Patriot Community Sports

Perry’s Undefeated Salem Boys Volleyball Has Five Year Winning Streak

by Tommy Gates

Jared Scali avoids the block attempt by Timberlane.

The Salem Blue Devil boys’ volleyball team keeps on rolling as they made quick work of Souhegan Thursday October 9, in a 3-0 sweep at Amherst.  They also fought off an upset minded Timberlane team Saturday October 11, eventually sweeping the Owls 3-0.  Coach E. J. Perry keeps getting solid contributions from whomever he places on the floor from game to game. 

At Souhegan, the Blue Devils used mostly their bench to defeat the 2-10 Sabres, doing it with scores of 25-20, 25-14, and 25-9.  Salem senior Meme Okeke had another big night with 14 kills to lead the Blue Devil front-liners, while Mike Sapochetti had seven big blocks up front.  Junior Chris Barnes was busy handing out 29 assists on the evening and co-captain Sean Stewart picked up a dozen service points, with three of them being aces.

Coach Perry has been so very, very, quiet on the Salem bench this fall that it has been worrisome but Perry was up and barking at his team in the first game last Saturday against Timberlane.  The Owls led by a couple of points through most of the first game until Salem went ahead late 24-22, pulling out a 27-25 victory.  The other two games wouldn’t be that close as Salem won 25-14 and 25-19 for their unprecedented 89th victory in a row. 

Salem’s two junior sensations, Jason Kinney and Dan Tiner spent more time up in their air than on the court.   Turner exploded for 16 kills, while Kinney fired 14 kills back at the Owls.  Meme Okeke had nine huge blocks at the net, and junior Jared Scali played very well with seven blocks.  Chris Barnes came up with 32 assists for the day and Sean Stewart had another 12 service points with three more aces.  Coach Perry’s Blue Devils will look to win their last two regular season matches on the road this week when they travel to Mascenic, and then  Londonderry, before the Boys Volleyball Tournament starts next week.

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Salem’s Girls Soccer Team Keeps on Rolling

by Tommy Gates

Sara Raye, just back from an injury, is congratulated after scoring a goal against Timberlane.

Salem’s golf team was the top story around this big sports town the last couple of weeks with their first ever Class L title, but now a lot of attention has turned to coach Kendrick Whittle’s Blue Devil girls soccer team.  The Blue Devil girls’ booters won a pair of games last week to stretch their unbeaten steak to seven wins in a row when they went to Nashua and bashed Bishop Guertin on October 9, 3-1, and then trounced Timberlane on October 11, 4-0 during the Blue Devils Homecoming Weekend.  These two wins give Salem a 10-1-1 record entering the last two weeks of the regular season, but Salem is still pumped up to meet power teams like Concord, Goffstown, Dover, and they wind up the regular season Friday October 24 against a very strong Exeter team starting at 4 p.m. 

This team has been winning with two starters out of the line-up, as junior forward, Sarah Raye just returned to the field Saturday to score her teams’ second goal against Timberlane, and sophomore defender, McKenzie Miller told me that she’s looking to get back into the line-up this Friday night October 17, when the Blue Devils will host Dover, beginning at 4 p.m.

Junior forward, Cassie Chase, is becoming one of the top scorers in this area, and she hasn’t done anything to hurt herself in Salem’s two games last week.  Chase put the Blue Devils on the scoreboard first at Bishop Guertin, and would later add another goal in a huge 3-1 win against the Cardinals.  Sophomore Gina Righini picked up an assist on Chase’s second score, and teammate Kayla Provenzano would add another score to give the Blue Devils the 3-1 road win.

Last Saturday was Homecoming Weekend for the Blue Devils and Coach Whittle’s girls got together with Coach Tony Karibian’s boys’ soccer team and went out and collected a ton of food for the town’s food pantries, which just gives you a little idea of how classy these kids are.  These feisty girls kept up the collecting way of thinking in their Saturday match-up with Pinkerton too, as co-captain Caitlin Peters set up Cassie Chase for her first of two goals on the day, and the Blue Devils had a quick 1-0 lead over the Timberlane Owls.  Not too much later, Salem’s 4’ 10” 85 pound spitfire, Gina Righini weaved her way through traffic and put a perfect pass on the foot of junior Sarah Raye, and Raye didn’t waste any time tingling the twine in the back of the Owl net.  Leading 2-0, the Salem girls struck again as Amanda Vaudreuil made it 3-0 on a great goal out in front of the net, with the assist coming from Sarah Raye.  During halftime, the Blue Devil’s girls all gathered around in a circle to talk about what to do in the second half, holding onto a big 3-0 lead.  Chase would pick up her second goal of the game, and ninth of the season to give the Blue Devils the 4-0 win, which upped their Class L record to 10-1-1. 

Salem goalie, Sara Snyder was only called on to make one save in this game, as girls like Peters, Hannah LaRochelle and Christine Gossen kept the Owl attackers in their own end.  Salem will travel to Concord early this week and will then host Dover Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., before heading over to Goffstown Monday October 20, for a 4 p.m. game.  They will finish up their Class L regular season next Friday October 24, at 4 p.m. when the No. 1 ranked Exeter Blue Hawks (10-0) come to town.

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Salem Hall of Fame Inducts Five at Awards Dinner

by Tommy Gates

From left: Thomas M. Palance, Senator John Sununu, Kimmie Camuso Rose, David Ruffin and Andrew Lacroix, inductees into the Salem High School Hall of Fame.

On Friday night, October 10, a mass of Salem area sports enthusiasts and socialites descended on the Atkinson Country Club for the 2008 Salem High/Woodbury Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Newly appointed Salem High Athletic Director Dave Rozumek emceed.  The Hall of Fame Committee looked for some of the greatest athletes to induct into this elite group, but recently the committee decided to include area citizens, who contribute a big commitment to the community in civic clubs or other high ranking positions in government, music, or other areas besides sports.  This night, five new inductees would be introduced to the throng of people – Andy LaCroix - Class of 2003, Thomas M. Palance - Class of 1977, Kimmie Camuso Rose - Class of 1991, David Ruffen - Class of 1982, and Senator John Sununu, also Class of 1982.

LaCroix was introduced by his longtime wrestling coach at the Boys and Girls Club, Brent Whittaker, who was a Blue Devil star on the mat in 1985 - 1988.  LaCroix was a big reason why the Blue Devils were among teams to rule this area from 1999 - 2003 and he was All-State and All-New England wrestler in his years at Salem High.

Thomas Palance was a key member of Salem High’s marching band in the 1970s and it was great that he chose his former band director, Al Laflamme, to introduce him.  This trumpeter was involved in this band when it had more than 400 members in it and everybody who had a big parade wanted the Salem High band in it.  (So not too much has changed here).  Palance was a member for years of the Naval Band.

Kimmie Camuso Rose from the Class of 1991 was introduced by her longtime Salem track coach Todd Seastedt.  Kimmie, she of the never ending smile that always adorned her face, excelled in the triple jump, long jump, and high jump, but she was also a terrific volleyball player for Salem when the sport just got started.  Camuso was also a very accomplished softball player and in 1986 was the first Salem Girls Softball League player to crack a home run out of John Brian Memorial Field.

Dave Ruffen was a terrific basketball player for the Blue Devils in the early 1980s so he chose his wife, Cheryl (Shambarger), to present him to the crowd.  Dave is the second Ruffen to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, as older brother Tommy was inducted in 1989.  Dave Ruffen even had to play basketball for his eventual brother-in-law, the late Bob Rhoades, but Dave always excelled on the court.

Sununu was the last member to be announced, he was represented by his former Salem teacher and Salem High Principal R. Patrick Corbin.  Sununu is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate against Jeanne Shaheen.   Speaking about the senator, Corbin had the crowd in fits of laughter when he told of sending home a letter or progress report on how Sununu was doing in school to his parents John and Nancy, and he got his letter returned a few days later with his grammar corrected by Sununu’s father.

It was a terrific event for Salem High School, which all of us must know by now, is the No. 1 sports high school in New Hampshire, as declared by Sports Illustrated in June of 2008.

Brent Whittaker, who spoke about inductee Andrew Lacroix from the class of 2003

Inductee Thomas Palance listens as Albert Laflamme tells the story about his relationship with Palance.

Kimmie Camuso Rose from the class of 1991

David Ruffin from class of 1982 

Patrick Colburn congratulates Senator John Sununu after inducting the senator, outlining how he had been Sununu’s principal 10 of his 12 years in the Salem school system.

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Salem Girls Volleyball Sweeps Timberlane Without All-Stater Amanda Saab

by Tommy Gates

Salem girls volleyball coach Dan Young couldn’t use his senior sensation, Amanda Saab, last Saturday in the blue Devils big clash with Timberlane, because Saab had twisted an ankle earlier in the week, and Young wanted to make sure it was 100 percent healed before Amanda stepped out on the court.  Salem split its two matches last week when it lost to No. 1 Spaulding in Rochester 3 - 0, but swept the Owls Saturday with Saab sitting on the sidelines.  This gives coach the team an 11 - 2 record going into the last week of the regular season and it’s not going to be any surprise that Spaulding 12 - 1, Pinkerton 12 - 1, Nashua North 12 - 1, and Salem 11 - 2, are going to be the top teams looking for a Division I title.

Saab had 16 kills at Spaulding Wednesday night and freshman Kerry White rejected five blocks. Senior Becca Weiss served for eight points, three of them aces and she also had a dozen digs.  Sarah Scott pitched in with 26 assists, but the Red Raiders won the three games 25 - 18, 25 - 15, and 25 - 23.

Saturday morning the Blue Devils had a chance to see what they could do against the Owls, and Salem didn’t waste any time taking the three games 25 - 17, 25 - 13, and 25 - 19.  Senior Weiss led the assault with 11 kills, but Casey Peters had a great afternoon with five kills and played a great all-around match.  White had four more blocks, Weiss served for nine points, and Scott had another 26 assists.  Following the win, Young said, “Casey Peters played very well for us today and that’s what we need coming into the playoffs.  Kerry White continues to do a nice job at the net, and little Erica Gallo played very well for us out there.  We have three matches left before the playoffs start, and I want to get Amanda back healthy, but you look at the top four teams, and we’ve all taken turns beating each other.  I just want us to be playing our best ball at the end of October like we did last year.  I’m not one to worry about winning streaks, just championships!

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Salem Girls Field Hockey Loses 2 - 1 to Londonderry Then Ties With Owls

by Tommy Gates

Taylor Healey drives the ball downfield.

The Salem girls field hockey team lost a tough 2 - 1 decision to No. 1 Londonderry last Wednesday afternoon and then wound up in a 0 - 0 tie in overtime last Saturday morning during the Blue Devils Homecoming Weekend.  This gives coach Carol Merchant’s girls an 8 - 2 - 2 record as they approach their last two games of the regular season when they’ll will have hosted 9 - 3 - 1 Dover on Wednesday in a big game that could decide the number two, three or four seed going into the playoffs, and then wrap it up Friday October 17 at 4 p.m. when the Manchester West Blue Knights come to town.

Salem is the defending Class L champions from the last three years, but if anybody had told Merchant that she has a chance to finish the regular season with a 10 - 2 - 2 record, I don’t think that she’d be ashamed!  This team lost 10 starters from last year, including their goaltender and only had defenseman Erica DePinto returning.  Every other girl on this year’s team was either a sub or played on the J.V. team last year, but they have come of age in the past two months.

Last Wednesday Ashlynn Moerloos gave the Blue Devils an early 1 - 0 lead in the first half, but the Lancers would tie it about five minutes later when a long shot from about 30 yards out to the left of the Salem net took about seven or eight bounces and caught the far end of the net for the tying goal.  Salem junior goalie Jamie Klufts came up with four saves but midway through the second half, Londonderry’s Kayla Green found the back of the Salem net with an assist going to Kristin Spera.  Salem’s Taylor Healey, Jenn Azarian, Nicole Rozumek, and Chelsea Muldowney were all taking shots at the Lancer net, but goalie Emily Baker made nine huge saves to keep the Lancers at 10 - 1 - 1 and in the No. 1 seed going into the final week of the regular season.

Saturday, Timberlane came to town for a big game as it was 7 - 3 coming in and was the team that the Blue Devils defeated 4 - 0 in the Class L championship game last fall.  So both teams were pumped and jacked to get this game going.  Salem suffered a serious blow when Muldowney went down after a whack to the head and she never returned, but the Blue Devils again had several real good scoring chances.  Klufts had to make seven saves for the Blue Devils, while Owls goalie Brittany MacFarland-Bateman had to stop eight Salem shots to secure her shutout.  Salem got real good games from Leeann Vadala, who was all over the field, Carly Federico, who played tough defense, and Katie Foyle and Lauren Meissner, who kept Timberlane’s scoring chances at a minimum. 

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22-0 Blue Devils Win State Title over Trinity - 2008 Class L Boys Basketball Champions

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