Staff Writer By chris kelly Brookdale baseball is back as Blues capture Region title Super Region is next for Johnson’s nine FARRAH MAFFAI Brookdale’s Stephen Echevarria is congratulated by teammates after crossing home plate during the Jersey Blues’ win over Sussex on Thursday in Lincroft. It’s never easy replacing a legend, let alone a hall of famer. In Johnny Johnson’s first three years at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft section of Middletown, he had his Jersey Blues in the finals of the Region XIX Tournament each year and had never won fewer than 24 games. By any measure it was success. Unless, the yardstick you are being measured against is a hall of famer like Paul MacLaughlin. “Everything at Brookdale is measured by wins and championships,” said Johnson, a star catcher for Middletown High School from 1979-81. MacLaughlin, who started the Brookdale program from scratch and went 829-235 during his 28 years at the helm, built Brookdale into a junior college national power in which region championships and trips to the national championships were a habit. Last weekend, Johnson took a major step in forging his own identity at Brookdale when the Jersey Blues beat Mercer, 12-5, in Lincroft to win the Region XIX crown, the school’s first since 1997. “It’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had, except for the birth of my daughter,” said Johnson. “It’s a big monkey off my chest. I’m proud of the kids.” The Jersey Blues, who also won the Garden State Athletic Conference regular season title, have become Johnson’s kids, and they won one for him Sunday. When Mercer jumped all over Brookdale, 11-2, to force a deciding game in the double-elimination tournament Sunday, the Blues were in an all too familiar position. Brookdale had been down this road before. In each of the last three years, Brookdale had advanced to the final game of the Region XIX Tournament only to come up short. The 2002 edition of the Blues let their coach know it wasn’t going to be deja vu. “When we got into a huddle before the game, the kids said, ‘We’re not going to let you down; we’re not leaving here losing,’” Johnson said. “They just wanted it. After three tries, it was finally our turn.” While losing the region finals, Johnson learned what it took to get over the hump. He needed quality pitching and plenty of it, and that’s what he went out and got, stacking his team with arms. He also built a very athletic team designed to put constant pressure on a team. A walk or a single could be as good as a double because the Blues were going to run no matter what the score or situation. They also had something else working for them, a No. 1 starter a team can jump on the shoulders of and ride to a victory in the overpowering left-hander Alex Perez. “We’ve never had a legitimate No. 1 pitcher who can dominate,” said Johnson. Perez was 2-0 over the weekend, earning the Most Valuable Player award. He won his Saturday start against Mercer when he fanned 14 in Brookdale’s 8-3 win. The sophomore came back on Sunday to pitch three strong innings in relief and pick up the win as Brookdale scored nine runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to run away from the Vikings. “After throwing 130 pitches the day before, Alex gave us three great innings,” said Johnson. “Our bats came to life in the late innings. “Of all the teams I’ve ever coached, this team is never out of a game,” he added. “Our hitting is very contagious. We can score runs quickly.” That’s what the Blues did against Mercer when, trailing 4-3 after five and one-half innings, the bats caught fire. Mike Pierre, Antonio Mirando and Dave Komar sparked the late-inning rally. Komar, starting his first game on a coach’s hunch because Mercer was starting a lefty, had three RBIs, one on a sacrifice fly, another on a squeeze and the third on a single, which was his first hit of the season. Marc Savard’s double was the only extra base hit as the Blues relied on their running game to make things happen. Pierre lifted his single-season and career school stolen bases mark to 52 over the weekend. He has only been thrown out one time. Brookdale has stolen a school record 175 bases this year. The Blues took Johnson and their fans on a very wild ride over the weekend. It all began Friday morning against Sussex, a team that Brookdale had handled easily twice during the regular season. Johnson gambled by holding Perez out, figuring he could out hit Sussex. Falling behind 6-1 was not in the game plan, but that’s what the Blues did. Kyle Boturla gave the Blues seven and one-third innings of strong relief to keep the team in the game. A two-out, two-RBI single by Marc Savard in the fifth seemed to wake the Blues up. They would tie it at 6-6 with three in the seventh, but Sussex would get two in the top of the ninth to regain the lead, 8-6. Staring at a quick trip to the loser’s bracket and the hard road to the final, the Blues came up with three in the ninth to win it. Pierre got the game-winner on a single with two outs. It was part of his 4-6, three stolen bases and two runs scored. John Kokotajlo, who always seems to deliver the clutch hit for Brookdale, had tied the game with his two-out double and he scored on Pierre’s single. Antonio Mirande (3-4, two doubles, two runs and RBIs) had brought in the first run of the game with a double. In relief, Matt Cangilose picked up the win to improve to 3-1. “I rolled the dice there,” Johnson said of his decision to hold Perez back. The poor start, as much the result of some poor field conditions as anything, was attributed by Johnson to the youth of his club. “You never know what you’ll get with freshmen,” he said. “We had seven on the field and I think they were a little nervous at first, but they settled down.” The come-from-behind win put Brookdale up against Mercer Saturday morning in a winners’ bracket game. Perez had things in hand with his 14-strikeout effort, and Brookdale had the 8-3 win and a trip to Sunday’s final. The loss put Mercer in the losers’ bracket and it came back later that day to best Del-Tech Owens, 12-2, to get another shot at the Blues for the regional title. Mercer, coached by former Major Leaguer Dave Gallagher, had to beat Brookdale twice on Sunday to win the title. The Vikings (32-9) showed they were serious when they hit the Blues hard, 11-2, to force a second game for all the marbles. Brookdale’s depth at pitching proved to be decisive. The Blues got six good innings from Brian Rabbit and then handed the ball to Perez for the final three innings. Despite his 130-pitch effort on Saturday, the big lefty, who is headed for the University of Miami, Florida, fanned five in his three innings of work as he improved his record to 8-1. “Alex promised that we’d win a region title while he was here, and he delivered on it,” Johnson said. The offense went to work in the last three innings and it was Brookdale that was moving on. “Mercer is a well-coached team and they’re the best defensive team in the region,” said Johnson. “They had no pitching left and got tired in the second game.” Brookdale will take a 32-12-1 record and the No. 11 ranking in the country to the Super Region, the Northeast District Tournament in Mercyhurst, Pa. This is a four-team double-elimination format of regional champions with the winner advancing to the World Series in Millington, Tenn., May 25-June 1. Brookdale’s last trip to the series was 1997 when the Blues finished fifth. Postseason awards followed the Blues’ big season. The Blues who made the 2002 Division II All-Region XIX first team were Pierre, Perez and outfielder Jon Forte. Making the second team were outfielder Steve Echevarria and pitcher Boturla. Pierre, Forte and Perez also made the 2002 All-GSAC first team. Infielder Savard, Echevarria, catcher Yuri Lopetegui and Boturla made the second team.
First-year head coach leads young team into Shore National play By doug mckenzie Staff Writer VERONICA YANKOWSKI Mater Dei quarterback Garret Carmody looks for an open receiver down field during a scrimmage on Friday in Middletown. There’s a positive side to taking over a team coming off an 0-9 season: There’s nowhere to go but up. “And we’re looking forward to going up,” said first-year Mater Dei High School football coach Gary Carmody. “Anything we do well this year will mean improvement.” Carmody takes over a team (replacing departed head coach Mike Katz) that was extremely young last year, featuring mostly sophomores and juniors in the starting line-up. “They were very young last year, and as sophomores, they took it pretty heavy,” Carmody said. “They were really thrown into the fire, so to speak, but it should make them better players this year and into next year.” VERONICA YANKOWSKI Mater Dei first-year coach Gary Carmody gives some instructions to his son, Garret, during Friday’s scrimmage in Middletown. Carmody is familiar with this year’s squad, having coached as an assistant at Mater Dei in Middletown the past three years, working specifically with the quarterbacks, linebackers and defensive backs. He’s particularly familiar with the team’s starting quarterback this season — his son, Garret Carmody. The senior started three games last year, but was primarily a back-up to Mike Marshall. However, the three games he did start should help him develop into the type of player his father knows he can be. “He’s gotten stronger and become a better passer since last year,” the coach said. “He’s got good football sense, and is quick on his feet.” Coach Carmody is asking a lot of his son this year, since many of the team’s offensive players are still young. “He needs to be our leader out there,” Carmody said. The entire starting backfield returns for the Seraphs this year, starting with junior fullback Jeff Begreen. Junior Pat Keelan will be the featured back once again, with senior Mark Walling as the slot formation back. In addition, sophomore Jeff Wedick will see some time in the I-formation set, while junior tailback James Herlihy will spell Keelan from time to time. The offensive line also has some familiar names, with each of the starters gaining some experience last season. “All of our offensive linemen played some last year, so most of them are experienced,” the coach said. “We’re not a big team, so basically everybody played some last year.” Junior Brian Erickson will split time at the center position with senior Brian Masterson. Both players logged time at the position on the line last year. At right guard is junior Chris Estella, while junior Michael Stark will line up at right tackle. Senior Ron Werner is the starting tight end, while junior Joe DeModna (left guard) and junior Dan Whitley (left tackle) will anchor the left side of the line. Seniors Brian Sanfilippo and Joe Federico will share time at the split-end position, with Sanfilippo likely getting the starting nod. The defensive side includes many of the same players, which can hurt a team late in the game. Carmody is confident, however, that his team is in good shape, and should be able to remain strong into the fourth quarter. On the defensive line, Werner gets the nod at right end; DeModna will start at right tackle; Whitley is at left tackle; and Carmody will start at left end. “All those guys played defensive line last year, except Werner, who was a linebacker,” Coach Carmody said. Begreen, Sanfilippo and Masterson have locked up three of the four starting linebacker spots, with Herlihy, Federico and junior Dan Giummo still battling for the fourth backer position. In the secondary, Keelan will start at one cornerback position, with either Walling or Wedick on the other side. Senior Mike Large returns as the starting free safety. With the regular season kicking off next week, the Seraphs are looking forward to proving they are a better team than they showed last year. However, it won’t be easy playing in the Shore Conference’s highly competitive National Division. “The schedule looks really tough,” Carmody admitted. “All the teams we play will be strong. Who’s the toughest? It’s tough to say. You know Keyport will be very good; Colts Neck has some solid players back; Freehold Borough is very good; and Rumson is an up-and-coming program. Throw Asbury Park into the mix, and we’re looking at some tough games this year.” In terms of team goals, Carmody is trying to be realistic without selling his team short. “We have to have 100 percent improvement,” he said. “And no matter what we improve on, it will be a step forward. The kids are working hard and are ready to compete. I definitely feel we can be a better team this year.” The Seraphs will open up their regular season on Sept. 14 with a home game against Freehold Borough. From there, they will host Colts Neck on Sept. 28, before playing their first road game Oct. 5 against Rumson. By doug mckenzieStaff Writer
BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer PRINCETON — Jamie Liberti decided that six was company. With Sunday’s NJSIAA Group III 1,600-meter run shaping up as a tactical, last-lap sprint at Princeton University, the Middletown South senior decided it was time to make a move. There were too many runners in contention for her taste, so with three laps, or 600 meters, remaining, she took off. “Everyone was so close,” she pointed out. “I wanted to go early while I had the chance. I wanted to get away from the field.” Liberti’s timing proved perfect as she opened up enough daylight on the field to withstand any last-lap kick from her competitors. “I was a little nervous, but I felt confident,” she pointed out. “When I saw that no one could catch me it was incredible. This race was the focus of the season.” Liberti’s 5:11.95 held back the challenge of the Group’s talented underclassmen. All of the place winners behind Liberti, who won the 3,200 meters at the Monmouth County championships, were underclassmen, including her Shore-area rivals Christina Nelson, a sophomore from Red Bank Regional (5:14.61), and Ashley Higginson, a freshman from Colts Neck (5:18.37), who were third and fourth. Liberti said she went into the race looking for a top-six finish, but emerged as a state champion. The Eagle distance runner wasn’t the only area athlete to collect state gold at Princeton. Raritan’s Amanda Harmata won the Group II shot put. In winning the Monmouth County and Shore Conference titles earlier in the season, the Rocket senior had crushed the competition. Sunday, Roselle Catholic’s Carrieann Zielinski provided a sterner test for her. Harmata finally won out, 39-11-38-04. Also striking gold was Matawan’s Chris Keller, who won the boys Group II shot put at 53-8 1/4. He was more than a foot ahead of Tavaris Wright from Bridgeton (52-4 1/4). Earlier this year Keller came out of nowhere to win the county title. Anyone finishing in the top six Sunday at the Groups II and III meets had reason to feel they were a winner as they qualified for the Feb. 29 NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions, also to be held at Princeton University. Along with the six automatic qualifiers there were six wild card qualifiers from among the two groups. Qualifying for the girls from Group II was Jennifer Therkorn of St. John Vianney, third in the 1,600 (5:23.81). Middletown South’s Chris Sole was a runner-up in Group III in the boys high jump. The county champion jumped 6-2 in Princeton. In Group II, those also qualifying automatically for the MOC were: Matawan’s Tom Walsh, fifth in the 1,600 (4:33.94); John Smith, fifth in the 3,200 (9:44.10); and Raritan’s Ed Skowronski, third in the shot put (51-4 1/4). The Monmouth County Relays are next up on the schedule Saturday at Red Bank Regional. On Tuesday, the Eastern States will be held at the Armory, New York City.
CHRIS KELLY staff Middletown South’s Brendan Crowe works the puck through center ice during the Eagles’ game with Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday in Red Bank.
BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer BELMAR – Winning seems to follow Tim Begley. Thursday night, the former University of Pennsylvania and Christian Brothers Academy star who hails from Freehold Township helped lead USA Financial to the Jersey Shore Basketball League Championship at St. Rose in Belmar. With Begley, USA Financial topped defending champion Sterns Trailer, 103-101. “The ride home will be a lot nicer,” said Begley, referring to USA’s loss to Sterns Trailer in last year’s final. “We have a good group of guys. We have a lot of Penn guys and players like Mike DeCorso who play like us.” Begley was the Ivy League MVP at Penn, leading the Quakers to multiple Ivy League titles and three NCAA tournament appearances. That came on the heels of his very successful high school career at CBA. The JSBL for Begley is a way to hook up with old friends and college teammates, and most important, to keep playing basketball. Begley recently re-signed with Bamberg (located in south central Germany in Bavaria) to play in German Bundesliga again this year. He leaves for camp at the end of the month (the Bundesliga season will keep Begley overseas for nine months). “It’s such a high level of play; they’re all top teams,” he said. “I felt I knew the game real well, but I’ve learned so much about guard play from these guys. “I feel so fortunate to do what I’m doing,” he added. “I’m a grown man getting paid to play a kid’s game. There are so many people who will never have the opportunity to do what I’m doing. I’m so lucky.” Begley’s Bamberg team finished second in the Bundesliga and reached the semifinals of the European Cup League, losing to eventual champion CSKA Moscow, which was led by former Duke All-American Trajan Langdan. Begley enjoyed both the basketball and cultural experience of playing overseas. Bamberg, which was built alongside the Regnitz River, is one of Germany’s most historic cities, with much of its old buildings dominating the city. Germany is more open to having Americans on their teams, thus Begley had six teammates from America. “Having seven Americans on the team made the transition easier,” he said. “We’re near a military base where people speak a lot of English. It was a lot of fun.” Begley’s three from the top of the key at the start of the championship game set the tone early. USA Financial was dialing it in from beyond the arc. They would connect on five treys in the first quarter alone, jumping out to a 16-4 lead and extending it to 29-14 after the first 10-minute quarter. USA Financial used the three to get the lead, then went to its bread-and-butter, a pair of UPenn players – 6-10 Adam Chubb and guard David Whitehurst, the former Monmouth Regional star. With the three-pointers having spread Sterns’ defense, it left lanes open for the very quick Whitehurst to take it to the basket. When the team needed two, they went inside to Chubb, who abused the Sterns’ defense all night to the tune of 28 points. Although USA Financial led from start to finish and would build up an 18-point lead in the second quarter, the game still came down to the final possession. “I could have told you it would come down to the end,” said Begley. When Sterns made its first serious run at USA in the third quarter and cut the lead to four, 61-57, Whitehurst and Chubb took over. Seven straight points between them extended the lead back to 13, 70-57. Sterns, though, would not go away and got within two, 91-89, early in the fourth quarter. Whitehurst (20 points) and Begley responded and put the lead back to six at 95-89. But back came defending champion Sterns, which has a Monmouth University connection again behind Marques Alston, the ex-Neptune star now playing for Monmouth, and another ex-Colt, Chris Kenny, and the lead evaporated to just one, 95-94. USA went to Chubb, and he responded with back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 99-94. It was down to 99-97 with 2:17 to play. A free throw by Begley (12 points) and two free throws from Don Moxley pushed the lead to 102-97. Alston and Blake Hamilton answered with four straight points for Sterns, and with under a minute to play, it was 102-101. Offensive rebounds helped USA survive. First, Chubb tied up Alston in a battle for a rebound and won the jump ball with 32.15 seconds left. USA used the 24-second shot clock to the fullest. Whitehurst missed a jumper as the clock was expiring, but Moxley had positioned himself in the paint for the offensive rebound and he was fouled with 7.38 seconds left. He made one of two from the charity stripe for the final two-point margin. Chubb had 28 points and 15 rebounds, and Whitehurst had his 20. Jeff Shiffner had 19 and led the team with four threes. Begley had his dozen, and DeCorso, the former Colts Neck star now playing for New York University, had eight. Alston had 27, and Kenny had 24 points, including six threes, for Sterns. Off the bench, Derrick Washington chipped in with 16. He came up big in the second quarter when Sterns was in need of someone to step up and score. USA Financial finished 13-2 overall for the season, and Sterns, which had a great playoff run, was 6-9. Begley made the All-JSBL Third Team and DeCorso made the Fifth Team. Former CBA, UPenn star helps lead team to summer league title BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer
North breaks 15-game losing skid, while South loses first game of season BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer Just one night after his former Middletown South team saw its dream of yet another perfect season dashed in Toms River, Middletown North head football coach Joe Trezza was finally able to celebrate a victory on the other side of Middletown. Well, sort of. Trezza, a longtime assistant coach at Middletown South, where he helped head coach Steve Antonucci mold one of the top programs (public or parochial) in the entire state, won his first game in 15 tries as the leader of the Lions, knocking off Toms River South, 21-14, at “The Swamp” at Middletown South on Friday. North (1-4) was hoping to host the Indians on its newly refurbished field, however, the bad weather on Thursday delayed completion of the project and moved the game across town to Middletown South, a field where Trezza has experienced more than a few satisfying victories over the years. Early on, TR South looked poised to complete the Toms River sweep over the Middletown teams, getting a touchdown at the end of the first quarter to take the 7-0 lead. However, Middletown North bounced right back and got a score of its own when Joe Dickey hit Nick Zinner with a 28-yard TD pass. The Lions then took the lead later in the second quarter when Uly Gibson scored from 3 yards out after the Lions recovered a TR South fumble, caused by senior linebacker Steve Hoverson. The Indians then tied the game just before the half when Kevin Gilmore hit Anthony Terry with a 37-yard TD pass. Middletown North took the lead again in the fourth quarter when Gibson capped a nineplay, 59-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring dash, making it 21-14. Once again, TR South (0-6) came back, driving all the way to the Lions 25-yard line with just under five minutes to go. However, the Lion defense stiffened, sacking Gilmore twice and forcing a punt. Once they got the ball back, the Lions were able to run out the clock to secure their first win of the year. Next up for the Lions is another tough Saturday afternoon matchup with Lacey, who improved to 4-2 over the weekend with an impressive, 17-7 win over Colts Neck. Then, on Oct. 26, the Lions will christen their new turf field when Southern (4-1) comes to town. As for Middletown South, they suffered their first loss of the season against Toms River North on Friday when the Mariners won in overtime by getting a Jon Daniels 1- yard touchdown run after the Eagles were held to a field goal on their possession. The two teams played to a 21-21 tie in regulation, though early on, the Eagles looked to have this game under control. The top-ranked Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a 21-yard TD pass from Patrick Campbell to Eric Dunn, and a 10-yard scoring pass from Campbell to Craig Sweeney. The momentum began to change in the second quarter, when the Mariners blocked a South punt, which Matt Sura recovered in the end zone for a TD. The Eagles then padded their lead in the fourth quarter when Campbell plunged into the end zone from a yard out, making it 21- 14. However, the Mariners did not quit, as Anthony Penna showed why he is so well regarded throughout the Shore, leading the hometown team on a drive that eventually cut the lead to 21-14 when he darted his way in the end zone from 16 yards out. On the ensuing onsides kick, it was Sura making the big play once again, recovering the ball at the Eagle 49. That set up more heroics from Penna, as he carried the ball three straight plays, eventually scoring from 25 yards out on a QB draw with 2:38 to play. In overtime, the TR North defense came up big, holding the Eagles to an Alex Romanski 27-yard field goal. Then, the Mariners won the game on Daniels’ touchdown run on their possession, sending the hometown crowd into a frenzy. South still has two Federal Division games to play, including this weekend’s showdown with Freehold Borough, which will decide the division title. After that, the Eagles will play the one team that beat them last year, Ocean Township, before turning their attention to the start of the state playoffs, where they will still be among the favorites to capture a Central Jersey Group III crown. But first things first, the Eagles need to concentrate on Freehold Borough. It is obvious the Colonials (4-1) were concentrating on the Eagles this past weekend when they dropped their first game of the year, 13-10, to a Red Bank Regional team that came into the game winless. The Holmdel Hornets kept their perfect season intact with a 40-0 win over Jackson Liberty on Friday. The National Divisionleading Hornets face another stiff test this weekend when they take on a Monsignor Donovan team coming off its bye week. The Griffins (2-3) looked impressive in beating St. John Vianney on Oct. 5, and should be eager to make it a sweep of the Holmdel teams this Friday night. Game time is 6:30 p.m. While St. John Vianney (1-4) also had its bye this past weekend and will be back in action on Friday against Holmdel’s top competition for the National Division title in Point Borough (5-0), the remainder of the local teams suffered losses over the weekend. Matawan fell to 2-4 on the year with a 26-13 loss to a surging Asbury Park team (5- 1), and will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday when it hosts Monmouth Regional (2-3). Monmouth comes in off its bye week as well. Keyport ran into a buzz saw in RBC (5- 0), dropping a 42-0 contest to fall to 1-5 on the year. The Red Raiders will try once again for their second win of the year when they take on another struggling team in Point Beach (1-4) on Saturday at noon. Mater Dei and Raritan remained winless, with Mater Dei falling to Rumson-Fair Haven, 44-0, and Raritan losing 38-6 to Keansburg.
By MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent With a decisive victory last week, the Raritan High School football team looks poised to host division rival Matawan Regional High School to open the state playoffs.The Rockets were locked in a scoreless tie with Monmouth Regional High School on Nov. 8 before their offense exploded for 28 unanswered points in the second half. Raritan improved to 4-4 on the season, putting itself in line for a rematch with Matawan in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III quarterfinals.The teams will play on Nov. 14 in Hazlet. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.Matawan defeated Raritan, 26-21, in the second game of the regular season.Derek Ernst, who replaced the injured Rich Salerno as the starting tailback, continued to make big plays for the Rockets. The junior rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns as Raritan turned to its ground game in the final two quarters against Monmouth Regional.Ernst broke the ice when he ran 35 yards to the end zone late in the third quarter. He later scored on runs of 31 and 3 yards.Raritan head coach Anthony Petruzzi said Ernst has played a critical role in the team’s offense after Salerno went down early in the season.“We’ve really been able to count on him,” he said.The Raritan defense also dominated in the second half against Monmouth Regional, holding the Falcons to under 9 yards on the ground. For Raritan’s fourth touchdown, defensive back Vito Aleo intercepted a pass in the final minutes and returned it 43 yards for the score.The 28-0 victory marked Raritan’s first shutout since 2011.Consistency will be the key to playoff success for the Rockets, who have yet to string together back-to-back wins this year. Raritan will get one more chance to win two in a row during the regular season when the team hosts Holmdel High School on Thanksgiving Day.Raritan plays its best football when it runs the ball well and makes plays on special teams, Petruzzi said. The offensive line has been an area of strength for much of the season, too.“When we do those things, we’re winning,” he added. “In games we’re losing, we need more guys making plays.”Petruzzi explained that Raritan can’t rely on the same players each weekend. He noted senior Mike Santillo’s performance last weekend, saying the linebacker stepped up and made a number of important tackles.“We need more surprises like that as we move on,” the head coach said.In preparation for the NJSIAA state tournament, the Rockets are focused on consistency during practice.“We need to put ourselves in tough spots in practice. When we have a great week of practice, we have better results on Friday night,” Petruzzi said.
By Andreas VouCYPRUS will have two representatives in next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi in the form of skiers Alexandra Taylor and Constantinos Papamichael.The duo were presented in front of the media this week, along with the other three members of the delegation. Pavlos Fotiadis who is a board member of the Cyprus Olympic Committee (COC) and will chair the team, Demetris Papatheodotou who will accompany the delegation and Milan Matic, the coach of the Cyprus Skiing Federation.19-year old Taylor will compete in the slalom as part of alpine skiing while 20-year old Papamichael will also participate in alpine skiing’s giant slalom and slalom.The games will take place from February 7-23 and Cyprus’ talented pair will get underway in the second week of the games, with Taylor on February 21 and Papamichael in the giant slalom on February 19 and slalom on the 22nd.Papamichael said he felt unique satisfaction and pride for representing his country in such a big competition while he also was quick to warn that a podium finish will be difficult to secure, stating that “many compete but not everybody can win”.Taylor ensured that she would give the best possible account of herself, acknowledging the difficulty and competiveness of the Games.Fotiadis believes that the athletes travel to Sochi having gone through the appropriate training that gives the team every right to be confident that this will be the most successful Winter Olympics Cyprus has ever had.COC Chairman Ouranios Ioannides wished the athletes all the best and acknowledged the difficulties that Cypriot athletes who compete in winter sports face, being at a disadvantage due to the fact that the majority of their training is held abroad.A major absentee for the Cypriot team is that of skier Dinos Lefkaritis who, despite earning the right to compete in the Games, suffered a serious injury in training and will therefore be unable to make the trip to Russia.Cyprus’ first participation in the Winter Olympics came in 1980 at Lake Placid in the United States, with the island never having won a medal since.The Games will be hosted by Russia for the first time as the southern coastal city of Sochi prepares to take centre stage.It will also be a new experience for Thomas Bach, who will preside over his first Olympic Games after being recently elected the new IOC president to replace Jacques Rogge.The Games will feature a total of 98 events in seven sports, including 12 new events that will make their Olympic debut in an all new purpose-built Olympic Park known as the ‘Coastal Cluster’, hosting over 2,500 athletes from more than 80 nations.
By Mike CollettDavid Moyes, who has only been in charge of Manchester United since July, paid the price for a hugely disappointing season on Tuesday when it was announced that he has left the club.The 50-year-old Scot was appointed on the personal recommendation of Sir Alex Ferguson who retired at the end of last season after 26 years in the job having steered United to the title for the 13th time in his reign and 20th time overall.Moyes, who had been manager of Everton for 11 seasons but never won a major trophy, was given a six-year contract but the Old Trafford club have lurched from one crisis to another.A 2-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday was the final straw for the club’s owners, the Glazer family, as seventh-placed United have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995-96.
By Andreas VouMARCOS Baghdatis came close to pulling off another major upset in the third round of the Australian Open but eventually bowed out after an enthralling five-set encounter with world no.11 Grigor Dimitrov on Friday.The 29-year-old Cyprus star matched one of the most highly-rated talents on the ATP Tour stride for stride, but the Bulgarian took the deciding set and won 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a contest which lasted three hours and 30 minutes.Baghdatis’ performances in the previous two rounds against Teymuraz Gabashvili and David Goffin, both higher than him in the rankings, looked to have given the Limassol native the confidence to achieve another big win.The former world no.8 was at his brilliant best in the opening exchanges and performed ruthlessly to take the set with a love service hold.Even though Dimitrov responded in the second set to bring the match back to level terms, Baghdatis was back on the front foot in the third. Dimitriv, 23, was unable to capitalise on four break point chances in the ninth game of the set and Baghdatis went on to take a 2-1 lead.With the vocal backing of hundreds of Greeks and Cypriots in the Melbourne crowd, the world no.78 looked to be heading towards a famous victory.However, as Dimitrov grew more into the match, Baghdatis began to show signs of self-doubt and frustration which would take a toll on his performance.The Bulgarian fought his way back and eventually turned it around to take a thrilling five-set win.Dimitrov – the famous boyfriend of Maria Sharapova – paid homage to Baghdatis’ performance but was ultimately content with a hard-fought victory.“Marcos was playing extremely good tennis,” Dimitrov, dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ for his playing similarities to great Swiss Roger Federer, said after the match.“At the same time early in the match I didn’t go for my shots. Marcos, the crowd was for him. But at the end of the day, I kept the good composure, I won.”Baghdatis’ six-year wait to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam continues while Dimitrov will now face Andy Murray in the next round.