This Whaler Sports Roundup includes updates on the varsity golf team and their performance at the Div. 3 state championship in Sterling on Monday, the boys soccer team and their league championship, the girls soccer team, as well as updates on the volleyball and field hockey teams after their state tournament brackets were released earlier this week.
Golf Places Fourth In Div. 3 State Championship
The Whaler golf team traveled to Sterling for the Div. 3 State Championship Monday – placing fourth out of 12 teams. Senior Braden Knapp was the star of the day for Nantucket finishing tied for ninth out of 64 golfers after shooting an 81.
Other notable performances from the day for Nantucket were senior Colby O’Keefe, who shot an 86 and Paddy Carroll, who shot an 87. Head coach Sam Herrick said he was proud of how his team battled the rainy conditions.
“We knew it was going to rain so actually I stopped at a PGA super store on the way up there on Sunday and I was like ‘Alright, everybody's buying rain gloves and umbrellas and all the above,’” Herrick said. “When we play league play if it's raining really hard, usually you'll cancel it and you'll postpone to a different day because no one wants to play in the rain. When it comes to tournament time it's kind of like this is what you get.”
The Whalers had a chance to play a practice round on Sunday in the rain – giving his team a chance to simulate the conditions.
"These kids came prepared and I really can't say enough good things about Braden. For him to go out there and shoot 81 in those conditions I mean, I consider myself a pretty good golfer and I don't think I would have sniffed an 81 myself out there - especially walking it too so I am super, super proud of him. Colby O'Keefe stepped up big obviously, after having kind of a poor showing in the sectional. He came out came out and put up a good number for him especially.
The Division 1 and Division 2 state championships were postponed to Tuesday due to weather. The full standings from the state championship are below with a familiar Cape & Islands foe coming up just short of the title to a perennial Div. 3 golf powerhouse.
1. Weston, 322
2. St. John Paul II, 323
3. Hopedale, 338
4. Nantucket 344
5. Ayer Shirley, 344
6. Bourne, 347
7. Monty Tech, 348
8 Stoneham, 349
9. East Bridgewater, 358
10. North Reading, 360
11. Franklin County Tech, 375
12. Hopkins, 387
“For a team that's in our league to come that close and a team that we beat twice last year and that we lost to by only four strokes this year just kind of shows me that obviously these guys (Nantucket) had the capability and could have easily been at the top, but obviously conditions like that definitely level out the playing field,” Herrick added.
With Nantucket’s entire starting lineup being seniors, the Whalers will be undergoing a major transition next season. For Herrick, who just completed his second varsity season, it will also mean some tough goodbyes are to come with a group he has been with for both of his season leading the program.
“I was handed the keys to the Cadillac when I first signed up to coach these guys two years ago. It is one of those things where it's one thing to have the coach/player relationship, but I have such a good friend to friend relationship with these guys where for them to be in their senior year and watch all eight seniors who competed go on, it's hard to on a personal level,” Herrick said. “From a coaching perspective, the younger guys have a lot of big shoes to fill. It's going take a lot of commitment. It's going take a lot of kids that want to get better at golf for us to be able to get to the level that we were at this year.”
Herrick admitted that he has had high expectations for this team since preseason and is proud of the success they accomplished. He said he has no plans to stop coaching anytime soon and is excited to continue building the program.
“I think this is the best finish that the Nantucket golf program has ever had,” Herrick said. “So I am definitely proud of the boys, proud of the staff (Nate Roberts, Danno Lynch, Hal Herrick), and I can't wait to keep building the program and someday be on that podium holding up the state championship trophy.”
Boys Soccer Wins League Title, Tournament Play Awaits
A very successful regular season for the Nantucket boys soccer team came to an end Monday afternoon after the Whalers went on the road and beat the Sturgis West Navigators 3-2. The victory clinched Nantucket the Cape & Islands Maritime Division League Title.
“I'm really happy for the boys. They've been working hard all season. They didn't take anything for granted and to have a league campaign such as theirs going 7-0-1, and to win some close games in dramatic fashion and earn some ties, it kind of shows the resiliency of the team,” head coach Rich Brannigan II said. “Early in the season we talked about their youth and how maybe up and down the early part of our season was and then it seemed like we kind of caught stride and they matured right in front of our eyes a little bit as far as putting out consistent performances on a weekly basis. That's really what made the difference for us in our league campaign there.”
Senior Edin Vasquez and freshman Calvin Guevara have become two of Nantucket’s most valuable pieces up front leading the Whaler attack, and both scored one goal apiece on Monday. Ryan Coleman, a junior midfielder who Brannigan has lauded for his versatility, leadership, athletic ability, and high soccer IQ chipped in with the team’s third goal.
Nantucket finishes the regular season with an 11-4-3 record and now awaits their seeding in the Div. 4 state tournament bracket, which will be published on Wednesday.
“I feel good about our guys. Tournament soccer is a whole other breed of intensity,” Brannigan said. “Some of these guys got a glimpse of it last year but not a whole ton of them with the Cohasset game (Round of 32, 1-0 Nantucket loss) and there's even fewer guys remaining from the year before. S not a lot of tournament experience from the group but hopefully what little there is they can pull from it and put out a good showing when it comes time.”
The Whalers were at #10 in the latest MIAA power rankings but had four teams closely trailing them before Saturday’s loss to Martha’s Vineyard and Monday’s win. Brannigan noted his team was able to go toe-to-toe with some strong programs including Barnstable and Falmouth, as well as beating a notoriously strong Nauset squad for the first time in program history.
"We have a pretty good resume,” Brannigan said. “I think people would look at our common opponents or not common opponents and say we were a pretty strong team over the course of 18 games.”
Girls Soccer Loses 4-3 In Season Finale
The Whaler girls soccer team lost to the Sturgis West Navigators 4-3 Monday afternoon on their home field. The loss cemented their regular season record at 8-10 with tournament brackets set to be released on Wednesday.
Nantucket’s goals were scored by junior captain Adney Brannigan, sophomore captain Chelsea Gross, and freshman Emma Woodbury.
Nantucket will clinch a tournament spot only if they fall within the Top 32 of the Div. 4 playoff bracket. Play-in matches are only awarded to teams outside of the Top 32 if they finish their seasons with a record of .500 or better.
The Whalers were #27 in the latest rankings released on Friday. The Navigators were #28. Nantucket (rating of -0.2659) had approximately a .20 cushion over Clinton (rating of -0.4593), the #33 seeded team in Div. 4. The final rankings and tournament brackets will be released on Wednesday, November 1.
Below are some photos from the game on Monday taken by Current Sports photographer Chris Tran.
Volleyball, Field Hockey Earn Round One Home Games
The Whaler volleyball and field hockey teams will have home tournament games to kick off their state tournament runs. The volleyball team is the #9 seed in Div. 4 while the field hockey team is #14 in their Div. 4 bracket.
The volleyball team (12-7) is pegged to host #24 Sandwich (8-10), a familiar foe who up until this season, played Nantucket twice per year. That Round of 32 matchup is scheduled for Wednesday, November 1 at 5 p.m. The Whalers beat the Blue Knights in both matchups last season 3-1.
The one common opponent between the two schools is the Falmouth Clippers. Nantucket played Falmouth twice and beat them at home 3-0 and on the road 3-1. Sandwich lost to Falmouth in both meetings: 0-3 at home and 2-3 on the road.
The field hockey team meanwhile will get their first home tournament game since the fall of 2021 when they lost 2-0 to Lunenburg in the Round of 32. The Whalers are a much different and much improved team since then, amassing a 9-5-3 record this season after going 6-10-2 in 2021 and 8-7-3 last season.
The Whalers are scheduled to host Quaboag Regional High School (12-5-1) on Friday, November 3 at 2 p.m. The teams did not face a common opponent; however Quaboag finished their season strong just like Nantucket but in even more dominant fashion. They are currently riding a seven-game win streak and have outscored their opponents 37-1 during that stretch. The last goal they surrendered was in the first game of the streak on October 12th against Tantasqua Regional High School.
Wednesday, November 1:
Volleyball hosts Sandwich at 5 p.m.
Thursday, November 2:
No Games Scheduled.