Martha’s Vineyard teams rebound despite rocky start to season

Boys and girls soccer, field hockey, football, and cross-country teams defeat the competition across the board.

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Hunter Cleary, number 37, blocks Justin Ferbert, number 52, during a game against Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton on Friday. The Vineyard won 32-7. - Mike Gay

Last week was a welcome turnaround for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, as several varsity teams rebounded from a difficult start to the 2016 fall season.

Boys varsity soccer

The 2016 varsity booters are dealing with life after Jason Lages, last year’s 35-goal scoring machine who contributed an average of two goals a game on the Vineyarder run to the state championship Division 3 semifinals.

The Vineyarders stumbled in the early going this season, dropping 5-0 and 3-0 verdicts to powerhouse Nauset Regional High School and suffering a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC) foe Bishop Feehan.

Last week the Vineyarders turned their season around. They delivered a defeat to Somerset-Berkley, 4-1, then dropped Dennis-Yarmouth by a 3-2 score over the weekend to improve to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in EAC play. The Vineyarders next play Coyle and Cassidy (0-3-1) on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 4 pm in Oak Bluffs, with an opportunity to improve their standing in EAC play and to reach .500 on the season.

Girls varsity soccer

Third-year coach Rocco Bellebuono was adamant in preseason comments that his team’s focus was not on wins and losses but learning how to play and enjoying the experience.

His athletes are evidently quick studies, rebounding from a season-opening 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Nauset Regional High School to battle Nauset to a 1-1 tie only four days later. After dropping a 5-0 contest to Bishop Feehan, the team reeled off two straight wins, beating EAC league foe Somerset Berkley 1-0 for the Vineyarders’ first win. They followed up that effort with a 2-0 whitewash of Whitinsville Christian Academy two days later. The 2-2-1 Vineyarders (1-1 in EAC play) will play Coyle and Cassidy on Thursday in Taunton.

Field hockey

Coach Lisa Knight’s squad lost 1-0 in its season opener before outscoring its next five opponents by a 15-2 margin to improve to 4-1-1 over a 12-day span, including a 1-1 tie with Bishop Stang in EAC play.

Last Saturday, the Vineyarders traveled to Brockton and beat the Boxers 6-0. This is an impressive start for a team that advanced to the south sectional semifinals in state tournament play last season. The Vineyarders play Bishop Stang again on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 3 pm in Oak Bluffs.

Football

The Vineyarders knocked on the door but came up empty the first two weeks of the season. Week three the door burst open, with a 32-7 thrashing of Coyle and Cassidy last Friday night in Taunton. This raises their record to 1-2 and 1-0 in EAC play.

First-year coach Steve McCarthy’s squad is an exciting bunch, beginning with junior option quarterback Zach Moreis, who will keep defenses guessing this year. Senior running back Ennis Foster along with senior receiver James Sashin will keep defenses spread to protect against the Vineyarder big-play threat.

Coach McCarthy has shown an aptitude for whimsical plays. In the opening game, punter Sashin ran on fourth and 17, ambling for 26 yards and a first down in a close 18-8 loss to Nauset Regional High School. The Vineyarders are fun to watch, and seem to be responding to their new coaching, which will be on display Friday night at 6 pm at Pat McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs against EAC foe Bishop Feehan (1-2).

Cross-country

Veteran cross-country coach Joe Schroeder predicted before the season that his squad could be “sneaky good” this year. His harriers have proved him right in the first league meet of the year.

Last week against EAC foe Bishop Stang, the girls squad were rocked by the Shamrocks 15-50 but the boys snuck past Stang (28-29). This is their first win of the season.

This year’s cross-country team may not have hefty numbers, but they perform powerfully. The Vineyarders are competing with small numbers (23 in total) against squads with nearly five times as many athletes. Vineyarder harriers took on cross-country behemoth Bishop Feehan on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the MVRHS cross-country course. (Check mvtimes.com for results.)