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Globe North Sports Notebook

Merrimack athletic field named for soccer coaches

Gabe Mejail Gabe Mejail
By John Vellante
Globe Correspondent / September 11, 2011

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One, Tony Martone, is among the winningest coaches in the history of NCAA Division 2 men’s soccer. The other, Gabe Mejail, is the winningest coach in NCAA Division 2 women’s soccer.

Together the pair have patrolled the pitch at Merrimack College for a cumulative 58 years and entered this season with 692 wins.

That longevity and success will be rewarded Oct. 1 when the college renames the Warrior Field in their honor: Martone-Mejail Field.

A native of Italy now residing in Saugus, Martone is starting his 30th year at the helm. With 281 career wins, he ranks 11th on the all-time Division 2 men’s list. Mejail is a native of Argentina who now lives in Reading, and is beginning his 28th year. He has 411 wins, more than any other women’s Division 2 coach in the country.

The two men “have been so successful that it made sense to recognize their contributions,’’ said Merrimack athletic director Glenn Hofmann. “It’s rare to have two coaches in the same sport be around as long as they have, so renaming the field in their honor was a good option for us.’’

And why Martone-Mejail Field rather than Mejail-Martone Field?

“Strictly alphabetical,’’ said Hoffman, “but we had to go to the second letter. Believe me, there was nothing scientific about it.’’

Martone-Mejail or Mejail-Martone, it didn’t matter at all to Mejail.

“[Martone has] been there two more years than I have, so it’s only fitting that his name goes first,’’ said Mejail, who has 26 consecutive winning seasons and has reached NCAA postseason play nine of the last 11 years. “Besides, Martone-Mejail sounds better than Mejail-Martone. In all seriousness, it’s an incredible honor to have a college name a field after you and I am extremely humbled and appreciative. It came as a complete surprise. Not something I ever thought about.’’

Martone, who was the youngest head coach in the country when he was hired in 1982 at age 24, said he was “very touched’’ when informed of the honor.

“I expect it to be a very special day and I am extremely appreciative,’’ he said. “I’m very proud to share the field’s name with Gabe. He came in two years after I did and started the women’s program, which everyone knows has been very successful. It’s an honor to be associated with him.’’

Both Martone and Mejail have reaped numerous Northeast-10 Conference, New England, and national coaching honors. They have been named NE-10 Coach of the Year a combined 12 times.

Campus corner
Several area freshmen had memorable college debuts.

On the soccer field, Brittany Russo of Danvers scored a goal in the 69th minute to snap a scoreless tie and teammate Jane Hatzikonstantis of Tewksbury chalked up the shutout in University of Massachusetts Lowell’s 1-0 win over 20th-ranked C.W. Post. . . . Freshman Michael Rincon of Medford had a goal in Merrimack’s 3-0 win over Dominican. . . . Candice Waldie of North Andover had goals in each of Merrimack’s first two field hockey games, a 4-2 loss to No. 8 Indiana (Penn.) and a 3-2 overtime upset win over No. 6 East Stroudsburg. . . . Junior Jack Pizzotti of Melrose returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and senior Matt Welch of Woburn rumbled 34 yards into the end zone with a fumble recovery to ignite Bentley to a 50-3 win over State University of New York Maritime in its opener. Pizzotti returned three kickoffs for 141 yards and was named Northeast-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. . . . Merrimack rang up a school record 60 points in a rout of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Senior quarterback James Suozzo of Everett led the offense with four first-half touchdown passes. Suozzo, who saw limited action in the second half, threw for 306 yards. . . . Junior Jillian Flynn of Billerica won at No. 6 singles and then teamed with sophomore Deborah Massaro of Stony Point, N.Y., to win at No. 3 doubles in Wentworth’s 5-4 women’s tennis win over Gordon in its Commonwealth Coast Conference opener. . . . Former UMass Lowell captain Ruben Sanca finished 48th in the IAAF World Track & Field Marathon last weekend in Daegu, South Korea. Sanca represented his native Cape Verde Islands and was clocked in 2 hours, 34 minutes, and 40 seconds. Sanca, who set the Cape Verde Islands record (2:18.48) in the ABN Rotterdam Marathon last spring, has his sights set on the 2012 Olympics in London.

John Vellante can be reached at JohnPVel@aol.com.