SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

March 23, 2013

Kick Saves: After big gains, have Beverly and Masco turned the corner?

Two girls hockey teams with first-year head coaches made huge progress in 2012-13, with the Beverly and Masconomet co-op programs both winning more regular season games than any other team in their respective school’s histories.

The question heading into the offseason is: how do they take the next step?

Beverly’s Brian Seabury and Masconomet’s Nicole Twomey both intend on building on their rookie seasons.

For Beverly, which went 17-3-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division 1 state tournament, beefing up the non-league schedule will be the first step.

“Looking ahead, we’ve already contacted some teams and want to get that kind of exposure,” Seabury said after his team fell in the playoffs to eventual state runner-up Arlington Catholic. “By doing that we’ll be able to get adjusted to different speeds, and that’ll help us in the long run.”

The Panthers, who draw players from both Beverly and Danvers high schools, hope that getting more high-profile games against teams that are known on the state level will help keep girls in their hometown programs.

“Our girls had a great experience this season and we’re hoping they’ll tell their friends,” said Seabury. “We’re hoping that will help us draw girls to stay at home, stay at the high school and the hometown team.

“We’re going to work to be one of the better teams in the state. That’ll take time, but getting (to the state tournament) and understanding what it takes to get here will only help us.”

For Masconomet, there could be progress just from being together for another year. The Chieftains incorporated six different schools into their co-op this season and had their biggest roster ever with 24 players, just six of them seniors.

“We’ve grown exponentially over the last two seasons,” said Twomey, who was an assistant before taking over the head job this winter. “If we keep the younger players in our program and keep them coming in, we’re hoping to stay a top-20 type of team from here on in.”

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