Just For Kicks
---- — Every so often a team will come along that completely dominates the regular season. This year that team is the Masconomet boys.
The Chieftains have been in the spotlight a lot over the past three seasons. In 2011, then first year head coach Dave Mitchell led his team to the Division 1 state championship game against Ludlow and last year Masco made another impressive run in the tournament.
Since tying St. John’s Prep (12-2-2) in the first game of the season, Masco has gone 15-1, with just a single loss to powerhouse Somerville. The Chieftains posted 14 shutouts in the Cape Ann League and have just two goals against them in CAL play. In their 17 regular season games, they have just five goals against them, which roughly shakes out .3 goals per game.
With yet another CAL Large title under their belts, the Chieftains have outscored their opponents 66-5. They can very well finish out the 2013 regular season undefeated in CAL play, with just three games remaining on the schedule.
Their ultimate goal, of course, is for another shot at a state title. While Masco has since moved down to Division 2 this year, they could very well see new postseason opponents, like locals Danvers and Beverly.
Masco has superb speed up top with P.J. Criscione and Stephen Pease on attack. Midfielders Jack Heintzelman and captain Adam Grammer have also contributed to the scoring surge, while Jeff Panella is strong in his role as a defensive midfielder.
For the first time in two years, Hamilton-Wenham boys qualified for the tournament with help from Aidan Prior, Russell Grigorian and keeper Henry Eagar.
The Prep won their second straight Catholic Conference title after defeating B.C. High last week. It seems that every year the Eagles have a championship caliber-team and this season is no different.
There’s also no shortage of talent on the team, as head coach Dave Crowell carries three legitimate goalies, Zach Rowell, Jared Costa and Bobby Holmes— all of which of seen time this season. The Preps second line of strikers, Patrick Foley, Peter McManus and Mike Lanza are just as capable as the top line, led by senior captain Anthony Vigliotta.
In the Northeastern Conference Small, Danvers (9-1-5) took home its fifth consecutive title. The Falcons are a completely different team from a year ago and have some young talent pulling their weight.
Marblehead (8-4-3) boys also earned themselves a spot in the Division 2 North state tourney for the second straight season.
Peabody boys have been a force in the NEC Large and are currently undefeated in conference play. The Tanners lone loss came against Somerville last week and host Beverly on Friday to wrap up the season. The Panthers (10-6-1) meanwhile posted back-to-back shutouts to begin the week and make it two straight trips to the playoffs.
Masconomet girls remain undefeated, including five ties. While the Chieftains missed out on the CAL Large crown again, their postseason should be a promising one, especially with leading scorer Kaleigh White (33 points, 25 goals, 8 assists).
They also welcomed back senior midfielder and captain Paige Pratt, who’s been sidelined for the past two weeks with a hamstring pull.
“I’d been working with our trainer to get better,” noted Pratt. “I’m definetely happy to back. It’s hard sitting on the bench at the end of the season of your senior year, but I feel great. Now I just have to get back into shape after missing the last two weeks.”
Another Division 1 North contender, Peabody, looks for its sixth straight NEC Large title— which is on line against Beverly this Friday. All-star keeper Caitlin Lodi has been involved in 11 shutouts this season for the Tanners (11-1-3), while Madison Doherty and Caroline Colbert have handled the scoring.
After an unexpected, quick departure from the tournament last year, the Tanners want to reclaim their state title from 2011.
Since its Division 1 North title from a year ago, Beverly has made the move to Div. 2. With just two games left on their schedule, the Panthers could win a share of the NEC Large title if they can defeat Revere today and then Peabody on Friday.
The one-two punch of Eve Gourdeau and Caitlin Harty can create a lot of problems for teams in the tourney. Kristen O’Connor and Casey Cook are a force in the midfield, while Diandra Crowley holds it down defensively.
Despite missing out on a playoff spot the past two years, the young Salem squad clinched a berth this season. Deema Hijleh and freshman Tayla O’Leary have contributed offensively and with keeper Ariana Gaffney injured freshman Sydney Rocheville has seen significant time in goal in the second half of the season. Danvers once again has a chance to be the NEC Small champion. The Falcons have two straight losses, but are looking to turn things around with their final two games in hopes of earning another crown.
Marblehead (10-3-2) and Swampscott (8-4-4) both earned spots in the postseason for the second consecutive year.
Since head coach Alvi Ibanez took over at Hamilton-Wenham last season, the Generals have made their presence known in the CAL. They captured the CAL Large title last year and have put up a solid 9-3-3 record thus far, with three games to play.
Ipswich’s 8-3-6 record can be deceiving. The Tigers’ seven ties last year got them all the way to the Divison 3 North final, which could very well be the case again this season.
Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.