Tourney Time

WHS teams ready to embark on their Journey to the Tourney

Once again, it’s that time of the winter season for the high school version of March Madness on the local sports scene, as all four of the Winthrop High athletic teams are partaking in their respective state tournaments of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. Fans should check the MIAA web site ( for the latest updates and for any changes to the dates, times, and venues in the tourney action

Here’s the rundown for Viking fans for this week:

WHS boys hockey plays Friday vs. Lincoln-Sudbury

The Winthrop High boys hockey team will meet Lincoln-Sudbury in a quarterfinal matchup in the tourney opener for both teams tomorrow evening (Friday) at 6:00 in Woburn at O’Brian Rink (55 Locust St.).

WHS head coach Dale Dunbar’s squad, which is the fifth seed in the Division 2 North bracket with a 15-5 mark, figures to face a tough battle with a fourth-seeded L-S team that finished the year at 12-2-5 and took first place in the Division II of the Dual-County/Merrimack Valley League.

The teams had two common opponents this season, Peabody and Concord-Carlisle. Winthrop defeated Northeastern Conference rival Peabody in both of their meetings, 4-2 and 2-1, while L-S tied Peabody 2-2 in their lone encounter. As for Concord-Carlisle, Winthrop came out on the winning end, 2-1, two weeks ago, while L-S split its contests against its league rival, losing the first time, 6-4, but winning the rematch, 2-1.

The victor most likely will face the top seed in the D-2 North bracket, Beverly, which is tangling with eighth-seeded Danvers, in their quarterfinal matchup. Both Beverly and Danvers hail from the Northeastern Conference and are well-known to the Vikings.

Dunbar’s crew concluded their season Friday evening in a fashion fitting for the occasion of Senior Night festivities with a 7-1 rout of Mansfield at Larsen Rink in a tune-up for their tourney play. The win avenged an early-season 3-2 loss to Mansfield.

Senior Steve Goddard got Winthrop on the board in the opening frame with a goal, assisted by fellow senior Chris Page and junior Pat Todisco. Page then showed why he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Northeastern Conference this season by scoring the next three Viking goals for a natural hat trick, one coming in the first period and the next two in the second. Todisco assisted on all three tallies and Goddard earned two assists, with brother Charlie Page also picking up an assist.

Dylan Driscoll made it 5-1 before the middle period ended, assisted by Sean Gillis. Senior John Orlando, assisted by Noah Hodgkins and Gillis, and Todisco (who had five points on the night), assisted by Chris Fucillo and Goddard, applied the coup de grace in the final frame for the 7-1 finale.

Viking netminder Ray Feeley turned aside 20 Mansfield shots before yielding the goaltending chores midway through the third to Tom DiBenedetto, who made eight saves.

Girls hockey to host Braintree Saturday night

The Winthrop High Lady Bulldog hockey team will host Braintree Saturday evening at 7:00 at Larsen Rink in a first-round matchup of the Division 1 state hockey tourney. The Lady Bulldogs come into the tourney as the sixth seed in the D-1 bracketology with a sterling 13-3-2 record which earned them the championship of the Northeastern Hockey League (NHL). Braintree (12-6-4) is the 11th seed and defeated #22 Chelmsford, 6-4, Tuesday night in a preliminary round encounter to earn the right to face Winthrop.

The Lady Bulldogs concluded their regular season last Wednesday at Larsen with a 4-4 tie against a strong Watertown/Belmont squad, the No. 4-ranked team in the Division 1 tourney with a 16-2-2 record, that had defeated Winthrop 3-0 earlier in the season. However, the Lady Bulldogs played that first encounter without the services of senior all-star defenseman Katie Jeter, who scored two goals in the rematch. The other goal-scorers for the Lady Bulldogs were Caroline McKinnon (assisted by Savannah Norcross and Emma English) and English (assisted by Cat Salvetiti).

Winthrop twice held two-goal leads, 2-0 and 4-2, but Watertown battled back to tie each time, their last tally coming with about 2:00 to play. The contest was highlighted by Senior Night festivities for departing Lady Bulldog seniors Jeter, Salvetti, Ariana Dembro, and Jessica Ford.

“We’re looking forward to the start of the tourney,” said WHS head coach Anthony Martucci, who coached the NHL all-stars (who included Lady Bulldogs Jeter, Salvetti, McKinnon, and goalie Gretchen Howard) to a 3-1 win over a Middlesex League all-star squad this weekend. “The girls are excited and we’re ready to go.”

WHS girls hoop hosts No. Reading Saturday

The Winthrop High girls basketball team will set sail on its quest for a state title Saturday afternoon when the Lady Vikings host either North Reading or Latin Academy at the Holland Gymnasium at Winthrop High in a quarterfinal matchup of the Division 3 North state tourney. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m.

North Reading, the seventh seed in D-3 North, took on Latin Academy, the 10th seed, last night (Wednesday) in their first round contest to determine which will advance to the quarterfinals against the 19-3 Lady Vikings, the No. 2 seed in the D-3 North, who earned a bye in the first round.

The Lady Vikings prepped for their tourney battles with a 44-21 win over Somerville last Thursday in a contest highlighted by Senior Night festivities. Seniors Ashelyne Babb and Theresa Jones paced the Lady Vikings in the scoring department with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Boys hoop team falls in tourney opener

The Winthrop High boys basketball team turned in its best effort of the season, but came up just short, 56-48, in their opening round contest of the Division 4 North Sectional of the state basketball tourney Tuesday evening at Georgetown.

The Vikings entered the D-4 North sectional as the 13th seed with a 4-16 record, but gave the fifth-seeded Georgetown squad (which sported a 15-5 mark) all it could handle before succumbing late in the game.

The contest was a tight one all the way, with the Vikings trailing by two at the half, 24-22. Winthrop fell behind by as many as eight after the intermission, but fought back to take a two-point edge, 41-39, after three frames. The teams engaged in a back-and-forth tug-of-war the rest of the way until the final 90 seconds, when Georgetown hit some shots down the stretch to pull away.

“It was a great high school basketball game before a packed house that had an electric atmosphere,” said WHS head coach Mike DiMarino, who was hoarse after the emotion-filled contest  “It was our best game of the year against a quality opponent. Although it’s never fun to lose, it was a great way to play to end our season. The entire team played with a lot of heart and determination.”

WHS point guard Jake Chiudina, who played all 32 action-packed minutes, led the Vikings with 16 points. Captain Cody Wasson hit some key baskets in the second half and finished with 14 points. Adam Holden, whom DiMarino described as playing “the best game of his career on both ends of the floor,” reached double figures with 10 points. Vin Sparacino, Chris Zuffante, Matt Feeley, and Chris Moulaison all chipped in two points apiece.

“I’m very proud of how the team responded in a pressure atmosphere,” noted DiMario. “We had a lot of our fans there as well, and it was nice to see the great support we received from the town, as always.”

WHS girls run well at D-5 Meet

A contingent from the Winthrop High girls indoor track team turned in fine performances at the Division 4 State Meet held recently at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Lexi Vaccaro turned in an outstanding effort in the 55 meter dash, finishing in ninth place overall among the field of 67 entrants in that event. Lexi’s clocking of 7.74 seconds was just .02 off the eighth place finisher, which would have qualified her for the finals and a chance at a medal.

Carly O’Keefe turned in a personal record (PR) of 9.34 in the 55 hurdles, finishing 11th in the field of 24 competitors.

Sophomore Holly Benson, who has been having a phenomenal season, improving her time with every outing, ran the best race of her career in the 600, with a PR by three seconds in 1:43.77, which was good for 13th place out of the 19 runners.  Holly came in second place among the sophomores in the race.

The Lady Viking 4 x 400 relay quartet of Holly Benson, O’Keefe, Heidy Benson, and Vaccaro came across the line in a strong 11th place finish with their best performance of the year and the fastest clocking for a Winthrop girls indoor track team in the past 14 years. Holly Benson got the team out to an early lead with an extremely fast split of 62.7. O’Keefe took the baton, and though she was passed by a few feet, Carly  kept Winthrop close with a split of 67. She handed off to Heidy Benson, who ran a fantastic leg with her fastest time of 67.3. That left matters up to senior captain Vaccaro, who finished strong with a split of 68 for an overall time of 4:25.22 and second place in their heat.

Other Lady Vikings who competed at the meet were Elizabeth Anderson, whose shot-put toss of 27′-8.5″ landed her in 23rd position in that event, and Amy Sena, who competed in the high jump.

“This is one of the hardest working group of girls I have coached in awhile,” said WHS head coach Mark D’Amico.  “This was an impressive meet and a good way for the girls to end the season, finishing with personal best times.”

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