DANVERS — There are big expectations as always for the Shawsheen Tech Wrestling team this season, as they enter the season after going 23-5 in dual meets and winning their 12th consecutive Commonwealth Athletic Conference championship as well as the Massachusetts State Vocational Championship for the 12th time in the past 13 years.
The Rams took a great first step towards having another great season this past weekend when they traveled to Danvers High School and swept a super quad meet against Chelmsford, Beverly, Foxboro and Londonderry, New Hampshire. The Rams rolled to victory in their matchups with Foxboro, Londonderry and Beverly, but their most impressive win of all was their dramatic come from behind win over Chelmsford.
The Rams opened their day with a 51-18 win over Foxboro before rolling past Londonderry 52-28, and then Beverly 43-26. But things did not look good for the Rams against a powerhouse Chelmsford squad. The Rams were 3-0 going into the match with their long time Division 1 North rival but for most of the match it looked like they were going to drop to 3-1.
The match started at weight class 126 where junior star Frank Foti dropped a 5-4 decision. The Rams then suffered two pins a row with Devin DeLuca (132) and Justin Merrifield (138) taking losses, before senior Diondre Turner of Wilmington won his match by pin at 145 pounds. At 152 Jason Elias got pinned by his opponent, as was Dan Woosley at 160 pounds, and Shawn Fitzgerald at 170 pounds.
At this point the Rams were down 33-6 with seven matches to go and virtually no margin for error. Thankfully for the Rams there were no errors for the rest of the match. At 182 pounds, junior Aiden Leffler got the Rams comeback started when he won by pin, followed by pins by senior Andre Comeau at 195 pounds and senior Lucas Moreira at 220 pounds.
The roll continued at 285 pounds when senior Bobby O’Hearn also won by pin as did sophomore Joe D’Ampolo to Tewksbury at 106 pounds. Senior Walter Humphrey won by pin at 113 pounds to give the Rams a 39-33 lead, but the results of the match still very much hung in the balance with the final matchup at 120 pounds still looming.
Chelmsford bumped up John Kinney, their returning All State Champ at 106 last year to face Shawsheen 120-pounder Austin Dube, but Dube won 5-4. To give the Rams a 45-33 victory and a 4-0 record to start the season.
“We fought through adversity as a team to win and that was probably the best comeback in my 35 years of coaching,” Shawsheen coach Mark Donovan said. “What a team effort.”
Despite their best efforts last season, the Shawsheen Tech/Bedford Girls Hockey team never experienced the joy of victory as they struggled to an 0-18-2 campaign. Regardless of how committed one is to a team, it can’t be easy to go through an entire season without picking up a single win.
That won’t be a problem for this year’s version of the Rams, as they got their season off to a terrific start last Saturday with a thrilling 3-1 win over Oakmont at Janas Rink in the season opener for both teams.
“It’s good to get the win out the way in the first game,” Shawsheen coach Bob Roach said. “The game went well. The girls played really well. The difference for us this year is that our top line has some support from our other lines and we have a lot of players who can contribute.”
The Rams certainly have more depth this season, but for this first win it was the top line who got the job done offensively, with each member of the top line scoring a goal. Senior center Emily Santori gave the Rams a 1-0 lead in the first period, and after Oakmont tied the game at 1- 1 at the end of two periods, the Rams controlled the third period to come away with the win.
Freshman Laney Meade gave the Rams the lead early in the period and sophomore Amber Hurley closed out the scoring late in the period to give the Rams the long awaited 3-1 victory.
“The girls were counting down the final seconds on the bench, so you could see they were very excited to get the win,” Roach said. “It was nice to see the kids get a win, and it was great to see the top line play so well.”
The top line was not alone in their outstanding play, as the Rams also got some fine play from defenseman Caitlyn Aprile and forward Ashley Talbot of Tewksbury.
Also playing well for the Rams was sophomore goalie Sydney Neault of Tewksbury, who made 23 saves in the game, including several big ones in the third period to preserve the Rams lead.
“Sydney played a very strong game,” Roach said. “The one goal she let in was a quality shot and there really wasn’t anything she could do about it. She has improved a lot from last season, and we expect her to continue to play well all season long.”
Roach and the Rams are not going to overreact over one win, as great as it was to get it, but Roach is hoping that they can use the momentum from the win to hopefully help the team believe in themselves and in turn to lead to more games like this one.
“For the last two weeks I have been trying to tell them that have been looking strong in practice and that they need to have confidence in themselves that they were going to get a win,” Roach said. “So, it was great to see all of their hard work pay off and hopefully it helps their confidence.”
The Rams will look to build on their winning ways on Saturday when they take on Latin Academy on Saturday night at 8:00 pm at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford.
With a young and largely inexperienced team there will be some growing pains along the way for the Shawsheen Tech Boys Basketball team under the direction of first-year coach Joe Gore and last Friday night’s season opening 64-59 season opening loss to CAC rival Chelsea was a perfect example of what those growing pains might look like.
While the Rams showed some flashes of their potential, particularly in the second half when they nearly staged a miraculous comeback, they also showed some of the pratfalls of being a talented, but inexperienced team.
Shawsheen trailed 32-20 at halftime in this one and in reality it could have been worse as the Rams committed 22 turnovers in the first half.
“Chelsea came out and pressed us right from the start and it felt like kind of a bit of a culture shock for our kids,” Gore said. “Most of them have never played any varsity basketball, so a combination of seeing that varsity speed for the first time and facing a full court press was just a little too much for them in the early going.”
As the game went on however, the Rams seemed to adjust to the speed and to the idea of playing varsity basketball and while the results were not immediate, with the Rams still trailing by 12 points at the end of three quarters, but they eventually they began to mount a furious comeback.
Shawsheen closed to within three points late in the fourth quarter, but were unable to complete the comeback. Still, Gore was pleased with the fight shown by his team in the second half.
“When the second half started we were able to settle down a little bit and we played much better,” Gore said. “We still made some mistakes. We missed thirteen free throws in the game, but we still had a chance to win. We are able to take a lot of positives out of this game. The second half effort is something we can definitely build on. We made some mistakes, but they are simple errors that we can fix.”
Senior Jalen Massengill led the way for the Rams with 13 points, all of them coming in the second half, while fellow senior Larry Bevis has 12 points and ten rebounds.
Gore was also pleased with the play of sophomore guard Jeremy Perez, who had a very strong all-around game in his varsity debut.
“It was his first game as a varsity player and he played very well in the second half for us,” Gore said. “He played a huge role in our second half comeback.”
The Rams will now have a long layoff before their next game, on December 28, when they travel to Lowell Catholic for an 8:45 pm tipoff in the first round of the Lowell Holiday Tournament.
“We are looking at this as sort of a mini camp,” Gore said. “As much as we would like to get right back at it and try and get a win, we are excited to have the opportunity to work on some things. It is a great opportunity for our young guys.”
The Shawsheen Tech Girls Basketball team got their season off to a great start with a 59-32 win on the road over CAC rival Whittier last Friday night. Senior Steph Mercurio led a well balanced scoring attack with 12 points, while junior captain Susanna Gillis added 11.
Shawsheen coach Kate Marshall wasn't sure of what to expect heading into Friday's game which featured several new players in the starting lineup, but those fears were quickly dispelled at the Rams got off to a fast start.
“As I stated before, chemistry is the main focus for this group and mine and my assistant coach’s biggest concerns before Friday’s matchup was that most of these girls haven’t played at the varsity level together and we only had about a week before the game," Marshall said. "I was totally taken aback by the intensity they showcased right off the bat. I was nervous to have to young players starting the season but they truly delivered. The ball movement and pace of the first quarter set the tone for the remainder of the game. "
In addition to Mercurio and Gillis, the Rams also got strong efforts from junior Shelby Bourdeau along with freshman Lindsay McCarthy sophomore Darielle Wilson. In fact, Marshall felt like she contributions from her entire roster on the way to the win.
"The best part of the matchup in my opinion was that our highest scorer had twelve points out of the 59 which really highlights the 12-girl team effort that was put forth in this matchup," Marshall said. "They played unselfish basketball and tried to get the open girl with the best shot opportunity. It’s a new style of play we haven’t seen in the program in a while and I’m hoping it’s something we can build off of throughout this season."
The Shawsheen Tech Co-ed Swim team got their season off to a 1-1 start this past week, dropping a season opening 111-68 decision to North Reading/Wilmington last Thursday before bouncing back with an impressive 82-77 win over CAC rival Northeast the next day.
In their season opener against North Reading/Wilmington the Rams got several outstanding performances despite the loss.
One of the stronger efforts of the day came from Wilmington junior Derek Costello, who earned a second place finish in the mixed 100 butterfly in a time of 1:08.43, while also turning in a pair of fine efforts for a pair of relay teams, taking a first place finish as part of the 400 freestyle relay, and also being part of the mixed 200-medley relay which took second place in a time of 2:16.48.
Costello was joined in the 200-medley relay by Aidan Singh, Connor Maguire and Tyler Kopacz and in the 400-freestyle relay by Damien Hadden of Tewksbury, Singh and Zachary Morris.
Hadden also had an outstanding day for the Rams. In addition to his fine performance in the 400-freestyle relay, he also earned a first place finish in the 200-individual relay in a time of 2:26.59.
Tyler Kopacz of Tewksbury was another local swimmer who had a fine day, performing well in not only the 200-medley relay, but also in the 200-freestyle relay, where he earned a third place finish in a time of 2:06.4 along with Tyler Newhouse, John Zembeck and Vincent Lopez.
Zach Morris of Wilmington rounded out the top local performers. In addition to his fine effort in the first place 400-freestyle relay team, but he also took second in the mixed 100 freestyle in a time of 1:01.39.
The Rams will be back in action on Thursday afternoon when they host non-league rival Melrose at the Shawsheen pool at 4:00 pm.