We made it!!! CHS soccer girls reach state tourney for first time
The Chelsea High girl soccer team faced a busy and difficult final week of the season with four contests against some of their toughest rivals in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. The Lady Red Devils entered the home stretch of the 2011 campaign with a 6-6-1 record and needed four points out of the possible eight in order to maintain their .500 record, which is the magic number needed to qualify for the post season MIAA state tournament.
“We’ve had the goal of qualifying for the state tournament since the beginning of the season,” said CHS head coach Kim Huffer, “and now it all came down to the final week.”
The Lady Red Devils opened their quest for a tourney berth at Northeast Regional last Wednesday on a slick and muddy field. As always when Chelsea and Northeast match up, the game was a hard fought battle all the way. The contest was a back and forth affair, with both teams having a difficult time putting together scoring drives.
However, the Lady Red Devils broke through before the intermission when Loren Ramos scored the only goal of the game on a perfect cross from Zuleima Castillo. Northeast went on the attack in the second half, but a strong Chelsea defensive line kept Northeast off the board to preserve the 1-0 victory.
CHS freshman Delmy Mejia turned in a great game in goal, recording a total of 11 saves, nine of them coming in the second half.
On Friday, the CHS girls traveled to Methuen to face Presentation of Mary Academy. The game remained scoreless through the opening 20 minutes of the game. PMA broke the ice, scoring a goal after confusion in the Chelsea defensive line.
But the Lady Red Devils soon returned the favor with Castillo scoring on a quick leading pass from Ramos to deadlock matters at 1-1 at the half.
PMA once again came back to move out in front with a marker shortly after the intermission, , but then the Lady Red Devils went on the attack, eventually tying the game at 2-2 when Ramos reached the back of the PMA net, where matters stood until the final whistle.
“I was so proud of how well the team performed against PMA,” exuded Huffer. “They played with a lot of heart and a never-say-die attitude. They fought until the end with 10 shots on goal the second half. We just need to learn how to better capitalize on those opportunities so we can put a check into the win column.”
Monday the team took the field in their last home game of the season against first place conference foe Mystic Valley. “The girls were extremely excited for this game, wanting to avenge their loss earlier in the season to MV,” said Huffer.
After giving up an early goal, Chelsea bounced back on a goal by Castillo to knot matters at 1-1 by the half.
Both teams displayed a strong defensive game thereafter, with neither offense able to dent the other’s goal, thus ending the game at 1-1 on the scoreboard. However, the one point from the tie was the all-important fourth point that the Lady Red Devils needed to punch their ticket for their first ever Journey to the Tourney.
“This was one of the better games that we’ve played this season in terms of our teamwork and communication,” noted Huffer. “The girls were communicating on passes and finding their open teammates. Deisi Gonzales had a great game in midfield. Deisi had the tough job of playing man-to-man defense on one of Mystic Valley’s quick footed forwards. She rose to the challenge and was able to break up some scoring opportunities. This tie was the final point we needed to earn a place in the state tournament, something the seniors have been aspiring to for the past four years.”
With the tourney berth in hand, the Lady Red Devils ended their regular season on Tuesday with an 8-1 win over Greater Lawrence Tech. Chelsea went on the attack from the very beginning with Castillo scoring a goal four minutes into the game. Zuleima led the Lady Devils with four goals and one assist on the day, giving her 17 goals on the regular season.
Four other Lady Devils reached the back of the GL net: Ramos potted her 10th marker of the year; Sara Bourouis got her fifth goal of the season; and both Francis Teruel and Dzenana Karajic scored their first goals of the year.
The fine effort down the stretch gave Chelsea a final mark of 8-6-3 overall and 6-2-2 in the CAC, tying Chelsea with Minuteman for second place in the Small School Division of the CAC.
“The team is excited to have accomplished the first tourney appearance by a girls soccer team in Chelsea High history,” said Huffer. “I credit this year’s success to the time and energy that former coach Jen Gulko put into establishing the program, the hard work and conditioning that the girls did over the summer, and the girls’ overall heart and dedication to the team. They have surpassed expectations and given the school and community something to be proud of.”
Huffer and her crew now will await the tournament seedings, which were expected to be announced last night (Wednesday). The Lady Red Devils might have their first tournament game as early as this Saturday.
“We have no idea whom we will face, but we will be out on the field working to prepare for our first state tournament game,” added Huffer.
Boys soccer team wins CAC crown
The Chelsea High boys soccer team clinched an undisputed championship of the Large Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference with a 3-2 win over Whittier Tech last Wednesday.
Hugo Erazo scored all three goals for the Red Devils in the contest, which was not as close as the final score might indicate. Chelsea led 3-0 for almost all of te game, but Whittier made things tight at the end with a pair of markers. “I think we became a little too comfortable and let down a bit and we allowed things to get a bit anxious at the end ,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki.
Carlos Martinez, who has been on the sidelines for the past few weeks with a bad ankle sprain, saw limited action. Carlos came off the DL and played for about 20 minutes, assisting on two of Erazo’s goals.
“Carlos was nowhere near full speed, but his two assists in just a short time on the field showed how important he is to us,” noted Protasowicki.
With the Whittier contest marking the end of the regular season for the Red Devils, who finished up with a sterling 13-3-1 mark, Coach Mick Milutinovic and crew are in the midst of an almost two week layoff as they await the announcement of their seeding and pairing in the post season MIAA Division 1 State Tournament.
“We’ll be conducting some hard practices, which is a good thing because when you play so many games per week, it’s hard to find the time to work on the things that you need to improve upon,” noted Protasowicki. In addition, the layoff will give Carlos Martinez and his teammates plenty of time to recover from the bumps and bruises that are an inevitable part of any soccer season.
Five Red Devils were named to the conference all-star team: Carlos Martinez, Erazo, goalkeeper Jimmy Funes, defender Hector Ramirez, and freshman Dennis Martinez.
Volleyball team wins share of league title, earns tourney berth
For Chelsea High head coach Lisa Ceccherini and her Lady Red Devil volleyball team, it seemed like deju vu all over again after her squad defeated Fellowship of Christian Academy last Wednesday to earn a share of the championship of the Small Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference with Fellowship for the second year in a row with identical 7-1 division records.
The contest was a must win for Chelsea, which trailed Fellowship by one game in the standings, the difference between the victory by Fellowship over Chelsea earlier in the season.
The Lady Red Devils, who were celebrating Senior Night in front of their hometown fans, opened the match in strong fashion, taking the first game by a comfortable 25-18 score. However, Fellowship demonstrated why it always is a tough foe, winning the next two games, 25-17 and 25-14, to take a 2-1 advantage.
“We had our backs to the wall and were on the brink of defeat,” said Ceccherini. “But this team has shown its resiliency all season long and we were not going to leave the floor without giving it our best shot.”
The fourth game proved to be a dramatic battle, with both teams displaying their strengths and toughness. However, the Lady Red Devils were the first to reach 25 points to prevail 25-22, setting the stage for an exciting fifth and deciding game.
Although Fellowship played well, the Lady Red Devils were not about to disappoint their fans or themselves. They dug deep, literally and figuratively, and pulled out a thrilling 15-10 win to claim the match, 3-2.
“This was such a total team effort,” exuded Ceccherini afterwards. “Every girl on the team played a role and contributed to our victory.”
The coach in particular cited the performances of her senior captains, Jackie Lopez, Shuly Sejour, and Karolyn Moni as the chief catalysts in the win. “Jackie has stepped up her game amazingly in the second half of the season,” said Ceccherini. “She is very determined and always is looking for an opening to make a block or a kill at the net. She also has been a tremendous passer in both the front and back rows.
“Shuly has been a force at the net all season,” continued the coach. “Other teams back off when she’s at the net because they know she’ll either block their shot or unleash a powerful kill shot when she is set up.
“Karolyn is a our only setter, and it’s because of her that we score points, because she earns an assist on almost every point we make,” added Ceccherini. The coach also lauded the fine play of her other seniors, Helen Ngo, Crystal Alaria (who has come back from an injury that had sidelined her for the first half of the season), and Jessyka Quinones, as well as sophomore Rebecca Torento, who provided a spark off the bench against Fellowship.
Two days later, the Lady Red Devils traveled to Presentation of Mary Academy, a perennial power in the large school division of the CAC. Chelsea had defeated a large school opponent, Whittier Tech, three days earlier, and hopes were high that the Lady Red Devils could knock off PMA.
Indeed, the Chelsea girls started fast, winning the opening game. However, PMA regrouped and bounced back to take the next three games and the match.
“We played very well in the first game, but this was our fourth match in five days,”noted Ceccherini. “We not only were physically spent, but we were emotionally drained as well.”
The Lady Red Devils were honored with three all star team selections, Sejour, Moni, and junior Cristal Rodrigues, Chelsea’s defensive specialist, who is the floor leader of the CHS defense in the back row and who also is the team’s top server.
Ceccherini and her crew, who qualified for the tourney by virtue of their co-championship of the CAC Small Division, now await their seeding and first round pairing in the state tournament.
Cross country teams
do well at all-league meet
The undefeated Chelsea High boys and girls cross country teams, the undisputed champions of their respective divisions in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference, competed in the CAC’s All League Meet last Thursday on a rainy and muddy course at Greater Lowell.
Both the boys and girls were hoping to go home with league championships to match the regular- season, dual- meet titles that they had wrapped up last week.
However, Shawsheen Tech had different thoughts on that matter for both Chelsea squads.
On the girls’ side, last year the Lady Red Devils lost to Shawsheen in their head to head matchup, but then came on to defeat Shawsheen in the league meet. But this year those roles were reversed, as Shawsheen turned the tables on the Chelsea girls, who had outrun Shawsheen just 10 days earlier.
Three Lady Red Devils were name to the All-Conference team based on their performances in the league meet: Tatyana Almedia (7th place), Duska Cvjetan (9th), and Arandeni Ramos (10th). Neris Yanes was the 20th runner across the line, followed by Andrea Umana in 21st position to complete the scoring for Chelsea, which finished second in the meet.
Monica Hernandez (27th) and Yareli Sanchez (30th) also ran for the Lady Red Devils and turned in strong finishes. “The girls’ program is now in its fifth year of existence after coming back from an eight year hiatus,” said CHS head coach Don Fay. “The first two years we struggled weekly to get five girls to the starting line, which is the minimum needed to be eligible to win a meet, so we have come a long way since then.”
On the boys’ side, the Red Devils ended up in third place behind Shawsheen and Greater Lowell, two teams whom the CHS boys narrowly defeated in the regular season.
“Shawsheen and Greater Lowell both had very strong packs and finished very close to each other time-wise,” noted Fay. “We were more spread out and when you have more teams (10 schools competed in the All League Meet), there’s going to be a lot more runners out there and more competition for each place.”
Red Devil Joseph Arroyo was third overall, followed by Francisco Colindres in 12th and Edgar Ocana in 13th. All three were name to the All-Conference team. Faisal Nasimi took 26th and Chester Rath was 27th to round out the CHS score sheet. Anthony Santiago in 30th place and Jay Pedrero (33rd) also turned in nice efforts for the Red Devils.
” It was cold, wet, and slippery, but everybody had to run in the same conditions,” said Fay. “We were disappointed in the outcome, but looking back, we had a great season and had three very close victories in our dual meets to finish 9-0.
“When Francisco Colindres, our senior captain, was a freshman, the boys completed their second straight winless season. But in the last two years,” added the coach, “we have been 17-1 with a lower division title in 2010 and now an upper division title in 2011. The boys have come a long way, but we are always trying to get better every year.”
Fay will bring a contingent of his seven top boys and seven top girls to Franklin Park in Dorchester on Saturday, November 12, to compete in the Eastern Mass Division 2 State Meet.