This Whaler Sports Roundup includes updates on the field hockey team, who advanced to the next round of the MIAA state tournament, the volleyball team after their season came to an end on Sunday, the football team, and what is ahead for the boys soccer team and the field hockey team this week.
Field Hockey Shuts Out Quaboag 2-0, Advances To Round Of 16
The Whaler field hockey team recorded their 12th shutout of the season in their Round of 32 matchup against Quaboag Regional High School on Friday – winning the match 2-0 to earn a spot in the MIAA Div. 4 state tournament’s Round of 16.
“The goal (in 2021) was make playoffs and we made playoffs,” Nantucket co-head coach Elizabeth Weber said. “Then (last year) the goal was alright make playoffs and win a game. We won a game - not the way we wanted to - but we won a game and made it to the next round. This year was make playoffs, get a home game, and win a couple of games.”
Nantucket got their goals from two midfielders including junior Maddie Lombardi with 11:11 left in the second quarter to give the Whalers a 1-0 lead they would take into halftime, and then sophomore Carley Ray gave Nantucket an important insurance goal with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
“It was nice to see the mids get on the scoreboard there,” co-head coach Dan Weber said. “I thought Maddie Lombardi was fantastic today across the board. She was just so good with positioning in our defense and her field switches today were just really, really good. Aside from the goal, I thought Carley Ray was really good today. It's nice when you have Carley Ray coming off the bench as a midfield sub. I think on most teams she's probably starting and playing 45 to 60 minutes, so I just think it shows the depth we kind of got there. Cool moment for the middies to be the two that put them in.”
The Whalers got another strong game from sophomore Shelbi Harimon, who made a pair of key stops in the final quarter when Quaboag began to make their final push at getting back into the game and narrowing the gap to one goal. Elizabeth Weber said that from day one, they preach to their team the importance of playing effective defense. Dan Weber added that the shutouts are a combination of Harimon’s strong play as well as the continuity of their team when it comes to playing team defense.
“We talk about all the time that playing defense is not for defenders, playing defense is for everybody,” Dan Weber said. “We talk a lot about the forwards playing defense, the mids playing defense, and the defense playing defense.”
“I would say that's one of the fundamental things about our team that we value that we teach from day one,” Elizabeth Weber added. “Everybody is going to know how to play defense in a one-on-one situation so you can come up with the ball, and that starts from the forward line all the way back.”
Dan Weber felt his team’s defense was particularly strong in the game’s first three quarters. When it dipped a bit in the final quarter, Harimon was ready and up to the task despite not facing many shots through the games first 45 minutes.
The Webers were also complimentary of senior Aubrey Connors, sophomore Sophia Yelverton, and junior Mayson Lower when discussing the team’s defensive performance.
The Whalers now set their sights on the #3 seeded Monomoy Sharks, who are a familiar foe of Nantucket. The Whalers lost to Monomoy in both matchups this season. The first was a 6-1 defeat on the road, which Dan Weber said he felt was not indicative of how his team played that day. The second matchup was a 2-1 defeat at home where Monomoy needed a goal in the final 90 seconds of the game to sail away with a win.
Nantucket and Monomoy are currently scheduled to play each other on Tuesday, November 7 at 4 p.m. The winner will move onto the MIAA Div. 4 State Quarterfinals.
Volleyball’s Season Comes To An End In Round Of 16
A promising and overall successful season for the Whaler volleyball team came to an end on Sunday following a 3-1 loss to the #8 seeded Hamilton-Wenham Generals on the road.
Nantucket, the #9 seed in the tournament, finished their regular season with a 12-7 record and ended the season 13-8 overall. The Whalers were forced to replace some key starters from last year’s team such as former captain Kalina Natcheva and Kacey Riseborough – both of which are currently playing volleyball at the college level.
The Whalers were led by senior captain Chloe Marrero throughout the entirety of the 2023 fall season. She finished Sunday’s match with 21 kills.
But as the season progressed players began to step up and fill their respective roles - allowing Nantucket to become a more balanced team and compete with some of the state's top programs such as Barnstable, Dennis-Yarmouth, Nipmuc, and Duxbury. Seniors Alice O’Banion and Yahely del Rosario Gomez played key roles as the team’s middle blocker and setter respectively.
Whaler head coach Andrew Viselli said after last weeks victory over Sandwich in the Round of 32 that he considers O’Banion to be the most improved player on the team while he said Gomez became a very good player because of not just her ability, but her competitiveness and confidence in her abilities. Both players, as well as Marrero, make up the seniors who will need to be replaced next fall.
Viselli said he remembers Marrero approaching him as a seventh grader asking him to push her to the max in order for her to achieve her potential by the time her Nantucket volleyball career was over. Viselli obliged and coached her tough. He said that same year during an open gym, Marrero attempted to serve the ball but didn't do it to Viselli's satisfaction - prompting Viselli to kick her out of the gymnasium for the day.
She returned to the gym the next day and didn't make the same serving mistakes. That is when Viselli says he knew she was bound to become an excellent volleyball player.
Viselli said he considers Marrero one of his all-time favorite players he has ever coached across a coaching career dating back to 1994 at Salem State when he began coaching as a senior in college. He said her competitiveness, leadership, selflessness, high-end skillset, and drive to become a great volleyball player helped pave a path to the success she achieved in her high school career and set an example that will be followed by future Whaler volleyball players for years to come.
Nantucket will need some younger players to step up next fall, but have a solid core of starters including junior captain and libero Vicky Todorova - who earned all-state honors last year as a sophomore.
Some other starters who will return are junior Bianca Santos – who could revert back to her original position as the team’s setter in light of Gomez’s departure, junior Leah Crowley - who will fill O’Banion’s role and was very effective throughout the year on the Whaler’s frontline, and junior Rihanna Cranston – who will likely be tapped with the challenge of attempting to fill the void left by Marrero’s departure. Marrero was the team's lead outside hitter and finished with over 300 kills this season and over 800 kills in her high school career.
Football Loses To Bristol-Plymouth
The Whaler football team was without some key players on Friday against Bristol-Plymouth for their first of two consolation matches to close out the season. They were missing quarterback Brock Beamish and wide receivers Arann Hanlon and Carlos Aguilar – all of which are dealing with injuries. Nantucket lost the game 21-0 and their record is now 3-6 this season.
Nantucket will have one more game to play and it will be at home. They will host Joseph Case High School on Thursday, November 9 at 5 p.m. Case is currently 4-4 this season and are coming off a 28-15 win over Millis last Thursday.
Boys Soccer Begins Tournament Play On Monday
As we reported on Friday, The Whaler boys soccer team earned the #17 seed in the MIAA Div. 4 state tournament and will be traveling to Whitinsville Christian High School for a Round of 32 matchup with the Crusaders on Monday, November 6 at 2 p.m.
Neither Nantucket nor the Crusaders played a common opponent. The Crusaders finished their season with an 8-5-5 record while the Whalers had an 11-4-3 record.
The Whalers finished the season with a red-hot second half. They won seven of their final eight games while outscoring their opponents 27-9. Nantucket was ranked as high as #10 as recently as the final week of regular season play in the bracket ratings, but fell seven spots after a 2-0 loss to Martha’s Vineyard and a 3-2 win over the Sturgis West Navigators.
The Crusaders also had a strong ending to their season and appear to be playing some of their best soccer of the season. They won five of their final six games of the year – outscoring their opponents 27-5 in that stretch.
The Whalers finished with a +0.8214 rating while the Crusaders were just a tad higher at +0.8496.
Monday, November 6:
The boys soccer team (#17) will be on the road facing Whitinsville Christian High School for a Round of 32 matchup with the Crusaders at 2 p.m.
Tuesday, November 7:
The field hockey team (#14) will be on the road facing the Monomoy Sharks (#3) in the MIAA Div. 4 Round of 16 at 4 p.m.