Cape May County Gazette Leader Sports

Good start for WCHS tennis

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, September 17, 2014 05:27 pm

It had been a rough go in recent years for the Wildwood Catholic High School girls tennis team. The Crusaders always seemed to field a very inexperienced team and often struggled to win even a few matches each season.

They’ve reversed the trend so far this fall.

Wildwood Catholic suffered only its first defeat in five matches so far this season Monday afternoon when it dropped a 3 ½-1 ½ decision to Holy Spirit. The point at first singles was halved when Catholic’s Madison McNicholas and Spirit’s Julia Dalzell could not finish a three-set marathon due to impending darkness. The players were tied at 5-5 in the third set when the match was called.

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WCHS baseball coach steps down

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, September 17, 2014 05:24 pm

Wildwood Catholic High School is seeking a new head baseball coach.

Bill Gianakopoulos has stepped down after three seasons due to increased job commitments, Wildwood Catholic athletic director Sal Zuccarello said.

Gianakopoulos, a former standout player at Wildwood Catholic, posted a career mark of 18-49. The Crusaders went 5-17 last spring but only had one senior on the roster. They are expected to return a large number of seniors in 2015, led by infielder/pitcher Kevin Laffey, pitcher/outfielder Tyler Norris and outfielder/pitcher Sal Zampirri.

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Crusaders taking a step forward

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, September 17, 2014 05:22 pm

Wildwood Catholic's Caitlin McMullan scored three goals against Cape May Tech. STONE HARBOR – Through four games, the Wildwood Catholic High School girls soccer team has shown the rest of the Cape-Atlantic League that it is no longer a pushover.

The Crusaders moved their record to 2-2 Tuesday afternoon following a convincing 8-0 result over Cape May Tech, putting them halfway to their win total of last season only four games into the 2014 campaign.

Sophomore Caitlin McMullan recorded a hat trick, freshman Noelle Johnson added two goals and seniors Becky Andress, Olivia Rulon and Gia Tammmaro each added one for the Crusaders, who led 6-0 at the half.

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Nicholas a defensive rock for Lady Tigers

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Written by Brian Cunniff Wednesday, September 17, 2014 05:19 pm

BRIANNE NICHOLAS ERMA – Brianne Nicholas is a defender for the Lower Cape May Regional High School field hockey team but moves up to offense when her team earns a penalty corner opportunity.

On Monday against Middle Township, Nicholas never got the chance to play offense because her team got zero corner chances.

But despite being completely uninvolved in her team’s two scoring plays, Nicholas may have been the biggest reason the Lady Tigers recorded a rather unlikely 2-1 overtime win over their biggest rival.

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LCM stuns Middle in field hockey

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Written by Brian Cunniff Monday, September 15, 2014 08:08 pm

ERMA – If you’ve ever been to a high school field hockey game, you may have heard the chant “every corner is a goal” by the substitute players when their team is awarded a penalty corner chance.

That saying certainly did not apply to the Middle Township High School field hockey team Monday afternoon. The Lady Panthers scored just once off of an amazing 30 penalty corner chances and were left stunned when Lower’s Carissa Scott scored on just her team’s third shot on goal of the game a little more than three minutes into overtime as the Lady Tigers came up with a shocking 2-1 victory.

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Catholic and Middle on level terms

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Written by Brian Cunniff Saturday, September 13, 2014 04:39 pm

Middle's Nik Anagnou (left) and Catholic's Anthony Zampirri starred in the 1-1 draw STONE HARBOR – You never know what you’re going to get during rivalry games.

You can occasionally see the ugly side, with trash talking, chippy play and overzealousness from fans.

But sometimes, you get what happened in Friday’s Middle Township-Wildwood Catholic boys soccer game – an intense, well-played game with great exhibitions of sportsmanship.

The contest ended in a 1-1 draw, Middle preventing a mild Wildwood Catholic upset when Trent Canter scored six minutes from full time to bring his side to equal terms. Wildwood Catholic had taken the lead early in the second half on Sal Zampirri’s exquisitely placed free kick from 19 yards after teammate Tyler Mericle was fouled during a challenge on a ball in the air.

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Banged-up Middle falls just short in opener

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Written by Brian Cunniff Saturday, September 13, 2014 08:25 am

Middle Township marches into Memorial Field ahead of its game against Vineland on Friday. CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Colin Cooper’s catch and run on a 72-yard touchdown reception epitomized the effort of the Middle Township High School football team Friday night.

Cooper caught the long pass near the Vineland 30-yard line, then broke a series of tackles and practically carried two Vineland defenders on his back as he crossed the goal line to draw the Panthers within a point with 47 seconds remaining in the game.

Middle coach Frank Riggitano, knowing his team was besieged by injuries to that point, decided to go for a two-point conversion and the lead rather than kicking the extra point and most likely setting up overtime. Joe Durso’s pass on the conversion was tipped away at the goal line and Vineland recovered the ensuing onsides kick to hold on for a 27-26 victory.

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Gibson ties LCM scoring mark

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 12, 2014 09:16 am

Gabriella McKeown. Jen Fetsick. Mike Gavin.

They are some of the most prolific scorers in the history of high school soccer in Cape May County.

Madie Gibson has a chance to pass them all.

Gibson, a senior forward at Lower Cape May Regional High School, scored her fourth and fifth goals of the season and 90th of her career during Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Cedar Creek that improved her team to 3-0 for the season.

Gibson is now tied for the program’s all-time lead with former teammate Gabriella McKeown, who’s currently contributing as a freshman at Division I Temple University. And, of course, she was also just 10 away from the magical 100-goal mark, a plateau that’s been reached by a female player from the county only four times. The county leader is Wildwood’s Jen Fetsick, who netted 109 in a career that ended in 2003.

Also within reach is Mike Gavin’s overall school soccer scoring record of 111 goals.

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No imminent demise for Middle

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 12, 2014 09:12 am

WILDWOOD – Anyone who may have thought the Middle Township High School boys soccer team’s run of success was over when 10 senior starters graduated from last season’s South Jersey championship club is greatly mistaken.

Middle, with a lineup full of sophomores and juniors, has looked mighty impressive through two games, picking up an important Cape-Atlantic National Conference win in a 2-0 road result over Buena late last week before handling non-league foe Wildwood, 6-0, on Tuesday evening at Maxwell Field.

“When we went up to Buena we started 10 kids who were starting a varsity game for the first time, and when you do that you’re never sure what you’re going to get,” Middle coach John Maher said. “But our five sophomores (who started) trapped and passed pretty well and played under composure.”

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Middle must overcome early injuries

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 12, 2014 09:09 am

Captains Joe Durso (left) and Donovan Howard lead the Middle Township football team into a new season. When the Middle Township High School football team held a mini camp in June, head coach Frank Riggitano was quite pleased with the team’s depth.

“When we came out of mini camp, it looked like we might only have three kids (starting) both ways,” he said.

The preseason turned into a different story, however. Injuries to key personnel, the loss of two players due to their respective families’ relocation out of the area and some disciplinary measures leave Middle a little short heading into its opener against Vineland on Friday evening at 7 at Memorial Field.

Still, Middle is optimistic this can be a very good season. The Panthers went 4-6 last fall with a large group of underclassmen, many of whom are now more experienced seniors and juniors. In addition, the preseason injuries have allowed some younger players to gain more playing time in practice and scrimmages, which certainly can do nothing but help.

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Caper Tigers appear in better shape

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 12, 2014 09:07 am

The Lower Cape May Regional High School football team is still on the young side but has improved numbers and depth. Among the team’s leaders are (from left): top row - Zach Hagen, Shane Szubski. Dylan Harrison, Anthony Wilson, Kevin Alexander; bottom row - Bottom- Alex Fazio, Isaac Whitmore, Brian Donahue, Andrew Robb, Zack Campbell, Anthony Prats. There is one burning question as the Lower Cape May Regional High School football team prepares for its season opener in Delaware this weekend: Are the Caper Tigers better equipped to compete?

The answer seems to be yes.

Lower Cape May has had more than 40 players in its program this preseason. That might not be an overwhelmingly high number for a school that sits on the large side of Group II, but it’s certainly better than what it had last season. The Tigers, as was highly publicized, were forced to forfeit their last four games by the Cape-Atlantic League after the team announced it could not play Holy Spirit in late October due to a lack of healthy players. Lower played junior varsity contests for the remainder of the season.

This year’s Lower team is still a little short on experience – there are many underclassmen among the ranks – but it certainly seems in better position to handle the rigors of an entire season at the varsity level.

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Another numbers game at Wildwood

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 12, 2014 09:04 am

MIKAL POTEAT High school football coaches in New Jersey spent the last couple of weeks of August and the first week of September honing the skills of their players as they prepare for their season openers.

But at Wildwood, the coaches were simply trying to find players.

The Warrior football program is again in a tenuous position, preparing for its season opener against Gloucester Friday at home with only about 20 players in the program. The ineligibility of a couple of upperclassmen, apathy about making a commitment to the sport among much of the male student body and the simple fact that Wildwood is such a small school to begin with have left the Warriors at an extreme disadvantage going into Friday’s home game against the vaunted Lions.

“We’re struggling for numbers,” said new Wildwood coach Bruce Lazaruk, who’s previously been a head coach at Hammonton, Rancocas Valley and Riverside over a long career in the game. “But from what I understand, that’s not the exception here but more of the rule. We’re in that boat again.”

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So. Cape May County girls tennis preview

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 05, 2014 10:49 am

Taylor Schad will play No. 1 singles for the MTHS girls tennis team for the third straight season. Most of the area high school girls tennis teams begin a new season this Friday. The following is a look at each of the area’s teams:

LOWER CAPE MAY

Lower won just four matches last season but brings back four players, including seniors Jess Hedum and Carolyn Megonigal, who will compete at first and second singles, respectively, after playing at second and third singles, respectively, last season.

Also returning are juniors Haley Riess and Sam Sandhoff, who are set to play at first doubles.

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LCM, Middle field hockey teams look strong

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Written by Brian Cunniff Friday, September 05, 2014 10:30 am

Carrie Wunder (left) and Brianne Nichols lead the 2014 Lower Cape May field hockey team. Both the Lower Cape May Regional and Middle Township high school field hockey teams enjoyed good seasons last fall. Both are primed to be successful again in 2014.

The following is a look at the area’s two high school field hockey teams:

LOWER CAPE MAY

Lower Cape May begins the season with a different head coach for the third straight year, as Rachael Dix has taken over for Amie Hoch, who moved out of the area after leading the program for one season.

Lower returns seven starters from last season’s 10-8 team that won two state playoff games to reach the sectional semifinal round. But the club doesn’t have a lot of depth with only about 15 players total in the program. As a result, the Lady Tigers will not be playing junior varsity contests this fall.

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