Boston High School: Jeff Reed

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
4:58
PM ET
In a six-day span, the three teams perched atop the statewide rankings for NHIAA boys' lacrosse – all of them perennial powers in the Granite State – suffered setbacks.

New HampshireNo. 1 Bishop Guertin High of Nashua, No. 2 Pinkerton Academy of Derry, and No. 3 Exeter High actually combined to lose five contests between April 16 and 22.

Bishop Guertin lost just once. But it was the biggest stunner. BG wasn't expected to lose an in-state matchup this spring. The two-time defending Division I champion is extremely talented and very, very deep.

But BG isn't invincible. Hanover High – No. 1 as a result of its 14-9 upset win April 20 – proved it.

“They beat us in two state finals (2007, 2009). Other than Hanover, nobody has beaten us, in New Hampshire, in the playoffs since 2007,” BG coach Chris Cameron said. “There was no reason for us to take them lightly because they're a quality program.”

Cameron's club was without UMass recruit Bob Fahey. BG's shut-down close defender sat out the second half of Guertin's previous game, a 14-8 win at highly ranked Needham (Mass.) High, with an ankle injury.

Guertin's coach, however, didn't use Fahey's absence as an excuse. BG still boasted four other close defenders recruited to play college lacrosse.

The Marauders led at the end of every period. Attackman Alex Krass (two goals, three assists) and midfielder Christian Wolter (four goals, assist) played with purpose. Christian Johansen and Ryan Brigham (11 of 25 faceoff wins) added three goals apiece.

Goaltender James Washington settled down nicely after BG scored the game's first goal in the opening 30 seconds. The senior made 15 saves.

“They were pretty happy. But (their post-game reaction) wasn't like they won the state championship,” said Hanover coach Jeff Reed, whose club from the state's Upper Valley was blasted by BG, 15-3, in the April 10 season-opener at Nashua's Stellos Stadium. “They reacted like it was a big win, but not 'the win.' They know there's a bigger goal at the end.”

No. 2 Pinkerton twice lost to teams known as the Lancers.

The Astros started their three-game week with an 11-9 league loss April 16 at arch-rival Londonderry High. The tough stretch closed with a 14-9 home loss April 21 versus Longmeadow (Mass.) High.

Maintaining focus was an uncharacteristic problem for Pinkerton in both losses.

Furthermore, offensive production almost exclusively came from the attack. Josh Gallant tallied three goals and three assists at Londonderry; Dom Corsetto went for three goals and an assist against Longmeadow.

“Maybe a little of it is conditioning. We could not get our faceoffs in the second half and we could not pick up ground balls,” Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said after the Astros lost to Longmeadow, which erased a 4-1 first-period deficit. “It's the same thing as the Londonderry game.”

Exeter's defeats, in a sense, were understandable. The Blue Hawks, in a four-day span, lost competitive contests to the teams ranked ahead of them: BG (9-6 on April 16) and Pinkerton (8-6 on April 19).

Goaltender Jake Pleadwell (18 saves) stood tall against an early Pinkerton onslaught. Close defenders Jamie Vogt, Joe Moser and Zach Adler also enabled the Seacoast squad to pull within striking distance.

“The fact that we went down to BG, 3-0, and they never quit, and then we were down, 5-1, against Pinkerton and made it a game, it shows their resilience,” Holly said. “That's the one thing you can take out of it.”

Here's one lesson, stressed by BG's coach, that is applicable to every power program:

“There are too many good teams out there,” Cameron said. “We can't just show up and expect to win.”

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
12:35
PM ET
Salem High's Nicole Gubellini notched eight strikeouts, but primarily pitched to contact.

New HampshireThe problem for Concord High hitters taking their cuts? Gubellini never allowed them to get the barrel of the bat on the ball.

The end result, aided greatly by strong infield defense, was a no-hitter for the senior hurler and 5-0 Division I softball win April 11. Two days earlier, she threw an abbreviated no-no in Salem's season-opening 14-0 mercy-rule win at Rochester's Spaulding High.

Concord's Lindsey Stevenson reached on an infield error to open the game. Then, Gubellini retired 21 outs in a row. Her complete-game masterpiece took 65 minutes to complete.

“I can feel it, when things are good,” said Gubellini, a four-year pitcher for the Blue Devils and scholarship recruit of Quinnipiac University. “Some days, some pitches are better than others.”

Gubellini claimed her changeup – among an array of pitches she throws with accuracy and confidence – wasn't consistently sharp against the Crimson Tide.

She could have fooled Concord coach Duke Sawyer. She did fool her share of hitters.

“She's tough. Salem's tough,” said Sawyer, who took last year's Tide team to the state final. “She pitched against us last year a little bit. She did well last year, too.”

In addition to fanning eight, Salem's ace induced 12 outs via grounders or weak infield pop-ups.

Everyone in the infield – from catcher Amanda Biron, third baseman Hannah Latham, shortstop Samantha Cloutier, second baseman Sarah Frahm and first baseman Emily O'Brien to Gubellini herself – played a part in recording at least one of those 12 outs.

Only one fly ball reached the outfield. Center fielder Stephanie Long tracked it down.

Strong pitching is nothing new at Salem, where Granite State legend Harold Sachs has led the Blue Devils to 14 state titles.

But last year's quarterfinal-round exit was a stunner. The Blue Devils, as the top tournament seed, were beaten by Nashua's Bishop Guertin High.

“We won the regular-season league last year. We believed we were the best team last year. That has not changed in our thinking,” said Sachs, who won his 500th career game last May. “And we just think we're better this year. I don't know what that's going to mean down the road.”

Should Gubellini give Salem a season worth of strong starts, it might mean trouble for the opposition.

MORE DIAMOND DOMINANCE
NHIAA baseball's April 9 Opening Day included a pair of mercy-rule-shortened no-hitters.

Jordan Bean tossed one for Division II St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover. Nick Massa celebrated the other for Division II Kennett High of Conway.

STA beat Division I Dover High, 10-0, in five innings. Bean, a senior, tallied seven strikeouts and set down 14 batters to close the contest after issuing a one-out walk in the opening frame.

He also had the game-winning hit: a first-inning solo home run.

Kennett defeated Division III Berlin High, 10-0, in five innings. Massa, also a junior, fanned seven, walked one and contributed a run-scoring hit.

STILL GOING STRONG
Portsmouth High began taking aim at its fifth consecutive Division II baseball championship April 9. Coach Tim Hopley & Co. opened with an 11-1 win at Wolfeboro's Kingswood Regional.

The six-inning, 10-run mercy decision marked the 84th consecutive win for the Clippers.

Briefly the national record-holder late last spring, Portsmouth opened the 2012 campaign with an active win streak that ranked second to Martensdale-St. Mary's High (87) of Martensdale, Iowa.

Billy Hartmann ripped three hits, the biggest being an RBI double in the fifth. Hartmann's key hit snapped a 1-1 tie and sparked a seven-run outburst.

Rick Holt, the team's pitching ace this season, helped his cause with a two-run double. Dillon Crosby connected for a three-run, sixth-inning homer that capped the onslaught.

"I was pleased with the way we handled ourselves in the first week," said Hopley, whose club won its 85th straight game, a 12-1 decision at Northwood's Coe-Brown Academy, on April 13. "Our pitching was good, offensively we were okay. But we've got to do a better job on the defensive side of the ball. Our timing and judgment were off, and we'll have to pay more attention to that in the immediate future so that it doesn't become a problem."

'MID-SEASON FORM'
Since boys' lacrosse was first sanctioned by the NHIAA in 1994, only two programs in New Hampshire have celebrated a championship three-peat.

Bishop Guertin this spring aims to join Division I rival Pinkerton Academy of Derry (1994-97, 1999-2002) and Division II Bow High (2002-04, 2008-10) in accomplishing the feat.

Guertin's Cardinals, heavy preseason favorites to win a fifth overall title, started strong in their Division I opener April 10. The state's No. 1-ranked team in the New Hampshire GameDay top 10 (“X-factors: April 9-15, 2012”) overpowered No. 3 Hanover High, 15-3.

“They're, like, in mid-season form. We're still in preseason, I think,” quipped Hanover coach Jeff Reed, whose Marauders, Division I champs in 2007 and 2009 have teamed with the Cards to win all five titles from 2007-11.

Midfielder Paul Spinney powered BG's offense with a game-high four points (three goals, assist). His assist, on a dish to Hunter Allen late in the opening period, snapped a 1-1 deadlock.

It also set off a six-goal run to close the first half. Guertin's defense, when challenged, answered the call.

Close defenders Bob Fahey and Kyle Karaska, and long-stick midfielder Brody Smith, led the lock-down effort on Hanover's top threats. Attackman Christian Johansen and midfielder Christian Wolter didn't post a point.

“Our challenge to these guys is to come every day to practice, practice hard, get better by the time we leave the field,” BG coach Chris Cameron said. “And show up for every game.”

Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. Sports Show” on Manchester's WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

SPONSORED HEADLINES