Asked to describe his team’s effort in last Friday’s crushing 20-16 loss to the Crusaders from Cape Cod Tech/Harwich, no-nonsense Vineyarders football coach Donald Herman doesn’t have to think long for an answer.
“Soft,” he said roundly of his team’s effort in the loss that effectively eliminated the team from going to the postseason. “We were soft and we were flat. I am not happy with what is going on right now.”
Coach Herman has reason to be ornery. The Vineyarders looked like a juggernaut at the start of the season, climbing to 5-0 record and earning a high ranking in several state-wide polls. But the team has since lost its first two conference games, against Blue Hills Regional Tech and Cape Cod Tech, crushing any hope of returning to the Superbowl for the first time since 2001.
The losses are especially heartbreaking because they were games the team very easily could have — and probably should have — won quite easily. “We reached this point in the season where we just lost our focus and determination; and just like that we’re on the outside looking in,” coach Herman said.
The Vineyarders held a 14-6 lead against Cape Tech in the fourth quarter, and were poised to put the game out of reach with a 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but the score was called back on a flag for an illegal block in the back.
Cape Cod Tech had taken an early 6-0 lead in the second quarter when fullback Jeff Trabucco scored on an 8-yard run. The Vineyarders answered before halftime when quarterback Mike McCarthy hit wide-out Nick Viera in the left corner of the end zone. Zach Coutinho booted the extra point to give the Vineyarders a 7-6 lead.
The Vineyarders launched a long drive at the start of the second half that ate up most of the third quarter, capped by McCarthy’s second touchdown of the game, to Michael O’Donague, to give them a 14-6 lead.
The Crusaders came back with a sustained drive of their own, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run by Sebastian Pessini with just under 10 minutes to play. Trabucco knotted the score at 14 with a two-point conversion when he took a pitch and ran around the left side.
On the ensuing kickoff, O’Donague returned the kickoff 80 yards for what appeared to be the potential game-winning touchdown, but the run was called back on a penalty.
With less than four minutes left in the game, Jake Hollis picked off a McCarthy pass. The interception set the stage for the winning score four plays later on a 2-yard touchdown run by Pessini to give the Crusaders a 20-14 lead.
The Crusaders ran the ball out of the end zone for a safety with 16 seconds left to seal the win at 20-16.
The Vineyarders next play on Saturday at undefeated South Shore Tech, the only conference opponent to beat them last season. At the start of the season, the game against South Shore might have been viewed as perhaps the biggest game of the year.
Now, as Coach Herman described it, the game is merely a chance for his players to show their Vineyard pride.
“We’ve seen this in the past two or three years; the team has rallied after a big loss and shown their pride. They’re on the fence right now; they can roll over, or they can step it up,” coach Herman said.
The Oct. 17 home game against inter-Island rival Nantucket didn’t have the rowdy atmosphere of the earlier match up this season over on the Grey Lady — a game which featured a World Cup-like atmosphere in the stands — but a spirited home crowd did cheer the Vineyarders to a 1-0 win.
Nico Cuba scored the only goal of the game on a corner kick about 10 minutes into the second half. A stellar performance by the Vineyard midfielders and defense helped stymie the Whalers’ potent attack.
This past Monday, the Vineyarders then played to a tie against Old Rochester at home. Leandro had two goals and Cuba scored once in the tie. The Vineyarders’ record now stands at 9-1-5.
Coach Bob Hammond said his team has played well of late, but has had trouble putting the ball in the net.
“We’re not finishing our scoring chances as well as we could . . . sometimes we hold the ball too often and try to set up the perfect shot instead of letting it fly,” the coach said.
But the coach said overall there is little to criticize about the team. Going into the final stretch, the Vineyarders have already punched their ticket into the state tournament, and have an outside chance of earning a number one or two seed in the tourney.
“It’s a funny team, in a way, because they don’t get too up or too down, they stay balanced. They know there will be some tougher games [in the tournament], but they have the type of makeup to handle any challenge,” the coach said.
Both the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams won their respective Mayflower League titles at Sacred Heart on Monday. It was the seventh straight league championship for the boys’ team, and second straight for the girls’ team. Joe Schroeder coaches both teams.
Evan Kendall paced the boys by finishing third overall with a time of 18:32, followed closely by fourth-place finisher Lucas Emin, who finished two seconds later. Max Conley finished fifth, Forrest Harcourt finished ninth and Rob Osmers finished 14th.
On the girls’ side, Emily Carter finished second with a time of 21:47, Kim Carlomagno finished fourth with a time of 22:29, Hilary and Megan Dreyer finished with the same time of 22:30 to share fifth place, and Sarah Flanders finished seventh with a time of 22:35.
The Vineyard high school golf team finished in sixth place at the Division II South Cape Cod and Islands qualifier at Easton Country Club on Tuesday. Island standout Tony Grillo took the individual championship with a one-under-par 70, followed by Yarmouth’s Grant Simon (74) and Sandwich’s Cory Patterson (75).
Grillo, the defending two-time Massachusetts junior amateur champ, will now play on Monday in the Division II championship round at Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown.
This past Saturday, the Bantams of Vineyard Youth Hockey Squirts traveled to Foxboro and handily defeated a talented team from Westwood by a final of 7-2. Tyler Araujo had a monster game with four goals, while Dakota Delviento, Thomas Wilkins and Charles Goldthwait also put the puck in the net.
That next day, the Bantams lost to Tri-County by a score of 4-2. Brian Hurley had a goal on an assist from Tony DeBettencourt and Daniel Serusa, while Kyle Stobie scored on an assist from Nelson Dickson and Thomas Wilkins.
On Sunday at Foxboro, the Vineyard Pee Wees defeated Tri-County 9-2, led by three goals from Shay Hill, two goals from Tyson Araujo, and goals from Max Davies, Jake Hart and Harrison Rodrigues.
“We saw great defensive teamwork by Ben Bilzerian, Andrew Carroll and Joey Uva, and exceptional goaltending by seasoned veteran Zoli Clarke,” coach Greg Carrol said.
Birdies For Baseball golf tourney
The third annual Birdies for Baseball golf tournament is Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8:30 a.m. at the Mink Meadows Golf Club in Tisbury. All proceeds will go towards the construction of the new baseball field at the high school.
The tournament is a shotgun scramble format, with foursomes playing the best ball of all players.
High school baseball coach Gary Simmons said there is room for more players. To register, call Mink Meadows at 508-693-0600 or call Doug Reece at 508-696-3704.