SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 30, 2013

Jean DePlacido column: Gambale sisters found success at Merrimack, Suffolk

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — Former Swampscott High star athletes Marissa and Lisa Gambale have gone on to excel in the classroom and on the soccer field at Merrimack College and Suffolk University respectively.

Marissa, a 2009 Big Blue graduate, was highly recruited and wound up accepting a four-year scholarship to play for the Warriors, a D-2 perennially top 15 nationally ranked team. She is a double major in math and education with a 3.4 GPA.

“I want to be a high school math teacher and hope to coach soccer, basketball, and softball since I can’t play anymore,” said Gambale, who is currently doing her student-teaching in Reading.

The Warriors posted an 11-8-1 record last fall and went to the NE-10 Conference tournament for the 28th consecutive time under veteran coach Gabe Mejail. Merrimack advanced to the semifinal round before losing.

Gambale had more than her share of injuries during her college career. She missed her entire sophomore year and part of the junior season with stress fractures.

“That was frustrating because I wanted to get back out there as soon as possible,” said Gambale. “You can’t rush though because the only thing that works is rest. I love Merrimack, but the four years seemed to fly by. It’s hard to see my athletic career end after so many years.”

Her younger sister Lisa, a 2011 Swampscott grad, has started on defense for the Rams the past two seasons. She is one of the team leaders in minutes played, and the team has reached the GNAC playoffs both years. Gambale carries a 3.2 GPA and very active in school life. She was recognized by the National Residence Hall Honorary with the “Of the Month”award for outstanding contributions to making residence hall living a positive experience and was also nominated by the Suffolk Student Government Association for Outstanding Sophomore of the Year.

“We’ve had two pretty successful seasons,” said the business school major. We should be strong again next season because we only lost one girl. Basically, the whole team is back. I love it here and have learned to budget my time. It’s so much easier for me to get involved in other things during our off season when I have a lot more time.”

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At first Steph Ciampa was upset after her Mercyhurst hockey team lost to BU in the Frozen Four semifinals in Minneapolis last weekend. But once she had time to reflect on the outstanding season, the senior goalie from Peabody realized how special it had been.

“I was mad when it was over (4-1 loss),” Ciampa admitted. “I thought about all the ways we could have played better, but after a couple of days I realized what a great run we had. That was such a nice way to end my career, especially after waiting three years to get the opportunity to start.

“It was really cool to be there, and the setup was very nice. Our team was so anxious and nervous when we got there. When you go to the banquet you start to realize these are the only four teams left in the entire country in Division 1; you realize how special it is to be one of them. The University of Minnesota has great facilities. The women even have their own rink right next to the men’s rink. Everything was done first class, and the crowds were big. They had sellouts (3,400) for games when Minnesota played.”

BU scored just 13 seconds into the game on a deflection off a Laker defenseman. The Lakers never recovered and saw an eight-game win streak end. Unbeaten Minnesota, the highest scoring team in the country, kept its unbeaten streak intact by winning the national championship. The Golden Gophers won an NCAA record 49 straight games, a streak that was started last year, and had a perfect 41-0-0 record this season. Mercyhurst ended with a 29-7-1 record, and Ciampa was an impressive 25-2-0.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com