Sports 09-17-2015

WHS sports roundup

Lady Viking soccer team wins two of    three contests

The Winthrop High girls soccer team opened its season this past week with a pair of victories, defeating Gloucester and Rockport. In the season-opening, 2-1 victory over Gloucester last week, Abby Carleton scored both Winthrop goals, assisted by Julia Baracchini.

“It was a great way to start off the season,” said WHS head coach Tracey Martucci.

The Lady Vikings earned their second win of the year this past Tuesday with a triumph by a similar score of 2-1 at Rockport. The contest was not as close as the final margin might indicate, as Winthrop outshot Rockport by a wide 33-10 margin. “We dominated play, but struggled to score goals,” said Martucci.  Regina Garufo and Holly Benson found the back of the Rockport net to provide the needed offense.

The victory over Rockport, which is a Division 4 school, assures the Lady Vikings of a spot in the post-season state tournament.

In between those contests, Winthrop suffered a 7-3 setback to Swampscott. The match was deadlocked at 3-3 at the intermission, but the Lady Big Blue pulled away in the second half. Heidy Benson notched two goals for Winthrop and Garufo scored once.

The defeat may have proved costly for Winthrop. Keeper Gianna Massa, who had been doing a superb job for the Lady Vikings in net, suffered a knee injury near the end of the first half that may sideline her for the season.

“We have a solid nucleus of players who have returned from last year,” said Martucci, whose 2015 squad is led by a trio of veteran captains in Mackenzie Chiudina, Julia Duplin, and Holly Benson. “They are a great group of girls who are playing well together on the field.”

Martucci also has a cadre of 14 eighth graders who comprise a bright future for the program.

The Lady Vikings took on Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday) and will travel to Salem today (Thursday). They will host Saugus Tuesday and Lynn Classical next Thursday.

WHS golf team win two matches

The Winthrop High golf team defeated both of its opponents earlier this week to improve to 2-1 on the season.

In a close match with Saugus Monday at the Winthrop Golf Club, the Vikings prevailed by a score of 37-35. Leading the way for Winthrop was junior Jack Wallace, who earned the designation of match medalist with a one-over par round of 36. Jack defeated his Saugus counterpart by a handy 6-3 margin.

Harry Floyd, playing at No. 3, also triumphed by a 6-3 score. Drew DiMento at No. 6 earned 5.5 points for Winthrop, while Brandon Creador at No. 2 and Sean MacDonald at No. 4 were 5-4 victors. Patrick Stafford halved his match at the No. 5 slot. Freshman Colby Dassau contributed two points at No. 7 and Alex Pesiri added a crucial three points at No. 8 in a match in which every point was essential to the victory.

Tuesday saw the Vikings host Lynn Classical on the local links and enjoy a bit more breathing room with a 42.5-29.5 win. Wallace once again was the medalist — his third straight match as top player with a one-over par 36 — to defeat his Classical foe, 6.5-3.5. Floyd, Stafford, DiMento, and Nathan Rich (playing at No. 7) all triumphed by scores of 5.5-3.5. Freshman Dassau earned his first varsity victory in the eighth slot, 5-4. MacDonald also was a 5-4 winner at No. 4 and Creador chipped in four points at No. 2.

“It’s been nice to start our season with some home matches to allow our younger players to get comfortable in a competitive setting,” said veteran WHS head coach Peter Lyons.

Lyons and his crew were set to travel to non-league foe Natick yesterday (Wednesday) and then return home for matches with Gloucester today (Thursday), Swampscott Monday, Malden Catholic Tuesday, and Wakefield Wednesday. They trek to Marblehead next Thursday.

Boys soccer team

opens 2015 season

Although the Winthrop High boys soccer team came out on the short end of its initial contests of the season this past week with Gloucester and Swampcott, WHS head coach Kyle Gagin saw some positive aspects in his team’s performances.

“Both matches were close at the half,” said Gagin. “We ran out of steam in the second half, but the team continued to fight hard to the final whistle.”

Senior captains Jake LaFratta and Mike Norris each scored a goal in the games with senior Jefferson Mejia earning assists on both tallies.

The soccer program was suspended in the 2014 season as a varsity sport because of a lack of numbers, but has come back this year under Gagin’s direction, with close to 40 boys coming out for the program, enough to field both a varsity and a JV team.

“We have a mix of boys, some who played previously for the soccer program and some who are newcomers, but thus far everyone has been striving toward a common goal of rebuilding the program,” said Gagin. In addition to the aforementioned LaFratta, Norris, and Mejia, captain Matt Sennott and junior center back Carlos Mendoza have been among the standouts for the Vikings in the early going of the 2015 campaign.

Gagin and his crew were set to host Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday) and will entertain Salem today (Thursday). They will play at Saugus  this coming Wednesday.

Cross-country teams

do well to start season

The Winthrop High boys and girl cross country teams opened the season with impressive performances this past week.

Both squads participated in the St. Mary’s of Lynn Invitational held this past Friday at the Lynn Woods course. The Lady Vikings placed second overall in the team standings, paced by what WHS head coach Warren MacPhail termed “an awesome introduction to cross country” by Nina Leone, who finished in second place overall among the field of 55 runners. Freshmen Camilla Miranda, Carolyn Zuffante, and Emma Turner also ran strong races.

On the boys’ side, Cormac MacPhail placed ninth overall, pacing the Vikings to a third place team finish. Nick Beshere ran well with a strong 16th place ranking.

Both teams opened their dual meet season Tuesday with a tri-meet with Beverly and Lynn Classical.

The top five finishers for the boys were:

6th, Cormac MacPhail — 16:21

7th, Nick Beshere — 16:30

21st, Devin Racow — 19:14

32nd, Jacob Haines — 22:59

37th, MichaelAngelo Marccoccio — 24:22

The team scores were Beverly 15, Classical 36, and Winthrop 41.

For the girls, the top five runners were:

6th, Nina Leone — 19:00

9th, Camilla Miranda — 19:44

18th, Carolyn Zuffante — 22:06

25th, Emma Turner — 24:12

28th, Fiona MacPhail — 25:21

In addition, MacPhail noted, “Captains Gabby Massa and Victoria Scorzella ran awesome races, showing great leadership. Kimberly McDuffee and Mary Texiera ran strong races and have shown a lot of improvement early on in the season.”

The Lady Vikings finished split the meet with 31 points, behind Beverly with 15 and ahead of Classical, which tallied 46.

Both the boys and girls squads will host Danvers and Swampscott at Deer Island next Tuesday.

After a long but productive off season, the Winthrop Vikings Soccer team is ready to hit the pitch this September for what may be one of the most successful seasons in recent history. Led by second year head coach Kyle Gagin, the Vikings are looking strong in the early weeks of the season. “I’m really proud of the guys for all of the work they’ve put in on their own time during the offseason. They played pick-up games regularly [in a town wide, multi-generational, pick-up league dubbed the ‘Winthrop Premier League’] and did their best to come into the season ‘match fit.’” Finishing last season with a 4-4-4 record on the Junior Varsity level in a very competitive Northeast Conference, the Vikings are fielding both Varsity and Junior Varsity teams this season. With nearly 40 players expected to join the boys’ soccer program this season, including many returning players, there was most definitely a demand for two full squads. “I am very pleased with the direction that the programis heading. This is a great sign for soccer in Winthrop and a great sign for the development of soccer on alarger scale,” said Gagin. The coverage that soccer has been receiving in mainstream media after the recent World Cup tournaments has contributed to the popularity of the sport on the High School level, Gagin further explained.

Coach Gagin has tapped into his own personal network in order to solicit further coaching and mentoring assistance to an already stacked coaching staff that includes Viking soccer alumnus David Tracy. Joining the staff this season in a volunteer role is recent Tufts University graduate and Brazilian native Pedro Jardim. “Pedro brings a wealth of knowledge to the team and has already made positive connections with many of the players,” said Gagin. According to Gagin, Jardim has been a positive influence on the team, especially with many of the international students on the Vikings roster. Jardim grew up in Sao Paolo, Brazil but also spent time in Argentina before coming to the United States where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. “It’s about being competitive, having fun, and staying focused both on the field and in the classroom,” Jardim explained. “I am excited to see what this team can accomplish have also set expectations high for this season. “The future of WHS soccer is very bright. We have lots of young talent and good returning players,” Norris explained. Captain Jake LaFratta referenced that there is a lot of work to do in the upcoming season explaining that the team needs to “get used to the varsity level and develop chemistry with the new players.” The challenge will be “to put it all together,” LaFratta said. Similar sentiments came from Captain Matthew Sennott as he stressed the need to “develop a strong bond as a team” in order to face the challenges that come with returning to the Varsity level. The Vikings’ next two matches at Miller Field are against the Marblehead Magicians on Wednesday September 16 and Salem today (Thursday) at Miller at 4:15.

On Viking team, everyone is important

By Stephen Skobeleff

Winthrop Vikings head coach Sean Driscoll will never have anyone believe that any one player is more important than the team. His players stand behind that philosophy as well. Co-captain Dan Dellanno pointed out here a couple weeks back that Viking fans “should look for the entire team working together.” No disagreement there, but in this writer’s estimation, the simple definition of a quarterback implies vital importance to his team in the game known as football in America.

There are many out there who believe in the old Bear Bryant adage that “defense wins championships,” but it can’t be denied that a great quarterback certainly won’t hurt the situation. According to The Idiot’s Guide to Football (second edition), “the man at the center of the action on a football field is inevitably the quarterback because all the action goes though him.” Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski has called the position “the heartbeat of a football team.”

The Vikings meanwhile have had their share of exceptional quarterbacks roam the arteries of Winthrop High School, John Tiano, John Hayes, the late Michael Mason, and most recently, Dylan Driscoll to name a few. Now it’s Driscoll’s 2014 understudy, Christopher Zuffante, who pumps the beat.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be in this position this year and to especially wear number eleven. I hope to represent the position and number with pride just as Mr. Mason once did.

“Last year I was the backup QB for Dylan Driscoll who I learned a lot from and worked hard in the off season by attending camps and quarterbacking the seven on sevens team. I entered preseason camp and Coach Driscoll gave me a lot of reps with the starting lineup and expected me to be a role model on this team.”

Coach Driscoll confirmed, “Chris worked very hard this off season. He is very athletic and is going to get better each week at QB. He’s been playing for us since he has been a freshman where he started at safety, and that experience has paid off for him.”

Zuffante wanted to be a quarterback ever since he was first given the opportunity to play the position in youth football in 6th grade. He’s in his junior year now and is expected to remain at the Viking helm for these next two seasons. He acknowledges it’ll take some time as this past Saturday’s matinee, a loss to Danvers, attests.

“Graduating 17 seniors, I expected the game to be a dog fight. We beat Danvers last year on their home field for the NEC title and I knew they would be out for revenge. I feel the game was a great experience for our young team and we will definitely learn and grow from it.” Zuff, as he’s referred to by his teammates, went on to add , “Looking back at (Saturday’s game), I needed to have more patience in a couple of situations.” As he communicated his responses he sounded more and more like a young diplomat … and a team leader. He believes leading by example is one of his strengths.

The teammates agree. “Chris is becoming a huge leader on the team this year. He has a strong arm and good size. His ability to become mobile has improved and his knowledge of the game is great,” chatted Dellanno.

Co-captain Matt Feeley supplemented, “Chris is a very talented quarterback. He has earned a great amount of respect and trust throughout the football program. He can control the game on offense as he has leadership qualities necessary in a quarterback. His athletic ability along with his height benefit him and the team greatly. Zuff’s knowledge of the game and determination to get better leave us all very excited to see him perform this year.”

This support is mutual as Zuffante shared, “I will do anything I can to assist the two captains (Dellanno and Feeley),” a statement resonating Driscoll’s team over individual approach. “I like to spread the ball around and get everyone involved. We play as a team and always will.”

Zuffante’s other likes include his favorite cereal, Fruity Pebbles. His favorite cartoon is Tom and Jerry. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem is his favorite song as he says it describes a young man overcoming obstacles in life and gets him pumped up. You may or may not care to know such data regarding your quarterback, but one note he does want Viking fans to heed is to “keep showing support as we will need all of it, and that I promise you that the team and coaching staff will give you 110 percent each game.”

Things should improve for your new quarterback, Christopher Zuffante, as his experience evolves and once he’s playing with his full compliment of weapons, some of which were missing during last Saturday’s action. He has size, a strong arm and command of the offense. This newest Viking heartbeat is “always thinking of ways to support the team and to make big plays,” when he’s operating under center.

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