Boston High School: Brady O'Donnell

La Salle (R.I.) lacrosse building a dynasty

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
12:27
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La Salle Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team began the 2014 season with back-to-back Division I state championship trophies in the school’s trophy case.

Rhode IslandBut don’t waste your breath asking coach Steve O’Donnell if he expects to add a third consecutive state championship trophy.

“I try not to have expectations,” said O’Donnell, whose team has defeated Hendricken, 16-7, and North Kingstown, 17-5, in the young season. “Obviously, you want to win as much as you can. We have expectations to have a good program and be as competitive as everybody else.

“Be the best you can be and the rest just falls into place.”

O’Donnell, who’s in his ninth season as the La Salle’s head coach, invariably has the Rams among the top teams in the state. As far as he’s concerned, there isn’t a magic formula for the program’s success.

“Continuity, good players and a good system,” O’Donnell said, “they’re successful because a lot of them want to learn and get better.

He continued, “I’m a practice guy. I try to do new things and get them out of the box. They all come from different places but it’s a double-edged sword. Where I am, people say we get to pick the cream of the crop and we get to pick who we want. They pick us. Then, you coach them up. They have different habits. And what’s also important is the school supports the program which has been successful.”

How true.

La Salle ended a drought by beating Moses Brown, 9-7, for its first state championship in 2012 and then vanquished the Quakers again last season by a score of 14-3.

But prior to annexing that initial state title, the Rams were the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s version of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. La Salle lost 10-2 to Hendricken in the 2004 finals, 13-10, to North Kingstown in 2008, 9-8, in overtime to Moses Brown in 2010, and, 6-4, to Hendricken in 2011.

Was there ever a sense that, no matter how hard they tried, the Rams would be unable to capture that elusive state title?

“To me, this is high school sports,” said O’Donnell. “I don’t judge kids by winning championships. It’s an unintended consequence. I measure them by their improvement, especially in terms of the type of kids they become and if they’re coachable.

“When you lose at that level, you question yourself as a coach. I prepare as much as I can. Then, you hope for a lack of injuries which happen in every sport.”

Injuries notwithstanding, the Rams have gone 10-0 in league play in each of the last two seasons. But winning streaks are the least of O’Donnell’s concerns.

“None of that matters to me because we lost a game (13-7 to Medfield in an out-of-state contest),” he said. “I’m not concerned about wins and losses. I am concerned about getting better. Our goal from the beginning of the season to the end is to get better.”

Not only did the Rams get better en route to the 2012 state title but they also endured hardships that might have derailed a lesser team.

“I think winning the first (state title) was difficult in terms of letting the kids know they were good enough to win it,” said O’Donnell. “Two of our top three players were injured at mid-season and that team came together. They learned to win as a team.

“The hardest part, regardless of high school or the pros, is to keep the kids humble. It’s the hardest thing in coaching. I always tell them that, one year, the Jets lost to the Patriots by 40 points and then they beat them the next time they played.”

Winning this season will be difficult from the standpoint that La Salle graduated four First Team All-State selections: attack Brady O’Donnell, who earned All-American honors for a third straight year and set a state record last season by scoring 64 goals to go with his 35 assists; faceoff specialist Pat Foster, who won 70 percent of his faceoffs; midfielder Mike Catarina; and defender Dan Wise, who also was a high school All-American.

But, fortunately for O’Donnell, La Salle wasn’t decimated by graduation.

“We have returnees in three brothers, (defender) John, (attack) Joe and (midfielder) Matt Manown (who scored four goals and assisted on five in the victory over Hendricken),” said O’Donnell. “Joe (who scored 52 goals and assisted on 43) was an All-American last season.

“In addition, we also have senior midfielder Alex Handanyan and (2012 First Team All-State) goalie Matt Andrews. We have some talented younger kids. We plan on having them step in and fill that void. But we’re still figuring out who’s going to fit in the best.”

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
4:12
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What do the boys’ lacrosse teams from La Salle Academy, East Greenwich and Smithfield have in common?

Rhode IslandEach team is undefeated and is in first place in its respective division and, not surprisingly, is the odds-on favorite to capture a state championship.

The Rams (10-0 in Division I and 12-0), who are coached by Colonel Steven McConnell, the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, boast an offense that’s off the charts.

Through matches of May 21, the Rams have out-scored their opponents by a margin of 202-65.

The story within the story is that La Salle attacks Brady O’Donnell and Joe Manown are the top two scorers in the state regardless of division.

O’Donnell, who’s a senior, has whipped home 56 goals and assisted on 33 while sophomore Manown has scored 49 goals and assisted on 38. What makes Manown’s proficiency all the more noteworthy is the fact he missed most of the 2012 season due to injury.

East Greenwich (13-0 in Division II and 13-2 overall), is riding the backs of 15 seniors who have played an integral role in the Avengers’ offense and defense.

Coach Brian Trapani’s team leads the division with 163 goals and has allowed a stingy total of 43.

Senior Colin Watikun and senior Colin Bernier lead the Avengers with 50 points apiece, Waitkun having scored 39 goals and assisted on 11 with Bernier having fired home 40 goals and assisted on 10.

Smithfield (12-0 in Division III and 12-2 overall) hasn’t lost a division game since the 2010 season.

Coach Joe Renzi’s Sentinels weren’t expected to be a contender since the team graduated 16 players from the 2012 squad. But attacks Brendan Benoit, Nick Gerlach and Matt Walker have led an offense that’s tied with Coventry in goals scored with 139.

MOUND KING
Team sport notwithstanding, the baseball program at Hendricken is heavily reliant on arguably the state’s best pitcher, senior Mike King who’s signed a letter of intent to play at Boston College.

King is a major reason why the Hawks lead Division I-North with a 16-0 record since he’s recorded an 8-1 record replete with 46 strikeouts and a mere six walks in 33 innings.

A right-hander, King didn’t allow his first earned run of the season until May 18 when Hendricken beat La Salle, 4-1. King spaced out six hits while going the distance – again.

King also helps himself at the plate with a batting average that’s hovered around .500 all season.

In a recent 5-1victory over Cranston West, King’s RBI single helped key a five-run first inning.

Another Hawk who’s been wielding a potent bat is John Toppa, grandson of the late Rogers High football coaching legend of the same name.

In a 4-3 victory over St. Raphael, Toppa’s fourth-inning double drove home the game-winning run. And in a 6-1 win over Cumberland, Toppa contributed a single, triple and two RBI.

Elsewhere:

* Central Falls pulled off the upset of the season regardless of division when the Warriors won their first game of the season – 5-2 over Division II-North leader Tolman (12-2). Emmanuel Antigua smacked a two-run single during a four-run fourth inning while Brandon Canuto went the distance for the victory. The loss sliced Tolman’s lead over second-place Scituate (13-3) to one game.

* North Kingstown’s Billy Young improved his record to 4-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 7-0, in a Division II-South game. Young allowed only two hits and fanned 10.

* East Providence’s Colin Costa collected two doubles, a single and five RBI as the Townies (14-1) held onto first place in Division II-Central by beating Mount Pleasant, 9-4. Teammate Colin Grant struck out 17 Kilties en route to the complete-game victory.

CLOSE SHAVE
Never let it be said that East Providence softball coach Rob Traverse isn’t true to his word.

A year ago, the Townies won only three of their first 12 games. Traverse made a “bet” with his players that if they won at least seven games this season he’d shave his head. They did and he did.

East Providence currently is in fifth place in the Division I with a 10-5 record – the Townies’ most impressive victory being a 2-0 blanking of North Kingstown (i.e. it was the Skippers’ first loss).

In that win over the Skippers, EP broke a scoreless tie in the eighth inning on Amy DeCastro’s single and Casey Traverse’s subsequent sacrifice fly.

In other games of note:

* Lincoln High to nobody’s surprise clinched the Division I title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament by beating La Salle, 4-1. Lindsay Mayer allowed only one run on two hits for the 14-0 Lions.

* Division II-East leader Moses Brown (10-5) blanked Central, 6-0, in a crossover game as Emma Rantanen tossed a one-hitter – losing her bid for a no-hitter when Dianna Torres singled with two outs in the sixth.

ENTERING THE HALL
Even though Central Falls is the smallest city in the state, its high school has produced a host of outstanding athletes.

Nine will be inducted into the Central Falls Athletic Hall of Fame on October 11: former boys’ basketball coach Ed McVeigh plus athletes Albert Cardosa, Jeff Desautel, James Dougan, Brian Goodhart, Kevin Guindon, Carmen Pizarro, Russell Standring, Ken Vaudreuil and Kinga Dobrzychi-Zuromski.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
2:37
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Over the years, La Salle Academy has won enough state championship trophies to fill a vault at Fort Knox.

Rhode IslandNow the school must make room for one that’s eluded it for years: a state championship trophy for boys’ lacrosse.

The Rams applied an exclamation point to an undefeated (14-0) season by beating Moses Brown School, 9-7, in the finals -- after losing in the finals each of the previous two seasons.

The championship also ended four years of frustration because coach Steve O’Donnell’s team had compiled the best regular-season record (54-3) during that span but had zero to show for its efforts.

What made this championship game even more noteworthy was the fact that underclassmen led the way over the Quakers (9-6).

Sophomore Peter DeSimone, who was voted the game’s MVP, scored three goals and assisted on three; junior Brady O’Donnell fired in three goals including his team’s last two which proved to be huge in the final outcome; and sophomore goalie Matt Andrews made eight saves in the crucial fourth quarter.

In other boys’ finals:

*At the risk of using a hockey metaphor, East Greenwich’s Ethan Zink scored a “pure” hat trick as the Avengers beat South Kingstown, 10-4, for the Division II championship. The Avengers (19-1) were leading by a slim 3-2 margin in the last minute of the second quarter when Zink scored for a 4-2 halftime lead. Then, Zink tallied the first two goals of the third quarter and the Avengers went on to clinch their second consecutive state title. EG goalie John Trutza came up big in net by making 19 saves.

*Smithfield senior Ryan Benoit made sure he would end his career in style by scoring three goals and assisting on another as the Sentinels whipped Narragansett, 12-6, for the Division III championship. Benoit’s younger brother, Ryan contributed three goals and two assists to the triumph.

QUAKER GIRLS “STICK” BARRINGTON
What the Moses Brown boys were unable to accomplish, the Quaker girls did, capturing a Division I lacrosse championship.

Coach Jeanne Carhart’s team completed an 18-1 season by defeating Barrington, 14-10, with senior Hannah Saris scoring two goals and assisting on five.

But what Saris meant to the Quakers’ offense so did goalie Jamie Marshall to the defense. The sophomore stopped 15 Eagles shots and earned the game’s MVP award.

Saris finished the season with 93 goals and 56 assists.

In the Division II championship game, junior middie Chloe Andrew scored four goals and assisted on three as Cumberland edged defending state champion Tiverton, 12-10.

The championship was the second in school history for the 17-1 Clippers.

OFF TO McCOY STADIUM
Hendricken and South Kingstown will make the much-anticipated bus ride to McCoy Stadium – home of the Pawtucket Red Sox – for the best-of-three Division I state baseball championship.

The Hawks punched their ticket to the finals by sweeping Coventry by identical scores of 3-2 (although the second game lasted 10 innings).

Tom Pannone, a senior pitcher/outfielder who last week was selected in the 33rd round by the Chicago Cubs, went the distance on a five-hitter and belted a solo homer in Game 1.

Then, in the clincher, Rob Hendry lined a one-out single in the top of the 10th which snapped a 2-2 tie.

Jake Newberry earned the victory by virtue of pitching three innings of scoreless relief.

Cumberland and South Kingstown split the first two games of their best-of-three semifinal series.

The Rebels won the opener, 4-3, but Cumberland evened the series with a 1-0 victory in Game 2 as Justin Patrick went the distance on a three-hitter.

The third and deciding game was over almost before it started because South Kingstown romped, 16-1. The game was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the Interscholastic League’s mercy rule.

Jeremy Swan earned the victory as he allowed only two hits and struck out six.

T.J. Lynch paced an 11-hit attack with a two-run single plus a solo home run.

Hendricken will be chasing its seventh state title in the last 10 years while the Rebels will be seeking their first since 2002.

Johnston and Prout will battle it out for the Division II title. Prout will be making is fifth consecutive trip to the best-of-three finals after beating Woonsocket in three games.

In the decisive third game, Kory Lawrence belted a two-run double and Marshall Vigneault allowed four hits as the Crusaders prevailed, 3-2.

Johnston also went to three games before eliminating Westerly with a 10-1 triumph in the final game.

Joe Bongiovanni went the distance for the Panthers as he allowed six hits. And at the plate he collected two hits which were good for three RBI.

LIONS NEAR DREAM SEASON
What were the odds before the first pitch was thrown in anger that Lincoln’s softball team would go undefeated in 2012?

Right. Don’t ask.

But that’s what’s on the verge of happening.

Lincoln upped its record to 21-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 5-0, in the Division I winners’ bracket final.

Lindsay Mayer, who’s been a standout all season for the Lions, allowed six hits and fanned 15 en route to winning her 18th game of the season.

Coventry, came out of the losers’ bracket to reach the championship round as the Oakers beat Toll Gate, 4-2, in the bracket final.

Kerrie Deliberis went the route on a six-hitter replete with 10 strikeouts to pace the Oakers’ triumph.

Elsewhere:
*East Greenwich and West Warwick will clash for the Division II title. The top-seeded Avengers prevailed 11-0 over Woonsocket in a game that was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the league’s mercy rule. The Wizards came out of the losers’ bracket thanks to an 8-5 victory over the Villa Novans in the losers’ bracket final.

*Davies Tech captured the first softball title in school history by outlasting Central, 18-10, in the Division III finals. The Patriots were led by Maddie Goodhart, Kassandra Therrien and Caterina Martinez.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
10:07
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At face value, the La Salle Academy boys’ lacrosse team should have been devastated last spring by graduation when six All-State players – including All-Americans Ryan Poirier (midfield) and Cody O’Donnell (defender) - departed via the cap-and-gown route.

Not quite.

Rhode IslandThrough games of May 15, the Rams were sitting atop Division I with an 8-0 record and were leading in both goals scored (107) plus goals allowed (48).

Most importantly, the Rams have established themselves as the team to beat in their pursuit of the first state championship since the school added the sport.

Over the previous four seasons, coach Steve O’Donnell’s team posted a combined record of 44-3. But the Rams have lost three times in the finals – in 2008 to North Kingstown, in 2010 to Moses Brown and in 2011 to Hendricken.

But the returning veterans have keyed La Salle’s run to a possible undefeated season.

For example, All-American attack Brady O’Donnell scored five goals in this week’s 12-9 victory over North Kingstown. And in a 7-5 non-league victory over Bishop Guertin, a Division I school from Nashua, N.H., O’Donnell collected a hat trick.

Second Team All-State midfielder Jack Collins fired home seven goals and assisted on another in a 12-8 win over Hendricken.

Senior midfielder Dan Lucchetti scored three goals and assisted on one when La Salle beat the Hawks, 11-7, in the teams’ rematch.

Senior midfielder Sam Ricci added one goal plus four assists in the second win over the Hawks.

Sophomore Peter DeSimone has played well at attack and recorded four goals plus an assist in that 11-7 win over Hendricken.

TOLMAN CLINCHES PENNANT
With three games left in the regular season, Tolman clinched the Division II-Central title on May 15 by blanking Mount Pleasant, 3-0, as Andrew Larson and Carlos Sanabria combined on a six-hitter.

That was the latest in a string of impressive victories for the Tigers (13-3 in league play and 14-3 overall).

Against arch-rival Shea, Sanabria tossed a two-hitter replete with one walk and 12 strikeouts as the Tigers prevailed, 10-0. Sanabria also went 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI.

Earlier, Tolman received another solid mound performance from Larson who went the distance on a five-hitter as the Tigers edged Classical, 2-1.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

April, 20, 2011
4/20/11
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Rhode Island’s unemployment numbers are still in double figures.

Rhode IslandThe state is grappling with a budget deficit in excess of $300 million.

But if bill No. S 0438, which was introduced by Senator Louis P. DiPalma (his district covers Little Compton, Middletown, Newport and Tiverton), is passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chaffee, student-athletes would be included in a group that would take a “hit.”

The bill is named the “Payment for and Participation in School Activities Act of 2011.” Or to put it another way, it’s a pay-to-play bill.

DiPalma’s bill states in part “In view of the current economic climate, it would be beneficial to institute a policy where students from families who are capable of paying user fees for participation in extracurricular activities, while allowing flexibility for students from those families who cannot afford such payments.”

Obviously, the aforementioned extracurricular activities include sports.

DiPalma’s bill does exempt “students eligible for USDA reimbursable school meals” and allows “a family to petition for relief from such assessments based upon financial and / or other hardships.”

The fees would authorize school committees and boards of directors for charter schools to “assess students a reasonable fee for participation by a student in extracurricular activities provided that the governing body must first make a determination that the assessment of such fees is in the best interests of the school districts.”

Among other things:
  • The Rhode Island Department of Education’s interpretation of state law precludes assessment of a fee for participation in school programs like athletics. Its spokesperson expressed the opinion that activities like athletics are considered part of basic education and should be available to all – period.
  • DiPalma’s bill fails to define what’s considered “a reasonable fee.” What might be considered “a reasonable fee” in one school district could be considered onerous in another district.
  • The bill also doesn’t detail in what ways the fees would be spent. Would they go toward equipment? Would they go to paying coaches’ salaries? Etc., Etc.
  • Both the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU and the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s Principals’ Committee on Athletics invariably have opposed user fees.

The bill is still under debate in the General Assembly but without question is likely to draw more opposition if it even nears the stage where it’s put to a vote.

END OF A TENNIS DYNASTY?
Don’t look now, but South Kingstown’s dominance of Division I boys’ tennis may be nearing an end – especially if Barrington has anything to say about it. First, the Eagles handed the 12-time defending state champions their first loss since the 2007 season when it posted a 5-2 victory.

Barrington followed that up, and improved its record to 6-0 in the process, by breaking Cumberland’s 39-match winning streak by romping to a 6-1 victory. Veteran coach Dick Ernst’s Eagles have reached the Division I finals in three of the last four years only to lose each time to South Kingstown. The team is led by a sextet of seniors: John Bogdanovic, Chris Ferro, Mitch Brosnan, John Volpe, Erik Weber and Riley Schwengel.

“CATCH” FALCONS’ DIEHL
The last Rhode Island high school catcher who appeared on the radar screen of college coaches and pro scouts was St. Raphael Academy’s Chris Iannetta who now plays for the Colorado Rockies.

Cranston West’s Jeff Diehl is doing his best so far to emulate Iannetta.

In the Falcons’ recent 5-3 victory over three-time defending Division I state champion Hendricken, approximately 10 college and pro scouts were in attendance in Cranston – and Diehl didn’t disappoint.

Diehl, a senior, belted a single and a solo home run; launched another shot that was caught on the warning track in right field; and also scored on a double steal.

LA SALLE STICKMEN MAKE THEIR POINT
La Salle Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team delivered a loud-and-clear message to two-time Division I state champion Moses Brown when the Rams belted the Quakers, 19-11.

Ironically, this was a rematch of the 2010 championship tilt won by the Rams.

Brad Carlson (five goals, one assist), Brady O’Donnell (five goals) and Ryan Poirier (three goals, two assists) paced La Salle to this key, early-season victory.

ODDS ‘N ENDS
  • St. Andrew’s School’s Michael Carter-Williams, who’s already signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Syracuse University, has been selected to play in the Mary Kline Classic on May 28 at The Pennington School in Pennington, N.J. The Classic is an elite, 28-player game that features top high school players from the Mid-Atlantic Region. It’s a charitable event that raises money to fight cancer with all of the proceeds being donated to the American Cancer Society and the National Brain Tumor Foundation.
  • Several student-athletes recently committed to play college sports commencing next fall. This latest group is highlighted by Exeter-West Greenwich running back Al Georgio who’ll be playing for Norwich University. Georgio, a two-time All-State selection, led the state in scoring last year with 49 touchdowns. Others include: Hendricken’s Ethan Ferreira, an All-State baseball player who’ll continue with that sport at Harvard; Portsmouth’s Tyler Oliveira who’ll be competing for the University of Rhode Island’s track and field team (Oliveira holds six indoor school records); Mount St. Charles’ Meryl Lawrence, a three-time All-Stater who’ll be playing tennis at Stonehill College; Prout’s Emily Caswell, who led the Crusaders to their first Division II basketball championship in 26 years, will be launching shots at Caldwell College; and Hendricken’s Mike Maloof who’ll be competing in track and field for Boston University.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

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