By Nick Curcuru
---- — As we approach the middle of the fall sports season on Cape Ann teams begin to find an identity, get into a rhythm and give us a good indication of exactly what they are made of.
Over the last week plus the Gloucester and Rockport field hockey teams have found its niche, playing its best field hockey of the season and playing right back into the state tournament race after slow starts.
Gloucester has won three of its last four games and its record stands at 4-4 with eight games remaining on the schedule.
The Lady Fishermen have relied on a balanced attack outscoring the opponent 12-4 over the last four contests including wins over Peabody, Revere and Salem. Head coach Lauren Riley has found her rotation of players with Liv Legendre, Kayla Nasser, Taylor Sargent and Sabrina Cottone stepping up and forming a dangerous offensive core.
Jill MacDonald has moved into the midfield and given the team a spark on both ends of the field, while Julia Lamoureaux and Kate Morrissey have been stellar on the defensive end all year.
Gloucester needs eight points out of its final eight games and big games against Marblehead, Swampscott, Salem and Peabody are just a few of the team’s important games heading into the season’s stretch run.
The Lady Fishermen have already taken a big step up this season and that step has put them in line for an exciting finish.
Next door in Rockport, the Vikings have also come into their own, posting a 3-1-1 record over their last five games improving to 5-5-1 in the process.
The young Vikings have had some players emerge including Rushy Sweet on the offensive end, who has scored a goal in four of the last five games giving the team a formidable go-to scoring option.
Shelby Battistelli, Heather MacArthur, Jess Collins and Eliza Ottenheimer have also come together to form a defensive unit that has turned into a big strength for the team.
The Vikings need seven points over their final seven games and the schedule is extremely difficult with Manchester Essex, Ipswich and Masconomet on the slate. But the team has already proven that it can hang with just about anybody the Cape Ann League has to offer.
Rockport’s Shaun Aspesi was the team’s leading returning scorer coming into the year after finishing in the top five in the Cape Ann League in scoring as a junior in 2012.
As a senior, Aspesi has picked up right where he left off last fall as one of the most prolific scorers in a deep league. Through nine games Asepsi has scored nine goals and chipped in five assists for the 6-2-1 Vikings, who appear to be well on their way to another postseason berth and will be in the mix for the CAL Small title.
Defenses have to be aware of Aspesi at all teams, and even with the extra attention he has still managed to find the back of the net on a nightly basis.
In a preview of the All State cross country meet coming later this fall, the Manchester Essex girls cross country team proved that it will be a player at the state level with a strong showing last weekend at the Frank Kelley Bay State Invitational in Wrentham.
In last Saturday’s race, junior Olivia Lantz, who already has two Division 4 state indoor mile titles, blew away the field with a first place finish and a time of 18:38, 35 seconds ahead of the next competitor.
Having a dominant runner at the top of the lineup like Lantz is a huge luxury for the Hornets, but the performances of Fiona Davis and Maura McCormick in the next two spots gives them a dangerous trio at the top of the lineup. Davis medaled with a top 25 finish while McCormick finished in the top 50.
At meet’s end, the Hornets trio powered the team to a fifth place finish out of 27 girls teams competing in the meet.