SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 13, 2014

Lax Lowdown: Fenwick making progress under Ruocco

Lax Lowdown
Matt Jenkins

---- — From the outside, it seemed like a setback.

Leo Shidler spent a few years laying the foundation for the Bishop Fenwick boys lacrosse program, eventually taking them to the state tournament for the first time last spring. He then elected to go back to school, however, and didn’t feel he’d have enough time to continue directing the Crusaders.

What could have been a major setback to the program has turned out to be a minor speed bump. Ralph Ruocco stepped into the job and has the Crusaders aiming for another tournament berth.

“We wanted to build on last year’s successes and go back to the tournament,” Ruocco said. “But we didn’t just want to go back. They played Hanover last year and lost, and we want to go there and win a game in the tournament. So, that’s still out there.”

Fenwick is now 8-8 after yesterday’s home loss to Austin Prep; it has to find two victories in games against St. Mary’s of Lynn, Manchester Essex, Dover (NH) and Pentucket over the season’s final week-and-a-half to earn a postseason bid, but Ruocco likes his team’s chances.

The beginning of the season was a bit of an adjustment for both the coaching staff and the players. Now, Fenwick is buying in to Ruocco’s style and the results are showing, especially on defense.

Fenwick gave up 21 goals against Archbishop Williams in mid-April, but since then thave surrendered just 67 goals in the last eight games (needs to be adjusted).

Ruocco has liked the play of senior Ben Kaupp, his freshman brother, Alex Kaupp, and junior Brandon DeBerardinis on defense.

Coleman Hebert has also been good on faceoffs, but the biggest reason for Fenwick’s improvement on defense has been the emergence of Nick Finan in goal.

“Nick has been unbelievable in goal this year,” said Ruocco. “Since he didn’t play at all last year, he’s been one of the bright spots.”

Offensively, Fenwick has been led by Kyle Russell, Mark Nalesnik and Chris Napolitano. Each one has been a dangerous scoring threat, but the Crusaders may be playing without Nalesnik for some time. He is awaiting test results for mononucleosis.

“They’re waiting for blood work. That will hurt immensely if he’s out for a couple of weeks,” Ruocco said. “Then we’ll have to move Chris Carney back to attack from midfield. We moved Mark there because he was such a potent scorer. He was sick the other day and still scored four goals.”

Ruocco is pleased that the team can still achieve its goals and is happy to see the program still progressing. The numbers have been better than ever; this was the first year that Fenwick could field a full junior varsity team, and they played 15 games this spring.

“The team is getting it; they’re trusting each other and starting to play as a team,” Ruocco said. “It’s a new coach and a new philosophy and I didn’t know the strengths and weaknesses early in the year, but we realized we’re all on board for the same goal as far as getting back to the playoffs.”

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Reaching the 100-win milestone in any sport is a moment to remember for a high school coach. Typically, it’s a credit to the individual’s commitment and dedication to each team and the program in general.

It means even more than that for Bishop Fenwick’s Karen Guillemette.

Guillemette started the Fenwick girls lacrosse program eight years ago and reached triple digits in wins last week, an impressive feat for a relatively young program.

“It’s awesome. I’ve been very fortunate because we’ve had really good teams,” Guillemette said. “It means a lot because I started the program, and it’s a big accomplishment no matter what. I’ve been blessed with good teams, a lot of talent and great players. It happened quickly.”

The Crusaders have been over .500 for seven of the eight seasons and Guillemette guided the team to a 16-win season in 2011.

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The North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie boys team reached its first goal last week when it qualified for the postseason.

“This is the earliest we’ve been able to do that,” North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie coach Jeff Comeau said. “It’s nice to do that instead of trying to win a few down the stretch. They’re very proud of it — and we’re still young.”

Sophomore Dan McCormack has been a very good scorer for the Hawks this season; he’s getting plenty of scoring support from players like Ian LeFavour and Anthony Santo, among others. Junior goalie Garrett Oman has played well in the net to backbone the defense.

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Lax Lowdown, a column on North Shore high school lacrosse, runs each Tuesday during the spring sports season in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Matt Jenkins at 978-338-2648, by e-mail at mjenkins@salemnews.com, or follow him on Twitter @MattJenkins_SN.

 

 

 

 

Northeastern Conference North Standings

(Through May 11)

Team NEC Record Overall

Beverly 7-0 9-5

Marblehead 5-2 7-6

Danvers 3-3 7-6

Gloucester 1-6 4-11

Peabody 1-6 3-10

Northeastern Conference North Leading Scorers

Player, School Goals Assists Points

1. Nick Albano, Beverly 37 31 68

2. Dean Fader, Marblehead 30 7 37

2. Hunter Spencer, Beverly 23 14 37

4. Josh Fiore, Peabody 20 16 36

5. Harrison Young, Marblehead 27 7 34

6. Ian Kennedy, Gloucester 18 11 29

7. Brooks Tyrrell, Marblehead 18 10 28

8. Matt Page, Beverly 19 8 27

9. Jay Calcagno, Danvers 14 11 25

10. Ryan Wolff, Peabody 17 6 23

Northeastern Conference North Goalie Leaders

Player, School GAA Save Pct.

1. James Curley, Danvers 7.2 0.58

2. Kevin Lally, Beverly 7.9 0.62

3. Ryan Belanger, Gloucester 9 0.43

Northeastern Conference South Standings

Team NEC Record Overall

Swampscott 7-0 10-2

Salem 5-2 9-6

Revere 4-3 7-5

Winthrop 1-6 5-8

Lynn 1-7 3-10

Northeastern Conference South Leading Scorers

Player, School Goals Assists Points

1. Peter Slattery, Salem 51 19 70

2. Craig Denehy, Salem 23 14 37

3. Mat Muse, Salem 11 25 36

4. Alex Balleza, Swampscott 25 9 34

5. Brian McNitt, Revere 17 16 33

6. Griffin Hunt, Swampscott 18 14 32

7. Say Seigal, Revere 20 8 28

8. Devin Conroy, Swampscott 17 8 25

9. Jason Dignan, Swampscott 16 9 25

10. Stephen Piazza, Revere 20 4 24

Northeastern Conference South Goalie Leaders

Player, School GAA Save Pct.

1. Max Cohen, Swampscott 5.1 0.63

2. Christian Costa, Salem 6.5 0.63

3. Andrew Almedia, Winthrop 8.28 0.51