Boston High School: Nolan Cornell

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
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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.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
3:54
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This had to be Merrimack High's mantra for the holiday tournament season: Why settle for just one title?

New HampshireIn the days after Christmas, the Tomahawks rolled to championships in arguably New Hampshire's top tournaments for boys' basketball and hockey.

The school's Division I hoop team, on the strength of a last-second 3-pointer from star guard Dimitri Floras, won the 48th annual Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament at Manchester Memorial High. The Division II hockey club, thanks to a fourth-round shootout goal from forward Chris Fortin, copped the Bauer Classic crown at Manchester's JFK Coliseum.

Talk about a wild week.

The hockey team's four-day run to the crown was the more surprising story. The reigning state runners-up, the Tomahawks were considered a mystery when the season started shortly before the holiday break. They graduated one of the state's top snipers (Erik Glendye) and said goodbye to their coach (Dan Legro).

They're a mystery no more.

After starting 3-0 in league play, the Tomahawks won four games at JFK. They beat three Division I teams, including defending champion Trinity High of Manchester, 3-1; reigning runner-up and perennial power Hanover High, 4-3 (shootout); and then-No. 1-ranked Memorial, 2-1 (shootout), in the final.

Goaltender Brett Glendye -- who made 45 title-game saves -- was named tournament MVP. Teammate and forward David Downie also earned a spot on the all-tourney team.

"I looked at (the holiday tourney) as a 'prove it' opportunity for the kids," Merrimack coach Kurt Mithoefer said. "Thus far, the kids have proven the naysayers wrong in terms of offensive ability and being a mystery team."

On the hardwood, the Tomahawks ended the feel-good story of the QCIBT.

Floras hit the big bucket that lifted Merrimack a 57-54 win over upstart Manchester West High. The 6-foot 2-inch junior guard -- named the tourney MVP -- drained a lead-changing 3-pointer from the left corner with 7 seconds to play. He finished the contest with 20 points, six assists and four rebounds.

"I missed a lot of easy ones tonight and felt like I let my team down. But I got the one that mattered most, I guess," Floras told the New Hampshire Union Leader after the Dec. 28 title-game win.

Merrimack's path to the title round included wins over Seacoast squads Dover High, 59-51, and Exeter High, 58-39.

But in the high-stakes round, it took a charging violation to clinch the win. Jeff Giannelli, a 6-foot-7 tower, held his ground as West's Jocarl Bureau drove the lane for a potential game-winning layup. The pivotal play came with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

The QCIBT runner-up a year earlier, Merrimack reached the championship game for the ninth time in the last 12 years. This year's title was the program's fourth in that span, and first since a three-peat from 2000-02.

"We played good. But my hats off to West," Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge told the statewide newspaper. "They made it come down to one shot."

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Guertin prepares for Mass. bout with No. 8 CM

September, 30, 2010
9/30/10
2:27
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NASHUA, N.H. — As if the challenge isn't already immense, the fact Bishop Guertin drubbed Catholic Memorial a year ago makes beating the Bay State squad a second time doubly difficult.

“They are going to be out for revenge,” BG senior quarterback Steve Cuipa said without the slightest hint of a smile during Tuesday's rain-soaked practice behind the high school.

Riding a state-best 20-game win streak and ranked No. 3 in New Hampshire, the Cardinals certainly don't expect Friday's 7 p.m. rematch in West Roxbury to resemble last October's laugher. BG blasted Catholic Memorial, 52-13, at Nashua's Stellos Stadium.

The Knights, currently ranked eighth in the ESPNBoston.com Mass. Top 25, haven't forgotten. Their 121 yards of total offense were dwarfed by BG's 450.

“The results last year weren't very pleasing to our side,” CM head coach Alex Campea said by phone. “There's no mincing words. They took it to us pretty good on offense, defense and special teams. If that's a motivating factor, that's a good thing.”

BG – last year's runaway No. 1 team in New Hampshire – scored the game's first 24 points. The rout helped cement the '09 squad among the Granite State's four greatest single-season teams in the schoolboy football playoff era (1972-present). Guertin joined Manchester Memorial (1972), Derry's Pinkerton Academy (1985) and Manchester Central (2004).

But the group Guertin (4-0, 3-0 Div. II) brings into this game bares little resemblance to last year's undefeated Division II champion. Thirty-four seniors graduated from the title team. For that matter, CM (3-0) also features several new faces.

The signal callers, however, are back.

A.J. Doyle leads CM's spread offense. The 6-foot 3-inch, 220-pound junior connected with wideout Armani Reeves for a game-winning 67-yard touchdown in CM's season opener against Lynn Classical.

Cuipa guides Guertin's spread-option attack. The 6-foot-2, 178-pounder threw for 198 yards and three TDs in BG's Week 1 rout at Salem. He also rushed for 51 yards.

Quarterbacks aside, BG's linebackers versus Catholic Memorial's multiple playmakers may be the most pivotal matchup.

Senior Jim Kemos, junior Nolan Cornell and sophomore Andrew Crane are BG's second-level stoppers. The trio is tough on plays between the tackles. But can it prevent junior running backs Donovan Henry and William Earl, along with Reeves, from making plays in the open field?

“They are big and they are fast,” BG head coach Tony Johnson said of the Knights. “If these kids get into space … we'll be chasing a lot of people.”

Campea's focus is making sure momentum this season continues to build for Catholic Memorial. His team last year left Nashua with its first loss in five games. CM went 1-4 after the Guertin game, the four losses coming against league rivals in the super-competitive Catholic Conference.

“We're going to be ready to go,” Campea said. “We're always excited about playing on Friday night. We're always excited about playing at home. That doesn't change when the opponent is a non-league opponent.

“There's a memory of how we didn't perform (last year),” Campea added. “But I want them thinking about how we need to perform.”

Catholic Memorial, though, isn't the only team prepared to make a point.

“This, to me, is as big a game as we're ever going to have,” said Johnson, who feels BG is representing New Hampshire's 57 schools fielding varsity football teams. “We all feel pretty compelled to make sure that people realize that this brand of football is pretty good. And despite the fact we're only 45 miles north of Boston, we do have a very talented group of kids in the state of New Hampshire.”

Or, as Cuipa said during Tuesday's downpour: “We want to go down there, play our best and win.”

Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News and UnionLeader.com. He has been the high schools reporter for football and lacrosse since joining the statewide newspaper in 2006. A graduate of Syracuse University (2000), he wrote about the state's football history for an exhibit at The Hall at Patriot Place. The Bedford, N.H., native has covered the Little League World Series, NCAA men's lacrosse championships, UNH athletics and New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball. He can be reached at marc.thaler@gmail.com.

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