Rachel Calnan

Magicians sneak past Bulldogs in closing minutes

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Marblehead’s Virginia Linzitto drives for a layup between Shayla Manon and Julianna Perry of English. 

By STEVE KRAUSE

MARBLEHEAD — If the Lynn English girls basketball could play with the type of drive and passion at the end of games the way it does at the beginning, things might be a lot different.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Bulldogs got off to a blistering start, but limped home in the fourth quarter. As a result, Marblehead dropped English to 2-7 with a 38-35 win.

“We certainly didn’t have the energy at the end of the game that we had in the beginning,” said English coach Mackenzie Charles. “We had too many turnovers and we gave them too many points in the paint.”

Actually turnovers plagued both teams. However, once Marblehead found its rhythm, early in the second half, the Magicians kept it up while English faltered on a number of occasions.

“I think they just got tired,” said Marblehead’s Wayne Hanscom. “I think we were tired too. They don’t have much depth and neither do we.”

The 5-4 Magicians started out colder than a polar vortex. English came out of the gate running, and built up a 9-0 lead before the Magicians could get a bucket. Ely Guity and Dorathy Ezemba, who scored nine first-quarter points between them, gave English a 13-6 lead after one.

It didn’t get much better for Marblehead at the beginning of the second quarter either. Rachel Calnan and Sheyla Manon scored back-to-back hoops to open the period, and it was 17-6, English. That’s where the Bulldogs started to cool off.

Marblehead co-captains Lindsay Walker (game-high 17 points) and Ashley Stiles (10) began to take over. They made it a point to go to the basket. If they could not hit their shots from the floor, they hit them from the line. Walker sunk four free throws and Stiles one more to close the gap to 18-11 by the break.

It may have been only a 7-point lead, but Marblehead couldn’t do much from the floor in the third quarter either. The Magicians did just enough to keep the game under control. It took a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the period by English’s Tommi Hill to get the lead up to five (27-22) with eight minutes to go.

The fourth quarter turned into a good battle. Walker hit two baskets right away to whittle English’s lead down to a point, but Calnan hit one to get it back up to three (29-26). Both teams went through large stretches of missed baskets and turnovers before Walker brought Marblehead to within a point again (29-28) before Hannah Garthe hit a trey with 3:54 to go to give the Magicians their first lead of the game (31-29). Guity tied it back up right Walker and Stiles hit back-to-back baskets to make it 35-31.

Guity sunk a basket in to make it a two-point game, and Marblehead’s Montana Joyce hit one free throw after that, but it was still a one-possession game with 30 seconds to go.

English was angling for a 3-pointer in hopes of tying the game and sending into overtime, but Marblehead guarded the perimeter effectively and Ezemba settled on a two-pointer, which forced English to foul. Stiles hit two free throws to put the game out of reach as time ran out.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

GIRLS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: English defense steps up

FILE PHOTO
Ely Guity and the Bulldogs closed out a win over Gloucester on Tuesday. 

By HAROLD RIVERA AND MIKE ALONGI 

The Lynn English girls basketball team has struggled to close out games this season. Tuesday night, they finally finished a game the way they’d hope to. Behind a number of key stops down the stretch, English downed Gloucester, 52-46.

“They played together and they played hard,” English coach Mackenzie Charles said of his players. “We played really good defense with key stops at the end of the game. We haven’t finished a game all season, we’ve been having problems with that. We’ve been struggling with rebounds so I think the combination of those things equalled a win.”

Dorathy Ezemba led the winning efforts with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“She (Ezemba) rebounded well,” Charles said. “She pushes the ball well and she’s very physical.”

Ely Guity scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished five assists.

“She (Guity) had a great game, five of her rebounds were on the offensive glass,” Charles said. Charles also credited Rachel Calnan and Shelya Manon for their performances in the win. English is back in action on Friday when the Bulldogs visit Marblehead. “We’ll get back to practice tomorrow and work hard,” Charles said. “We understand this in a win but Friday’s another game.”

Lynn Tech 44, Greater Lawrence 28

Alondra Sanchez had the hot hand offensively for the Tigers, putting up 17 points. Annmarie Texiera added eight and Jamila Constantine scored six. Malvelis Hernandez was solid on defense.

The Tigers (3-5) had to climb back from an early 8-0 deficit, but coach Kaitlyn Wechsler said that after a few timeouts and conversations with her team, something clicked.

“We turned up the pressure and worked very well together,” Wechsler said. “It was like a switch flipped and we started to figure it out. It was an overall great team win.”

Revere 65, Swampscott 56

A tied game after a quarter, the Patriots outscored the Big Blue 21-6 in the second quarter to pull away. Despite putting up 24 points in the third, Swampscott couldn’t claw all the way back into this one.

Valentina Pepic led Revere with 24 points, Pamela Gonzalez added 18 and Meghan Gotham chipped in with 10.

Archbishop Williams 77, Bishop Fenwick 44

Sam Mancinelli logged 15 points for the Crusaders, five assists and four steals, while Fredi DeGuglielmo added 14 points and Jaxson Nadeau had eight points and four steals.

Peabody 53, Salem 32

The Tanners (3-3) got 13 points from Melissa Gray and nine points and 14 rebounds from Nene Onwuogu. Katie Wallace had eight points.

Peabody will take on Winthrop on Friday night.

Swampscott’s defense stands strong in win over English

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Swampscott’s Hannah Leahy reaches out to try and deflect a rebound pulled down by English’s Rachel Calnan.

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — The Swampscott girls basketball team prides itself on defense. Tuesday evening, the Big Blue brought their defensive showcase to the Boverini Tournament at Lynn English as they topped the Bulldogs, 44-32.

English started the game off on the right foot as Dorathy Ezemba scored six points in a first quarter that ended in a 10-10 tie. From there on out, the Bulldogs struggled to find rhythm on offense.

“I thought we took a step back in the communication phase today,” English coach Mackenzie Charles said. “Some of the girls were a bit overwhelmed with the tension of that game, so that was new to them. We have to play with a better effort, consistently.”

On the flip side, the Big Blue could hang their hats on another strong defensive performance as they held a talented Bulldogs team, that suits plenty of scoring weapons on its roster, to just 32 points.

“For us it’s defense first,” Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard said. “We know if we can limit teams in scoring, we can win the game.”

The Big Blue built their first stable lead of the game in the second quarter when they came out of the gates with a 5-0 run. Rachel Calnan stopped the bleeding for English when she knocked down a free throw to get the Bulldogs back on the board. Swampscott led 22-15 at the half.

In the third quarter, Swampscott opened with a pair of buckets from Hannah Leahy and Ella Parker. English’s Shelya Manyon sunk a hook shot seeking to get the Bulldogs back in the game, but Swampscott’s Maggie DiGrande hit a three-pointer in retaliation. The Big Blue led 35-23 after the third quarter.

In the fourth, English began to find life again. Tommi Hill hit a three pointer and Ely Guity knocked in a jump shot to cut Swampscott’s lead down to seven points.

“In the late third quarter and early fourth, it seemed like they played a little better,” Charles said. “We just can’t dig a hole like that and expect us to get out of it.”

Unfortunately for English, Swampscott buckled down on defense in the final minutes of the game and walked away with a 44-32 win. The Big Blue advance to the championship game of the tournament today at 5 p.m., where they’ll clash against St. Mary’s.

“I know they’re really tough,” Leonard said of the Spartans. “It’s good to play good teams. They can only make us better. We’re going to go right at them and give them the best game we can.”

Ezemba led the Bulldogs with 11 points. English will face Classical in the consolation game today at 2 p.m.


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

Girls test mettle in Duchane girls basketball jamboree

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Fenwick’s Sam Mancinelli gets a step on Revere’s Tatianna Iacoviello in the Duchane Jamboree Saturday at the Classical gym.

By SCOT COOPER

LYNN — The Paul Duchane Girls Basketball Jamboree is one of the first tests area teams get as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Held every year at the Classical gym, in memory of the man who taught and coached throughout the Lynn school system, the 24th annual jamboree Saturday saw English, Swampscott, Marblehead, Malden, Somerville, Medford, Saugus, Danvers, Hamilton-Wenham, Reading, Peabody, Revere, Bishop Fenwick, Georgetown and Masconomet take part.

The 16 teams each played two quarters, and the stands were filled with fans, and also quite a few area coaches, scouting and filming teams they’ll face somewhere down the line this season.

Classical came out fairly strong against Masconomet in the day’s last game, racing out to a 4-1 lead on four points by Paris Wilkey. The Chieftains took their first lead at 8-6, but a bucket by Irianis Delgado tied the score at eight apiece.

Things went south for the Rams after that, Masconomet cruised to a 29-8 lead before Skyler Creighton swished one for Classical. The Chieftains scored at the buzzer for a 31-10 final.

Rams coach Tom Sawyer said the team has to practice much harder before Tuesday night’s season opener against Everett.  

“I thought we started the game well,” he said. “The kids competed hard all night, we just didn’t finish very well after that good start.

“We’ve got to make adjustments and turn up the intensity at practice before our game with Everett. We need to practice at a much higher intensity level, and carry that high intensity level into games this season,” he said.

English scored four seconds into its game with Georgetown, Ely Guity took the tip and she floored it to the basket for an easy layup. Bulldogs coach Mackenzie Charles was coaching in his first jamboree, a 21-10 win, and he liked the effort by his club Saturday evening.

“It was a really good scrimmage for our team,” he said “I thought we played well. We’re a young team, we have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I thought we did a good job tonight,” Charles said.

“It’s early and this is a long season, but what we want to do is come out and get better every time out, and I think we did a good job in this scrimmage.

“We have a lot of things that I want to see this team get better at as the season goes on, but I liked the effort tonight from our team,” Charles said. “As long as we improve and learn something every time we step on the court, that’s what I want to see happen with this team this year.”

English senior captain Rachel Calnan was the high scorer against the Royals (9 points), and she said that hard work and communication are going to be key issues that have to be addressed by her team this winter if the Bulldogs are going to be successful.

“I thought we communicated very well on the court, and we need to keep doing that this season,” Calnan said. “We were very aggressive on the boards, and I think that’s a very good thing for our team, we have to keep playing aggressively and communicating on the court every game this season.”

Marblehead was as cold from the floor as it was outside the Classical field house early in its game against Malden. The Magicians heated up very nicely in the second quarter and rolled over the Golden Tornado, 24-10.

The Magicians were led on offense by captains Lindsay Walker and Ashley Stiles, as well as Maddie Lowi and Darcy O’Sullivan. The winners were up 9-6 after one quarter and outscored Malden 15-4 in the second quarter.  

Marblehead coach Wayne Hanscom was pleased the team kept working and broke out of its shooting slump as the game wore on.

“You only play a half, we played everyone, but we did miss a lot of bunnies,” Hanscom said. “We kept working, the girls never got frustrated, and the ball started to drop for us.”

Swampscott zipped out to a 15-1 lead over Somerville after one quarter, and Blue coach Katelyn Leonard played everybody in a 24-18 win. Swampscott’s starting five, Hannah Leahy, Katie Watts, Maggie DiGrande, Nikki Rosa and Ella Parker all scored for Swampscott early, with freshman Olivia Matella knocking down some big threes in the first quarter.

Leonard said it’s always good to have a fast start.

“We looked really strong early on, we were working really well with and without the ball,” Leonard said. “It’s all about defense with us, and I think we played a very solid game today, defensively.”

Saugus took a 15-0 lead into the break against Medford, and cruised past the Mustangs, 29-6.

Sachems coach Mark Schruender liked the high-energy game his team played.

“We started great,” he said. “Too bad we can’t save some of those points. It was a great start for our team.

“The girls were very hungry out there, I thought. You practice for a couple of weeks and see the same faces, so tonight, against another team we came out really well, we played very hard, and I’m happy about that. Let’s hope it continues.”

Peabody had a tough time in its game against Reading. The Tanners had three starters watching the game from the bench with injuries and lost 28-8. Peabody got a bucket from Catherine Manning and free throws by Liz Zaiter, Hannah Pellizzaro Alyssa Alperin and Katie Wallace. Coach Stan McKeen said there is work to do for his team.

“It was tough with three starters on the bench, but we need to get better on defense, and certainly in offense,” McKeen said. “Hopefully everyone will be back on Friday night and we can go out and play better basketball.”

Last year’s Bishop Fenwick team took the state title, and this winter seven of those players are back for coach Adam Debaggis. The Crusaders were able to spoil Revere’s Lianne O’Hara’s Duchane head coaching debut with a 20-15 win. It wasn’t O’Hara’s first Duchane game; she was an assistant for many years with Fenwick.

Revere was coming off a hard-fought, emotional win Friday night at St. Mary’s.

Samantha Mancinelli, Sammi Gallant, Olivia DiPietro and Elizabeth Pica led the way on offense for Fenwick. Valentina Pepic, Elizabeth Lake, Pamela Gonzalez and Tatiana Iacoviello had buckets for the Patriots.

“Last year was last year, it was exciting, but this year is this year,” Debaggis said. “We miss Lianne a lot, but we’re focused on a big season, and we have a lot of work to do, as long as we all work hard, we will be a tough team to beat.”

“We kind of started off a little slow (down 8-0), a little messy, so we have to work on that, come out a little better to start games,” O’Hara said. “I love this tournament, I loved it when I was at Fenwick, I love it now that I’m with Revere. We just need to come out a little better in games and we’ll got from there.”

Danvers and Hamilton-Wenham played a thriller in their game. It looked like the Generals would have an easy ballgame, going up 16-3 early in the first. The Falcons hung around, fought back and trailed by a bucket after a steal and a swish by Tina Gigli with 11 seconds to play. Hamilton-Wenham was able to run out the clock and hold on for a 29-27 win.

 

Charles takes over girls hoops team at English

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Coach MacKenzie Charles keeps an eye on his team during English’s first basketball practice on Monday afternoon. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

Mackenzie Charles is no stranger to the sport of basketball. He’s also no stranger to coaching.  

Charles will look to put his basketball and coaching experience to use as he begins his newest endeavor as the head coach of the Lynn English girls basketball team.

Charles, a Lynn native, was a former standout football and basketball player at Lynn Tech. He was named coach of the English program in August by athletic director Dick Newton.

“It’s good to be in a new position and a new building,” Charles said. “I’ve also been a Lynn guy so I have relationships at English, Classical, Tech and St. Mary’s. I have a good network and I appreciate that. Newton and principal (Thomas) Strangie welcomed me with open arms and they trust that I’m going to do a good job. I want to keep that trust.”

After being forced to move on from his basketball career due to an ACL and MCL injury he suffered on the gridiron, Charles threw his hat into the coaching ring. He now has 12 years of coaching experience in both basketball and football.

His current duties at English also include another coaching role as an assistant on the staff of the Bulldogs football team.

“It’s been fun,” Charles said of his experiences in coaching. “It keeps me busy and with my community. It keeps me as a positive member of the community by leading by example.”

Charles noted that he’s built a familiarity with the program over the years, allowing for a smoother transition into his new role. A pair of his current players on the English roster played for him at the AAU level.

“A couple of the girls, Dorothy (Ezemba) and Ely (Guity), played AAU and I coached them a little during my years coaching there,” Charles recalled. “I’m meeting a lot of the other girls for the first time but I think they’ll embrace having a new coach and building off of what (former coach) Rachael Bradley has done.”

Joining Charles on the new coaching staff are former English girls standout Jeanette Anderson, Tod Burton, Mackenson Charles, Keith Lee and Rod Valerie.

“What’s special about this staff is that they each have a full-time job working with kids,” Charles shared. “I wanted to put together a coaching staff that was kids-first and not basketball-first. We want to care about the student first before the basketball player.”

Charles added, “I really like our coaching staff. I think there’s a good balance between us and we all have good voices that come with positive attitudes.”

The Bulldogs tipped off their preseason with the team’s first practice of the 2016-2017 campaign Monday afternoon, and Charles noted that he’s already seeing positives from both his players and coaches.

“We all have the same mission,” Charles said of his coaches. “We want to help these kids get better every day. When the coaching staff is on the same page, it’s easy to send that message.”

He added, “We’re doing a lot of conditioning (to the start the preseason.) To play the style of basketball that I want us to play, we’re going to have to be in shape. Today we did a lot of conditioning and I think the girls responded well to that.”

The Bulldogs will rely on a handful of returning starters this upcoming season in Ezemba and Guity, as well as Tommi Hill and team captain Rachel Calnan. The team will look to play an up-tempo style of basketball, backed by an aggressive defense.

“I preach hard work and defense,” Charles said. “We want to be aggressive, we want to be fast, we want to play great defense and we want to be great teammates.”


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

Classical gives English the doughnut in Powder Puff

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Devyn Astuccio runs toward the goalline chased by English’s Caitlin Geaney.

By Scot Cooper

LYNN — There were many adjectives that were tossed around during Sunday’s Powder Puff game between Classical and English.

Crisp, raw, windy, brutally cold and blustery were all used to describe the conditions. In the end, two touchdowns by two No. 2s paved the way for a 13-0 win by the Rams.

The score of last year’s game was also 13-0. However, this year it was quarterback Kaley Sirois wearing No. 2, and running back Devyn Astuccio, also sporting the deuce, who put the points on the board for the winners.

After being shut out in the first half, the Rams scored on their opening drive in the third quarter, with Sirois sneaking in from the one. Astuccio eliminated any hopes of a last-second Bulldog comeback by racing 74 yards with 1:18 left in the game to lock up the Ram win.

Bulldog coach Dick Newton said the conditions were tough on both teams, especially the passing game, and he said both teams did a nice job.

“It was tough to throw, and their defense did a nice job defending the run against us,” Newton said. “We had four weeks to work with the girls. It’s much easier to teach defense than it is offense, and I thought both teams were outstanding defensively.

“Credit to Classical, they were able to make a few plays on offense and we were not,” Newton said.

Both teams had drives deep into their opponents’ red zones in the first half, but could not seal the deal and get six points. Classical’s defensive backs covered Bulldog receivers very tight, and made it tough for quarterback Cynthia DeLeon to find an opening.

Two English drives in the first half were thwarted by picks from a very aggressive Ram secondary. Leyani Anderson and Amanda Thoeun both picked off English passes in the first half.

The English passing defense was perfect in the first half as the Rams did not complete a pass until the third quarter.

On the ground for the Bulldogs, DeLeon, Kosama Chhay, Beri Letts, Taylor Sullivan and Rachel Calnan all had big runs, but could not get the ball into the end zone in the first half. The Rams spread the ball around, with Sirois, Astuccio and Agnes Bangura getting the bulk of the carries.

Classical thought it had broken the shutout when Bangura ran right in front of the English bench into the end zone from 22 yards out, but the TD was called back because of a personal foul penalty on the Rams.

Classical got the ball to start the second half and went 65 yards in 10 plays to break the shutout. Sirois hit four straight passes for first downs, hooking up with Michelle Scuzzarella twice and twice with Rachel Jordan to get the ball down to the English one. Sirois kept it and dove in from the line of scrimmage, and the PAT kick by Astuccio was right down the middle, and the Rams were up by seven.

Classical stopped English on two fourth-down attempts, and were looking to run out the clock when Astuccio took a handoff at the Ram 24 and sprinted in front of her teammates to ice it. Astuccio said she was running with her purpose: her teammates made her a promise that they would take care of her if she scored a touchdown.

“They promised me doughnuts, seriously,” Astuccio said. “They were all pulling for me, and they said they would buy me donuts if I scored, so I scored. This was so much fun today, just an excellent time, just great, we’re so happy right now, this is great, now I get my doughnuts!”

Sirois said it was tough to throw but her team kept at it and were able to get into the end zone in the second half. It was too windy to make a good pass,” Sirois said. “We came out and did a great job in the second half and we were able to make the plays that won us the game. This was great, just so much fun.”

Classical coach Rob Smith said he was on Cloud 9 himself, just like his girls.

“The girls were awesome, I mean awesome, we had what 20 days to get ready and all of these girls were great, did I say they were awesome yet,” Smith asked. “These girls put it all together, offense and defense in about 20 days, they were great, I’m happy for them, and I‘m incredibly happy myself right now.”

Newton said it was a defensive struggle Sunday, like it is every year.

“We had a great effort on defense by Kylie Moorehouse, and Katrina Cox,” Newton said. “On offense Kosama Chhay, Rachel Calnan, Taylor Sullivan and our quarterback Cynthia DeLeon did a great job for us too.”

Danvers rolls over English

Danvers’ Abbi Clickstein keeps the ball away from Sydney Denham, right, and the rest of the English defense. Item Photo by Katie Morrison

By Katie Morrison

LYNN — English girls soccer coach Ed McNeil knows that his Bulldogs will have to take their lumps in a Northeastern Conference that is stocked with some of the most formidable teams in Eastern Mass.

It was one of those games Monday afternoon at Manning Field, as Danvers, a team that looks poised to make a run at the NEC title, blanked the Bulldogs, 9-0.

The Falcons scored early and often, and netted four goals in the first 10 minutes against English. Danvers got goals from Hannah Lejeune, Riley Baker, Lydia Runnals, Teagan Gilliss, Sarah McCarriston, Isabel McKenna, Hailey Chisholm and Lauren Clement, with Lejeune scoring twice.

McNeil said he knew it’d be a tough game coming in; it always is against Danvers. In fact, McNeil said that it’s been over 20 years since the Bulldogs have even scored against the Falcons.

To make the hill even steeper for English to climb, the Bulldogs were without five starters. Rachel Calnan, Caitlin Geaney and Alexa Zayas were all banged up, but McNeil hopes to have them back soon.

But even so, it’s tough to ignore the disparity in the NEC. Danvers is simply a stronger team than English, and last season, the Bulldogs were outscored, 57-0, by the strongest teams in the league.

“It’s the haves, and the have-nots,” McNeil said. “We’re one of the have-nots. They’re better than we are, there’s not much you can do.”

Still, the Bulldogs kept their heads in the game and did what they could to slow down a powerful Danvers offense. English held Danvers to one goal in the second half, but struggled to gain and maintain possession for any length of time.

On the other hand, ball possession is clearly a strength for a Danvers team that returns a lot of faces from last year’s team, which went 11-2-5 in the regular season before falling to eventual Division 2 North champion Masconomet in the first round of the tournament. The romp over English was definitely a good way for the Falcons to open their 2016 season.

“The girls have been itching to get on the field,” Danvers coach Jim Hinchion said. “We have a lot of girls back from last year. We’re a very experienced so we’re hoping we’re going to have a really successful year. They looked sharp today, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come down the road for us.”

Unfortunately for English, they’ll take on another team Wednesday that has the potential to be as good, if not better, than Danvers in the Peabody Tanners. But thankfully for McNeil, his team is very resilient.

“You take your beatings, but the thing is, these girls never quit,” McNeil said. “They worked hard. Emma Trahant, Taylor Sullivan, they never left the field. They never quit, never get down. They’ll be in as good a mood tomorrow as if they had won the game today.”

St. Mary’s captures Lynn Invitational title

St. Mary’s Codi Butt traps the ball with her foot while English defender Lauren Moorehouse stays close. Photo by Bob Roche

By Steve Krause

LYNN — At this time last year, Codi Butt was still recovering from a broken leg that she suffered during a summer soccer league game.

What a difference a year makes. Where she didn’t get on the field until late October 2015, she’s started off with a bang this season.

Butt scored two goals Saturday and St. Mary’s defeated Lynn English, 5-1, to win the Lynn Invitational Soccer Tournament girls championship at Manning Field.

Butt, a sophomore striker, is off to about as hot a start for a soccer player as possible. She has now scored nine goals in three games. And she gives her teammates all of the credit.

“It’s them, doing what they do,” she said. “They’re the ones who have set me up to score the goals. I couldn’t do any of this without them.”

St. Mary’s was never in trouble. The Spartans scored all their goals in the first half, beginning with a point-blank shot by Kayla Denen in the 13th minute. Butt scored the first of her two in the 26th minute, picking the ball from two English defenders, turning around, and put it into the net.

English put the ball in its own net for St. Mary’s third goal, with it being credited to Sherly Feliz, and Jocelyn Descences scored on another turn-around shot to make it 4-0, Spartans.

Butt put the fifth one in with less than two minutes to go in the half.

“It was a good first half,” said St. Mary’s coach Jim Foley. “We’re a little young, and I think that had something to do with a bit of a slow start. There were a lot of nerves out there … championship game and all. We had to settle down.”

But at the half, something happened that made English coach Ed McNeill happy.

“On one of their goals I thought there was someone out of bounds,” he said, “and we muffed one. So it wasn’t as bad as all that.

“I told the girls we could go out there and lose 10-0, or we could go out there and play to win the second half. I’m so happy we did that.”

English kept St. Mary’s off the board in the final 40 minutes while Rachel Calnan scored off a corner kick to keep the Bulldogs from being shut out.

“We didn’t quit,” said McNeill. “I liked that very much.”

He was very impressed with St. Mary’s.

“Boy,” he said. “I give them all the credit in the world. They are good. They may be young, but they are very fast.”

 

Senior-laden English squad sets sights on city tourney title

English’s Grace Gately shows off her skill of spinning the ball on her finger. Item Photo by Bob Roche

By Katie Morrison

With 14 seniors making up the majority of the Lynn English girls soccer squad, the Bulldogs know this is their chance to make some noise in the Northeastern Conference.

“This is probably the most seniors I’ve ever had,” said coach Ed McNeil, who enters his 12th year at the helm. “We’re very top-heavy.”

The Bulldogs lost only three players to graduation, and have a strong core of seniors, which includes captains Emma Trahant, Taylor Sullivan, Caitlin Geaney, Rachel Calnan and Krista Bowden.

“They’re all best friends,” McNeil said, “and they’ve all played together for four years at English.”

English finished 5-15 last season while competing in a conference that includes elite teams like Marblehead, Swampscott and Danvers. While the road doesn’t get any easier for the Bulldogs in 2016, McNeil knows this is one of their best chances in a long time to gain some ground in the conference.

“There’s a lot of tough competition in this league,” McNeil said. “We haven’t made it to the tournament in my time here, and our most wins in a season is seven. But I’ve never had a team work as hard as this one. These girls have really bought into the season.”

McNeil will look to Trahant, who he calls the team’s best all-around player, to step up this season. Sullivan and Geaney will hold down the defense in front of two goalies who will split time and compete for minutes, senior Kerry Robles and junior Tommi Hill.

The Bulldogs biggest challenge last year was finding the back of the net. English scored just 15 goals in its 20 games last season. its main offensive weapon will be junior Alexa Zayas, who scored 10 of the team’s 15 goals in 2015. But McNeil says he knows the team has to play to its strengths, and keep the score low.

“Our plan is to try and score early, then play defense and hold on,” he said.

The Bulldogs midfield is strong, with Sydney Denham and Lauren Moorehouse on the outside and Trahant in the middle. Senior forward/midfielder Cynthia DeLeon will also help out offensively.

The Bulldogs added a new assistant coach, Abby Driscoll, who was a captain at St. Mary’s.

While English has state tournament aspirations, the first hurdle to clear in this season is playing well in the Lynn City Tournament. The Bulldogs will take on Tech in the opening game Tuesday.

“We just want to get to the championship game, no matter who we’ll be playing,” McNeil said.

The Bulldogs could get the chance to play rival Classical in the finale, but even if it doesn’t shake out that way, McNeil knows his girls are looking forward to the first time the two teams meet.

“We have such a great rivalry,” he said. “All of the girls know each other, and they’re friends, but not once they get on the field.”

The Rams beat English three times last season, so the Bulldogs will look for payback. If they don’t meet in the Lynn City tournament, the two rivals will first face off on Sept. 26.

Swampscott’s Leahy named NEC Player of the Year in softball

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Swampscott pitcher Hannah Leahy was named the Northeastern Conference Player of the Year in softball on Friday.

Swampscott pitcher Hannah Leahy, who has helped the Big Blue get to the Division 2 North Final, is the player of the year in Northeastern Conference softball.

The selections, made by the league’s coaches, were announced Friday.

Beverly’s Megan Sudak was named the coach of the year and English received the sportsmanship award.

Danvers High was the NEC North champion this spring while Marblehead and Swampscott shared the south title.

Besides Leahy, pitchers on the all-conference team are Brooke Westmoreland, Saugus; and Karina Keenan, Gloucester; catchers are Allison Kapoll, Marblehead, Meaghan Leavitt, Classical and Juliana Cecere, Revere..

Infielders are Ally Hinojosa, Revere; Montana Joyce and Sara Bornstein, Marblehead; and Hannah Llewellyn, Danvers.

Outfielders are Ally Cabral and Marlee Hamor, Beverly; and Madison Mucci, Danvers.

North all-stars are Elizabeth Prentiss and Daria Papamechail, Danvers; Gia Santanello, Revere; Julia Pitman and Olivia George, Beverly; Tianna Dawe, Amanda Crawford and Ashley Jenkins, Peabody; Alaina Gridley and Kaitlin Marcinko, Classical; and Rachel Calnan and Sarah Tobin, English.

South stars are Sara Francis and Meagan Manning, Gloucester; Emily Promise and McKenzie Joyce, Marblehead; Katie Watts, Olivia Cooke and Riley Lord, Swampscott; Caity Sheehan and Alex Almquist, Saugus; Gabbie Kenniston, Winthrop; and Tayla O’Leary, Salem.

Nowicki dominant in Spartans’ Holland tourney win

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Holland tournament MVP Mia Nowicki and Katie Terban celebrate the win.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — If there were any doubt that St. Mary’s Mia Nowicki is a special high school softball pitcher, the 2016 John Holland Memorial Softball Tournament may end up being her official coming-out party.

Nowicki, a junior, was tremendous Saturday and Sunday. The Chelsea resident struck out 23 batters over two days, leading the Spartans to the championship, and was named the tournament’s MVP. It took the Spartans nine innings to defeat Classical, 6-4, Sunday — a day after eking out a taut 1-0 thriller over Swampscott in the preliminary.

“It’s nice to have her at the end of games, because other teams just can’t believe it when they see her,” said coach Paige Licata. “They know about her, but then when they see her it’s something else.”

Nowicki fanned 15 Swampscott hitters Saturday night, out-dueling the Big Blue’s Hannah Leahy, who struck out nine and was also named to the all-tournament team. The game’s only run game when Katie Terban, who was also named to the all-tournament team, doubled home Frankie Simon, who had walked, in the sixth inning. Nowicki finished the preliminary with a flourish, striking out the final two Big Blue batters, one swinging and one called, with a runner on second.

Sunday, St. Mary’s Michaela Hamill and Classical’s Tori Adams matched wits for the first part of the game. Nowicki took over for the Spartans in the fifth, but Adams pitched every inning of both games. It was 4-4 after seven innings, and Nowicki made sure it stayed that way. Adams, however, seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. She even breezed through the first two batters in the ninth before St. Mary’s finally got to her.

With two out, Simon doubled to left-center. Vanessa VanBuskirk followed by lacing a triple to right-center that brought home Simon with the go-ahead run. Terban’s single scored VanBuskirk to make it 6-4.

“I’m so glad,” said Licata, “that it was our seniors who carried the day. Frankie, Vanessa and Katie all had big two-out hits and Hamill did a great job on the mount. If we don’t have Michaela, we don’t have a fresh Mia to finish the game today.”

Classical, which had to hang on for dear life to beat English, 7-6, in Saturday’s preliminary, went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, with Nowicki fanning two.

“It’s hard to face (Nowicki) when you only see her once around the batting order,” said Classical coach Erica Richard.

Adams and catcher Meg Leavitt were Classical’s representatives on the all-tournament team.

“When (Tori) is on, and she gets ahead of the hitters, the way she was doing today, she’s tough,” Richard said. “If she pitches the way she did today, it bodes well for the post-season.”

Leavitt knocked in three of Classical’s four runs, including the game-tying run in the fifth inning on a bunt that just eluded the dive of her counterpart, Emily Stephenson.

“She has, at times, carried this team on her back this year,” said Richard, noting that two of the players she’d projected as starters — Shannon Magner and Ally Dunnigan — suffered knee injuries in the off-season. Dunnigan was able to come back as the team’s designated player, but Magner missed both the winter and the spring with her torn ACL.

“This is such an awesome tournament,” said Richard. “The kids put as much heart and soul into this tournament as they do the regular state tournament.”

For St. Mary’s, Hamill and Tori DiCenso knocked in two runs each, and Terban knocked in a run and scored one.

Saturday night, Classical led English 7-1 going into the seventh inning, but the Bulldogs would not go away quietly. They’d given the Rams all they could handle last Monday, and did it again.  English just kept pounding out hits in the seventh, with RBI from Sarah Tobin, Lindsay Lannon, Emma Trahant and two by Rachel Calnan.

Swampscott defeated the Bulldogs in the consolation game, 11-3, with the big blow coming off the  bat of Maisie Vazquez, who hit a towering three-run homer that cleared the bleachers outside the left-field fence.

The all-tournament team consisted of VanBuskirk and Terban from St. Mary’s, with Nowicki as the MVP: Adams and Leavitt from Classical; Tobin and Jill Bowden from English; and Leahy and Vazquez from Swampscott.

Classical softball overpowers English

PHOTO: JOYCE EREKSON
Classical pitcher Tori Adams got the win on the mound and added two hits at the plate on Friday morning.

By JOYCE EREKSON

 

LYNN — The Classical High softball team had it all working Friday in a 24-2 win over rival English at Grace Rogato Field.

The Rams (4-2) hit the trifecta. They had hot bats, led by sophomore catcher Meaghan Leavitt, with two doubles, a home run and six RBI; solid defense, and effective pitching by starter Tori Adams and reliever Johnna Calder. Classical pounded out 16 hits and took advantage of 11 walks.

The Bulldogs led 2-1 heading into the second inning. The Rams had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Calder scorched a double to the left field fence and then scored on a groundout by  Leavitt. English came back in the bottom half of the inning and tied the game on Rachel Calnan’s RBI double to left field. Emma Trahant, who had walked, beat out a throw to the plate by Rams’ centerfielder Madison Angelli. Third baseman Tommi Hill walked with the bases loaded to drive in the other run.

But it was all downhill the rest of the way for the Bulldogs. The Rams scored seven runs in the second inning, 12 in the third, two in the fourth and two in the fifth.

“I think we did a good job after a frustrating first inning,” said Classical coach Erica Richard. “We did a good job settling Tori down and everyone else down by getting seven runs in the second inning.  We were jumping out at good strikes in the beginning.”

The were plenty of offensive stars for the Rams, but none bigger than Leavitt. She drove in that first run in the first inning and as it turned out, she was just warming up. The sophomore, who moved into the catcher’s role this year, followed up with a three-run double to the left-center gap in the third inning that scored Michelle Scuzzarella, Calder and Alaina Gridley. Scuzzarella had reached on a single. The other two walked.

Leavitt’s crowning achievement came in that same inning when she hit a two-run moonshot over the left-field fence. Her first varsity homer, that scored Gridley. She had tripled down the left-field line a batter earlier to drive in Lindsey Tobin, Scuzzarella and Calder. Leavitt wrapped up a productive morning with a two-run double to centerfield in the fourth inning.

“She (Leavitt) has stepped up huge for us this year,” Richard said. “We had a difficult offseason losing a couple of really big kids. She’s been solid behind the plate and she’s a threat hitting in the three spot.”

Gridley finished with a single, triple and walk. Calder had three walks and a double and Madison Dana had a double and single. Adams not only picked up the win, but contributed two singles and a walk.

The Bulldogs (0-5) struggled at the plate and in the field, but there were some nice plays in the loss. Hill made a great catch on a foul ball that took her into the fence. Caitlin Geaney and Calnan provided the relief pitching for English.

“It’s a work in progress,” English coach Jack Bartlett said. “We’re at square one. We’ve got to teach the game. The walks, the hit batters, then the defense falls asleep and we start making errors.”

Revere explodes for 25 runs against English

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Cheyenne Fullen takes a cut at a pitch.

BY KATIE MORRISON

 

LYNN – The Revere offense exploded for 25 runs and took down English in five innings, winning 25-2, at Grace Rogato Field on Wednesday.

The Patriots improved to 5-0, and seem to be rolling along without star pitcher Sabrina Palmero, an All-Scholastic who graduated after last season.

Revere relies on Gia Santinello as its ace this season. Revere coach Joe Ciccarello knows the lineup must  perform if the Patriots want to keep winning.

The Pats did just that on Wednesday. English pitchers struggled to contain the deep lineup, and Revere put the game away early.

The first out of the game was sandwiched between three walks from starter Lindsey Lannon, who struggled with command. Gabby Cammarata came up with the bases loaded and made English pay for the walks, smacking a 2-RBI single. Alina Giuliano knocked in another run with a single. A bases-loaded walk to Cheyenne Fullen knocked in the fourth run of the frame for Revere. Another two walks and two singles later, the Bulldogs found their way out of the inning, but not before eight Patriots had crossed the plate.

While the Bulldogs were shaky on the mound, their lineup looked potent early on, especially the top four batters.

Sarah Tobin laced a double to deep center from the leadoff spot. Emma Trahant reached on a hit-by-pitch. That brought up veteran Rachel Calnan, who smoked a fastball to center to drive in two runs.

Unfortunately for English, Santinello settled down and changed speeds.

“They were attacking fastballs, so we had to get a little craftier at the plate and make sure we hit our spots a little better, and she got into a groove,” said Ciccarello. “Maybe she took them a little lightly at first, but she settled in.”

The Bulldogs would put just three more baserunners on the rest of the game, on a double from Tobin, a single from Tommi Hill and a walk from Trahant.

English coach Jack Bartlett couldn’t be reached for comment after the game.

Revere, on the other hand, never stopped hitting, and kept drawing walks.

Leadoff hitter Ally Hinojosa scored four times, drawing five walks and singling. Santinello doubled and walked four times. Victoria Correia had two hits, and Cammarata singled and walked twice. Guiliano singled twice and Fullen drew two walks and singled. Juliana Cecere had the best day of any Patriot by far, coming just a home run shy of the cycle with two singles, a double, a triple and a walk.

Ciccarello says that without a superstar pitcher, Revere has had to learn to win differently than they have for the past few years. A few runs may no longer be enough to sneak by some teams without Palmero’s arm.

“Our lineup is coming around,” he said. “Our goal this year is to win differently. When we had a 700-strikeout All-Scholastic kid in Sabrina, we won differently. We won on her arm.”

Now, the burden is on the lineup and the defense, which played a very clean game to keep English at bay.

“The ball’s going to be put in play more,” said Ciccarello. “We played Classical the other day and only had one strikeout, so we had to come up with 20 outs. Sabrina would average 10 strikeouts a game and make three plays herself, so we only had to make seven or eight. It’s a far cry from where we are. We’ve been talking about this from the get-go, but so far, so good.”

English softball looks to improve in 2016

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Kaitlin Geaney handles duties behind the plate during practice Friday.

By MATT FRASER

Whether it be a cliche, a humbled mindset or a mixture of both, the phrase “there is nowhere to go but up” rings true for the Lynn English softball team this spring after a one-win 2015 campaign.

“It was obviously a tough year for the program,” said coach Jack Bartlett, who is of firm belief that the Bulldogs will be far more competitive in his second year at the helm.

“Murphy’s Law really got the best of us last year. With a couple of good breaks here or there, we’re probably looking at seven wins or so, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Any team that can overcome such suffrage is most deserving of better karma, and should English solve its most daunting task of the preseason, it certainly figures to reap the benefits.  

With Northeastern Conference all-star battery-mates Shanna Zeramby and Sam Holey lost to graduation, the Bulldogs are seeking a successor to the role as ace in the pitcher’s circle.

Senior Emma Trahant, junior Rachel Calnan and sophomore Lindsey Lannon have engaged in a healthy competition for the right to start the season/home opener on April 11 against Danvers.

It remains entirely possible (and highly plausible) that English turns to a “committee approach,” as both Trahant and Calnan, the team’s most prominent offensive forces, are capable of playing leading roles from a defensive standpoint in the infield, as well.

Junior Sarah Tobin figures to play a vital role in the continued development of each of the three potential hurlers, as she will be called upon to take over behind the plate.

“I think we can surprise a lot of people (this year) if our pitching situation pans out,” said Bartlett, who noted that his team’s biggest strength lies in the depth of its infield, featuring sophomores Jill Bowden (first base), Grace Gately (second base) and Tommi Hill (third base).

Junior Caitlin Geaney and sophomore Brittany Barrows, both of whom figure to slot into the outfield, round out a returning group of nine, which has Bartlett and the Bulldogs really raring to go.

“Position by position, I think we are relatively strong but pitching is such an important aspect, especially in softball,” Bartlett said. “So we’re hoping to see production in the circle, which, in turn, will allow for the rest of our game to really focus on taking care of itself.”