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Local athletes sign on the dotted line for next year

Photo courtesy of Nashua Athletiecs It was a celebration at Nashua South as top state champion volleyball player Kara Kelliher (center, Greyhound shirt) signs an NLI to play volleyball next year at Assumption.

‘Tis the season.

Yes, but while it’s holiday time, it’s also the season for local high school athletes to sign National Letters of Intent to attend and play their sports for colleges and universities.

There are always a lot during the second week of November, and here is just a sampling of some of the main signings:

Nashua South had two players sign NLI’s in the last couple of weeks. Kirstin McIntire will play at Merrimack College next season, while Rileigh Bunton inked a commitment letter (not an NLI) with Southern Connecticut State and Emily Colburn is headed to Framingham State.

The Panthers haven’t had the tournament success on the field like a Bishop Guertin or even a Merrimack, but they have their share of players moving on to play at schools.

“To be able to have three more athletes heading to collegiate lacrosse is huge for our program,” said Panthers coach Ciki McIntire, who is also Kirsten’s mom. “(Kirsten) has had her heart set on playing collegiate lacrosse and she has worked extremely hard to get to this point.

“Her height and her stickwork will certainly play into her success there. … “As long as she continues to focus, work hard and imprve, she could be a very important member of (Merrimack’s) team at the next level.”

She’ll be joining Bishop Guertin’s Sophie O’Brien, who also signed with Merrimack. O’Brien is one of a handful of the two-time defending state champion Cardinals who have either committed or signed college letters.

Most prominent may be Lindsay Hult, who announcded in the last couple of weeks she will head to Holy Cross next year to play lacrosse. Hult has also been a standout in field hockey and ice hockey for the Cards. Also, teammates

Abby Ahearn signed with Stonehill and Amelia Piercy signed with Bryant Univeristy.

For Guertin girls basketball, guard-forward Addi Smith (Hudson) became the latest player to sign, as she has committed to Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn.

Baseball has also seen the last two Telegraph Players of the Year – certainly two of the area’s top players – make their previous announced commitments to Division I schools official. Souhegan’s Daniel Trzepascz will play next year at the University of Delaware and recently signed his NLI, while Brett Anderson of Bishop Guertin made his commitment to the University of Hartford over the summer official by signing his NLI as well.

Souhegan coach Tom Walker said that Delaware is a perfect fit for his standout player.

“He visited and was sold on the University of Delaware,” Walker said, “it’s campus, size and location, academics and baseball program. I’m very excited for Daniel and believe that the BlueHens will not be disappointed in their commitment to him.”

And, Walker said that Trzepacz has made the commitment to both his academics and baseball.

“Since my arrival at Souhegan, Daniel has done nothing but been a positive role model both on and off the field,” he said. “He’s dedicated himself to improve in the classroom and on the diamond.”

Another key local signing is part of the celebration of one the best teams at either Nashua North or South of recent years, the unbeaten Nashua South Division I state champion girls volleyball team. Arguably the Panthers’ best player, Kara Kelliher, signed her letter of intent to attend and play for Assumption College next year.

Hartford grabbed another local, with Milford track standout Robyn Krafft signing there as well.

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It’s basically felt like winter for the last 10 days, so it’s fitting that Monday was a big day locally as some winter sports teams were able to begin tryouts/practice, namely wrestling, swimming and bowling, as well as Division III and IV girls basketball teams.

Gymnastics and skiing can begin next Monday, Nov. 25, along with Division III and IV boys basketball teams.

Division I and II girls basketball teams can start on Monday, Dec. 2, along with boys and girls hockey and, depending on the school, indoor track.

Division I and II boys hoop teams can start practicing/having tryouts on Monday, Dec. 9.

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In connection with all of the above, let’s go over the start of winter teams with their first games/matches.

It all starts on Friday, Dec. 6, when the Campbell girls hoop team hosts Mascoma Valley while Wilton-Lyndeborough will host Newmarket. Swimming also begins on that Friday for some – not all, with locals Nashua North, South and Merrimack competing. Bowling teams will be in action the next day, Saturday, Dec. 7.

Wrestling regular season matches start for most teams on Wednesday, Dec. 11, while for boys ice hockey, most teams will open on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Games in the area include Nashua North-Souhegan hosting Bishop Brady and Bishop Guertin hosting Exeter.

BG’s girls ice hockey team opens at Westford (Mass.) Academy on Saturday, Dec. 14 while Souhegan waits until Dec. 18 vs. Concord.

Division I and II girls basketball teams, including most of the locals, will open on Friday, Dec. 13. Bishop Guertin will play a 2 p.m. opener vs. LaSalle Academy of Providence, R.I. on Saturday, Dec. 14 while Hollis Brookline and Milford are waiting until Dec. 20 to open.

Wilton-Lyndeborough in Division IV will be the first boys basketball team to play, hosting Hinsdale on Friday, Dec. 13. Campbell waits until Tuesday, Dec. 17 vs. Mascenic while Division I boys hoop starts on Friday, Dec. 20. Among games that night is an all-local matchup between Alvirne at Merrimack.

But here’s an intersting note: Some teams in Division I, including Bishop Guertin and Nashua North, will wait to play games that count until Friday, Jan. 3.

That uses the holiday tournaments, which don’t count in the standings, as an extension of the preseason – which many feel they should be.

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Crisis averted, evidently. The University of New Hampshire men’s soccer team did not get a bye, drawing a first round matchup vs. Farleigh Dickinson at Wildcat Stadium on Thursday, with the winner, according to Monday’s announced NCAA tourney schedule, traveling to face Virginia Tech in the second round on Sunday.

That means Wildcat Stadium will be clear for all three NHIAA state championship football games on Sunday as scheduled: Divison III Trinity vs. Lebanon at 11 a.m.; Divison II Hollis Brookline vs. Plymouth at 2:30 p.m., and Division I Londonderry vs. Exter at 6.

Had UNH gotten a first round bye, it would have likely hosted a second round game on Sunday, forcing one or all of Sunday’s games to be moved.

The last few years the finals have been on Saturday, but UNH hosts Maine in its regular season finale that day, so the high school games are Sunday affairs this year.