It’s been a decade since Methuen’s Jason Smith was last named the Eagle-Tribune Harold Sachs softball Coach of the Year, but not much has changed in that time.
Under Smith, the Rangers just keep winning and winning, culminating this year with a 21-5 record that included a Division 1 North title and a trip to the state championship. In 14 years under Smith, Methuen has made the tournament every year while he has compiled an overall 218-95 record.
There were a couple minor bumps along the road to the finals, but Smith quickly smoothed them over, making one key defensive change, switching athletic sophomore Steph Tardugno from left to center field, and tweaking the batting order.
Making adjustments is nothing new for Smith, and neither is making sure his teams are mentally ready for tournament games. The Rangers always seem to be at their best when it matters most.
At the same time, Smith — who was also the MVC Division 1 Coach of the Year this spring — makes sure that his players have a fun and positive experience and one glance at the bench before, during and after games reflects that.
A native of Western New York, Smith received a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse and then a master’s degree in education from Boston University. He is a biology teacher at the high school and also coaches swimming in the fall. He was the Eagle-Tribune swimming Coach of the Year in 2012.
Finally, Smith is a dogged promoter of his athletes in both sports, striving to make sure they get the credit they deserve.
Softball Coaches of the Year
Harold Sachs Award
2018: Stacy Ciccolo, Central; 2017: Cheryl Begin, Whittier; 2016: Harold Sachs, Salem; 2015: Kara Melillo, Haverhill; 2014: John Walsh, Pentucket; 2013: Jim Clavette, Timberlane; 2012: Wayne MacDougall, Londonderry; 2011: Peter Drench, Phillips; 2010: Harold Sachs, Salem;
2009: Jason Smith, Methuen; 2008: Bob Walsh, Haverhill; 2007: Rusty Russell, No. Reading; 2006: Brian Martin, No. Andover; 2005: Chris Perry, Amesbury; 2004: Terry Bailey, Pinkerton; 2003: Mike Sorter, Timberlane; 2002: Harold Sachs, Salem
Mahoney keeps Reggies on rise
Thanks to the Mahoney family, there were few growing pains for the Greater Lawrence Tech volleyball program when it was formed six years ago.
Karla Mahoney started the program as a club team and the next year lured her husband, Rob Mahoney, one of the state’s most highly-regarded coaches, to take over.
The Reggies have been on the rise ever since. They went 6-10 as an independent in 2016, their debut varsity season, and have been on the upclimb ever since, culminating this year when they were CAC champs and had a 16-6 record.
And Mahoney, who was named CAC Coach of the Year and is now the Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year, certainly has had a lot to do with it. His enthusiasm for the sport and experience coaching have been monumental.
Prior to taking over at Greater Lawrence, he had a 285-157 record in the fall in the MVC with the Notre Dame of Tyngsboro girls. He also went 61-39 with the Lowell Catholic boys from 2011-15. Two years ago, he was inducted into the Mass. Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
In addition to his experience and knowledge of the game, Mahoney brings unbridled enthusiasm for volleyball, which has become contagious. At the same time, he knows that you need athletes to be successful and, as a security guard at the school, he’s always recruiting.
And he’s not just recruiting boys, either. He took over the girls program at Greater Lawrence two years ago and guided it to a 17-4 record last fall. Either gender, it doesn’t matter to him.
“I just like coaching kids,” said Mahoney, who also runs a youth program in the Merrimack Valley.
Volleyball Coaches of Year
2018: Sean Hogan, Timberlane 2017: John Dube, Timberlane; 2016: Matt Bynon, Windham; 2015: John Dube, Timberlane; 2014: John Roemer, Salem; 2013: Tony Hajjar, Lawrence; 2012: Matt Twomey, Methuen; 2011: Bill Kaste, Haverhill; 2009-10: E.J. Perry, Salem
Meuse makes Lancers believe
Record-setting Lawrence High star Jerimil German didn’t know quite what to think when he joined the track team on a whim for the first time this spring.
But Lancers head coach Bill Meuse quickly made him believe.
“Coach Meuse made track so easy to fall into,” said German. “The word ‘Can’t’ doesn’t exist in his vocabulary on the track. There is only improvement and never giving up. He gave me so much confidence.”
Meuse earns the Eagle-Tribune’s Pete O’Sullivan boys spring track Coach of the Year Award after leading Lawrence to a big season.
In his sixth season as Lancers head coach, Meuse also took home MVC Division 2 boys Coach of the Year after his squad won the dual meet league title with a 4-0 record.
Lawrence went on to repeat as North Decathlon team champs, placed an area-best fifth as a team at the EMass. Division 1 meet and was fourth as a team at MVCs.
The Lancers were led by German — who broke The Eagle-Tribune area record in the 100 dash (10.74) and was second at New Englands in his first year of track — along with fellow Eagle-Tribune All-Stars Alex Suarez (third at North Decathlon) and Eddie Gonzalez (44-10.5 triple jump).
Meuse is a former star athlete at Tewksbury High and Framingham State. As a college senior in 2006 he caught 57 passes for 775 yards and five touchdowns.
He went on to coach first as an assistant and then as head coach at Tewksbury. The Chelmsford resident took over as Lawrence indoor and outdoor head track coach in 2013-14.
A Lawrence High phys. ed. teacher, Meuse earned Eagle-Tribune girls indoor track Coach of the Year in 2017.
Boys Track Coaches of Year
Pete O’Sullivan Award
2018: Mike Leal, Central; 2017: Carol Quarles, Pinkerton; 2016: Mike Leal, Central; 2015: Peter Comeau, Andover; 2014: Carol Quarles, Pinkerton; 2013: Suzanne Johnson, Londonderry; 2012: Walter Roberts, Pinkerton;
2011: Mike Leal/Sully Grella, Central; 2009-10: Anthony Ellis, Lawrence; 2008: Steve Nugent, No. Andover; 2007: Mike Leal-Sully Grella, Central; 2006: Roger Fuller, Methuen; 2005: Steve Nugent, No. Andover; 2004: Joe Patrone, Lawrence; 2002-03: Pete O’Sullivan, Central
DelleChiaie keeps Knights rolling
When North Andover girls track coach Rick DelleChiaie’s name is mentioned, one word stands out above any other to recently-named Eagle-Tribune All-Star Rachel Brimmer — compete.
“Coach always pushed the team to compete, not just against opponents but against ourselves,” said Brimmer. “He always pushed me to go the extra mile. Even though I sometimes didn’t like it in the moment, he made me the best that I could be. I loved competing for coach Del.”
It was another huge year for North Andover, earning DelleChiaie his second straight Eagle-Tribune girls spring track Coach of the Year honors.
The Scarlet Knights dominated the MVC Meet, winning the team title by 39 points. They took second as a team at the EMass. Division 2 meet and EMass. Division 2 relays after winning it indoors.
The Knights were led by Eagle-Tribune All-Stars Brimmer (37-3 triple jump), Trinity Tapper (12.39 100 dash), Abby Mastromonaco (5:19.67 mile) and Sarah Lavery (5-8 high jump).
A 1983 North Andover High grad, DelleChiaie was a captain for the Knights in cross country and track and was a member of record-setting relays.
Having just closed out his 21st spring as Scarlet Knights girls coach, DelleChiaie has won Eagle-Tribune girls spring track Coach of the Year five times, girls indoor track Coach of the Year once and cross country Coach of the Year twice.
DelleChiaie, who has a passion for the beach, had another reason to celebrate this spring. His daughter, former North Andover runner Laura, graduated from Worcester State.
Girls Track Coaches of Year
2018: Rick DelleChiaie, No. Andover; 2017: Steve Derro, Pentucket; 2016: Nick Collopy, Methuen; 2015: Steve Derro, Pentucket; 2014: Sotirios Pintzopoulos, No. Reading; 2013: Steve Nugent, No. Andover; 2012; Katie Andrade, Central; 2011: Rick DelleChiaie, No. Andover;
2010: Peter Comeau, Andover; 2009: Rick DelleChiaie, No. Andover; 2008: Katie Andrade, Central; 2007: Sotirios Pintzopoulos, No. Reading; 2006: Rick DelleChiaie, No. Andover; 2005: Peter Comeau, Andover; 2004: Jodi Linehan-Kriner, Central; 2003: Peter Comeau, Andover; 2002: Mike Maguire, Haverhill
Piatelli leads Central to new heights
Quite a few records within the Central Catholic boys lacrosse program that stood ahead of the 2019 season crumbled by the end of it, and the Raiders owe a lot of their success to the man in charge, Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year Chris Piatelli.
The MVC Coach of the Year, in his sixth season, led the Raiders to a 17-4 finish, taking them to the Division 1 North semifinals.
Central won the MVC, allowed the fewest goals per game it ever had, scored more goals than it previously had and put together perhaps its best season ever under Piatelli this year.
The Raiders allowed just 5.09 goals per game this year, while scoring 9.8 goals per game themselves.
The Raiders performed at such a high level that John Pynchon, the coach of the St. John’s Prep team that beat Central on May 28, then again in the tournament, went out of his way to compliment the work Piatelli has done.
“Chris has done a great job building this program the last couple years,” Pynchon said after the May 28 game. “They are as good as anyone we’ve played this year.”
Piatelli comes from a coaching family, after his father Lary Piatelli, a former Harvard Hockey player, used to coach football and hockey at Governor’s Academy.
When he’s not coaching the Raiders, Piatelli, who played lacrosse at Hamilton College, is a managing director and coach with the Middlesex Bears Elite Lacrosse Club.
Piatelli is now an Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year for the first time.
Boys Lacrosse Coaches of Year
2018: Brendan Megan, Salem; 2017: Ken Blaszka, Timberlane; 2016: Dan Leary, Pentucket; 2015: Brian O’Reilly, Pinkerton; 2014: Dan Leary, Pentucket; 2013: Ryan Connolly, No. Andover; 2012: Ryan Richards, Whittier; 2011: Chuck Campobasso, No. Reading; 2010: Kevin Lally, Central; 2009: Matt Regan, Pelham; 2008: Steve Connolly, No. Andover; 2006-07: Wayne Puglisi, Andover; 2005: Chuck Campobasso, No. Reading; 2004: Wayne Puglisi, Andover; 2003: Steve Connolly, No. Andover; 2002: Tom Sawyer, Londonderry
North Andover continues dominance under Prior
After two Division 1 North championships in three years, North Andover failed to make it past the first round of last year’s playoffs. Despite the fact that the Knights were still a young team (six total seniors), they turned 2018’s 11-10 campaign into a 17-6 season that included a trip to the Division 1 North semifinals under Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year Meredith Prior.
Prior, a former Merrimack College player, set the Knights up to be strong defensively. All year, they allowed opponents to score in double digits just six times, averaging 6.95 goals allowed per game throughout the season.
Meanwhile, they nearly doubled that with 12 goals a game on average, utilizing a number of midfielders and attackers on offense, leading to four players scoring more than 30 goals.
From a lacrosse standpoint, the Knights were successful, and in a motivational sense, Prior helped them get there. After a slight midseason stumble, she implemented the “puzzle piece” mantra, giving every player a role to fit into the jigsaw of the team.
North Andover went on to win nine of its last 11 games, and defender Cate Cheevers said Prior’s tactic “definitely helped mesh the team.”
Prior, who also coaches with Storm Club Lacrosse, is now a three-time Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year, having won it in 2014 and 2016.
Girls Lacrosse Coaches of Year
2018: Rob Daziel, Pinkerton; 2017: Cat Gross, Andover; 2016: Meredith Prior, No. Andover; 2015: Maura Murphy, Windham; 2014: Meredith Prior, No. Andover; 2013: Rob Daziel, Pinkerton; 2012: Jill Bartlett, Windham; 2011: John McVeigh, Andover; 2010: Jen Resmini, Pelham; 2009: Bob Slater, Londonderry; 2008: Melinda Cripps, Haverhill; 2007: Karen Lahey, No. Andover; 2006: Erin Carroll, Brooks; 2005: Faith Wahlen, Salem; 2004: Bryon Murphy, Pinkerton; 2003: Alan McCarthy, Masconomet; 2002: Ryan Polley, Andover
Hibino’s Andover still the team to beat
There is a gold standard for girls tennis in the MVC, and it is the one that the Andover High tennis program has set under Alan Hibino.
The (previously) two-time Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year (2015 and 2016) will add a third honor after leading the Warriors to yet another MVC title, once again in dominant fashion.
Andover cleaned up in the MVC, beating each one of its conference opponents, 5-0. The Warriors’ only regular season loss came in a 3-2 defeat to Wellesley in early May.
The Warriors went on to finish 18-2, falling, 3-2, to eventual Division 1 state champion Acton-Boxboro in the north semifinals.
Andover’s season was as much an individual success as it was a team success, with first singles player Isabel Zhou taking home both Eagle-Tribune MVP and MVC Player of the Year honors.
The doubles teams of Annette Kim/Caroline Yang and Anna Higgins/Grace Lyons were also Eagle-Tribune All-Stars and All-MVC, while Andover’s two other singles players, Corina Muntean and Sidney Conway, were also All-MVC selections.
Hibino, an Andover High graduate, is also the girls varsity basketball coach for the Warriors, having worked as an assistant with the boys team for many years before that. He’s also led his Warriors tennis team to back-to-back Division 1 state titles in 2014 and 2015.
Girls Tennis Coaches of Year
2018: Joe Perrone, Methuen; 2017: Mike Keshigian, Windham; 2015-16: Alan Hibino, Andover; 2014: Doris Michaud/Becky Pierce, Gr.Lawrence; 2013: David Reed, Haverhill; 2011-12: Tom Meighan, Londonderry; 2010: Jen Deschenes, Andover; 2009: Jodi Michaud, Central; 2008: Patty Milka, Londonderry; 2007: Jen Deschenes, Andover; 2006: David Hughes, Andover; 2005: Patty Milka, Londonderry; 2003-04: Curt Killion, Salem; 2002: Tony Russo, Andover
Dulin delivered Knights a super year
Early in the season, Todd Dulin picked up his 200th win — highlighting what had already been a highly-successful first 13 years at North Andover. At the time, it would have been understandable if he thought that would be the most exciting thing to happen to him this season.
But man, would he have been wrong.
With Dulin, our 2019 Eagle-Tribune baseball Coach of the Year, at the helm, the Knights (20-4) had the greatest season in program history. They qualified for the school’s first-ever Super 8, and in a clean sweep won four straight games to take home the state championship. As the tournament’s No. 8 seed, the Knights beat the No’s. 1, 2 and 3 seeds on their way to the title.
“It’s just a great group of kids,” said Dulin on the Haverhill Stadium infield after clinching the Super 8 trophy. “I’m super proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish all year.”
Every button Dulin pressed was the right one.
Against St. John’s Prep in the Super 8 championship — and with a potential do-or-die follow-up game the next day — Dulin decided not to go with ace Sebastian Keane. No, he went with sophomore lefty Brendan Holland instead of the Red Sox draft pick, opening up the door for plenty of scrutiny if the Knights had lost that game.
But what ended up happening?
Holland tossed six scoreless innings, and Keane was fresh to throw the final three to bring home the championship. But then again, what else would you expect from a coach who knows how to utilize his talent like Dulin? There’s a reason he’s had three of the last five Tribune baseball MVPs.
And 13 years in, Dulin in showing no signs of stopping. He also won our Coach of the Year in 2009.
Baseball Coaches of Year
2018: Kevin Graber, Phillips; 2017: Marc Pelletier, Central; 2016: Eric Archambault, No. Reading; 2015: Brendan Neilon, Lawrence; 2014: Frank Carey, No. Reading; 2013: Billy Beauchesne, Pelham; 2012: Frank Carey, No. Reading; 2011: Brendan Neilon, Lawrence; 2010: Joe Boland, Whittier;
2009: Todd Dulin, No. Andover; 2008: Dan Keleher, Salem; 2007: Kevin Maloney, Gr.Lawrence; 2006: Frank Carey, No. Reading; 2005: Mark Rowe, Georgetown; 2004: Brent Demas, Londonderry; 2003: Eric Cyr, Methuen; 2002: Scott Blaney, Gr. Lawrence
Hall lifts Jaguars to best year
It may still be in its infancy as a school, but Windham High has already enjoyed tons of athletic success. Jon Hall has witnessed a lot of it, and thought why can’t the boys tennis team join the fun?
So that’s just what the Jaguars did this spring.
When Hall, our 2019 Eagle-Tribune boys tennis Coach of the Year, took over in 2016, the program was just coming off a two-win season. But those are the days of the past. This spring, the Jaguars (11-4) breezed through the regular season and qualified for the Division 2 state tournament, where they beat Kennett, 6-3, to earn the program’s first ever playoff win.
“This year’s team established the school’s best record and first appearance in the state semifinal,” said Hall. “From top to bottom, all of the boys have made great progress.”
The Jaguars lost to undefeated, top-seeded Hollis-Brookline in the semis, but there was no shame in that.
Big picture, the team has progressively improved over Hall’s time, and that doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon. The Jaguars will return plenty of talent next spring, led by rising senior Parker Andreoli.
For Hall, this is his first Tribune Coach of the Year award.
Boys Tennis Coaches of Year
2018: Greg Wilkin, Phillips; 2017: Christian Langlois, Pentucket; 2016: Mike Wartman, Andover; 2015: Joe Perrone, Methuen; 2014: Eric Allshouse, Lawrence; 2013: Ken Najem, Lawrence; 2012: Bill Knee, Londonderry; 2011: Paul Bergesen, No. Andover; 2010: Lisa Terwilliger, Pelham;
2009: John Pelkey, Pinkerton; 2008: Gary Duranko-Michael Jolicoeur, Salem; 2007: Dick Canepa, Pentucket; 2006: Gary Duranko-Michael Jolicoeur, Salem; 2005: Rob Mailey, No. Andover; 2004: Mark Bisognano, No. Reading; 2002-03: David Hughes, No. Andover