Newburyport Boys Take Flight – Boston Herald

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For the Newburyport boys’ football team, a result like last week’s 1-0 win over a quality Division 1 program at Central Catholic would normally be the signing victory on the slate. And while the coach Shawn bleau and his team admit it’s the best game they’ve played all year, not the one they’re most proud of.

It would be a 1-0 win over North Reading the week before. The Clippers got a red card after a pair of yellows – bordering on Bleau’s opinion – forcing them to chase a downed man for nearly three-quarters of the game. But instead of going into a shell and playing for a tie like most teams could, Newburyport remained aggressive and were rewarded.

“At halftime we said we were trying to win this game, not just sit back,” said Bleau, in his 12th year as a Clippers coach and 28-season veteran on the MIAA sidelines. “It’s the mentality we take in every game.”

The Clippers were 13-0 heading into Saturday night’s ALS Cup game against Pentucket. Newburyport are the only unbeaten and untied men’s team in the Div. 3 and one of the four in the state, along with Hingham, Masconomet and Pathfinder.

The Newburyport program doesn’t exactly have a rich tradition, but this year’s success is also not unexpected. Two seasons ago, the Clippers qualified for the Div. 3 North semi-finals for the first time since 2012 and followed with their first-ever Cape Ann League Division title Kinney last year, finishing in a three-way series with North Reading and Lynnfield at 7-1-2, but was denied the playoffs by the pandemic.

“This team has been built specifically in the mind of our coach for a long time, so I think it’s the product of his hard work and the hard work of everyone,” said the senior captain. Brady O’Donnell. “We knew this year was going to be special just based on our performance last year and the performance of our JV team. A lot of guys came from there and really stood up for us. ”

Bleau knew he would have a strong defensive club at the start of the season, led by a pair of senior captains in center-back positions in Graham smith and Jack Fehlner, and they were as billed. With junior Owen Tahnk in net, a freshman starter, the Clippers have allowed just four goals.

The offense was a revelation, however. After a 6-1 rout from Georgetown, Newburyport found the twine a school record 50 times with five regular season games remaining.

“To score like we did, it was a surprise,” said Bleau. “We have about six kids scoring, so you can’t really focus on one player, or two for that matter. We have three guys with six or seven goals, and the substitutes come in and score so there’s depth to put the ball in the net. ”

Eastern Mass. All-Star Max Gagnon, a senior captain and titular for four years, is the midfield catalyst for a diverse offensive attack. O’Donnell paces the Clippers with eight goals and six assists, but Newburyport has garnered contributions from several different sources, including dynamic junior. Will Acquaviva, who missed much of last year with an injury.

Even the defense got involved as Fehlner leads the team in assists, many of it coming from his dangerous throw-ins.

“Set pieces, free kicks and corner kicks, we scored a lot on those, which we haven’t done in the last few years,” said Gagnon. “We are all quite altruistic and we all play as a team. ”

The Clippers’ immediate goal is another CAL Kinney championship – O’Donnell said the team drew special motivation to aim for an outright crown after having to split last year – but it’s no secret for no one they salivate for a shot in a deep tournament. .

Despite his unblemished brand, Newburyport landed at No.10 this week in the Div. 3 ratings that will determine the seeds in the new statewide format, based on a particularly low evaluation average of the opponents, moving from one of the top four places in the initial version which would win up to ‘to three home games.

However, the perfect start of the team certainly legitimized the great ambitions that this group has set for itself.

“Winning a state championship has been pretty much our goal since my freshman year, really, so we know this year is special and we have to take advantage of it,” O’Donnell said.

An important honor

A well-balanced football team usually combines skills on both halves of the field. However, a well-balanced program is not limited to its performance on the pitch.

The Dover-Sherborn Women’s Soccer Program is proud to have both over its four years under the leadership of Evren Gunduz, and this week he was recognized as the Massachusetts recipient of the United Soccer Coaches’ Coach of Significance Award for 2021.

Gunduz said he was honored with the award and shared much of the merit.

“The staff of the DS school district, sports director Emily sullivan, the families, our coaches and the great coaches of the Tri-Valley League do an amazing job supporting excellence in our student-athletes, ”said Gunduz. “United Soccer Coaches is a premier organization whose courses, resources and pedagogy have been part of my coaching career from the start. Representing their values ​​and their mission means a lot because they have given me a lot. Coaching is simply a form of education, and the competitive high school soccer field is the best classroom in which our student-athletes can learn the skills they need to thrive in their lives and enjoy their lives.

While Gunduz prefers his program to be judged by much more than results, the fact is that they have been pretty good under his leadership. The Raiders won the Tri-Valley League Small and Division 3 South section titles in 2019 and are looking for another division crown this year at 10-2-1, one point behind Dedham with a big showdown with the Marauders Thursday.

“It is a testament to the quality, class and character of the football student-athletes we are fortunate to work with at DS,” said Gunduz. “We believe in the DSGS program that our team’s true success is not measured by wins on the scoreboard during the season, but by how our players compete in life off the pitch five years after winning. graduated from DS. ”

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