Back-to-school time has arrived and one of the best ways Northborough Patch gets ready for the fall season is by staying on top of the sports scene. It would be nice to believe that every team at can win districts this year, but that’s just not realistic. What makes the concept of sport so satisfying after all is that it gives athletes chances to make little leaps of progress. That being said, here’s what Northborough fans can look forward to this season.
Coach: Bill Long
2010 Record: 1-10
Key Contributors: Mike Halloran, Tim Hanlon, Steven Roy, Mike Babine, Kyle Decarro
Needs: getting off to a faster start; defense
Outlook: More than any other team, the Tomahawks have had a history of falling flat — especially in 2010. This year, however, the football team is expected to bring terrific energy.
“We’re excited about this season,” coach Long said. “We have some dogs that can hunt.” We can never underestimate the combination of athleticism and fearless young players. And while the team may lacked a clear identity last season, each player has really embraced the idea of competition at training camp this summer. Perhaps it’s because they realize that if they let up for a second, another "dog" will eventually catch up to them. An upbeat philosophy can only yield positive results this time around.
Boys Cross Country
Coach: Nate Uttaro
2010 Record: 5-3 (5th in districts)
Key Contributors: Conor Healui, Mark Kerstens, Allen Scholl
Needs: leadership; veteran experience
Outlook: To expect all the boys on the cross country team to improve at an exponential rate may be asking too much. What really matters more than anything this season is that the intensity that once characterized the young Tomahawks team remains. That is what ultimately will help them reach their goal of winning a state championship for the first time in team history. Coach Uttaro’s goals have always remained the same despite a lack of experience:
“I really want to pass along to the team that I’m not changing just because the veterans are gone,” he said. “I’m not going to lower my expectations.” In truth, it may be another year or two before those lessons really begin to take shape, but they are being learned. It’ll be up to the three team captains to take the next step forward.
Girls Cross Country
Coach: Ernie Bardier
2010 Record: 6-2 (2nd in districts)
Key Contributors: Caroline Severo, Claudia Weaver, Emily Mauro, Kyra Shreeve, Maggie Shields.
Needs: top runners
Outlook: Even though Wachusett is probably the odds-on favorite to repeat as district champions, Algonquin is the most likely to fly under-the-radar as the season progresses. The girls graduated some of their top runners so there will be some new faces vying for the top spot, and that can only mean one thing: competition. You can sense in the locker room that there’s a level of competition where every girl wants to be number one and it has proven to be exciting for everyone involved.
“The team really rallies and challenges themselves individually and we tend to run stronger as a pack,” coach Bardier said. The first test for the Tomahawks will take place at the home season opener versus Leominster. Keeping the team fresh and challenged at the start of each race will certainly be a tall order going forward.
Coach: Ken Morin
2010 Record: 18-3-1 (district champions)
Key Contributors: Mark Keller, Justin Cody, David McGovern
Needs: goal scoring
Outlook: Coming off a district championship and noticing a major upswing in senior goalkeeper/forward Jose Silva, the expectations remain very high for the boys soccer team this fall. Sure, the team’s considerable talent gives them a chance to repeat as district champions, but they did lose Silva. What will determine their chance to repeat is their productivity up front. As the competition grows, there looks to be tougher terrain for the Tomahawks and who their go-to goal scorer will be. But every championship team knows how to recognize the gaps, and capitalize on them while they still can. Tomahawk fans are sure to be particularly anxious throughout the season.
Coach: Scott Taggart
2010 Record: league champions
Key Contributors: Emily Brown, Dana Greico, Ryan Hanly
Needs: goal scoring
Outlook: Aside from the growing rivalry between Algonquin and Shrewsbury, you don’t have to worry about the girls soccer team getting rattled and they can handle pressure situations no problem with Emily Brown as their go-to player. This is a team that can really be a force to be reckoned with, especially on the defensive side of the field. Still, concerns remain, including finding ways to score easy goals and that means the defense will have to quickly retreat to protect the goal.
Girls Field Hockey
Coach: Dan Welty
2010 Record: 16-3-4
Key Contributors: Emily Bourke, Liz Holmes
Needs: leading scorer
Outlook: Luckily for the girls field hockey team, they have a well-respected coach in Dan Welty, who knows what it takes to win and leap in performance each year. Algonquin can expect the field hockey team to be real pesky this season. The fact that the players instill a lot of trust in Bourke to be a leader is also indicative of their team camaraderie. The obvious question now is, "how do they improve?" On the one hand, they have to continue to get strong in the middle. On the other, they have to find someone aside from Bourke who can carry the offensive load. Depending on how their core matures, it will be interesting to see if they can be as dominant as everyone thinks they will be.
Coach: Janice Henningson
2010 Record: 15-7
Key Contributors: Sarah Merchant, Katie Gillespie
Needs: consistency; make presence known
Outlook: If there’s one sport that brings excitement and a live spirit to each game, look no further than girls volleyball. This year brings even more excitement as former Algonquin student, Janice Henningson, will take over the head coaching duties. Henningson still plays the game herself and hopes that the team will feed off of her enthusiasm. Second, junior Sarah Merchant aims to continue her point streak on serves. And finally, if senior Katie Gillespie stays healthy this team will remain very good in most statistical categories. It appears as though we’ll see a more resilient team this year. Milford remains their toughest challenge to date, however.
Coach: Bob Cullen
2010 Record: 10-8 (4th in districts)
Key Contributors: Matt Coombs, Thomas Campbell, Sean Doherty, Dan O’ Brien
Needs: improving on the short game
Outlook: It’s clear that no matter how lofty your team goals are, the season schedule doesn’t always work in your favor. The boys golf team has 16 matches this season and they will certainly have their hands full from the start. They are set to take on Wachusett this week and if they want to win, their short game is the area they’d need to devote some attention to. The Tomahawks struggled mightily with their chipping and putting last season. They do, however, have a handful of guys who can compete every match and make teams work to beat them. Indeed it’s about everyone getting on the same page and trying to peak for late October.