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Records fall in YMCA New Englands

Sport:   Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Records fall in YMCA New Englands
Long Reach Swim Club and Casco Bay shine in Harvard University event

BATH — The Long Reach Swim Club of the Bath Area Family YMCA and the Casco Bay YMCA of Freeport competed last weekend in the YMCA New England Championships, held at Harvard University.

Long Reach picked up several first places as did Casco Bay.

In 11-12 boys, Evan Coleman of Casco Bay won the 50 butterfly in 27.26 and he captured the 50 backstroke in 28.39. Coleman also took second overall in the 100 back (1:01.45) and swam a leg on the 200 free relay of Zach Roland, John O'Gorman and Lucas Seid, which took ninth in 1:55.28.

James Wells of LRSC took first in the 100 back in 52.32, a state, team and New England record. In the same event, Niall Janney of LRSC was third in 52.91 and Matt Libby of Casco Bay fourth in 52.96. The old record was 53.07, set in 2000 by Matthew Musiak of Holyoke, Mass.

The LRSC Senior Boys 400 free relay of Philip Jacques, Ian Nichols, Wells and Janney took first in 3:17.08, while the 200 medley relay team of Wells, Janney, Nichols and Jacques set a team, state and New England record with a time of 1:37.58.

Janney established a team, state and New England record in the 100 individual medley with his winning time of 1:53.84. Not to be outdone, Janney also set a team, state and New England record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.83. In the same event, Wells was third (53.56), Libby fifth (54.73) and Jacques 12th (57.33).

In 11-12 girls, Jessica Russell set a state and team record in the 200 IM (2:19.05, good enough for second place), and she also set a state record in the 100 back (fourth, 1:05.17),

The 11-12 girls 200 medley relay of Jessica Russell, Hope Logan, Audrey Thames and Celia Ouellette set a team record (2:02.12, fourth), while the 200 free relay of Logan, Jessica Russell, Ouellette and Kara Mullin set a team and state record (1:48.12) to take second overall.

The boys team rankings had Western Conn. YMCA (747.5) in first, followed by the Andover (Mass.) YMCA (681), YMCA of the (Mass.) Northshore (632), Westport (Conn.) Weston Family YMCA (554) and Melrose (Mass.) YMCA (418). Long Reach was ninth with 259.50 points.

YMCA of the Northshore (1,160) took first for the females, followed by Andover YMCA (688), Long Reach (485.5), YMCA of Cape Cod (Mass., 385) and Melrose YMCA ( 357.5).

YMCA of the Northshore took first overall with 1,792 points with Long Reach fifth (748.5) and Casco Bay 34th (155.5).

"The kids once again swam great," said Long Reach coach Jay Morissette. "It is the end of a long season for most of them and the last of many championship meets so they were hanging on pretty well. The 15-18 boys finished second for the division with just six guys."

Heading to the National YMCA Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in early April are Wells, Niall Janney, Jacques, Nichols, Jack Burnham, Matt Johnson, Metcalf, Ridge, Bonnett, Petra Janney and Buczkowski, along with Matt Libby of Casco.

Following are the top-16 finishes for LRSC and Casco Bay.

Caitlin Tycz of LRSC took 13th in the 25 butterfly (17.81), third in the 25 back (18.90) and seventh in the 25 free (15.96).

Maxwell Gurney of LRSC took 15th in the 50 free (36.65) and 14th in the 25 free (16.20).

Sonia Lin of LRSC was third in the 100 breaststroke (1:23.81), ninth in the 50 back (36.30) and third in the 50 breaststroke (38.11).

Lin also swam with Lynsie Russell, Emilie Burrill and Bronwyn Morissette to take eighth in the 200 medley relay (2:28.54).

Also, Burrill placed eighth in the 100 breaststroke (1:26.91) and the 200 free relay of Morissette, Russell, Burrill and Lin took 12th in 2:12.81.

For the boys, Nate Samson placed 15th in the 100 free (1:10.73).

The 200 medley relay team of Spencer Lindsley, Tucker Banger, Kevin Tolan and Samson took 14th in 2:35.67, while the 200 free relay of Lindsley, Samson, Banger and Tolan placed 13th in 2:16.38.

Hope Logan of LRSC took third in the 50 butterfly (29.20), and Ouellette placed 11th in the 50 back (32.29), second in the 100 butterfly (1:05.72), and sixth in the 200 IM (2:27.18).

Jessica Russell placed fourth in the 100 free (57.03) and fourth in the 100 back (1:05.17).

Casco Bay's Abby Belisle Haley placed 15th in the 50 butterfly (30.44) and ninth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.59), while Amelia Deady placed 16th in the 200 free (2:14.80).

For the boys, Will Hadden of Casco Bay took 10th in the 50 butterfly (30.40), 13th in the 100 free (1:01.59), and 11th in the 50 free (27.70), while Travis Libsack placed 14th in the 50 back (33.62).

The LRSC 200 medley relay of Racheal Vanhooijdonk, Caitlin Foster, Petra Janney and Emily Buczkowski placed sixth in 2:02.45. The same four girls also swam the 200 free relay and took fourth in 1:48.40.

Also, Buczkowski placed seventh in the 50 free (26.43), while Janney was eighth in the 100 butterfly (1:03.20), 12th in the 100 back (1:05.35) and fifth in the 500 free (5:25.32). Foster placed 16th in the 500 free (5:53.77).

For the LRSC boys, Robbie Johnson placed 10th in the 100 back (1:03.08) and 10th in the 500 free (5:27.05).

The LRSC Senior girls 200 medley relay of Annie Metcalf, Abbey Ridge, Rebecca Bonnett and Rachel Clegg took ninth in 1:56.84.

Also, Bonnett was fifth in the 100 IM (2:19.50) and Clegg eighth (2:20.45), while Bonnett was 16th in the 100 butterfly (1:03.75), Clegg 11th in the 100 free (2:04.86) and Metcalf sixth in the 100 back (1:01.49) and fourth in the 500 free (5:23.89). Ridge took sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.26), while the 400 free relay of Metcalf, Bonnett, Clegg and Ridge placed 13th in 3:54.25.

For the LRSC boys, Wells took third in the 100 IM (2:04.52) and Cameron Lindsley was 15th (2;16.78).

Nichols took 16th in the 50 free (23.42) and fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.58),

The Casco Bay boys 200 medley relay of Libby, Jordan Lajoie, Chris Gervais and Pat McCann placed 16th (1:51.76). Also, Libby placed fourth in the 100 free (49.39)

Harrington tops Maine Moose scoring

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Harrington tops Maine Moose scoring
HALLOWELL — The Maine Moose, a junior hockey Super Elite team that plays its home games at the Kennebec Ice Arena, recently was eliminated from the International Junior Hockey League playoffs after getting swept by the Exeter Freeze Fury, 2-1 in a best-of-three series.

Andrew Harrington, a junior at Richmond High School, finished as the leading scorer for the Moose this season and became one of the team's alternate captains.

"Andrew has continued to grow as a player and as a young man," said Moose coach Glenn Carey, who has coached Harrington since the team's inception last season. "He puts points on the board and works harder than most of the players I have ever coached. His hard work has allowed his natural gifts to come out, and that has not only earned him more ice time, but has earned him the right to be a captain."

With one final tournament scheduled this weekend in Exeter, N.H., Harrington leads the team with 60 points (23 goals, 37 assists) in 48 games. He plays on the power play (six man-advantage goals) and the penalty kill (one shorthanded goal) and has shown some grittiness with 118 penalty minutes.

"I had some trouble for a little while in taking too many penalties, especially when opponents were being chippy with me, and then I would come back at them and get called," said Harrington, who broke the team's scoring record this year. "My points have gone way up this season. My passing has been better and this team has done a lot of good things this year."

The Moose compiled a 17-7-1 league mark (25-18-5 overall), good for second place in the regular season. In the first playoff game at Exeter, the Moose dropped a 6-3 contest before returning home, where the team dropped game two, 6-4. Harrington had three points in the second game.

"This was the first time for me not winning a playoff game," said Harrington.

High school
Like all Moose players, the athletes are expected to attend school. For Harrington, that is easy considering that he is still a high school student at Richmond.

"My friends and teachers at Richmond High School are great, and I feel so lucky to live in Richmond," said Harrington. "At times, I have to leave school early for a road trip, or miss a day, and my teachers have always been there to make sure that I am getting the stuff that I need."

Harrington helped his Richmond soccer team claim the Class D state title in November. He scored the game-winning goal and assisted on two more as the Bobcats grabbed a 3-1 win over East champion Ashland. Harrington had 18 goals and 12 assists overall.

He didn't have long to celebrate. The Moose season had already begun and Harrington was off to join his teammates on a road trip in Montreal.

"I never have played high school hockey because we don't have a team in Richmond, but playing soccer and winning the championship was a great feeling and a long time coming for the team," said Harrington. "With this Moose team, we are nearing the end of the season and soon I will have to say good-bye to my 25 'brothers,' which is always a sad time of the year."

"Andrew brings an incredible amount of emotion and he's aggressive," said Carey, who hopes Harrington returns next season. "He is a likely candidate to be this team's captain next season because he has really matured into a leader. There is still some boy left in him, but he is just 17-years-old."

When the season ends, Harrington plans to hit the weight room and race his horses.

"I do lift weights, but I just try to stay toned," said Harrington. "Also, I help raise standard-bred horses, and I plan on racing at Scarborough (Downs) and other places during the offseason."

As for next year, Harrington hasn't decided where he will play, but knows he has a local option.

"I know that I can go back to the Moose next season, but I will weigh my options and go from there," said Harrington.


MAINE MOOSE HOCKEY PLAYER Andrew Harrington takes part in a recent team practice at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Harrington, from Richmond, leads the Moose in scoring as the team winds down their season with a tournament in Exeter, N.H., this weekend.

Changes made to Class C football

Sport: Football  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Changes made to Class C football
The Courier-Gazette
by Jim Leonard, SAD 5 Athletic Director
The Little Ten Conference will have a new look, and an expanded playoff format, after a series of decisions over the last month.

Earlier this month, the LTC voted to accept Old Town and Calais into the league. Old Town had formerly played in the Class B ranks, but petitioned down to Class C in order to rebuild its program. Calais, a new program, had completed a season of club football as mandated by Maine Principals’ Association rule. By MPA rule, club teams must play two years at that level before applying for full varsity status. However, by allowing Old Town to petition to Class C, the MPA created an unbalanced league at the LTC. By allowing Calais to play at full varsity status a year early, the LTC is now the Little Twelve Conference.

Over the past several years, all LTC teams played a nine game regular season schedule against the balance of the league. With twelve teams, that is no longer possible. Beginning in the fall of 2008, the LTC will split into two divisions – Division 1 and Division 2. Each division will have six teams. Each team will play one game against the remaining team within the division, and then  play three “crossover” games with opponents from the other division. All LTC teams will now play only eight regular season games.

Another difference will be the playoff format. In the recent past, the LTC took the top four teams (using Crabtree Points as the determining factor) to the playoffs. This season, the top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs. The top four seeds will host first round games on Oct. 24. The LTC semifinals will be held on Oct. 31 and the regional/league championship game will be played on Nov. 7. Throughout the LTC playoffs, games will be played at the site of the higher seeded team.

Rockland will play in Division 2 with Bucksport, John Bapst, Maine Central Institute, Mt. View and Calais. Division 1 includes Foxcroft Academy, Mattanawcook, Orono, Stearns, Dexter and Old Town.

Included on the Tigers’ schedule this season are games at Orono, John Bapst, Maine Central Institute and Foxcroft Academy. Rockland will play host to Mt. View, Bucksport, Calais and Mattanawcook. The varsity schedule opens with an exhibition against Boothbay on the last Saturday in August (kickoff at 7 p.m.). The regular season opens with a road game at Orono on Friday, Sept. 5.

Frame leads Panthers to 2nd straight state title

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Frame leads Panthers to 2nd straight state title

Staff photo by Jim Evans
Staff photo by Jim Evans
ALL STAR: Morning Sentinel Girls Basketball Player of the Year Morgan Frame is keeping her family’s tradition in basketball alive. As boys, her father and uncles played indoor hoops in the family barn.

There was no one like Waterville junior Morgan Frame in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B division this season. As a 6-footer, she probably had a size advantage on you. If she didn't, she was definitely quicker.

"I'm happy that I don't have to game plan for her," Waterville coach Ted Rioux said, "because she absolutely is a nightmare to game plan for."

This season, Frame averaged 18.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.1 blocked shots per game. That makes her the choice for the Morning Sentinel Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Lawrence standout Brogan Liberty was also considered.

Frame's many skills meant she never really had an off game all season. From playing AAU basketball, she could move left or right after posting up and could also face the basket and drive for a score. From spring track, she had speed, running technique, and strength.

"I was never really fast until eighth grade," Frame said. "I started playing soccer. We had a new coach. Her name was (Trish) Pfluger, and she ran us and ran us. That was really what made me faster, and it made me do track."

The only potential downfall in Frame's game is her occasional foul trouble. She stayed away from that this season, which kept her on the court when needed.

"I've always had a hard time with foul trouble," Frame said. "My dad and my grandfather, before the game, the only thing they say is, 'No fouls. No fouls.' They know that's my weakness. If I get lazy, then I do that. So I really have to push myself to be in position."

Of course, Waterville was so deep and dominant this season that in most games, Frame getting into foul trouble would not have been a problem. The Purple Panthers rolled to their second straight undefeated season.

While Waterville fell behind Lake Region in the first quarter of the Class B title game, the Panthers stormed to a 54-35 victory and their second state title in a row.

"You read (the Web site) MBR and you read other things, and they say, 'Oh, other teams are going to beat them,' " Frame said. "That, for us, is what really does it. That's what we really play for. All of us. We all think about that and talk about how they think we can't do it again."

Frame is already a force near the basket, so Rioux wants her to develop a consistent outside shot to make her even more attractive to college coaches. While Rioux lets her shoot 3-pointers in practice -- he says she makes about 33 percent -- he has not yet let her do that in games.

"What she needs is the repetitions to make sure that her form is correct every single time," Rioux said. "I've seen her go around the arc and hit seven, eight, nine in a row."

Frame will visit colleges next month, and says it is her dream to play Division I college basketball. She is looking at the University of New Hampshire and Maine.

"It's scary to think about," Frame said. "It's a different level in basketball. I don't know what division I'm going to be doing. And to be away from these girls is hard, too, obviously. We've grown up together."

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243


Cony's Mack helps young team reach its potential

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cony's Mack helps young team reach its potential

Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
BEST ON THE COURT: Cony’s Rachael Mack is the 2008 Kennebec Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The stoic facade Cony High School senior Rachael Mack presents during basketball games belies what's happening underneath.

"I call her the Robert Parish of Cony High School," Cony coach Paul Vachon said, alluding to the stone-faced former Boston Celtics center. "You don't know if you're winning or losing by her facial expressions."

No danger of that with Vachon who wears his basketball heart on his sleeve. But Mack simply finds this the best way to channel her energy.

"That's how I control my emotions," Mack said. "If I got mad, I just wouldn't focus on the game."

Mack's focus helped the young Rams to an 18-3 record this year as well as Maine's most prestigious individual awards: Miss Maine Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year.

Mack averaged 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds a game this season and -- along with Shelby Pelkey, Cony's only other senior -- emerged as a team leader. For her efforts, Mack has been selected Kennebec Journal Girls Player of the Year. Also considered were Pelkey and Monmouth Academy's Jenn Lola.

Like her on-court demeanor, the 6-foot-1 Mack compiled her statistics quietly, often surprising coaches and opponents by game's end.

"She gets open when she has to and finishes when she has to," Pelkey said.

A complementary player for the first three years of her high school career, Mack evolved into an all-around player this season, often receiving the ball in the low post and kicking it back out to Cony's 3-point shooters.

The slender Mack posted up out of necessity but admits "I'm not much of a back-to-the-basket player."

She was much more effective when facing the basket and pulling the trigger on her jump shot, which this season extended to the 3-point line.

"She has the touch," Pelkey said.

Mack will play at Colby next season and plans to work even more on her outside shot during the summer.

She played on two Class A state championship teams at Cony and calls her experiences there invaluable, on and off the court.

"It's an experience you can't match," she said. "Everyone involved in the Cony program is like a family. So many people follow Cony basketball because we have such a good tradition."

She also has great admiration for Vachon, who she sees as misunderstood at times by people who only observe him on the sidelines.

"He's the nicest person in the world," Mack said. "He just cares so much about his players. He's made me expand outside my quiet exterior."

Vachon has seen Mack grow on and off the basketball court.

"As soon as she knows you, she is probably as personable as any player I've ever had," he said.

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638


Swedish players commit to Maine

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Swedish players commit to Maine
By Larry Mahoney
Saturday, March 22, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

The University of Maine men’s hockey team will have three Swedish players next season after receiving verbal commitments from a goaltender and a right winger who have Swedish national team experience.

Goalie Pontus Hansson and right wing Theo Andersson will join forward Gustav Nyquist with the Black Bears in the fall.

Nyquist, who has played for the Swedish Under-18 and Under-17 teams, has already signed a National Letter of Intent.

Hansson and Andersson play for Frolunda in the Swedish Under-20 Elite league while Nyquist plays for Malmo in the same league.

Their coming to Maine is contingent upon their acceptance into the school and passing NCAA Clearinghouse requirements.

Hansson will battle incoming freshman Scott Darling for the goaltending job vacated by All-Hockey East second-teamer Ben Bishop, who passed up his senior year to sign with the St. Louis Blues. The Blues drafted him in the third round.

The 6-2, 185-pound Hansson had a 1.54 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage through 20 games for Frolunda while Andersson, who is 5-11, 168 pounds, had 17 goals and 24 assists in 41 games.

The 20-year-old Hansson has played for the Swedish Under-17 team and Andersson, who is 18, has played for the Under-16 team.

"I’ve heard many good things about Maine," said Hansson. "It seems to be a very good place to be, especially if you’re a goalie."

Maine has had eight goalies play in the NHL over the past 20 years.

Hansson described himself as an aggressive "butterfly-style goalie" who likes to "challenge the shooters."

He knows the goaltending job is open and there will be a good opportunity to earn significant playing time.

"I’m hoping to be the No. 1 goalie. I don’t know how hard it is going to be [for a first-year player] but I’m going for it," added Hansson, who is excited about coming to Maine.

He said the Bears are getting a quality winger in Andersson.

"He’s a really good player. He scores goals all the time," said Hansson. "He’s fast, he’s a good stickhandler and he’s dangerous in front of the net."

Andersson will help fill the void left by the departure of players who produced 50.6 percent of Maine’s goals and 54.8 percent of Maine’s assists this past season.

Bears name co-captains

Defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin and center-right wing Jeff Marshall, who are both juniors, have been chosen as co-captains for next season in a vote among the players and coaches.

The 19-year-old Danis-Pepin, who was the youngest player on the Maine team for the third straight year, had four goals and eight assists in 34 games while Marshall had 5 & 6 in 34 games.

Maine went 13-18-3 overall 9-15-3 in Hockey East, and finished ninth in the conference.

Maine coach Tim Whitehead said both players deserved the honor.

"They did a great job this past season. They are both very hard workers and they lead by example," said Whitehead.


Lee has two SAMMY semifinalists

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Lee has two SAMMY semifinalists

Aarika Ritchie and Amanda Gifford have been named semifinalists for the 2008 National Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Awards.

The two seniors were both members of the Pandas’ Class C state championship basketball team and Eastern Maine Class C champion soccer team.

The criteria for the SAMMY Awards is based on athletic excellence (35 percent), academic achievement (35 percent), leadership (15 percent), and citizenship/community service (15 percent).

There are 20 semifinalists selected per region. Twenty-five student-athletes are selected as national winners and receive a $7,500 scholarship, a trip to Florida and an appearance in an issue of USA Today Weekend.

Caribou’s Caleb Swanberg was a national winner last year.

In December they were also named to the 2007 High School Girls Scholar All-America Team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Ritchie, a Miss Maine Basketball finalist and the BDN Eastern Maine Class C tourney MVP, will play basketball at Colby College in Waterville next year. Gifford, a member of the EM Class C all-tourney team, will play at Bates College in Lewiston.


Bickmore resigns to spend more time with family

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 22nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bickmore resigns to spend more time with family
By BDN Staff
Saturday, March 22, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

It has been a common sight over the years — two small children romping behind the bench or being passed back and forth among friends and family during Rockland girls basketball games.

Karen Bickmore’s young son and daughter have been around nearly as long as Bickmore has been the Tigers’ coach.

But now that her children are growing up, Bickmore has decided she needs more balance in her life. That means giving up her position at Rockland, a decision she announced earlier this month after taking some time to think about it at the end of the season.

It’s a situation in which many women who coach find themselves — finding time to balance coaching and family.

"It just basically came to the point where you look at Thanksgiving vacation, Christmas vacation, eight weeks of summer vacation, and everything is taken up by basketball," she said. "It’s a matter of finding some balance."

Bickmore said she was able to handle both when Mackenzie, who will be 7 next Friday, and 4-year-old Jake weren’t of school age. Bickmore took the youngsters to practices and games where they’d be watched over by family.

Bickmore’s husband, Andy, kept statistics during the games.

Things have gotten more complicated in the last two years, however.

"They’ve been around basketball all their lives, at practices and at games and it was really easy when they weren’t in school," Karen Bickmore said. "But last year Kenzie went to kindergarten and it got hard working out all the schedules."

A former standout athlete at Central High of Corinth, Bickmore took over the Rockland girls for the 1999-2000 season.

The Tigers went 3-33 in her first two years but improved steadily ever since, to the point where Rockland is a regular in the Eastern Maine Class B tournament. This year the Tigers went 6-13 and didn’t make it to the Bangor Auditorium, but in 2005 Rockland had the No. 8 seed and beat No. 1 Presque Isle 47-44 in the quarterfinals.

"[The program’s improvement is] something that I really feel good about," she said. "I worked with a lot of different people over the years to make it what it is."

Rockland will graduate seniors Erika Felt, Dana Clark and Aly Nolan this year but will likely have junior guard Baillie Boggs back after she suffered a knee injury early this past season. Bickmore said Boggs is doing very well with her physical therapy.

Although she didn’t completely rule out a return to coaching, at this point Bickmore would rather watch both Boggs and her children from the sidelines.

"I think I’m always going to be around a field, around a court," she said. "But this is definitely a matter of stepping back."

Long and Friedman named grid coaches

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Long and Friedman named grid coaches

Algonquin, Millbury fill their vacancies


As the seasons change, so do area football coaches — two schools made hires and one longtime coach has stepped down.

Algonquin Regional tabbed St. John’s assistant Bill Long to fill its post, while Millbury High turned to athletic director Matt Friedman to helm the Woolies. Meanwhile in Townsend, North Middlesex coach John Margarita announced his retirement, ending an almost 30-year relationship with the Patriots.

Long takes over for Mike Vulcano, who was let go after two seasons on the job. A standout lineman for Marlboro before graduating in 1992, Long went on to play at Norwich University until 1997. He spent five years as an assistant coach under Paul Duplessis at Marlboro before Duplessis stepped down and Long hooked on as an assistant with John Andreoli at St. John’s four years ago.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity and we’re just going to try our best and keep plugging away,” said Long, who is also the St. John’s wrestling coach. “It’s a great school, a great community and the kids there are tremendous. The school has a long history of winning, and I don’t think we’re really that far away.”

Algonquin athletic director Fran Whitten said one of the things that stuck out about Long was how familiar he is with the landscape in Central Mass. football. From previous coaching stints at Marlboro and St. John’s, Long has an understanding of each opponent, and Whitten feels that will allow him to start ahead of the game.

“Finding a person that was going to be the right fit was a priority,” Whitten said. “Bill is not going to have to worry about our opponents and what they run because he already knows. He can take this senior class that’s ready to go and hit the ground running with them. I wanted to give this senior class someone special because I can’t afford to have this year be a learning year or an experimental year, I need this coach to hit the ground running with this group of seniors.”

As an assistant coach for the past 11 years, Long knows the value of having good minds around him, so he will bring aboard his former coach at Marlboro, Hall of Famer Dutch Holland. Holland also coached at Algonquin under coach Dick Walsh and was an assistant at Marlboro last year. Long will also bring in former Auburn assistant Rick Cincotta to run the defense and former Burncoat assistant Nick DiRoberto to help out with the offense. He said he still has a few names in mind to round out the staff.

Long is the fifth coach in the past nine years at Algonquin and third in the past seven. Whitten said Long fits his vision of someone who can build a program for the future, and said the pairing of Long and Algonquin is a “perfect scenario.”

“I think he’s a great fit and I think he’ll be at Algonquin for a long time,” Whitten said.

Meanwhile, Friedman takes over at Millbury for the departed Dave Palazzi, who stepped down last month. Friedman was an assistant on Palazzi’s staff, in addition to serving as athletic director. Friedman, who had coached the defensive line, was unavailable for comment last night.

Palazzi was known for a wide-open offense, and Friedman doesn’t expect that to change much, as assistant coaches Brian Hebert, Dana Giampa and Andy Maxwell are all expected to return.

Margarita has a storied history with the Patriots, serving as an assistant coach from 1978-95 before two separate stints as head coach. Margarita was part of some legendary teams under coach Sandy Ruggles, who led North Middlesex to eight league titles and a staggering seven consecutive Super Bowls — winning six. After Ruggles stepped down prior to the 1996 season to take the head coaching job at UMass-Lowell, Margarita took over and posted a 17-25-1 record the next four seasons. After a four-year hiatus, Margarita returned in 2004 and went 8-3 in 2004 and 2006. The Patriots finished 0-11 last year and Margarita announced his retirement last month with a career 38-47-1 mark.

With Margarita’s departure, North Middlesex joins the list of open jobs that include vacancies at Burncoat, David Prouty and North High.

Junior achievement: Triton's Appolloni lighting up junior hockey

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Junior achievement: Triton's Appolloni lighting up junior hockey
By Evan Mugford
Staff writer

SALISBURY — For college-bound athletes, making the right decisions is paramount for a successful future.

From getting the grades and volunteering your time, to putting in the hard work at the gym and practicing when other athletes are resting their swollen feet, student-athletes need to make the right choices to further their careers.

Salisbury's Marc Appolloni made a difficult one when he chose to play for the Boston Junior Blackhawks instead of his school's Triton Vikings, but the decision has been paying off.

In his second year with the Blackhawks, Appolloni has been a decisive figure in his team's run at the International Junior Hockey League championship.

Cognizant of the IJHL's tendency to send players to Division 1 programs, Appolloni is confident he made the right choice.

"I felt that joining the league would give me a better chance of continuing my hockey career well into college," said Appolloni. "The competition is very high and it really helps you improve."

The Triton sophomore has been playing competitive hockey for more than eight years, with humble beginnings as a member of the Triton Mite Instructional team. After years of youth leagues, Appolloni joined the Blackhawks as a freshman and though he was the youngest player on the team, he valued the experience.

"It was a hard transition because it is such a high level," explained Appolloni, who also plays lacrosse for Triton, "but I worked hard in the offseason, put on a few pounds and caught up to my expectations."

Despite his standing as a second-year player, Appolloni feels like he's doing a good job tutoring his younger teammates similar to the way he was helped along.

"Bringing extra experience and helping the new kids learn the ropes is what I've tried hard to accomplish this year," said Appolloni, who fondly remembers a game earlier this year in which he helped his team roll to victory with two goals and two assists. "I've been deemed a playmaker because I get as many assists as I do goals, so in that respect, I've tried to become a bigger factor."

The Blackhawks general manager and Wakefield's own Richie Salsmon is amazed at Appolloni's transformation from an intimidated freshman to a confident center who isn't afraid to get in the mix with opponents generally three to four inches taller and 30 to 40 pounds heavier. A single incident explained Appolloni's progression.

"Earlier this year, some guy took Marc in front of the net and dragged him to a corner, and just started wailing on him" explained Salsmon, who attested to Appolloni having some of the fewest penalty minutes on the Blackhawks. "The fight was over before we knew it. Marc had just destroyed this 20-year old, who had started the whole thing. He was forced to stand up for himself, and it was really an amazing step for Marc.

"Playing with college players has really helped him develop, along with the whole team, because they are the youngest team in the league. His speed really is remarkable, you can't imagine how much he's improved," said Salsmon, who actually coached Marc Sr. when he played at Saugus High. "He put his nose to the grindstone and with a lot of hard work, you can see how much more fluid his game has become."

After losing last year in the league finals to a tough Springfield Junior Pics squad, Appolloni is hoping his team can persevere against another tough set of opponents in the Exeter Junior Freeze and a solid New Jersey Kings squad. His team will face them both tomorrow in the playoffs at the Ice House in Exeter.

"We had another really good year," said Appolloni. "And though, we lost some players, either getting moved down or up into different leagues, our team's made some strides.

"We started the year slow," admitted Appolloni, "but, we've definitely turned it on in the second half of the season."

Regardless of his team's tough task, Appolloni believes the Blackhawks have a legitimate shot at the IJHL title. Normally a second-line forward, the fact that he will be starting at center is another aspect Appolloni hopes to take advantage of this weekend.

"The team's going to be depending on me," said Appolloni. "It should be a tough weekend, but we're going to give it our all."

The Appolloni File

Hometown: Salisbury

Age: 16

Weight: 165

Height: 5-9

Shot: Right

Season stats:16 goals (3 power plays) and 20 assists

Ewing helps BU stay in the hunt

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Ewing helps BU stay in the hunt
By Eric Mchugh
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 20, 2008 @ 11:43 PM

It was just like old times for the Boston University hockey team yesterday.

With pop-rockers the Jonas Brothers invading state-of-the-art Agganis Arena, the Terriers picked up their gear and hoofed it across the street to venerable Walter Brown Arena, the program’s low-tech home from 1971-2005.

“It’s kind of a hassle walking over, but it’ll be nice being on the ice. I like playing here,” senior winger Pete MacArthur said before BU practiced for tonight’s Hockey East semifinal against Vermont at TD Banknorth Garden (8 p.m., NESN). “It’s a lot smaller over here, and the puck takes funny bounces off the boards.”

“This place is unbelievable,” said senior linemate Bryan Ewing, who, like MacArthur, played the first half of his freshman season at Walter Brown. “The guys always talk about it. We miss it a lot. It’s an old-time rink, a much smaller ice surface. It’s like the Garden.”

With the retro vibe, it seemed like a good time to reminisce. So, as Ewing approaches the dwindling days of his BU career, what’s his favorite memory from four seasons on Commonwealth Avenue?

“It would have to be winning Hockey East my sophomore year,” said Ewing, a Plymouth resident who played for both Duxbury High School and Cushing Academy. “That’s been by far the best. It was an unbelievable feeling (beating Boston College in overtime in the final). You’re on top of the world.”

The second-seeded Terriers (19-16-4) aren’t exactly top dogs right now, but they’re still in the hunt. After a miserable start – BU was 8-14-4 after losing to BC in the opening round of the Beanpot – Ewing and company have done an about-face. An 11-2 hot streak has delivered them to the Garden, where they will tangle with No. 3 Vermont (16-14-7) in the nightcap of the semifinal doubleheader. No. 1 New Hampshire (25-8-3) plays No. 4 BC (19-11-8) at 5 p.m. (NESN).

Ewing, a soft-spoken right wing, has done his part in the BU revival, posting career highs in goals (17), assists (26) and points (43 – a sizable increase over the 26 he notched as a sophomore). Having avoided the shoulder problems that plagued his freshman and junior years, he’s also the leading scorer (13-22–35) in Hockey East games, one point ahead of MacArthur. Both players last night were named First Team All-Hockey East.

“I feel like I’ve gotten better every year, especially this year,” Ewing said. “I’ve grown up a lot.”

“The first thing that comes to mind is maturity,” BU coach Jack Parker said of Ewing. “He’s really grown up right in front of us. He was kind of a flaky, happy-go-lucky guy and now he’s much more serious about schooling and his performance (on the ice), his dedication. Secondly, he’s gotten much more confident in his game. He’s gotten bigger and stronger, too. He’s not huge (5-10, 170), but Mike Boyle (BU’s strength and conditioning coach) has really done some good things with him over four years.”

Ewing’s highlight this season was a seven-game goal-scoring streak (8-5–13) that stretched from Dec. 30 to Jan. 25. “I wasn’t really thinking about it at all,” he said. “It just seemed to come into play as I worked hard. The hard work was paying off, and I’d get a goal every night.”

“He was going to the net and he was getting his stick on everything,” said MacArthur, who edged Ewing for the overall team lead in points (21-24–45). “He was deflecting pucks, he was making nice individual plays on defensemen and goalies. He was doing absolutely everything that a goal-scorer needs to do to score goals. He’s done that all year.”

With their chances of an at-large NCAA tournament bid slim, the Terriers will need their top line of Ewing, MacArthur and junior center Chris Higgins (13-18–31) to dent Vermont if they want to keep their season alive. A good omen – the trio combined for sizzling numbers (7-15–22) as BU split the three-game regular-season series with the Catamounts (1-1-1). In November, Ewing had back-to-back three-assist games at Gutterson Fieldhouse as BU won, 9-1, and lost, 5-4.

“That was the best weekend I’ve ever had, by far,” said Ewing, who also chipped in a goal in the first game.

Although Parker correctly noted that both BU and Vermont have changed since the fall – the Catamounts are 12-5-1 since Jan. 19 – MacArthur said he liked how his line approached those first two Vermont games. (The teams skated to a 2-2 tie at Agganis on Jan. 5.)

“The big thing that weekend was that we out-competed everybody that was on the ice against us,” he said. “Our intensity, you could see that it was 10 times higher than anybody we played against.”

Can BU recreate that tonight?

“Sure,” MacArthur said. “We’re going to have to. It’s playoff time. If we lose, we’re done. Bryan and I, we’re finished, along with the other seven seniors.”

Eric McHugh may be reached at emchugh@ledger.com.

In the Zone: It's family and friendship for Barnstable wrestlers

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

In the Zone: It's family and friendship for Barnstable wrestlers

March 21, 2008

Nick Barreto, left, and Nick Kidd work out together in their Centerville basement preparing to wrestle at Barnstable High School.

HYANNIS — They are brothers in competition, Nick Kidd and Nick Barreto. To say the Barnstable High wrestlers would go to the mat for each other might be a poor play on words, but it's the truth.

Nick Kidd and his family gave Barreto the opportunity to escape a tough, nomadic home life. Wrestling gave his high school years a focus. The sport also delivered him a best friend in Kidd.

The result is a story with a very good chance of a happy ending.

Barreto has lived with the Kidds — Nick, parents Linda and Kevin, and their 17-year-old daughter Katy — for about 18 months.

"He's a great kid," said Linda Kidd. "He had a family situation where they lost their place to live. He started staying here weekends, and one week in November he was still here on a Wednesday or Thursday. I pulled him aside and asked him if that meant he was living with us. He said, 'I guess so.' He's been with us ever since. He needed a place to go. I couldn't say no."

What the Kidds have had for those 18 months is a downstairs room with two teenage boys, a wrestling mat, weights, guitars and a whole lot of rambunctious fun and competition. When Linda Kidd returned home from work a couple of weeks ago, six kids, including the two Nicks, were playing basketball in their driveway.

There are also plenty of pickup football games down the street at Hyannis West Elementary. The two Nicks became avid kayakers last summer, when they weren't at wrestling camps or competitions. Nick Barreto is an ardent practitioner of yoga.

Life can take some funny turns at times. Barreto is 18, a senior at Barnstable High. Last spring, Linda began a pair of three-month stints as his legal guardian before he became of legal age in October. "I had to," she said. "If anything happened to him, if I had to take him to the doctor's, I wouldn't have been able to without that paper."

Barreto has five siblings. His twin sister and two younger siblings live in other states. His two older sisters live on the Cape. Barreto said he hasn't seen or talked to his father since he was 2 years old. His mother is still living in the Barnstable area, he said, and he sees her and his siblings on occasion.

Kidd, 16, is a sophomore. One of the state's top wrestlers, he was accepted last week to the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Western Massachusetts. Linda Kidd said her son was given a large financial aid package.

Barreto had hoped to do a postgraduate year there, but it didn't work out. He's working on applying to Iowa State and Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, both of which are strong Division I wrestling programs. The Kidds are helping him through the complicated financial aid process.

"We're working on Mr. Barreto's future," said Kevin Kidd. "His wrestling will get him into a good school. That's what he wants."

Barreto, despite his difficult background, has stayed the course academically.

"I think (Barreto) is a mathematical genius," said Mike Magner, a coach and Barnstable guidance counselor and the man who started Barnstable's wrestling program years ago at the recreation department level. "He took the first section of AP calculus last year, and this year is taking the second section. There are only three kids in the class."

Of Barreto's five courses this year, only College Prep English IV is not an advanced placement or honors course.

But wrestling brought these two Nicks together, and it's on the wrestling mat where they have made their names known.

The 160-pound Kidd placed sixth at the New England Championships this year after finishing third in the All-State meet. He's been Division 1 state runner-up both his years at Barnstable, and this season won South Sectionals after finishing second as a freshman.

Kidd also stunned the wrestling community last month when he pinned New England's No. 1-ranked wrestler, Alfred Raymond of Cranston, R.I., in 4:46 at the New England meet.

Barreto, who wrestles in the 145-pound class, didn't place at New Englands but was fourth in both the All-State and Division 1 state championships. He finished second at South Sectionals.

Barreto has wrestled at Barnstable for three years after competing his freshman year in Florida.

"Wrestling saved him, absolutely," said Linda Kidd. "Wrestling, and the fact that he had a roof over his head. Nick's a kid of few words, but you can tell he's very appreciative."

Barreto was a high school sophomore when he met the eighth-grade Kidd at wrestling. Their sisters had become friends, and eventually they did as well.

"Nick would leave middle school and walk over to the high school practices," Linda said. Despite the difference in age and school, a friendship began.

"We just started hanging out," said Nick Kidd. "I'd see him around school and then he started living with us."

The relationship has worked for both Nicks.

"This helps him sort of not have to worry about anything. It helps me appreciate things more," said Nick Kidd. "To see where he's come from, he hasn't had a lot. We don't have a lot either, but more than he had. It has helped me realize I'm pretty lucky."

Barreto has come to feel as if he belongs. "They are like family to me," he said. "They make me feel as welcome as possible."

In the state meet, Barreto beat Andrik Cruz of Methuen, the No. 2-ranked 145-pounder in New England. Cruz had beaten Barreto four times in two years, but in this match Barreto almost scored a pin and won 6-3.

"He's one of the most determined and hardest-working kids," Magner said of Barreto. "My proudest moment was at the All-State meet this year when he came off the mat. He was all smiles and gave his coaches a hug."

But it almost didn't happen.

"Nick had come to us in November, before the season started, and said he had a plane ticket and was going to leave Barnstable and move to Florida to move in with his sister," Magner said. "We had a big meeting in my office. We told him he was a senior, it would be good for him to stay here and see this through. He decided not to get on the plane. He wrestled for us and will graduate from Barnstable."

While Barreto began wrestling in high school, Kidd started as a first-grader in Barnstable's recreation program. His competitiveness was evident early, and he quickly developed a reputation as an up-and-comer at the state and national level.

"He wouldn't be where he is without the town's rec wrestling program," Magner said. "In fifth grade, he wrestled 115 matches. A lot kids get to high school and wrestle for the first time. He's had over 400 matches.

"He's got great tactical ability and advanced techniques. Great mat sense and awareness. Where kids gets nervous in some situations, he's calm. He's been in those situations numerous times."

Magner said Northfield Mount Hermon would like to develop Kidd into a national prep champion. Kidd's eventual goal is to get to Cornell or Iowa State, where, like his father, a WPI graduate, he would like to study engineering.

Whatever happens, the wrestling Nicks and the Kidd family have written a story of friendship, acceptance and success.

Staff writer Russ Charpentier can be reached at 508-862-1263 or rcharpentier@capecodonline.com.

English baseball tuning up for the season

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

English baseball tuning up for the season

By Joyce Erekson / The Daily Item

Lynn English High School's Jonathan Surette releases a pitch on Thursday night in the school gym. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

LYNN -- English High baseball coach Joe Caponigro has some holes to fill this season and plenty of guys who would be more than happy to fill them.

The Bulldogs just missed qualifying for the tournament last year with a 9-11 record. Several players from that team graduated, including shortstop Jairo Valdez, catcher Santiago Pena, left fielder Chris Cole, pitcher David Burke (a 4-game winner), center fielder Corey Enquist and outfielder P.J. Holey.

"There are a lot of spots open," Caponigro said, adding it's too early to tell just how things will shape up.

Caponigro will have plenty of opportunities to evaluate the talent, particularly the newcomers and potential pitchers, once the weather improves enough to start scrimmaging. The team will be heading to the Cape next weekend, where the Bulldogs will have three scrimmages in a 24-hour period. The competition includes Nauset Regional and Brookline.

"We'll need a lot of pitching for that (the three games). We'll throw them right into the fire and see what they can do," Caponigro said.

Although nothing is set in stone yet, the Bulldogs have a solid group of returning players, led by senior infielder Jonathan Santelisses, junior pitcher Jonathan Surette, and a couple of already seasoned sophomores in pitcher Pat Cullen, infielder/outfielder Eric Bransfield, pitcher/outfielder Brendan Carritte and pitcher/outfielder Brian Maynard.

Caponigro is also encouraged by the play of Anthony Ortiz, a junior transfer from Classical who can play shortstop and outfield, and Gabe Smith, a middle infielder.

Caponigro has to find a new catcher, but that shouldn't be a big problem with four sophomores and a freshman vying for the job. The sophomore stoppers include Andrew Hunter, Roberto Reyes, Sam Hill and Angelo Codispoti. Cory Burt is a freshman.

"I think we have to solidify the rotation and the catching," Caponigro said. "But I think we have enough athletes on the team. Hopefully, we'll be able to plug them into the vacated spots we have because of graduation."

Caponigro said he's been encouraged by what he has seen so far, but the true test will be once they get outside.

"It's hard to accomplish a whole lot in the gym. You' can't get a true gauge until you get outside," he said. "We've set up a bunch of scrimmages. Hopefully, we'll get to play them to help us make decisions."

Caponigro's coaching staff hasn't changed, with the exception being the loss of Bill Devin, who is the new athletic director at Classical. The returning contingent includes assistant varsity coach Joe Raffa; Doug Spofford, who helps out when his job allows; and Tom Day, a teacher at English and an English graduate. Joe Conlon, an English graduate, teacher and assistant hockey coach, will coach the junior varsity, and Rob Upton, another English graduate and a teacher at Classical, will coach the freshmen.

Krause: Tech hockey in jeopardy

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Krause: Tech hockey in jeopardy

By Steve Krause / The Daily Item

Lynn school superintendent Nicholas Kostan addressed a proposal to merge Lynn players on the Tech hockey team with the Classical-English co-op. (ITEM FILE PHOTO

Reports are running rampant that Lynn Tech will no longer host a collaborative hockey program that included North Shore Vocational and Essex Agricultural ... and while nobody's saying it's a done deal, the handwriting is certainly on the wall.

Tech director James Ridley yesterday spoke to four of the six returning players that attend Tech and confirmed that there have been discussions about merging the program with the already-formed co-op of Classical and English.

"I was honest with them," said Ridley. "I told them were only six of them, and that I'd like to fight for them, but it was going to be an uphill climb. It may have to come to this."

School superintendent Nicholas Kostan also said that declining numbers and widening economic woes that are already causing talk about closing an elementary school have to be weighed seriously.

"We're looking into (merging the Lynn Tech players with the Lynn Jets)," Kostan said. "From what I'm told, there aren't many players at Tech."

Kostan admits that the idea of merging Lynn's Tech players with the Jets has to clear a couple of hurdles. First, the School Committee has to approve it -- a move that nobody expects to be much of an issue.
The other is whether the Northeastern Conference would be amenable to adding another school to the collaborative. Inquiries have been made, but Kostan says there are no hard answers yet.

Ridley also has concerns. First, he wants the six remaining players to be on the team without having to try out. And second, he'd like assistant Dave Wall to have a role.

"At the same time," Ridley said, "once the puck drops it's all about competition. These kids all know each other. They grew up playing youth hockey together, and they know their pecking order with each other."

Kostan admits this would be in great part a cost-saving move. But he also said, "if we're going to have a collaborative, then it just makes more sense to put them with other Lynn kids."

Kostan stresses that nothing formal has been decided. But one gets the impression that absent the aforementioned formalities, this would seem to be in the cards.

And as much as it would hurt a program that previous coaches Jay Richards and Tim Serino worked very hard to save, merging Lynn players from Tech with the two other Lynn schools is the lesser of a number of evils.

There's ice time to consider. Right now, the city is on the hook for an entire season's worth of ice time at Connery Rink for the Jets (which comes to between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on practices, tournament games, etc.); the middle school hockey program; plus whatever it had to pay this year for the Tech collaborative. Obviously, the city would save substantial money if it didn't have to pay toward a third team using the Connery ice.

There are also coaches' salaries, transportation, and officials to consider. It may seem like chump change, but it all adds up.

Since Serino has already resigned, now would be a perfect time to do this. It would eliminate the awkwardness that arose last year when Kostan had to choose between English's Al Melanson and Classical's E.J. Breen to coach the Lynn Jets.

Obviously, this doesn't sit well with Tech parents. Serino did a great job keeping that program together. It's a hard sell to convince kids from Lynn, Danvers and Middleton that they're one big family, but by all accounts Serino did that well.

Hockey is probably the most expensive of all high school sports -- even more so than football, probably -- due to the added costs for renting ice. And sometimes, the numbers just don't support the money expended. This could be one of those times. It's not the best situation, and in a perfect world you'd love every school to have its own identity when it comes to sports.

But these collaboratives, especially in sports that either don't draw a tremendous amount of interest or are too costly to run on their own, seem to be the way of the future. And unless we're able to make some sense out of spiraling public education costs, you could see more of them, too.

Steve Krause is sports editor of The Item.

(Salem State) Vikings christen spectacular new diamond

Sport:   Posted: March 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

(Salem State) Vikings christen spectacular new diamond

By Matthew Roy / For The Item

Salem State pitcher Scott Lynch delivers to the mound during the first game at the new baseball facility. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

SALEM -- For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Salem State baseball team has a place it can call its own for home games.

After spending the better part of those four decades playing at Palmer Cove, the Vikings made the move to a state-of-the-art facility on the college's Central Campus on Thursday.

The facility, located behind SSC's new dormitory on the site of the old Sylvania Building on Loring Avenue, is the first all-FieldTurf diamond in the Northeast and includes new bleachers and a top-of-the-line scoreboard. Other improvements on the agenda are a $200,000 press box and access roads for better fan entrance.

"This is a dream come true for so many people," head coach Ken Perrone said. "There was always something preventing this, be it budget cuts or people not wanting us to build up here. But the administration, especially Nancy Harrington, Stan Cahill, Tim Shea and Jason Doviak, has to be applauded. They made this happen."

The field is a reflection of what has been a very consistent program in the 26 years Perrone -- who threw out the first pitch of the game to SSC's first All-America, Jim Hounam -- has been at the helm.

Three times (1985, 1986 and 2006), the Vikings have won 30 games. They won 20 or more games in 14 other seasons. SSC has played in the postseason 19 times, including three NCAA tournaments, and it has won four MASCAC titles.
"I've been blessed with great parents and especially great kids," Perrone said. "For me, I was so fearful that I wouldn't live to see this. I look at this and I see that so many people worked hard for it."

Another benefit to the new facility comes on the recruiting trail, which is the lifeblood of any college program.

This season, the Vikings are reaping the benefits of the new facilities as SSC has players from three states (Massachusetts, Vermont and New York) and another, Ichiro Sakaguchi, from Japan.

"It certainly is great for recruiting," Perrone said. "We have kids from all over the country coming here to see this. In fact, our second baseman (Aaron Blades) is from California. So, this is going to make a difference."

The lure of a state-of-the-art facility is also something that the Vikings hope will keep homegrown talent in the area.

This season, Salem has 11 players who call the North Shore home on the roster. And that's something Perrone hopes will continue in future classes.

"We want to have more of the kids stay home," Perrone said, "and to let them see what we have to offer here."

Another thing that the new field will have to offer is the chance for several local high school teams to play games on the new diamond. Salem High is slated to play several games at the new field, something that Perrone is very happy about.

"We want the local kids to have the opportunity to play here against Salem," Perrone said. "And the big thing is that it's great for both Salem State and Salem High because it gives (Salem coach Mike Ward's) program a chance to have a steady home."

The home debut proved to be a rousing success as the Vikings slugged their way past New England College, 16-4, to christen the new diamond in grand style.

SSC senior Scott Lynch walked the first batter to step to the plate in the new park's history, but will go down in the books as the winning pitcher of the historic game.

The Vikings (6-4) scored at least once in the first six innings of the win.

Ken Luongo launched the park's first home run in the first inning as the Vikings finished the game with 16 hits. St. Mary's grad Ryan Kane was 3-for-3 with two doubles, a homer, two runs scored and three RBI.

Revere native Casey Melchionno had a pair of doubles and three RBI, along with fellow Revere native Mike Addesa. Anthony Palmieri of Peabody had a pair of hits and an RBI.

"I had tears in my eyes," said Perrone. "It's a dream come true."
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