2011: The Martha’s Vineyard sports year in review

Justin Smith swam the butterfly in a test run at the YMCA's new pool on Dec. 29, 2010. The team competed in its first ever meet against Blue Hills of Canton on Jan. 24.
File photo by Ralph Stewart

Justin Smith swam the butterfly in a test run at the YMCA's new pool on Dec. 29, 2010. The team competed in its first ever meet against Blue Hills of Canton on Jan. 24.

Martha’s Vineyard sports fans of all ages and stripes can look back on a year of accomplishment, excitement and fun. The highlights included the arrival of the Stanley Cup following the Boston Bruins exciting seventh game win, the Sharks collegiate baseball team’s inaugural season and the Vineyard victory in the Island Cup.

2011 was a banner year for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). Four banners, in fact, were raised to the rafters. The girls and boys tennis teams, the boys basketball squad, and the boys soccer team, each was crowned champion in the Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC).

MVRHS

Certainly it was a banner year for the high school tennis teams. The boys team played 18 matches and won all but two. They were undefeated, 8-0, in the EAC and in an unprecedented vote by the conference coaches, six Vineyarders were selected for All Star honors.

The team reached the finals of the MIAA Division III South with a 16-2 record and advanced to the finals by defeating Canton, Ashland and Norwell, then lost to Cape Cod Academy, 3-2. (All three of their losses were to CCA.)

It was Coach Ned Fennessey’s 21st year as MVRHS tennis coach.

On the other hand, it was Connie McHugh’s first year as MV girls tennis team coach and the first time the Vineyarders claimed the Conference honors.

A graph of the football team’s record looks a bit like a roller coaster with a trouncing by St. Mary’s, Lynn, 44-22 then a 41-12 romp over Coyle – Cassidy. They were shut out 35-0 by Bishop Feehan, and in turn, kept Medford scoreless, 21-0. Also in the mix were losses to Old Rochester, Assabet Valley Voke, Pembroke and (by one point) Somerset/Berkeley. Case and Bishop Stang went into the MV win column.

But the one game that meant more than all the rest was the season-ending, thrilling 10-7 Island Cup victory at Nantucket.

The MVRHS cross-country teams also enjoyed considerable success and qualified for the state meet for the first time since 2004.

Stanley Cup visit

On June 25, Boston Bruins president and Aquinnah summer resident Cam Neely, Katama summer resident Jerry Jacobs Jr., a principal in Delaware North, the entertainment and concession company that owns the Bruins, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien arrived on Martha’s Vineyard for a victory parade with the Stanley Cup following the Bruins seventh game victory over the Vancouver Canucks on June 15.

Several hundred fans lined Edgartown’s Main Street when the Stanley Cup arrived in town and a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 filed patiently into the Edgartown School gymnasium for a chance to see, touch, and in several cases, kiss the Stanley Cup.

And there was more:

Interscholastic basketball finals

Always one of the Island’s most popular and passionately supported events, fans packed the Edgartown School gym last February to watch the Oak Bluffs girls top the hometown Eagles and the West Tisbury Hawks boys beat OB to win the junior high hoops titles.

Heat repeat

The Heat won their second straight RCBL basketball title, last March, by downing the Bulls 73-65 to win the final series two games to one.

Bantam champs

The Vineyard’s youth hockey Bantams raised a banner for the first time since 1996. Coach Mick Vukota’s MV Bantam A team capped off a perfect 15-0 season by winning the Bantam II-S State Tournament held in Watertown, last March.

Sharks arrive

In June, Islanders welcomed their new boys of summer, the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. The wooden bat wielding Sharks provided quality entertainment and fine baseball for several thousand fans through 22 home games at Vineyard Baseball Park on the MVRHS campus. The Sharks posted a 23-21 record to finish third in their inaugural season. Two Sharks, FCBL league MVP Robbie Zinsmeister of Indiana University (PA) and Jeremy Matos of Central Florida University were recently named as top entries in the Major League Baseball draft.

Softball supremacy

The always popular adult summer softball leagues crowned new champions last August.

In the women’s league, the Snaps won their first title in two attempts, downing the Creamers 9-7 in the final.

On the men’s side, the Hurricanes blew away the competition from start to finish and topped off a 20-2 season with a two-game sweep over the Highlanders, the team who beat the ‘Canes last season.

Shirley’s wins the hardware

While the Snaps were winning the women’s softball title on the other side of Veterans Park, Shirley’s Hardware captured the Vineyard Football Association’s Gilbert-Hammond Cup with a thrilling 4-2 penalty kick shootout win over Sports Haven. The teams battled to a 0-0 tie through regulation and two overtime periods. Vander “Buick” De Oliveira scored the winning kick.

Soccer feat

Two Vineyard youth soccer teams, the MV United Under 18′s and Under 16′s, qualified for the prestigious Massachusetts Tournament of Champions in Lancaster last June. Both reached the state final before bowing to powerful city teams. The U-18′s were bested by Brockton and the U-16′s fell to John Boyle O’ Reilly of Springfield.

Little League champs

The Cubs and Twins won the Island Little League championships last June at Viera Park in Oak Bluffs.

Despite losing to the Athletics twice during the regular season, the Cubs beat the A’s 2-1 in the major league final. The Twins took the minor league crown with an 8-1 win over the Marlins.

Vineyard swimmers

The MVRHS swim club and the Makos Swim Club of the YMCA both completed their inaugural seasons and have embarked on their second during 2011. Both teams have had encouraging results in the pool and have received enthusiastic support. The high school squad will attain varsity status next season.

Wind and water

On September 11 the Vineyard hosted the Vineyard Warrior triathlon. Long time Oak Bluffs summer resident Mark Desautelle swam, biked and ran the fastest.

On October 12 the world’s best kiteboarders competed off of State Beach and Sengekontacket Pond in Oak Bluffs in the North American Speed Sailing Invitational, the first event of its kind held in North America. Black Dog Tavern CEO Rob Douglas took top honors.