Gloucester: 2011 Girls Basketball
Season accolades: Division 2 North finalists... Deepest state tournament run for program in the decade... Highest win total for program in the decade.
The skinny: Head coach John Flanagan's final year as head coach of the Fishermen was one of his most successful teams and Gloucester girls basketball's most successful team of the decade far and away. Gloucester had high expectations from the get-go with talent and experience all over the lineup, and the team lived up to those expectations with 16 regular season wins, a win at the Spartan Classic, a prestigious February Holiday Tournament in Lynn, and three state tournament wins en route to a berth in the section finals. The Fishermen entered the postseason at 16-6 and bumped off NEC rivals Marblehead and Salem before taking on No. 1 seed Reading in the Division 2 North Semifinals. Gloucester overcame an early deficit to hand the Rockets their only loss of the season, 66-62 to earn a spot in the sectional finals, where they fell to eventual state champ Arlington Catholic.
On the floor, senior point guard Hannah Cain, one of the program's all time best players, led the way as she became the fourth girl at GHS to eclipse 1,000 career points that season. A facilitator who also made those around her better, Cain averaged 17.5 points per game an was all All Conference Selection. The team also had a pair of juniors who were All-Star performers in guard Heather Cain, Hannah's younger sister who was NEC MVP the following season, and forward Audrey Knowlton, who averaged 16 points per game and went on to score 1,000 career points later in her career. Sophomores Katie Ciaramitaro and Sophia Black rounded out Gloucester's starting lineup with Kerri Brewer playing important minutes off the bench.
Rockport: 2011 Boys Soccer
Season accolades: Division 3 North Semifinalists... Cape Ann League Small runners up...
The skinny: The Vikings had a bullseye on their backs in 2011 as Dave Curley's squad won Division 3 North the previous season. In 2011, the Vikings were right back in the contender's race in the section as they finished second in the Cape Ann League Small and then won two tournament games before bowing out in the sectional semifinals, 1-0 at the hands of Georgetown, a state finalist. After winning 12 regular season games, the Vikings earned the No. 4 seed in Division 3 North and won a pair of tournament games over tough opponents. Rockport took care of Whittier Tech, 4-2 in the first round before eliminating Boston International, 4-1 in the quarters to reach the Division 3 North Semifinals for the third season in a row, where they gave the eventual sectional and Eastern Mass. champion Royals all they could handle in a game that could have gone either way.
The Vikings were led by twin brothers C.J. Burnham and A.J. Burnham on the pitch as the two All League performers were dominant performers at striker and back respectively. C.J. led the team in scoring while A.J. was one of if not the best defender in the entire Cape Ann League. Goalie Eric Littlefield was starting for the first time and he quickly turned into one of the team's strengths. Matt Rostkowski, Caden Tibert and Conor Douglass were all standout offensive players for Rockport. Tucker Meredith and Nick Laverde were also key contributors to the team's success.
Manchester Essex: 2014 Boys Soccer
Season accolades: Division 4 North champs... Cape Ann League Baker Division runners up... Deepest tournament run in program history.
The skinny: On paper, head coach Rob Bilsbury's squad was a little unheralded entering the 2014 Division 4 North State Tournament as the No. 7 seed with a record of 7-5-6. But those who saw the Hornets play knew they were for real as they played as difficult a schedule as any team in the section and the Cape Ann League was especially deep that season with most of the blemishes coming against CAL Kinney (large) opponents. The Hornets quickly proved that they were a force to be reckoned with with victories over St. Joseph's Prep, Lowell Catholic and Mystic Valley in the first three rounds to set up a showdown in the Division 4 North Finals against top-seeded St. Mary's. In a very exciting, back-and-forth affair, it was Manchester Essex that pulled out the incredible win on penalty kicks to capture the program's first ever sectional title. The team almost made it to the state finals as well, but fell to Archbishop Williams in overtime in the Eastern Mass. Final.
Midfielder Parker Edington and striker Lucas Firme led a deep Hornets lineup as both players could score from anywhere on the field and both were named first team All CAL. Edington delivered the goal of the tournament, scoring from about 30 yards out with a blast just underneath the bar to tie up the sectional finals against St. Mary's. Midfielder George Lantz was one of the team's top playmakers and a CAL All-Star while Ollie Hull was an All-Star performer on the back line. Sophomore goalie Marco Kaper was a CAL All-Star and was especially strong in the postseason, most notably in penalty kicks against St. Mary's. Liam Crossen delivered the game winning goal in PK's to clinch the sectional final.