By Jean DePlacido
Stephanie Ciampa waited patiently for her chance to start in goal for the Mercyhurst College women’s hockey team. When that opportunity came, Ciampa seized it and has risen to the occasion.
The senior from Peabody was named November CHA (College Hockey America) Goalie of the Month.
Ciampa got off to a red hot 9-0 start with a 1.40 goals against average and .950 save percentage for the Lakers. In the final weekend of the first half of the season, they dropped their first game with Ciampa in net and wound up losing both ends of the weekend series with Robert Morris. The two close setbacks dropped Mercyhurst (14-3-2) from fourth to seventh in the Division 1 women’s college hockey polls.
In her 10 games between the pipes, Ciampa has made 185 saves and allowed only 11 goals. She was a perfect 3-0-0 in the month of November for the Erie, Penn. school, stopping 56 of the 57 shots she faced with two shutouts (she now has 4).
“It’s been a pretty good start for us,” said Ciampa, who is majoring in psychology and will do an internship in the spring. “Being named Goalie of the Month was a pretty cool honor. For the most part I’ve been alternating with another goalie (Amanda Makela) when we play back-to-back games on the weekends. It’s definitely fun to play regularly.
“It’s still early to tell how we’ll do this season because we have a lot of new players, with transfers and freshmen. We don’t have as much talent as we’ve had in some years with Olympians, so we have to figure out how to work together. Our strength is hard work in general, and there’s a lot of pieces that have to come together because we have some really big games coming up in January.”
Ciampa said the goal is the same this season as it has been in previous seasons; win as many games as possible and get into the Final Eight. Head coach Michael Sisti has turned Mercyhurst into a perennial Division 1 powerhouse.
“Last year we lost our league championship for the first time and want to get that back,” Ciampa said.
Ciampa wants to keep playing hockey after graduating and perhaps coach the sport she loves. She has worked very hard year-round to get ready for this, her final year.
“I was a goalie coach at a camp at Merrimack College last summer. It was a good experience and (Marblehead native) Cory Schneider (of the Vancouver Canucks) was there with us a couple of times. That was very cool being on the ice with him.”
Lou Cersosimo was honored by the Peabody Football Boosters at the team’s annual banquet and presented with the Robert F. Walsh Lifetime Tanner award.
Cersosimo has been the primary sportscaster for Peabody High athletics for all Peabody Access TV productions since 1980 and for the past six years has been a director on the PAT board, helping to bring quality public education and government programing to the city.
The 83-year-old served in the US Marine Corps in Korea and was the Ward 2 City Councilor for 26 years. Both his work as announcer and director for PAT are volunteer positions, and his honor is well deserved.
Hard to believe, but St. John’s Prep starting inside linebacker R. J. Pizzano of Hamilton played the final six games of the football season with a fractured tibia — and didn’t know it. He suffered the injury against Brockton in late September and had to miss the next two games, but returned to action after the Eagles’ bye week. He played the rest of the season and was a key part of the Eagles’ stifling defense, thinking all he had was a bone bruise.
After the Prep’s Super Bowl championship season ended and the weather turned colder, Pizzano realized the leg wasn’t getting any better and he visited his orthopedic surgeon, where X-rays revealed the break.
“I got clipped blindside on a punt return with two minutes left in the first Brockton game,” said Pizzano. “Anthony Bongiorno (the Prep’s two-way end) helped me walk off the field, and both the trainer and my doctor felt it was just a bone bruise. I went to physical therapy twice a week, iced it and took Advil. I tried to come back even sooner, but the coaches wouldn’t let me.
“I’ve been playing with these guys for four years and I knew we could go far this season. I didn’t want to miss out.”
Pizzano doesn’t advocate playing when hurt and said he was fortunate not to get an infection. He doesn’t know if he’ll play football in college, but if this is it for his gridiron career, the hard-hitting linebacker will have no regrets.
“I’d like to play, but it all depends on where I go to college,” he said. “The biggest thing is getting the best education I can; I plan to major in economics. If it ends with the Super Bowl victory, that’s something special I’ll remember my entire life. We had a great team, and a lot of people really stepped up to make it happen.”
Two former St. John’s Prep football players, Brian Kelly of Notre Dame and Bill O’Brien of Penn State, finished 1-2 in the voting for Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year.
Kelly (SJP Class of 1979) was the winner after guiding the unbeaten Irish to the national championship game against second-ranked Alabama next month. He played for former Prep football coach Fred Glatz, while current coach Jim O’Leary was his position coach.
O’Brien, who took over at Penn State after Joe Paterno was let go last fall, played for O’Leary, who took over as head coach when Glatz retired.
Both have maintained close ties to the school, and last spring Kelly returned for a fund raiser at his alma mater and spoke before a large crowd at Danversport Yacht Club.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.