Boston High School: Belmont

Comcast: Brookline, Franklin advance to boys final

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
10:22
PM ET
WELLESLEY, Mass. -– Miles Morris scored just one point for the Brookline boys basketball team on Sunday afternoon in the first round of the IAABO Board 27 Comcast Classic, but no one played a bigger role for the Warriors as they cruised past Newton North, 50-40, to advance to Monday’s title game against Franklin.

The senior guard spent the game causing fits for Newton North star Tommy Mobley, limiting the explosive scorer to just 14 points.

“That’s not an easy thing to do because Mobley’s a tough cover,” said Brookline point guard Elijah Rogers. “He can shoot it and he can get to the line well. When we have Miles playing like that on defense, that’s when we’re at our best because everyone feeds off his energy.”

Added Brookline coach Luke Day: “We haven’t really changed the game plan against Tommy in three games. We basically put Miles on him, and we have a few other guys we sub occasionally. We just told him to keep hounding him. We’ve changed a few things we do on screens and we made one adjustment from the last game but nothing major.

"The other night, Mobley hit two or three 3’s right in Miles’ face, and tonight he didn’t make those. It’s a really slim difference in the game.”

Throughout the night, Brookline’s defenders limited the open looks for the high-powered Tigers. A team that traditionally piles up points from beyond the 3-point line, North connected on just four 3’s in the loss.

“It starts with Miles, but it really was a complete team effort,” said Day. “It wasn’t our best offensive night, but the defense was great tonight.”

With Morris handling Mobley and the impressive defensive effort they faced all over the floor, the Tigers weren’t able to mount much of an attack on the offensive end. Jack Boucher (10 points) was the only other North player with more than four points in the loss.

“We played a little bit tentative,” said North coach Paul Connolly. “I wasn’t happy with our effort happy in terms of our energy and in terms of how we played today. We held them to 50 points, I can live with that. We can be a pretty good defensive team. Teams try to take away Tommy, and they did it, and that was pretty much the game.”

Brookline’s offense was bottled up most of the game, but Elijah Rogers finally got into rhythm in the fourth, scoring eight of his game-high 17 points to put the game away in the rubber match for these two Bay State rivals.

The Warriors also got seven points, eight rebounds and six blocks from big man Obi Obiora and eight points and five rebounds from forward Tyler Patterson.

Foul play slows pace as Franklin claws past Belmont: As the clock clicked under seven minutes remaining in the other boys game, Belmont center Adam Kleckner fouled out of the game, and Franklin took advantage. With Kleckner out, the Panthers went on an 11-0 run and earned a 61-50 win to advance to the championship game.

That wasn’t the first instance in which a foul changed how things were played on the court, as 48 fouls were called in all during the contest. Both teams reached the double bonus in both halves, and 53 free throws were taken before the final horn sounded.

“Both offensively and defensively, it can be kind of hard to get into a flow with that many fouls,” said Franklin coach Dean O’Connor. “I’m not complaining, both teams just had to adjust. The thing is, you have to be able to play to however the game is being officiated. It didn’t have any impact on winning and losing, it just affected how we both had to play though. There wasn’t a lot of flow to this game, but we committed some very dumb fouls away from the basket that contributed to it.”

One of the only players seemingly not affected by the slow pace of play was Panthers senior captain Chris Rodgers. He poured in a game-high 21 points to go with six rebounds and four steals.

“He’s our best player and that’s kind of what he does,” said O’Connor. He’s great in the open floor and very tough to guard. He’s long for his height, so on the boards and getting to the rim, he can elevate over people.”

The Panthers (15-5) also got 11 points and eight rebounds from Pat O’Reilly and 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks from Marcus Giese in the win.

Matt Kerans paced the Marauders with 16 points and five rebounds, Kleckner finished with 11 points and Cole Bartels chipped in with nine points for Belmont, which takes on Newton North in the consolation game to kick off action on Monday.

Recap: Lexington 75, No. 24 Belmont 68

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
10:14
PM ET
LEXINGTON, Mass. – In their first meeting this season, the Belmont boys' basketball team raced out to an early lead, then held off a furious Lexington comeback attempt.

On Tuesday night, the Minutemen repaid the favor, scoring the first 15 points of the game en route to a 75-68 win over the visiting Marauders.

“The last time we played them, we lost by six,” said senior Hugh O’Neil. “It was close, and it had been back and forth, so we knew it was important to get out early on them because they did it to us the first time. At practice yesterday, we talked about really taking it to them and proving to them that we are who are, and not who we were.”

Who they were the last time the teams battled was a scuffling 4-8 squad trying to find their basketball identity. Rattling off seven straight wins, and eight in nine games, it’s become very clear who the Minutemen are now.

“Lexington played like a team who was playing for something beyond just tonight,” said Belmont coach Adam Pritchard. “We played like a team whose season ended tonight. That’s the way teams play when they don’t have a postseason to go to. They came to play and we didn’t.”

It was O’Neil who kicked off the early scoring barrage, accounting for the 13 points of the game himself. He finished the first quarter with 19 on the way to a 35 point showing in the win for the Minutemen (12-9).

“He has great length and he has a nice high release,” said Lexington coach Reggie Hobbs. “At 6-6, he can be a little bit of a mismatch problem and he was able to exploit that tonight. He took a lot of good shots. He’s done that in stretches for us before, scoring in bunches. He had 18 points in the second half of a win over Woburn earlier this year, so it’s not a surprise when he does something like that.”

Lexington finished the first quarter with a 17-point lead, built on that in the second quarter and led by as much as 25 midway through the third.

Belmont (14-4), the Middlesex League champ, charged back into things late in the third and early in the fourth – mostly behind the scoring ability of Adam Kleckner, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. With just under three minutes to go, the Marauders slashed the lead to just five points.

“We kept our composure,” said Hobbs. “They’re obviously a great team, they won our league. We knew they were going to make a run – they have too many weapons not to. For a young group, I thought it was good for us to be in that situation and not give in.”

O’Neil, who also had 11 boards in the win, took matters into his own hands to slow the comeback, netting eight points in the fourth quarter. With the lead down to five, he connected on his third 3-pointer of the night to push the lead back to eight. A defensive stop and an outlet pass to David Barner quickly made it a 10-point lead, effectively ending any comeback hopes for Belmont.

“Hugh did everything for us tonight,” said Hobbs. “We ask him to do a lot of different things – defend, handle the ball a bit against pressure, make good decisions. That’s what you want from your senior captain.”

Energy Boost: With just over 3:30 remaining in the third quarter and Lexington enjoying a 23 point lead, an errant in-bounds pass from the baseline by the Marauders bounced back behind half court and headed for the other end of the floor.

As the nearest Belmont player closed in on the ball, Barner went racing up the floor toward the ball. He dove across the floor, screeching as he caught up to the basketball. In one motion he got his hand on the ball, redirected it off the Belmont player’s leg and out of bounds, giving Lexington the ball under their hoop.

“He never stops,” said O’Neil. “It’s incredible. He’s always up and down the floor. He thrives the most in transition, but even on defense he’s always flying up the court.”

The minutemen added two points on the in-bounds play to push the lead to 25.

“High energy. He really has high energy,” said Hobbs. “We talk about trying to win the quarter. I yell ‘next’ a lot to get them to play the next play and when you make a mistake, can you transition and make the next play. I yelled it in the third and fourth quarter a lot tonight, and that effort right there was a good job of it. He plays so hard and we feed off of his effort and his emotion.”

Barner kept that motor running the whole game, pouring in 23 points to go with eight steals, six assists, four rebounds and two blocks.

The junior guard teamed with sophomore Glenn Smith to form an impressive backcourt on both ends of the floor. Especially effective on the defensive end, the duo combined on 14 steals in the win.

“We talked a lot about ball pressure and we predicate our defense on what my assistant calls unrelenting ball pressure,” said Hobbs. “What we work on with them is not gambling, because they’re good enough to play defense without doing so. It’s a tremendous advantage for us to have.”

IAABO Board 27 tourney field set

February, 9, 2014
Feb 9
11:31
PM ET
The 24th annual IAABO Board 27Arbella /Comcast Basketball Classic will be played Feb. 16-17 at Babson College in Wellesley.

Here's a look at this year's competition:

Sunday, Feb. 16

1:30 p.m. – Belmont HS vs. Franklin HS boys

3:00 p.m. – Newton North HS vs. Brookline HS boys

4:30 p.m. – Archbishop Williams HS vs. Medfield HS girls

6:00 p.m. – Braintree HS vs. Westford Academy girls

Monday, Feb. 17

1:30 p.m. –Boys’ Consolation

3:00 p.m. – Boys Championship

4:30 p.m. – Girls Consolation

6:00 p.m. – Girls championship

A player from each team will receive a scholarship. Since starting the tournament in 1990, IAABO Board 27 has awarded over $80,000 in scholarships and Gifts to the many different high schools throughout Eastern Massachusetts.

Needham on rise in boys' soccer Top 20

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
7:10
PM ET
New Bedford holds on to the top spot in the boys' soccer Top 20 again this week after a draw against South Coast rival Dartmouth and a tough road win at Agawam.

Right behind the Whalers in second is Needham. Everyone keeps saying that the defending state champs are not as good as last year, but nobody has been able to beat the Rockets yet this season. Head coach Don Brock has his team heading towards another possible Bay State Conference title.

North Andover jumped up a couple of spots after extending its perfect start to 13-0. But the big move was former No. 1 Ludlow dropping from third to ninth after a loss to Chicopee and another draw with rival Amherst. The Lions have lost two and drawn two over the last two weeks.

Nauset continues to move up after clinching its third consecutive Atlantic Coast League title. The Warriors have improved throughout the season and are living up to the preseason hype.

A pair of unbeatens make their way into the Last 10 Out, as Martha's Vineyard improved to 12-0-2 and Norton sits at 9-0-4.At 9-1-3, Belmont also moved back into the Last 10 Out.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

The Road Ahead: Keep an eye on several huge games this week, including a Catholic Conference (and Top 10) showdown between St. John's Prep and BC High on Wednesday as well as a huge Bay State Conference clash between Needham and Framingham on Thursday. Prep also has another Top 10 matchup next Monday against Silver Lake.

Girls' soccer: Medfield 5, Belmont 1

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
10:57
PM ET
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- Two years ago, Mike La Francesca had a young nucleus of players doing things on the soccer field that young teams usually don’t do.

That group won the first girls Div. 2 state championship in Medfield school history, and two years later — two years older, wiser and better — the Warriors find themselves right back in position with another potential title run with several key players on their way out the door towards graduation.

Katelyn Murray scored a hat-trick and the defense, led by Colleen Beggan, Ali Gold and goalie Mimi Borkan, dominated Belmont, 5-1, in the Div. 2 state semifinals at Braintree High last night. The Warriors will play Belchertown in the state finals on Saturday (3 p.m.) at Worcester State.

“They’ve just matured,” La Francesca said of his team. “The heart that this group has I haven’t seen in another team. The skills that they bring to this program are unmatched. We have 14 seniors and seven of them start. That says it all right there. This team is determined and they have the desire. I feel that they work so hard to achieve their goals that I’m so proud of them.”

Murray saw several key seniors leave that championship team from two years ago, but the remaining core of players that helped form the rest of that team and this current roster wanted to prove that they could make it back to the title game for a chance at two state championships in three years.

The Warriors will get that chance.

“We were very hungry and we have something to prove,” said Murray. “We lost a lot of seniors that year, but we are still determined to prove to everyone that we are still a good team.”

The Warriors scored early and often to pull out to a 2-0 lead before the midway point of the first half. Cami McCurdy scored a little more than nine minutes into the game, and Murray tipped in a Krista Pinciaro pass from the left corner.

Belmont cut into a 3-0 second half deficit with a goal from Charlotte Alexander, but Murray pounced all over the opportunity on the next possession for the Warriors and slammed home a responding goal.

“We are a very possessive team,” Murray said. “All the offense, defense, midfield and forwards like to do combinations with one another. Tonight we just found each other perfectly.”

Borkan came up with the save of the day when she dove to her right and slapped away a penalty kick off the foot of Julia Russo. Murray ended things with her final tally late in the second half.

Recap: Kicks for Cancer victory on and off the pitch

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
5:44
PM ET
The cliché in sports is that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.

There are always exceptions, however.

From Newton North freshman Conor Larkin scoring the lone goal to beat rivals Brookline with Pop Pop on the back of his jersey to the entire Wakefield team wearing shirts that read Angelo in honor of their coach’s father, the meaning of the 2012 Lois Wells Kicks for Cancer soccer tournament extended far beyond the Concord-Carlisle High School community that hosted it.

The tournament, now in its sixth season, has expanded from its original idea of a one-game fundraiser in honor of Concord-Carlisle assistant coach Steve Wells’ mother Lois, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 2007. This year 12 teams took part showcasing both the depth of soccer talent in the area as well as the generosity of the communities in which they compete.

Wells, speaking hours before the Patriots took the field against Lincoln-Sudbury, was amazed at the amount of support the tournament has received, “For my family and me, it just means so much and, I think, for the Concord-Carlisle community it’s really something that everyone looks forwards to every year and I think now that we’ve added other local towns it’s something that they get excited for too.”

One of the interesting features of the tournament is that players do not wear their normal team jerseys, but rather don light blue or pink T-shirts with the names of people in their lives that have been affected by cancer. From family members, to friends, and (at least in the case of one player) Bob Marley, the shirts reinforce the message that the games are about more than just wins and losses.

The original idea for the tournament was developed by Concord coach Roy Pavlik and he spoke of the attitude that the players take towards the tournament, “For some of the kids, it’s the highlight of their year. The crowds are big, but I think they get the idea that they have an opportunity to do something special here. It’s more than just about a soccer game.”

While the tournament is very personal to the Concord-Carlisle team, other coaches and teams have also become very connected to the event. Wakefield coach Matt Angelo was emotional following his team’s 2-0 win over Stoneham. He had no idea that the team had decided to wear shirts honoring his father Mike, who had been diagnosed with double myeloma in 2006.

“My guys decided to honor him as a team, they all put Angelo on their backs,” explained Angelo. “It’s special. There is a different feeling when you come here. It makes you think about the greater meaning.”

These thoughts were echoed by Newton North coach Roy Dow as he deflected a question about his team’s victory over Brookline, “Today the main thing we talked about was what we’re here for, it’s not to beat Brookline, and it’s to raise money for cancer (research). People die from cancer and what that says to me is life is short and there’s no reason not to leave everything out on the field.”

Following each game, teams gathered to take photos with their shorts and each time (and without prodding from parents or coaches) the player insisted that photos be taken of the names that each had chosen to play for. Wells noted this feeling that surrounds the tournament, “It’s something that has gone way above soccer and that’s very special to see, as a coach, to be able to do something bigger than the game itself.”

Game Notes:
" Belmont and Lexington played to a scoreless draw in one of the 1:00 games. Belmont’s sophomore goalie Robbie Montanaro made seven saves for his third shutout of the season. Lexington goalie, Joey McWeeney, made four saves for his second shutout.

" Wakefield beat Stoneham 2-0 in the other 1 p.m. game. M.J. Urbano scored the opener on an assist from Josh LaPlace. LaPlace would score the clincher and Alan Conlon kept Stoneham out for his fourth shutout of the season. Wakefield is now 3-3-3 on the season.

" Newton North edged out its rivals from Brookline 1-0 for its 2nd win of the season. Freshman Conor Larkin scored his 2nd goal of the season, and second game-winner, in the 19th minute. Andrew Leaper held on for a clean sheet.

" Reading improved to 5-3-1 with a 1-0 win over Woburn. Dane Sullivan scored the game’s lone goal off an assist from Jackson Conroy. Lee Jacobs was in net for the Rockets.

" In one of the nightcaps, No. 3 ranked Acton-Boxborough finished with a scoreless draw against Wayland.

" The other late game was a 3-0 victory by No. 2 Concord-Carlisle over Lincoln-Sudbury. The hosts took the lead in the 9th minute on a goal by senior captain Stowe Simonton. In the 27th minute sophomore Mitchell Palmer tack on the second before junior midfielder Leo Fondriest finished the scoring 9 minutes after halftime. Senior Cray Novick earned the shutout in goal (his sixth shutout of season).

MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll: Week 3

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
5:47
PM ET
It was a relatively quiet week in our latest MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week.

While there was some internal jockeying for position, no teams dropped out or moved into this week's poll.

However, there are plenty of big games coming up with Saturday's Kicks for Cancer tournament being played at Concord-Carlisle. Here's a breakdown of the matches to watch along with schedule:

Games to Watch:
Newton North vs. Brookline - These's two teams met in the first round of the MIAA Tournament last season, and it was a heated affair to say the least. Records go out the window in this Bay State Conference derby.

Concord-Carlisle vs. Lincoln-Sudbury - The reigning conference Champs in the DCL Small and Large will meet up at the evening time kickoff. The Patriots won the first matchup on Sept, 13, but the Warriors will be gunning to hand C-C its first loss of 2012.

Game Schedule
Lexington vs. Belmont – 1:00 pm on Turf 1

Stoneham vs. Wakefield – 1:00 pm on Turf 2

Brookline vs. Newton North – 3:30 pm on Turf 1

Reading vs. Woburn – 3:30 pm on Turf 2

Concord-Carlisle vs. Lincoln-Sudbury – 6:00 pm on Turf 1

Acton–Boxborough vs. Wayland – 6:00 pm on Turf 2

Bay State Games: July 12 recap

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
12:18
AM ET
Bay State Games communications coordinator Craig Kaufman sends along results from today's plethora of action:



WOBURN, Mass. -– A busy Thursday at the Bay State Games saw the start of the soccer, field hockey, basketball, ice hockey and boys' lacrosse competitions, as well as the continuation of the 2012 baseball tournament and the conclusion of the girl’s lacrosse event. Friday will see all of these scholastic results continue and baseball will draw to a close with all the medal positions still hanging in the balance. Friday night will also see the beginning of the 2012 Bay State Games swim competition at Harvard University.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Bronze Medal Game: Southeast 14, Metro 6
Gold Medal Game: Northeast 13, West 11

BASEBALL

Northeast 5, Metro 5
Metro almost pulled an upset by taking a 5-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning but had to settle for a tie as Northeast came back to tie the game and then stranded the winning run on base in the bottom of the inning.

Austin Johnson (Brookline) drew a bases loaded walk and Nick Bruno (Lynnfield) followed with an RBI single before Jonathan Santana Arias (Somerville) knocked in two more runs as Metro plated four runs in the sixth. Kyle Hood (Arlington) had scored an unearned run for Metro in the second.

Northeast scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings and then took advantage of three walks and two hit batsmen in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 5. Justin Freeman (N. Chelmsford) drove in a run for Northeast, as did Colby Morris (Newburyport), who drew a walk with the bases full.

Central 4, Southeast 1
Southeast scored in the top of the first when Cameron Hanley (Walpole) doubled home Sean Scales (Weymouth), but Central, led by Jake Ryan (Whitinsville), who went 2-2 with a run scored and an RBI double, had taken a 4-1 lead by the bottom of the fifth. Zack Tower (Auburn) also drove in a run for Central, who got good pitching from their rotation, including starter Christian Doskocil (Sterling), who went three inning s and struck out two.

West 3, Coastal 0
Austin Salnitis (Lenox) went five innings, allowing four hits and striking out seven for West, who ran their record t o3-1. West got on the board in the fourth when Kenny Potts (Southwick) drew a walk and scored on a double by Phillip Jasak (Palmer). They added another run in each of the next innings with an RBI single by Andrew Noonan (Springfield) and an RBI double by Jake LaBranche (W. Springfield).

Coastal was led at the plate by Andrew Mancini (N. Easton), who went 2-2 with two singles.


BOYS SOCCER

Metro 1, Southeast 1
Metro scored first in the 20th minute when Thayrone Miranda (Somerville) connected on an assist from Walter Guzman (Chelsea), but the Southeast team equalized in the 67th minute on a connection from Nick Savage (Milton) to Marquardt.

Coastal 2, Central 2
Coastal scored first through Joshua Medeiros (New Bedford) in the 34th minute, but Central scored twice to take a 2-1 lead with Riley Steele (Sutton) and Lukas Ritzer (Sutton) connecting. Coastal salvaged a draw with a 58th minute goal by Ty Catunto (New Bedford).

West 3, Northeast 0
West got three second half goals from Mark Richards (Springfield), David Serafino (Ludlow) and Nicholas Martinelli (East Longmeadow).


GIRLS SOCCER

Northeast 3, Metro 0
North got three goals in the first half, their first just three minutes into the game. Megan Cullen (Amesbury) scored the first two goals for Northeast and Alexa Cicolini (Methuen) finished the job in the 31st minute.

Southeast/Coastal 1, Central 0
Lauren Farrell (Rockland) scored the only goal in the 48th minute as Southeast/Coastal edged Central.

West 8, Metro 0
Jennifer Delasco (Lenox) and Mary Edwards (E. Longmeadow) each scored twice, with Stefano adding an assist. Jordan Bates (Chicopee) and Kiley Baran (Granby) added two assists apiece as West rolled to their first win of the tournament.

Northeast 4, Southeast/Coastal 1
Megan Cullen (Amesbury) scored four straight goals for Northeast to give them the victory after Jessica Murphy (Norwood) had given Southeast/Coastal a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. Cullen started her scoring spree just a minute later.

West 4, Central 0
West endured an onslaught of Central possession early before scoring four times in the second half. Sharlotte Pernice (W. Springfield) scored twice, and Christina Ferriter (Springfield) and Brianna Voight (Springfield) also tallied for West.


FIELD HOCKEY

Metro/Northeast 3, Southeast 2
Central 2, Coastal 1


BOYS LACROSSE

Southeast 16, Northeast 4
Steve Righini (Weymouth) scored four times for Southeast, while Conor Martin (Plainville), Sean Williams (Scituate), and Jack Vail (Franklin) each tallied twice, with Martin adding two assists. Six other players tallied single goals, including Nicholas D’Innocenzo (Medway), who also added an assist. Tyler Boardo (Weymouth) and Daniel Sprague (Weymouth) combined for nine saves in goal.

Northeast got two goals from Derek Lawton (Bishop Guertin) and a goal apiece from Devlin Crane (Arlington) and John Curcuru (Gloucester). Evan Connolly (Peabody) made 13 stops in net and Joshua Nelson (Medford) spelled him for five saves.

Central 10, Metro 9
Joshua Daigle (Marlborough) and Alex Sabel (Algonquin) each scored twice and added an assist, while Thomas Whiting (Hudson) notched two goals as well. Matthew McIntire (Milford) made ten stops in the winning effort.

Jack Trottier (Tyngsborough), Brian Walsh (Lowell) and Joey Pescatore (Waltham) each scored twice for Metro and Ben Foley (Tyngsborough) added a goal and two assists in a losing effort. Scott Powell (Swampscott) made 9 stops in the Metro net.


BOYS ICE HOCKEY

Northeast 8, Southeast 7
Metro 6, West 1
Central 12, Coastal 2
Southeast 8, Metro 2


GIRLS ICE HOCKEY

Central/West 9, Metro 1
Southeast/Coastal 4, Northeast 2


BOYS 11-12 GRADE BASKETBALL

Central 82, Metro 47
Central was led by Tyler Delorey (Worcester), who scored 22 points, including four three-pointers. Matt Mobley (Worcester) also chipped in 18 points, including two buckets from downtown.

Coastal 75, West 59
Coastal got 25 points from Chris Green (Taunton), including four three-pointers, while Paul Maurice (Taunton) added 22 points.

Central 89, Coastal 80
Central got 26 points from Delorey, who nailed three shots from downtown and also got 17 points from Jacek Louisville (Worcester). Tommy Keyes (Somerset) led the way for Coastal with 19 points.

Northeast 79, West 78
Northeast’s Devin Thompson (Winthrop) led all scorers with 22 points and two three’s in the fourth quarter. Anthony Smith (Springfield) was the top scorer on West with 17 points.


BOYS 9-10 GRADE BASKETBALL

Central 68 Metro 64
Matt Grose led Central with 19 points and Bobby Flanagan put up 15. The Metro squad was led by Keith Burns (Belmont) with 22 points while Christian Lejuene (Waltham) added 14.

West 73 Coastal 41
The West squad was led by Keith Natale (Hatfield), who had 22 points and Conner Eckstrom (Greenfield) pitched in 15. The Coastal region had Tom Galanek (Plymouth) and Kent Mertz (Dennisport) score 8 points each.

Northeast 72 Coastal 60
Anthony Gilardi (Malden) led the Northeast squad with 24 points while Cody Broges (Dartmouth) picked up the slack with 16. Liam Gerrity (Barnstable) was the leading scorer in the game with 26 points and Pat Danner (Plymouth) had 10 points for Coastal.

West 67 Metro 40
West’s Keith Natale (Hatfield) had 20 while Conner Eckstrom (Greenfield) pitched in 11. The Metro squad had Jaewoo Chung (Arlington) score 11 points.


GIRLS BASKETBALL

Northeast 73 Southeast 71
Northeast lead scorer Amanda Williams (North Andover) scored 13 points. Sarah Hood (Burlington) added 12 points to the scoreboard. Katie Lowerre (Sharon) led the way for Southeast with 18 points

Metro 72 Central 24
Melissa Baptista (Somerville) led the Metro region with 15 points. Kaila Duarte (Boston) score 13 points throughout the game which included making both of her free throws in the 4th quarter. Central was led by Kristen Smith (Littleton) chipping in 7 points.

West 66 Coastal 55
Keri Paton (Russell) contributed 17 points to West which included 13 points in the 4th quarter. Tea Spellacy (Belchertown) contributed 11 points to the scoreboard as well. Norma Waggett (Saugus) led Coastal with 25 points.

Southeast 68 Central 39
Lowerre led Southeast to victory against Central contributing 21 points. Montana Burke (Bromfield) and Abrielle Peltier (Leicaster) both chipped in 8 points for Central.

Metro 66 West 32
Metro got 14 points by Maggie Mulligan (Brighton) leading the team. Spellacy scored 11 points for West and Paton added 8 more to the scoreboard.

Northeast 62 Coastal 36
Hood tallied 14 points in Northeast’s last game against Coastal. Williams and Courtney Walsh (Windham) added to the scoreboard. Coastal’s Rachel Camara (Fall River) contributed 10 points and Brianna Camara (Fall River) chipped in 7.


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MIAA football tourney plan clears another hurdle

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
7:40
PM ET
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- The possibility of a statewide football championship in Massachusetts took another leap forward this morning.

In what was the second consecutive day of meetings for the MIAA Football Committee and the MIAA Tournament Management Committee on a proposed statewide tournament, voters once again favored the proposition with a 10-4 vote at the MIIA headquarters in Franklin. Combined with a 15-2 sanction by the football committee yesterday, the plan -- which cuts 19 regional winners down to six divisional state champs -- will move to the the board of directors for review in June.

“Every kid or coach who puts the work in wants the chance to get in and you have that opportunity by having a successful pre-qualification period,” said Swampscott football coach Steve Dembowski. “Obviously today's approval plus the endorsing of the finance committee are a big plus. (The board of directors) can decide that they don't like it or they can decide they do like it and want to implement it.”

Concerns were aired about the proposal during the meeting, but no official changes were made . Tantasqua principal Michael Lucas, Dracut athletic director Tim Woods, Malden principal Dana Brown, and Belmont athletic director James Davis all voted against the plan.

Opposition noted problems with the value of the Thanksgiving rivalry, the system assigning divisions and schedules, revenue sharing, the shortening of in-conference games, and the philosophical change of playing regular season matchups during the postseason.

“[Leagues] do not like that they will not know their last three opponents of the year and are sketchy about traveling to East Oshkosh to play teams they have never played before,” said Woods. “Had the football committee spent more time with individual athletic directors they may have overcome some of those fears. If you are going to have a league championship you are going to do it without playing all the teams in your league.”

The intended method would maintain Thanksgiving rivalries, while allowing leagues to schedule their first seven games. A scheduling committee would fill the remaining games for non-qualifying teams based of competitiveness.

Each squad nets revenue from five-and-a-half games, an equal average to the current 11 game regular season. Playoffs run from weeks eight to 13, excluding 11 and 12, with the top two teams in each division facing off at Gillette Stadium in the final week.

The same number of teams will play in the arena as did the previous season.

“If a team knows they are going to be playing in Gillette Stadium the week after, then why are they going to risk their varsity players on the field,” Woods said. “It becomes scrimmage.”

“We have been in the [playoffs] ten times and, even when we played the Super Bowl, it was not the same as the Thanksgiving game against Leominster.” argued Ray Cosenza, Fitchburg athletic director and former football coach.

Similar to other state tournaments, regions will be split into North, South, Central and West, with the later two not competing in Divisions 1 or 3. Leagues larger than five teams will be granted an additional playoff spot, along with available wild cards for all schools based off a regional power ranking system.

“By dissolving Division Three you are going to have schools half the size of other schools playing each other in the playoffs,” Brown said. “They split the third division by moving teams up or down a division and bumped down schools in the first division. Now, you have Division Three teams playing top division schools.”

The four-year plan, which would initiate next season, can be reviewed in two years with the availability of change.

“Two things we are going to keep an eye on are the scheduling committee to make sure they are serving their division and the power rating,” said retiring MIAA deputy director Bill Gaine. “We have already had it tested in the west for a dozen years, but not in the east. We think it is going to work, but we have to make sure it does.”

Roundtable: Darcey vs. Stamatov, Best Lefties

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
11:41
AM ET
We're back with another installment of "Roundtable", our weekly takes on the hot topics of the spring season. This week, we discuss who is the best boys' lacrosse goalie in the state; which lefthanded pitchers will make the most noise; the state's best slap hitter; and who had the best individual performance of the season's first two weeks.

Joining us this week are correspondent Bruce Lerch, New England Prep Stars founder and editor Ryan Kilian, MassLive.com producer Ben Larsen, and Brockton Enterprise staff writer John Botelho. Without further ado:

1. BETTER GOALIE –- WELLESLEY’S CONNOR DARCEY OR FOXBOROUGH’S GREG STAMATOV?

ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Scott Barboza: That's a tough one. In many regards, they're similar players in that they're both not afraid to step up into the play when its warranted. They're not going to just clear and retreat when the opportunity presents itself. Stamatov had one clearing pass to the midfield during the third quarter against Barnstable that was a thing of beauty. And, of course, we all know that Darcey is capable of scoring when he carries the ball past midfield. This all makes no mention of their ability to stop the ball either. Either way you dice it, they're among the very best in a deep field of MIAA goaltenders along with Duxbury's Henry Buonagurio, Concord-Carlisle's Doug Gouchoe and Billerica's D.J. Smith.

Ryan Kilian, New England Prep Stars: Connor Darcey is the best goalie I have seen in New England Public High School lacrosse over the past two years. Darcey is the real deal. He possesses confidence, quickness, and exceptional hand-eye coordination.

The goalie position in Massachusetts in the Class of 2012 is as strong as it has been in many years. Doug Gouchoe of Concord-Carlisle (Air Force), Greg Stamatov of Foxborogh (Villanova), Jared Fong of Weston (Gettysburg), and Miles McCarthy of Catholic Memorial (Williams) are all exceptional athletes with bright futures at the next level and all have a unique set of skills that they bring to the table.

Darcey is also a born leader and that is an essential trait that all great goalies, like the above mentioned, share.

Bruce Lerch, correspondent: Both players have excelled for their respective teams and made a big splash over the summer participating in the Warrior 40 at Harvard Stadium. Both have also drawn the attention of Division colleges, as Darcey is committed to play for Penn State while Stamatov will take his talents to Villanova. Darcey was a key factor in Wellesey's 16-0 regular season a year ago, while Stamatov helped propel Foxborough to its best season ever by reaching the Division 2 semifinals. Darcey was rated eighth in ESPN High School's national goalie rankings back in February, but even if you have the second pick in this draft, you won't come away disappointed as Stamatov was not too far behind at No. 14.

2. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE SO FAR?

ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall: I think any time you throw a perfect game at any level, you should be highly commended as such. So here’s my kudos to Lynn English’s Ben Bowden, who had a clean sheet for the Bulldogs in their 5-0 win over Marblehead. Bowden struck out 14 in the full seven innings, and got some assistance from the infield behind him late to seal the deal. He is an imposing player to watch at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, equipped with a high-80’s fastball, so it’s hardly the last time we’ll hear from him.

That said, I’m always impressed when a pitcher goes into the triple-digits in pitch count this early in the season – and even moreso when it’s as efficient as Milford’s Jarrod Casey was on April 3. In the Scarlet Hawks’ season-opening 3-1 win over Westborough, the reigning Mid-Wach A MVP and returning ESPNBoston All-Stater threw 125 pitches and struck out 15 batters; he also belted an inside-the-park, two-run homer to give them all the insurance they needed.

John Botelho, Brockton Enterprise: The Bridgewater-Raynham softball team has shown plenty of early fireworks this season. Senior Audrey Dolloff twirled a four-hitter and struck on eight on opening, all while going 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBI for the Trojans. Freshman Emily Kurkul has homered in all three games so far. Most recently, Dolloff tossed a no-hitter against Durfee, and her performance might not have even been the best one on the field that day for B-R. Sophomore Madison Shaw went 4-for-4 with two homers, a double and seven RBI as the Trojans cruised.

Ryan Kilian: The best individual performance that I have seen on the lacrosse field so far was Westford Academy attack Jay Drapeau scoring six goals and dishing out one assist in a 12-11 opening day win over Billerica. The sophomore scored the game winner in the fourth quarter and was exceptional dodging from X all afternoon. Drapeau also did this against a very formidable defense led by Tommy McLaughlin (UMass) and one of the state’s best goalies in DJ Smith (UMass).

Ben Larsen, MassLive.com: It would be hard to top this one. Noah Parker, a terrific talent hidden at St. Mary’s of Westfield was perfect in a six-inning game against Pioneer Valley Christian. He threw only 57 pitches, striking out 14. At the plate, he narrowly missed hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.

Bruce Lerch: On the lacrosse fields, several players have produced nine-goal games in the early going. Kobie Sullivan had seven, nine and eight goals in Fairhaven's first three games. On the girls side, Wayland's Amy Cunningham, Amy also struck for nine against Bedford. But my top effort goes to Masconomet's Jake Gillespie, who potted nine in the Chieftans' second game of the year against a BC High defense that includes a pair of Division 1 recruits.

3. A LEFTHANDED STARTER CAN BE INVALUABLE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL. WHICH LEFTIES WILL YOU BE WATCHING THE MOST?

Brendan Hall: The Class of 2012 is littered with Division 1-bound lefties, between Oliver Ames' Ryan O'Shea (Central Michigan), East Longmeadow's Steve Moyers (Rhode Island), Pentucket's Alex Ministeri (Coastal Carolina), Auburn's Connor Fuller (Fordham), Xaverian's Tim Duggan (Fairfield) and Acton-Boxborough's Ryan McDonald (Bryant). One we might be adding to that list in a year's time is Wellesley senior Tim Superko.

Superko is already off to a great start in 2012, with wins in his first two starts in dominant fashion -- 23 strikeouts in 12 innings, an ERA of 0.75, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly four, and a strike percentage of 67. I'm obviously working with a stat system pretty sophisticated for the high school level, but I can assure you Superko could care less. He's a competitor, unafraid to challenge hitters in the middle of the order, but also very coachable. Raiders coach Rob Kane raves about Superko's curveball, and he sets it up well with his heat. From the plate, he's not that bad either; so far he's hitting .500/.562/.786 with five RBI, two triples, seven runs and three stolen bases.

Superko is heading to Philips Andover for a post-graduate year next season. I expect him to have a Division 1 scholarship offer in his lap by this summer's end.

I'd also keep an eye on the aforementioned Ben Bowden from Lynn English. He's got an ideal power pitcher's frame, and if the reports about him topping out at 89 miles per hour in his perfect game are true, then he has a chance to rise quickly on the radar. But to be a reliable starter at this level, you need a quality changeup, and Bowden's is pretty nice.

Boston Latin sophomore Pat Naughton is certainly another one to look out for over the next two years. He fanned 17 Wayland batters in an outing last year as a freshman, and is already off to a good start this year with 14 K's in the Wolfpack's season-opening win over Latin Academy. Also keep an eye on Reading junior Scott Tully, who committed to Notre Dame last February, as well as Malden Catholic junior Joe Velozo.

John Botelho: One of the best lefties in the state hasn't even thrown a pitch yet. Oliver Ames' Ryan O'Shea, a 6-foot-3 southpaw already signed on to play at Central Michigan next year, will take to the mound for the first time next week. Hall of Fame coach Leo Duggan aired on the side of caution as O'Shea was battling shoulder soreness. He has a chance to come back and be the best pitcher on an O-A team that has still gone 3-0 without him in the lineup.

Brockton's Joe Sever has a live arm and features impressive off-speed stuff. The ace of the Boxers' staff this year, he has a chance to catch a lot of eyes with the schedules Bill Maloney's squad plays.

Bridgewater-Raynham features a pair of hard-throwing lefties who should cause problems for hitters throughout the regular season. Senior captains Pat Chalmers and Shane Holmes have more varsity experience than many of the guys they'll square off against this year - Chalmers was pitching on varsity at B-R as a sophomore and Holmes spent his freshman and sophomore years on the varsity squad at East Bridgewater before transferring to B-R as a junior. Chalmers took a no decision in his first start, but struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings. Holmes picked up the first win for the Trojans, a complete-game two-hit 12-strikeout performance against Milton.

Ben Larsen: Undoubtedly, Steve Moyers is the guy to follow. He has been unbelievable in his first three years as the ace of the East Longmeadow rotation and he’s hoping to reach the 30-win plateau for his career, which is no small feat in the short Massachusetts season. That said, Michael Walkowicz of Amherst has been the Cy Young in the early going. In two starts, he has a 17-strikeout, one-hitter and 12 Ks in a loss to Northampton.

Bruce Lerch: I find myself greatly intrigued by the seemingly rubber of Franklin southpaw Tyler Buck. As a junior, Buck tossed multiple gems during the Panthers run to the Div. 1 state championship game, including a 166-pitch effort to upset BC High in last year's D1 South semifinals. After starring for Franklin's Legion team over the summer, I'm interested to see how far the Panthers ace can take them once again.

4. WHAT WILL BE THE MOST COMPETITIVE LEAGUE IN GIRLS' LACROSSE THIS YEAR?

Brendan Hall: I'm going with the Dual County League. Four members of the 10-team league currently sit in our MIAA Top 25 poll, including No. 1 Lincoln-Sudbury. And we're not even including Acton-Boxborough, which began the season as our preseason No. 10 before dropping to 0-5. Talk about a misnomer -- the Colonials' five losses are to No. 1 L-S, No. 5 Needham, No. 6 Notre Dame (Hingham), No. 17 King Philip, and No. 23 Walpole. Also throw in unranked Wayland, which has one of the state's best goalies in Quinnipiac-bound senior Rachel Massicotte.

Let's now throw in the DCL's other three currently-ranked teams -- Concord-Carlisle, Weston and Westford -- and we're talking six teams that can be troublesome. I expect L-S to rise above it all, but the rest of the way down may or may not be a crap shoot.

Bruce Lerch: While most league's across the state in girls lacrosse are fairly top-heavy, I would say that top to bottom, the Middlesex League's large division may have the largest number of competitive teams as all five made the playoffs in 2011. Winchester is annually among the state's top programs and is among the favorites to challenge for the Div. 2 crown once again. Reading went 15-5 before running into state finalist Lincoln-Sudbury. Lexington is a perennial tourney team who, aside from last season, routinely rolls up 15-plus wins a year. Belmont also won 15 games in 2011, and Woburn qualified for the postseason as well. As of the time I am writing this, the five teams hold a combined record of 8-0-1 through the first two weeks of the season.

Ben Larsen: The Valley Wheel in Western Mass. is off to a strong start with no team worse than 2-0, including Agawam on top with four wins already. Perennial power Longmeadow and last year’s upstart Minnechaug are bound to contend with powerful Agawam in this loaded league but don’t count out East Longmeadow and South Hadley from at least making some noise.

5. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH SLAP HITTERS. WHO ARE THE ONES TO PAY ATTENTION TO?

Scott Barboza: I'm looking no further than Mansfield's Bri Chiusano. The Coastal Carolina signee is the most dynamic lead-off hitter in the state and, as she showed earlier this week against King Philip, she also has some pop in the bat while taking a full swing. You have to take pause and applaud anybody who can launch a home run off of Meghan Rico after all.

Bruce Lerch: Bri Chiusano of Mansfield, who showed Tuesday that she can do a bit more than slap by cranking a three-run homer off of King Philip ace and reigning Miss Softball Meghan Rico. A four-year player for the Hornets manning centerfield and batting at the top of the lineup, Chiusano makes life miserable for opposing pitchers with her quick hands and tremendous speed and has an uncanny ability to survey how the defense is playing her and place the ball accordingly. The senior was named to ESPN Boston's preseason All-State team and will play for Coastal Carolina next year.

Ben Larsen: Typically a speedy singles hitter who uses his speed to get on and wreak havoc on the basepaths, Westfield’s Billy Smith got into the power game Monday, blasting a three-run homer in the Bombers’ rout of Belchertown. Smith, who also served as the Westfield football team’s quarterback this past season, has started out slow but is undoubtedly a player to watch moving forward.

6. WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING UPSET OF THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF THE SEASON?

Brendan Hall: My brethren on the Cape will call me Captain Hindsight with this one, but maybe Dennis-Yarmouth baseball is better than we've given them credit for after knocking off Plymouth North 8-2 on Wednesday. I think it was universally agreed that North, routinely one of the best hitting teams in Division 2, would be the favorite again in the South region even after losing key bats like Matt Walsh. But maybe D-Y should get more notice, with talented players like Matt Montalto, Matt Peterson and Miles Tuohy-Bedford. The Dolphins (2-1) got off to a hot start last season, including coach Paul Funk's 100th win, before coming back to Earth. Can they keep the hot start going this year?

Scott Barboza: If I told you I'd called Reading boys' lacrosse's overtime win over Westford Academy, I'd be lying. The Grey Ghosts entered this season with a lot of attention, particularly with the addition of Alex Eaton, in an already loaded Dual County League and the No. 6 ranking in our preseason Top 25 poll. Meanwhile, Reading was tough to read coming in because the Rockets lost some key cogs from last year's squad. What the Rockets did is prove that they should again challenge for the Middlesex League title.

Bruce Lerch: In boys lacrosse, certainly the most eye-opening result of the early season came when Melrose upset Lexington, 11-6. This is just the fourth year of the Red Raiders program, and in their first three years Melrose went a combined 9-44. Meanwhile, Lexington is an annual state championship and Middlesex League contender and reached the postseason in each of the three years since Melrose started its team. It was certainly a program defining victory for the Red Raiders.

D2 Girls: Duxbury 3, Belmont 1

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
3:02
AM ET


BOURNE, Mass. -- The Dragons had a little extra swagger in their step.

Even before they took to the ice for their Division 2 state semifinal against Belmont at Gallo Ice Arena Saturday night, the defending state champions from Duxbury were dancing along the music being played over the P.A.

The Dragons kept up their intensity throughout their 3-1 win over the Marauders. But afterward, Duxbury’s raucous room was also matched with a sense of purpose, given that the team’s stated goal has yet to be achieved.

Senior captain and defenseman Martha Findley exclaimed postgame, “It’s Round Two.”

It was all in another day at the office for perhaps the state’s best girls’ hockey team, who fended off a strong fifth-seeded Belmont squad.

“They play a high intensity game and I wanted to fight fire with fire,” Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler said. “They were all fired up in the locker room, I could barely contain them.”

The Dragons’ ebullience poured over into the first period when Duxbury (21-0-1) taking the first lead of the game midway through the session on freshman Marissa Fichter’s tally. Meredith Wright and Caroline Shaughnessy added assists on the play, in addition to Wright’s other contributions down low.

“The goalie was screened by my other linemates [Wright and Jane Dudley], and I just got a good shot off,” Fichter said.

Duxbury continued to dictate the pace of play in the second period, outshooting the Marauders (16-5-2), 9-3.

Despite several high quality saves from Belmont netminder Megan Foley (19 saves), the Dragons broke through for their second goal midway through the second with a dazzling individual effort from Findley.

Pinching up in the play, Findley collected the puck below the left wing faceoff dot, swooped behind the Belmont cage, moved around a Marauder defender, skated out front and then cut back in the other direction to finish with a fore-handed shot Foley, nor any other goaltender in the state could stop.

The play was set in motion by Findley’s anticipation on the play, knowing Belmont’s defensive tendencies.

“They like to slide into the middle and so we knew we’d have our chances along the boards,” Findley said.

Hannah Murphy turned in an impressive drive of her own, pacing Duxbury to a 3-0 lead at 6:17 of the third.

After serving a hooking penalty, Murphy stormed out of the box to collect a loose puck in the neutral zone. The junior forward made a beeline in on Foley, cutting across the slot from right to left before finishing on the backhand.

Belmont showed its resiliency, turning up the offensive zone pressure in the latter stages of the third. The Marauders finally broke through with four minutes to play as Caroline McCarthy threw in a wrister off of the stick handle of goaltender Rachel Myette.

“We knew we needed that knockout punch and we got that,” Weiler said of Murphy’s strike. “But they still kept coming. That’s an excellent team, they worked hard and they kept coming.”

SKILLED AND IT SHOWS
Findley, an ESPN Boston All-State selection last year and preseason teamer this winter, has been nothing short of spectacular this season. And her second-period highlight reel goal was nothing short of brilliant.

It’s all what Weiler has come to expect out of his top blue-liner.

“She’s the best defenseman in the state as far as I’m concerned.”

FUTURE IS BRIGHT


Duxbury’s “Freshmen” line, comprised of Dudley, Fichter and Wright, continued its strong play against Belmont with Fichter again adding some goal-scoring punch.

“She has that quick release, the goalie can’t get set,” Weiler said of Fichter’s wrister. “She burned a lot of goalies all season doing that.”

And while the Dragons are no strangers to the postseason’s biggest stage, making two straight appearances, it's not too hard to envision the Dragons making future visits with seven freshman on the roster.

“The way they’ve stepped in [this season], I’m so proud of them.”

FAMILIAR FOE
Duxbury advances to play Falmouth in Sunday’s state championship game at the Garden.

The two teams met twice in the regular season with the Dragons taking both decisions by 4-0 and 3-2 scores.

D1 girls: Woburn 1, Lexington 0

March, 4, 2012
3/04/12
12:49
AM ET


WOBURN, Mass. -- Playoff hockey often comes down to which team has the hottest goaltender. Right now, there might be no one more in the zone than Woburn's Courtney Davis.

The sophomore showed why she was named to first-team on ESPN Boston's preseason All-State team, stopping 31 shots (18 in the second period alone) and guiding the fifth-seeded Tanners to a 1-0 shutout of Middlesex League rival and No. 12 seed Lexington Saturday night at O'Brien Arena.

"It was a season-saving performance," said Woburn coach Bob MacCurtain, mincing no words when asked about the importance of his sophomore's performance. "In the second period, we really bent and she allowed us not to break. Lexington played terrific. They had so many chances, one on the back door that she just slid across and made a great save."

After a fairly even and scoreless first period, the Minutemaids (14-7-1) came out like gangbusters, taking control of the game and forcing to make four difficult stops in the first few minutes alone. That was a harbinger of what was to come, as Lexington kept the heat on and continued to get tremendous scoring opportunities, only to see them glance off Davis' blocker and leg pads or disappear into glove.

When asked about hr mindset during the onslaught, Davis simply replied, "I don’t know really. I was just kind of...it was do or die so I was trying to not let let the puck go in. It was all over the place. I don’t think, I just do it I guess. I think they just came out really strong and played their hearts out that period. They tried to get as many shots on net as possible."

At the other end of the ice, Lexington goalie Katie Legnard more than held her own against the dangerous Tanners attack, making 19 tough saves of her own, and the two netminders kept things scoreless until the third period.

That's when Woburn's other preseason first-team All-State selection, forward Kayla Smith, broke through. Ashley Moran got off a shot from the Lexington blue line that was blocked by a defender. Smith chased down the puck in the high slot and fired past Legnard at 4:07.

"It was one of the few times that we actually had a really good possession in the offensive zone," Smith explained. "Coach said to get a lot of pucks to the net and it was a good opportunity so I just shot it."

STRATEGY CHANGE PAYING DIVIDENDS
Following the Tanners' 3-2 loss to Belmont back in January, MacCurtain decided to change things around. He dropped Moran, who had been playing on the first line with Smith and Bryana Harron, back to play defense with veteran standout Cassandra Connolly while bumping sophomore Emily Lissner (the team's fourth-leading scorer) up in her place.

The move is reminiscent of the change the Hingham girls made toward the end of last season, moving Jane Freda up from defense to the top line, a change that helped propel the Harborwomen to the Div. 1 state championship.

With Lissner up top, Woburn loses nothing offensively. Moran has taken to the defensive role naturally, and along with Connolly, provides an aggressive, offensive minded approach from the back as well. That tactic came in handy Friday with Moran getting the assist on Smith's tally.

"I thought she did a great job," MacCurtain said of Moran. "I thought her and Cassandra were real solid up top and that was a great play on the goal. She’s a goal scorer who is playing back at the blue line so its been a good change for us."

HEARTBREAKING LOSS
A widely used cliche in sports is that it's difficult to beat the same team three times in the same season. Woburn and Lexington had already battled to a pair of one-goal, Tanner victories in the regular season so both teams were more than prepared for each other.

Lexington outshot Woburn in all three periods (31-20 for the game), and notably dominated the pace during the second. Even on the play that resulted in Woburn's lone goal, the Minutemaids made a good play to block the initial shot. It was, as another well-worn cliche goes, just one of those days.

"Our kids had worked hard all game and I think it was just an unlucky bounce," Lexington coach Mandy Ciarletta said. "The girl shot it through traffic and it just snuck in at the end there. My kids did everything in the 'D' zone and like I said, a one-goal game. 1-0 in the third, it's going to be anybody’s game. I knew going in it was going to be one goal one way or the other, whether we came out on top or they did. Woburn’s a great club and it was a great exciting game to be a part of today."

ESPN Boston MIAA hockey tourney picks

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
6:04
PM ET
The MIAA boys' and girls' tournaments have kicked off across the state, and with snow pushing back some of the competition today, we’re taking the time to dissect the brackets and weigh in with our predictions for the postseason.

BOYS' TOURNAMENTS:
SUPER 8 - DIVISION 1A:
Favorite: Malden Catholic (15-1-4).

Dark horses: St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-1-3), St. John’s Prep (13-5-2), Hingham (16-4-2), BC High (10-5-5).

Overview: Once again, this is MC’s tournament to lose. The Lancers have been No. 1 in our poll from box to wire and they’ll be playing with ailing coach Chris Serino in mind. However, St. Mary’s, Prep and BC High will be tough outs, particularly if any of the respective teams goaltenders (Bailey MacBurnie, David Letarte and Peter Cronin catch fire. The Harbormen might be our darkhorse, however. That team has been sneaking up on the competition since Day One.

The pick: Crossovers: MC, St. Mary’s, Prep, Hingham; Championship: MC over Prep.

DIVISION 1:
Favorites: North – Burlington (14-1-6), Westford Academy (13-4-4); South – Needham (14-6-1), Marshfield (18-2-2).

Dark horses: North – Woburn (12-5-4), Reading (10-4-6); South – Norwood (14-3-4).

Overview: Otherwise known as the Super 8 consolation brackets, play-in game losers Burlington and Needham return to their respective brackets with chips on their shoulders. However, the teams with most to prove might be a pair of squads who were left off the Super 8 table in both Westford Academy and defending D1 champions Marshfield. The highlight to the tournament could a potential North semifinal between the aforementioned Red Devils and Woburn, who’ve had the Tanners’ number twice this season. Also look out for another potential semifinal with a league rivalry to it with Norwood on Needham’s side of the bracket.

The pick: North final – Burlington over Andover, South final – Marshfield over Needham; Final – Burlington over Marshfield.

DIVISION 2:
Favorites: North – Lynnfield (17-3-1), Boston Latin (14-2-4); South – Franklin (16-2-3), Canton (15-2-3).

Dark horses: North – Wilmington (11-4-5), Winthrop (12-6-2), Saugus (11-6-3); South – Coyle-Cassidy (8-11-1).

Overview: We feel that the Div. 2 North boys’ hockey bracket might be the most competitive in the state, regardless of sport. Again, the Northeast Conference is well represented with both Saugus and Winthrop scoring first-round “upset” wins. The tournament will still run though No. 1 and 2 seeds Lynnfield and Boston Latin, however. The South is dominated by three Hockomock League squads (Canton, Franklin and Mansfield) who’ve seen plenty of each other throughout the season. But always look out for the battle-tested squad from Coyle, which sports a sub-.500 record, but has done so against a host of Super 8 teams.

The pick: North final – Boston Latin over Danvers; South final – Canton over Franklin; Final – Boston Latin over Canton.

DIVISION 3:
Favorites: North – Bedford (16-4-0), Lowell Catholic (13-5-2); South – Medfield (16-3-1), Pembroke (15-4-3); Central – Hudson (18-1-1); West – Longmeadow (10-6-4).

Dark horses: Marlborough (13-5-2), Shawsheen (12-5-3), Swampscott (8-8-4), Westfield (14-4-2).

Overview: The state’s biggest field of teams lies in Division 3, where some of the perennial favorites are back at it and among the top-seeded teams. Perhaps the story of the year has been Bedford, which earns the No. 1 seed in the North. The South bracket is likely to be decided in the fourth matchup of the season between South Shore rivals Pembroke and Scituate. Hudson claimed top-billing in Central, while in the West, the road still runs through power Longmeadow, but Westfield eyes a return trip to the Garden ice.

The pick: EMass final: Pembroke over Lowell Catholic; Central/WMass final – Hudson over Westfield; Final – Pembroke over Hudson.

GIRLS’ TOURNAMENTS
DIVISION 1:
Favorites: Acton-Boxborough (17-1-2), Westford Academy (16-2-2), St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-3-1), Woburn (15-3-2).

Dark horses: Arlington Catholic (16-3-1), Braintree (13-5-2), Hingham (14-6-1).

Overview: Last year’s Division 1 runners-up Acton-Boxborough emerge at the No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament, riding 8th-grade goaltender Cali Loblundo and top-scorer Kati Goguen once again. Westford Academy pulled the No. 2 seed, but could have its hands full with defending champion Hingham lying in the reeds at No. 10. Of course, this was also supposed to be the year that St. Mary’s of Lynn was written off as a legitimate contender, but Frank Pagliuca has pulled off perhaps his best-ever coaching job (according to those who know) and has the Spartans primed for another run into late March.

The pick: Semifinals – Acton-Boxborough over Woburn and St. Mary’s over Hingham; Final – St. Mary’s over A-B.

DIVISION 2:
Favorites: Duxbury (18-0-1), Walpole (15-2-3), Belmont (14-4-2).

Dark horses: Canton (13-7-0), Fontbonne Academy (11-8-1), Westwood (14-5-1).

Overview: The best in the state thus far may have resided in Division 2, as defending champion Duxbury ran the table and was the state’s only unbeaten squad. Walpole has also been among the most consistent teams in the state, running over Bay State opponents with a mix of high-octane offense and steady defensive play. The story of the year — ever since their stunning December upset of Woburn — has been Belmont. The MIAA’s oldest girls’ hockey program has returned to prominence after the squad went winless just three years ago.

The pick: Semifinals – Duxbury over Belmont, Walpole over Westwood; Final – Duxbury over Walpole.

Recap: No. 5 Belmont 3, No. 6 Woburn 3

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
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WOBURN, Mass. -- It’s an adage as old as hockey itself: Get pucks to the net and good things will happen.

No. 5 Belmont became proof positive for the saying once again, as they squeezed another point out of No. 6 Woburn, Wednesday night at O’Brien Rink. Marauders junior forward Alexandra Cellucci took a shot from the slot with 11 seconds remaining. The puck slithered through the pads of Tanners netminder Courtney Davis and into the net, tying the score, 3-3.

The tie gave Belmont (14-3-1) a 1-0-1 record on the season series with the Tanners, after knocking off Woburn by a 3-2 score on Jan. 14.

At the time, it was considered the upset of the season.

Now, it’s time to consider the Marauders as the real deal.

“[In the dressing room] they said, ‘We must be better than them, we beat them once and tied them once,” Belmont head coach Mark Haley’s team told him postgame.

Haley answered them with a rhetorical, “Yes.”

It’s not as though Haley would tempt fate again.

“Fortunately, we don’t see them again,” he said with a smile crossing his face.

Although the Middlesex small division Marauders will not see Woburn (14-2-1) in the upcoming Division 2 state tournament, they can extrapolate their game plan.

“Defensively, they do a good job,” Tanners head coach Bob MacCurtain said. “They kept us to the outside for the most part. They don’t quit. Obviously, they battled us hard.”

Playing a sticky forecheck, Belmont was able to bottle up the Tanners’ top line of Emily Lissner, Bryana Harron and Kayla Smith through the first period with no small contribution from their top blue line duo of senior captain Britta Marden and sophomore Kendal Brown. The teams went to the first intermission with no score.

Woburn chiseled away at the Marauders’ front in the second, however, with the first line setting up shop in front of netminder Megan Foley (15 saves). The Tanners used pressure down low to take a 2-0 lead on similar looking goals.

First, Harron collected a rebound in the crease at 1:20 of the second. The tally was set in motion by Lissner’s work behind the net, feeding Smith out front for a one-timer, with Foley making the initial save.

A little more than a minute later, Harron collected the puck along the back side boards and slid a pass over to Lissner for a scoring chance. Again, the Marauder defense was unable to clear away the rebound in time. Smith put back the rebound for a 2-0 lead at 2:51.

“They had their moments tonight,” MacCurtain said of his top line. “I just didn’t think they were consistent enough.”

Belmont whittled down the lead to a goal midway through the second with Shannon Reynolds banking a shot off a Tanner defenseman from below the goal line.

Woburn returned to the room with a two-goal cushion after junior defenseman Cassandra Connolly’s power-play tally with 41.4 seconds.

In the third, Belmont again applied the vice to the Tanners’ transition game while they continued throwing rubber on Davis at any given chance. The Marauders got a bounce in their favor with 6:43 remaining as Caroline McCarthy’s screen shot bounced into the net on the power play.

With Foley pulled in the final minute of play, the Marauders’ had a second brush with puck luck. Cellucci’s shot from the slot caromed off a Woburn blue-liners skate and then under the right leg of Davis.

It all goes back to that old saying, which Haley offered to his top line of Cellucci, McCarthy and Erin O’Donovan throughout the game.

“Take the shot and see what happens.”

A TRUE TURNAROUND
Belmont likely will enter the Div. 2 tournament as a top four seed, along with a measure of confidence.

It wasn’t always that way.

“When these kids were freshmen, they didn’t win a game,” Haley said of the Marauders’ 2008-09 season.

Haley, who’s been behind the bench for all of Belmont’s 18 girls’ hockey seasons, has seen his team rise and fall, only to see them ascend again.

“They’ve worked hard for four years, and look what you have.”

ESPNBoston hockey midseason All-State teams

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
12:30
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BOYS MIDSEASON ALL-STATE
F - Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic
F - Ryan Fitzgerald, Malden Catholic
F - Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep
D - Jared Beckwith, Catholic Memorial
D - Jake Secatore, Woburn
G - David Letarte, St. John's Prep

Others garnering consideration:
Tom Besinger, Soph. F, BC High
Tom Cahill, Sr. F, Pembroke
Liam Centrella, Sr. F, Andover
Frank Crinella, Sr. F, Springfield Cathedral
Peter Cronin, Jr. G, BC High
Kevin Emmerling, Sr. F, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Connor Fenton, Sr. D, Braintree
Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Soph. F, St. Mary's of Lynn
Brian Furey, Sr. D, BC High
Danny Holland, Sr. F, Woburn
Pat Houghton, Sr. D, Westford Academy
Mike Iovanna, Jr. F, Malden Catholic
Mike Kelleher, Jr. F, Central Catholic
Chris LeBlanc, Sr. F, Winthrop
Conal Lynch, Sr. F, Boston Latin
Colin MacGillivray, Jr. D, Malden Catholic
Nikko Markham, Sr. D, St. Mary's of Lynn
Bobby Mullins, Sr. F, St. Mary's of Lynn
Brian Pinho, Jr. F, St. John's Prep
Casey Shea, Sr. F, Woburn
Shane Starrett, Jr. G, Catholic Memorial
Joe Strangie, Jr. F, Danvers
Kyle Williams, Sr. G, Central Catholic

GIRLS' MIDSEASON ALL-STATE
F - Natalie Flynn, Arlington Catholic
F - Kayla Smith, Woburn
F - Kati Goguen, Acton-Boxborough
D - Martha Findley, Duxbury
D - Emily Loebs, Acton-Boxborough
G - Courtney Davis, Woburn

Others garnering consideration:
Cassandra Connolly, Jr. D, Woburn
Lily Connolly, Jr. F, Duxbury
Jackie Denning, Jr. F/D, Lexington
Rachel Donahoe, Sr. D, St. Mary's of Lynn
Jane Freda, Jr. F/D, Hingham
Haley Gaughan, Sr. F, Canton
Samantha Girard, Fr. F, Dedham
Erika Kelly, Sr. F, Watertown/Melrose
Cali Loblundo, 8th G, Acton-Boxborough
Brooke Matherson, D, Walpole
Caroline McCarthy, Sr. F, Belmont
Tori Messina, So. D, Hingham
Annie Messuri, D, Acton-Boxborough
Megan Messuri, Soph. G, Arlington Catholic
Hannah Murphy, Jr. F, Duxbury
Rachel Myette, So. G, Duxbury
Shannon O'Neil, G, Austin Prep
Danielle Phalon, Sr. F, Stoneham
Casey Schaejbe, Sr. G, Arlington
Sarah Schwenzfeier, Jr. F, Hingham
Caroline Shaughnessy, So. D, Duxbury
Kaitlyn Spillane, Jr. F/D, Franklin
Bethany Welch, Jr. G, Walpole
Rebecca Zappalla, Sr. D, Arlington Catholic

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