Sports 10-22-2015

Zuffante leads Vikings to win

By Jim Lederman

Junior quarterback Chris Zuffante tossed three touchdown passes to lead the Vikings to an impressive (40-12) victory over the Saugus Sachems. The victory was the second for the Vikings (2-4).

The Vikings travel to Blocksidge Field for a noon kickoff with the Big Blue (1-5) of Swampscott.

The Vikings were opportunistic and confident, recovering three Sachems fumbles to win their first game of the 2015 campaign at Miller Field.

“We had a great week of practice. I liked the way we responded after we had five days off and the forfeit,” said coach Driscoll. “ This is our playoff game on Saturday. A victory over Swampscott could lead to a playoff berth.” “We are healthy for the first time all season”, said Sean.

The Vikings marched 40-yards on their first scoring-drive. A key Zuffante to junior end Joe Trenouth for a 19-yard first down was instrumental. Chris hooked up with co-captain Dan Dellano on a 13-yard touchdown pass on a 4th down play. The extra point pass failed. The Vikings led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Jon Gonzales recovered the first Saugus fumble. The speedy junior raced 39-yards to give the Vikings a 12-0 lead.

Co-captain Matt Feeley returning to his line back post recovered the second Sachem fumble.

Zuffante hooked up with senior Zach Fisher on a 24-

WHS sports roundup

Volleyball team wins four more, now 12-3

The Winthrop High volleyball team continued its winning ways this past week, taking all three of its matches. The Lady Vikings now have won seven straight contests and sport a sterling 12-3 record. Moreover, Winthrop has shut out its opponents by 3-0 scores in all seven of those victories.

In a 25-11, 25-22, 25-17 triumph over Lynn English, Haley Holden led the Lady Vikings with nine kills and four blocks. Maddie Fainga’a accounted for six  aces and Lacey Scott dished out 11 assists to her teammates.

Friday evening, Winthrop played rude host to Georgetown in another three-set whitewash, 25-5, 25-22, 25-15. The trio of Allie Love (seven kills), Nina Bartlette (five kills) and Holden (five kills) dominated at the net. Holden also dug deep for a team-high nine digs. Scott as usual was the assist-master, setting up her teammates on 11 occasions. Lacey also slapped a team-high 10 aces.

The Lady Vikings trekked to Swampscott Monday and returned home with another shutout win, 25-11, 25-15, 25-16. Nicole Pucillo served seven aces at her Lady Big Blue foes. Scott accounted for 15 assists and six aces. Holden topped the kill chart with five and the duo of Love and Fainga’a were defensive leaders with eight digs apiece.

The Lady Vikings were set to host Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday) and then head to St. Mary’s of Lynn Friday. They will entertain Salem Monday, trek to Saugus Wednesday, and conclude their season against North Reading next Friday.

Girls soccer team ties Gloucester, 2-2

The Winthrop High girls soccer team made the long trek to Gloucester Friday and battled to a 2-2 deadlock with the host team.

The Lady Vikings trailed 1-0 at the half, but Holly Benson brought Winthrop level with a nice 1-on-1 move and shot. Francesca Capone then scored, assisted by Julia Barancchini, to give the Lady Vikings a 2-1 edge. However, the Lady Fishermen responded just minutes later to deadlock matters at 2-2, which is where the match ended.

“We always seem to have a close battle with Gloucester, even though it was a game for us to have,” said WHS head coach Tracey Martucci. “We had seven breakaway opportunities that we couldn’t connect with and 13 offsides which really hurt us and ultimately cost us a win.”

Martucci praised the performance of Mackenzie Chiudina on defense. “Mackenzie worked extra hard to keep control of the backfield,” noted the coach.

The Lady Vikings took on a strong Swampscott squad Tuesday and came out on the short end of a 6-1 decision.

The match stood at nil-nil through the midpoint of the first half, but Swampscott broke through at the 18 minute mark and asserted control of the contest from that point onward.

Victoria Kennedy broke up the Swampscott shutout, reaching the back of the Lady Big Blue net late in the game with an assist on a superb cross from Holly Benson. Heidi Benson was lauded for what Martucci termed, “A great game with trying to set up some nice plays from the middle.”

Martucci and her crew were set to host Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday) evening and travel to Mystic Valley Friday evening for a 6:00 encounter.

They will entertain Salem Monday evening for a contest that will be highlighted by Senior Night festivities and will conclude their season at Saugus Wednesday.

Boys soccer team ties English, 0-0

The Winthrop High boys soccer team traveled to the Manning Bowl last Wednesday and played 80 minutes of soccer to a nil-nil deadlock with their Lynn English host.

“We played decently, but played down to English’s level, which ended up hurting us,” said WHS head coach Kyle Gagin. “This was definitely a game we could have won, but English fought hard and played well until the end. We were building out of the back well and through the midfield, but then had a hard time possessing in the final third of the field. We had a few decent chances and couldn’t convert.

“Center back Carlos Mendoza played well and goalkeeper Kevin Barrera made a lot of great saves,” added Gagin. “Although we didn’t play as well as we could have, it was a very even game.”

The Vikings hosted Gloucester Friday and turned in what Gagin described as “probably the best we’ve played all season in the first half. I can’t really think of anything we did wrong. We possessed really well from the defensive third all the way to the attacking third. We were first to the ball on the ground or in the air. We were aggressive and took shots when we had an opportunity.”

About halfway through the first half, sophomore left back Steve Tracy ripped a shot outside the box which struck the crossbar.

“We had a bunch of other chances, but Gloucester had a really great goalkeeper, and was able to keep us off the score sheet for a while,” said Gagin.

Winthrop’s lone goal came from a header off a throw-in with about 10 minutes left in the half. Senior captain Mike Norris threw a ball into the box to fellow senior captain Matt Sennott, who was able to head the ball into the top corner of the net.

However, the Vikings did not fare as well after the intermission. “We did a complete 360 from the first half,” noted Gagin. “We didn’t play well at all and the cost was three Gloucester goals. It really was a tale of two halves, where everyone on the team played great the first half, but not so well in the second.“

Gagin and his crew took on Swampscott, the first-place team in the NEC South, Monday on their home pitch, and came out on the short end of a 4-0 decision.

“We didn’t play well,” said Gagin, whose lineup was missing starting midfielders Leo Sacchi and Arthur Barasch, who were sidelined with injuries. Late in the first half, the Vikings then lost the services of Mendoza — who has been one of Winthrop’s top players all season — who departed with a leg injury.

Gagin praised the performances of goalkeeper Kevin Barrera, “who was by far our best player,” and junior Spencer Bosse. “Spencer came in for Carlos and had an excellent game as well,” said Gagin. “He played really aggressively and made a lot of key clearances and tackles.”

Vietnamese international student Duy Pham made his varsity debut for the Vikings, as did freshman Brando Martinez. In addition, Gagin noted the appearances of freshman Jaylin Cordes and 8th grader Kevin Dorr. “Both Jaylin and Kevin played well, as they were able to gain more varsity experience,” said their coach.

Gagin and his squad were set to meet Marblehead yesterday (Wednesday) and to host non-league foe (and fellow Division 4 school) Hull under the lights Friday at 7:00.

The Vikings travel to Salem Monday and the will host Saugus Tuesday in  a contest that will be highlighted by Senior Night festivities.  Winthrop defeated booth Hull and Saugus in their first encounters this season and will be looking to do so again in the rematches. “We are hoping to win these last couple games not only for the seniors on Senior Night, but also to give us some confidence heading into the state tournament,” said Gagin.

Viking football players show that they are here to play

by Stephen Skobeleff

Had you been writing off the 2015 Winthrop Vikings season as one of a young squad gaining experience and rebuilding towards next year, it would have been difficult to challenge your rationale based on the results of the team’s first three contests.  Now, though, you may want to rethink things before the ink from that write off dries.

Three weeks ago, at about the same time the leaves were turning on Pleasant St. and everywhere else in Winthrop, the fortunes of this Viking lot started turning a pleasant shade as well. You see, the last two times the Winthrop Vikings stepped onto a football field to do battle, they stepped off approximately two hours later with strong, statement sized wins.  Circumstances in Vikingville have changed quicker than a Jon Gonzalez carry into the secondary, and if you’ve witnessed Gonzo breaking free into a secondary, you know that’s pretty quick. Just like that, all focus has shifted to the season at hand.

“We are hoping to have a shot at the playoffs with a win on Saturday,” expressed co-captain Matt Feeley, his own play a large reason for the resurgence. “The last two games the team has played with a different attitude, We know the potential that we have and we are starting to show it on the field.”

“We are starting to mature and everyone is improving at each position,” added starting QB Christopher Zuffante. That is the statement being made in these victories. They’re getting it NOW, and just in time to possibly salvage this season. Early in the season, the harping may have been about the excessive number of players graduating last year and how young and inexperienced this year’s unit was. Not anymore. Zuffante, the junior himself, is looking much more comfortable in the pocket and out, especially in roll-outs. Seventy-seven points in the last two games played certainly help attest that this young QB and his offense have learned fast. He adds, “We have all learned a lot over the past few weeks and this has made us into a stronger team and also have learned to depend on each other when things get tough.”

It doesn’t hurt either that Gonzalez and Feeley have also been active for these last two contests. “Everybody is healthy and we are definitely all on the same page,” remarked co-captain Dan Dellanno when assessing his thoughts on the team’s sudden turnaround.

“Getting Feeley and Gonzales back big plus on both sides of the ball,” agreed head coach Sean Driscoll. The coach didn’t leave it at that though. “Hard work in practice and the desire to learn our system and study their opponent each week,” are also reasons Driscoll feels his team has grown up so quickly.

Whatever the reason, like the waters along Shore Drive during hurricane season, the tide at Miller Field has shifted rapidly. The course the young Viking lineup is on has suddenly advanced to the point to which there is a meaning once again to the current season beyond simply serving as a practice run for next year’s campaign.

“We still have big things to accomplish this season lots of opportunities hanging out there for us to grab,” as Driscoll put it. A trip to Swampscott to take on the Big Blue Saturday at noon is where the next opportunity lay. Driscoll tempers that the team must take care of its own business at that time.

From the Press Box sponsored by: JW’s

The rivalry showdown is Saturday

By: Jim Lederman

The rivalry 100 years strong, the Winthrop Vikings and the ‘Big Blue’ of Swampscott will meet for the 100th game on Saturday at noon 12:00 at Blocksidge Field in Swampscott.

The series started in 1911 and the Big Blue held a (50-49) advantage. A Vikings victory will tie the series and will be the third consecutive Winthrop victory at Blocksidge for Coach Sean Driscoll and company.

The realignment in the Northeastern Conference has resulted in three consecutive games at legendary Blocksidge Field.

In 2013, the Vikings defeated Swampscott (40-10) in 2014 the Vikings won (28-12) en-route to an undefeated NEC South championship.

The Big Blue (1-5) opened the 2015 campaign with a thrilling (30-28) victory over Lynn Classical (0-6). The Big Blue have lost five consecutive games. Lynn English (2-4) defeated the Big Blue (20-14) Gloucester scored 7 first half touchdowns, en-route to a (49-13) victory.

The Big Blue had to forfeit their game with Saugus after school officials found out the players had a bonfire and ritual pre-game sophomore 50 held on Friday night before the Gloucester game.

Swampscott lost to Salem (19-3) at Bertram Field in Salem. Last Friday night the Revere Patriots (5-1) routed the Big Blue (46-7) at Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere.

Extra Points

Bob Serino is the new Big Blue coach. Steve Dembrowski left to coach Milton High School; Steve is a resident of Milton. Milton (6-0) is off to their best star in school history.

Serino is the fifth coach at Swampscott since 1950. The legendary Stan Bondelevitch was one of the most successful coaches in North Shore history. ‘Bondy’s’ Big Blue teams won many Northeast Conference titles during the (50’s, 60’s and 70’s). Frank DeFelice (WHS 1957 and WHS Hall of Fame) Bill Bush and Steve Dembowski followed the NEC coaching legend. The Big Blue won one super bowl title in 1972.

Memorable Games

The 1956 WHS Swampscott game played on Columbus Day, was one of my ‘most memorable.’ Junior halfback Frank  ‘Buster’ Ferrara scored two touchdowns to lead the ‘Blue Devils’ to a (12-0) victory. Jack Driscoll, the late father of Sean Driscoll was a standout lineman. ‘Skip’ McIlroy, Noel ‘Ace’ Parker, Dick Morgan, Frank DeFelice, Bob DePippo and ‘Tiny’ Suman, were standouts in the Winthrop victory that ended a ‘Big Blue’ 23-game win streak.

Dick Jauron (Yale University, NFL career and NFL coach) and George Blais and NFL players Bill Adams and Tom Toner, were Swampscott football legends. In 1959 my WHS team defeated Swampscott 12-6.

In 1964 –the undefeated NEC champions defeated Swampscott (8-0) at Miller Field in a rainstorm. The late Steve ‘The Tank’ Adamson raced 64-yards, outrunning Billy Conigliaro to give the Vikings the NEC title.

In 1971 – Undefeated Swampscott handed Winthrop their only loss (8-1) in a thriller before a capacity crowd at Blocksidge Field.

The final score (26-12) was not indicative of how close this game was. Just before halftime, a controversial play ended on the Big Blue once yard line before time ran out. Quarterback Pat DeGregorio on a trick play almost tied the score.

The Vikings under the tutelage of Bob DeFelice finished (8-1). Linebacker Chuck Flanagan had sixteen tackles to lead the Vikings. The ‘ Double Dees’ – Mark DeGregorio and Michael DeMarco and Michael Eruzione were Viking standouts.

In 1998 the winless Vikings won the ‘best comeback’ I’ve watched at Blocksidge.

The Vikings trailed the Big Blue (21-17). The Vikings received a 50-yard kickoff return by freshman Bobby Kneeland. The late Keith Griffin scored the winning touchdown, blasting off the Swampscott right side for a 4-yard touchdown.

The Swampscott-Winthrop rivalry always draws a big crowd. Let’s fill Blocksidge to cheer the Vikings to victory!

Let the Games Begin!

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