Authors Posts by Ralph Stewart

Ralph Stewart

Ralph Stewart

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MVRHS track and field athletes dominate the top positions on a chilly day in Oak Bluffs.

Race winner Patrick Best leads the way by a stride at the start. – Photo by Ralph Stewart
Mr. Best topped the field with eight seconds to spare.
Mr. Best topped the field with eight seconds to spare.

Patrick Best of Vineyard Haven was first to the finish line Sunday morning in a brisk and breezy 17th annual Ocean View St. Patrick’s Dayish 5K Run and Walk in Oak Bluffs. The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School sophomore clocked in at 19:54, eight seconds clear of race runner-up and MVRHS track teammate Daniel Gaines of Edgartown.

MVRHS freshman runner Rose Engler of Oak Bluffs was the women’s winner and finished ninth overall with a time of 22:43.

Women's winner Rose Engler was all smiles at the finish line.
Women’s winner Rose Engler was all smiles at the finish line.

Nearly 100 hardy souls braved temperatures in the low 30’s and a stiff breeze to navigate the East Chop 5K course. Proceeds from the race benefited the MVRHS track and field and cross-country teams.

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Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls varsity coach Maureen Hill of Edgartown was chosen last week for induction into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Ms. Hill received the honor based on a stellar record of achievement as a player at Winthrop High School and Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. She is a hall of famer at both schools. The induction ceremony for the Class of 2015 is scheduled for August 8 at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Ms. Hill first learned of the news via telephone, and said she was shocked. “I was in disbelief,” she said. “I asked them if they had the right person.”

The Vineyard coach will join some impressive company in the hall, including Celtics great Bob Cousy, UConn’s Jim Calhoun and Rebecca Lobo, Kathy Delaney-Smith of Harvard, Togo Palazzi of Holy Cross, and Providence College star Ernie DiGregorio.

Ms. Hill first starred at Winthrop High School, becoming the first girl to score 1,000 points. She scored 45 points in one game versus Marblehead, and helped lead the Vikings to an Eastern Mass. Division Two title and a 23-1 record. She was subsequently named All-Scholastic Player of the Year by the Boston Globe.

At Lafayette, Ms. Hill holds several school records, including most points: 1,813 (career) and 626 (season); scoring average: 15.8 (career) and 20.9 (season); field goals: 690 (career) and 232 (season); and free throws: 433 (career) and 162 (season).

Earlier this month, Ms. Hill completed her first year as Martha’s Vineyard varsity girls head coach, leading the Vineyarders to an 18-5 record and the MIAA Division Three South Sectional semifinals. Her previous coaching experience included eight seasons of Vineyard girls travel basketball and five seasons as head coach of the MVRHS girls junior varsity team.

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Juniors and seniors teamed up, and Spain reigned in an Island-style Davis Cup.

Molly Pogue readies for a forehand volley as her partner Bruce Merrill stands ready. – Photo by Ralph Stewart

Tennis players young and old paired off Sunday in a brace of new events at Airport Fitness and Tennis (AFT) in West Tisbury.

A junior/senior event, matched the hard serves and biting topspin of five talented 12-year-olds with the finesse and craft of five players ages 60 to 80. The junior players included club regulars Molly, Paige, and Spencer Pogue, Hannah Rabasca, and Max Soll, a Minnesota resident who takes lessons at AFT when he’s in town. Leo McHugh, Bruce Merrill, Steve Pogue, Chuck Scott, and Bruce Llewellyn served it up for the seniors.

Each senior took a junior partner and played the other teams in a round-robin format. Each match proved to be well balanced and competitive, with Bruce Merrill summing up the tourney as “most enjoyable, and something we should repeat.” The club plans to hold another junior/senior event in the near future.

Tony Omer chases down a shallow shot and scoops the ball back across the net. – Photo by Ralph Stewart
Tony Omer chases down a shallow shot and scoops the ball back across the net. – Photo by Ralph Stewart

At the conclusion of the opening round of matches, Hannah Rabasca stayed on and joined seven adult players in an AFT version of the international Davis Cup, pitting Team Spain against Team Switzerland. Club owner Connie McHugh coached the Swiss team, comprising Lucia Hayman, Hannah Rabasca, Gavin Franklin, and Tony Omer. AFT pro Sean Pease coached “Spaniards” Mary Breslauer, Penny Franklin, Darren Belisle, and Paul Ulyatt. The teams competed in women’s, men’s, and mixed doubles.

Spain reigned on the day, winning 4-0. Mary Breslauer and Penny Franklin prevailed over Lucia Hayman and Hannah Rabasca in women’s doubles, 8-1. Spain took a 2-0 lead as Darren Belisle and Paul Ulyatt defeated Gavin Franklin and Tony Omer 9-4.

The teams played two tight matches in mixed doubles. Tony Omer and Hannah Rabasca used an effective serve-and-volley game, but fell to Paul Ulyatt and Penny Franklin. Darren Belisle and Mary Breslauer closed out the tourney with a win over Lucia Hayman and Gavin Franklin.

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Jared Regan of Oak Bluffs hustles to bump the ball back to teammate Allyse Guyther.

The Tisbury Tigers improved to 2-0 with a four-set interscholastic volleyball win over host Oak Bluffs Tuesday afternoon. The Blazers took the first set, but the Tigers roared back to win the final three.

Peter Burke returns an Oak Bluffs serve with Tisbury teammate Sam Cranston ready to assist.
Peter Burke returns an Oak Bluffs serve with Tisbury teammate Sam Cranston ready to assist.

Oak Bluffs started well. Allyse Guyther won seven straight points on serve to stake Oak Bluffs to an early 7-0 lead in the first set. The Blazers kept the margin intact to win 25-18. The Cottage City dwellers carried their fine form into the second set, and led 13-9. Enter Peter Burke, who served for nine straight Tisbury points as the Tigers seized the momentum and evened the match with a 25-20 win in set two.

Tisbury jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the third set, and held on to win 25-21. Doug Norton was tough at the net for the Tigers. Sam Cranston was the difference in the final set, serving up nine winning points as Tisbury closed out the match with a 25-17 win.

In other action on Tuesday, the Edgartown Eagles evened their record at 1-1 by defeating West Tisbury (1-1) three sets to one.

The season began on March 12. Tisbury defeated Edgartown in four sets, while West Tisbury swept Oak Bluffs 25-17, 25-21, 25-11.

Jasselle Wildanger fights off a tough serve.
Jasselle Wildanger fights off a tough serve.

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Champs scorch net with 18 treys en route to the title.

The 2014-15 RCBL champion Heat. Seated in front, from left: Cody Brewer, Matt Gebo; back row, from left: Tim Scott, Sandy Fisher, Steve Handy, Lucas Brewer, Nick Viera. –Photos by Ralph Stewart

The Heat outlasted the Bulls 117-108 in overtime to complete a two-game sweep of the RCBL (Robin and Corley Basketball League) championship series Monday night at the Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown. Steve Handy poured in 32 points, and the Heat scorched the net with 18 three-pointers to earn their third title in five seasons.

The Bulls led much of the way, but Cody Brewer sank a clutch trey in the final two minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime with the score tied at 105-105.

Tim Scott, left, of the Heat breaks to the basket, guarded by John Neto.
Tim Scott, left, of the Heat breaks to the basket, guarded by John Neto.

The Heat had all the answers in the extra period. Sharpshooter Tim Scott, playing in his final RCBL game, drained a three just after the opening tip. Heat captain Sandy Fisher then stole the ball, dashed over center court, and fed Steve Handy with a deft behind-the-back pass to set up the clinching basket. Lucas Brewer followed with his sixth three-pointer of the game to provide crucial insurance, and the Heat closed out the championship with four points from the charity stripe.

The second game of the best-of-three series was a classic from start to finish. Each team opened the game with a pair of treys. The Heat hit five of them in the first quarter, but the Bulls dominated the offensive glass and closed out the period on top 27-21.

The Bulls increased their lead to 56-48 by halftime, thanks to a monster performance by Luke Bettencourt. The Bulls forward scored 14 of his team-high 27 points in the second quarter. When he wasn’t scoring, Bettencourt piled up the rebounds, and consistently drew fouls on his way to the basket.

The Heat clawed their way back in the third period, closing out the quarter on a 12-3 run to lead 85-83. Matt Gebo put the Heat back on top after burrowing through three Bulls defenders in the paint and throwing up an underhanded scoop shot.

John Neto started off the final period with a three to key a 7-0 Bulls run and a 90-85 lead. The teams traded baskets for the next seven minutes, until Luke Bettencourt put the Bulls up 105-98, running the length of the court through the entire Heat defense and scoring on a lay-up. Steve Handy answered with two buckets off the glass to make it 105-102, setting the table for Cody Brewer’s game-tying three.

Tim Scott and Nick Viera both finished with 25 points for the Heat. Lucas Brewer scored 22, and Matt Gebo added 10 more. For the Bulls, John Neto equalled Luke Bettencourt with 27 points. Keyland Gomes had 17, Jared Silvia 16, and John Swan 14.

The thrilling finale was a welcome tonic after a topsy-turvy 2014-15 season. The two-time defending champion Suns disbanded at midseason after an 0-4 start, leaving the top three teams to carry on. The regular season ended at the end of January with the Heat on top at 6-1, followed by the Lakers (5-2) and the Bulls (3-4). Through a storm-filled February, which wreaked havoc with the playoff schedule, the Bulls upset the Lakers two games to one in the first round, setting up a final with the Heat.

Heat take Game 1

The Heat took the opening game of the finals 101-88 on March 2. Steve Handy scored 32 to pace the Heat. Nick Viera had 25, followed by Tim Scott (20) and Lucas Brewer (11). Keyland Gomes totaled 29 for the Bulls. Jared Silvia had 16, Anthony Johnson and Luke Bettencourt scored 14 apiece, and Josh Cotterell had 13.

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The playoff game featured defense over scoring.

Jennifer Worden (left) and Sydney Hamilton put the pressure on Mariah Duarte. – Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School varsity girls basketball team dream season ended Tuesday. The girls fell to top-seeded Abington, 37-30, in the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional semifinals in a game that highlighted defense over scoring.

The Vineyarders jumped out to an early lead on the strength of a physical defense that held Abington to only one field goal through much of the first quarter. At the end of the first quarter the Vineyard girls led 12-5.

Martha’s Vineyard struggled offensively in the second quarter. After scoring only two points, the Vineyarders saw the lead slip away.

Abington forced several key turnovers and capitalized on their free throw opportunities. By halftime, the Vineyarders trailed 16-14.

Molly deBettencourt made two three-pointers in the third quarter, but that did not stop Abington from its lead and knocking the girls out of the playoffs. Erin Hill finished the game with a team-high 16 points, Molly deBettencourt scored six, and Mariah Duarte had four points.

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Mac Sashin battles with Frank Oftring in front of a sea of Shamrock supporters. – Photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated 12 pm, Monday.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys basketball team handed Bishop Feehan its first Eastern Athletic Conference defeat, 55-48, Friday night in Attleboro. The Vineyarders improved to 10-4 overall and 6-1 in the EAC, while the Shamrocks fell to 13-3 and 7-1. If the Vineyarders defeat Bishop Stang Monday, February 16, (4:30 pm tip-off) in Oak Bluffs, they will share the EAC title with Bishop Feehan.

BenPoole takes it to the hole around Bishop Feehan's Peter Luongo.
BenPoole takes it to the hole around Bishop Feehan’s Peter Luongo.

Trailing 29-24 at halftime, M.V. turned the game around with a 14-0 run to start the second half, outscoring the Shamrocks 20-4 in the third quarter. Feehan fought back in the final period but the Vineyarders maintained their poise, protected the basketball, and never relinquished the lead.

With the big win, M.V. atoned for a 72-41 loss to the Shamrocks in Oak Bluffs on Martin Luther King Day.

In Friday’s return meeting, the Vineyarders turned in one of their finest defensive efforts of the season. The Purple ‘D’ was particularly effective at limiting second chance baskets with physical play in the paint.

Tim Roberts led the Vineyarders with 16 points and Alex GordonBeck had 11. Mac Sashin scored 10 points and was a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the court. Cole Houston finished with nine points.

An earlier version of this story stated that the MVRHS boys basketball team would play Bishop Stang on Monday, February 9. That game has been rescheduled to February 16.

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Vineyard star Tim Roberts fights with Feehan defenders for a rebound.

Eastern Athletic Conference rivals Martha’s Vineyard and Bishop Feehan renewed acquaintance Monday in a boys basketball matinee played at the Sancy in Oak Bluffs. For the second year in a row, the Shamrocks dominated on the Vineyarders’ home floor and ran away with a 72-41 win. Bishop Feehan improved to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the EAC, while the Vineyarders fell to 6-4 and 3-1.

Ricardo Andrade squeezes through the lane for a layup.
Ricardo Andrade squeezes through the lane for a layup.

The Feehan victory was comprehensive. The Shamrocks executed with precision on both ends of the floor. They were lights-out shooting from the perimeter, sinking eight treys, and unstoppable in the paint. The visitors also dominated the boards, particularly the offensive glass. The Vineyarders shot poorly throughout, and were repeatedly punished for their mistakes with quick buckets at the other end of the court.

Feehan took command from the opening tip, rolling to an 8-0 lead before Alex Gordon-Beck put the Vineyarders on the board four minutes into the first quarter. The Shamrocks answered with a three-pointer, one of four in the opening eight minutes, and closed out the period with a 19-9 lead.

The Shamrocks increased their lead to 30-13 midway through the second quarter. The Purple responded with their best stretch of the game, putting together a 7-0 run. Matt Stone drained a trey, with Ricardo Andrade and Alex GordonBeck each adding a bucket. As the home fans came to life, the Shamrocks quickly dashed their hopes, ending the half on a 7-0 run of their own to lead 37-20 at the break.

Alex Gordon-Beck lays the ball in the hoop over a Bishop Feehan defender.
Alex Gordon-Beck lays the ball in the hoop over a Bishop Feehan defender.

The second half unfolded much like the first, except that Feehan did more damage scoring from inside. Alex GordonBeck produced the most memorable play for the Vineyard, setting up a basket after chasing down a stray ball and keeping it in play with a wild scoop before falling well out of bounds.

Alex GordonBeck led the Vineyarders on the score sheet with 13 points. Ricardo Andrade had 10, Matt Stone scored eight, and Mac Sashin added six more. Michael Nelson (25 points) and Frank Oftring (20) led the way for the Shamrocks.

“There isn’t much you can say after a game like that,” Vineyard coach Mike Joyce said after the loss. “They [Bishop Feehan] beat us forwards, backwards, and sideways. They outplayed us, outhustled us, and outrebounded us. There were no areas of the game left to get beaten at. We have four days to regroup and get ready for Somerset on Friday. We have to figure out what happened between Saturday and Monday. Saturday, we played one of our best games all year [a 67-59 win Jan. 17 at Bishop Stang], and today we just didn’t play at all.”

Mac Sashin stretches over a Bishop Feehan defender to grab a rebound.
Mac Sashin stretches over a Bishop Feehan defender to grab a rebound.

Friday’s varsity home game against Somerset Berkley tips off at 4:30 pm. The jayvee game starts at 3 pm.

MV falls in jayvee and frosh games

Bishop Feehan also was victorious in the jayvee and freshman boys games played Monday, prior to the varsity contest.

The Vineyard jayvees led by five points with three minutes remaining, but the Shamrocks rallied for a 68-56 win. Jason Lupinski led MV with 15 points, followed by Nick Bond (10), Krishna Datta (9), and Jordan Tate (8).

In the freshman game, Bishop Feehan dominated the first half en route to a 59-33 win. Theo Gallagher was the high scorer for MV with 12 points.

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The Island cup is held aloft by coach Donald Herman (center) and former coach John Bacheller after defeating Nantucket on November 25. — Photo by Michael Cummo

As the year comes to a close, we glance back at 2014 and take stock of some of the highlights. By most measures, it was an exciting year for Island sports at every level; youth, high school, and adult.

A total of eight Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) teams won conference championships. The Vineyard sailors finished the season ranked sixth in all of New England; the boys varsity soccer team became just the second in school history to reach the sectional final in the state tournament; senior Jeremy Alley-Tarter and freshman Olivia Smith set new standards of excellence on the track; and the Vineyard gridders sank the Nantucket Whalers yet again to win an 11th straight Island Cup.

The Under-18 MV United boys travel soccer team won the state championship at the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions in June. Another youth travel squad, the eighth grade girls basketball team, finished as state runners-up.

In the recreational sports leagues, both the winter basketball and men’s summer softball championships were decided in the final moments of a decisive third game in a best-of-three series.

Last but not least, Vineyarder Tad Gold was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles on the  day that he and his Martha’s Vineyard Sharks teammates were honored with their 2013 Futures Collegiate Baseball League championship rings.

The Times takes a closer look at the year in sports for 2014.

Edgartown girls, Tisbury boys interscholastic hoops champs

Few Island sporting events can match the passion and excitement of the Interscholastic basketball championships. In February, the Edgartown girls and Tisbury boys took home the trophies.

The Lady Eagles defeated the previously unbeaten Oak Bluffs Blazers 36-35 in a nail biter that wasn’t decided until a pair of Oak Bluffs free throws fell short with 0:00 left on the clock. Clare Naughton of Edgartown and Molly DeBettencourt of Oak Bluffs each totaled 16 points.

The Tisbury Tiger boys clinched their first title in 25 years with a 47-34 win over Edgartown. The Eagles had a problem with Houston: Cole Houston, that is. Cole scored 27 points to lead all scorers. Lukah Vieira scored 17 for Edgartown.

Eighth grade girls hoopsters state runners-up

The Vineyard eighth grade girls travel basketball team won the Cape Cod Youth League with a 14-0 record, and finished at 23-2 after placing second to Hopkinton in the state tournament March 22 and 23. MV defeated a second Hopkinton team, Duxbury, and Brockton to reach the final. MVRHS girls varsity coach Maureen Hill and Kevin Piggott coached the Vineyard team composed of Saige Araujo, Kathleen Alves, Kiana Casey, Molly deBettencourt, Rose Engler, Devin Hill, Evelyn Medeiros, Ashlee Moreis, Lily Piggott, Julia Regan, and Meghan Sawyer. Although she missed the state tournament due to injury, Kat Roberts was a key player throughout the season.

Banner year for MVRHS sports

Make room for some more purple banners in the high school gym: MVRHS sports teams racked up eight conference championships in 2014.

Photo by Michael Cummo
Photo by Michael Cummo

The girls hockey team won the Southeast Division of the Southeastern Mass. Girls Hockey League, earning a league title for the first time in the program’s history.

The boys soccer team won the Eastern Athletic Conference title outright, while the boys hockey, boys basketball, boys lacrosse, girls tennis and boys tennis teams were EAC co-champions.

The Vineyard sailors once again were unbeaten champions of the Cape and the Islands League.

These eight teams, plus the field hockey, girls basketball, and both cross-country teams  qualified for postseason play.

Suns repeat as RCBL champs

The 2013-’14 RCBL (Robin-Corley Basketball League) finals went the distance plus three extra periods. With the best-of-three series tied 1-1, the Suns and the Heat contested one of the most memorable games in 26 seasons of league play. The Suns outlasted the Heat, 116-113, in triple overtime to repeat as league champions.

Vineyard sailors on the Mark

The MVRHS sailing team had a season to remember. Coach Andrew Burr’s Vineyarders defeated top-ranked St. George’s of Newport, R.I., en route to a 19-3 record and a first-ever appearance in the New England Team Racing Championships (the Mark Trophy), held May 17 and 18 in Osterville. The Vineyarders came into the prestigious event ranked sixth in New England. They won six races at the Mark, finishing sixth overall, just two spots shy of racing for a berth in the national championship.

The three Vineyard skipper/crew combinations, Raz Sayre/Anna Flaherty; Eli Hanschka/Zana van Rooyen, and Charlie Morano/Ellie Reagan, all gave outstanding efforts. Maddy Moore and Lucas Dutton also saw action in various combinations.

The Vineyarders were rewarded for their fine showing at the Mark with a bid to the National Invitational Tournament May 24 and 25 at M.I.T.

Track feats

Senior Jeremy Alley-Tarter capped off an accomplished varsity track career by placing sixth in the Massachusetts All State 800 meters on June 7 at Bridgewater State University, topping his own school record with a time of 1:54:96.

Freshman Olivia Smith became the first Vineyard girl to medal in three events at the state Division 4 meet on May 31 at Durfee High School in Fall River. Ms. Smith finished sixth in the 400 meter low hurdles, breaking her own school record with a time of 69:66; seventh in the 100 meter high hurdles (16:31); and seventh in the high jump (5.0′).

Red Sox, Dodgers are Little League champs

The Red Sox beat the Cubs 10-0 to repeat as Martha’s Vineyard Little League major league champs. Sox starter Jake Howell pitched four and two-thirds innings, striking out 12. The Red Sox broke the game open with five runs in the third and four more in the fifth. Joe Serpa and Jeremy Regan hit two-run singles in the third, while Regan and Oliver Martin added triples in the fifth.

Earlier in the day, the Dodgers clipped the Orioles 9-2 to win the minor league championship. Devonne Saunders hit a triple in the first inning to spark the Dodgers to an early 4-0 lead. Cam Napior doubled and Owen Dibiaso singled to score three more in the third inning. Seamus McLean put an exclamation point on the victory with a two-run homer in the fourth. Silas Abrams was the winning pitcher.

MV United U-18 boys win state soccer title

The MV United boys Under-18 travel soccer team won the state championship at the Mass. Tournament of Champions (MTOC) June 27-29 in Lancaster. The Purple and Black won all five matches, outscoring the opposition 13-0. Vineyard goalie Matt Stone earned five clean sheets. MVU defeated Grafton, Tyngsboro, Brockton, and JBO Celtic of Springfield en route to the final, where they beat Wilmington 2-0. Ryan Uva and Brandon Dwane scored for the Vineyard in the clincher.

MV United finished the season 18-1-1, scoring 71 goals while conceding five.

Tad Gold drafted by Orioles

Tad Gold, a 2010 MVRHS graduate, had quite a spring and summer. In May, he was named division three college baseball player of the year for his play at Endicott College in Beverly. On June 7, Tad, a three-year starter and former all-star with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, stood on the field at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs awaiting a pregame ceremony. He and his Sharks teammates were on hand to receive their 2013 FCBL championship rings. Moments before the ceremony began, Tad got a phone call from the Baltimore Orioles, informing him that he had been drafted in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball draft.

“Hollywood couldn’t have done it better,” said Jerry Murphy, Sharks general manager.

The Sharks had another great season, but lost to Worcester in the FCBL finals, two games to none.

‘Canes and Mama’s Girls softball champs

The Hurricanes won the men’s summer softball championship for the third time in four years, while the Mama’s Girls took the women’s crown. Both teams beat the defending league champions.

The ‘Canes clinched the title by roaring back from a 10-4 deficit with seven runs in the seventh inning to beat the Highlanders 11-10 in the decisive third game of the best-of-three series.

The Mama’s Girls beat the Snaps in the women’s final. The Mama’s, unbeaten in the double-elimination tourney, needed to win once, while the once-beaten Snaps needed a two-game sweep. The Snaps took the first game 14-5, but the Mama’s won 8-5 in game two to win the championship.

Island Star pitch perfect

Island Star won the 23rd Vineyard Football Association summer soccer championship, beating Sports Haven 2-0 to hoist the coveted Gilbert-Hammond Cup.

Boys soccer plays in South finals

Alex Gordon-Beck rises to head the ball toward goal. The shot skimmed over the crossbar. — Photo by Michael Cummo
Alex Gordon-Beck rises to head the ball toward goal. The shot skimmed over the crossbar. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The MVRHS boys soccer team ran roughshod through the regular season, advancing to the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional final. Only Bob Hammond’s 2003 team had gone as far.

Esteban Aranzabe, in his first season as varsity coach, took a roster filled with players from his 2014 Under-18 and 2012 Under-15 MTOC state champions and led the Vineyarders to a 17-3-2 record.

The fourth-seeded Purple eliminated top-seeded Medway in the sectional semifinals. Alex GordonBeck scored a thrilling goal in the final seconds of double overtime to lift MV to a 2-1 victory on Veterans Day.

Four days later, a scrappy crew of Norwell Clippers ended the Vineyarders’ great playoff run with a 2-1 win.

The Cup stays put

From left, Paul Mayhew, Jacob Cardoza, Austin Chandler and Andy DiMattia celebrate the third MV touchdown, putting the game out of reach for Nantucket on November 25. — Photo by Michael Cummo
From left, Paul Mayhew, Jacob Cardoza, Austin Chandler and Andy DiMattia celebrate the third MV touchdown, putting the game out of reach for Nantucket on November 25. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket continued their storied football rivalry in the 36th Island Cup on Nov. 22 at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.

The game was a tossup through three quarters.

Ben Clark scored for the Vineyard on a two-yard run in the second quarter. Nantucket evened the score at 7-7 five minutes into the second half, after Keenan Phillips capped an 11-play 71-yard drive with a four-yard TD run.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Vineyarders, who put the game away with two quick strikes.

Senior quarterback Mike Mussell, on his way to setting a school single-season passing record, engineered a 63-yard Vineyard march, culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Cardoza. The duo hooked up again on a 36-yard TD with 5:56 left to play.

The Vineyarders have beaten the Whalers in 11 consecutive games, and lead the Cup series 19-17.

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Belle Dinning (left) receives congratulations from teammates Sydney Davies (center) and Olivia Ogden after scoring against Needham.

The girls varsity high school hockey team, like the boys, broke the ice on the 2014-15 season with a rigorous set of pre-season scrimmages. The girls played Division 2 semifinalists Sandwich and Division 1 Barnstable Saturday at the John Gallo Arena in Bourne before finishing up the weekend Sunday at home against D1 Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury.

Vineyard coach John Fiorito has a veteran team, led by senior co-captains Aubrey Ashmun, Erin Hegarty, Sydney Davies, and Olivia Ogden. All are four-year players. Three additional seniors are forwards Megan Hurley and Kiara Vought, along with defenseman Katrina Lakis. Junior Belle Dinning is a consistent scoring threat and is joined on the roster by fellow 11th graders Meg Burke, Courtney Howell, and Jackie Hegarty. Sophomores include Kylie Hatt, Julia Bettencourt, Julia Levesque, Ellie Hanjian, and newcomer Natalija Lakis. Freshman Sage Araujo is the other new face on the team.

“We have a veteran laden team, which I think goes a long way at this level,” Vineyard coach John Fiorito said. “We’re strong down the middle with our defense, our centers, and our goaltending.”

Aubrey Ashmun races a pair of Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors for the puck.
Aubrey Ashmun races a pair of Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors for the puck.

Saturday in Bourne, the Vineyarders participated in a jamboree hosted and organized by Sandwich High coach Steve Noll, benefitting Children’s Cove, a facility offering support to abused children from the Cape and Islands. The Vineyard girls team donated $100 to the charity.

The girls opened play against Sandwich. The Blue Knights tallied the only two goals, but the Vineyarders played well, particularly on defense and in goal, which would remain a constant throughout the weekend.

M.V. were even better in the second scrimmage against a combination lineup of Barnstable varsity and jayvee players. The Purple outscored the Red Raiders, 4-0. Aubrey Ashmun notched a hat trick and Belle Dinning tallied once.

The Vineyarders returned home and played back-to-back scrimmages Sunday morning and afternoon. Contrasting with the boys scrimmages, which were made up of two periods of varying lengths, both girls contests were broken up into the regular season standard three periods of 15 minutes each.

First up were the Needham Rockets. The visitors enjoyed the majority of possession throughout the first period, but the Vineyard defense did an excellent job of blocking shots and limiting quality scoring chances. Goalie Jackie Hegarty was sharp, repeatedly covering the puck or directing shots away from the crease.

The teams traded goals in the second period. Belle Dinning scored for the Vineyard, stretching to keep the puck inside the blueline before skating into the slot and lifting a wrister into the top right corner.

Midway through the period, Jackie Hegarty turned over the goaltending duties to Julia Bettencourt, who also played well. Although Needham would tally twice in the final period, once on a rebound and again on a deflection off a Vineyard skate, Bettencourt turned aside four shots at point blank range, three in a rapid fire flurry at the right post.

The girls got a 10-minute break, then turned around and ended the hockey weekend with an excellent showing against the Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors. The hosts peppered the Warrior goal with shots throughout the first period. Aubrey Ashmun had the best scoring chance by either team, clanging a 20-footer off the crossbar with 2:50 gone on the clock.

Lincoln-Sudbury pressured more as the scrimmage wore on but the Vineyard defense again was superb in limiting quality shots. Time and again goalies — first Jackie Hegarty, then Julia Bettencourt — caught or covered up any loose pucks. Bettencourt made the save of the game late in the second period, doing the splits to rob a Warrior shooter at the left post.

“Julia and Jackie are both probably number one goalies,” Coach Fiorito said. “They played great.”

Never lacking in excitement, the scrimmage remained scoreless until the puck took an unfortunate bounce for the Vineyarders with 4:36 left in the final period. After failing on a breakaway attempt, a Warrior forward skated behind the Vineyard goal and flipped the puck into the crease, where it hit a skate and trickled into the net. Lincoln-Sudbury added a second goal into the empty net with four ticks left to close out the day.

“We played great,” Coach Fiorito said after the final whistle. “We played four scrimmages in two days against all good teams. We really held our own. We couldn’t be happier.”

The girls open the regular season on home ice, Saturday at 5 pm against Brookline. The 14th annual Nan Rheault Invitational tournament is set for Saturday and Sunday, January 17–18. M.V. will skate against archrivals Scituate at 7 pm on opening night. Peabody and Quincy fill out the field. The Vineyarders close out the regular season at home on Thursday, February 19, at 4:30 pm against Southeastern Mass Girls Hockey League rival Marshfield.