D’Amore returns to sideline, wins first game as head coach of the boys soccer team

Pasquale D’Amore won his first game as head coach of the Winthrop High School boys soccer team Saturday vs. North Shore Vocational, 3-0. If you’re not a diehard soccer fan, you might think it was D’Amore’s first-ever win as a high school coach.

Not so.

D’Amore, a Winthrop resident who has been involved in the town’s youth program in recent years, coached Charlestown High in the 1980s. In 1986, his Townies won the City League championship, the kind of achievement he hopes to duplicate with the Vikings in the Northeastern Conference of the 21st century.

The Vikings, who lost their NEC opener, 6-1 to Danvers on Tuesday afternoon, got two goals from Dan Sena and a single tally from Chris Batts in their 3-0 shutout of North Shore. Batts’s goal was a dandy, as he made a diving header off a corner kick from Sena – a “beautiful, beautiful goal,” said the affable D’Amore, a native of Italy whose love of soccer is comparable to a Bostonian’s love of the Red Sox.

Goaltender Eric Mendoza recorded the shutout for Winthrop.

D’Amore’s son, sophomore Joseph D’Amore, scored Winthrop’s lone goal in a loss to Northeast Metro Tech on Saturday, while sophomore Soufiane Faris tallied the Vikings’ only goal in Tuesday’s loss to Danvers, a traditionally strong NEC entry.

In addition to the aforementioned players, seniors Tyler Norris, Kyle Gagin, Donalt Hasbegu and Stephen Ruggiero are expected to be key contributors to this year’s squad.

D’Amore’s game-day managing will be difficult, as Winthrop carries 24 players, with no JV team. That makes for competitive practices and plenty of scrimmages, but it’s difficult on game days.

“I will try to be as fair as possible, and find a place for everyone,” said Amore.

Girls cross country team returns to winning ways

The Winthrop High School girls cross country team went 13 consecutive years without enduring a losing season before being kept out of the win column in 2008. That won’t happen again this year.

The Vikings captured six top-10 finishes and edged Salem, 26-29, in the Northeastern Conference opener Tuesday at the 2.65-mile course on Deer Island. It was a great way to start the season for a team that is loaded with freshmen.

“I told the girls afterwards that they won by three points, and they kind of stared at me with a blank look,” said veteran head coach Warren MacPhail. He made the comment not to suggest that his players were oblivious to the concept of winning or losing, but rather to illustrate that his athletes simply love to run. “Getting people to run every day, sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to do,” MacPhail said. “But these kids eat up everything I give them. They’re stretched and ready to go 15 minutes before I arrive for practice. It’s refreshing.”

One of Winthrop’s young stars, freshman Jordan Griffiths, was the overall winner vs. Salem, crossing the finish line in 18.56. Junior Caitlyn Hershey finished third (19.40), freshman Makayla McCarthy finished fifth (19.56), followed by Maria Rago (eighth place), Jessica Nappi (9th) and Julia Wallace (10th).

Erica Mazzone, Lilly Rubinski, Lauren Costigan and Abby Evans also contributed strong efforts for the victorious Vikings.

In the boys’ race, Winthrop fell to Salem, 25-38. The Vikings earned three top 10 finishes, but Salem’s depth won the day.

Winthrop’s top finisher was senior Jay Connors, who finished second overall in 15.37. “He ran a great race,” MacPhail said. “He beat his opponent with a strong kick at the end.”

Freshmen Nicholas Floyd, Brian Manning and Jerry Driscoll all had strong debuts for WHS, finishing sixth, ninth and 13th, respectively. Senior Vinny McCarthy and freshman Mario Mazzone also crossed the finish line inside the top 25.

“They were all happy to get through their first race,” MacPhail said of his young charges.

MacPhail is hoping to schedule an overnight running camp for his team sometime in the early part of the season to help the maturation process. In the meantime, his runners will prepare to travel to Beverly on Tuesday. The Panthers have the strongest program in the NEC and one of the better squads in Eastern Mass. If that wasn’t enough, Beverly’s course is very difficult.

As for the rest of the conference, MacPhail said the NEC is less “top heavy” than in past years, citing specifically the improvement of Danvers, Marblehead and Saugus.

Tracy Martucci is in her third year as head coach of the Winthrop High School girls soccer program, and this year, she’s experience that very general, and very real, phenomenon known as “rebuilding”.

The Vikings lost eight starters from last year’s squad, and this year’s roster features only three seniors. That mix is going to result in some growing pains, as evidenced by Tuesday’s shutout loss to Danvers in the Northeastern Conference opener.

Losing to Danvers, however, shouldn’t result in any bruised egos. Danvers is quite possibly the best team in the NEC, certainly not a fair barometer for a team trying to find its way.

The Vikings opened the season over the weekend with a tournament. After defeating North Shore Vocational 3-0 in the first game, the Vikings were defeated by Arlington Catholic, 5-1, in the title game.

In the win over North Shore, Nicole Black scored two goals, while Kristen Lanza and Katie Cochrane had the others. Sophomore Kayla Aceto scored Winthrop’s lone goal in the loss to Arlington Catholic.

Martucci’s captains are Jenny Fucillo and Taylor Rich.

In goal, Martucci is splitting the time between Christina Russo, a junior who started for the junior varsity team a year ago, and sophomore Janelle Gillespie, who started playing the position last spring.

Overall, there are 36 players in the program, enough for varsity and junior varsity squads.

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