Sports 02-02-2012

Vikings host Danvers for first place in the NEC Saturday

Larsen Rink is sure to be rockin’ Saturday evening when the Winthrop High boys hockey team hosts Danvers with a share of first place in the Northeastern Conference’s North Division on the line. Face off time is 6:10.

The Falcons edged the Vikings by a 3-2 margin in their initial encounter in December, which was the season opener for both teams. But since then, Coach Dale Dunbar’s crew has gone undefeated against its NEC rivals (though tied twice) and stands at 6-1-2 in the NEC, while Danvers has lost one game. Thus, if Winthrop can pin a second defeat on the Falcons, the Vikings will draw even with the same number of points in the conference.

First however, Winthrop had to get past Swampscott last night (Wednesday) at Larsen to set up the battle for first place.

The Vikings earned a solid 3-0 victory in their lone NEC contest of the past week, defeating Marblehead. Winthrop took a 2-0 advantage in the opening period on goals by Luke Hodgkins (Luke’s first varsity lamplighter), assisted by Matt Todisco and Jake McKinnon, and Todisco, who was assisted by Chris LeBlanc.

After a scoreless middle stanza, Chris Page added an extra insurance marker, assisted by Mitch Paulsen and McKinnon for the final score of 3-0. Freshman Ray Feeley earned the shutout between the pipes.

Last Wednesday Winthrop traveled to Mansfield and came out on the short end of a 4-3 decision. The Vikings took a 1-0 lead on the game’s opening shift when Matt Todisco skated in on the Mansfield goal and wristed a shot into the upper corner. Dan Eruzione and Adam Lundberg were credited with the assists.

Derek Eruzione lit the lamp for Winthrop in the middle stanza, with assists going to Pat Todisco and Nick Amatucci, but Mansfield broke through for two goals of their own to knot matters at 2-2 after two periods.

Mansfield potted another pair of markers to start the final period before LeBlanc scored a beautiful shorthanded goal, assisted by Dan Eruzione, with about six minutes to play. However, the Vikings were unable to push home the equalizer despite strong pressure in the Mansfield end.

After Saturday’s tilt with Danvers, the Vikings will trek to Saugus on Wednesday for a 4:50 face off with the Sachems, who dueled Winthrop to a 1-1 tie in the second game of the season.

Girls hockey team knocks off St. Mary’s

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a win is a win is a win. And in the game of hockey, a win counts for two points in the standings.

But despite the math, not all wins over the course of a season are created equal.

The Winthrop Lady Bulldog hockey team had looked forward to Saturday’s contest with perennial North Shore and Eastern Mass. power St. Mary’s of Lynn, which is ranked seventh in the state, as a measuring stick for how far their program has come and what they might expect come the post season.

So with that background, the Lady Bulldogs and their fans had high expectations as the teams stepped onto the Larsen Rink ice for the opening face off.

They did not need to wait long for Winthrop to send a message that St. Mary’s, which came into the contest riding an eight game winning streak, was going to be in for a long night. Hannah LoPresti lit the red lamp just 1:10 into the contest, assisted by Mackenzie Clarke, for a quick 1-0 Winthrop lead that ignited both the Lady Bulldogs and the large contingent of their fans on hand.

Clarke made it 2-0 midway through the second stanza on a power play goal, assisted by Vanessa Van Buskirk and Amanda Cordes. However, St. Mary’s finally beat Winthrop goalie Brittany McPherson before the period ended to leave matters at a tight 2-1 margin entering the final 15 minutes.

Freshman Caroline McKinnon, who has been on something of a scoring streak of late, reached the back of the St. Mary’s net early in the third period, assisted by Kasey Harris, but St. Mary’s drew within one again midway through the stanza with a power play goal.

That set the stage for a frantic and frenetic final six minutes in which St. Mary’s threw everything but the kitchen sink at Winthrop. However, the Lady Bulldogs’ defense and MacPherson held firm to preserve the big victory.

The Winthrop girls were set to be back in action last night (Wednesday) against Beverly, with a win in that contest clinching first place in the Northeast Division of the Girls Eastern Mass. Hockey League. Coach Anthony Martucci and crew then will trek to Barnstable Saturday for a showdown with another team ranked in the top 10. Barnstable edged Winthrop, which now is rated at 14th in the Globe poll,  1-0 in the season opener.

Gymnastics team turns in top effort of season

The Winthrop High girls gymnastics team is enjoying a fine season under the direction of head coach Melissa Wiles. The Lady Vikings turned in their best effort of the year, scoring a season high of 129.45 points, last Wednesday to earn a win against Peabody, which totaled 118 points.

Leading the way for Winthrop was sophomore Christa Vaccaro, who was the team’s top finisher on the vault with a score of 8.45 and the floor exercise with an 8.6. Christa was the second top scorer for Winthrop on the beam and the bars, scoring 8.2 on both events.

“I am continually impressed with Christa, who is one of our youngest team members,”

said Wiles. “ She competes for us in the all-around on all four events and her scores always help boost our team score. She has been our highest scoring team member on each event this season.

“Our other all-around competitor is Caitlin Page,” said Wiles. “She is a freshman and  has proven to be a very important part of our team. It is not easy to be an all-around performer. The whole team counts on you to do your best and Caitlin always has come through for us.”

Page scored an 8.0 on the vault, a 7.6 on the bars, a 7.7 on the beam, and an 8.1 on the floor exercise in the Peabody meet.

Team captain Jessica Fahey competes in three events for Winthrop and has been a leader both on and off the mat for the Lady Vikings.

“A lot of this credit for our success this year goes to Jessica,” noted Wiles. “She has proven for a second year to be a great leader and all of the girls look up to her.”

Fahey competes in the bars, floor, and vault. She turned in fine scores of 7.2,

8.2, and 8.35 respectively against Peabody.

Isabella Kennedy turned in an outstanding effort against Peabody, compiling team high scores on the beam with an 8.4 and the bars with an 8.3. Isabella also earned a score of 8.1 on the floor.

Other Lady Vikings who competed against Peabody on the vault were: Krystal Burbank (7.75), Julia Duplin (7.85), and Mackenzie Chiudina (8.05); on the bars were Carolyn Hetherton (6.5) and Julia Duplin (6.9); on the beam were: Hetherton (6.1), Samantha Mooney (7.4), and Jessica LoGiudice (7.55); and on the floor were: Chiudina (7.3) and Mooney (7.6).

“This week was Mackenzie Chiudina’s first week competing on floor,” noted Wiles. “She just learned this routine a few weeks ago and she’s been working very hard on perfecting each skill.  I was pleasantly surprised because it is not easy to be the first one up and she handled herself so well. Mackenzie also has been a strong competitor on the vault for us.

“Julia Duplin has been consistently competing bars and vault each meet,” continued the coach. “She has been so great being one of the first gymnasts up to compete. Many people don’t realize it, but the first few people to compete are the most important. They set the bar for what is to come and help boost everyone’s scores.

“Samantha Mooney is a sophomore who has been competing floor and beam,” said Wiles. “She did not compete beam last year, so to see her work so hard and do so well on beam this year is amazing.

“We have a great group of girls this year,” concluded the coach. “I couldn’t be happier with the motivation and support they give each other. We started off our season with a score of 117.45. After our second meet, we had already improved our score 6.7 points to 124.15. We are in one of the best leagues in the state so the stakes are high.”

Wiles and her crew were set to host Gloucester last night (Wednesday) in their final home meet of the season, which also will feature Senior Night festivities.

Viking hoopmen top Beverly, 68-64

The Winthrop High boys basketball team turned in one of the biggest comebacks of the season on the North Shore Friday, roaring back from an 18 point deficit with two minutes to go in the third period to overtake Beverly, 68-64.

The Vikings trailed by 12 at the intermission and sank even further behind through the first six minutes of the third frame. While a comeback might have seemed possible against a lesser team, such a scenario appeared unlikely against a Beverly squad that is in first place in the North (Large School) Division of the Northeastern Conference.

However, as improbable as a reversal of fortune may have seemed, the Vikings made it begin to happen with a run at the end of the third quarter that sliced the Beverly margin in half to nine points.

Winthrop maintained its momentum in the final eight minutes to come away with the big win. Quinton Dale paced Winthrop with 19 points. Joe D’Amore and Josh Babb tingled the twine for 18 points each.

Tuesday night’s encounter with Lynn Classical, another of the traditional big dogs from the NEC North Division, saw a similar script played out, though not with a happy ending for Winthrop fans. Classical came out firing on all cylinders and grabbed a 23-3 lead to start the contest.

The Vikings whittled the lead to 14 by the half, which they further sliced to a slim 43-41 deficit midway through the third period. However, Dale was forced to hit the pine when he picked up his third foul and Classical soon reassumed control to take a 12 point lead at the end of three frames.

Winthrop fought hard to get back into the contest, but never could get closer than eight points. Jeff Laguerre and D’Amore finished with 20 points apiece and Dale netted 19.

One of the factors cited by WHS head coach Dave Brown in both contests was his team’s reliance upon their three point shooting which was not particularly accurate in either game, 3 for 19 vs. Beverly and 5 for 23 vs. Classical. “I told the team that we cannot live on our three point shooting and that’s something we’ll have to work on and correct,” said the coach.

Brown and his crew will travel to Swampscott Friday and host Gloucester Tuesday.

Sena is double winner for WHS girls track team

The Winthrop High girls track team won six of the nine individual events to post a 47-38 win over Saugus last Wednesday.

Amy Sena was a double winner for the Lady Vikings, capturing the high jump with a leap of 5-0 and the 1000 in a time of 3:38.5. Other first place finishers for Winthrop were: Carly O’Keefe in the 50 yard hurdles in 8.3; Lexi Vaccaro in the 50 yard dash in 6.6; Jordan Griffiths in the 600 in 1:57.9; and Michaela McCarthy in the mile in 6:16.4.

However, depth is crucial in any track meet and the Lady Vikings who pushed their team over the top with second place performances were: Ashley Jurovich with a shotput toss of 30-8; Holly Benson in the 300 in 50.5; Olivia Rago in the 600 in 2:03.2; Maria Rago in the 1000 in 3:47.9; and Katlyn Fennell in the two mile run in 14:44.

Adding one point to the Winthrop scoresheet with third place finishes were Julia Wallace with a high jump of 4-6 and Cecilia Moreira in the mile in 6:38.4.

The victory improved the Lady Vikings’ record to 4-1 on the season.

Brogan wins two mile run vs. Saugus

Patrick Brogan was the lone first place finisher for the Winthrop High boys indoor track team in their meet last week against Saugus. Patrick outdistanced the field in the two mile run in a time of 11:54.

Other point scorers for the Vikings were Robert Ascolillo in the 50 yard hurdles in 7.9 seconds and Jorge Roman in the 50 yard dash in 6.1 seconds, both of which were good for second place finishes.

Tough week for girls hoop team

It generally is acknowledged that fouls are not called in the waning seconds of a close basketball game unless they are blatant. Refs keep their whistles silent, letting the players decide the outcome, rather than their calls.

But the usual was not the script that was followed in Tuesday night’s game at Lynn Classical. The teams had engaged in a nip and tuck contest all the way, 8-8 after one period, 14-14 at the half, and 23-22 in Winthrop’s favor after three frames.

Classical held a four point lead in the waning seconds, but a Temison Meggison free throw and a three pointer by Theresa Jones with two Classical defenders in her face made it a 37-37 affair.

A Classical girl then took off downcourt and essentially just tossed up a floater off a spinning drive. The horn sounded and it appeared as though the teams were headed for OT, when a ref came running downcourt and signaled a shooting foul. The Classical player sank the first one to give her team the 38-37 win.

“It was a hard-fought, defensive battle,” said WHS head coach Ignacio Oyola. “We played hard, but they got the break at the end.”

Meggison was high scorer for the Lady Vikings with 13 points, followed by Ashelyne Babb with nine, Jones with six, Alyssa Mackey with four, Kristen Siscamanis and Angie Favaloro with two each, and Taylor Duplin with a free throw.

Winthrop was hampered by the absence of  Siscamanis, the freshman who has played a key role in Winthrop’s resurgence this season, who picked up two early fouls in the opening minutes of the game and sat out the rest of the first half.

The Lady Vikings also played well last Friday at Beverly, but came out on the short end of a 44-36 decision. Once again the contest was a close encounter all the way, with Beverly holding  a slim leads of 23-21 at the half and 33-30 after three periods.

However, Winthrop sorely missed the presence of Meggison, the Lady Vikings’ leading rebounder, who was slowed by a bruise that kept her sidelined for most of the contest.

“Temison was not 100 percent,” said Oyola. “She sat out most of the game and we gave up too many second and third chances to Beverly.”

Babb led the Winthrop scoring chart with 15 points. Siscamanis hit for nine, Jones added four, Liana Ferullo chipped in three, and Duplin had two.

With their record now at 6-9 on the season, the Lady Vikings will need to be at their best down the stretch if they hope to make a run at qualifying for the state tourney. They entertain Swampscott, which is in first place in the NEC South, on Friday and travel to Gloucester Tuesday.

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