And below are the recaps from the female side, starting with JV Volleyball.
The volleyball program at Tewksbury had themselves a season for the ages. While the varsity team won the state championship, the JV team was right behind them as they wrapped up their season with an impressive 12-7 record.
The team consisted of five new freshmen in Ryan Walker, Vanessa Iandoli, Olivia Tryder, Julianna Cappiello, and Sophia Cappiello. Four sophomores were also new to the sport, including Paige Crowley, Kennedy Pereira, Reilly Williams, and Gianna Doiron. The team featured three sophomore returners in Maddie Shakes along with captains Sarah Doherty and Ella MacAllister.
For head coach Kaitlyn Stokes, there was something new for the eleven year member of the volleyball program as a player as well as a coach. The JV team played after the varsity team this season, a slight adjustment from previous years. The warm up clock would often start immediately after the varsity game concluded, and it was difficult at times to get everyone on the court focused in short time.
However, that challenge did not seem to phase the 12-7 squad. In the season opener against Bedford, Stokes knew this season would be a special one.
“The season opener against Bedford when we were down 22-20 in the first set and Maddie Shakes went behind the line to serve and brought us back and we won 26-24 and we beat them 2-0. That really set the tone for the season, showing the team that we are capable of coming back at any time,” recalled Stokes.
That was not the only come from behind win for the Redmen. On September 16th, the Redmen were down 15-20 in the first set when Kennedy Pereira served eight in a row that ignited a Redmen comeback.
That mentality continued throughout the season, all the way to the last away game against Haverhill.
“Haverhill had beaten us 2-1 during our first match up and they were our last away game,” said Stokes. “We lost the first set, but the team didn’t give up. We ended up winning the second set to force the third game. The whole team came together to win the match.”
Towards the end of the season, Tewksbury hit a rough patch of matches due to injuries and illness, but Stokes was impressed with how the squad was able to cope with adversity.
“I had a great group who could adjust to anything,” said Stokes. “I had one match that my setters Reilly Williams and Ryan Walker played all the way around which included front row and hitting on the right side. My right sides, Paige Crowley and Olivia Tryder were then moved to middle, and defensive specialist Sophia Cappiello played all the way around and was hitting outside. Maddie Shakes had to step in as setter in a few matches as well.”
Stokes had a team full of players who were willing to play wherever the team needed them, and play that position at their hardest.
In their last game against Bedford, coach Stokes shared a moment with her team in a late game timeout.
“Our last match of the season we played Bedford again,” recalled Stokes. “Long gone was the team that needed to come back from behind to win, and Reilly Williams served eleven balls in a row in the second set. With a strong lead, I called my final timeout of the season just so I could thank my team for a wonderful season and to have them go out and have the most fun.”
The JV team even featured four players who would eventually get the call to join the state championship winning varsity team. Maddie Shakes, Gianna Doiron, and the two team captains Sarah Doherty and Ella MacAllister got the call to be a part of the state roster. Stokes had high praise for them and their hard work.
“Gianna and Ella were my middles this season,” said Stokes. “They were solid servers and by mid season, they were getting blocks and getting kills on offense. Sarah was an outside hitter that our setters went to a lot this season and has potential as a right side hitter as well. Maddie Shakes came back this season having worked hard in the off season on her defensive skills and was running down balls. They were able to jump in drills at practice to help prepare for our state run and could not have been louder on the bench cheering varsity on during the championship match.”
The Redmen also saw success this year from servers Vanessa Iandoli and Paige Crowley, as well as Julianna and Sophia Cappiello.
With six graduating starting seniors from the varsity roster, Stokes sees an opportunity for her JV players.
“Here is a big opportunity for the underclassmen to come back next year at tryouts to battle for a varsity spot in the positions of; setter, defensive specialist, right side hitter, and outside hitter,” said Stokes. “As a coaching staff, we are excited to see everyone coming back next season and what the future holds for our program. I’m so proud of all that we accomplished and cannot thank my team enough for how hard they worked this year in our season and all of the support they provided over the past four weeks for varsity in the postseason.”
Continuing with the volleyball program, the freshman team only offered more assurance that this program is in good hands. They were only able to pick up two wins throughout their season, but the rapid development of many first-year players was astonishing for head coach Erin Murphy.
“While our record didn’t reflect it with only two wins I believe this team improved tremendously from start to finish,” said Murphy. “Yes, winning is fun and exciting but so is getting three clean touches off a serve, or long rallies with opponents, and games that go to three competitive sets. These were all things our team was able to accomplish this year, these are the developmental milestones we can be proud of.”
Murphy realized the fight of this team in the season opener against a talented North Andover team.
“Our season started off on a positive note with a competitive game against a strong North Andover program taking them to three sets, winning the first but unfortunately falling in the next two,” said Murphy. “Despite the loss it was a great example of what we would be able to do in the season to come.”
Layla Melki and Leah Fiske, the two setters who led the Redmen offense, impressed on the court. The setter is a very difficult position to pick up, and Murphy is proud of their progress throughout the year.
Murphy also noticed the strong offensive skill of many of her players, something that is often uncommon in the early stages of volleyball.
“One thing that can be a rarer occurrence during a freshmen level game is strong offensive attacks,” said Murphy. “We had some strong hitters up at the net for us this year. Angelina Silva and Alison Furilla as middle hitters, Sophia Velloso, Cassie Berry, and Meghan Indingaro as outside hitters, and Brooke Lightfoot and Izzy Belloste as right side hitters put up big attacks for us. Defensively Sienna Howell, Yasmin Rosa, and Abigail McCarthy were solid in the back row.”
The volleyball program at Tewksbury is on pace to keep excelling, and it all starts at the freshman level. With the combination of high turnout numbers and hard work, Murphy is optimistic for her players and program as a whole.
“We had a great turnout this year at our tryouts with over 60 girls competing for a very limited number of spots,” said Murphy. “These girls worked hard during tryouts to make the team and continued working hard at each and every practice to keep improving. I am extremely proud of the season we had and look forward to seeing what these athletes can accomplish in the next three years.”
On the soccer fields, the JV soccer team enjoyed a successful 6-6-4 season.
The squad included juniors Gianna Ausiello, Lily Boucher, Delia Conte, Mackenzie Hickey, Kate Kennedy, and Kimsan Nguyen. Sophomores included Sabrina Grimes, Claudia Melo, and Emily Picher. The team was heavily composed of freshmen with eleven, including Sophie Brewster, Keelyn Conley, Mia DeSisto, Caitlyn Giansiraucusa, Paige Insogna, Ellie Johnson, Jamie Martin, Chloe Mello, Mya Paquette, Tori Parisi, and Allison Shpritzer.
The team was also led by team captains Lily Boucher, Claudia Melo, and Emily Picher. Along with their leadership qualities off the field, head coach Jay Anderson noticed their tenacity on the field as well.
“They showed signs early in the season that they were rounding into a hard-nosed side intent on keeping the ball out of their goal and contesting tight, low-scoring matches,” said Anderson.
However, the team still endured some challenges throughout the season. Last season, it was the challenges that COVID faced that made for some extra adversity. This year, it was injuries for this soccer club.
“This season, it was not COVID nor scheduled opponents but rather the injury bug that proved to be our arch nemesis,” said Anderson. “Its bite took chunks out of the season for several players including season-ending injuries to juniors Kate Kennedy, Gianna Ausiello, Delia Conte, freshman Allison Shpritzer, and notably Picher; who was well on her way to a 20 goal season before being derailed mid-campaign by a knee injury.”
Through the challenges this team faced, Anderson noted that along with captain leadership, other upperclassmen such as Delia Conte, Kimsan Nguyen helped keep the team together and focused on their goals.
Despite injury trouble, Tewksbury was still able to do very well against the tough competition in the MVC. Out of very competitive teams North Andover, Dracut, Haverhill, Central Catholic, and Andover, the team was only unable to come away with points against the talented Andover squad.
Anderson noted that although the team did have some disappointing outings, they always knew how to respond, including a four game stretch where the team picked up two wins and two draws, one draw coming against powerhouse North Andover.
Tewksbury was able to close out their season on a high note against Haverhill.
“They also showed great mental toughness and competitive heart by closing out the season with a 2-0 home victory over Haverhill on Senior Night powered by goals from Boucher, on her emotional return from a long injury and Martin, who was playing injured that evening,” said Anderson.
Goaltending is ultimately what fueled the Redmen all season long. Goalkeepers Mackenzie Hickey and freshman Caitlyn Giansiracusa posted seven clean sheets for the Redmen with a combined 1.43 goals against average. They allowed just 23 goals in 16 matches.
In the midfield, Tewksbury was led by a rotation of Melo, Nguyen, and DeSisto, who were consistent all year in stopping the opposition to be able to transition to offense.
Anderson had a handful of players throughout the season that contributed to offensive success.
“Freshman Mya Paquette started the Tewksbury attack from her central midfield position supplying quality service for the side’s attacking options,” said Anderson. “Forwards Picher, Boucher, sophomore Sabrina Grimes and freshman Paige Insogna along with attacking midfielders Ausiello and freshmen Jayme Martin, Tori Parisi and Ellie Johnson provided the Tewksbury firepower.”
Anderson also had praise for his backline.
“The rock-solid backline was anchored by center-backs Conte and freshman Sophie Brewster, flanked by a rotation of freshman outside backs Keelyn Conley, Schpritzer and Chloe Mello. Mello would go on to prove her versatility by playing every position on the field, including as an emergency goalkeeper,” said Anderson.
On the turf, the JV field hockey team had one of their best seasons in recent years, and head coach Christine Smith is proud of her team.
Their 3-8-3 record is the best record the team had had in three years, which is very promising for the future of the program. Along the way, Smith recalled a few of the bigger moments.
“We had great back to back victories against Methuen and a come from behind win against Melrose,” said Smith. “Maddie DeGrechie had a special goal against Belmont (that was memorable.)”
Many prospective field hockey players coming to TMHS have never played before, which makes the JV team even more important for development purposes.
“Bella Contardi was strong in goal with a strong defense consisting of Jenna Mercer, Anna Polleys, Grace Hallissey, Maddie Duggan and Maddie Burke, (who was the team MVP),” said Smith.
In the midfield, Riley Morrison, Kallie Frechette and Avery Harrington led the way for the Redmen, pushing the pace on offense while playing very solid defense on the other end.
Gabby Diniz led the team in goals, having a very strong season, while Abby Solemina, Gabby Davis, and Bridget Kelleher also pitched in on the offense.
Coach Smith is excited to see what many of her players can achieve at the varsity level in the next few seasons of their high school careers.