Versatility is key to O’Neill’s success

As a senior captain of the men’s swim and diving team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, North Easton’s Tim O’Neill  wants to become a member of what he calls “the four-watch club.’’

After each of UMass’s Atlantic-10 Conference championships the past three seasons, O’Neill and his teammates have been awarded a commemorative watch.

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“I hope they’re waterproof,’’ said O’Neill, who offers versatility to Minuteman coach Russ Yarworth  with the ability to swim a number of events: usually in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard butterfly, and 200-yard individual medley.

“I’ve worked hard with coach Yarworth to improve all my strokes because that’s how you score points and contribute.

“Coach preaches a blue-collar program. We don’t have the star power of some other teams, but we always have great depth,’’ added O’Neill, who earned points at the past two A-10 championships as a consolation finalist in the 200 IM and 100 breast.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from that. I’m not necessarily a stud in any race, but I’m always willing to do what the team needs and that’s where my versatility comes into play.’’

Yarworth appreciates his selfless leadership.

“Tim has been a solid team performer for the past three years,’’ he said, “and this year, as an elected team captain, he’s stepped it up even more.’’

At Oliver Ames High, O’Neill set five individual schools records, shared three relays records and was a two-time Hockomock League all-star. As a senior captain, he helped the team qualify for the first time in program history in the 200 medley and freestyle relays at the sectional and state meets.

A competitive swimmer since he was 5, O’Neill took a break from the sport his freshman and sophomore years of high school. He played basketball and soccer, then realized it was time to get back to the pool.

The A-10 championship meet, held in late February, usually coincides with O’Neill’s birthday.

“I turned 21 the last day of the 2011 championships,’’ he recalled. “Now, being a captain means I have the respect of my coaches and teammates. I’ve gone from a freshman that coach didn’t know would pan out into being a team leader. It’s very satisfying.’’

Jaime Coyne lifts Lesley soccer team

The Lesley University women’s soccer team hasn’t lost a regular season game in the New England Collegiate Conference in four years. Since 2009, the Lasers are 33-0-1 under head coach Paul Vasconcelos , a Sharon resident, including 9-0 this season.

A big reason is senior captain Jamie Coyne , a three-year starter from Mansfield who anchors the defense. Lesley, 14-2-2 overall prior to this weekend’s conference tournament, ranked fifth nationally among Division 3 teams with an 0.28 goals against average.

“Jamie’s one of the most athletic players and definitely among the top five players I’ve coached in my seven seasons at Lesley,’’ said Vasconcelos, who played soccer at Stoughton High and has coached several area club teams, the most recent as technical director for the Cohasset-based Galway Rovers.

“Our success on defense is in large part because of Jamie and a testament to the hard work she’s put in.’’

A three-sport athlete at Bishop Feehan High where she was the soccer team’s 12th player award winner, Coyne was named to the NECC All-Tournament Team in 2010 and 2011 and was an all-conference first team pick her sophomore season.

She played outside midfield in high school, then briefly as a striker at Lesley.

“I was quickly switched to defense and I loved my new role,’’ said Coyne, who toured Brazil with the USA D-3 All-Stars last year. “I really didn’t know about our conference streak but when I heard about it, I just wanted to keep it going, directing the defense as best I could.

“I’ve never been a team captain before, so it means a lot to me,’’ added Coyne, who played in a summer league against top D-3 players to prepare for her final college season.

“It was a higher level of play and it’s definitely helped.’’

Notables

Kelly McGowan, who founded the Bentley University lacrosse program and was the school’s field hockey coach from 1995-2008, is among 12 inductees to the New Agenda: Northeast Hall of Fame. The 25th anniversary ceremonies honoring women in sports will be held today from 1-3 p.m. at Woodland Golf Club in Newton. McGowan, a 2004 inductee to the Canton High Hall of Fame, is a four-time Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year and NCAA Division 2 Coach of the Year in 2001 when Bentley won the national championship. . .

Wheaton College’s Luis Reis  became the sixth active coach and 12th overall in Division 3 women’s soccer history to reach the 300-win milestone when the nationally ranked Lyons defeated host Clark University, 4-1, last Saturday in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference game. In his 16th season at the Norton school, Reis is 300-50-22 including 15-4-1 this fall prior to the conference championships. . .

Former Boston University track athlete Michael Salem  has been named head coach of the Bridgewater State University women’s track and field program. He was an associate track and field coach at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon during the 2011-2012 season and served in that same capacity from 2009 to 2011 at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. . .

Babson College senior forward Eric Anderson  of Scituate scored his 56th career goal last Saturday during a 4-0 victory over Coast Guard to tie a program record and earn NEWMAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Anderson had previously set the career-scoring record for the Beavers, who were top seed in this weekend’s conference tournament. . .

The Brockton Pop Warner Junior Boxers E2 team will play in the Boston Baby Bowl Sunday at Madison Park High. The squad, ages 7-9, is 9-0 in their division of the Hockomock League.