We are just past the half way point of the fall sports season on Cape Ann and the state tournament picture for teams from Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester Essex are looking a bit more clear with just a few more weeks to go in the regular season.
Here’s a look at the some of the teams who look to be postseason bound, and those who will have to claw their way in over the final weeks of the regular season.`
Rockport Boys Soccer: At 7-4-1 the Vikings need just three points over their final six games to qualify for the postseason once again. While Rockport’s schedule the rest of the way is anything but easy, it has proven time and time again this fall that it can beat good teams and hang with anybody on its schedule. Rockport’s biggest game of the regular season comes on Monday when Georgetown pays a visit (6 p.m.). First place in the Cape Ann League Small is on the line.
Manchester Essex Field Hockey: When it comes to the Hornets field hockey program, it’s never a matter of if they will make the postseason, it’s a matter of how far they will go. Like the better part of the last decade, Manchester Essex once again looks well equipped to make a run at the sectional title. At 10-0-2 the Hornets have already clinched a state tournament berth and look to be one of the top seeds in the Division 2 North Section.
Gloucester Football: Considering the No. 8 seed in Division 3 Northeast has a record of 0-4, the 3-2 Fishermen have all but wrapped up a spot in the postseason. Gloucester, however, is still looking to improve its seeding in the division and has a chance at a first round home game if it takes care of Lynn English and Swampscott over the next two weeks. The Fishermen will be playing football in the postseason, and last week’s 35-33 loss at the hands of Marblehead proved that they can play with the best the division has to offer.
Fighting to the finish
Gloucester Boys Soccer: At 5-3-3 the Fishermen have put themselves in a good spot with six games remaining on the schedule taking care of business against the teams it should beat and stepping up their game against the toughest teams on their schedule.
Still, Gloucester has some work to do and the schedule is anything but light down the stretch. Needing three more points to qualify, Gloucester still has to play the entire Northeastern Conference Small again and can not afford an off night. The Fishermen are already battle tested and expect them to do more than enough to qualify for the postseason.
Manchester Essex Football: At 2-2, the Hornets playoff prospects will depend on its final three games against Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich and Amesbury respectively. Division 5 North is fairly deep with 14 teams, and Manchester Essex will probably need two wins over its final three games to qualify. The Hornets final three opponents are all evenly matched, it will come down to execution.
Rockport Field Hockey: The 5-6-2 Vikings need six points over their last five games to qualify for the tournament and still have the iron of the CAL Small in Manchester Essex, Lynnfield and Ipswich to go. Rockport will need to avenge an early season loss to qualify and is currently playing its best field hockey of the season.
Gloucester Field Hockey: The team has a lot of work to do at 4-7, but the schedule softens up a bit in the second half as there are plenty of winnable games on the slate. Like Rockport, Gloucester will also have to beat a team or two that it lost to the first time around to qualify for the tournament.
Manchester Essex Boys Soccer: With a record of 4-6-2 and a meeting with Masco still on the schedule the Hornets face an uphill climb. But this is the team who went 3-0-1 over the final week of the season last fall to get into the tournament, a similar run is needed this year.
The is a ton of individual talent to go around this fall along with the superb teams in Cape Ann.
Gloucester football’s Jordan Pallazola has emerged as a legitimate feature back this fall with 709 yards and 10 touchdowns through just five games this season. He is on pace to compiled well over 1,000 yards rushing which would make him the first Gloucester back since Jordan Shairs in 2010 to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark.
Gloucester boys soccer’s Calvin Kipruto has emerged as one of the most dangerous offensive players in the Northeastern Conference as has given the Fishermen an element they haven’t had in a few years.
Speaking of boys soccer, Rockport’s Shaun Aspesi has handled all the extra attention given to a star player on the soccer field as he has scored 11 goals this season, amongst the best in the Cape Ann League.
In field hockey the trio of Brittany Smith, Anna Heffernan and Taylor Meek are once again leading the Manchester Essex field hockey team to the top of the Cape Ann League Small.
On the cross country circuit Everest Crawford and Willy Pierce have given Gloucester a formidable one-two punch, Olivia Lantz and Fiona Davis have already been players at the state level for the Manchester Essex girls while Cameron Holley, Nathan Evans, Spencer Feuerbach have led the Manchester Essex boys, who also figure to be a player at the state level.
On the links Curtis Quinn has followed up his NEC Small MVP performance from 2012 nicely for Gloucester while Ben Bichet has once again led Manchester Essex to the top of the Cape Ann League.