Gloucester: 2019 Softball
Season accolades: Division 2 Eastern Mass. champs... Division 2 North champs... Northeastern Conference North champs... Most wins in program history... NEC MVP Sydney McKay... NEC Coach of the Year John Nicastro.
The skinny: Head coach John Nicastro and company not only put together the greatest season in Gloucester softball history this past spring, they put together the most successful season in GHS girls sports history, becoming the first MIAA girls sports team to reach the state finals. The Fishermen were simply dominant in every facet of the game with an elite starting pitcher, incredible defense at every position and a relentless batting order that could swing the bat and use their speed to beat teams with small ball. The team finished up the regular season at 17-3, good for a second straight NEC title and the No. 2 seed in Division 2 North. From there, the Fishermen ran a gauntlet of elite opponents, starting with a 1-0 win over NEC rival, and conference runner-up, Danvers in the sectional quarterfinals. Gloucester reached the Division 2 North Finals with an 8-0 win over Whittier Tech and clinched the program's first ever sectional championship with a 14-6 win over Triton in extra innings. Gloucester followed that up with a dramatic, 3-2 win over Norton in the Division 2 State Semifinals before dropping a 4-1 contest against Hudson in a well played state final.
On the diamond, Gloucester had All-Star caliber players all over the field. NEC North MVP and pitcher Sydney McKay led the way as she set the program's career (58) and single season (21) wins record, with an ERA hovering around two. McKay's repertoire was so deep that hitters had no idea what was coming next. Senior outfielder Tracy Wood and senior catcher Liz Schuster were All Conference selections as both were important run producers in the middle of the lineup and defensive standouts. Senior outfielder Jemima Grow was an All-Star performer as she was as consistent as it gets defensively and a reliable offensive player with a lot of speed. Junior Maddie Machado was a conference All-Star after a breakout season at the plate that saw her lead the team in hitting during the postseason. Sophomore shortstop Ella Marshall was also a conference All-Star and a highly important two way player that consistently got on base at the top of the lineup and was incredibly reliable at a position that saw a lot of action.
Rockport: 2012 Boys Soccer
Season accolades: Cape Ann League Small champs... Division 3 North Semifinalists... CAL Small Player of the Year Conor Douglass... CAL Small Coach of the Year Dave Curley.
The skinny: In 2012 head coach Dave Curley and company were in the midst of an incredible stretch, and this was just another team in a long line of serious postseason contenders. The Vikings not only won the Cape Ann League Small Division, they won it going away by taking on all comers en route to a 12-4-2 record in the regular season. A balanced squad with standout players at every layer of the field, the Vikings earned the No. 5 seed in a stacked Division 3 North bracket and picked up a pair of wins over top notch competition. The team faced a tough draw as No. 12 North Reading of the CAL Large visited Rockport in the quarters, and the CAL Small champs came away with a hard fought, 1-0 win. That led to a trip to Lynn against an always talented St. Mary's team, and another 1-0 victory. The team's run came to an end in the Division 3 North Semifinals, where they reached for the fourth season in a row, 2-0 to eventual sectional and Eastern Mass. champion Weston, a team that Rockport had a serious tournament rivalry with early in the decade.
On the field, the Vikings were led by CAL Small Player of the Year Conor Douglass, the team's leading scorer and most talented play maker. Douglass was also a clutch performer as he scored the team's lone goal in the aforementioned quarterfinal win over St. Mary's. Rockport also played outstanding defense, led by a pair of seniors in Tucker Meredith and Matt Rostkowski. Both backs were elite in the CAL and were All-Star selections. Meredith could also help out on the offensive side of the field as he was the team's goal scorer in the quarters against North Reading. Junior Shaun Aspesi, who would go on to be the CAL Small Player of the Year the following season, was also a league All-Star for his work in the midfield. Senior Eric Littlefield was also a standout in goal, particularly in the postseason where he recorded back-to-back shutouts including a 10-save performance in the win over North Reading.
Manchester Essex: 2013 Girls Tennis
Season accolades: Division 3 State champs... Cape Ann League champs... CAL Player of the Year Brittany Collens.
The skinny: Since the MIAA expanded to three divisions in 2011, the Hornets have been the most dominant program as 2013 was the second of three state titles in that time frame and the team's only undefeated season of the decade. Head coach Phil Logsdon had a star studded lineup that was talented from top to bottom and just too much for most opponents to handle, both in the CAL and in the state tournament. The Hornets were challenged in the postseason but came away with a win in all five matches. After taking care of Notre Dame in the quarters, the team had one of its most challenging matches in the sectional semifinals, squeaking past a tough Bedford squad, 3-2. The Hornets shut out Weston in the Division 3 North Finals and then had another major test in the Eastern Mass. Finals against South Sectional champ Cohasset. In another nail-biter, the Hornets were able to pull out a hard fought, 3-2 win. In the state finals, Manchester Essex rolled over Monument Mountain, 5-0 in a match that lasted about 30 minutes.
On the court, the Hornets were led by CAL Player of the Year Brittany Collens at the top of the lineup. Collens, who went on to play collegiately at UMass, lost only one individual match all season while taking on the opponent's top player at No. 1 singles. No. 2 singles player Michelle Fuca, who played college tennis at Division 1 Skidmore, was undefeated on the season at the top No. 2 singles player in the CAL. Kendall McCormick played No. 3 singles and was also a first team All CAL selection while the No. 1 doubles tandem of senior Rachel Daley and seventh grader Chanel Bullock were also All League selections. Daley and Bullock scored the match clinching point in the semifinal win over Cohasset. Molly Carlson and Maura McCormick round out the team's starting lineup at No. 2 doubles, they scored the state championship clinching point.