Melrose Sports

Red Raiders romp over Masco in season opener

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Melrose Sports, Melrose Weekly News | Comments Off on Red Raiders romp over Masco in season opener

Melrose tops Chieftains, 36-6, in Friday night thriller Published in the September 15, 2017 edition By LUC SULLIVAN MELROSE—The Melrose Red Raider football team kicked off their season last Friday, September 8 at home at the Fred Green Memorial Field with an impressive display of offensive firepower and defensive expertise for a 36 -6 victory over Masco to start their season 1-0. Things started rolling for the Red Raiders three minutes into the game, as quarterback Charlie Stanton connected with wideout Michael Fennell on a 3rd and long that brought out the chains. After measurement , the Raiders were a yard shy of the first. Deciding to go for it, Stanton handed off to running back Rey Guity , who brought the rock off tackle and through a Masco linebacker for a first down around the Masco forty yard line. Melrose offense went hurry up, handing off to Guity and completing an inside slant to Michael Fennell for a drive-saving first down, setting up the Raider offense inside the Masco thirty yard line. A series of short runs and an incomplete pass brought up fourth and four . Quarterback Charlie Stanton received the snap and lobbed a pass to Michael Fennell by the right sideline for yet another first down inside the Masco red zone. A four yard gain by Guity only brought Melrose closer to the end zone. The Raiders ‘ air superiority was established as Stanton took the snap on second down and rolled out to the right and fired a laser into the end zone where Fennell was mid-dive. Fennell hauled it in for the Raiders first touchdown of the 2017 season, giving Melrose a 6-0 lead with three minutes left in the first. Masco began their possession with a hand off up the middle but ran smack in the wall of Melrose defensive tackle Jake Fortier for a loss. Masco found a groove and began driving after two big gains on the outside. Melrose’s Colin Kiernan and Kevin Peete caused   big collisions but Masco advanced into the Raider red zone soon punch ed it up the middle for a touchdown, leaving the score at 6-6 with about ten minutes left in the second quarter. As Masco lined up for the extra point and the go ahead, Melrose’s Cameron Rosie burst through the line like a ball seeking missile and dived in front of the kick, blocking it, and keeping the score tied. After forcing Melrose to punt, Masco advanced to the Melrose 25 and on fourth and two saw the ball stripped for a fumble recovered by Melrose captain Adam Caffey . Melrose ran the ball on a series of carries by Rey Guity and Jack Sullivan (in QB duty) but was forced to punt just as the clock ran out at halftime, the score locked, 6-6. After the half, Melrose kicker Kemar Bynoe sent the ball deep into the Masco end zone and Christopher Cusolito rushed down the field with enough speed to be clocked on radar and landed an absolute stick on the Masco return man. With the ball on the Masco 25 , the Chieftains ran directly into the immovable forces of Drew Difraia and Jake Fortier . On second down , Melrose’s Kevin Peete came through with the phenomenal coverage of...

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Girls volleyball in the driver’s seat

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Melrose Sports, Melrose Weekly News | Comments Off on Girls volleyball in the driver’s seat

Off to a quick 3-0 start to season Published in the September 15, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—The Melrose High girl’s volleyball team have spiked their way to a 3-0 start to the season with consecutive wins over Lexington, Arlington and undefeated Woburn. Melrose kicked their season off on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at home against Lexington and dominated the Minutemen 3-0 in straight sets. Coach Scott Celli debuted some newer faces on the court, including sophomore starters Emma Randolph, Grace Davis, Mary Kate Mahoney, Erin Torpey and Nicole Abbott. and also brought to the court experienced senior leaders who led in hitting and assists, like their tri- captains Lily Fitzgerald, Saoirse Connolly and Jill Mercer. Connolly led in scoring for Melrose with 11 kills, followed by Randolph, who had 8. Senior captain setter Lily Fitzgerald had 18 assists for the day, while Jill Mercer in libero duty proved she will be the anchor on defense this season. Melrose also showed strong back row defense with the work of Mary Kate Mahoney, Nicole Abbott and Lydia Lombardo. While overall, Melrose had an “off night” on serving, Abbott in particular looked stellar at the line, along with Lydia Lombardo and Saoirse Connolly. On Friday, Melrose traveled to Arlington and took a 3-1 victory in sets of 25-15, 22-15, 25-13, 25-18. Once again, Connolly led on offense with 12 kills while Lydia Lombardo showed punch with 7. Melrose’s steady setter Lily Fitzgerald showed finesse with five of her own. On Tuesday, Melrose hosted and beat Woburn (3-1) who came into the game with talented hitters but were no match for Melrose. As a result, Woburn fell 3-0 in three sets, 25-15, 25-19, and 25-23. They enjoyed a 25-15 first set win that featured terrific defense from libero Jill Mercer and back row work from Nicole Abbott and Mary Kate Mahoney. Woburn took an early lead in set two but Melrose went on a tear, outscoring the Tanners from a timeout to set whistle. Woburn showed plenty of life in set three but Melrose topped them, 25-23. Melrose (3-0) will host reigning state champ Notre Dame (of Hingham) on Thursday (post deadline). They then travel to Wilmington for a 5:00 p.m. contest on...

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Red Raider soccer fit to be tied

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Melrose Sports, Melrose Weekly News | Comments Off on Red Raider soccer fit to be tied

Recent action against rivals drew stalemates Published in the September 15, 2017 edition By LUC SULLIVAN MELROSE—The Melrose High school boys soccer team faced off against the Woburn Tanners for a 3-3 tie on Tuesday, September 12 at the West Knoll in Melrose. The Melrose soccer team is fresh off of a playoff run last year and have several players back this year for the 2017 season. Tuesday’s game came on the heels of the team’s 1-1 tie against Arlington on Sept. 8. On Tuesday, Melrose started off with several battles for possession and back and forth action culminating with Melrose’s Tarekegn O’Neill sending an excellent pass over to Thomas Michaels, who broke free of containment and sent the ball whizzing past the Woburn goalie for Melrose’s first score. The Tanners would answer back, however, less than ten minutes later, sending a PK sailing into the Melrose goal for the tying score. With the score at 1-1 and the first half winding down, Melrose’s Shea Champagne took matters into his own hands and blasted a shot past the Woburn net minder from outside the goal area for the go-ahead score. Melrose was in the lead at 2-1  but less than 25 seconds later, the Woburn squad was able to answer with a goal of their own, tying the score once again and bringing the game to 2-2 at the half. The Red Raiders came out buzzing after the half, attacking the ball, moving it well and forcing the Woburn defense on their toes with misdirection. Melrose’s Tarekegn O’Neill set up a nice scoring chance with an absolute boot from behind midfield, the ball landing exactly in front of Melrose’s Peter Wiesen who took a shot with a header that nearly went in. After this chance, Melrose goalie Jared Dowell faced off against a Woburn PK. As the kick left the Woburn players foot it sailed toward the lower left corner of the net, while the Melrose goalkeeper made a spectacular dive, saving the shot with a fingertip deflection and keeping Melrose in the game. Meanwhile Melrose’s David Kurti set plays up left and right in the right spot to keep the ball moving for the team. With fourteen minutes left in the game Melrose’s Miguel Contreras sent the ball sailing from the corner flag, perfectly landing in front of the left goalpost and Sava Vlajkovic, who shot it towards the opposite corner, where it banged off the right post and in for Melrose’s third goal. But once again, just four minutes later Woburn was able to answer, and sunk one into the Melrose net for the tying goal. The last ten minutes wound down scoreless, leaving the final message on the game clock— Melrose 3, Woburn 3. Melrose will look to pick up a solid “w” when they travel to Wilmington on Thursday (post deadline) and will battle Malden in Mayor Cup action at Pine Banks on Saturday at 11:00...

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Melrose swimmers dunk Spy Ponders

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on Melrose swimmers dunk Spy Ponders

Open season with a win, 95-75 Published in the September 15, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—The Melrose High girls’ swim team started a promising season off with a solid 95-75 victory over Arlington/Watertown on Sept. 10 at home at the Mystic Regional Valley Charter School. Melrose earned several first place finishes including two from Sam D’Allesandro and Virginia Guanci. Overall, Melrose’s depth outpaced Arlington, with a number of second place Melrose finishes that kept the Lady Raiders one stroke ahead of their rivals. Melrose starts the season at 1-0. According to head coach Deb Deacon, it was a great first effort for the team. “This was the first meet of the season and I’m impressed that so many stepped up to contribute to the win. Several second place finishes and the 5th place finish of Helen Burtnett in the 100 breaststroke comes to mind.” Melrose started the meet off with a 10-4 lead after clinching the 200 medley, behind efforts from Molly Williams, Virginia Guanci, Sam D’Allesandro and Jenn Kahler. Williams’ second place finish in the 200 free helped keep Melrose ahead 17-13, and Virginia Guanci gave Melrose a greater lead with a first place finish in the 200 IM. Melrose pulled away, 37-25, after an exciting 1-2 finish in the 50 free by D’Allesandro (26:53) and Jen Kahler (27.91), while Stephanie Overlan prevailed in the 2nd heat with a time of 35.95. D’Allesandro struck again with another first place finish, this time in the 100 butterfly. Teammate Grace Nally was right behind her in the #2 spot which helped Melrose take a 48-30 lead. Jen Kahler looked strong  in the 100 free. Molly Williams had a solid 2nd place finish in the 500 free to keep Melrose ahead 62-48. Melrose’s 200 free relay team of Jenn Kahler, Emily Boutchia, Delia Frederick and Sam D’Allesando placed 2nd in the 200 yard relay. Olivia DeCecca placed second in the 100 backstroke. Melrose showed power in the breaststroke with Virginia Guanci claiming first and Josefa Baeza-Diaz placing second. As a finale, Melrose’s 400 free relay team came in first behind the efforts of Molly Williams, Grace Nally, Olivia DeCecca and Virginia Guanci. The result was a final 95-75 season opening win. “We always talk away the importance of finishing and being legal in all strokes and turns,” says Deacon. “It made a difference. It was a solid win.” Melrose’s next test comes with an always-competitive Andover team at home on Monday at 4:00 p.m. “Andover will be going for their 17th state title this season,” she says. “Our goal is to give them some good competitive races and allow some of our swimmers to try new...

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Girls’ swim plunges into fall season

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on Girls’ swim plunges into fall season

Record breaking team looks to match success in 2017 Published in the September 8, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—The Melrose High girl’s swim team anxiously returns to the water this week with a home opener against Arlington. Expectations are once again high for these record-breaking swimmers. Last season was one of Melrose’s strongest in decades, with nine swimmers qualifying for States and their 200 medley team of Molly Williams, Maddie Hughes, Sam D’allesandro and Virginia Guanci medaling and breaking a school record. D’allesandro also took home two bronze medals and while strong individual performances were done by Williams, Hughes and Guanci. Expectations are high this season and with twenty one athletes (including eleven seniors) returning this year, it’s no wonder. The team is captained by Josefa Baeza-Diaz and Virginia Guanci. “We are 21 strong, and still have a core group of solid swimmers,” reports Melrose coach Deb Deacon. Melrose entered the water last week ready to train. “I wanted to get them in as quickly as possible but I am sure some of these girls will be hungry to break those records, or at a minimum, have them stand or years to come.” Seniors returning this year are captains Josefa Baeza-Diaz and Virginia Guanci, along with Sam D’Alessandro, Madeline Hughes, Olivia DeCecca, Samantha Farrell, Katie Meade, Delia Frederick, Helen Burtnett, Grace Nally, and Lauren Reilly. They are joined by Molly Williams, Camila Werner, Natalia Warton, Julia Paiewonsky, Stephanie Overlan, Alessia Pari-di-Monriva, Jennifer Kahler, Fiona Doyle, Natasha Brown and Emily Boutchia. One of the hallmarks of this team in recent seasons has been their medal-winning relay teams. “We are going to see who will step up to fill in some available spots in the three relays vacated by stellar seniors who graduated,” says Deacon. “We are confident we will have three strong relays and our goal is to qualify all three relays for the Sectional and State meets.” Early season goals include reduced swim times and maintaining hard work at practice. “We want every swimmer to be fantastic teammate to her swim sisters, by demonstrating solid sportsmanship at every practice and meet,” says Deacon. “We expect our girls to be solid citizens throughout the hallways at school; solid citizens in and out of the pool, always. Our #1 goal is to be sure they do all of this while also having fun.” So far this season the girls are making their coach happy. “We set high expectations and they always exceed them! We have the best group of girls. They make me proud.”  Girls’ Swimming Schedule Wed 9/6: 4 PM vs. Arlington Wed 9/13: 5:30 PM @ Lexington Mon 9/18: 4 PM vs. Andover Tue 9/19: 4 PM @ Burlington Wed 9/27: 4 PM vs. Reading Fri 9/29: 4 PM @ Chelmsford Tue 10/3: 4 PM vs. Woburn Fri 10/6: 4 PM @ Winchester Wed 10/11: 4 PM vs. Wakefield Thu 10/19: 3:45 PM @ Stoneham Mon 10/23: 4 PM vs. North Andover Fri 10/27: 4 PM vs....

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Golf team in the swing of things this fall

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on Golf team in the swing of things this fall

Experience & youth could serve Red Raiders well  Published in the September 8, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—The Melrose Red Raider golf team kicks off their season this week with an opening road match against Lexington on Wednesday (post deadline) starting the season with a few familiar faces and promising youth that could see them collecting wins this year. As always, it’s a remarkably quick season for the Raiders, whose regular season wraps up Oct. 12. Melrose will look to go on a early run when they face league Freedom League opponents like Wilmington and Watertown starting Sept. 12. According to coach Rick McDermod, how they fare against Wilmington could be a good indicator of how Melrose shapes up this season. “We’d like another crack at them. Last year it was a close one on the road. They’re coming here this time and theres a certain advantage.” This season McDermod is being assisted by Tristan Irish, who will help develop players during practice sessions. “It’s critical that he work with our newer players, and we are happy to have him,” he says. Look for senior captain Zach Farrell to lead the charge for Melrose. The team’s most experienced shooter, Farrell will assume the #1 spot in part from his powerful swing that has grown consistent since his freshman debut. “We’ve seen consistency with him, which is important, because boy, can he hit the ball.” Farrell’s experience could be key to Melrose’s success and his coach looks forward to his leadership. “He is a dedicated player who knows how to motivate his teammates.” That includes returning players Zac Maguire and Abbey Spencer, who according to the coach, both of whom have seen improvement over the offseason. There will be a lot of competition for the #2 spot, and new players like Will Pierce, Quinn McCarthy and Will Goodwin, underclassmen, play golf outside the fall season and may compete close to the top. “We have about five or six kids who belong to Bellevue [Golf Club] so they’re knowledge of golf and their ability will serve us well.” Melrose, whose roster is comprised of 50% southpaws, is a team who generally loves the game, according to the coach. “It’s exciting to see these kids so committed to the spot, just eager to learn and practice on their own time.” Melrose also will compete in their first-ever Mayor’s Cup action against Malden on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Mt Hood. Action takes place at 2:00 p.m. Varsity Golf Schedule Wed 9/6: 3:30 PM @ Lexington Sat. 9/11 2:00 @ Malden Mon 9/11: 3:30 PM @ Reading Tue 9/12: 3:30 PM @ Winchester Wed 9/13: 3:30 PM vs. Wilmington Wed 9/20: 3:30 PM vs. Watertown Fri 9/22: 3:30 PM vs. Malden Wed 9/27: 3:30 PM vs. Woburn Tue 10/3: 3:30 PM @ Stoneham Wed 10/4: 3:30 PM vs. Belmont Thu 10/5: 3:30 PM vs. Wakefield Wed 10/11: 3:30 PM @ Burlington Thu 10/12: 3:30 PM vs....

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A new day for Melrose field hockey

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on A new day for Melrose field hockey

Staffed with new coach, team looks to evolve this fall  Published in the September 8, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—With a new sheriff in town, the Melrose Lady Raider field hockey team is hoping to transition into to a playoff-ready group as they launch their fall campaign with a new coach, Erin Parker, who spoke to the Melrose Weekly News about how the team looks in their early season, what preparations they’re taking to prepare for their season opener against Lexington. “My takeaway so far is that I see an aggressive, dedicated group,” says Parker. “In our scrimmage play, we reinforced basics but also got a chance to see our strengths and room for improvement. We held our opponent scoreless in the second in our last scrimmage. I was very pleased with that.” Melrose will be led by senior captains Sam Kroon and Lauren Freed, and manned at the net by goalie Courtney O’Connor, a returning junior. Kroon is expected to use her stick skills on offense and, on defense, players like Mairead Clark haver shined. “Mairead’s play has been good, she does a lot on the field.” “This is a season that will have plenty of opportunity for girls to take roles on the team,” says Parker. “We saw that a little bit in our scrimmages. After the first half, if the girls see things aren’t going our way, they adjust and figure out which way works. They’ve surprised me in a good way.” Parker noted she’d like to see her team, particular defense, step out of their comfort zone. “Part of it is a confidence level, but that builds over time. Being a team that can ever beat Watertown requires a bit of confidence and finesse. Once you refine your skills, trust your teammates, it makes it easier.” Parker also notes the appetite for playoffs in the community. “I hear a lot from folks who wants this program to return to a playoff staple, just as we do. I believe we have those ingredients. I think the Middle School program is a great source for this.” Nearly 60 athletes tried out for the Middle School team, which speaks volumes about the program’s advancement. “The support of the Recreation Department has been terrific,” she says. “Having these numbers plus the field hockey clinics and camps, it means that the seeds are being planted.” But for this season, expect Melrose to focus on outsmarting some of their top competition, including Lexington, whom they open against on Thursday (post deadline). “We definitely want to surprise our competition and keep them on their toes. This team is hungry and they take the game serious. If we remain focused I think we can do well.” On Monday, Melrose travels to Arlington before another home game against Woburn on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at Pine Banks. Field Hockey Schedule Thu 9/7: 3:45 PM vs. Lexington Mon 9/11: 3:45 PM @ Arlington Wed 9/13: 3:45 PM vs. Woburn Fri 9/15: 3:30 PM @ Wilmington Tue 9/19: 3:30 PM vs. Stoneham Mon 9/25: 3:30 PM @ Watertown Wed 9/27: 3:45 PM vs. Wakefield Fri 9/29: 3:30 PM @ Burlington Tue 10/3: 6 PM @ Belmont Thu 10/5: 3:45 PM vs. Reading Mon 10/9: 12 PM @ Winchester Fri 10/13: 3:45 PM vs. Wilmington Tue...

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Cross country girls aim for another winning season

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on Cross country girls aim for another winning season

Published in the September 8, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—The Melrose High girls’ varsity cross country team returns to the fall ready for their season opener at home on Tuesday, Sept. 12 against Woburn. Coach Nicholas Tuccinardi now takes the reign this year as the first official girls’ team coach. “Last year, I acted as the de facto head coach, so I am fairly comfortable with the position,” he reports. The team returns more than half their roster, including their senior captains Tara O’Shea, Mykayla Olwert and Holly Moore. “Tara and Mykayla were a dynamic one-two punch throughout the season last year,” says Tuccinardi. “Holly has worked incredibly hard this summer going as far as attending a running camp in Colorado.” He acknowledges that last year’s senior leaders were instrumental for Melrose. “The captains this year certainly have big shoes to fill.” Also returning are seven of their top 10 runners, including juniors Emily Healey and Nicola Tysall, as well as rising sophomore standout Alex Cotugno. The coach is also excited about early performances of underclassmen, Katie Duffy, sophomore, and transfer sophomore Ashley Palmer. “They have performed exceedingly well.” Expect the Middlesex League to be a dogfight. “The league looks strong,” he says. “Stoneham is on the rise. Last year we lost to Wakefield by a point, we beat Watertown by a point. Those teams will be competitive again this year. Wakefield was our only in-division loss last year, but every Melrose team is always looking to beat Wakefield.” And despite losing senior leadership, Melrose shows a depth that will keep them toe-to-toe with the competition. “While the league appears to be as strong as ever, we believe that we have the ability to be as good as we allow ourselves to be.” Tuccinardi took a moment to acknowledge the long time dedication of coach Kevin Allison for preparing him to take over the girls’ squad. “I’m incredibly grateful for Kevin Alison for his tutelage to me as a young coach. This is now my fourth season coaching alongside Kevin (boys indoor track). Not only has he been patient with me, but he has also given me a ton of freedom to coach and learn while never faltering to be there as support.” Melrose kicks off their season on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 3:30 p.m. at Greenwood Park in Stoneham. Girls’ Cross Country Schedule Tue 9/12: 3:30 PM vs. Woburn Tue 9/19: 3:30 PM @ Lexington Tue 9/26: 3:30 PM @ Burlington Tue 10/3: 3:30 PM vs. Wakefield Tue 10/10: 3:30 PM vs. Watertown Tue 10/17: 3:30 PM @ Stoneham Wed 10/25: 3:30 PM @ Wilmington High...

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Red Raider football eyes continued success

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on Red Raider football eyes continued success

League champs open at home Sept. 8 against Masco Published in the August 31, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—By now, Melrose High football fans are used to big wins, thrilling comebacks, Super Bowl bids and Thanksgiving trophies. This season, they hope to recapture a few of those things when they begin their season at home next Friday, Sept. 8 against Masconomet. For the past four seasons, there has never been a better time to be a Red Raider football fan, with some of the most talented teams ever at MHS lighting up Friday nights at Fred Green Field. Coach Morris and his staff have found a way to relaunch, reload, and create competitive teams that prove among the best in their divisions.While its early in the season—and finals rosters have just been finalized—Melrose fans have every right to be optimistic, with good amount of experience returning, a dose of speed and athleticism, and a schedule that has them traveling just twice in the regular season. “We lost a good amount of seniors, and obviously Mike [Pedrini], but we have a good amount of experience up front, some decent size,” reports Melrose head coach Tim Morris. “We have to work on a lot of things to get better, like rebuilding secondary linebackers, but there has also been some good things early on. Some improvements.” Of course, the biggest question for the Raiders is: what will their season look like without Mike Pedrini? The highly decorated, do-it-all running back was a scoring machine for Melrose in his three seasons, putting up numbers that may go unmatched for some time. While adjusting without #5 might be difficult for Melrose, it’s certainly not impossible. And coach Morris’ system of rebuilding with incoming seniors has paid off over the last few years. This year, Melrose will rely once again on returning seniors in key positions to keep up Melrose’s winning tradition alive. That includes the quarterback position, open after the graduation of Jack Mays. Expect to see seniors Charlie Stanton and Jack Sullivan earn that top spot. “It’s been several years since we’ve had a quarterback who wasn’t a senior,” says Morris. “They begin as good understudies who gain experience, and by their senior year they are ready.” Melrose’s much-acclaimed running game has been manned mostly by Pedrini the last several years. This year, expect to see seniors Rey Guity and Isaac Siede help fill that slot. Both are speedy track athletes who saw playing time in football last season, which can make the transition a smooth one. “We’ll see a lot of Isaac, and Rey we expect to step up and be an every-down back; he’s working hard and already improved his hand work.” The team will be led by senior co-captains Adam Caffey and fullback Colin Kiernan. Both athletes did a lot for the Raiders last year and now are equipped with senior experience, ready to lead. Returning players such as Mike Muscarella, Mike Fennell, Gabe Nyland, Mike Sickler, Mike Koytikh, Alex Brincheiro, Drew DiFraia, Cam Rosie, Lou Izzi and Derek DiRaffaele should be good targets for the Red Raider quarterbacks, as well as on defense, while injury to returning player Jack Whitley is a setback for Melrose. Mike Calvert returns on special teams as kicker along with Chris Cusolito. Promising...

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Melrose girls soccer team feeling defensive

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 in Melrose Sports | Comments Off on Melrose girls soccer team feeling defensive

Great D will be the hallmark of the 2017 squad Published in the August 31, 2017 edition By JENNIFER GENTILE MELROSE—For the last few seasons the Melrose High Lady Raider soccer team has often seen one goal serve the difference between win, tie and loss. Already a stingy team, Melrose in their pre-season has proved even tougher on defense, and that might create a path to victory over the fall. According to coach Bill DeSimone, Melrose’s early season has revealed a very solid defensive unit. “This will be our strength,” he said, pointing out that the Lady Raiders held a team scoreless in scrimmage play. “Some of these girls who competed in the summer did some great things on defense, and I expect to see that this fall.” Leading the team as captains are seniors Sarah Herron, Kiera Sixsmith, Lauren Pedrini and junior Abby Cunningham. Unfortunately for DeSimone, two of those players went down to injury. “We’ve lost Keira to a torn ACL, but Sarah is coming back, recovering from a torn achilles and we expect her to be a contributor.” Both players, along with senior Lauren Pedrini have been with the team since freshmen year and will provide natural leadership. At the net, junior goalie Jill Stone returns for another year of play. “She got some play time last year and will be ready. She’s a big part of our defense.” “Overall, we’re a junior/sophomore heavy team, but athletic, and I’m seeing some good stuff,” he reports. One of those things is the defensive efforts of Lily Cunningham. “She’s a natural athlete and moving her from striker to sweeper allows her to do more for us. She shows natural prowess there.” Other contributors in defense include Julia Deeble, “an excellent defender,” says DeSimone, and sophomores Liz Perrella and Serena DeBari. Offensively, look for contributions from Peri MacDonald, Olivia Scarpa and Sam Smith. “They’re ready to have a great season,” says their coach. As always, the Middlesex League is remarkably tough and their opening schedule reflects it. Melrose travels to Lexington on Wednesday and hosts state semifinalist Arlington on Friday at 3:45 at Pine Banks in their home opener. “Every team we have is going to be a challenge,” he says. “Our goal is to limit scoring, avoid injury and play at our strongest. We have high energy and the girls are responding to the challenge.”...

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