High school winter sports seasons begin well before the December 21 solstice.
Girls ice hockey
The girls varsity ice hockey team, for instance, looking to improve on last year's 3-15-2 record, opens against powerful Barnstable at the Kennedy Arena, Hyannis, Wednesday, Dec. 12. By that time coach Sam Sherman's sharpshooters will have scrimmaged with Sandwich and with Needham.
One is not supposed to keep score at a scrimmage. Suffice to say, Sunday's scrimmage with Sandwich at the Gallo Arena was gratifying. The Vineyard goalies, Laura Jernegan and Jaime Forend pitched a shutout and both Nica Sylvia and Sophie Willey scored twice.
When the Islanders next meet the Blue Knights, at the Martha's Vineyard Arena in a league game on January 23, they'll keep score.
The team scrimmages with Needham this weekend, Saturday at 1 pm and Sunday at 10:40 am.
Of the 17 girls on the varsity roster, just four are seniors. Twice as many are juniors. Three are sophomores and two are freshmen.
Eli Bonnell coaches the goalkeepers. Gene Townes is JV coach
Boys ice hockey
Needham visited to scrimmage with the Martha's Vineyard varsity last weekend and managed to shut down the Vineyard offense. But the Islanders skated well enough with the Rockets, especially Friday evening when Needham managed only one goal.
Needham plays in a strong league and last year won 16, lost three, and tied one to claim first place in Division one South.
The Vineyard's season opener is here this Saturday with visiting Whitman-Hanson. The JVs face off at 4:50 pm. The puck will drop for the varsity at 6 pm. Quincy visits one week later.
This is a veteran Vineyard varsity squad loaded with juniors but including four sophomores and even one freshman. Head coach Matt Mincone, beginning his tenth year as coach, seventh as head coach, is "cautiously optimistic" and eager to start the season.
Matt is ably assisted by John Fiorito. Brian McGroarty and Bruce Mahaffey coach the JVs.
Last year's boys basketball team qualified for the MIAA Division 3 South tournament with a 12th seed and upset the fifth-seeded Greater New Bedford team in the Whaling City before bowing to Norwell, which was good enough to make it to the finals.
Five players on that Martha's Vineyard team graduated: Terrell Johnson, Jacob Vanderhoop, Tim McHugh, Ben Post, and Ben Madeiras, leaving some sizable shoes to be filled. The Islanders participated in a 16-team scrimmage at Windsor, Conn., over the weekend moving Head Coach Mike Joyce to observe, "We have some work to do."
Coach Joyce will carry a roster of 17 players and open away at Sandwich on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The first home game will be Saturday, Dec. 15, with the Tahanto Regional Stags from Boylston.
Jason O'Donnell coaches the junior varsity. Sam Berlow is coach of the freshman team.
"I'm very excited," Coach Lisa Stewart told The Times. "We have a young group and we are very fast." There are three freshmen and two sophomores to go with the four juniors and two seniors on the eleven-woman roster. Lauren Gibson, Julie Perry, and Erin Morris are expected to give the team board strength and Kia Minor is considered able to go one on one with any hot hand that may surface.
One fly in the ointment is the injury that will sideline Alexia Schroeder for an unknown duration.
The team scrimmages this weekend at Norwell and plays its first game here with Sandwich, Tuesday, at 5:30 pm following the 4 pm junior varsity game.
Justine Shemeth is coach of the jayvees and Chris Fischer will assist Coach Stewart. Lynne Silvia and Maureen Hill will also assist. There is no freshman team this year.
Last year's girls varsity won 10 of its 23 games.
Tisbury slipped into first place in the Interscholastic Coed Volleyball League standings with a narrow 3-2 win at Oak Bluffs, Monday, improving to 4-1 on the season at the same time that Edgartown was losing its close match with West Tisbury.
At Oak Bluffs, the home squad Blazers took game one, 25-14. Tisbury had trouble returning the overhand driving serves of Kevin Galligan.
But the Tigers responded in game two, 25-17. With Christine Janek on the line, Tisbury posted eight points to take a 17-4 lead.
Oak Bluffs won game three, 25-14. Delmar Araujo opened the contest with a seven-point service, and when his turn came round again he served up six more, bringing his team to the brink of victory at 23-12.
Tisbury evened the count again with a 25-18 win. Ryan Fisher and Nelson Dickson served up seven and five points respectively.
According to the peculiar and arcane rules of the game, the fifth and rubber contest would be a 15-point affair, rather than 25. But still the winner must have at least a two-point lead.
After Maggie Johnson finished her six-point service the Tigers enjoyed a four-point edge, 9-5. But Kevin Galligan's fastballs were for the most part unreturnable and when he finally lost his serve, the Blazers were up 14-10, needing a single spike to win the day.
Instead, with Ryan Fisher on the line, Tisbury collected six points in a row to claim the game, 16-14, and the match and the league lead.