For athletes at the regional high school, spring began on March 17, when preseason kicked off. Never mind that the weather has been slow to follow suit — the runners took to the track, the sailors to Lagoon Pond and the pitchers to the mounds, getting in as much conditioning as possible before competitions began.
This year brings a similar challenge to most of the teams: they’re young. The lacrosse squads both have full complements of returning seniors, but some teams have no seniors at all. They’ll look to the junior class to lead the way as eyes turn towards the distant postseason: the ultimate goal.
The boys began their season Tuesday afternoon with an exciting 8-7 victory over league opponent Bishop Feehan. Senior captain Tony Canha scored the winning goal with just 18 seconds left in the game.
The skill level of the team has already exceeded expectations for the Vineyard coaches. Just under half of last year’s varsity squad returns to the field this year, making for a cohesive group of veterans and newcomers.
“The staff was pleasantly surprised after about day three—we were kind of ahead of the curve,” head coach Chris Greene said. “It allowed us to be probably a good week or so ahead of where we thought the team would be.”
The 22-man team is one of the more balanced squads Coach Greene has seen.
“I don’t have a sense that there’s any one player the kids seem to be expecting to carry the load,” he said.
Senior John Henry O’Shaughnessy joins Canha as captain. Fellow seniors Taymon Brown, Sam Burke, Lochland Chimes and Tyler Paulson are also expected to lead the charge. On the defensive end, the team has a surfeit of goalies in junior Austin Chandler, junior Cooper Wilson and sophomore Eli Lakin.
This is the second year the program has a full coaching staff, with offensive and defensive assistants as well as a goalie coach joining Coach Greene.
“We can be more flexible that way,” he said.
The Vineyarders took on league rival Bishop Feehan at home on Tuesday, falling 16-8 despite a strong first half. Feehan, the strongest opponent in the Eastern Athletic Conference, is a perpetual frustration for the Vineyard.
The girls are led this year by senior captains Isabel Smith and Charlotte McCarron. Smith, a four-year starter for the team, was an Eastern Athletic Conference all-star last season. Seniors Alex Clark, Keila Geddis, Zoe Listro, Mary Ollen, Hartley Sierputoski and Emma Yuen round out the group of seniors.
The midfield is anchored by juniors Emily DeBettencourt, Lucy Hackney, and Olivia Ogden, with returning juniors Aubrey Ashmun and Katrina Lakis, along with sophomores Lee Hayman and KC Wallace, also expected to make big contributions. Sophomore Samantha Hargy holds down the fort in goal.
Emma Caron, Belle Dinning, Molly Houghton, Shannon Morris and Sara Poggi make the move up from junior varsity for their sophomore season.
Head coach Betsy Dripps, now in her 20th season with the team, said team chemistry is outstanding this year. She expects the squad to do well this year in spite of a challenging schedule, which includes contests against Marblehead and Scituate, as well as league rivals Bishop Feehan and Bishop Stang. A group of varsity and junior varsity players will also be traveling to England over spring break to play five international games at five different schools.
Track & Field
The track squads this season feature plenty of new faces and a smattering of unknowns, as weather conditions have limited practice in the field events.
“Both the boys and girls are practically a new team,” head coach Joe Schroeder said, estimating that about two-thirds of the athletes were new arrivals.
But both squads still have a core of veterans to anchor the teams.
Senior captain Jeremy Alley-Tarter enters his final season aiming to defend his division four Massachusetts state title in the 800-metre race. Alley-Tarter looks to be in top form already, Coach Schroeder said, having competed in indoor meets over the winter.
Senior sprinters and throwers Paul Robinson and Joe Turney also captain the squad; Turney is a regular qualifier for the state meet in javelin, while Robinson will lead the way in discus. The pair are also key members of the relay teams.
The girls are led by senior captains Mariah Campbell and Katherine Dorr and junior captain Julia Neville. All three are multi-event athletes and competed in the end-of-season division four heptathlon last year.
“Besides the leadership they’re going to be provide, we’ll kind of look to them to be our top girls, at least early in the season,” Coach Schroeder said. The loss of Maggie Riseborough, a two-time New England Championships participant in the shot put, will definitely be felt, but Coach Schroeder said the team will likely be stronger in sprints and jumps this year.
“We’re trying to compete at a high level; the main goal is get as many kids to that state level as possible,” he said. “The league prepares us well for that.”
League competition begins for the teams in their first home meets on April 16, when they host Somerset Berkley.
The boys’ tennis program begins with a blank canvas this year: all but one of the starters from last year’s two-time state champion team have graduated, with a young squad of underclassmen stepping into their shoes.
The team is captained by senior Patrick McCarthy, a four-year varsity veteran and the lone returning player from last year’s team. McCarthy has played both singles and doubles in his Vineyard career, and will hold the number one spot in competition.
The team has a fair share of young guys, with six freshmen on the varsity squad. Three — Zac Danz, Max Hammond, and James Kelliher — will start at doubles, with junior Dunavon Belisle rounding out the doubles quartet.
Head coach Josh Schaan, a former high school and college tennis player who moved to the Island in October from Montana to be director of youth ministry for the Good Shepherd Parish, takes over the job from retired coach Ned Fennessy. Coach Schaan said he expects a fair amount of competition for the number two and three spots. During Wednesday’s home opener against Norton, sophomore Conor Downing will play at number two, while sophomore Anders Nelson takes number three.
“That’s exciting, to have a young guy in [those] spots,” Coach Schaan said.
Coach Schaan said he was looking forward to the season ahead — and beyond.
“The biggest thing is to look at the future,” Mr. Schaan said. “We’ll have the same team if not better for the next few years; I’m excited to see where we end up.”
The boys swept Norton High School 5-0 on Wednesday and will take on Fairhaven April 4 at 3 p.m.
Turnout for this year’s team was strong, with 18 girls now on the team.
A trio of returning juniors fill the singles courts for the the girls’ tennis team this season, with Samantha Potter in the number one spot for the third year in a row. She is joined by Josie Iadiccio at second singles and sister Charlotte Potter at third singles. All three have been with the team since they were freshmen.
“That side is very strong,” head coach Connie McHugh said. Coach McHugh said the team will also have experienced players on the doubles court in juniors Diamond Araujo and Avery Hazell.
“There’s a huge crop of freshmen and sophomores,” Coach McHugh said. Sophomores Mia Arenburg, Charlotte Hammond, Olivia Jacbos and Amadine Muniz will contend for the second doubles pairing.
The schedule this year features new opponents in Notre Dame Academy and Pope John Paul II High School, although the Vineyard will not play division one opponent Barnstable. League play begins April 9 with an away contest against Bishop Stang High School.
The sailing team kicked off its season last Saturday with a dual meet against Cape Cod Academy and Brookline, competing in cold and rainy weather to come away with a win and a loss. The Vineyard fell 3-0 to Cape Cod Academy, but took a 3-1 victory over Brookline.
Just three seniors graduated from the team, leaving a formidable core of junior sailors — head coach Andrew Burr estimates they make up eighty percent of the team — to take up the mantle.
Juniors Charlie Morano, Ellie Regan and Raz Sayre captain the squad, with Adam Bilodeau, Anna Flaherty, Eli Hanschka, Maddy Moore, Russell Shapiro and Zana Van Rooyen all returning to varsity. Boat combinations remain flexible. ”We’re always trying to find something better,” Coach Burr said.
Coach Burr said the goal this year is to contend for the Mark Trophy, the New England Schools Sailing Associations championship in team racing.
“That would be a milestone,” he said. “It’s well within our reach, so that’s what we’re shooting for.”
As with the sailing team, the baseball team has no returning seniors. Junior shortstop Mikey Mussell and junior pitcher/first baseman Tim Roberts captain the team.
Head coach Gary Simmons said the starting nine was looking particularly strong defensively. Junior Andrew Wiley will start at catcher, backed up by sophomore catcher Peter Engley. The outfield is manned by junior Jack Slayton, sophomore Silas Berlin, and sophomore centerfielder Emerson Mahoney, who missed most of last season due to an injury. Slayton will also see time at first and third base, sharing time with sophomore Jacob Cardoza at third.
Freshman Aksel Cooperrider was promoted from junior varsity to start at second base. Cooperrider will also join Roberts on the pitching staff.
“It’s going to be one of those years where players come up throughout the season,” Coach Simmons said.
Returning sophomore starter Tucker McNeely is back on the mound, with juniors Kevin Cleary and Henry Gallagher providing a stable foundation of relief pitching.
Developing the 13 freshmen and one sophomore on the junior varsity team is a priority for the program as a whole, as the young players will bolster the varsity squad throughout the season.
“All of those kids are very good players,” Coach Simmons said “It’ll take us a little time to figure out how to use them.” The team plays its first home game April 9 against Bishop Stang.
Five seniors graduated from last year’s squad, including the Vineyard’s number one and number two pitchers.
“That’s the biggest void and the biggest concern,” head coach Donald Herman said. “Pitching is 85 percent of the game.”
Senior Sarah Strem and sophomore Jessica Sonia will start on the mound this year, with freshmen Samantha Robinson and Cykka Lovett working through the junior varsity ranks.
Strem captains the team along with fellow seniors Shelby Lavin and Miranda Tokarz. Lavin can move between infield and outfield positions, while Tokarz will return to her familiar spot behind the plate. Junior Mariah Duarte moves to the outfield, while returning sophomore Emily Turney will again take up shortstop. Junior Amanda Fielding, a late-season addition to varsity last year, is also back in the lineup.
New varsity players include junior Jen Rosado and sophomores Alistair Rizza and Amber Cappelli. Freshmen Julia Bettencourt and Cana Courtney make their debuts as utility players (the team will also debut a new uniform this year thanks to help from Tim Goodman).
“The goal is still to qualify for the state tournament,” Coach Herman said. The team plays 12 non-league games in addition to its daunting league schedule — the Vineyarders are 1-39 in the formidable Eastern Athletic Conference since joining four years ago.
The Vineyarders begins their season April 3 with a 3:15 p.m. home contest against O’Bryant on Wednesday.