WHS hockey teams ready for tournament
Both the Winthrop High boys and girls hockey teams were set to open play in the MIAA state hockey tournament last night (Wednesday).
On the boys’ side, Coach Dale Dunbar’s squad was set to take on St. Bernard’s in Watertown in Division 2 North play. The Vikings, who were the undisputed champs of the Northeastern Conference’s North Division, entered the tourney as the third seed in the D-2 North with an overall record of 15-3-2. They rated as a clear favorite over a St. Bernard’s team that finished in second place in the Central Catholic II league with a 6-2 record, but was 9-11 overall. Among the six teams in the Central Catholic II, only league champ Lowell Catholic had an overall winning record.
If the Vikings should prevail, they will meet the winner of the contest between sixth-seeded Lincoln-Sudbury and 11th-seeded Haverhill, both of which hail from the Merrimack Valley/Dual County 2 League. L-S rates as a big favorite in that one, having defeated Haverhill twice this season by identical scores of 5-0 during the season.
Winthrop then would meet Lincoln-Sudbury Saturday in the D-2 North quarterfinals at a time and place to be determined. That contest shapes up as a superb schoolboy hockey encounter. The teams shared one common opponent this season, Peabody, with L-S defeating Peabody 3-1 and Winthrop beating the Tanners twice (and tying once), the most-recent victory a 3-0 shutout.
“We’re ready for the tournament,” said WHS head coach Dale Dunbar. “This is what we’ve been playing for all season. The team has been reaching its peak and playing its best hockey of the season down the stretch. A lot of our younger players have been stepping up and playing key roles for us. We feel that if we execute our game plan, we can play with anybody.”
As for the girls, coach Anthony Martucci’s Lady Bulldawgs, who are seeded 12th in Division 1 (there is not a North and South in girls hockey) with an overall record of 12-5-3, were set to host 21st-seed Melrose (9-9-2 overall) at Larsen in what on paper shapes up as an evenly-matched battle. The teams shared a number of common opponents with nearly identical results — both teams lost to Watertown (Winthrop 6-2 and Melrose 4-1); Melrose defeated Peabody twice (4-0 and 1-0), while Winthrop won one (1-0) and tied one (1-1) with the Tanners; and Melrose fell to Masconomet, 3-1, while Winthrop split its games with Masco (winning 4-3 and losing 2-0).
Austin Prep, the D-1 fifth seed with a 15-3-2 record, awaits the winner of the Winthrop-Melrose tilt. That game will be played Saturday at 5:30 at the Stoneham Arena. Winthrop met AP in late January and fell by a score of 3-1 in a fiercely-contested battled in which AP scored an empty-net goal at the end.
“We had a good practice today (Tuesday) and we’re fired up and ready to go,” said WHS team coach Anthony Martucci. “The team knows that it has to be at its best and we’re looking forward to playing some exciting hockey.”
Christa Vaccaro shines at
state gymnastics meet
Winthrop High star gymnast Christa Vaccaro turned in an outstanding performance at the Mass. High School Gymnastics State Meet that was held February 18 at Dracut High School after being postponed three days earlier.
Christa qualified for the all-around competition, which mean that she competed in all four events with the highest total score winning.
Vaccaro started on the floor exercise with a solid 8.45. She next competed on the vault, typically her best event, and scored a 9.0. Christa then followed that with another 9.0 on the bars and completed her day with a score of 8.5 on the beam. Vaccaro finished with a total score of 34.95 and earned a ninth place on the bars.
“Christa had a great meet,” said WHS head coach Melissa Wiles. “She started off on floor and scored a solid 8.45. Floor is a great event to start on. It’s exciting and gets your blood going. I think it was a great warm-up for the events to follow. Next she was on vault. Vault is usually Christa’s best event and she scored a 9.0. Scores are always a little bit tougher at state meets, so for her to score a nine was really great.
“Bars is one of Christa’s most colorful routines,” continued Wiles. “She does two release moves that really show off her talent. On the beam, she stuck her standing tuck, which seemed to be a popular move in this meet. Christa really did a great job and we were very proud of her.”
WHS girls basketball opens Tourney versus No. Reading
By Cary Shuman
The Winthrop High girls basketball team has a tough test against North Reading in the Divisiosn 3 North quarterfinals Friday (7 p.m.) at the Saugus High School gymnasium.
North Reading (13-8) is the No. 7 seed, having defeated No. 10 Ipswich, 54-41, in the first round Tuesday night. The Hornets are led by 6-foot-5-inch center Jess Lauzon, who will be matched up against Winthrop’s 6-foot-1-inch center, Nina Bartlette.
“Nina will get most of the defensive responsibilities – she did a pretty good job on her last year,” said Winthrop coach Ignacio Oyola, whose team defeated North Reading, 48-27, in the 2014 MIAA Tournament. “But any time you guard a 6-5 player, it’s going to be a team effort.”
Oyola said his team is ready for to the tournament, following a successful regular season in which the Lady Vikings claimed their third consecutive Northeastern Conference South championship.
“We’re not looking past North Reading – they’re a very good basketball team,” said Oyola, trying to deflect any focus toward a much-anticipated semifinal showdown versus St. Mary’s High School of Lynn.
Oyola will look to senior guard Niki Tsiotos to create the usual havoc in the North Reading backcourt.
“I think Niki is stronger and faster than their guards so we’ll look to her to make some big plays on defense.”
Oyola will also look to Caldwell University-bound senior Kristen Siscamanis, Maura Lanza, Poli Tsiotos, and Allie Love to produce strong performances versus the Lady Hornets.
Winthrop (17-3) is the No. 2 seed in the Sectionals. Latin Academy (13-2) is the No. 1 seed while defending state champion St. Mary’s (17-5) is the No. 3 seed. St. Mary’s faces No. 6 seed Excel Academy of South Boston in its quarterfinal round opener Friday night.
A large crowd is expected to be on hand for the Lady Vikings’ game in Saugus.