Some unlikely, and for a couple of teams, fun tourney twists and turns
You never know in high school sports, do you?
Who would have thought that all the area’s softball teams, especially previously unbeaten Milford in Division II and Campbell in Divsion III would be all done?
And, in girls lacrosse, that Hollis Brookline would get past Winnacunnet in the Division II semifinals after the Warriors pounded them 19-3 in mid-May? Or that Bishop Guertin, which was 4-3 after losing to Souhegan back on April 24, would be in the Division I finals and not Souhegan, which hadn’t lost to an in-state team until bowing to Bedford in the semis?
But that’s where things stand as we enter into the third week of the post season. On Tuesday, the No. 4 Cavaliers (13-4) will face No. 2 Portsmouth (17-3) in the Division II finals at 5 p.m. at Manchester Memorial. Where there are hardly ever any surprises, Divsion I boys lacrosse, No. 1 Bishop Guertin (17-0) will square off against No. 5 Londonderry (12-6) in the semifinals at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium at 7:15 p.m.
And, also Tuesday, the NHIAA boys volleyball quarterfinals take place with two locals in action. Hollis Brookline (12-4, No. 3) will host Goffstown (10-6) in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Bishop Guertin, seeded seventh at 10-6, will face No. 2 Pinkerton (14-3), also at 6.
And let’s not forget the individual NHIAA singles and doubles tennis tourneys. At 3 p.m. Tuesday at Derryfield School, Souhegan’s top-seeded, unbeaten Matt Lapsley goes for the title, first in the semis against Pinkerton’s Seb Tonini. The Bishop Guertin girls have not one but two in the semis, as No. 4 seed Claire Reynolds takes on Bedford’s Carley Citron in a rematch of last week’s team finals; BG’s Amy Maalouf takes on top seeded Sydney Herrington of Bishop Brady in the other semi.
On Wednesday, the No. 4 Guertin girls lacrosse team (14-5) goes for the title against No. 3 Bedford (16-3) at 7 p.m. at Manchester Memorial. Also, there is just one lone baseball team left, and it’s No. 3 Wilton-Lyndeborough (16-2), who will go up against No. 2 Littleton (16-2) on Wednesday at Laconia’s Robbie Mills Park at 4 p.m.
On Thursday, besides the boys volleyball semis at Nashua North, Lapsley and doubles partner Sam Goddard, seeded second, will vie for the boys doubles crown at 3 p.m. at Derryfield in the semis and possibly the finals. So will Reynolds/Maalouf with the girls semis and finals set for 3 p.m. as well, also at Derryfield.
Here’s a look:
The Cavaliers did not face Portsmouth during the regular season, but they have won thing in common: They’ve both beaten Winnacunnet, although the Clippers’ victory was a 9-7 game during the regular season. Portsmouth also lost to powerful Souhegan just 9-8 in another regular season game.
The Cavaliers have had a lot of depth this season and will rely on goalie Olivia Valentine to play like she did in the semis, when she had 10 saves. The key will be the draws, which leads to the play of CeCe Fetter. She scored early in the semis but in the quarterfinal win over Windham she had a game to remember with six goals, one assist and, most important, six draw controls.
In Division I, Bishop Guertin has won 10 of 12 since it was 4-3 after an overtime loss to the Sabers back on April 24. The only in-state loss since then? You guessed it, the Bedford Bulldogs, in a tight 11-10 game back on May 12.
“We just came together as a team and did some great team building activities and focused on the things we needed to improve on,” Cards coach Kerry Gobiel said. “You learn so much from a loss that it’s important to use it as a teaching tool.”
Emily Santom and Kayli Keenan have been the Cards’ leading scorers.
In the Bedford regular season game, the Cards trailed 5-2 at the half, closed to within 6-5 on two Claire Donovan goals with 21 minutes left, and the Bulldogs hung on.
“Bedford’s a great team with talented players and coaching staff,” Gobiel said. “We need to win the draw and play our game.”
The Cardinals appeared to be at their deepest and best in the quarters against Hanover, with plenty of scoring, not needed a lot of goals from arguably the state’s best player, Brian Cameron.
In a 15-6 win over the Lancers back on May 2, the Cards led 13-2 at the half. Cameron had three goals and five assists while Drew Hailey also had three goals. It would be a shock if the Cards don’t cruise to the finals and once again face arch rival Pinkerton, who tangles with Exeter in the other semi at 5.
The Warriors clearly belong in the semis, as they’ve played solid baseball all season long. Jake Levert has led them most of the year with his hitting, but on the mound it’s all about the Brennan trio. Sean Brennan went the distance in the quarters, it’s possible the Warriors will turn to brother Neal Brennan, who allowed just one run on four hits in a 13-3 prelim win over Epping. He went 6-2 on the season, and was only needed for four innings in that one. Look for Sean Brennan in relief, “if I need him,” Warriors coach Dave Finch said, adding that the third Brennan – Troy – can close things out after going 2-0 on the year.
“We respect (Littleton),” Finch added, “and know it’s going to be tough. But we’re ready to put it all out there.”
Remember how well the tandem of Matt Simco and Jonathan Brackett worked (along with others) for the Cavaliers in basketball? Word was the deal was that Brackett would come out for hoop if Simco did the same for volleyball. It worked with a title in hoop, can it happen here?
Keep this in mind: Both Hollis and BG are two of the hottest teams going in. Ironically, the Cavaliers were 4-4 after a 3-1 loss at Goffstown back on May 4. They’ve won eight straight since.
And the Cards? They were languishing at 2-6,including a 3-1 loss to Pinkerton before they – get this – beat the Cavaliers on the road back on May 2. They also finished with eight in a row, unbeaten in May. They’ve been paced offensively by Jack Wizboski and Connor Ogorchock and defensively by Nate Newton.
If both teams can win tonight, well, it would set up an all-local semifinal matchup at North’s Titan Gym on Thursday at 5.
BOYS AND GIRLS TENNIS
Lapsley’s goal has always been the triple crown (team, singles and doubles titles), and he has won. To get the other he’ll have to beat Tonini, the third seed, and likely the second seed, Bedford’s Rohit Yerram. In doubles, he and Goddard, still unbeaten, face fourth-seeded Tonini and John Marineau on Thursday. The top seed and likely biggest hurdle is the Bedford tandem of Yerram/Jason Boucher.
Maalouf has done a great job for the Cards to get to the semis, whereas Reynolds was expected to get this far and will meet up with Citron, who has beaten her twice – 8-4 just last week in the team finals. Ah, but could she and Maalouf gain revenge in the doubles semis? They beat Citron and Caroline Herz 8-1 in last week’s team match. The top seed is Bishop Brady’s duo of Sydney Herrington and Rachel Achong.