Year in review: It was a good year for Island sports fans

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.

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

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

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.