Salem co-coaches Mike Jolicoeur and Gary Duranko pulled a great bunch of Salem kids together last spring and were able to come away with a 17-0 record and the school’s first ever Class L title. Four of those Blue Devil racqueteers were seniors who started their careers as freshmen with coach Bob Rhoades, but Rhoades tragically passed away from an aneurism on March 18. For this, the seniors got the entire team together to dedicate the season to coach Rhoades, and they were able to come away with a 5-4 win over the Londonderry Lancers in the finals. Those four seniors that graduated in June, just happened to be four of Salem’s starting six players last year, so they definitely need some people to step up this spring if they have any thoughts of going back to the Class L finals. It’s very tough when you lose top-notch tennis players like Mike Cohen, Bobby Pike, Jeff Bunker and Timmy Briggs off your 17-0 championship team, but Jolicoeur and Duranko have a little extra jump in their step after watching their kids in the first week of practice. The Blue Devils were able to hit the tennis courts at Mary Queen of Peace Church real early this spring, because Ricky Russell and his town crew had the tennis nets all asset and ready to go earlier than ever, and everybody flocked their during the nice weather the past two weeks.
The Blue Devils will have senior Joel Vastl back from last years’ starting team, and Chris Correia will be returning also. Vastl was the Blue Devils’ No. 4 and No. 5 singles guy for the entire season and also doubled with Jeff Bunker to bring his team a title. Correia took over the No. 6 singles spot later on in the season and came through with flying colors for the champs. Two other seniors who saw some singles and doubles action last spring were Jordan Falconer and Mike Michalczyk, and both will be counted on heavily this season. Two other kids that are looking to crack the starting line-up are seniors Brian Peltz and Nick Letizio, and both of these kids are looking forward to their challenge matches later this week in practice. The Salem coaches are also presently looking at some real talented youngsters that include sophomore Ryan Breton, and freshman Chris Bacho, and they’ll have to make a decision soon, because this team will open up defense of their 2008 Class L title on Wednesday April 15 when they’ll travel to Goffstown to take on the Grizzlies, and will then host 2008 Class L runner-up Londonderry on Friday April 17 at 4 p.m. at Michele Park on Lawrence Road.
Brett Miller scored the only Blue Devil goal in Monday’s loss to Manchester Central
The Salem Blue Devil lacrosse team remembered how bad the Manchester Central Little Green beat them last spring in a 12-0 loss, but they couldn’t do anything about it last Monday afternoon in Salem. Central’s Marc Perroni made a quick impression on the Salem players in this game as he went down behind Salem’s net and came around and flicked the first goal of the game past Blue Devil goalie Shaun Russell with 13:35 left in the first quarter. Just to show the Blue Devils that it wasn’t an accident, Perroni did the same exact thing with the exact play and exact results just 22 seconds later, and Central led 2-0 with 13:13 left in the opening quarter, and this led Salem coach Chris Kelleher to use his first time out. That seemed to work for the next four minutes, but the Salem kids couldn’t muster a shot on the Central net, and then with 9:32 left in the first quarter Perroni struck again, scoring from around the right side of the Blue Devils goal to make it 3-0. A minute later Perroni looked like he was going to score his fourth goal of the quarter, but at the last second he spotted an open teammate and Billy Lawson scored the goal with Perroni picking up his first of three assists on the afternoon. Perroni would go on to tally seven goals and three assists, and Manchester Central took a 10-0 lead at half, enroute to a 13-1 win over the Blue Devils. Salem’s junior attacker Brett Miller was able to break up the shutout late in the fourth quarter with a goal, but now this group has to re-group in a hurry because they will be heading up to Exeter on Thursday to meet coach Billy Ball and the Exeter Blue Hawks.
Coach Faith Wahlen took her young Blue Devil girls lacrosse team up to the Manchester West Jamboree two Saturday’s ago for their first taste of competition on the year. The Blue Devils lost their first scrimmages of the spring, but a lot of that can be blamed on Salem only having a few returnees from last years’ squad that got beat by Londonderry in the Division 1 quarterfinals. Coach Faith Wahlen, who’s in her sixth year coaching at Salem said, “We definitely have a rebuilding team this season, but our goal is to still make the Division 1 playoffs. We have a battle going on for our goaltending position right now, and I probably won’t know who our starter is going to be until later this week. We’ll have another scrimmage later this week up at Exeter and then we’ll open the regular season Tuesday April 14 at Londonderry, who went to the championship game last spring and have almost the entire team back.”
A quick look back at players lost from last years’ squad starts out with Kyleigh Keating who transferred to Phillips Academy after tallying 83 goals to lead last years’ team. Sara Cino the goaltender graduated, as did attackers Ally Higgins, and Sarah Halbich. Tatum Dyer was a big scorer at midfield and her defenseman sister Taylor Dyer, also graduated and that’s a pretty tough six to replace. Salem co-captains Nicole Rozumek and Sarah Viehl are both senior midfielders that were the teams’ big scorers for the underclassmen last spring. Lauren Santo is another senior back, and junior Chelsea Muldowney will spearhead the Blue Devil defense along with sophomore Aja Metcalf. Some other girls who saw action last spring and are looking for bigger and better things this season are junior attackers, Lauren Burnett and Avery Neusch. Coach Wahlen can also see two new freshmen cracking the line-up as Taylor Righini is going to create some excitement at the midfield slot, (like her older sister Gina did on the soccer field and basketball court this year), and Kayla Breton will be looking to attack opposing goalies. Other returnees from last years’ squad that will be seeing a lot of playing time in hopes of cracking the starting line-up are senior attackers Emily Cook and Melissa Putnam, junior defensemen Alissa Horta and Ali Vivinetto, and junior attacker Christine DiChiara.