The Salem High School varsity men’s soccer team split this week’s matches against two tough opponents. The team took their show on the road by playing a tough physical match against Nashua North. The match was exciting, if not at times painful. Tackles were fast and furious, but the Salem team kept their poise throughout the game. The team showed its mental toughness and ability to focus under tough game conditions. Nashua scored first on a long ball played behind Salem’s defense. Salem fought back and Captain Brett Miller was able to serve a ball into senior Mike Abi-aad, who headed the ball into the back of the Titan net to tie the score. Throughout the second half, the play continued to be strong and physical; both teams tested each other. Nashua North took the lead on a penalty kick at the 60-minute mark, but Salem never gave up. With just four minutes remaining in regulation, Salem junior Peter Ventola pushed the ball to the left corner flag and whipped a cross into Brian Smart, who headed the ball home past the Titan keeper to tie the game. That was all the momentum Salem would need. Just 40 seconds into overtime, Peter Ventola controlled the ball down the left flank. He drew a defender and the keeper before slotting the ball across to Joao Vitor, and he finished the match with the infamous golden goal. Salem won 3-2. Coach Tony Karibian praised the resilience of his team and the ability to keep focused under pressure. In three overtime games this season, Salem has remarkably won two of them.
A talented Pinkerton team would spoil Homecoming Day by defeating the Blue Devils 3-1 on Saturday. Salem came back to the tie the game on a goal by Mike Abi-aad after giving up an early Pinkerton goal. Salem continued to play hard, and despite giving up an early goal in the second half, fought hard for the entire match looking for the equalizer. In pushing forward trying to tie the game, Salem gave Pinkerton a third opportunity to score. Coach Karibian said, “apart from those three chances, and our missed opportunities in front of their net, it was an even match. There were many lessons that could be learned from a loss like this. It is clear that we can play with Pinkerton, a perennial at the top of the tables in Class L soccer. We will reload, however, and be ready for Londonderry on Tuesday.”
It wasn’t to be on this day that saw a very disappointed Salem team leave the field after the match. Salem’s record stands at 6-2.
Upcoming game: Friday, October 2, at home against Memorial.
by Chris White
The Blue Devils split their Homecoming contests as they won three out of six possible games on a cool, crisp, and sunny autumn day last Saturday, September 26. The Homecoming was well-attended by Salem students, parents, teachers, alumni, and other fans. The Salem athletes and coaches did not disappoint as they collectively gave their best effort against the Astros and entertained fans throughout the day.
The Blue Devils delivered Coach Jack Gati’s 100th victory at Salem High School in grand fashion, winning convincingly over Pinkerton. The win gave Salem a commanding 4-0 record in Division I and provided Gati with his 200th career victory. The 16-year Blue Devil coach earned 100 wins as head coach of Trinity and Concord prior to his arrival in Salem in 1994.
In a game where many of the area football experts picked the Astros to win handily over Salem, the Blue Devils proved many of their doubters wrong. Running back Max Jacques led the rushing attack as usual with 152 yards on 27 carries. Meanwhile, his backfield mates took care of the scoring. Jerickson Fedrick ran the ball for two touchdowns on 10 carries for 71 yards and Alex Sobrado punched in for six points from the goal line as he collected 67 yards on 11 carries.
Once again, the hard work of the offensive line freed up the Salem backs and allowed quarterback Matt Cannone to complete five passes for 44 yards. He completed four of his passes to tight end Kyle Henrick for 40 yards and one pass to Jacques for a gain of four. Kicker Chris Saulnier connected on all three extra point attempts and booted home a 30-yard kick to add to the Salem offense.
The Salem defense played a solid game not allowing a Pinkerton score until the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils forced the Astros to punt on three occasions and Joe DiPalma picked off an interception.
“Beating a potential playoff team like Pinkerton is a big win coming four weeks into the season,” Gati said. “Hopefully it won’t be our biggest win this season, but it is a good win.”
The Salem girls’ soccer team put together an impressive shutout win against the Astros in a game that was very important for positioning in the NHIAA standings. Salem came into the game with a 6-1 record while Pinkerton was 5-2.
Salem jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half and then added a goal in the second 40 minutes. Playing great defense on both sides of the ball, the Blue Devils silenced the Astros.
Senior Sarah Raye and juniors Cassie Chase and Amanda Vaudreuil all connected for goals in the win. Junior midfielder Gina Righini provided two assists while Vaudreuil contributed one.
Sarah Snyder had several game-changing saves in the first half as she tallied eight saves for the game. She led a solid all-around defensive team effort. The entire defense locked down on the Astros and the Blue Devils controlled the play in the second half.
“We came out with a lot of energy and had a good deal of intensity which gave us the opportunity for the win,” Coach Kendrick Whittle said.
On Tuesday, Salem pulled out a 3-2 win over an undefeated Londonderry team at home. Righini and Chase kicked home the Salem’s first two goals and Raye scored on a penalty kicked for Salem’s third. The Blue Devils are now at the top of Class L with an 8-1 record.
Salem faced its toughest opponent of the season so far, but managed to keep its winning streak alive as it grew to 103 consecutive games. It took four games to win the contest this time, but an exuberant comeback by the Blue Devils from a 9-1 deficit in the third game almost finished off the Astros. The scores were 25-17, 25-14, 25-22, and 25-11 with Salem winning the first, second, and fourth games.
“The fourth game showed a lot of dominance winning 25-11,” Head Coach E.J. Perry said
Seniors Dan Tiner, Jared Scali, and Jason Kinney all had solid games up front. Kinney tallied 15 kills while Tiner had 11. Tiner also collected 12 service points and three aces for the Blue Devils. Scali and Kinney had 10 blocks each to lead Salem in controlling the net.
Setter Chris Barnes played an outstanding game as he handed out 42 assists and Libero C.J. Demarco contributed 11 digs in the winning effort. Junior Joe Gallant had his best game of the year with 12 kills and six blocks.
Salem won 3-0 at Coe-Brown of Northwood the following Tuesday to bring its record to 11-0 on the season. The team’s next home game will be its final one against Londonderry High School on Monday, October 12.
Goalie Allison Breton led the Salem defense with five saves as the team held Pinkerton scoreless until the final minutes of the game. Pinkerton, a team at the top of the Class L standings with Salem, came up with a goal just in time to secure the win.
“We definitely played very well,” Coach John Gatsas said. “We lost but we are happy with our performance because it shows we can play with them.”
The difference was Pinkerton’s ability to wear down Salem on the corners which eventually led to the Astro goal, Gatsas said. The loss was sandwiched between two home victories for Salem in which the Blue Devils defeated Merrimack 2-1 and Bishop Guertin 3-0.
Melissa Higgins and Chelsie Muldowney produced the two Salem scores against Merrimack. Meghan Bench assisted the goal by Higgins, while Higgins provided the assist for Muldowney’s goal.
Breton played very well in goal as she collected seven saves. Danielle Ferraro had a good game on the front line and Shayla Derosa played well defensively. Sarah Frahm, Danica Blakslee, and Taylor Buatti also had solid games in the victory.
All of the Salem scoring came in the second half in the victory over Bishop Guertin. Ferraro scored the game’s first goal off a pass from Bench nine minutes into the second half. The second goal was scored by Higgins who was assisted by Frahm. Muldowney scored the Blue Devil’s final goal of the game on another assist by Bench with 38 seconds left. Christie Cannone, Shayla Derosa, and Amanda Smigliani all played well on defense for Salem.
Salem’s final home game is Friday against Manchester Central. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. and the team’s seniors will be honored for Senior Day.
Salem took on a tough Astro team that entered the game with only one loss on the season. The Blue Devils also stood with one loss as they came into the game with a 6-1 record.
Both teams battled hard early on as the score was tied 1-1 at the end of the first 40 minutes. However, Pinkerton pulled away with two goals in the second half to earn the win. Mike Abi-aad provided the lone Salem goal while Nick LaRochelle assisted him in the act.
Salem dominated the first half, but the team’s play in the second half was a different story, Coach Tony Karibian said.
“We didn’t win balls in the second half,” he explained. “They got to more balls than we did and we didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to.”
The Blue Devils face a challenging schedule coming up. After hosting the Astros, the team’s record now stands at a solid 6-2 on the season. They play a strong Manchester Memorial team in their next game on Friday at 4 p.m.
Girls’ volleyball opened the Salem Homecoming with the first contest of the day. Although Salem lost in a straight set, the games were very close at 26-24, 25-19, and 25-20. In the first game, the score was tied 24-24 before Pinkerton pulled away for the two-point win. The Blue Devils fought hard in the second and third games but they still could not top an accomplished Astro team.
Courtney Wright and Nicole Boucher each led the team with five kills, while Melissa Oulett and Erica Begin both had four kills. Boucher also led the team with seven service points. Setter Sarah Scott contributed 19 assists in addition to having six service points. Erica Tilton also earned six digs in the loss.
Three days earlier, Salem disposed of Nashua South on the road 3-1. Wright led the Salem offense with eight kills. Boucher and Kerry White were second on the team in kills with five apiece. Scott tallied 19 assists and 19 service points and received help from Tilton, who had 17 service points and collected 14 digs.
After the Pinkerton game, Salem owns a 6-2 record in Division I and will host the Nashua North Titans on Friday at 6 p.m.
While the Salem Homecoming took place, the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams traveled to Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday to take part in the prestigious Manchester Invitational. The meet has a reputation of being one of the best cross country races in New England, if not the nation. With an elite division, teams come from all over New England to run the challenging five-kilometer (3.1 mile) course.
The girls’ team finished eighth out of 22 teams in the large school race. Junior Stephanie Cabral had a great performance finishing first for Salem and coming in at ninth overall at a time of 19:48. The Blue Devils’ second scorer was freshman Samantha Hutchins as she came in at 36th overall and achieved a time of 21:12.
Colleen Gill (81st overall, 22:18), Kerrin Foley (82nd overall, 22:19), and Amy DeNuzzio (95th overall, 22:42) also placed in the team’s top five to score for the Blue Devils. Amanda Buck and Emily Anyon ran hard in the race as Salem’s sixth and seventh runners.
The boys’ team came in 16th place out of 30 competitive teams at the large school division race. Ben Dutton led Salem as he came in 44th place overall, clocking in with a time of 17:41. Dan Schmidt’s run of 17:57 was good enough for second on Salem and 59th overall.
Eric Teuber stopped the clock at 18:18 to come in 78th overall, while Eric Hutchins and Mitch Dutton both crossed the line at 18:55 for 129th and 130th place respectively. John Rheaume and Nick Gallo also ran for the Blue Devils in the large school race as the team’s sixth and seventh runners.