By Dan Guttenplan
River Rival Report
---- — The Pentucket boys lacrosse team may be the biggest surprise entry in the state tournament among all of the local spring sports teams in any sport.
The Sachems struggled to an 0-14 record last season in Dan Leary’s first as coach of the team. They returned many of the same players this season, which isn’t always a good thing on the heels of a winless season.
Pentucket (13-6) finished with a program record number of wins this season, and when the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association releases its lacrosse state-tournament pairings today, it is likely the Sachems will earn a home game in the opening round of the Division 3 tournament.
Pentucket’s strength has been its defense, as the Sachems allowed five or fewer goals in 12 of their 13 wins. Junior Brett Connolly was strong in net all season. He allowed an average of 3.3 goals per game in Pentucket’s wins.
The offense was paced by senior captain Calvin Wiles, who will play at Union College next year. Juniors Sam Colombo, Nick Zaia, Quentin Bounsy, Mike Aiduk, Kyle Richardson and Chad Legault all came back more committed this season. Newcomers Connor Beaton and Cody Rothwell, both of whom are among the most athletic students in the school, made immediate contributions.
The Amesbury softball team will look to put the finishing touches on a nearly perfect regular season at the Methuen Tournament this weekend.
The Indians return to the tournament after a two-year hiatus, and they will be tested against high-scoring Whittier — a team that has lost only three times all year. The other teams in the tourney include Methuen (12-6) and Andover, the defending champion.
Amesbury, coached by veteran Chris Perry (who has won more than 500 games and three state championships), is led by pitcher Jackie Merrill (1.11 ERA, 61 Ks, 12 walks in 69 innings) shortstop Amanda Schell and catcher Cassie Schultz.
Andover opens with Amesbury at 5 p.m. tonight with Methuen and Whittier at 7 p.m. The consolation and championship games are at 5 and 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Pentucket boys tennis player Danny Ryan has had quite the two-year run as a double player. Last season as a junior, Ryan and then-senior Chris Adams went 16-0 and won the Cape Ann League Open. This year, Ryan paired with Adam Chory, and the doubles team went 13-1 and also collected a CAL Open title.
Chory, a junior, is a National Honor Society member. Ryan, a senior captain, is also a National Honor Society member and a recipient of the Naval Science Award. He will attend UMass Amherst in the fall.
The Amesbury girls tennis program has seen steady improvement in the four seasons under coach Brett Manoloff. After going 0-15 in 2010, the team’s win total has increased each season. The Indians went 1-15 in 2011, 3-13 last spring, before reeling off a record of 6-12 this season. The team’s individual match wins have increased from 6 to 10 to 18 to 37, by season.
This season, the Indians suffered just three 5-0 losses. By comparison, they posted two 5-0 wins. Captains Madison Padgett and Stephanie Abraham plan to enlist in the Navy after graduation. The team will also run the Summer Moms Tennis Institute this summer.