In November on Cape Ann, there are a few things you can count on: Thanksgiving football games (Gloucester-Danvers and Manchester Essex-Georgetown), colder weather and Manchester Essex field hockey making a deep tournament run.
With any luck, the Rockport boys' soccer team have set the wheels in motion for adding themselves to that list of certainties with their impressive postseason trip that just ended on Sunday afternoon. Head coach Dave Curley's team advanced further in the Division 3 North tournament then they ever had before in program history.
Eight seniors played their last soccer game for Rockport: midfielder Tom Catena, defender Brendan Douglass, striker Scott Noble, midfielder/striker Andreas Contreras, midfielder Ben Clarkson, fullback Ethan Clarkson, midfielder Mike Emerson and midfielder Kevin Corrigan. Douglass and Emerson were tri-captains along with junior goalkeeper Keady Segel but each of the seniors had a profound effect on the team since they helped change the culture in Rockport soccer.
After missing the tournament last season, they almost won the CAL Small this year, losing out to Lynnfield by one point but they got the ultimate revenge by beating the Pioneers in the tournament when it really mattered. Even for the smallest school in the CAL, Rockport's talent pool is not getting any shallower.
Besides Segel, the CAL Small Player of the Year that had 13 shutouts, twins AJ (a sweeper) and CJ Burnham (midfielder/striker), midfielder Shaffy Roell, midfielder/striker Cam Tibert, midfielder Andrew Visnick, defender Alex Hauck and striker Nick Laverde are just some of the experienced players that will return next season. From now on, the Vikings should expect to make the tournament after they showed that they can compete with anyone in Division 3.
Just because the Manchester Essex field hockey team is a state title contender seemingly every season doesn't mean you should take the Hornets for granted. For the third straight season, Manchester Essex made it to the Division 2 North final before losing by one goal. Even though the first two losses were in overtime, Sunday's loss to Watertown might have been the hardest to take since they led 1-0 with seven minutes left before the Red Raiders tied it up then scored the winning goal with 17 seconds remaining.
The Hornets (20-1-1) won the CAL Small for the third straight year and in the process, head coach Pam Grant won the 100th game of her career. Senior stars Amelia Cohen (the CAL Small Player of the Year) and Amelia Burke, the CAL's leading scorer were both on the All-League team and they will be missed next season. Seniors Caroline Moore, Hilary Doucette and Katie Gavin were all part of a class that has to go down as the winningest in school history.
However, Patty Wright (All-League) along with Olivia Dumont (All-Star) and Kyle Marsh (All-Star) will be the returning leaders next year with goalie Vicki Grimes. Hannah Daley, Lizzy Ball, Hannah Beardsley, Molly Frideman and Piper Browne are some other players that saw plenty of playing time and will also be back.
With strong middle school and JV programs, nobody reloads in the CAL Small like the Hornets in field hockey, meaning they'll have another formidable team next season and for the near future.
They will win a North final at some point, its just a question of when not if. They are too dominant to keep losing heartbreaking games year after year. Sooner or later a bounce will go their way.