By Nick Curcuru
---- — Of all high school sports team playing on Cape Ann, none made a bigger statement over the last week than the Gloucester boys soccer team.
Armando Marnoto’s squad entered the season with high hopes but as a bit of a wild card in the deep Northeastern Conference Small. But with a pair of stellar performances over the last week the Fishermen showed that they will be in the conference race for the long haul, as they currently sit atop the conference with a 3-1-1 record, two points ahead of 2-0-1 Danvers.
Gloucester’s picked up an impressive 3-2 win last Thursday over an always formidable Marblehead team in the home opener at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium.
Second half goals from Calvin Kipruto and Ryan Belanger led to the win.
The Fishermen came back on Monday at Danvers, where the Falcons rarely lose, and put forth another strong second half effort earning a 1-1 tie. The Falcons usually sits atop the Northeastern Conference Small, and getting a point out of them on the road is a big statement to the rest of the league.
The Fishermen have also found their identity as a team as a 3-5-2 scheme has suited them best. Striker Dan Carpenter has emerged as an extremely dangerous player while midfielders Kipruto and Kevin Rogers have also generated several scoring opportunities.
The defensive trio of seniors Alex Dahlmer, Anthony Taormina and Stephen Gross have also formed a formidable unit on the back end.
Gloucester now begins a difficult slate of games against the Northeastern Conference Large starting with Beverly on the road Friday (4 p.m.).
An early candidate for breakout athlete of the fall season is Gloucester boys cross country’s Willy Pierce.
The junior is off to an outstanding start for the 1-2 Fishermen taking home first place in each of their last two meets against Marblehead and Revere. Pierce along with fellow juniors Everest Crawford and Matt Ciaramitaro give Gloucester a dangerous trio at the top of the lineup.
Manchester Essex field hockey captains Brittany Smith and Anna Heffernan have had huge weeks in the goal scoring department. In dominant wins over North Andover (4-1) and North Reading (5-0) the captains, who were each Cape Ann League All Stars in 2012, combined to score eight of the team’s nine goals. Smith chipped in five goals while Heffernan scored three in the impressive two game stretch for the now 6-0-1 Hornets.
Gloucester and Rockport’s field hockey teams picked up a clutch win a piece this week to stay within striking distance of the always important .500 mark.
Gloucester topped Salem 5-1 getting three points from Taylor Sargent, Sabrina Cottone and Kayla Nasser while moving to 2-3. Rockport topped Saugus 1-0 on a goal from Rushy Sweet to move to 3-4.
With both teams playing in tough leagues, wins over middling opponents are a must and both the Fishermen and Vikings took care of business.
The Gloucester girls soccer team continues to make big improvements.
The Fishermen are mostly young and inexperienced across the roster but they have taken a step in the right direction with each game.
Head coach Ali Walsh’s squad turned in its best performance of the season on Saturday against a good Wakefield team earning a scoreless draw with goalie Sabrina Maciel picking up her second shutout of the season. Gloucester is still looking for its first win and continues to claw closer and closer with each game.
The Manchester Essex golf team won all three of its matches over the last week and is in first place in the Cape Ann League Small.
The Hornets have broken the 150 point mark in every match this season and turned in a season high 175 points against Lynnfield on Tuesday. In the win over Lynnfield Ben Bichet, Mike Fuca and Petey Morton each scored in the 30’s. Manchester Essex figures to be a player on the state level once again this season.