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Bangor coach Stoyellto retire

Sport:   Posted: March 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bangor coach Stoyellto retire
By Jessica Bloch
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

The first time Bobbi Stoyell coached at a swimming and diving state championship meet, she wasn’t quite prepared for what happened when the team won.

Traditionally, coaches take a dip in the pool along with the team. Stoyell did, too, although it made for an uncomfortable ride back from the Cape Elizabeth High School pool.

"I had very wet clothes and very wet underwear," she said with a laugh, 23 years after that soggy drive.

Stoyell, who coaches diving, hasn’t gone without a change of clothes since. And it’s a good thing, because she has coached at least one state championship team every year, to the tune of 29 state titles, two individual state champions, and a share of the only team diving state championship ever awarded by the Maine Principals’ Association.

This year’s Bangor boys and girls Class A state-title double will be Stoyell’s last, however.

The longtime coach and teacher at Old Town and Bangor high schools has decided to retire from both teaching and coaching.

"It’s time," Stoyell said. "Twenty-three years [in coaching], 30-something years [in teaching], I think that’s enough. I’m not going to shovel another shovelful of snow.

Not where she’s going. Stoyell is headed to Ellenton, Fla., a town near Sarasota. Stoyell’s mother lives nearby and there’s a mobile home, for which Stoyell and her husband began paying 20 years ago, waiting for her there.

Stoyell’s husband, Paul, a former University of Maine soccer coach, died in June.

Bobbi Stoyell, who has taught physical education at Bangor since 1969 with some time off when she had children in the late 1970s and early 1980s, began her coaching career in 1985 under Dave Ploch, who was then the Old Town boys swimming coach.

She coached Old Town’s Jaret Lizzotte to the Class B boys individual diving title in 1994. Lizzotte is now the University of Maine diving coach.

Stoyell joined the Bangor team in 1998. Nine years later, Bangor’s Emma Chaiken won the Class A girls crown.

In 2000, when the Maine Principals’ Association created a separate diving championship, the Bangor boys shared the Class A championship with South Portland and the Bangor girls were the runners-up to Brunswick.

The next year, the MPA did away with the separate diving title and merged diving back into swimming.

Even in the years Stoyell didn’t coach individual champions, her divers were always competitive. Bangor divers took second, third, fourth and sixth at the state swimming and diving meet this year to help the Rams win their second straight Class A girls title.

Ashley Higgins, who was second at Class A states, was third in the New England championships earlier this month.

Stoyell had just one Bangor boy in the state meet this year, but Andrew Sawyer’s fourth-place finish certainly helped the Rams win their second straight state title.

"It’s always nice to win, but to be a part of this [season] was really exciting," she said. "… [Twenty-nine state titles is] amazing to even think about."

Stoyell credited coaches Ploch and Phil Emery of Bangor with helping her along the way, especially with learning the sport of diving. She had been a gymnast in her native New Jersey, then competed in gymnastics at Ithaca College in New York.

"Great programs, great coaches," she said of Ploch and Emery. "The coaches have been fantastic."

Bishops cap off tournament run in perfect fashion.

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bishops cap off tournament run in perfect fashion.
Dramatic encore for Williams
By Drew Bonifant
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 17, 2008 @ 01:09 AM
QUINCY —

The Patriot Ledger

The Archbishop Williams girls basketball team was ahead, 67-45, and starting forward Val Driscoll was coming off the floor to a standing ovation. Forty-five seconds later, senior forward Christine Duffy and Capello followed, to a similar response.

That’s when the senior forward knew that the game was over, and that the South Sectional champion Bishops had repeated as state champions, made final 26 seconds later with a 69-47 decision over Central Sectional champion Quaboag at the DCU Center Saturday.

“Towards the end of the game, when we were subbing out all of our players, you just think ‘We did it. We’re going back-to-back,’” Capello said. “Then the whole crowd started yelling, and it was great. It was an awesome feeling.”

The victory capped an inspired run through the postseason. Last year, Williams came into the tournament saddled with the 10th seed, and snuck up on some opponents on its way to the title.

This year, that same championship placed a large bull’s-eye on the Bishops’ back. They responded by winning six tournament games in a row, all but one against higher seeds, winning by 38, 17, 30, 15, six and 22 points, respectively.

“Our schedule is hard, so it helped us against the higher seeds,” said senior guard Courtney McNamara. “Even though the scores weren’t as close, we knew the game was on the line.”

The Bishops also spent the past 16 days demonstrating their ability to climb out of holes. In the South Sectional final, they rallied from 10 points down in the second quarter against Cardinal Spellman to win. In the state semifinals against Pentucket, they rebounded after losing the lead in the fourth quarter to advance to the final.

On Saturday, Williams did it again. Trailing 16-12 after a sloppy first quarter, the Bishops snapped back with a dominating second. Williams outscored the Cougars, 20-3. Six players scored, led by Driscoll’s six points. Quaboag’s offense was shut down, limited to a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and it made five turnovers.

A whole half remained, but the Bishops were up, 32-19. It may as well have been a 23-point advantage. Quaboag had lost the lead, momentum and its own composure.

“We play a couple strong (defenses),” said coach Jim Bancroft, whose team finished the season at 22-2. “Our zone is good and was good today. Our man-to-man is good, and was good today. Everything we worked on and talked about, it came together today.”

Driscoll’s post presence, a growing theme throughout the tournament, was on display again, as the sophomore finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“What you saw for rebounds and blocks, that’s always been her game,” Bancroft said. “(Next year), we rebuild around Val. She’s our key player coming back.”

But this game was about the seniors, who helped the Williams’ girls basketball program recover from the lows of a 4-17 season the year before their arrival. Playing in their final game, Capello led the team with 19 points, Duffy had 11, McNamara scored eight and Jill LaFond scored seven.

All left to loud ovations, fitting what they’ve accomplished the past four years.

“This is so special,” Capello said.

“We’re never going to experience this, with the same group of girls, ever again. I’m walking away with so many best friends that I’m going to have for a lifetime.”

Things changed in a matter of minutes for Bishops

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Things changed in a matter of minutes for Bishops
By Drew Bonifant
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 17, 2008 @ 01:11 AM
QUINCY —

Bishops mix explosive offense, stingy defense in second-quarter surge

The Patriot Ledger

WORCESTER – Things weren’t looking good for the Archbishop Williams High School girls basketball team.

The first quarter had come to a close, and turnovers, missed shots and sloppy play had led to a four-point deficit for the Bishops in the Division 3 state championship against Quaboag.

It’s amazing how much difference a quarter can make, and Saturday’s final at the DCU Center was no exception. Williams stormed back and stunned the Cougars, going on a 20-3 run that gave it a 32-19 lead, one it would not relinquish en route to a 69-47 victory and second consecutive state title.

It took a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end to prevent the quarter from being a 20-0 wipeout, but the damage had been done, and the Cougars were crippled beyond repair.

“We didn’t realize they didn’t score at all until the 3-pointer at the end,” said senior forward Casey Capello, who scored three of her 19 points in that quarter. “That’s crazy. Nobody realized that until our coach (Jim Bancroft) told us that.”

The timing of the run made it even more remarkable. Quaboag had succeeded in jumping on the defending champs early, and all signs pointed to a confident Cougars team returning for the second quarter, hungry to add to the 16-12 lead.

Instead, it was the Bishops who shot back.

“It’s kind of better when we’re down, because it puts more pressure on us,” Capello said. “I think we do better when we’re down.”

Williams wasn’t down for long. Senior guards Courtney McNamara and Christine Duffy made back-to-back jumpers, tying the score. Sophomore forward Val Driscoll added six of the Bishops’ seven points in a 2:26 span. Duffy followed by driving through the lane for lay-up, and Quaboag coach John Vayda, with his team now down 25-16, called a timeout with 2:21 remaining.

Vayda’s attempt at a tourniquet failed, and senior guard Jill LaFond, Capello and junior center Alex Knowles added three, two and two points, respectively. Only Macey Gaumond’s 3-pointer, made after picking up a loose ball in the final seconds, spared the Cougars of eight minutes of firing blanks.

Instead, it was 7:59 of firing blanks, caused by an effective and suffocating defense led by the post presence of Driscoll (three rebounds, two blocks) and Knowles and guard play from Duffy, McNamara and LaFond, which limited Quaboag’s open looks and passing alleys.

“The last game in the (TD Banknorth) Garden, our defense wasn’t there. Today it was,” Bancroft said. “It was more like we’ve been playing defense all year, whether it’s zone or man-to-man. They know where the position is supposed to go, how to stop the dribble, penetration, deny the post, deny the cuts. They did everything.”

With the momentum shift, Williams denied every attempt Quaboag made at getting back into the game.

In the end, the Williams players celebrated another title and a victory headlined by an incredible second quarter, when the outlook shifted from concern to elation in a matter of eight minutes.

“That second quarter was huge,” McNamara said. “You knew the defense had to be on, and if they went cold, you had to capitalize.

“That defense is what we do. We’re a fast team, and the defense is always there to shut them down.”

Donovan, Heide lead the way in all-star basketball games

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Donovan, Heide lead the way in all-star basketball games

By JOHN GARNER Jr.
Contributing Writer
March 17, 2008

EAST SANDWICH — Courtney Donovan may not receive recognition to the extent of her Division 1 counterparts, but she certainly made her presence felt yesterday afternoon at Sandwich High School.

The 6-2 junior center from Bourne scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lift Upper Cape to a 103-95 win over the Lower Cape in the 17th Cape Cod and the Islands Girls Basketball All-Star Game.

In the boy's nightcap, forward Jamie Heide of Falmouth exploded for 27 points and 18 rebounds to lift Upper Cape to a high-scoring 140-110 romp over the Lower Cape.

Donovan's opponent in the pivot and the game's Kim Craft Memorial co-most valuable player, Taryn Van Esselstyn of Chatham, led Lower Cape with 20 points and nine rebounds, including one segment in the second quarter when she scored eight straight points for her squad.

"I was lost (on the court) in the early going, but felt more comfortable the second time I went out there," said VanEsselstyn, who led the Blue Devils to an 18-7 overall record and No. 5 seed in the MIAA Div. 4 tournament. The two teams battled even in the third period with the Upper Cape sustaining a 73-72 advantage going into the final stanza.

Upper Cape began to pull away in the fourth quarter but baskets by Van Esselstyn and Barnstable's Kendrew pulled LC to 89-88 with 4:46 left and a jumper in the lane by Van Esselstyn gave LC a 92-89 lead.

Treys by Angela Paterson of Nantucket and Sandwich's Ellery Gould kept it close in the final minutes, before the Upper Cape pulled away at the end.

Gould played an outstanding all-around game with 15 points, 13 rebounds and several steals.

Kendrew came up big for the Lower Cape with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Gould bested Paterson in the 3-point shooting contest by a score of 46-32. Gould connected on an impressive 46 of 57 shots to capture the title.

Heide was named the boys game's co-Frank Finn MVP along with UC teammates Joey Lopes of Mashpee and Erik Robbins of Bourne. Jordan Ferreira of Nantucket scored 21 points, including four 3-pointers, while Lopes, Josh Butler of Nantucket and Robbins added 18 apiece and Mark Reppert of Martha's Vineyard 15 for the winners.

Burly 6-6 center Sean Fitzpatrick of Falmouth scored six points and collected a game-high 19 rebounds for the winners and was named the game's top defensive player.

Slashing forward CJ Nicholas of Barnstable grabbed game-scoring honors with 31 points, including four 3-pointers. He was aided by Jake Roderick of Cape Tech with 27 points, Jason Clark of Dennis-Yarmouth 14 and Zach Tobias of Provincetown and Donald Wardrick of Barnstable with 10 apiece.

Heide scored 16 of his team's 39 points in the third period, including the exclamation point with a two-handed slam dunk in the closing minute of the quarter.

Barnstable's Nicholas defeated Butler of Nantucket in the boy's 3-point contest, 35-33.

Contributing writer John Garner Jr. can be reached at jgarner@capecodonline.com.

Donovan, Heide lead the way in all-star basketball gam

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Donovan, Heide lead the way in all-star basketball games

By JOHN GARNER Jr.
Contributing Writer
March 17, 2008

EAST SANDWICH — Courtney Donovan may not receive recognition to the extent of her Division 1 counterparts, but she certainly made her presence felt yesterday afternoon at Sandwich High School.

The 6-2 junior center from Bourne scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lift Upper Cape to a 103-95 win over the Lower Cape in the 17th Cape Cod and the Islands Girls Basketball All-Star Game.

In the boy's nightcap, forward Jamie Heide of Falmouth exploded for 27 points and 18 rebounds to lift Upper Cape to a high-scoring 140-110 romp over the Lower Cape.

Donovan's opponent in the pivot and the game's Kim Craft Memorial co-most valuable player, Taryn Van Esselstyn of Chatham, led Lower Cape with 20 points and nine rebounds, including one segment in the second quarter when she scored eight straight points for her squad.

"I was lost (on the court) in the early going, but felt more comfortable the second time I went out there," said VanEsselstyn, who led the Blue Devils to an 18-7 overall record and No. 5 seed in the MIAA Div. 4 tournament. The two teams battled even in the third period with the Upper Cape sustaining a 73-72 advantage going into the final stanza.

Upper Cape began to pull away in the fourth quarter but baskets by Van Esselstyn and Barnstable's Kendrew pulled LC to 89-88 with 4:46 left and a jumper in the lane by Van Esselstyn gave LC a 92-89 lead.

Treys by Angela Paterson of Nantucket and Sandwich's Ellery Gould kept it close in the final minutes, before the Upper Cape pulled away at the end.

Gould played an outstanding all-around game with 15 points, 13 rebounds and several steals.

Kendrew came up big for the Lower Cape with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Gould bested Paterson in the 3-point shooting contest by a score of 46-32. Gould connected on an impressive 46 of 57 shots to capture the title.

Heide was named the boys game's co-Frank Finn MVP along with UC teammates Joey Lopes of Mashpee and Erik Robbins of Bourne. Jordan Ferreira of Nantucket scored 21 points, including four 3-pointers, while Lopes, Josh Butler of Nantucket and Robbins added 18 apiece and Mark Reppert of Martha's Vineyard 15 for the winners.

Burly 6-6 center Sean Fitzpatrick of Falmouth scored six points and collected a game-high 19 rebounds for the winners and was named the game's top defensive player.

Slashing forward CJ Nicholas of Barnstable grabbed game-scoring honors with 31 points, including four 3-pointers. He was aided by Jake Roderick of Cape Tech with 27 points, Jason Clark of Dennis-Yarmouth 14 and Zach Tobias of Provincetown and Donald Wardrick of Barnstable with 10 apiece.

Heide scored 16 of his team's 39 points in the third period, including the exclamation point with a two-handed slam dunk in the closing minute of the quarter.

Barnstable's Nicholas defeated Butler of Nantucket in the boy's 3-point contest, 35-33.

Contributing writer John Garner Jr. can be reached at jgarner@capecodonline.com.

Freshman leads Sandwich to first hockey title

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Freshman leads Sandwich to first hockey title
By ROB DUCA
March 17, 2008 6:00 AM

BOSTON — There was a moment during yesterday's Division 2 boys hockey state final when Sandwich High fans began taunting a frustrated Wilmington High squad with the chant, "He's only a freshman! He's only a freshman!"

The words rang down from the lower bowl at the TD Banknorth Garden after goalie Pat Farrington stood tall in the net yet again, holding the short side and calmly smothering a Wildcats' scoring bid.

Wilmington learned the hard way what Franklin High discovered a week earlier, what Martha's Vineyard came to realize before that, and what so many opponents during this hockey season found out. In the words of Sandwich coach Derackk Curtis, "The kid's a freshman, but he doesn't act like it at all."

The Blue Knights captured the first state hockey championship in school history yesterday with a 1-0 victory over Wilmington. They completed a season that opened with a 5-3 loss to Division 1 Barnstable High, and closed with gold medals being slipped around their necks on the Garden ice.

They dropped just one more game (to Div. 1 Mansfield) en route to a 20-2-3 record.

They did it with timely offense, outstanding defense and a freshman goalie who grew by leaps and bounds through the season. The kid who allowed three goals in the first period of that season opener pitched shutouts in the South and state finals, stopping 20 shots yesterday. In the South semifinal against the Vineyard, the lone goal came when Sandwich was playing two men down in the final minute.

"I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good," said sophomore forward Craig Brubaker, who scored the game's only goal at 4:28 of the second period. "Pat's been solid all year. He doesn't make many mistakes, and he has a lot of poise in the net."

But no one could have envisioned yesterday's scenario after that season-opening nightmare against the Red Raiders. Farrington, thrust into his varsity debut when senior goalie Kevin Desmarais was unavailable, played as you'd expect — like a frightened freshman.

"He couldn't stop a beach ball," Curtis said. "I didn't want to put him back in. I was afraid it might put him a situation that he could not rebound from. I knew he was our goalie of the future, and we wanted to nurse him, kind of like the Red Sox do with their (young) pitchers."

Farrington returned to the net six games later against Duxbury, replacing Desmarais for good. "He stood on his head," Curtis said.

"I thought it would be a lot easier than it was," Farrington said of his debut. "When I got back in, I had more confidence, and my mental game was a lot better. I didn't get down when I let in goals."

Said Curtis, "We knew Pat was a pretty special kid, and I knew we had a pretty good team. But after watching Pat play during the regular season, I felt we had a good chance to make a run at this thing."

Replacing a senior with a freshman could have created tension in the locker room. But Farrington said Desmarais was anything but a divisive factor. Instead of turning his back on the new kid who took his job, he offered support.

"He could have been mad at me, but he wasn't," Farrington said. "He helped me out between periods during games. I wouldn't be here without him."

The kid might be young, but he's not stupid. He was smart enough after the game to credit his defense for notching back-to-back shutouts. He pointed out that blue-liners Sean Gallagher, Connor LaRocco, Jon O'Brien and Darryl Lawrie were adept at limiting shots, snatching up rebounds and clearing traffic from in front of the net. The Wildcats didn't muster their first shot yesterday until 44 seconds remained in the first period.

"Without them it would have been a lot harder," he said.

But Farrington had to earn his stripes in a shootout at the South final, and he was called upon again yesterday in the third period when the Wildcats fired 11 shots on net and attacked the Sandwich zone over the closing 10 minutes. His biggest save might have come on Andrew Goosens' drive from the left circle with 1:55 left.

"He stood up to the task and shut them down," Curtis said. "They didn't have that many chances, but when they did he shut the door."

After the final horn, the Blue Knights mobbed their freshman goalie, pressing him against the boards behind the Sandwich net. Farrington said that he treated yesterday "just like another game," which is a line you often hear from high school to the pros. But as he spoke to reporters in a hallway outside the Sandwich locker room — the braces on his teeth shining under the lights of a television camera — he sounded incredulous.

"I did not expect this coming into my freshman year at Sandwich High. I did not expect a state championship," he said.

Curtis stood smiling a few feet away.

"I've got him for (three more) years," he said. "How can you not be happy?"

Rob Duca can be reached at 508-862-1177 or rduca@capecodonline.com.

Knights cap emotional day with state title

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Knights cap emotional day with state title
By BOB BRADLEY
NIGHT SPORTS EDITOR
March 17, 2008 6:00 AM

Members of the Sandwich boys hockey team pose on the ice with their trophy after winning the Division 2 state title on Sunday.RON SCHLOERB/ Cape Cod Times



BOSTON — The day began with an emotional visit to a fallen teammate still very much in their thoughts.

It ended with the Sandwich High boys hockey team piling on one another at one end of the TD Banknorth Garden ice, celebrating the MIAA Division 2 state hockey championship after a nail-biting 1-0 victory over Wilmington yesterday afternoon.

Sophomore forward Craig Brubaker's second-period goal stood up, and freshman goalie Pat Farrington, at times, stood on his head as the Blue Knights brought home their first state hockey championship.

And although one-time Blue Knight Jeff Hayes passed away last year after a courageous battle with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, he was on the bench, on the ice and in the hearts, souls and minds of his former teammates who were playing for glory, and in a very real sense, playing for him.

"We went to Jeff Hayes' grave site this morning before the game, and we toasted to him," Sandwich coach Derackk Curtis said. "We had 24 cans of Mountain Dew that I called cans of whoop-ass, and we opened them up and took a sip and we poured a little on Jeff's grave and left a bunch of cans there for him.

"I shed a tear," he added, while holding an MIAA championship medallion he plans on bringing to the grave site now covered with those symbolic Mountain Dew cans. "He was a big part of our program. Everyone on the team, except for a couple of freshmen, knows Jeff. And the last time I was in this building, it was to pay tribute to Jeff."

The team also paid tribute with how it got down to business against the North champion Wildcats, who finish the season at 17-3-4.

The only goal came at 4:28 of the second period, when Brubaker gave the Blue Knights (20-2-3) all they would need, as it tuned out.

With Connor Hayes (no relation to Jeff) and Bryan Bolton keeping the pressure on the Wilmington defense, each took a swipe at the puck until it found its way to Brubaker, who turned, and in one motion fired a slapper between the pads of Wildcats goalie Michael Cabral.

Biggest goal of his young hockey life, Brubaker was asked?

"So far," he said beaming. "It just feels awesome. Just an unbelievable feeling."

His effort all game didn't escape the notice of his coach.

"I thought Brubaker was the best player on the ice," Curtis said.

But the Knights also knew they had to make a 1-0 advantage hold up, and Wilmington, although appearing tired at times, put on the pressure in the third period, particularly on the period's lone power play chance.

Eric Siegel, Wilmington's dynamic senior forward, had more than a couple of opportunities he couldn't convert, either because of a Farrington save, or shots that sailed just wide or just high.

Yet Sandwich stemmed the tide, even in the final minute when the Wildcats pulled Cabral for an extra attacker and Sandwich was forced to ice the puck twice and Farrington made a game-saving stop on Andrew Goossens alone in front.

"We wanted another goal," Curtis said. They almost had it when Matt Cassista had daylight between himself and the empty net, only to be held off by a Wilmington defender, which in turn started a last-gasp rush for the Wildcats that ended in the neutral zone as the final horn sounded.

"It feels satisfying," said Curtis, in his fourth year behind the Sandwich bench. "I don't think it'll really hit me until maybe I get on the bus and get in my car for the ride home to Sturbridge and think about what just happened. It's a good day for the program of Sandwich hockey."

After a sluggish first period, the Wildcats came alive in the second, particularly Siegel, but Sandwich was the team that came away with the period's only goal.

Siegel, meanwhile, nearly tied on at least three occasions during a late second-period Wilmington power play. First charging down the right wing and putting a forehand shot on Farrington, then whipping a wicked wrist shot that just sailed high and wide, and finally when his screen shot from the left circle whistled just wide.

But nothing got by Farrington, who along with his strong defensive corps, allowed just three goals in four rounds of the tournament.

"Our goal was to win the state championship," Curtis said. "Nobody believed me, because Sandwich has notoriously not had a lot of success, and so when we knocked off Oliver Ames in the first round of the tournament, I think at that point they started to believe."

The first period was played as if both teams were vying for their first state championship — which they were — with players on both sides looking as if they were afraid to make a mistake.

The Wildcats brought the physical game with them, as winger Kevin Flanagan hit Sandwich defenseman Darryl Lawrie and forwards Garrett Lessard within seconds of each other.

"They tried to take it to us," Curtis said. "But I think we wore them down."

The Knights withstood the early message Wilmington was trying to send and stood their ground, getting the only quality scoring chances in the period and outshooting Wilmington 5-1 in the frame.

The Wildcats' only shot of the period came with less than a minute left to play, a harmless 35-foot wrist shot that Farrington handled with ease with the right pad.

The best Sandwich bid came when Craig LaRocco glided over the blue line and fired a quick shot through a screen that Wilmington's Cabral caught with the catching glove. Craig LaRocco had another bid when he streaked down the right wing and shoveled a pass out front, which was knocked away by Cabral.

Night sports editor Bob Bradley can be reached at 508-862-1152 or rbradley@capecodonline.com.

Loss in title game leaves MC's Serino frustrated

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Loss in title game leaves MC's Serino frustrated

By Steve Krause / The Daily Item

BOSTON -- Don't tell Chris Serino that it's OK ... or that his team is young ... or that there's an excellent chance that Malden Catholic will be a player in the Division 1A high-school hockey tournament for years to come.

Because as far as Serino is concerned, there is only today.

The Lancers fell to Reading last night, 3-0, in the finals of the 1A tournament at the Boston Garden. So he had to sit there and watch as the Rockets became the first public-school team in the 17-year history of the tournament to take home the top prize.

Even though he has the nucleus of a good team coming back next year, Serino, from Saugus, didn't really see it that way.

"We could be a better team next year," he said. "But will we get here next year? Who knows?

"A lot of things have to go right for you to get here," he said. "And it's not always the best team that does. Look at Catholic Memorial. They were undefeated during the regular season, but lost twice in the tournament.

"It all comes down to how you're playing when you get here," said Serino, whose Lancers came into the tournament seeded sixth -- one spot behind the No. 5 Rockets.

But both teams caught fire once the round-robin tournament started. Neither lost a game, though the Lancers came close in Game 2 of the first round, allowing Hingham to tie the score late in the third period -- and then surviving an overtime before winning in a shootout.

Even in the crossover game, Reading won with ease over Xaverian (5-2) while MC had to scratch and claw to overcome a 2-0 deficit to defeat Catholic Memorial, 3-2.

If anything, it looked as if the Lancers would keep the Catholic school winning streak going in the first period last night, skating rings around the much more experienced -- and heavily favored -- Rockets. The only problem? They did everything except score.

It wasn't for lack of trying. They peppered goalie Jeff Wyer with shots (12 overall in the period) but came away empty.

Of course, after one particular flurry, Reading's Pat Kiley (goal, 2 assists) came right down to the Lancer end, put a beautiful juke on MC defenseman Evan Yanovitch, and beat goalie John Carbonneau over his right shoulder, giving the Rockets a 1-0 lead.

"That was the story of the whole game," Serino said. "We couldn't take advantage of our chances, and they did.

"We haven't scored a lot of goals this year, and that's because we're young," he said. "You could see it. On the other hand, (Reading's) big line ... when they get the puck, they expect to score.

"But," he said, "as good as they are, I didn't expect a high-scoring game. Their defense is very good, and that goalie ... he's very good. I knew it was going to be a long night after he made three or four saves right in a row. A goalie who does that is pretty tough to beat."

Kiley's goal didn't really dent Malden Catholic's enthusiasm, but Rob Toczylowski's first of the night did. It came early in the second period on a routine dump-in that just took a funny bounce off Carbonneau's stick.

"It shouldn't have deflated us, but it did," said Serino. "That took a lot of the air out of us."

After Toczylowski's second goal, making it 3-0, the Lancers had a chance to get one back going into the locker room. But Wyer robbed MC's Zack Sheppard blind on the doorstep, and it was probably MC's last big chance.

"I'm proud of what the kids did," said Serino. "We never quit. Nobody expected us to be here, but that doesn't mean that once we got here, that we didn't expect to win."

A lot of people also expected a high-scoring game, especially with the Kiley-Toczylowski-Mike Lozzi line as prolific as it was all season.

"Everybody overlooked the defense," he said. "You look at them and not a whole lot of people scored against them.

"I wasn't expecting a high-scoring game," he said. "I figured three goals would win it ... I just thought it would be us scoring them."

MC hockey runs out of magic against Reading

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

MC hockey runs out of magic against Reading


MC's Tony Serino and a Reading player get tied up during the state Div. IA hockey championship Sunday. (ITEM PHOTO / JONATHON M. WHITMORE)

By Matthew Roy / For The Item

BOSTON -- It was a day that many hockey fans in Eastern Mass. believed would never happen. But for the first time since 1978, a public high school can call itself the best hockey team in the state of Massachusetts.

And boy, did it happen in style.

On Sunday night at TD BankNorth Garden, in front of the biggest crowd to ever watch a high-school game in the building, Reading put an end to 20 years of public-school frustration in Division 1, and 17 years of futility in the Division 1A championship.

The Rockets, seeded fifth three weeks ago, completed a dream season as the trio of Pat Kiley, Mike Lozzi and Rob Toczylowski accounted for all the offense in Reading's 3-0 win over Malden Catholic.

Reading (25-1) becomes the first public since Hudson in 1978 to win the Division 1 crown, and the Rockets become only the fourth team to win a Super 8 title since the tourney's inception in 1990, joining Catholic Memorial, BC High and Arlington Catholic as the only champs.

"It's more than Reading winning, it's about all the public schools in the state who've been here before," Lozzi said. "That was a big motivation for us."

The Rockets survived a horrendous first period, despite leading 1-0, before playing two stellar periods of hockey.

"We didn't play a very good first period," Reading coach Peter Doherty said. "But we still managed to get a goal."

For Malden Catholic, the first 15 minutes would be something that would come back to haunt it later in the game.

"We had plenty of opportunities," Lancers coach Chris Serino said. "But we didn't take advantage. And that was the difference. They put their chances away and we didn't."

Early on, MC (15-6-4) had complete control of the play but couldn't convert against Reading goalie Jeff Wyer (23 saves). Mike Vecchione, the hero in MC's 3-2 win over CM on Wednesday, missed the net on a backhander and Andrew Cerretani fanned on an Alex Minter centering pass with a wide-open net in front of him.

The missed chances eventually proved costly for MC late in the first.

Pat Kiley, who led all players in the tournament with 15 points, deked past defenseman Evan Yanovitch at the Lancer blue line and fired a shot that deflected off the shoulder of John Carbonneau to give Reading a 1-0 lead at 11:46.

Wyer kept the Rockets in front with a minute left in the first thanks to a miraculous left-pad save on Jason Yeomelakis' bid from the top of the crease.

Things would go from bad to worse for the Lancers just seconds into the middle period. Toczylowski took a Kiley pass and lofted a simple dump in from the neutral zone towards Carbonneau. But the puck somehow skidded between the Lancer netminder's legs to give Reading a 2-0 lead.

"That second goal let the air out of our sails a bit because I thought that we had played a pretty good first period," Serino said.

The Lancers fought back and put pressure on Wyer but couldn't find the mark. That allowed Reading to put some more distance between itself and the Lancers midway through the game.

Lozzi picked up a Kiley pass in the neutral zone and made a long-distance connection with Toczylowski at the MC line. The senior sniper promptly rifled his 35th goal of the year over the short-side shoulder of Carbonneau to make it 3-0.

"That third goal was huge," Lozzi said.

Late in the second, MC's night was epitomized in one sequence.

Coming out of the box following a roughing penalty, Tony Serino found the puck on his stick and a wide-open goal in front of him. But Wyer somehow threw his right pad up to make a spectacular stop and keep it 3-0.

"(Wyer) played outstanding and he's playing with confidence," Serino said. "When a goalie makes 3-or-4 stops like he did in the first, I knew it would be a long night."

The Lancers had a chance to cut into the lead at the start of the third when they carried 56 seconds of power play time over from the second. But the Reading defense held MC at bay.

From there on, the Rockets put on a defensive clinic, holding MC to only five third-period shots. All that was left, then, was the celebration for the first public team to break through in the Super 8.

"It's unbelievable," Doherty said. "This is a big win for public high school hockey in this state."

East A-B, West C-D celebrate season's end with intense wins

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

East A-B, West C-D celebrate season's end with intense wins
By Ernie Clark
Monday, March 17, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

031708_AllStars1.JPG
 Presque Isle's Adam Kingsbury gets some air defending Portland's Jake Longstaff in their all star game at Husson College in Bangor on Saturday. (Bangor Daily News/Michael York) Buy this photo031708_AllStars4.JPG
 Presque Isle's Adam Kingsbury, left, Bangor's Lee Suvlu, top, and Cony's Andrew Pullen, right, try to stop Deering's Kyle Donovan on a drive to the hoop in the first half of their all star game at Husson College on Saturday. (Bangor Daily News/Michael York)

BANGOR - The Maine McDonald’s All-Star Basketball Games typically are more a celebration of the end of the high school season than high-intensity competition.

But fans at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson College got a taste of both during Saturday afternoon’s schoolboy doubleheader thanks to a pair of one-point decisions, as the East A-B all-stars earned a 77-76 victory while the West was a 66-65 winner in the C-D contest.

"It’s been a lot of fun hanging out with the guys that I’ve been playing basketball against and with for as long as I can remember," said East A-B all-star Derek Libbey of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln. "It’s a good way to wrap up the season."

The decisive play in the A-B game came on defense, when Mike Poulin of Class B state champion Maranacook of Readfield blocked a potential game-tying shot by Travis Guerrette of Windham in the waning seconds.

The West had closed to within 75-73 on a baseline drive by Tommy Ray of Cape Elizabeth with 50 seconds left, and Ray and Guerrette then combined to strip the ball from Maranacook’s Ryan Martin near midcourt, sending Guerrette the other way racing toward the basket.

But Poulin anticipated the turnover and got back in time to deny Guerrette an uncontested path, and as Guerrette tried to launch a shot Poulin knocked the ball away.

The East regained possession, and Martin — the state’s 2008 Mr. Basketball — made two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to give his team a two-possession lead that was just enough to offset a 3-pointer by Guerrette at the buzzer.

"As you know, all-star games are not really known for defense, but once it came down to the end we knew we had to pick it up on ‘D,’ and I got back and was in the right spot, I guess," said Poulin. "I saw Ryan slip a little and he had two guys on him, so I figured I might try to get back as fast as I could."

Bangor’s Lee Suvlu led all scorers with 18 points, including 12 during a second half that featured four ties and four lead changes.

"Everyone loves that kind of game, especially me," said Suvlu of the wide-open style of play. "We all had a good time and even though there were a few turnovers and not much defense in the first half and part of the second half, we managed to pull it out in the end."

Martin added 15 points for the East, while Andrew Pullen of Cony of Augusta scored 11 points.

Doug Alston of Class A state champion Cheverus of Portland and Kyle Donovan of Deering of Portland each scored 16 points for the West.

In the C-D game,the East jumped out to a 12-2 lead, but the West went on a 38-8 run over the game’s next 18 minutes to take a 40-20 lead early in the second half.

But the East battled back behind the all-around play of Calais guard Sam Bell, initially with a 16-2 run of its own to cut the gap to 44-28 midway through the period.

"I was getting a little nervous," said Bell, who finished with a game-high 17 points. "I didn’t want to get blown out, but the team played hard and came back."

The West reasserted itself over the next few minutes, with a spinning coast-to-coast drive by 6-foot-10 center Marc Zaharchuk, the SportsCenter highlight, in helping his team move back out to a 60-50 lead.

The East had one more run, starting when Brandon London of Piscataquis of Guilford hit a jumper from the key and a 3-pointer off a pass by Cameron York of Class D state champion Central Aroostook of Mars Hill.

Bell then scored twice before feeding Orono’s Seth Dwyer for a 3-pointer that gave the East a 62-60 lead with 1:51 remaining.

Mr. Basketball finalist Sam Leclerc of Class C state champion Winthrop then stepped up, hitting a jumper and two free throws as the West regained a 65-62 lead with 32 seconds left.

Collin Ciomei of Deer Isle-Stonington made a 3-pointer to tie the game with 15 seconds left, but the West broke through the East’s defensive pressure to earn Boothbay’s Kris Noonan a trip to the free throw line with 2.2 seconds to play.

Noonan made the first of two free throws to give the West a one-point lead.

Dwyer then inbounded the ball to Ciomei near midcourt, and he one-timed a pass to Bell on his right. Bell’s 30-foot runner was contested, and came up just short at the buzzer.

"I half-thought it was in," said Bell. "It felt good coming out of my hands."

Ciomei finished with nine points for the East, while Dwyer, London and Mike Lowell of Schenck of East Millinocket each added seven.

Leclerc had 10 points for the West, while Trevor Miller of Valley of Bingham scored 10.

eclark@bangordailynews.net

990-8045

Tantasqua's winning streak ends at 49

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Tantasqua's winning streak ends at 49
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By BILL WELLS

WORCESTER - Tantasqua Regional played Catholic Memo- rial yesterday in a rematch of last season's Division II boys basketball state final.

Unfortunately for the Warriors of Fiskdale, it wasn't a replay.

Tantasqua, which rallied to beat Catholic Memorial a year, fell to the quick and highly-motivated Knights of West Roxbury 74-56 at the DCU Center.

The Warriors' hopes of back-to-back perfect seasons came to an end, as they finished 24-1. So did their 49-game win streak.

"I'm extremely proud of our guys," said Tantasqua coach Jeff Child, whose team beat the Knights 64-58 last season. "I think a lot of people thought we were going to drop off the planet, losing Terry (Peretti), A.J. Comerford and Andrew Kazanovicz.

"That said, I'm very proud of us being here. I knew we were going to be good. I didn't know we were going to be here. But we came up short tonight against a team that had some real good guard play."

Catholic Memorial (22-4) claimed its first state title since 1969.

"They beat us last year. They deserved to. They played better than us last year," Catholic Memorial coach Dennis Tobin said. "But our whole mission ... we had nine guys back from last year's team, so we were hoping to get back. And low and behold, it happened to be Tantasqua again."

Brian Vayda led Tantasqua with 21 points, while Dan Kemp netted a dozen. Julian Colarusso sparked Catholic Memorial with 24 points and 17 boards.

Catholic Memorial's press, man-to-man defense and overall quickness were too much for Tantasqua.

"It seemed to me that they crashed the boards a little bit better than we did," Child said. "That hurt. A lot of things hurt."

To make matters worse against the quick-handed Knights, Tantasqua lost starting senior point guard Marcus Gaudet three minutes into the game.

Gaudet came down with the flu Wednesday. He gave yesterday's final a shot, but said he "felt weak."

"Marcus stepped up great this whole year," Vayda said. "He's been clutch, especially in the districts. (Not having Gaudet) definitely hurt us against the press. We could have used him. That's where most of our turnovers and their points came from: against their press. So having Marcus would have helped us a lot. But they're a great team."

Tantasqua held an early lead when Gaudet was in the game. Once Gaudet left, though, Catholic Memorial soon took advantage, and a 17-13 lead after a 14-2 run to close out the first quarter.

"The bottom line is they're extremely quick off the dribble," said Child, whose team turned the ball over 22 times. "They were relentless. We made way too many turnovers to beat a team like that."

'Hamp is champ

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

'Hamp is champ
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By RUSS HELD
rheld@repub.com

WORCESTER - First, and foremost.

The Northampton High School girls basketball team is No. 1 in the state.

The Blue Devils won their first state championship last night, defeating Andover 50-37 in the Division I final at DCU Center.

"It's just a great feeling," Northampton senior Iris Santoni said. "Now we can call ourselves the best team in Massachusetts - state champions."

Northampton (24-2) won in its third state final appearance, a week after winning its first Western Massachusetts crown in 16 years.

"It was great, as it got closer," Northampton senior Jamie Messer said. "It was a big gym, a big everything ... and it makes it all worth it."

Andover (23-3), the Eastern Massachusetts champion, sought its first title since 2003 and reached its third title game in six years.

"Give Northampton a lot of credit, they are a very good team and all six players who really play are great players," Andover coach Jim Tildsley said. "They are big, strong and athletic. And No. 32 (Northampton's Alannah Driscoll-Sbar) is the real deal."

Driscoll-Sbar, a junior forward, scored 20 points, while Brighid Courtney added 15.

"This is the perfect ending, to be No. 1" Driscoll-Sbar said. "We couldn't have asked for anything better."

Northampton did some damage at the foul line, going 18 of 27. Andover was 1 of 3.

"The kids worked so hard, for so long for this ... goal fulfilled," Northampton coach Tom Parent said. "So many times you work so hard for something, and you don't get there."

Northampton led by eight at halftime and by as many as 15 during the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

From there, Northampton held Andover to four field goals on its final 18 possessions, and the lead never dipped below nine.

"Our defense was amazing," Northampton junior Jenny Bell said. "We played (defense) just the way we wanted to."

Laura Renfro made six 3-pointers and her 20 points led Andover, which made eight 3-pointers overall.

The Blue Devils took command late in the third quarter, when Driscoll-Sbar made six straight foul shots and then converted from the baseline on the final possession of the quarter.

"The foul shots come from all of our practice on them," Driscoll-Sbar said.

Northampton took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter, pushing it as high as 15, at 40-25, on its opening possession.

"I liked what we were doing ... and once the lead got to 15 it looked a lot better," Parent said.

The Blue Devils had five players score before the game was 10 minutes old, while the defense put the clamps on Andover.

"We just gave them too many easy baskets," Tildsley said. "And defensively, they pushed us pretty far out on the perimeter."

Andover made eight 3-pointers as a team, but only three of its six two-point field goals came in the paint.

"We did our under 40 thing on defense, we held them to less than that," Santoni said of a team that has held four of five postseason foes to less that 40 points.

Northampton lost to Haverhill 70-67 in the 1992 state final, and to Brockton 50-48 in 1976.

"We're having police and fire trucks meet us at the exit off the pike ... and then we're going back to our gym to cut the nets down," Parent said.

Andover, the 2003 champion, was a state finalist in 1998 and 2004.

Total paid attendance for the six-game championship slate was 13,923.

Frontier wins in short order

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Frontier wins in short order
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By JEFF THOMAS
jthomas@repub.com

Frontier 79 Scituate 65

WORCESTER - For the Frontier Regional boys basketball team, no task is too tall.

Despite playing three-quarters of the Division III state championship game without its best guard and against a Scituate team that boasted a huge front line, Frontier found a way to win its second state title 79-65 yesterday at the DCU Center.

The Red Hawks received exceptional performances from juniors Jon Pepyne and Gary Grandonico, the pair making up for the loss of senior Jamie Bell, who left the game midway through the second quarter with a left knee injury.

By that time the Red Hawks had the lead for good, never letting the Sailors catch up as the Red Hawks played perhaps their most complete game of the season.

"These kids have worked so hard, and they've been a great group," Frontier coach Marty Sanderson said. "They listened and played the game. What we told the kids to do in our matchups, they did tremendously. We forced them into things they didn't want to do."

Frontier's plan was to use the 6-foot-2 wide-shouldered Pepyne to put a body on Scituate's 6-9 center Sean McCarthy, and keep 6-6 forward Blaine O'Brien off the boards as well.

On offense, the Red Hawks were looking to spread the floor and have forwards Dan and Brian Clark step back to either draw the big men out from under the basket or hit shots from the perimeter. Sanderson wanted to change it up in the second half and go smaller and quicker, but Bell's injury nixed that.

"With Jamie getting hurt, it took away our ability to go with three guards," Sanderson said.

It also meant more than 18 points a game would be missing from the offense.

"I didn't really focus on that," Grandonico said. "One of the big three was out, so get it to the big two."

But what happened was Grandonico scored 17 points, 14 coming in the second half as his offense made up for the loss of Bell.

"That was scary because we've depended on Jamie all year, he's kind of a building block," Dan Clark, who scored 23 points, said. "That was kind of hard but we knew we could do it without him.

"Pepyne had a great game and Gary as well, He shot the lights out in the second half."

The win was a bittersweet one for Bell, a senior headed to Westfield State College in the fall. He injured his knee with five minutes, 47 seconds left in the second quarter and sat the rest of the half. He gave it a go in the third quarter, but after a little more than a minute he knew he was all done.

"It was very difficult, I wanted to play in that game so bad, it was my dream," Bell said. "I was so glad everyone stepped up. Gary played a great game, one of the greatest games I've seen him play."

The game was tied at 23 when Pepyne and Dan Clark made back-to-back trips to the foul line, both making a pair to start a 9-2 run that would put the Red Hawks ahead for good.

O'Brien (20 points) knocked down a jumper, but Dan Clark answered with one of his four 3-pointers, then Matt Chamberlin scored inside to give Frontier a 32-25 lead.

The half ended with the Red Hawks ahead 39-35, but O'Brien made a 3-pointer to start the third quarter to get the Sailors (22-3) within one.

In the final quarter, Grandonico took over, scoring 11 points, including a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter. The Frontier defense forced the Sailors to score from the perimeter and limited them to one shot.

"Coach told us we needed to play defense as well as we play offense and we'd be unstoppable," Dan Clark said.

The Red Hawks did just that, and they have the trophy to prove it.

Cold snap dooms Quaboag

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cold snap dooms Quaboag
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By SEAN SWEENEY

Arch. Williams 69 Quaboag 47

WORCESTER - With 2:21 remaining in the first half, the DCU Center magically transformed into Old Trafford, home of the Manchester United F.C., as a chant of "Ole, Ole-Ole-Ole, Oleee, Oleeee" rose from the Archbishop Williams cheering section.

It rose again with 2:13 remaining in the third and then again at the end of the quarter, and by then the Bishops were well on their way to repeating as the Division III girls basketball champions.

Archbishop Williams used a 20-point second quarter, a 22-point third and took advantage of a disjointed Quaboag team, as the Archies soundly defeated the Cougars 69-47 yesterday afternoon.

Quaboag's hopes for a fifth state crown evaporated in the second quarter, as the Cougars (24-2) were unable to hit a shot for over eight minutes. Quaboag came into the second with a four-point, 16-12 lead after Olivia Jankins hit a 3-pointer from just a step inside the NBA-distance 3-point arc, but Archbishop Williams (22-2) ripped off the next 20 points to put the game away.

The play of AW senior Christine Duffy (11 points), with her myriad of sling passes and jumpers, the outside shooting of senior forward Casey Capello (game-high 19 points) as well as the play of 6-foot-3 sophomore center Valerie Driscoll (18 points), led to Quaboag's premature demise.

Senior Macey Gaumond, whose overtime 3-pointer two years ago clinched the Cougars' fourth state title against Cardinal Spellman, was able to end the drought with a 3-pointer from the side as the horn sounded to end the first half.

Archbishop Williams took a 32-19 lead into the locker room.

"The second quarter made the whole game," Quaboag coach John Vayda said. "They had that run and we only had that one field goal all quarter. Their 2-3 zone gave us a lot of problems, and we had a lot of problems finding girls open, and we had a hard time moving through the zone."

Gaumond hit a pair of free throws to open the third to make it an 11-point game, but the Cougars would not get any closer despite great efforts to do so: Meaghan O'Keefe hit a pair of deep 3s, her second boxed in by trifectas from Capello and Duffy.

Quaboag was able to end the third on a positive note, going on a 9-2 run after a 14-3 Archbishop Williams run.

"We had a little adjustment for them in the second half; I wish we had it for them in the first half," Vayda said.

Chance to make amends

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Chance to make amends
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By FRAN SYPEK
fsypek@repub.com

They're back.

So is their opponent.

Which should make for an outstanding state Division III high school hockey final this afternoon in Boston when the Westfield Bombers (15-5-2) meet the Scituate Sailors (13-6-5) at TD Banknorth Garden at 12:30.

Westfield, which lost to Scituate, 1-0 in last season's final, advanced with a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Gardner on Thursday at Worcester's DCU Center. Before Westfield took the ice for that game, it watched some of Scituate's impressive 8-2 triumph over Marblehead.

Westfield coach C.B. "Moose" Matthews put his team through a light skate yesterday at Amelia Park Arena to prepare for Scituate's high-powered offense.

The Sailors' first line had five goals in the win over Marblehead. Danny Galvin had a hat trick and Pat Duggan added two goals. Mac Luciani, who transferred from Boston College High School, scored two goals.

"We'll put some guys on that top line," Matthews said. "Our kids want this game and last year's loss is a good motivator."

The Sailors also have plenty of motivation. Tim Mahoney, a sophomore defenseman, was killed in a car accident on Feb. 2 and Scituate's scheduled game the next day against East Longmeadow was canceled. His older brother Pat is a senior defenseman and prior to every game, Tim Mahoney's name is announced after his brother's in the starting lineup.

Scituate - stung by the tragedy - barely qualified for postseason with an 8-6-5 record, but the Sailors have caught fire and won five tournament games.

"Their defense likes to control the game," Matthews said. "We'll need to forecheck them hard."

It starts with defense with the Bombers, who have a Jekyll and Hyde offense. Westfield had a scoring parade in its sectional semifinal 7-4 decision over Minnechaug, but struggled to score three goals in each of its next two games.

Anthony Howard, Alex Foche, Colin Arnold and Nick Cocchi are solid defensively.

"I've got so much confidence in them," Matthews said.

Goaltender Alex Wiggs has made the clutch saves with the game on the line and has emerged from graduated goalie Mike Sullivan's shadow to give the Bombers solid work in net.

What's made this incredible ride to the final enjoyable for the Bombers is they have a different hero emerge each night.

"This year's team seems to be more united," Matthews said.

Against Minnechaug, it was Corey Bellamy, who scored two goals and set up another. Ryan Leonard scored twice in the sectional final when Westfield edged Longmeadow 3-2.

Dan Ross stepped up Thursday and figured in all three of his team's goals against Gardner. Ross had two goals and an assist.

"He's a senior and I told him this was his time to pick it up and he has," Matthews said.

Then there's Frere, who has scored in every tournament game. "We definitely don't want to lose to Scitutate twice in a row," Frere said.
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