GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 19, 2013

Wrapping up an action packed spring sports season

By Conor Walsh
Correspondent

---- — Prior to the spring season, it looked as though the spring might be the season where Cape Ann’s high school sports got themselves back on the winning side of things. They didn’t disappoint. So as we say goodbye to the 2012-2013 school year and bid farewell to the seniors who have played their last games for the area’s three schools, let’s look back at the seven moments of the spring that will stick with us.

GLOUCESTER GIRLS RESURGENCE

For the girls tennis and girls lacrosse teams from Gloucester, this season looked to be the one to finally put them back on the right side of things.

Each team had struggled through a rebuilding process over the past few seasons, but both lacrosse coach Amanda Levie and girls tennis coaches Lynne Salah and Mary Ann DeLouise felt that this might be the year they break through.

Neither team disappointed. The Fishermen tennis squad qualified for the Division 2 North State Tournament with a 10-6 regular season, and while they ultimately fell, 4-1, to a strong North Andover team in the first round, Gloucester put itself back on the map.

And while Levie’s squad just missed out on a tournament berth, it was still very much a step in the right direction for the Fishermen girls lacrosse team. They finished at 5-9 in a strong NEC, and were a win over Salem in the season finale away from earning a share of the NEC South crown and earning an automatic berth to the tourney.

ROCKPORT BASEBALL SURGES TO PLAYOFFS

The Vikings entered this season with high expectations. With a veteran-laden lineup returning from a tournament team last season, Rockport was looking to take the next step and battle with CAL Small powers like Georgetown.

That didn’t quite happen, as Rockport struggled to put it all together during the regular season and entered Memorial Day Weekend’s Memorial Day Holiday Classic at 6-11 and in need of a another Division 4 win to reach the tournament via the Sullivan Rule.

They did just that, winning the tournament they hosted with a 6-2 victory over Manchester Essex to qualify for the Division 4 North tournament. The Vikings ultimately fell to top-seeded Boston International in the North quarterfinals, a disappointing end to the year considering the preseason expectations. They did, however, get it done when it needed to be done and found their way to the tournament.

HORNETS BOYS TENNIS DOMINATES CAPE ANN LEAGUE

The tennis coming out of Manchester Essex this spring was really something to marvel. Ultimately, the girls stole the show with a Division 3 state title, but that shouldn’t take away from what their male counterparts were able to accomplish.

The Hornets dominated the regular season, going a perfect 15-0 and winning the CAL Small while knocking off non-league powers like Marblehead and Chelmsford.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, a tough draw in the Division 3 tournament ended their season earlier than most envisioned. The top-seeded Hornets ended up facing Bedford, another traditional Division 3 power, in the First Round, and that matchup ultimately ended the Hornets’ year with a 4-1 loss.

But a disappointing end doesn’t cancel out an incredible season, and the Hornets’ perfect regular season won’t be topped easily.

GLOUCESTER BASEBALL OWNS FIRST HALF

If the expectations for the Rockport baseball team were high coming into this season, they were off the charts for the Gloucester baseball team.

Similar to the Vikings, things didn’t work out the way the Fishermen would have liked as their powerhouse offense was no-hit against Arlington in the Division 2 North First Round.

The start that the Fishermen got out to, though, was really something special. Gloucester was deep from top-to-bottom both on the mound and at the dish, and the Fishermen showed it early on.

A key win on May 1 over NEC rival Beverly finished off the Fishermen’s first half of the year at 7-3 and they appeared to be very much in the discussion for Division 2 North frontrunners.

In the end, it didn’t work out that way. Gloucester’s bats went cold down the stretch and their depth seemed to wear thin, and the season ended earlier than it looked like it was going to.

But that first half made it clear how good this team was and how, had the chips fallen differently, things might have been much different.

HORNETS GIRLS LAX PROVES IT BELONGS

The Manchester Essex girls lacrosse team somehow managed to fly under the radar on the statewide scale during the regular season.

Once the Division 2 North tournament rolled around, though, the competition learned quickly just how dangerous the Hornets were.

After a 14-2 regular season, a share of the CAL Small crown, and some huge regular season wins over the likes of Ipswich and Newburyport, the Hornets kept the ball rolling as the No. 4 seed in Division 2 North.

It started with the Hornets putting a beat-down on Shawsheen in a 17-3 first round victory. The team chased that with a bit of revenge, knocking out Ipswich – the team that eliminated the Hornets last season and the team the Hornets shared the conference title with – in a 12-10 barnburner in the quarterfinals.

And while their season ultimately ended in the Division 2 North semifinals against top-seeded and always lethal Winchester, the Hornets emphatically declared that they belong. They played the Sachems tight through the first half before seeing the game slip away late against the eventual North champions, but the 12-6 final was far from indicative of the play on the field.

The even better news? The Hornets return the majority of their team next season. This spring, they arrived. Next spring, they’ll certainly be looking to improve on that.

HORNETS GIRLS TENNIS GRABS SECOND STATE TITLE IN THREE YEARS

There’s not much to be said about the Manchester Essex girls tennis team this season.

The numbers speak for themselves.

An undefeated regular season in which the team dropped just four matches. A tightly-contested 3-2 win over a powerful Bedford team in the Division 3 North semifinals. A Division 3 North title. Another 3-2 battle over Cohasset in a state semifinals win.

And, most importantly, a state championship – the team’s second in three seasons – with a dominant 4-1 win over Monument Mountain in the state title match.

In all, the Hornets lived up to their billing. With the return of star Brittany Collens for her senior season, the Hornets added to their already deep and talented lineup. It showed.

It really was a magical run for the Hornets, who finished their state title season at 19-0 having dropped just 10 matches on the year.

There’s not much else to say. The Hornets were simply dominant. And, really, what else do we expect from them at this point?

GLOUCESTER BOYS SET 4x400 RECORD TWICE

The Gloucester boys track team had a very solid spring highlighted by a pair of record setting performances from the 4x400m relay team. The Fishermen managed to not only set the school record twice in the same season, but did so twice in a two and a half week span.

On May 1 Jacob Holscher, Matt Carpenter, Everest Crawford and Calvin Kipruto broke the record with a time of 3:32.6 in a meet clinching dash against Swampscott in Northeastern Conference play.

Kipruto, Carpenter, Josh Rudolph and James King re-wrote the record book again on May 18 at the Northeastern Conference Championship Meet with a time of 3:31.33.