quarter.

Whelan scored a pair, to go along with goals from Andrew Benson, Will Golden, Cole Kissick and Jeff Powers to give the Skippers an 8-3 halftimes lead.

“We got up early and then the going got tough and Beaudoin called timeout,” Whelan said of the second quarter. “We realized this is our last shot, we don’t have another game after this, this is no practice Sunday and we just started clicking.”

Weathering the attack: Despite the determination that Cohasset had, they nearly let their championship slip away.

Cohasset found itself in penalty trouble in the third quarter, starting with a three-minute personal foul that awakened the Raider offense. Dover-Sherborn only pushed across one goal on the man-advantage, off the stick of Grant Gregory but another Skipper penalty allowed another goal from Gregory.

Kissick scored his third goal of the game to briefly stop the Raiders run, but the Raiders scored three more extra-man goals to end the quarter from Gregory and Williams (2) to but the lead down to one entering the final quarter.

“We were up 5-0 last game against them and the came back and tied 5-5 so we knew that they are capable of anything,” Beaudoin said.

Golden gave the Skippers a two-goal lead with a goal early in the four quarter and Cohasset slowly suffocated Dover-Sherborn out with domination of possession until one last-ditch effort from the Raiders with two minutes to go.

Williams netted a goal from Gregory with 1:33 remaining in the fourth and the Raiders won the ensuing faceoff to hold possession.

D-S got a handful of shots off in the final 90 seconds, none better than the look Tyler Mann had with four seconds left, facing a half-open net but his shot went wide.

“The way we coached was because of last years game,” Beaudoin said. “When you get that close and fall two goals short, you remember how they did it to you.”

Bring out the best: When Kissick steps onto the championship stage, his performance never goes unnoticed. Kissick led his offense to 10 goals in last year’s loss to Dover-Sherborn, to go along with a monster game at Gillette Stadium in their loss in the Div. 6 football state championship in December.

Saturday was no different, with the junior scoring three goals in the win.

It had been a frustrating postseason for Kissick, who was the main focus of their opponents game plan.

“Kissick has always been locked off, always gets the pole, which allows Danny (Axelson) and Will (Golden) and other guys to get a lot of our goals,” Beaudoin said. ”In last years title game it’s where a lot of his college looks came from and rightfully so.”

D1 boys' lax: A-B 5, Duxbury 4 (2 OT)

June, 15, 2014
Jun 15

BOSTON – Acton-Boxborough attack Chris Wiggins might never score a more significant goal again in his life. The senior’s double overtime goal propelled the Colonials past Duxbury, 5-4, for the school’s first ever MIAA Division 1 boys’ lacrosse championship.

The Bentley recruit had an additional goal and an assist in his team’s victory, a feat that rightfully earned him the game ball from head coach Pat Ammendolia.

“I can’t believe we won. It still doesn’t feel real,” said Ammendolia.

The low-scoring lacrosse contest drew comparisons to soccer’s World Cup, currently taking place in Brazil from some around Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

“We wanted to be in the game all the way through,” Ammendolia said. “Duxbury is a very talented team. We didn’t want them to run away with it. We were a little bit tight in the first quarter, but then we started to play our game.”

For as little offense as Saturday afternoon’s game yielded, there was no shortage of excitement and edge-of-seat thrills in the final few minutes of regulation and in the two overtime periods.

Duxbury held a 2-0 advantage after one quarter on goals from Niall Dillon and Shayne O’Brien. Acton-Boxborough scored the lone goal of the second quarter on a goal from Joey Biggins.

The Colonials evened the score just 16 seconds into the second half on a quick strike off a face-off. Wiggins fed Hunter Arnold who finished off the play. Duxbury responded promptly with a terrific individual effort from Brendan Burke for the goal that would give the Dragons a 3-2 lead.

James Kelly tied the score at three midway through the third quarter before Wiggins gave the Colonials their first lead of the game with just three seconds remaining in the third frame.

Duxbury’s Trevor O’Brien scored 3:26 into the fourth quarter, the marker that proved to be the reason the game would head to overtime.

It wasn’t fast-paced as both teams wanted to slow the game down and be deliberate with their possessions. The overtimes featured some close calls on both sides, but it was Wiggins who finally provided the difference maker.

The game-winner was a designed play out of a timeout, but the first plan didn’t work out as planned, setting up option two that led to Wiggins’ heroics.

“We called a play for Hunter [Arnold], but it didn’t work. We got the ball back to Wiggins and called a play for him to go hard to the goal. We taught him if it wasn’t there originally to just keep going around the cage. He found the middle and put it in,” said a proud Ammendolia.

Wiggins alluded to the pressure and intensity that comes with an overtime knowing that every chance could be the last one.

“It was the toughest situation we’ve ever been in,” Wiggins said. “We just wanted to get it done. Put it in the hole. In OT, it’s four minutes that you got to do what you got to do.”

Wiggins might have thrived under the pressure, but his coach had more time to contemplate all the possible scenarios on the sideline, including his team’s potential fatigue as the game stretched along.

“I was thinking, ‘please God score,’” joked Ammendolia. “In the second overtime we were kind of running out of gas.”

Mission Accomplished: As is the case when most teams win a championship, this run to the title started a long time ago. Wiggins and Ammendolia both pointed to events that led up to Saturday’s crowning.

Wiggins said his team was convinced it needed to prove it belonged in the upper echelon of high school lacrosse teams in the Bay State when the Colonials were bounced from the 2013 state tournament.

“Last season when we lost to [Lincoln-Sudbury] in the semifinals,” said Wiggins of a turning point for the program. “We made it a point that we wanted to go all the way. We wanted some revenge. The heart was there. All we wanted was to win a state championship.”

Ammendolia said he knew at the beginning of practices this spring that his team had what it took to be a championship caliber squad.

“March 17, 2014,” stated Ammendolia. “That was our goal to come here and win this game. We had our goal set on today. We got here and we did it.”

Crimmins shines: Duxbury senior goaltender Nick Marrocco gets a hefty dose of the spotlight and rightfully so, but on Saturday, it was Sean Crimmins’ chance to bask in the glory of victory.

“Sean is excellent. He was phenomenal last game. He was excellent today. You need good goaltending in a playoff run like this. He played well today and last week,” said Ammendolia.

The uncommitted junior goaltender was a major reason Acton-Boxborough was able to leave Nickerson Field with the ultimate trophy.

“He’s awesome. He’s uncommitted. If there are any college coaches reading this, I don’t know why you’re not picking him up,” stated Ammendolia.

Wiggins credited Crimmins’ ability to be motivated and put in maximum effort during the offseason as part of the reason for his success.

“[Crimmins] is amazing. He works so hard. He puts so much time and effort in the offseason. Today he kept us in it. He made some big saves and bailed us out. He deserved the game ball,” said Wiggins.

It might be debatable who deserved the game ball, but one thing is for certain. Acton-Boxborough earned the right to return home with a state championship trophy.

D1 Softball Final: B-R 9, Holy Name 0

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Holy Name knew all to well the one thing it couldn't afford to do was spot Bridgewater-Raynham an early lead. Falling behind and having to face a dominant pitcher would be a formula for doom.

Somewhere along the way, the Naps lost sight of that premise. The Trojans were literally handed five runs in the first inning of Saturday night's Division 1 state final. That was certainly more than enough run support for Sarah Dawson as the B-R flamethrower took over from there.

Dawson, a 6-foot-1 junior, handcuffed Holy Name all evening long, allowing just one hit and striking out seven to help lead the Trojans to an easy 9-0 victory at Rockwood Field. The state title marks the first for B-R as it completes a remarkable 25-1 season.

"Sarah had good control by using her power today and using her change-up a lot to keep them off-balance," Trojans head coach Mike Carrozza said. "She controlled the game with her power pitches and staying in and out on them and then using her change-up.

"It was a fantastic run for us this year. I think looking back on the last three years we are something like 80-4 so that's a good three years. We had a lot of energy going into this game and a lot of confidence. We showed a lot of patients and the girls knew what they had to do to win and they did it."

In six tournament starts inside the circle, Dawson allowed only one run, as well as tossing a pair of no-hitters. Had it not been for Ama Biney's single off her in the sixth inning, Dawson would've added a third postseason no-hitter to her resume.

"I just went out there focused," said Dawson, a University of Pittsburgh commit. "You need to be focused and know what you want and we all wanted to win a state championship. To do that you've gotta be dominant. All of this probably won't sink in for another week or two. I still can't believe we won a state championship. I'm pretty shocked about that."

Following the five run first, this game was over. The Naps appeared tense to begin this tilt and it showed quickly. Four errors in the opening frame paved the way for B-R. It all started with Madison Shaw, the team's spark plug, reaching on an error. The Fordham University-bound senior hit a hard grounder to first baseman Danielle Rocheleau.

The sophomore could not field it cleanly and Shaw, sprinting down the line and finishing with a head first dive, beat Rocheleau to the base. After stealing second, Shaw came around to score the Trojans' first run on Emily Kurkul's double to centerfield.

"That first inning showed (Holy Name) that we are fighters and we will do anything it takes to get on base," Shaw said. "Getting a big lead like that in the first inning takes a lot of pressure off of Sarah and once the pressure is off she can go out there and throw her game. She does her thing inside the circle and we do our thing at the plate."

With Taylor Poulin running for Kurkul, the inning continued with a walk to Jenny Heller. Kelsey Leuenberger next hit a chopper that was mis-handled by second baseman Heather Drummond allowing Poulin to cross the plate.

The horror show for Holy Name continued one batter later with two more runs crossing the plate. Stephanie Cavallaro hit a comebacker to Naps pitcher Kelsey Saucier but the senior threw off-target to first with Cavallaro reaching safely and Heller scoring.

On the play, Rocheleau, seeing Leuenberger racing home, threw the ball to catcher Deanna DiPilato, who failed to catch it as it rolled towards the backstop fence and extending B-R's lead to 4-0. Things continued to snowball out of control for the Naps in the frame after Cavallaro came home on a Saucier wild pitch.

"Nothing went well for us tonight," said Holy Name head coach Aimee Lee, her team finishing at 22-3. "It's kind of sad because we didn't get to show (B-R) the kind of team we really are. Things seemed to fall apart after that first error and it just went downhill from there."

Except for a couple of Trojan miscues, the Nap batters continued to make a bee-line towards their dugout. Although Holy Name was making contact with some of Dawson's pitches, the majority of them were being hit directly to the defense. B-R would add a solo run off of Saucier (7 hits, 5 Ks) in the fourth on an RBI single off the bat of Kurkul.

Two innings later, the Trojans turned this into a rout. With one out Poulin and Shaw singled. Stacey Korotsky followed by laying down a bunt towards Drummond. The junior immediately came up firing to third in an attempt to nail Poulin. However, her throw sailed wide which allowed both Poulin and Shaw to cross the plate. Heller followed that up by roping a double to left to bring Korotsky in.

"We thought this would a nitty-gritty type of game right to the end," said Shaw. "The last thing on our minds was for us to get five runs in the first inning. When we started off with five runs it really calmed the rest of the team down. It felt pretty good. We feel if we put the ball in play it forces the other team to try and get us out. Sometimes teams make errors along the way and we try to take advantage of those."

D1 Baseball Final: Leominster 6, Norwood 1

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The sun was setting in the distance behind Fitton Field’s left field foul pole as Leominster’s Neil O’Connor was putting the finishing touches on his team’s season.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Norwood’s John Galvin stepped into the batter’s box. The senior had himself a strong tournament run until that point. He went 4-for-4 at the plate and threw a complete game against Andover in the Eastern Mass. Finals. He was 1-for-3 with an RBI and pitched three strong innings until that point.

[+] EnlargeRich Barnaby
Brendan Hall/ Leominster won its first state title since 1996 under first-year coach Rich Barnaby -- a starting third baseman on that 1996 team.
His team’s season was in the balance and he was able to work a full count. O’Connor went with a high fastball and it was enough to put Galvin away. O’Connor threw his glove high in the air, higher than the protective netting behind home place.

Leominster defeated Norwood 6-1 in the Division 1 State Baseball Final. It is the fourth baseball state title in school history.

“Leominster is a baseball town,” said Blue Devils coach Rich Barnaby. “I was on the 1996 team, which is the last state title team we had. It’s the fourth time we’ve been here and the fourth time we’ve won it. It means a lot to the community.”

Barnaby played third base on that state championship team. Leominster also won state titles in 1986 and 1988.

His team got on the board first in the top of the third on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Brett Corliss. Nick Cordio opened the inning by hitting a rocket to deep left that one-hopped the wall. He advanced to third on a groundout before being knocked in on a well-placed bunt down the first base line.

Norwood tied it in the bottom of the inning when Denis Drummey scored from second on Galvin’s base knock to center. There was going to be a play at the plate, but Corliss’ throw was high enough for Drummey to slide in under the tag.

Leominster tacked on four more runs in the fourth, two coming on wild pitches. Another came on a Corliss sacrifice bunt.

The Blue Devils were able to use small ball tactics to move runners over and put them in position to capitalize on Norwood’s mistakes. When it appeared the bleeding was going to be stopped after one run in the fourth, David Barry’s grounder to second was mishandled by Connor Flynn. All runners were safe and it went on to score two more runs in the inning.

“Since the first practice, Coach has always been preaching small ball, do the little things to get the runs,” said O’Connor. “It payed off. We had a couple of big hits and a couple of big squeezes that helped us out today.”

Neil is nifty: O’Connor threw 98 pitches in the complete game effort, striking out six and only surrendering 4 hits and two walks. His most effective pitch Saturday was his curveball. The University of New Hampshire football commit was able to throw it at any point in the count and keep hitters off balance. He controlled it enough so it caught the inside corner of the plate against right-handed hitters.

“Coach was calling a good game and my curveball was working,” he said. “They’re a very good fastball hitting team and when they sit on the curve they can hit that too. I was just trying to mix it up and keep them guessing as much as I could.”

O’Connor’s curve was so nasty that it began fooling righties into thinking the ball was coming at them. Normally, a hitter takes his first stride toward the pitcher in order to generate power upon contact. Some Norwood hitters were taking their first step backwards away from the plate, believing the pitch was coming in high and tight before it eventually drifted back over the plate for strikes.

“He almost has more confidence in his curveball,” said Barnaby. “The one thing about playing a team we’ve never played before, it took us one or two times through the lineup to adjust to their hitters. They’ve got some good hitters, and they put some good contact on it. That’s a good team.”

Case for Super 8? Entering this postseason, there was discussion and complaints from Central and Western Mass. baseball fans and media regarding no Division 1A “Super 8” tournament representation from those regions. Many had differing opinions of how strong a Central Mass. schedule was in comparison to Eastern Mass. teams. When it came time to select the field, Leominster was one of the teams caught on the outside looking in. The tournament selection committee chose to nominate St. John’s of Shrewsbury for consideration over the 16-4 Blue Devils.

This state title win will only strengthen the argument that Leominster should have been in the “Super 8,” but players were not using the win as an opportunity to gloat Saturday.

“We were just trying to play baseball,” said O’Connor regarding the win. “We tried to do whatever we could. Whatever games we played, we tried to win. We just left it at that. We’re happy with where we are right now.”

Throughout the season, coaches have been more outspoken than the players regarding their teams’ respective candidacy. Of the teams left out, Leominster certainly has the ability to say “See? I told you so.”

“All year, our philosophy was control what you can control,” said Barnaby. “If we’re in the Super 8, we’re in the Super 8. If we’re not, we’re going to try to beat everyone the MIAA wants us to beat. We kind of kept a positive spin. On the bus today, I said, ‘Hey, if we don’t beat this team, the Super 8 is right, we don’t belong. If we beat them, maybe next year they’ll consider a Central Mass. team.”

MIAA Saturday State Finals Scoreboard

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

Hegarty never too far from Lions' hearts

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
WORCESTER, Mass. –- Pope John Paul II coach Mark Santos can still remember the moment when he heard the terrible news.

Driving back to his home last November, Santos got a call from the principal and athletic director at PJP, telling him that junior left fielder Christian Hegarty had been diagnosed with bone cancer. The tears uncontainable, he had to pull over to the side of the road to continue the conversation.

[+] EnlargePope John Paul
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comPope John Paul II carried the No. 9 jersey of teammate Christian Hegarty, who was diagnosed with bone cancer last November, all the way to the school's first state title.
"I was a puddle," he recalled.

The first time the team was all together following the diagnosis, the decided unanimously to dedicate the 2014 season to Christian. The Lions have taken Hegarty’s blue No. 9 jersey with them to every game this year, making sure to hold up his jersey during every single team picture taken following their Division 4 state championship victory on Saturday.

“He’s just the greatest kid and he’s a great player. It got taken away from him, and our guys way back in November committed to us playing for him,” Santos said. “That jersey has come with us all year long, he’s made a few games for us, and the ones he did we won them all.”

Winning came with regularity for the Lions this year, finish the year at 26-1 after their 3-0 state title win over Western Mass. champion Hopkins Academy. Hegarty wasn’t able to make Saturday’s game because he was in the hospital receiving chemotherapy treatment, but immediately following the game Santos had one big message for his team in their huddle in right field.

“This one’s for Hegs!” Santos exclaimed.

Hegarty made sure to get in contact with the team before they departed for Worcester on Saturday, with one message to give to his proud teammates.

“He texts us all the time saying ‘go out there and win it for me. Take it home.’ That was the text we got before this. He said ‘no matter where I am, if I’m at the hospital or anything, I know that I can’t be there but bring home that state championship,” senior Ben Gibson said. “It’s always great to hear from him cause I don’t get to see him a lot, he’s in the hospital a lot due to chemo. Hearing from him, seeing’s great.”

Added Santos, "He couldn’t be here today because he had chemo treatment. But I talked to him this morning and he said coach, go bring it home and get me a ring when you get it done."

A lot of the talk after the game was of the next time the Lions get to visit with Hegarty, a meeting that is sure to include a full mix of laughter and tears.

“When we first got the news it was very emotional. But we know Christian, he’s a very tough, strong kid and we knew that he was going to fight through this battle with cancer until he was victorious,” Gibson said. “It is going to be amazing, we’ll all give him a hug and probably some tears because he couldn’t be there.”

D4 Baseball Final: Pope John Paul II 3, Hopkins 0

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

WORCESTER, Mass. -– For the first time in the infantile history of their program, the Pope John Paul II Lions are state champions.

One year after a heartbreaking loss to Lowell Catholic in the MIAA Division 4 State Championship game, the Lions came back to complete an incredible 26-1 season, knocking off Western Mass. champion Hopkins Academy 3-0 on Saturday at Fitton Field in Worcester.

The Lions were led on the mound by senior righthander Austin Houlihan, who gave up just a lone hit while pitching a complete game shutout. He struggled with his control early on, surrendering three walks in the in the top of the first inning, but quickly found his comfort zone after PJP jumped out to an early lead.

[+] EnlargeAustin Houlihan
Brendan Hall/ Austin Houlihan pitched a shutout for Pope John Paul II, which won a state title in just its fourth season of varsity.
“I didn’t really happen to have my best stuff today, but I just knew that if I threw strikes that the defense would make all the plays," Houlihan said. "I definitely give all the credit to the defense today, they did it all. This is the greatest feeling that an 18 year-old kid can have...It’s just the best feeling that I’ve ever had."

PJP got a quick lead in the top of the first, Matt Santos smashed a double deep to left field and Colin Russell drove him in two batters later on an RBI single.

“The double down the line was big and then Colin Russell had a big two-out hit. I think once we got that and Houlihan started pitching with a lead that that made all the difference in the world,” Pope John Paul coach Mark Santos said, “We were so close a couple times, it wasn’t our cleanest game offensively, but I don’t think were ever really in doubt -– I thought the game was in control most of the way.”

The Lions added to the lead in the third inning, when Santos came in for his second run of the game. Senior Ben Gibson started off the fifth inning with a base hit and came around to score on an RBI single by Mike Young, which proved to be all the insurance that Pope John Paul would need.

“I felt pretty comfortable, my first couple at bats they were trying to pitch to me away -– nothing I could hit," Gibson said. "Then I had two strikes on me in that third at bat, I fought one off at two strikes and luckily it found its way through on the ground."

The Lions slammed the door shut from there, as Houlihan and the defense were untouchable the rest of the way– retiring the side in each inning after the third.

“Once you get a lead it’s so much easier to pitch with a lead so I give the credit to our lineup, and of course our fielding,” Houlihan said. “Our fielding is up there with the best in the state. We knew we had the caliber to compete in any division, and personally I think we could compete in any division state championship that was going on.”

A historic season: The Lions finish their season at 26-1, bringing home a state championship trophy in just the fourth year of the program. Pope John Paul was considered a serious contender to qualify for the inaugural Division 1A "Super 8" tournament, until a 5-2 loss to Barnstable in mid-May took them down a peg. Still, the Lions managed to get one vote in the first round of nominations at selection time, which has to be a considered a victory considering the school's status.

Despite the disappointment of not getting into the tournament, Santos reiterated to his team to control what they can control.

“They were disappointed, I told them ‘listen, to even be nominated is such an honor.’ We’ve got 135 boys in our school," Santos said. "They just looked at it like you know what? Now we have a chance to go out and win a state championship so let’s go do it. They worked so hard, they took it to another level when we got to the tournament -– their focus was just incredible. It was great to see, this is a great group of guys."

“I would credit this to our hard work and our work ethic,” Gibson said, “We work the hardest that I’ve ever seen, everyone’s doing what they have to do to be a better player – everyone has that ethic all the time.”

D2 boys' lax: Medfield 13, Hingham 6

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

BOSTON – It became clear that in order for Hingham to win the Division 2 state title they would have to do one thing: stop the Treiber brothers.

They couldn't.

Matthew Treiber, a sophomore, scored four goals and assisted on three more while his older brother, All-American goalkeeper Robert, turned aside a dozen shots to pilot the Warriors to a 13-6 win over the Harbormen at Nickerson Field.

Matthew Treiber, who was making his first start since returning from injury, scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second quarter and two in the fourth quarter to ice it.

“Matt came to on Thursday and said 'how can I get my job back', and I said work hard the next two practices and we'll see what happens,” Medfield coach John Isaf said. “He worked his butt off the next two practices. It was time to see what he could do out there and he delivered.”

Treiber had a point in all four quarters.

“I rehabbed as hard as I could to get back,” Matthew Treiber said. “I'm so thankful I got back because it's a dream come true to play with my brother in the state championship [game] let alone win it. That's all I wanted to do.”

In a rematch of last year's classic Eastern Mass. Final the teams picked up where they left off early on. Goal by Medfield's Matt Crowell and Hingham's Matt Giarrusso had the game tied midway through the first at one. After that the Warriors took over scoring the next five goals and never looking back.

John Maclean and Tyler Hagan each scored the first of their three goals during the early run.

“Experience has a lot to do with it; depth has a lot to do with it,” Isaf said. “I think we were the healthiest we've been all season for the playoff run. When you have a team as deep and talented as we are if you're healthy you got a really good chance to make a run.”

Brian Bissell gave Medfield all the control it would need. The senior faceoff man won 18 of the game's 19 faceoffs and played a big role in Medfield winning the ground ball battle 28-11.

Bissell's control at the X, combined with an imposing defensive presence and control of the ground, made for smooth sailing for much of the game for the Warriors.

“Credit to my whole defense,” Robert Treiber said. “[Ben] Ruzzo, [James] Ganem, MacLean, and [Blake] Frasca did a good of letting me see the ball all day, driving guys down the alley. Bissell did a great job getting the faceoffs, getting the pressure off the D. All the credit to them. They make my job look good; they make my job easy.”

Hingham made it close in the third quarter, closing the gap down to four, but a four-goal fourth quarter by Medfield squashed the comeback.

Hingham's Jacob Brodie led the offensive attack for the Harbormen with a pair of goals. Seniors Matt Rosso, Matt Giarrusso, Jackson Ullrich, and Patrick Burke each had goals in their final high school game.

“They got great offense, great weapons,” Robert Treiber said. “We just tried to take it one step of the time. Defense did a great job. Couldn't ask for anything else.”

For Medfield's seniors, who lost to Longmeadow in last year's final, the win capped a journey that started a decade ago.

“We came out with one purpose and played 100 percent; I couldn't be more proud of this group of guys,” Hagan said. “I've been with most of these guys for 10-plus years. It's unreal to go out on top.”

WORCESTER, Mass. -- You started to wonder if there was a team out there who could give Grafton a run for its money.

The Indians, two-time defending Division 2 state champions, hadn't experienced the taste of defeat in 36 straight games. Up next to give it their best shot was South champion Bellingham.

With the Division 2 state final serving as the backdrop, the Blackhawks were new to this type of stage -- having never reached the final before.

Bellingham (25-1) certainly did not look the part as new kids on the block. Needing an extra inning to decide matters, junior Chloe Woodward smashed a two-out, two run double in the top of the eighth inning to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 victory Saturday at Rockwood Field.

"I don't even remember what the pitch was," said Woodward, who hit a Kendal Roy change-up for the game-winner. "She struck me out two times prior and I wasn't going to let it happen again. It was a big hit for the game but without my teammates behind me none of this would've happened."

As it is accustomed, Grafton (24-1) didn't got down without a fight. The Indians threatened in the bottom of the frame as they put two runners on with none out, But pitcher Megan Cook got out of the fray with a pair of strikeouts and Katherine Cardoza was thrown out at the plate by second baseman Alice Felzmann to end the game.
"It goes with the territory," Indians coach John Gemme said. "Not everybody wins all the time. The girls battled to the end and that's all you can ask and hope for. The hard thing is to get here and then when you do, someone ends up being on the short end of it. It happens."

Grafton jumped ahead 1-0 lead in the third. Meaghan Sawtelle opened with a single, took second on an error and advanced to third on a sacrifice. To the surprise to everyone, Cardoza laid down a squeeze bunt that scored Sawtelle.

In most cases, a one-run lead for such a dominant pitcher as Roy would be pretty safe. But not on this day. Roy, who allowed seven hits and struck out 10, had to tightrope her way out of problems in several times. In Bellingham's half of the fifth she wasn't as fortunate when the Blackhawks tied it.

Julianne Kilduff's one out single got things started. After taking second on a sacrifice bunt, the junior scored moments later when Felzmann flied a soft single to left which left fielder Makayla Ritzie slipped in her pursuit of the ball watching it land just in front of her.

The Blackhawks looked to take the lead in the sixth when they had two runners on and nobody out. But Roy, who moves on to Assumption College, managed to bear down and retire the next three batters to escape damage. Things stayed that way until the deciding eighth for Bellingham.

"To move forward in the postseason tournament you need good pitching, good defense and timely hitting," Blackhawks head coach Dennis Baker. "I think we had all of that today. Chloe came up with that big hit and Megan has the confidence within herself to get the outs when she needs to.

“We were concerned about [Roy] the whole time we had prepared for her. Grafton has a solid team and are well-coached. Roy is a competitor but I don't think there is much difference between her and Megan. I'd take either one of them on my team any day."

Cook finished by allowing six hits and picking up 10 strikeouts. She will attend Merrimack College next season.

"[Roy] is a great pitcher for them,'' said Cook. "It was a great game both ways for both teams. I just needed to come in confident and aggressive to get the job done. Fortunately I was able to do that. This wasn't a game where you could take any pitch off which is something I never do anyways. Chloe's hit was certainly a big relief for us in that eighth inning."

D3 softball: Greater New Bedford 8, Turners Falls 3

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
WORCESTER, Mass. -- This time it was the newbie giving the prodigy a lesson in Softball 101.

Greater New Bedford Regional Voke reached its first Division 3 state final the hard way and the characteristics it gained from those experiences propelled the Bears to a 8-3 triumph over Turners Falls Saturday at Rockwood Field and a state championship to boot.

The Bears (22-9), a 15th seed in the South region, ran roughshod through the sectional tournament and state semifinal to get here. Although GNB was going up against a legendary coach and a team with a exclusive legacy, none of it seemed to matter.

Intimidated? Hardly.

The Bears got off the bus loose and relax and played that way throughout. Scoring three times in the opening frame, GNB set the tone early, never looking back. In that inning, the Bears placed two runners aboard against Indians pitcher Mackenzie Phillips before Krystin Sylvia (3 hits) brought both in with a line single. Sylvia's time on the base paths was brief after Marissa Pires stroked a single to center to make it 3-0. A pair of Turners Falls errors in the frame certainly didn't assist the cause.

"Our team really came together," said Sylvia, a junior. "Everyone pushed each other to do better all season. Winning our first playoff game over Bourne really set the tone for us and we all believed we could take it all the way to the state finals. We came into this like it is just another regular game for us."

Turners Falls (23-3) didn't know what hit them. The Indians plain and simple had no clue in how to solve GNB freshman pitcher Neely Eddleston. The righty curtailed Turners Falls' offense for most of the afternoon, holding them to nine hits and kept them off the scoreboard over the first six innings. She also fanned 11.

Phillips was not sharp, surrendering 16 hits. She left pitches over the plate and her curve wasn't biting. In the Bears' fifth, they put this game out of reach, scoring a pair on RBI from Pires and Brooke Tetreault to go up 5-0.

The frustration level increased for Turners Falls in the bottom of the frame. The Indians put two runners on but failed to score. In a nutshell, that was the way the afternoon went for them.

"I thought (GNB) really handled themselves well at the plate today," said Indians hall-of-fame head coach Gary Mullins. "I think they have seen many kids like Mackenzie over the season. Mackenzie didn't surprise any of them. We got some breaks to get to this game but today we didn't get any. That was a very good team we faced."

In the top of the sixth, the Bears offense continued to flex their muscle with Phillps continuing to find the terrain rough going. A single by Mollie Mayer and a double from Rileigh Avila (3 hits) set up Katelynn Couto's bloop single that plated both. Jen Pires followed by lashing a double to bring in GNB's eighth run.

"We knew [Phillips] likes to throw the fastball so we came out and attacked it and we saw a flaw with her curve in which she was showing it before the pitch," Bears head coach Mark Collins said. "We play in a very tough division [South Coast Conference] which seasons us up pretty good for games like this. I've got to thank my conference for getting us ready for this. It's never an easy day at the office in that conference."

After enduring six innings of silence at the plate, the Indians offense finally got to Eddleston some in the seventh. Morgan Ozdarski, Jenna Putala and Gabrielle Arzuaga took some of the sting out of the day driving in Turners Falls runs, but it wasn’t enough as Eddleston got out of further trouble to earn the victory.

"At the beginning of the game I was a little nervous but getting those three runs in the first inning was certainly a relief," Eddleston said. "After we got those runs I calmed down a lot. We felt once the postseason started that we could get here and now winning it is very exciting. I'm very happy for our seniors who now leave with a championship."

Turners Falls was looking to claim its seventh state title. They are now 6-6 in championship contests and remain tied with Apponequet Regional for the second most state championship wins all time. Bishop Fenwick leads with eight.

D3 State Final: Bellingham 11, Monument Mtn. 6

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Usually, a state final pits a team’s best against another team’s best. Both teams battle through tournament brackets to play for the state title, playing its best at the most opportune time.

Then there is a game like Saturday’s Division 3 State Baseball Final, which began the way neither wanted it to.

Monument Mountain put two runs on the board in the top of the first, but Bellingham came back in the bottom of the inning with five runs of its own. The Spartans scored three more in the top of the second to tie the score.

[+] EnlargeDavid Sampson
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comSouthern New Hampshire commit David Sampson struck out eight in five innings of relief for the Blackhawks.
The bats quieted over the next three innings until Bellingham exploded for five more in the fifth. In total, the Blackhawks touched Monument Mountain pitcher Peter Oggiani for 11 runs on its way to a 11-6 state championship victory.

“This feels absolutely amazing,” said Bellingham’s Kevin Martinis after the game. “Nine of us have been together since we were eight years old and we’ve won multiple championships, so we knew each other as a team. I just love being a leader on this team behind David Sampson. I just love playing behind him”

Sampson came on in relief for Bellingham in the third inning and shut down the Monument Mountain lineup. The Spartans had jumped on starter Connor Birch early and it appeared the game could have more of a football score than a baseball score. Sampson gave up only one run over the remaining five innings.

“That’s what he’s done all year,” said Bellingham coach T.J. Chiappone. “We knew we had that in our back pocket today. I give them credit, they hit Connor hard. We knew we had everyone in the bullpen today, but a lot of times I just think you need Dave. That’s what he’s done all year.”

Monument Mountain tried everything it could against Sampson, even stepping out of the batters box multiple times to try and disrupt the pace of the fast-working righty. They could only muster five hits over the remaining five innings.

“I noticed right away (they were stepping out a lot),” said Sampson. “I just stood there like, ‘Alright, let’s go. Let’s get in the box'.”

He struck out the side in the sixth inning, immediately after the Bellingham lineup put up five runs in the bottom of the fifth. No amount of stepping out of the batters box helped Monument Mountain.

“Every single batter that inning took their time getting in the box,” said Sampson. “I was just like okay, if you’re going to take your time, I’m just going to sit you down.”

Monument Mountain senior and Vassar College commit Bobby Kinne went 4-for-4 for the Spartans with one RBI and two runs scored.

Spartans coach Tom Hankey stuck with his starter, for better or worse, in the late innings. With one runner on and his team down 9-6, the coach walked to the mound to check on his starter. Brad Rebello had just tripled to plate the third run of the inning.

Hankey left Oggiani in the game, and he promptly gave up a two-run homer to Martinis. The senior jumped on a first-pitch fastball as it had for most of the game and launched it over the left field wall.

It was a suitable exclamation point on Bellingham’s season. For the first time in the school’s history, it is the Division 3 state baseball champion.

Sampson digs in: Saturday was Sampson’s second outing in a week. The senior righthander threw 119 pitches in Bellingham’s 2-1 extra-inning victory over North Reading in the Eastern Mass finals Tuesday. He threw 84 pitches Saturday, allowing only one run on five hits while striking out eight and walking only one batter.

“With the situation of the game and everything, I felt amazing coming into this game,” said the pitcher. “Just with the adrenaline rush, I knew I was going to go in there throwing hard and being able to throw strikes, and I just felt really good about this.”

Since Saturday was the last game of the season for both teams, Chiappone planned on having all hands on deck in his bullpen. He knew he was going to use Sampson at some point Saturday, but with Birch’s early struggles, he went to the Southern New Hampshire commit earlier than intended.

“Certainly we didn’t think we’d use him by the third inning, but he’s a horse,” said the coach. “He’s a big, strong kid and he throws a lot of fastballs. The three days rest thing made us nervous. He beat North Reading and didn’t have his best stuff, we think he was tiring and tiring, so we knew he couldn’t do seven innings. But we knew he had some left.”

D1 girls' lax: Westwood 9, Longmeadow 7

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

BOSTON – It’s a lasting memory of high school that Westwood’s 14 seniors won’t soon forget. The group left a lasting legacy before moving on to college as they led the Wolverines to the 2014 MIAA Division 1 girls’ lacrosse championship with a 9-7 win over Longmeadow at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

UMass recruit Ela Hazar recorded a hat trick to pace the Wolverines offense and fellow graduate Meghan Raskin made six saves in net.

“We went out on top, we left our mark,” said Hazar. “It’s the greatest feeling ever.”

Junior Brooke Troy scored her first of two goals on the afternoon with a quick strike just 4:14 into the game to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.

Longmeadow, returning to the state championship game for the second year in a row, responded quickly showing it would be no pushover. Olivia Shapiro and Elizabeth Suschana scored 38 seconds apart to give the Lancers a 2-1 lead at the 7:51 mark.

Colleen Burke tied the score less than a minute later before Hazar scored her first of the game at the 12:11 mark to regain the lead for the Wolverines.

Cailin Pandolfi, who had a terrific first half, tied the score before Suschana found the back of the net for her second goal of the afternoon to put Longmeadow back on top.

Westwood’s Kasey Keane and Longmeadow’s Alexa Cambi traded goals to end the first half with the Lancers up 5-4.

Wolverines head coach Leslie Frank’s reminder of the importance of ball possession sparked the Wolverines to a dominating second half.

“We made a decision at halftime to take better care of the ball offensively,” Frank said. “We weren’t giving our best shots. Even though we were having good takes, it was just going right to the goalie’s stick or feet.”

“At halftime, [Coach Frank] just kept talking about one goal at a time and one ball at a time. Every single ball was going to make a difference in this game,” added Hazar, whose goal 12 seconds into the second half tied the game, 5-5.

After Cambi regained the lead for the Lancers, Westwood rifled off four consecutive goals to put the clamps on Longmeadow for good. Keane tied it before Troy, Kimberly Egizi and Hazar put Westwood up by three.

Teagan Northrup gave Longmeadow some hope with a goal to cut the deficit to 9-7, but the Lancers couldn’t draw any closer.

Wolverine Chemistry: Westwood’s 14 seniors grew up playing sports together and have formed a close bond, but the group’s success exceeds the lacrosse field. Four Wolverines also played a significant role in the school’s MIAA Division 2 girls’ hockey state championship this winter.

“We’ve all been playing together since third grade,” Hazar said. “We’re all such close friends on and off the field. Lacrosse is everyone’s passion. No one was going to give up.”

“It’s a winning mentality. It’s a coach’s dream to have players who played together in other sports,” said Frank. “It’s very unique for seniors to finish four years together. They made a lot of sacrifices individually to play lacrosse in the offseason. A lot of kids gave a lot of hours to this team.”

It was of special significance for the seniors to go out on top and not lose the last game they’d ever play with each other.

“It’s the greatest feeling ever,” Hazar said. “It was the last time we were ever going to play together. We were all on the field playing for each and the coaches for all the opportunities they gave us through the years.”

Lucky headband: Raskin, the team’s senior backstop in net, had some unexpected adversity to fight through in the hours leading up the biggest game of her career. Her lucky headband went missing and her mother was sent to the emergency room this morning following a run-in with an unruly bat.

“She had a rough morning. Her mom got bitten by a bat and she lost her lucky headband,” said Frank.

Fortunately for Raskin and her teammates, her dad, a Westwood Police Detective, was able to put his sleuth skills to work to find the headband.

“My dad found it for me. He’s a detective. He’s good at that,” joked Raskin.

Whether the headband had anything to do with it, Raskin made six key saves, gaining strength and confidence as the game went along.

“It’s all about momentum with me,” Raskin said. “Once I get that first [save], I keep telling myself to get the next one. It’s all about confidence, trusting yourself and believing in your team.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” added Raskin of the final act of her high school career. “It’s completely amazing. It’s unreal.”


D2 girls' lax: Newburyport 7, Bromfield 6

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
BOSTON – After a tumultuous first half full of transition lacrosse and long runs, it looked as though Newburyport and Bromfield were going to tear the house down.

Instead, no goals were scored in the second half as both defenses turned the game into a chess match. Newburyport stalled out the final seven minutes to claim their first Division 2 Girls Lacrosse title with a 7-6 win at Nickerson Field.

The Clippers gained possession with just over seven minutes left and worked a long stall called “St. Louis” to salt away the clock.

“That was really weird,” Newburyport's Lily Donovan said of the scoreless second half. “I don't think we've done anything like that.

“Our coach that this has to be the best St. Louis that we've ever done and that they couldn't touch the ball because they're really good at possessing. We knew we had to run.”

The Trojans came into the came having scored nine or more goals in every game this season. Newburyport hadn't been held under eight goals since a 7-6 loss to Masconomet back on April 24.

Both goalies played confident in the second half and it showed. Bromfield's Julia Hoggins turned aside five shots in the second half, including three right at the top of the crease. Not to be outdone, Newburyport freshman Isabelle Sarra stopped three of own including two shots by Bromfield star Sophia Turchetta.

Turchetta, who came into the game with 164 goals, scored five for the Trojans in the first half but was shut down in the final 25 minutes. The Clippers’ defense marked her from the midline forward and added a help defender whenever the Trojans ran an offensive set.

“I think we kind of realized that she is their player, she is their team,” Donovan said. “Whenever she got the ball we attacked her.”

Donovan was one of three Clippers to score two goals. Seniors Julia Kipp and Ally Peffer were the other two.

Down 2-1 just over 13 minutes into the game, Kipp and Peffer scored 27 seconds apart to put the Clippers ahead 3-2. The teams would trade goals the rest of the first half with Peffer's second (with 20 seconds remaining before halftime) proving to be the eventual game-winner. Kelly Conway scored the first goal for the Clippers.

“They're incredible,” Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder said. “Julia, Ally, Lily they've sort of been the heart of our team all season. Someone who stepped up today, in my mind, was Kelly Conway. She had two interceptions, she was key defensively coming up with the ball. She was someone who made a difference for us today.”

For Kipp and Donovan – who will be moving on the play soccer at Union and Lesley, respectively, next year – yesterday marked the end of their lacrosse careers.

“I've had my best time ever here playing lacrosse,” Kipp said. “I'm sad I'm not going and playing on next year. It was unforgettable.”

BEGINNING OF AN ERA: For Bromfield, Saturday was a landmark occasion – it was the program's first state final appearance.

With Turchetta already a three-year varsity player with two more to go and a strong core of sophomores and freshman, the future looks bright for Dave Planchet's squad.

“We've got a lot of young kids on the field getting a lot of experience,” Planchet said. “It wouldn't surprise me if you see us here next year or the year after. We've got a good program coming up.”

Turchetta, already with 443 career points, will be asked to carry the burden for the Trojans, but Planchet said this is just the beginning.

“She's a special player; she's really blossomed this year,” Planchet said. “She was a really good goal scorer as an eighth grader and a freshman. Only as a sophomore, she's becoming a leader on the field, directing our offense. We're going to see big things from her to come in the future.”

Volleyball State Final: Newton South 3, Agawam 0

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
HUDSON, Mass. -- Newton South junior Jonathan Lee isn't the most intimidating playing when he stands next to the net, measuring in at 5-foot-8.

But when he takes off for an attack, his 32-inch vertical leap changes everything.

Lee had a team-high 13 kills and Newton South swept Agawam, 3-0, to win the 2014 MIAA Boys Volleyball State Finals and complete a perfect 25-0 season. It was a sweep for the Lions but all games were close - 25-20, 25-23 and 27-25.

"I'm still pinching myself," Newton South head coach Todd Elwell said. "It feels like a dream."

In the first game, Lee set the tone early -- and often -- for the Lions. Admittedly, he wasn't one of the ten tallest people on the court but that didn't stop him from making his mark. Agawam started the game with an service error - something that haunted them throughout - and the Lions were off. Lee rattled off four kills in five points, including three in a row capped with a block kill, to give Newton South an early 6-3 lead.

The lead was never was greater than five for South in the first game and Agawam even battled back to tie it at 16-16 and 17-17. But three errors from the Brownies, an ace from South setter Jared Chin and a pair of kills from Michael Horenstein gave the Lions a six-point lead at 23-17.

Agawam got two points back before Philip Levine-Caleb put South within one. A kill from Agawam's talented middle Wade Robidoux kept the Brownies alive for a moment, but on the next play, Lee slammed his game-high fifth kill to take game one.

"I'm ecstatic," Lee said, just moments after clinching the state title. "Everything feels surreal right now. I would not believe that we would have made it to the state finals but we just played every match one and at a time."

Game two was much tighter and turned into a tale of errors. The Brownies jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead but that didn't deter the Lions, who rallied to eventually tie the game at nine. After the tie at nine, the teams were even seven more times at 10, 11, 13, 17, 21, 22 and 23. It was Newton South that continued to go ahead after breaks but the Brownies were resilient, tying it every time -- or almost every time.

With the game knotted at 23, Agawam committed their ninth error of game two alone but touching the net. On game point, Newton South junior Tomer Keren's fast-paced serve was tough to handle for Agawam, as it popped back up in the air coming back to Newton South's side. But Lee timed it perfectly and swung through, making full contact for his third kill of game two to win the game, 25-23, and give the Lions a 2-0 lead.

"We had a couple of big matches coming in here in our sectional final and the semifinal," Elwell said, "They both were five setters, one we were up two and one we were down two, so if it was going to go more sets, we were emotionally ready."

For the majority of game three, Agawam -- with their backs against the wall -- were in control and a fourth game looked likely. The teams traded points for the first 20 points of the game before the Brownies were able to create some separation behind the hot hand of outside hitter Bailey Cecchi (game-high 18 kills).

Cecchi rattled off three straight kills midway through the game, a block kill from Jeff LeClerc and then an ace from Zach Goggin gave the Brownies their largest lead of the whole match at 18-12.

But down eight, the Lions didn't falter. They had already used both of their timeouts for game three so Elwell was forced to communicate with his players between points.

"I do a lot of communicating while the game was going on," Elwell said. "I told them that they were playing for momentum. I told them to play one point to the next and thankfully they picked themselves up. There was a hiccup in there and then we started passing a little better and made some better plays so they showed some perseverance."

An error from both sides made the score 19-13 in favor of Agawam, but that's when the Lions roared back. The next three points were all errors - two from the Brownies and one from Newton South. But a big ace from Lee titled the momentum pendulum in favor of Newton South. Back-to-back kills from Joe Esbenshade and Levine-Caleb, an Agawam hitting error and then a combo block kill from Lee and Levine-Caleb brought the Lions within one at 21-20.

Agawam's Ben Cassidy came up with a big block kill to put the lead back to two but another service error hurt the Brownies. Cecchi pounded home a kill for Agawam to take a 23-21 lead but yet again, it was a serving error that brought the Lions back within one. Newton South tied things up via Lee, on an assist from Chin (28 total assists) before the Lions were called for being in the net, to go down 24-23.

"When we all huddled up we were just talking about getting one point at a time and we can't let up," Lee said. "We came all this way and we wanted to make it worth something. We just get each other up and kept talking to each other."

On game point in the third game for Agawam, it was Lee yet again that used his crazy vertical jump to leap up and slam down a kill to tie the game at 24. Cecchi responded with a kill on an assist from Goggin to get another chance at game point, but the next three points will give the Brownies nightmares.

The Brownies were called for being in the net to tie the game at 25, committed a hitting error to give Newton South a 26-25 lead and then were called for being in the net yet again - their 15th error of game three alone - and the Lions took the game 27-25 and the match 3-0.

"We came in with the right frame of mind, but once we got here I thought we weren't mentally prepared," Agawam head coach Patricia Demers said. "We were physically prepared but there was a little bit of confusion for some of the guy's job descriptions on the court. They needed to talk a little bit more on the court. Unfortunately, when they got a good kill, they celebrate instead of getting back in the game. They have what it takes, just not tonight."

It was a storybook ending for the Lions, who weren't perfect in early season tournament play, but took care of business in the regular season and the playoffs. They only returned two starters from last season -- Chin and Esbenshade -- and battled back from a 2-0 deficit earlier in the playoffs.

"No," Elwell admitted when asked if he thought his team would go undefeated and win a state title. "I knew we would be pretty good but I knew we needed to get a little better each day and each week and then it would roll on its own. As long as we learned from our mistakes and kept our head up, we'd be fine. We didn't want to pull a Patriots and go undefeated in the season and then lose in the finals. I'm so proud of the guys, it was an amazing season."


Agawam finished the season 20-3 and were declined a chance at repeating as state champions after winning last year. It was a frustrating end for the Brownies, who ended up committing 32 errors total in three games.

"I said to them 'Number one, you have to stay out of the net. Number two, you have to serve the ball.' It's the two easiest things to do."

Demers admitted Cecchi's kills in the third game helped the Brownies stay afloat, but was quick to point out their block coverage for him was weak. She also credited this season class -- six of them -- for cementing their legacy in the 16-year history of the program.

"It's very strong," she said. "They're very well known, they're liked. They have some strengths and they've helped the younger guys coming up."

The loss was clearly painful for the players and Demers, but that didn't change how sharp the 82-year-old was post-game, answering the question about her future without any hesitation.

"Yeah, I plan on coming back next year," she said with a smile. "People keep saying that they hear I'm retiring and I ask them if they know something I don't know. I started this program and I'm not going to give up until I've coached 20 years."

When asked if she knew if she was the oldest coach in the entire state over any sport, she was quick to answer that, too.

"I don't know, I hope they are some more gutsy people out there."