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Royal leader: Bouchard takes over as Georgetown lacrosse coach

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Royal leader: Bouchard takes over as Georgetown lacrosse coach
By Evan Mugford
Staff writer

Georgetown High lacrosse coach Matt Bouchard, right, works with his team during practice earlier this week.
Bryan Eaton / Staff photo
GEORGETOWN — Despite a better-than-average season last year, the Georgetown boys lacrosse team has reason to believe that this season could be an even larger step in the right direction.

The main reason for such high hopes is the introduction of new coach Matt Bouchard, a graduate of Merrimack College and a legitimate high school journeyman whose coaching stops have seen him at Salem High and Masconomet.

A Salem, Mass. native and Georgetown football coach for the past two seasons, Bouchard is well aware of Royal pride and jumped at the chance to coach the school's talented lacrosse program.

Bouchard began playing lacrosse a year before his freshman year at Salem High. It wasn't long before he found a new passion. He jumped at the opportunity to replace the architect of the boys lacrosse, Paul Hartford, who left the team after his son, Tim Hartford, graduated last spring.

"Once I realized the position was open," said Bouchard, "it didn't take me long to put my name in, go through the interview process, and eventually, I was lucky enough to get the job."

Other than coaching two of Georgetown's most rigorous sports, Bouchard also runs a strength and conditioning program for the school since he became the football coach.

"In my opinion, no matter what sport I've been coaching," said Bouchard, "the one thing that can help get athletes to the next level is getting into the weight room. Even a small program can compete with the right training and effort.

"Basically it's a program that's open to the whole school, athletes and non-athletes, and our goal is to build and improve the potential of Georgetown's athletes," explained Bouchard.

Getting bigger and stronger is only a section of the program that has been pushing Georgetown athletes for the last two years. Nutrition and preparation for competitions are also integral parts of Bouchard's routine.

"We talk about nutrition throughout the year," said Bouchard, "because it's not just about getting into the weight room twice a week. It's about filling your body with the right amount of healthy food to maintain their strength and awareness.

"The strength program is here to compliment every program in the school. It's a year-round endeavor," explained Bouchard. "We want the kids to be stronger at the end of the season than they were at the beginning of the season. And with the remarkable lack of injuries the school has sustained, it's evident the program is working."

As the new lacrosse figure-head, Bouchard knows what needs to be done in order for his team to excel.

"I'm always going to take advantage of our team's strengths and have a system in place where if tweaking certain aspects needs to be done, then we'll accomplish it as successfully as possible," stated Bouchard. "This year we're really talented in the midfield position, so I'm really looking for those guys to establish our offense through fluid transition. So we want to force the defense into an unsettled situation and try to generate some offense from there on out."

Whether the team has immediate success or not, Bouchard knows there are other aspects that weigh heavier than athletic skill and prominence.

"One of the best parts about being a coach is having a part in the lives of young athletes," said Bouchard. "A great coach walks the line between being a friend and a coach. But being a mentor to how they live and train is what my main goal certainly is.

"My standard is that I really don't care if you're an All-American, you need to do it right in the classroom too," explained Bouchard. "Every college coach I've ever talked to, the first question is always the same: What type of person are they? That's followed by: How's their character? Then: Can they get it done in the classroom? They don't even talk abut whether the kid can play. I build my program around those concepts."

With the season opener just days away, Bouchard is content with his team's abilities and lineup.

"We have a lot of senior depth," stated Bouchard, "and we're going to set ourselves apart from other teams this year because of our seniors, and the intangibles they've gathered through experience. They're dynamic, they have talent, and they understand the game."

From Sharon High to March Madness. Bruce Pearl pursues basketball glory

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

From Sharon High to March Madness. Bruce Pearl pursues basketball glory
Classmates recall his dedication, humor and Afro
By Adam Riglian
The Patriot Ledger



Bruce Pearl's senior year photo.


Bruce Pearl was both class president and class clown at Sharon High School in 1978.

Today, the leadership skills that made him class president have helped him guide the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last season, the old class clown in him showed up too, when he painted his entire body orange at a women’s hoop game.

As his second-seed Volunteers take on third-seed Louisville on Thursday, Pearl has a chance to get deeper into March Madness than either he or the Tennessee men’s team has ever been.

“He never missed an opportunity to get a laugh,” said Gary Coffey, who went to school and played baseball with Pearl. “He was also very competitive and dedicated.”

Pearl never had a real chance to show off his athletic ability in Sharon. He injured a knee during a football game in his freshman year. That injury prevented him from playing anything except baseball, and in that sport he was primarily a designated hitter – one who needed a pinch runner.

“I think most people at that time would have probably given up on sports,” said George Bausch, a former teammate. “I just remember him doing everything he could to help the team.”

Dudley Davenport, former head basketball coach at Sharon High and later the athletic director, remembers Pearl making it to basketball practices and games and doing everything he could from the bench.

“You always get someone that wants to help or be a manager, to hang out with their buddies,” Davenport said, “but Bruce was interested in the game. He had an interest from an early level in basketball.”

While Pearl was often the one dishing out the jokes, he was not above being the target. Davenport recalls Pearl being made to sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a crowded school cafeteria, while Bausch remembers teammates “relentlessly” poking fun at his hairstyle.

“He had a really big Afro,” Bausch said. “He got ragged on about it quite a bit.”

Pearl and his Afro went on to Boston College, where he worked under Eagles head coach Dr. Tom Davis. When Davis left for Stanford, he took Pearl with him as an assistant, doing the same when he went to the University of Iowa. Pearl eventually landed his first head coaching job at Southern Indiana University.

In 2001, he moved up to Division 1 with the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, leading the team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2003, and to the Sweet 16 in 2005. He then became head coach of the men’s Vols.

“Frankly, it doesn’t surprise me that he did this well,” Coffey said.

Asked about Pearl painting himself orange, Coffey said, “I wasn’t surprised he did that either.”

Adam Riglian may be reached at ariglian@ledger.com.

Andover's time has come Haverhill: Rejuvenated Hillies eager t contend NH: Upbeat Central regroups up front

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

 City: Andover's time has come Haverhill: Rejuvenated Hillies eager t contend NH: Upbeat Central regroups up front


Merrimack Valley Conference

OVERVIEW: Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Andover, but the Golden Warriors matured quickly and advanced to the Division 1 East semifinals. Now, with that year's experience, they're poised to battle Billerica for top spot in the MVC Division 1. Billerica has a strong nucleus back from a squad that went 18-3 and also lost in the East semis.

In Division 2 of the MVC, a wide-open race looks imminent with defending champion Lowell (16-6 last year) expecting challenges from Central Catholic and a rejuvenated Haverhill team led by new coach Bryan Brazill.

Following are how the divisions are divided.

MVC 1 — Andover, Chelmsford, Billerica

MVC 2 — Haverhill, Lowell, Central, Tewksbury


2007 record: 16-5, lost Division 1 East semifinals

Returning starters (6): Nick Reeder, Sr., goalie; Peter Hanson, Sr., midfield; Brendan Hughes, Sr., midfield; Matt Rayner, Sr., defense; Joe Lamagna, Jr., attack; Tripp Stevens, Sr., defense

Returning lettermen: Sam Cook, Sr., midfield; Gavin Lynch, Sr., midfield; Jon Booth, Sr., midfield; Gavin McIver, Jr., midfield; Kevin Drew, Sr., defense; Andrew Federico, Sr., defense; Eric Simpson, Sr., defense; Justin Malins, Sr., attack; C.J. Shea, Sr., attack; Matt Eriksen, Jr., attack

Newcomers: Mike Pierce, Sr., midfield; Zach Kutchin, Sr., defense; John Fiorentino, Soph., attack; Matt Murray, Jr., defense; Tom McQuillan, Jr., midfield; Josh Torres, Jr., midfield; Nick Binder, Jr., defense; Matt Newton, Jr., midfield; Jake Mattison, Jr., midfield; Christian Benedix, Jr., attack; Vinnie Christiano, Jr., defense; Jake Gostanian, Jr., goalie; Matt Newman, Jr., goalie; Andrew Carroll, Jr., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 105

Captains: Kevin Drew, Peter Hanson, Brendan Hughes, Matt Rayner

Returning leaders: Brendan Hughes 53-33—86; Peter Hanson 34-21—55; Justin Malins 30-7—37; Nick Reeder, 115 saves

Returning honorees: Brendan Hughes, All-Scholastic, Eagle-Tribune All-Star; Peter Hanson, Eagle-Tribune All-Star; Matt Rayner, Eagle-Tribune All-Star

Assistants: Leo Lafond, Matt James, Bobby Grant, JV; Doug Chernovetz, Frosh.

Opener: Hosts Newton South March 27

Odds and ends: Andover returns its top three scorers from last year. ... Matt Rayner was a 2006 and 2007 Eagle-Tribune All-Star in football as a receiver. ... Andover advanced to the Division 1 East semis for first time in the eight-year history of program. ... Football star Mike Pierce, who played baseball last year, is giving lacrosse a try for the first time. ... Zach Kutchin, who played as a freshman, returns to the program after taking two years off. ... Junior Cam Smith, who separated his shoulder playing ice hockey, is unable to play this year, so he is serving as a team manager.

Coach Wayne Puglisi (9th year, 96-52 ): "We have a strong returning group from a team that made it to the (Division 1 East) semifinals, so we're feeling pretty good about the season. We have the scorers and Nick Reeder is looking good in goal. ... This team has more depth than last year."

Central Catholic

2007 record: 9-10, lost Division 2 East preliminaries

Returning starters (8): Patrick Helfrich, Sr., midfield; Chris Noyes, Sr., midfield; Preston Carmichael, Sr., midfield; Rob Caulk, Sr., midfield; Shain Jowett, Jr., midfield; Corey Hamilton, Sr., defense; Mike Tavares, Sr., defense; Eric Josephs, Jr., midfield

Returning lettermen: Alex Landry, Sr., midfield; Josh Clark, Sr., defense; Matt LaFrance, Jr., defense; Joe McCarthy, Sr., attack; Nick Mann, Jr., attack

Newcomers: Chris George, Soph., attack; Conor Murphy, Soph., attack; Andrew Ouellette, Soph., midfield; Patrick Rooney, Soph., midfield; Walter Gillis, Jr., goalie; Matt Smith, Jr., defense

Candidates in all grades: 65

Captains: Preston Carmichael, Patrick Helfrich, Corey Hamilton, Chris Noyes

Returning leaders: Patrick Helfrich 14-11—25; Chris Noyes 10-12—22; Shain Jowett 11-6—17

Returning honorees: Chris Noyes, Corey Hamilton MVC All-Stars

Assistants: Aram Jeknavorian; Vinnie Helfrich, volunteer assistant

Opener: at Acton-Boxboro Saturday

Odds and ends: Central graduated its top three scorers ... Vinnie Helfrich, who was on the team last year, is helping out as a volunteer assistant. ... Head coach Matthew Velasquez will coach both the JV and varsity teams. ... Walter Gillis, who was a defenseman until late last year, will start in goal and has been impressive in the preseason. ... Of 60 players still in the program, only 12 have never played lacrosse — a much lower percentage than in previous years. ... Sophomores Conor Murphy and Andrew Ouellette have opened eyes in the preseason. ... The Raiders have upgraded their regular-season schedule in order to better prepare for the tournament.

Coach Matthew Velasquez (4th year, 24-32): "We lost our top three attack guys, but I don't think we'll have a problem scoring goals. Last year, we were attack heavy, but we will have more balance this year and I think we'll have a better season because of it. We have some midfielders with a lot of experience, and very skilled, who should step up. Our biggest strength will be on defense with (Josh) Clark, (Corey) Hamilton and (Matt) LaFrance. They work very well together."


2007 record: 11-8, lost Division 1 East preliminaries

Returning starters (8): Cody Skinner, Sr., goalie; Tom Murray, Sr., attack; Nick Vazquez, Jr., attack; Joe Natale, Jr., attack; Kevin Woodman, Sr., midfield; Ryan Gauthier, Jr., midfield; Kyle Burke, Jr., defense; Troy Warcewicz, Sr., midfield

Returning lettermen: Tim Fitts, Sr., defense; Dan Ferrachi, Sr., midfield

Newcomers: Casey Sweeney, Frosh., attack; Parker Laamare, Soph., goalie; Kyle Sullivan, Soph., defense; Alex Aguirre, Jr., defense; Evan Pare, Jr., midfield; Tyler Nauffts, Soph., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 41

Captains: Joe Natale, Nick Vazquez, Kyle Burke

Returning leaders: Nick Vazquez 25-7—32; Tom Murray 11-6—17; Joe Natale 9-7—16

Returning honorees: Nick Vazquez, MVC All-Star

Assistants: Jay White, Pete Smyth; Gavin Evans, JV

Opener: at Central Catholic April 4

Odds and ends: New coach Bryan Brazill is a former Merrimack College standout (Class of 2005) and assistant coach who owns and operates Home Grown Lacrosse in North Andover. He takes over for Chris Laganas, who had a 37-38 record in four years. ... Returning goalie Cody Skinner broke his thumb on the first day of practice and will miss the first game. Capable sophomore Parker Laamare will fill in. ... Haverhill looked promising in a 7-5 scrimmage loss to powerful Acton-Boxboro. ... Nick Vazquez leads the returnees with 25 goals as a sophomore, but Brazill believes he'll get better balance this year. He is expecting big years from midfielders Kevin Woodman and Ryan Gauthier. ... Brian Ward, who shined as a freshman, has transferred to Governor's Academy.

Coach Bryan Brazill (1st year): "I don't want to make any predictions, but I think we have a strong returning class, with a lot of talent. I think we'll be OK on offense and defense. My only real concern is with lack of numbers — our depth. I've got some unbelievable workers."

North Andover could be a CAL contender

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

North Andover could be a CAL contender


Cape Ann League

OVERVIEW: Masconomet, once again, looks to be the class of the upper tier, with Hamilton-Wenham and young and athletic North Andover not far behind.

"Masco and North Andover will be tough," Pentucket coach Geoff Beckett said. "They've been around the longest, they have the most experience."

Pentucket looks to make some noise in the middle tier and Georgetown could surprise in the lower tier.


2007 record: 11-8, lost Division 2 East first round

Returning starters (6): Robert Gibb, Sr., midfield; Jim McGillicuddy, Sr., midfield; Aaron Rice, Sr., midfield; Billy Smith, Sr., midfield; Brandon Wade, Sr., midfield; David Laflamme, Sr., attack

Returning lettermen: Joseph Butera, Jr., goalie; Dave Kenneally, Jr., defense; Matt Kumph, Jr., defense; Jesse Pulver, Jr., attack; Jay Nemeroff, Sr., defense; Jeff McLaughlin, Jr., defense; Nadjee Harrigan, Sr., defense; Evan Desrochers, Sr., defense; Scott Barta, Sr., midfield; Nick Sheffield, Sr., attack; Jon Bordonaro, Jr., midfield

Newcomers: Max Mangano, Frosh., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 40

Captains: TBA

Returning leaders: Brandon Wade 36-10—46; David Laflamme 23-13—36

Returning honorees: Brandon Wade, CAL All-Star

Assistants: Jay White

Opener: vs. Lynnfield, April 1 at 4 p.m.

Odds and ends: Matt Bouchard, the head football coach at Georgetown and a former lacrosse assistant at Masconomet, replaces Paul Hartford, who went 16-20 in the two years the program has fielded a varsity team. ... Joe Butera will likely start in goal. ... Bouchard is expecting big things from Brandon Wade and David Laflamme, who will both be instrumental in the Royals' fast-paced attack. He'll have to replace the top two scorers in the region in Bob Hadden and Tim Hartford, who combined for 106 goals last spring.

Coach Matt Bouchard (1st year): "It's nice to take the reins and see what I can do with it. The kids look like they're catching on right on cue."

North Andover

2007 record: 17-5, lost Division 2 East quarterfinals

Returning starters (8): Tyler Zahoruiko, Jr., attack; Jon Blackwell, Sr., attack; Steve Collura, Sr., attack; Ross Marchegiani, Sr., defense; Alex Marchegiani, Sr., defense; Matt Foster, Sr., midfield; Kyle Dolan, Sr., midfield; John Foley, Sr., midfield

Returning lettermen: Ricky LaViska, Sr., attack; Rob Morandi, Jr., midfield; John Carney, Jr., midfield; Brian Sakakeeny, Sr., defense; Chris Angles, Sr., goalie

Newcomers: John Masterlez, Sr., attack; Brian Amor, Jr., midfield; Jeff Surette, Jr., midfield; Matt Taylor, Jr., midfield; Garrett Alter, Soph., midfield; Tom O'Connell, Soph., midfield; Zac Iovanella, Soph., midfield; Chris Hawkins, Jr., midfield; Andrew McIntyre, Jr., defense; Julien Lacourse, Jr., defense; Matt Doherty, Jr., defense; Steve Taylor, Soph., defense; Bob Berman, Soph., defense; Eric Perez, Sr., goalie; Brian O'Connor, Soph., goalie; Alex Blane, Soph., attack; Jack Murphy, Frosh., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 80

Captains: Jon Blackwell, Matt Foster, Ross Marchegiani

Returning leaders: Jon Blackwell 36-15—51; Steve Collura 32-18—50; Tyler Zahoruiko 30-10—40

Returning honorees: Steve Collura, CAL All-Star; Ross Marchegiani, CAL All-Star

Assistants: Matt Tholander, varsity; Ryan Connolly, varsity; Mark Grant, JV; Tim Duffany, JV; Andy Van Horn, Frosh.

Opener: March 28 hosts Newton North

Odds and ends: Jon Blackwell, Steve Collura and Tyler Zahoruiko combined for 98 goals last spring. Last year was the Scarlet Knights' second straight 17-win season.

Coach Steve Connolly (10th year, 130-57): "I've got 12 kids with lots of ability in the midfield. A lot of our offense came from those three guys, so we'll get some scoring there. We're young and athletic, it's going to take a while to know each other. The sophomores are here for a reason, they all bring something to the table. The goalie is a three-way battle right now. All bring different strengths to the game."

North Reading

2007 record: 12-9, lost Division 3 East first round

Returning starters (7): Kyle Sinclair, Jr., defense; Mike Brooks, Sr., defense; Josh Robinson, Sr., midfield; Matt Clemens, Sr., midfield; Ryan Visconti, Sr., goalie; Peter DiPietro, Sr., attack; Derek Marenholz, Soph., attack

Returning lettermen: Jon Brooks, Soph., midfield; Joe Burns, Sr., midfield; Rich Valeri, Jr., midfield; Brian Ferrazani, Sr., midfield

Newcomers: Jeff Leonard, Sr., midfield; Stefan Mitrano, Jr., defense; Phil Cusolito, Jr., defense; Matt Robinson, Soph., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 30

Captains: TBA

Returning honorees: Matt Clemens, Kyle Sinclair CAL All-Stars

Assistants: Mike Tracy, JV

Opener: at Pentucket in Amesbury March 28, 3 p.m.

Odds and ends: The Hornets received a big blow when Derek Braig, one of the top offensive players last year as a freshman, moved to Maryland. ... With only 30 players in the program, which is down from 35 from last year, staying healthy will be key. ... Nick Chalmers, who was a starter last year, had knee surgery following a football injury and will miss the season. ... Phil Cusolito is a transfer from St. John's Prep, where he played JV.

Coach Chuck Campobasso (4th year, 30-30): "We have all our defenseman back, and Ryan Visconti should do a good job in goal, so we should be able to stop people. But scoring goals will be a big problem. We lost four top seniors and Derek (Braig), so that's 84 percent of our offense. Matt Clemens can score, but he's going to need some help. I'm hoping Derek Marenholz can step up. Stefan Mitrano looks greatly improved."


2007 record: 5-14, did not make tourney

Returning starters (9): Austin Ago, Sr., defense; Nate Bunnell, Sr., midfield; Taylor Cahill, Sr., attack; Matt Green, Sr., midfield; Alex Roberts, Sr., goalie; Dylan Chase, Jr., attack; Matt Fiore, Jr., defense; Ben Stasiuk, Jr., midfield; Cam Spofford, Soph., defense

Returning lettermen: Bobby Karlberg, Sr., midfield; Chris Lyon, Sr., midfield; Tom Clark, Jr., midfield; Alex Connolly, Soph., attack

Newcomers: Christian Burns, Sr., attack; Ryan Carvalho, Sr., defense; Matt Roberts, Sr., defense; Chris Guilmet, Jr., midfield; Josh Haley, Jr., attack; Anthony Pagliarulo, Jr., defense; Mark Pigott, Jr., defense; Greg Rotondo, Jr., attack; Josh Hinds, Soph., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 44

Captains: Austin Ago, Bobby Karlberg, Alex Roberts

Returning leaders: Dylan Chase 8-0—8, Alex Connolly 4-2—6; Ben Stasiuk 3-3—6

Returning honorees:

Assistants: Zach Boyd, JV; Jim Potenza, varsity assistant

Opener: March 28 vs. North Reading at Amesbury Sports Park, 3 p.m.

Odds and ends: The Sachems had 44 athlete try out, down from 50 candidates last year ... Still, coach Geoff Beckett had to make cuts for the first time. ... Nate Bunnell, a standout on the football team, brings an aggressive approach to lacrosse. ... Football lineman Matt Fiore and wrestler Ben Stasiuk are also poised for big seasons.

Coach Geoff Beckett (3rd year, 14-23): "We have a lot of guys coming back, especially in the midfield. They seem to have a lot more team knowledge. I really like our defense. (Dylan) Chase and (Taylor) Cahill are looking strong at attack. A lack of scoring was a weak point last year."

Cardone loses interim tag for Owls

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cardone loses interim tag for Owls

By Mike Abelson
Staff Writer

After a year as Timberlane Regional's interim head boys basketball coach, Paul Cardone had the interim tag lifted.

"It feels great. I am very excited," said Cardone. "I didn't know what they (the athletic department) were going to do. It was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, but once the thanks and congratulations were over, it was time to take a step forward."

Cardone played at Timberlane 18 years ago and coached for 12 years under former coach Dan Habib. Even though he is coaching at his alma mater, Cardone feels a little out of sorts.

"It's different. It's the same as it was 12 years ago with the same officials, locker rooms, and gymnasium, but it's different. During a time-out, instead of encouraging and consoling the kids, I have to draw up a play and make it my time-out."

Cardone learned a lot during his first year at the helm.

"The biggest thing that I learned was how to manage a game," said Cardone, whose club narrowly missed the playoffs with a 5-13 record. "I was an assistant under Dan for 12 years, but this is much harder. Early on, you are worried about everything, and it wasn't easy opening up at Salem (which repeated as Class L champion this winter).

"There were many times that I questioned my own knowledge and experience when going up against veteran coaches, but you have to feel comfortable in your own skin. We once had more young kids playing basketball. Now there are more options like hockey and wrestling.

However, Cardone feels confident with the way his 2008-2009 squad is shaping up,

"Next year we return six, three of which were starters. We weren't big this year and we won't be big next year either, but anything can happen," said Cardone.

After one year with the Owls, Cardone is quite content with his job.

"The experiences and memories that I have gained from my time with these 12 kids were amazing. I told them at the end of the season that no matter how long I coached that I would never forget them. The first few weeks after the season I felt lost. I got so used to seeing those 12 kids every day, and then it was over. I mean, I was seeing them more than their parents were."

Girls lacrosse capsules

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Girls lacrosse capsules
March 27, 2008 6:00 AM

MIKE VALERI/The Standard-Times Carissa Wills-DeMello will be a leader up front for Dartmouth as it looks to build on last year’s 8-11-0 campaign.
mike valeri

Bishop Stang Spartans

Coach: Mary Beth Oliveira

(First year)

2007 record: N/A

Outlook: Playing a JV schedule last season the Spartans finished 10-2, with the two losses coming by one goal to Barnstable. They're looking to continue that success in their first varsity season. "I think they're going to have a great first year," Oliveira said. "It's going to surprise a lot of people that they're only a first year team. Last year when they were JV everyone was shocked it was the first year that Stang had a team, and with every passing year they're going to get better because we have youth on our side." Oliveira said her team is made up mostly of sophomores and freshmen. She didn't want to single any players out before Stang played a game, but expects contributions from her freshmen and sophomore classes with help from a senior or two.

Dartmouth Indians

Coach: Laura Magno

(Second year)

2007 record: 8-11-0

Key returners: Sr. Mid. Maggie Schoening, Sr. Def. Kaitlyn Rita, Sr. Atk. Jenna Custodio, Sr. Def. Erica Baptisie, Sr. Atk. Olivia McGlone, Sr. Atk. Lauren Sagar, Sr. Def. Alyssa Arruda, Sr. Def. Sarah Gill, Jr. Mid. Shelby Hickox, Jr. Atk. Carissa Wills-DeMello, Jr. Mid. Hannah Bogen.

Key newcomers: Jr. Atk .Cathy Benoit, Jr. Def. Janna Skinner, Soph. G. Katie Zuber

Outlook: After graduating almost the entire team in 2006, the Indians started over last season, and with 11 varsity players returning, including leading scorer Schoening, they look to pick up right where they left off. Rita captains a cohesive defense that features five seniors, and will give new goalie Zuber a chance to learn on the job. Schoening managed 35 goals last year after missing the first few weeks with a broken wrist, she'll center a midfield full of dangerous juniors like Hickox and Bogen. Custodio, McGlone and Wills-DeMello look to do the damage up front.

Fairhaven Blue Devils

Fairhaven Blue Devils

Coach: Bethany Soares

(First year)

2007 record: N/A

Key players: Sr. Mid. Kaleigh Charette, Sr. Mid. Colleen Pepin, Sr. Mid. Kat Olsen, Sr. Def. Avery Moore, Jr. Mid. Sam Olsen, Jr. G. Katie Perry, Jr. Mid. Melissa Perreira, Jr. Atk. Tamlyn Dexter, Jr. Mid. Amanda Larson, Jr. Atk. Tara Phelan.

Outlook: In its first year of varsity play, Fairhaven has just 19 girls, but the Blue Devils feature some familiar names. "Kaleigh Charette and Colleen Pepin are stars," Soares said. "They're in the paper a lot — Kaleigh with basketball and Colleen with soccer, so they're the dominating factor on the field, and hopefully get people to follow behind their lead." The Blue Devils also boast girls volleyball player of the year Kat Olsen, who along with Sam Olsen and Moore and Charette played in the south sectional finals this fall. The question is how that talent will translate to lacrosse. "It's going to be a challenge," Soares said. "They're used to playing JV teams and scrimmages, so one of the challenges is working united against varsity teams that have been playing for years. That's going to be one of the toughest part."

New Bedford Whalers

New Bedford Whalers

Coach: Tim Curry (Third year)

2007 record: 8-9-2

Key returners: Sr. Mid. Kaylee Bergeron, Sr. Atk. Karina Andrade, Sr. Mid. Beth Levasseur, Sr. Mid. Jen Pimental, Sr. Atk. Anna McDowell, Sr. Def. Jillian Hudon, Sr. G. Alisha Dube, Sr. Atk. Heather Jerome, Sr. Def. Kara Williams, Jr. Mid. Andrea Nogueira, Jr. Def. Aylicia Gonsalves, Jr. Atk. Megan Beaulieu.

Key newcomers: Sr. Def. Courtney Martins, Sr. Mid. Madison Patten, Sr. Def. Nicole Talbot, Sr. Mid. Ally Tremblay, Sr. Mid. Leslie Grime, Soph. Mid Emilie Pires, Soph. Mid. Noreen Costa.

Outlook: The Whalers made the leap last season and look to pick up right where they left off with the help of a veteran attack and returning goalie. "Having a veteran in goal is big especially at the beginning of the season," Curry said. "You don't have your defenses perfected, so having a goalie who has seen action before really helps, Alisha helps calling out plays. She's been there before, which helps out a lot." Up front, Levasseur led the way last spring with 46 goals, but she won't be alone with Nogueira, Andrade, McDowell and Jerome all capable of converting.

Boys lacross capsules

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Boys lacross capsules

MIKE VALERI/The Standard-Times New Bedford attackman Matt Correia and Bishop Stang defeneman Dave McQueen can expect to meet again this season.
mike valeri

Bishop Stang Spartans

Coach: Mike Harris (Second year)

2007 record: 11-9-0

Key returners: Sr. Def. Ned Brady, Sr. Mid. Ryan Hickey, Sr. Def. Dave McQueen, Sr. Atk. Andy Mello, Jr. Mid. Kevin Magalhaes, Jr. Mid. Ryan Magalhaes, Jr. Atk. Jay Miller

Key newcomers: Sr. Mid. Zach Kovacs, Jr. Mid. Pat Ford, Jr. Mid. Chris Hodgeson, Jr. Mid. Matt Sylvia, Jr. Def. Joe Brochu, Soph. G Murphy Lester

Outlook: The Spartans graduated most of last year's key contributors, and losing Rob Gianferante because of shoulder surgery leaves Harris with "mostly juniors and a smattering of sophomores, which is good and bad all at once." Stalwarts McQueen and Brady will anchor the defense in front of Lester, a first-year starter. "You never want to throw a young goalie in when he's not ready, but I don't think we have to worry about that," Harris said. "He's a hockey goalie, so he understands the concept of stopping a shot." The midfield and attack game will be more about speed than muscle for Stang this season. The question up front will be how the Spartans replace Jesse Tarlton and his 50 goals.

Dartmouth Indians

Coach: Andy Goodman (Sixth year)

2007 record: 11-6-0

Key returners: Sr. Mid. Nick Pinhancos, Sr. Def. Sean Rider, Sr Atk. Matt Kestenbaum, Sr. Atk. T.J. Bullard, Sr. Mid. Doug Johnston, Sr. Def. Koryd Lavinomire, Jr. Atk. Jeff Egans

Key newcomers: Sr. Mid. Alex Sykes, Jr. Mid. Ryan Renoir, Jr. Mid. Kyle Gavin, Jr. Mid. Brad Marder, Jr. Def. Justin Cruz, Soph. Mid. Patrick Neenan,

Outlook: A veteran team last year, this year Dartmouth has a new tribe of Indians after graduating 15 seniors last spring including record-setting goalie Jay Ferreira. "We're very inexperienced," Goodman said. "Three guys we might start had never played before this season. If we pick up the game the way I think we're going to, we'll be a force." Dartmouth is looking at three players between the pipes — sophomores Jarred Mello and Tom Goyette and freshman Andy Kestenbaum. Newcomers Cruz and Sykes are both football players and should give brawn to a defense headed by the veteran Rider. Pinhancos headlines a raw but athletic midfield, with Renoir and Neenan drawing faceoff duties. Matt Kestenbaum, Bullard, and Egan lead the attack.

Fairhaven Blue Devils

Coach: Erich Carroll (First year)

2007 record: N/A

Key players: Sr. Def. David Wilson, Sr. Atk. Justin Perreira, Sr, Mid. Dan Croteau, Sr. Mid. Ross Macedo, Sr. Atk. Chris Johnson, Sr. Def. Matt Georgiana, Jr. Mid. Marcus Barros, Jr, Mid. Kyle Fertig, Jr. G Zach Lang, Jr. Atk. Alex Polson, Jr. Atk. Zach Edwards, Soph. Mid. Jared Langlois, Soph. Mid. Taylor Motta, Soph. Def. Alex Casteel

Outlook: The new kids on the boys lacrosse block, Fairhaven joins the varsity ranks after playing a JV schedule last spring. "Our goal is just to show steady improvement," Carroll said. "This game requires a lot of skill. Athleticism can carry us only so far, and skill requires a little time to develop. We need to be patient, work on our stick skills and hopefully, by the end of the season, we can put together something fun to watch." Carroll will look to Lang, who split time between the pipes last year, to bail the team out of some early season jams. Wilson will be the linchpin in a young defense. There's a lot of athleticism in the midfield and attack, led by Perreira, Fertig and Barros, a trio Carroll expects to create scoring chances.

GNB Voc-Tech Bears

Coach: Mark Fitzsimmons (Second year)

2007 record: 11-8-0

Key returners: Sr. Mid. Matt Lucio, Sr. Def. Josh McGinnis, Sr. Def. Kevin Mulroy, Sr. Def. Shaun Medeiros, Sr. Mid. Josh Fumo, Sr. Atk. Nick Lizotte, Sr. Mid. Taylor MacMullen, Jr. Mid. Ryan Langlois, Jr. Mid. Mark Vieira, Jr. Mid. Roy Lemos, Jr. Atk. Josh O'Brien

Key newcomers: Sr. Def. Jon Cox, Sr. G Mark Custodio, Jr. G. Brian Cox, Jr. Mid. Genri Fletcher, Jr. Atk. Erik Marques, Jr. Atk. Andrew Grota, Soph. Mid. Andrew Gaudreau

Outlook: The Bears' strength starts in the back, where an experienced defense allowed Fitzsimmons to give last year's goalie room to roam. With McGinnis, Mulroy and Medeiros returning, Lucio, who was the netminder last fall, was moved up to the midfield. "He runs around like a deer," Fitzsimmons said. "He's got a good body and a good stick, so it was hard to keep him in goal." Custodio and Brian Cox look to take over in goal. Taking over the goal scoring after losing Tim Gauvin and Luke Frey will be the likes of Lizotte, Langlois, Marques and Fletcher, a newcomer with football experience.

New Bedford Whalers

Coach: Shane Relihan (Second year)

2007 record: 3-10-3

Key returners: Sr. Atk. Matt Correia, Sr. Atk. Mike Farland, Sr. Def. Tim Amaral, Sr. Mid. Dariush Vafaee, Sr. Mid. Richard Lopez, Sr. Def. Kristian Rose, Sr. Def. Sean Antunes, Jr. Mid. Osman Palao

Key newcomers: Jr. Mid. Jaron Edwards, Jr. Atk. Brian Fernandes, Jr. Mid. Zack Bodine, Jr. Mid. Matt Silvia

Outlook: With 11 seniors in the mix, Relihan hopes the Whalers can take the next step this season. "I'm hoping we can finally get on a roll and turn the program around," Relihan said. "With the guys we have out here I don't see why not, but we haven't done anything yet." Farland returns after being sidelined with an injury last season, which should only make last season's leading scorer Correia more dangerous. Amaral and Antunes will be the leaders on defense. "we have a lot of senior leadership, and that's what this team needs," Relihan said. Palao, a captain as a junior, tops a junior-heavy midfield.

Pimental looks to make up for lost time

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Pimental looks to make up for lost time
High School girls and boys lacrosse preview

By Ryan Trepanier
Standard-Times correspondent
March 27, 2008 6:00 AM

ANDREW T. GALLAGHER/Standard-Times special New Bedford senior Jenn Pimental hopes to help the Whalers back to the playoffs.

NEW BEDFORD — Welcome back.

After a one-year sabbatical from lacrosse, New Bedford senior Jenn Pimental is hoping to pick up where she left off as a sophomore.

"I'm excited to be back," Pimental said, "We're all excited. Hopefully it will be a good season."

Pimental was the Whalers' starting center as a sophomore, but found herself with what seemed more pressing concerns than winning games when it came time to pick up a stick again.

"I had to get a job to pay for my car and stuff, and I didn't realize how important lacrosse was," Pimental said. "You only get to be in high school once to play. I figured it was a bad mistake, now I'm back this year."

Pimental cut back her work schedule at Ma Raffa's to weekends to accommodate lacrosse, and teammates have welcomed the prodigal center back with open arms.

"Jenn's really good, it's like she never even took a year off," senior captain Beth Levasseur said. "She's fitting in fine with us. She's a really strong player."

"They're really excited for me to be back," Pimental said. "It's exciting. Hopefully we'll win and get to the tournament again this year. I'm kind of upset that I missed the tournament last year."

In her absence, New Bedford went from a 3-10-3 team to a state tournament team, finishing the regular season 8-8-2 before bowing out to Sandwich.

"I was happy for them, that they had the opportunity to get there," Pimental said. "It was good for all the players, and now a lot of them are returning so hopefully we can do it again."

The Whalers have leading goal scorer Levasseur back. In fact, with Andrea Nogueira, Karinna Andrade and Anna McDowell all back, New Bedford's potent offense returns nearly intact. Goalie Alisha Dube is also back.

"We have a lot of good people — Drea Nogeiura, Beth Levasseur — offensively and defensively, they get back and forth easily" Pimental said. "(Alisha) Dube, the goalie, she's working hard to block everything."

But it will be no small task replacing the departed scoring of Kathryn Levasseur, Beth's sister, and Courtney Fontes, the team's center last year. Fontes' 43 goals and 18 assists made her the second-highest scorer in the Maritime League and the Standard-Times player of the year, and leaves Jenn with some big shoes to fill.

"Defensively, Jenn might be a little bit ahead of Courtney," New Bedford coach Tim Curry said. "Offensively, Courtney was way ahead. We may lose something on that offensive side, but if we stop them two or three goals it's just as important as scoring two or three goals."

Another area where Pimental can excel is winning draws.

"One of the things we want a center to be able to do is win the draw," Curry said. "If you can dictate where the ball's going to go, it's very helpful."

In a scrimmage against Oliver Ames, Curry said Pimental hit her spot on 13 draws — out of 15.

"Drea was the girl we wanted it to go to," Curry said, "and she got it there 90 percent of the time. That's big."

Pimental's defense and draw skills will be a big help for the Whalers, and her offense will surely catch up.

"Defensively she's very strong," Curry said. "Right now I think her defense and her draw skills are right where she left off. Where she's going to see improvement week-to-week, game-to-game, practice-to-practice is her offensive skills.

"Most of the girls are picking up the sticks for the first time in a long time, some of them for the first time ever, just getting that skill — when you've given it up for a whole year — it's going to take a little while to get back. Once she gets it back, she's going to be very important to us."

Contact Ryan Trepanier at rjtrepanier@gmail.com

Krause: Melanson due to come back to Massachusetts next week

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Krause: Melanson due to come back to Massachusetts next week

Al Melanson knows he's a lucky man - even if, sometimes, he has to be reminded of it.

Melanson, who coached the Lynn Jets combined hockey team this winter, suffered a heart attack in the middle of February, just as the regular hockey season was winding down. Things were touch and go for a long time, and Melanson swears that the concern, and prayers, of the Lynn community (and beyond) were what pulled him through.

He's due to come back to Massachusetts early next week to enter rehab in a Cambridge hospital. He has a long road back, but from the sounds of things, he's up to the task.

I talked to him via telephone yesterday, and even though we never discussed whether the conversation was on or off the record, I have a feeling he won't mind if I recount a couple of things he said.

First, he said, despite his upbeat spirit most of the time, he has his moments when the enormity of what happened to him really hits home ... and he gets depressed.

"There was one day," he said, "when I was really feeling sorry for myself. I was miserable, I was a bear with everyone ... the whole thing."

Then, he said, the phone in his hospital room rang. On the other end was an employee of his whom he'd promoted into a position of management.

Melanson said he'd taken the man under his wing and nurtured him.

"So I answered the phone," he said, "and there's this voice on the other end. He says who he is, and says someone told him it was OK to call and that if it's not OK, he was sorry.

"So I said, 'hey, it's me, it's OK'," Melanson said. "And he told me that nobody had ever done anything like that for him before, and that he wanted to thank me.

"Geez," Melanson said, "I get off the phone and there's tears coming out of my eyes. You just don't know how you affect people sometimes."

The other bit of correspondence came from a junior hockey player on the Jets, "a real, tough junior ... tough, tough kid.

"The letter begins like any letter. 'hi, coach. How are you doing'?" Melanson says.

But then, the letter went on to say that the player wore his Lynn Jets jacket proudly, and that how he couldn't wait for his senior year so he could do this all over again.

"At the end," Melanson said, "the kid says, 'I love you, coach'. Imagine that? Here's a kid - and, like I said, a tough kid, just trying to find himself ... and he does this. Amazing."

What's amazing, of course, is that Melanson is not an easy coach. There's no halfway about Al Melanson, which is why if anyone can survive this, he can. Anyone who has ever played for him will tell you he's demanding, and that if you don't do things his way, and to his satisfaction, you'll hear about it in spades.

But, as his assistant, Ron Gaudet, said right after Melanson had the heart attack, "he will always have your back." He's a classic example of the tough coach with a heart of gold.

And that's why so many people have rallied to his side. Former players, including Lynn firefighter John Barry, have made weekly trips to Maine. Gaudet has been up there several times.

And even though former North Shore Spirit owner Nick Lopardo pulled out of Lynn last September, he came up to Maine the minute he heard about Melanson, and spent a week in Portland to be with his friend and former partner.

I know one thing. Melanson and his family will be very happy to be in Massachusetts, and close to Lynn. I know another thing too: Those who know him will be even happier to see him back here.

Steve Krause is sports editor of The Item

Peabody baseball still packs a powerful wallop

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Peabody baseball still packs a powerful wallop

PEABODY -- The Peabody High baseball team may have lost some big names from last year's 19-3 team, but the Tanners are still packing a boatload of talent heading into their first season in the Northeastern Conference.

Coach Mark Bettencourt won't have two-time Greater Boston League Most Valuable Player Kyle Multner on the hill (he's starting at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst), catcher Matt Sucharewicz (St. Anselm's) behind the plate, Brad Linehan at third or Peter Ellison in the mix, but he won't get too much sympathy considering the crew he does have coming back.

Four-year starter Josh Band, who will be playing baseball at Rawlings College next spring, will be back at shortstop. Band was one of the top hitters in the GBL since he was a freshman.

Kevin Skop, a senior lefty who will start the season as the Tanners' No. 1 pitcher (he also plays right field), is back as is senior righty James Noftle. Noftle, who also plays first base, is coming off a big hockey season. Bettencourt said he's hoping junior righty Marc Linehan will be able to step in as the third starter and fill the void in the rotation left by Multner.

The Tanners also look strong in the bullpen. Junior Pat Dumas had seven saves and was a GBL All-Star as a sophomore. He and Linehan both made huge contributions on the mound.

"We went undefeated in the GBL last year. That hadn't been done since 1983. Pat had some big saves to make that happen. As a sophomore closer, to record seven saves in 19 win, that was a major facto in the season we had," Bettencourt said.

Senior second baseman Gary Girolamo is back. Girolamo played a huge role in the early going when he filled in at short for an injured Band the first nine games of the season. The Tanners went 8-1 during that stretch.

"Gary really filled the void last year," Bettencourt said.

Senior Pat Yeo, who started in center field the last two years, is back in action. Dan Mello, who will play baseball at Bryant College next year, missed last season with a torn ACL after hitting .400 as a sophomore. He's back and looking good at third base.

"He looks phenomenal," Bettencourt said.

Bettencourt said the both the coaches and players are looking forward to playing in the Northeastern Conference.

"I'm going to miss the GBL, but I think the coaches and kids are excited about getting back to their natural rivalries," Bettencourt said.


Peabody baseball coach Mark Bettencourt. ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA

Bettencourt said the kids have been playing against the kids from teams like Salem, Lynn, Beverly, Danvers and Swampscott since their Little League and Babe Ruth days and now those rivalries will be renewed.

"I think a lot more of those local rivalries are going to be sparked back up," he said.

This is Bettencourt's fourth year as head coach and every year, the Tanners have gotten better. They won 15 games his first year, 17 his second and 19 games last year. Peabody's ride through the tournament didn't end until the Division 1 North final, where the Tanners lost to Lincoln-Sudbury, the eventual state champion.

Bettencourt believes the way to get better is to play the best, prompting him to line up a fairly daunting non-league schedule that includes games against St. John's Prep, Xaverian, Malden Catholic, Catholic Memorial, Brighton High School and Tewksbury High. Bettencourt said Tewksbury has a couple of pitchers who are Division 1 college prospects.

"There are no breaks. We'll have to come out and play hard every game. Whether it's a conference game or a non-league, there's always something at stake," Bettencourt said.

Palmer girls startle basketball world

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Palmer girls startle basketball world
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PALMER - Last season, the Palmer High School girls basketball team learned how to compete.

This year, the Panthers learned how to win, so much that they became the first girls team in the school's history to win a Western Massachusetts title.

Riding a great performance by Katrina Caulfield, Palmer rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to beat favored Monument Mountain of Great Barrington 53-45 in the Division II final March 8 at the Curry Hicks Cage at the University of Massachusetts.

"It was a history making tournament," Palmer coach Bernie Fontaine said.

"This is the best feeling I've ever experienced in sports. It's been great. I've been involved with the girls program since 1988, either as an assistant or head coach, and there's nothing like it. The school was a buzz. The town ... the kids ... it's been fabulous."

Sophomore guard and team leading scorer Alyssa Orszulak said, "We're always going to be (regarded as) the first one, and it feels really cool. It hasn't sunk in yet."

Remarkably, the Panthers won without a senior on the roster, and after going 7-13 last season.

"Last year the kids learned how to compete, and they all could step up when they had to," Fontaine said. "This year, we learned to win. This year, it seemed whenever we needed something good to happen to us, it did."

After winning the Bi-County East, Palmer defeated de-

fending Division II champion Hampshire Regional of Westhampton 56-40 in a preliminary game before topping neighboring Belchertown 57-53 in a quarterfinal. In a semifinal at the Cage, the Panthers defeated the High School of Commerce 65-43 to earn a date with top-seeded Monument.

In arguably the biggest game in the history of the program, Caulfield was nothing short of sensational, scoring 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.

"Before the game, if someone told be Alyssa Orszulak was going to be held to six points and we were going to win Western Mass., I would have told that person they were crazy," Fontaine said. "But Katrina Caulfield had a game for the ages.

"I remember thinking after the game, 'Boy, it must be nice to be in that kid's sneakers'."

Orszulak also scored four big points in the final two minutes against Monument.

"We moved the ball," she said. "We got our open looks and hit them, and we were crashing the boards. And we just played our game."

Fontaine said, on paper, his team appeared to be beatable throughout the season. But where the Panthers excelled didn't show up on paper.

"The kids seemed to have a knack for getting the job done. I'm sure other coaches who came to scout us, or coaches who coached against us, or even players who played against us probably come off the court thinking, 'That team really isn't that good'," Fontaine said.

"But one thing you can't see is the size of this team's heart. They're resilient. They're physically tough, and mentally tough. And they don't panic. These kids realized there's not a 10 or 12 point play in basketball, and you just have to take it one possession at a time."

Palmer finished 21-4 after falling to Millbury 58-48 in a state semifinal at the UMass Mullins Center.

Orszulak and Caulfield started for Palmer, along with Chelsea Wahlers, Megan Breault and Shannon Supczak. Katie Miller, Chantel Beliveau, Emily Dykstra, Sam Farquhar, Tara Ingram and Beverly Ferris were also on the team.

Between hello and goodbye, Twomey set teams' standards

Sport:   Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Between hello and goodbye, Twomey set teams' standards
High school, college coaches sing praises


Groton-Dunstable High graduate Greg Twomey in action for Assumption. He will return on scholarship to play as a graduate student next season.
Groton-Dunstable High graduate Greg Twomey in action for Assumption. He will return on scholarship to play as a graduate student next season. (ASSUMPTION COLLEGE)

By Sapna Pathak, Globe Correspondent  |  March 27, 2008

In four years of coaching, Groton-Dunstable boys' basketball coach Keith Woods had only two words for Greg Twomey.

Hello and goodbye.

"I didn't have to say anything to him except that," Woods said with a laugh. "He was already playing at the level every coach dreams of having a player be at. He was the best player in our league from the minute he stepped on the court as a freshman. He was quite a treat for me as a coach. Any coach would be lucky to have him."

Woods's assessment was right on. Eight years after joining Groton-Dunstable's varsity roster, Twomey is making things easy for Serge DeBari at Assumption College.

"His character is impeccable. He is one of the hardest working players I've ever had," said DeBari, men's basketball coach for the Greyhounds. "He's a blue-collar player who comes to compete every single day. Basically I tell my guys, 'If Greg does it, then you should do it too,' because he usually does everything right."

Twomey, a Groton resident, recently wrapped up his senior season at Division 2 Assumption, helping the Greyhounds to the NCAA Division 2 Northeast Regional final against Bentley College. With a 33-0 record, Bentley prevailed, 88-72, but it was Twomey's second-half performance that was just a small glimpse of what the forward-guard can do.

Eighteen of Twomey's team-high 20 points were scored after halftime, including three 3-pointers. DeBari called it "maybe the most brilliant second-half performance I've seen yet, and when the game was on the line, Greg came through."

Twomey will return on scholarship to play as a graduate student next season because he missed most of his freshman season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the second game.

"The injury was a shock. I never missed a game before that, in soccer or basketball, so to be hurt like that was really tough," he said. "But it was a blessing in disguise because now I get to come back as a scholarship athlete and work on my MBA. Getting my master's was something I don't think I would have thought about had I not gotten hurt and had the chance to come back after this year."

The third-year captain finished this season strong, averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He led the Greyhounds (24- 11) to one of the best seasons in program history, ending one win shy of tying the program's single-season record for wins.

As a junior, the 6-foot-4-inch Twomey led the team in minutes played with 864 and points per game with 13.4. He started 27 games as a sophomore, averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds, and was voted captain by his teammates.

Under Woods, his high school numbers were just as good.

The Crusaders went 85-9 with Twomey and fellow standout Dylan Holmes, who has gone on to star at Salem State. Twomey shattered the school record of 1,530 career points, graduating with 1,712. As a senior, the four-time Midland-Wachusett League all-star averaged 21 points and 6.2 rebounds, and led the squad to a 25-1 finish as a state finalist. The two-year captain led Groton-Dunstable to a 21-2 season as a junior, a 22-2 finish as a sophomore, and averaged more than 17 points all three years.

"Greg could score, pass, run the floor, defend, bring the ball up, he did it all," Woods said. "He and Dylan came in and changed everything. He passed two milestones, one for 1,000 points and the other for the school record. Both nights he needed more than 25 points to get the records, and both nights he went out there, scored the points, and said, 'Let's do it, let's get this over with so my team can win.' "

Though Twomey's unstoppable ability to score - and score fast - is evident, perhaps it's his humility and dedication to his community that set him apart.

Twomey spent his Easter weekend helping paint the Peter Twomey Youth Center in Groton, named for his older brother, who died in a car accident when Greg was in the sixth grade.

"It was a run-down, old building," Twomey said. "The town put in the effort and time and made it what it is today. The basketball court is a cool story. You could buy 1 square foot for $12 and, once it was all paid for, people just volunteered and installed it over 12 straight weekends."

Growing up with five older brothers, Twomey was exposed to a variety of sports, but excelled in basketball and soccer, which he also played in high school. The second-youngest of eight also follows in some of his older siblings' footsteps as a college athlete.

His oldest brother, Joe, played lacrosse at Merrimack College; his second-oldest brother, Ed, was a soccer player at Assumption; and his younger sister, Stacia, is a sophomore on the Worcester State women's basketball team.

"He's just a solid kid, he has a heart of gold," Woods said. "He's a big part of my own family, and he's dedicated to his family and this community. Aside from hello and goodbye, there was one thing I would always yell to him: 'Shoot the ball.' He is that kind of player, he's selfless and I would have to scream at him to just shoot the ball. He is a superstar, but you would never know it."

Home-schooled Mustang is a real team player

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Home-schooled Mustang is a real team player
By Tom Minervino
Sports Writer

Tom Minervino
Mike Stockholm, a member of the Massabesic basketball team and winner of this season's coaches' award, has been home-schooled all of his life. (Photo by Tom Minervino)

WATERBORO (March 27, 2008): Massabesic boys basketball coach John Carter faced a bit of a predicament a few weeks back on senior night. Per Mustang tradition, all the seniors should start. But there were six seniors on the roster.

Mike Stockholm, a 6-3 senior forward who started nearly every game during season, solved the problem for his coach.

“As soon as I walked in on senior night — I hadn’t even put my coat down — Mike came up to me and said that he volunteered not to start so that the other kids could start,” Carter said. “I thought that was honorable.”

That gesture, along with his willingness to listen and lead-by-example style, made Stockholm the unanimous choice of Carter and his staff for the coaches’ award presented at the recent end-of-season banquet.

“There wasn’t much debate,” Carter said.

It was the third coaches’ award Mike, 19, has compiled as a Mustang. He twice received the honor on the soccer team.

Mike lives right up the street from Massabesic, but doesn’t attend the high school. He’s home-schooled and has been all his life.

He has three younger siblings who are also home-schooled. Mom Melanie, a former teacher, and dad Eric, a longtime teacher and former varsity basketball coach at Massabesic High, decided on the Christian-based home schooling approach years ago. It was a sacrifice, as Melanie had to give up her job to stay home, but one the Stockholms felt was integral to raising value-oriented children

“It is a commitment, but it’s also a way of life,” Eric Stockholm said. “It’s kind of like farming. It’s what you do.”

The day begins for the Stockholms with a daily devotional, followed by breakfast. After that, Mike does much of his studying independently. He has textbooks for math and science, while he learns English from a video program. He said his day is pretty unstructured, leaving him to create his own schedule for completing his work.

“You really have to be self-motivated to be a home-schooler in high school,” Mike Stockholm said.

Carter said that motivation and discipline shows on the court.

“He’s got a high basketball IQ,” the coach said. “He’s a cerebral player for sure. You tell him what you need him to do and he tries his best to do it.”

For Mike, being a good Christian is his “main focus.” While not always the easiest thing for a young man to do, Mike said it is certainly has its rewards.

“It can be challenging. It can also be a big help,” he said.

He takes pride in the coaches’ award because of what it represents — it reflects the values he works hard to live.

“I liked it because it is more a character award than anything else,” he said. “It’s a reflection on the kind of person I am, rather than the type of basketball player I am, and that’s way more important.”

Still, Mike played a significant role on the court for the Mustangs and felt the pangs of a difficult 3-15 senior season.

“I like the game enough to get after the ball and work at it,” he said. “I really wanted to make the playoffs. I knew we could, we just didn’t win the games we needed to. There were a lot of close, disappointing losses.”

But it’s all kept in perspective. “When I play, I take it seriously,” Mike, also a talented pianist and trumpet player, said. “Off the court, it’s more a fun activity.”

Mike intends to pursue an engineering degree next year. His top choice for college is LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. His family is set to move to Arkansas at the end of the school year, as his parents plan to work as missionaries for Family Life, a group “designed to build and rebuild families,” Eric Stockholm said.

Mike also scored well enough on his ACT to attend any state college in Arkansas for free, his dad said. He took a test prep course with some other home-schoolers, but said his main preparation consisted of taking “every free practice test I could get my hands on.”

The hard work, the maturity, the values — Carter said these traits are easy to see in Mike, despite his soft-spoken nature. The coach said Mike’s focus on future goals really stood out at a dinner he had with his seniors after the season.

“He’s got a plan,” Carter said. “And he put that plan into action a long time ago.”

Based in Westbrook, Sports Writer Tom Minervino can be reached at 207-854-2577 or by e-mail at tminervino@keepmecurrent.com.

(Bowdoin) Bears shine in softball

Sport: Softball  Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bears shine in softball
BRUNSWICK— Escaping the frigid temperatures of Maine for the sunny diamonds of Florida did wonders for the Bowdoin softball team, as the squad exploded out of the gate to post a 14-2 record during its southern spring break trip. It's the best record after 16 games in the program's 27-year history.

After splitting their first two games of the trip, Bowdoin proceeded to win 13 of its final 14 contests, including 10 straight to close the break. During that 10-game winning streak, the Polar Bears dominated, outscoring their opponents 56-15.

It was the fool-proof blend of stellar pitching and timely hitting that keyed Bowdoin's performance. The 1-2 combination of sophomore Julia Jacobs and junior Karen Reni sparked the Polar Bears in the circle. The duo, who both tied the school record for wins in a season (13) in 2007, keyed Bowdoin to a team ERA of 1.39.

With seven wins in Florida, Reni also became Bowdoin's all-time winningest pitcher, surpassing Jessie Poulin's school record of 30 career victories. Reni (7-1), who now has 32 for her career, tossed 57.2 innings, allowing just 13 earned runs and striking out 45 batters. Jacobs was even more dominant, allowing just four earned runs in 48.1 frames. while whiffing 56 batters in going 6-1.

For her efforts, Jacobs has been named the New England Small College Athletic Conference's Softball Pitcher of the Week. It is the second time that Jacobs has earned Pitcher of the Week honors in her career.

The bats did their part as well, led by sophomore Clare Ronan, who had an exceptional trip. Starting all 16 games, Ronan posted a .417 clip, including team-highs in slugging (.708), walks (5), and RBIs (14, tied).

Kaitee Daley was a sparkplug, batting .404 while scoring 12 runs and stealing 14 of 16 bases. Shavonne Lord hit .354 with a team-high three home runs, 15 runs scored and 14 RBIs, while Molly Nestor hit .351 for the trip.

After a week off, Bowdoin is scheduled to return to action this Friday and Saturday in Massachusetts to play a key three-game set against NESCAC rival Tufts.

Team loses 4 players

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 27th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Team loses 4 players

ORONO -- Four players, including former Biddeford High standout Emily Rousseau, have left the women's basketball team at the University of Maine after a 7-23 season under first-year coach Cindy Blodgett.

Sophomore center Sandra Vaitkute and Rousseau, a freshman point guard, plan to transfer. Junior guard Brittany Bowen will remain at Maine as a student. The fourth player, freshman forward Magdala Johnson, has not indicated whether she plans to transfer.

It is unclear what led to the decision for Rousseau, who averaged 28.4 minutes and 8.1 points a game. Blodgett, while an assistant coach at Brown last year, recruited Rousseau, who earned America East rookie of the week honors in two consecutive weeks in January.

Rousseau then missed the Black Bears' final seven games after suffering a leg injury.

"It was a personal decision on her end," Blodgett said. "I've been very pleased with Emily's growth as a player. I think she's a very good person."

Calls to Rousseau's family were not returned.

Ron Cote, Rousseau's coach at Biddeford High, said she is looking at Division II schools in Massachusetts.

Cote said he was surprised by Rousseau's decision.

"I'm surprised that she's going to leave a Division I program where I thought she had a pretty good season," he said. "She seemed to be fairly successful this year and I think they were looking at her as one of the people to build the team around."

Maine athletic director Blake James said he is not concerned the exodus is anything more than the typical turnover that can happen with a new coach.

"Anytime you have a change in coaches, you'll have some that feel they're not the right fit for the program," James said. "It's something you see nationally."

"I'm very excited about the future of our program. Cindy is a wonderful head coach and I'm looking forward to seeing our team grow."

Seven players remain on the team and four recruits have signed letters of intent to join the program next fall.

Bowen, of Merrill, Wis., started 26 of 30 games this season, averaging 8.7 points. Blodgett said Bowen will remain at school and continue to receive her scholarship next year. She may be involved with the team in some capacity. Neither Vaitkute, of Charlottesville, Va., nor Johnson, of Sandown, N.H., were starters this season.
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