By Joseph Saade, Globe Correspondent
Jane Heil announced Wednesday afternoon that after 33 seasons with the program, she was stepping down as varsity girls' basketball coach at Peabody High.
"It's with some sense of regret, but mostly joy," said a somber Heil, who was surrounded by family, friends, staff, and her players in a press conference at the school. You just know...you'll know when it's time."
Heil, 66, admitted that while she pondered the idea of retirement back in the summer, she did not made her final decision until about a week ago before her final home game, the 700th of career, against Reading in the first round of the Division 1 North tournament. Peabody finished 16-6 overall, losing to Central Catholic, 59-41, in the North quarterfinals.
"Half of my life has been given to this program," she added. "What this program has given to me, I couldn't tell you or put it into words or a sentence.
"My life has been made better and richer because of this program."
Peabody High principal Eric Buckley(cq) recalled when Heil handed him her retirement letter last week.
"She came up to me and told me, 'Honest to God, I just wrote this last night, and I didn't think it would be this hard'," Buckley said.
The legacy Heil leaves behind is unmatched.
Her journey started during the 1977-78 season before she briefly retiring after the 1994-95 season. She came back four years later during the 1999-00 campaign.
In 33 seasons, Heil compiled a 528-173 record. The Tanners made 27 appearances in the D1 tournament, captured 17 Greater Boston League titles, one Northeastern Conference title, two D1 North titles, and one state title.
She was inducted into Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 23, 2013.
"It's not about the records," Heil said. "Winning is what you're there for, but it's about the friendships that you make."
"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my players," she continued. " I don't think anybody can love this program more than me. I am about the happiest person on the planet right now."
The Northeastern Conference voted 6-5 against expansion Friday, ending for the moment the attempts by four Greater Boston League schools and Masconomet to join the 11-team conference.
The motion was to add Medford, Malden, Somerville, and Everett, along with Masconomet, currently a member of the Cape Ann League. Needing eight votes to expand, principals and athletic directors met for two hours before voting.
"It was a healthy discussion," said Northeastern Conference spokesman and former Amesbury principal Les Murray. "In the end they just didn't see the need to expand."
Masconomet is in talks with the Merrimack Valley Conference about joining that 11-team conference. Cambridge is leaving the GBL to join the Dual County League, leaving the GBL as a four-team league.
It took No. 8 North Reading 17 games to suffer its first loss, a 2-1 decision to Masconomet on Saturday. The loss dropped Frank Carey’s crew one spot from last week, giving Danvers the No. 7 spot after a 2-0 week. The Falcons defeated Winthrop and Marblehead by a combined 13-2.
Also moving up a spot was No. 3 Newton North after an undefeated week.
The top 20 added four newcomers to the bottom four spots. No. 17 Central Catholic currently leads the Merrimack Valley Conference and No. 18 Medford clinched the Greater Boston League title this week. No. 19 Bishop Fenwick is also leading the Catholic Central. The Crusaders’ consideration was also helped by its upset of Peabody.
Former top 20 teams in Lincoln Sudbury, Acton-Boxborough, and Malden Catholic all lost at least two games last week.
After St. John’s Prep head varsity basketball coach Sean Connolly stepped down in March, athletic director Jim O’Leary didn’t have to look far for a replacement. In a news conference at the school Monday at 4 p.m., it was announced that assistant varsity coach John Dullea of Peabody would succeed Connolly.
“I’m thankful to everyone at St. John’s Prep for the opportunity to be head coach and their confidence in me to keep the program going in the right direction,” Dullea said. “This is something I’ve always wanted and I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
Dullea said he expressed interest in the position as soon as Connolly, who led the Eagles for five years, stepped down. He found out he got the job last week in a meeting with St. John’s Prep principal Keith A. Crowley, and O’Leary, but he had to keep it a secret until the official announcement.
Dullea, a physical education teacher for grades 6 to 8 in the Peabody school system, has been assistant varsity coach since 2009 and helped Connolly lead the Eagles to the Division 1 state championship in 2011. He also assisted in leading them to Catholic Conference championships in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
He has high hopes, and believes he can lead St. John's Prep to another tournament win.
“We were 18-2 last season but suffered a disappointing loss in the tournament,” Dullea said. “I hope we can build off of [the loss] and go even farther this season.”
Catarina Rocha, the talented cross-country runner from Peabody High School and the Division 1 player of the year for the Boston Globe's All-Scholastics, finished in second place at the Foot Locker Cross-Country Nationals in San Diego Saturday.
Rocha had gone undefeated in Massachusetts, winning the Bay State Invitational, the Eastern Mass. Division 1 race, the Division 1 All-State meet, and then the Foot Locker Northeast Regional to propel herself to nationals. She finished Saturday's race in 17:29, two seconds off her best mark of the season and five seconds behind winner Anna Roher of Mishawaka, Ind.
St. John’s Prep and BC High lead off our baseball Top 20 this week. Both teams have 7-1 records and seem to be evenly matched so far this season. The two teams were scheduled to play for the first time Monday at BC High before weather stepped in postponed the game. It will now be played Friday.
Former No. 1 Xaverian dropped to eight after losses to Brockton and Wellesley early in the season. The Hawks were to be tested by No. 11 Catholic Memorial Monday. The only losses for the Knights came against St. John’s Prep and BC High.
Walpole was a big mover, jumping from 15 to 3. The Rebels are 7-0 and have quality wins against Braintree and Wellesley. Lowell (5-1) and Franklin (4-1) have been solid so far and stay at spots four and five respectively.
Marshfield is the first new addition to the Top 20. The Rams look to be the class of the Atlantic Coast League with an 8-0 record, which puts them at the seven spot in front of conference rival Plymouth North. Marshfield has scored 10 or more runs three times so far and has not allowed more than four runs in a game.
Barnstable (5-1) has also not allowed more than four runs and moves up one spot to nine, while Lincoln-Sudbury (5-1) closes out the top 10. The Warriors are 3-0 in the Dual County Large and had a big 8-7 victory at BC High Saturday.
Newburyport and Reading are both 4-0 (the Rockets loss was an exclusion game to BC High) and each moved up in the standings. The Clippers are 12th while the Rockets are 13th.
Wellesley (5-2) is added to the top 20 at number 14. The Raiders started their season with a win against Xaverian and look to be the biggest competition for Walpole in the Bay State Herget division.
Newton South (5-0) hasn’t lost and should challenge Lincoln-Sudbury in the DCL Large. The Lions are new to the top 20 at the 15 spot.
Lexington (3-2) drops down from 7th to 16th after losses to Lowell and Melrose. Danvers (6-1), Dighton-Rehoboth (7-0), Peabody (5-2) and Austin Prep (6-1) are all new additions and round out the Top 20.
Scores and summaries from Monday's basketball tournament games:
Medford 49, Peabody 48 — The Medford boys' basketball team muscled its way into the first round of the Division 1 North tournament last night after junior center James Hawkins blocked a layup attempt by Peabody in the final seconds to secure a 49-48 home victory.
The 6-foot-4-inch center finished with a season-high 15 blocks to go along with four points and eight rebounds as the Mustangs earned their first tournament win since 1999.
‘‘He really swallowed up the paint and anchored our defense early in the second half when we failed to produce offensively,'' said Medford coach Anthony Faradie.
The Tanners jumped out to a 10-2 lead to start the game when Faradie called a timeout to let his team settle down.
‘‘They [Peabody] are a good shooting team from outside and we had a couple of mental lapses and we gave them a couple of easy layups to start the game,'' Faradie said. ‘‘We used a timeout after Peabody's run and we got our guys to focus on their key shooters.''
Point guard Sean Doncaster took control of the Mustangs' offense, scoring 9 of his 23 points in the second half as Medford clawed back to take a 21-18 halftime lead.
‘‘We were fortunate to be up 3,'' Faradie said. ‘‘It was back and forth and we were able to get some key stops and score on the offensive end. I thought we needed to execute better and we needed to penetrate the zone a little bit more and improve our transition defense because [Peabody] continued to beat us on the break.''
The teams traded baskets early in the second half, with Peabody clinging to a 39-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
‘‘We struggled to score the entire half,'' Faradie said.
The biggest lead for either team in the second half was 3 points. The Mustangs continued to press the Tanners on defense and deny the passing lanes. Shooting guard Maurice Magras (10 points) sparked the Pioneers' offense with three long 3-pointers. Doncaster also continued to get to the basket and finished 7 of 9 from the free throw line.
‘‘We dug in on the defensive end and it was a great home game,'' Faradie said. ‘‘We have Central Catholic coming up. We have our hands full but we have an opportunity to shock everybody.''
Marlborough 57, North Middlesex 56 (OT) — Conner O'Leary hit the winning shot as time expired in overtime to lift the visiting No. 10 Panthers (12-9) in a Division 1 first-round game. Spencer Little scored 19 points, Mike Tirpak had 13 and Little finished with 8 for Marlboro, which advances to play No. 2 St. Peter-Marian at 7 p.m. Thursday at Assumption. Kyle McDermott had 14 points, and Kevin Marciano scored 13 for the No. 7 Patriots (13-8).
Salem 73, Malden Catholic 68 — After being down by 12 at the half, the Witches made a comeback led by junior guard Marvin Baez (25 points). Christian Dunston added 21.
Marblehead 46, Tewksbury 43 (OT) — Jeff Peras had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Phil Coughlin hit the winning 3-pointer with 1:50 to play in overtime as the Magicians (11-10) held the Redmen scoreless for the final two minutes of overtime.
Dedham 66, O'Bryant 43 — The Marauders were led by junior point guard Jeremy Clifford and senior center Vinny Iarrobino. Clifford scored 21 points and Iarrobino scored 16.
Millis 67, CASH 46 — Senior guard Derek Latosek led the Mohawks with 22 ponits.
Hingham 69, Sandwich 59 — Freshman Sierra Irvin scored 28 points, going 11 of 12 from the free throw line and 3 of 6 from behind the 3-point arc, and senior co-captain Katharine Alger added 11 points for the Harbormen (12-11).
Sharon 50, Silver Lake 28 — Sophomore guard Karlie O'Driscoll powered the Eagles with 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 steals.
Peabody's Hayley Dowd was named the Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Soccer Player of the Year on Thurday.
As a junior, Dowd led the Tanners to a 22-0-2 record and the 2011 Division I state title. The Tanners' striker finished the season with 41 goals and 19 assists. She was also on her game when it mattered most, netting seven goals and three assists in six postseason appearances.
For her work, Dowd, who has verbally commited to play for Boston College in the Fall of 2013, was named an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association and the Globe's Division I Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
Dowd, who is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award (announced in May), owns the Peabody girls' all-time scoring record with 121 goals and 43 assists through three seasons.
After trailing Winthrop 47-42 late in the fourth quarter, the Peabody girl’s basketball team made a spectacular comeback to defeat the Vikings, 52-51. Senior forward Katie Burnelle swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to secure the Tanners' thrilling victory.
Burnelle (11 points) is no stranger to pressure shots. She scored the winning goal in the Division 1 state soccer finals with 3:26 remaining against Longmeadow. Junior Victoria Digiacomo, also a member of the championship soccer team, dove on the loose ball under the basket and kicked it out to Burnelle for the winning shot.
“Those two were stars on the soccer teams. They know what it’s like to be in clutch situations,” said coach Jane Heil. “We rely on them in key situations. The last minute and a half you need people to step up. Diving on the ball and kicking it out like that is athleticism, smarts and part good luck.”
The Tanners (4-3) latest victory puts them in the middle of the pack of the Northeastern North Division. The Vikings (4-4) sit in the center of the South Division.
“(The win) puts us above .500,” said Heil. “Tonight showed we don’t give up. When you’re down five points at the end of the game it’s pretty tough. You just have to keep playing hard and that’s what we did.”
Katie Brunelle scored with four minutes left in the first half and the Peabody Tanners held on to beat East Longmeadow 1-0 for the Division 1 girls state soccer title at Worcester State University.
Peabody's girls soccer team takes on East Longmeadow in the Division 1 girls state soccer championship tonight.
The game will be 7:30 p.m. at Worcester State University.
Peabody has yet to be beaten this season at 21-0-2 and is led by junior Hayley Dowd, who is easily one of the top players in the state and has already committed to play at Boston College. Dowd led all of EMass with 44 points this season. Victoria Digiacomo has been stellar all season as well.
The Tanners knocked off a solid Oliver Ames team in overtime, 2-1, in the EMass finals to get here.
Western Massachusetts champion East Longmeadow is 18-2-1 and has outscored its opponents 12-2 thus far in the postseason.
The Spartans last played in the state finals in 2003.
Sarah Waltsak leads the Spartans with 12 goals and six assists this season. Alyssa Balboni has been solid all season, tallying eight goals and seven assists.
Hayley Dowd has done it again. With a hat trick in the Tanners' 4-0 victory over Salem Wednesday afternoon, the Peabody girls' soccer junior forward set a school points record with 147.
Dowd, who had 144 points coming into the game, netted her second goal -- a penalty kick to the lower right corner in the 24th minute -- to tie her with former teammate Emily Manoogian, who set the mark with 146 points from 2007-10. Dowd's third goal helped lift the Tanners to 14-0-2.
"She can place the ball really where she wants it. She saw where the goalie was leaning towards and she went he opposite way," said Peabody coach Dennis Desroches about the penalty kick.
The record adds to the Boston College recruit's already impressive resume. Earlier this month, Dowd set the school career goals record with 92, and two years ago she set the state freshman goals record with 45. Dowd has also been recognized as an ESPNHS-All American.
With two more regular-season games and the postseason, as well as her entire senior year, Dowd could also break the school assists record of 68, which is within her reach, according to Desroches.
"That would be something nice to see her achieve," Desroches said. "Coming into this year knowing we just lost two of the best assist players Peabody's had [Manoogian and classmate Angela Ellison], Hayley's identified that. She's really looking to distribute the ball more than in the past, because we need to fill that role of play-maker."
In a way, Dowd transitioning to the role of table setter is her returning the favor Manoogian and Ellison did for her.
"There was excellent chemistry between them, especially on the soccer field," Desroches said. "[Dowd would] be the first to give credit to her teammates. That's the kind of person she is."
Dowd's impressive totals, offensive prowess and game awareness of the game didn't come out of nowhere. Desroches said Dowd continually puts in the hours on the field, around the gym and around the classroom.
"The thing with Hayley is her consistent play," Desroches said. "It's very rare that she has a down game and that's because of the work she puts in. What you see in a game is what she puts in during practice. Those records are broken as a result of the work the puts in.
"It's always nice to see the hard work a kid puts in pay off, and it's paid dividends for her."
In Week 5, we'll have updates from several games in the region. For a look at all the scores on Boston.com, visit our scoreboard page.
Final: Beverly 34, Peabody 0 -- Beverly's (4-1) relentless ground game carried the Panthers past Peabody (3-1) as they handed the Tanners their first loss of the season. Brendan Flaherty led both teams in production with three touchdowns and 190 yards of offense, the bulk of which came on three plays: a 13-yard touchdown run, a 60-yard touchdown run, and an 85-yard interception returned for a TD. Teammate Kenny Pierce had 90 yards. Dom Abate had 52 yards on the ground and a 20-yard touchdown reception on the back-heavy Panthers' sole passing play of the game. Quarterback Dave Rollins had a one-yard touchdown run. Nat Gaye led Peabody with 61 yards. -- Braden Campbell
Final: New Bedford 31, Barnstable 17 -- Myles Medeiros led three fourth quarter touchdown drives as the Whalers came back to beat Barnstable. Barnstable quarterback D.J. Crook suffered a thumb injury in the game.
Final: Blue Hills 40, South Boston 8 -- Blue Hills' Vincent Burton ran in two touchdowns in the first two quarters. The game was halted for a bit because the lights to Saunders stadium in Boston needed to be turned on.
Final: BC High 41, Central Catholic 7 -- On BC High's first play, Preston Cooper broke loose for a 57-yard touchdown run. Gordon McLeod added an eclectic 60-yard TD reception from Eagles quarterback Bartley Regan. Regan also completed an 80-yard TD pass to Cooper on a screen. Cooper tacked on a 33-yard TD in the third quarter. On the other side of the ball, John Snee took a fumble 8 yards for another BC High touchdown. Central Catholic got on the board with a 23-yard TD pass from Matt McDermott to Brandon Lamphier. Deontae Ramey-Doe capped the big night for BC High with a 10-yard TD run.
Final: Dennis-Yarmouth 27, Plymouth North 18 -- Despite three turnovers that led directly to Plymouth North scores, the No. 6 Dolphins edged their Atlantic Coast League foes, 27-18. D-Y improved to 5-0, while Plymouth North fell to 2-3.
Northeastern Conference leading scorer Hayley Dowd notched two goals Wednesday to break the Peabody girls' soccer career goals record. She now has 92.
Dowd isn't new to the record books -- she scored 45 goals her freshman year for a state record. The junior forward has been recognized as an ESPNHS-All American, totaling 80 goals and 104 points her first two years at Peabody.
Dowd, who has committed to Boston College, scored in the 26th minute to tie the record and in the 38th minute in the second half to make it her own in No. 13 Peabody's 6-0 victory over Salem. Justine Hartigan had held the record.
"She's not the type of player that focuses on records," said Peabody coach Dennis Desroches of Dowd. "The No. 1 thing she's concerned with is the 'W' in the win column."
Senior keeper Lenny Paotella continued his brilliance in net Tuesday for the Cardinal Spellman boys’ soccer team, turning away six shots as the No. 11 Cardinals defeated Catholic Central League (Large) rival Bishop Fenwick 2-0 in Peabody.
In five games this season, Paoletta has yet to allow a goal. Michael Gerrish, who has coached the Cardinals for 17 years, was quick to spread the credit around for Paoletta’s impressive numbers.
“Even though we have Lenny as our goalkeeper, it’s still a team effort,” Gerrish said.
The Cardinals (5-0) have outscored their opponents 17-1 this season, with the lone goal coming with Paoletta sitting out.
A.J. Cave got the scoring started for the Cardinals in the first half when the senior buried a direct kick from 20 yards out.
With five minutes remaining, Nick Keddie took advantage of a Crusaders (3-2-2) team that was forced to press on offense, quickly turning a Fenwick miscue into a scoring opportunity for David Eggitto, whose shot gave the Cardinals some breathing room.
The Cardinals outshot Bishop Fenwick 12-6 but their opponents couldn't capitalize on their own opportunities.
“[Spellman] buried their opportunities, and the ones we had, we didn’t,” Bishop Fenwick coach Andrew Bub said.
Samanthan Pion of Easthampton netted the first of her two first-period goals just 21 seconds into play, triggering a four-goal onslaught as the Central/West girls' scholastic hockey team captured its fourth straight gold medal, holding off Southeast/Coastal 4-2 at New England Sports Center in Marlborough Friday afternoon.
Pion, a rising junior at Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H., bumped the lead to 2-0 before Sarah Wilczynski (Ludlow HS) added one of her own with 9:34 to go in the first, giving Central/West the 3-0 lead after one complete period of play. Shannon Reynolds (Phillipston/Cushing Academy) and Sara Wilkie (Ashby/Winchendon School) recorded assists in the victory for Central/West.
Central/West went up, 4-0, less than two minutes into the second period, when Alexa Napolitan (East Longmeadow HS) chipped in with an insurance goal. Southeast/Coastal tried to mount a comeback later in the period, as Delaney Flynn (Scituate/Milton Academy) put one in unassisted with 4:13 to go. Ally Perdios (Braintree HS) added another one minute into the third period, but it was still not enough to overcome the two-goal deficit.
Northeast 3, Metro 2
Northeast slipped by Metro in a closely fought battle to capture the bronze. Northeast jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, when the team’s offense squared up with the Metro defense deep in the Metro zone and Livvy Kohaxis (Beverly/ Danvers HS) found the back of the net off of a pass from Rebecca Holmes (Peabody HS). Two minutes later, Northeast went on the attack again, this time with Kara Donati (Saugus HS) taking it in on an assist from Lynn Kozlowski (Stoneham HS).
Metro was able to pull within one on a goal by Kelly Downey (Waltham)with 7:50 to go in the first period. Teammate Meaghan Williams (Dorchester) followed with a goal of her own just two minutes into the second, tying the game at two.
Kohaxis then scored the go-ahead goal, poking in her second of the game with 12:59 left in the second period to give her squad the lead.
BOYS' SCHOLASTIC HOCKEY
Northeast 8, West 0
Northeast delivered a decisive blow to the West, dominating on both sides of the puck early in the game on the way to the convincing win. Northeast jumped out in front, 4-0, through one period of play with the help of two goals scored just 21 seconds apart. Brian Sullivan (Burlington HS) scored twice, including a shorthanded goal, and Billy Boudreau (Newburyport HS) who took advantage of a power play to take it in unassisted.
With 10 goals and 14 assists, Sullivan leads all scorers through the first four games of the tournament. Joe Czarnota (Reading HS) added to the Northeast offensive attack with two goals, while Michael Kelly (Stoneham HS), RJ Caruso (Burlington HS) and Kevin Paduto (Acton-Boxborough) each chipped in with one. Christopher Rolli (Stoneham HS) tallied three assists.
Metro 2, Coastal 1
Down 1-0 heading into the third period, unbeaten Metro rallied with a pair of goals to steal the win, improving to 4-0.
Unable to find the net for two complete periods, Metro came out on the offensive in the third, as Nick Finn (Canton/ Boston College HS) scored the team’s first goal of the game to tie it up at one aside.
With two minutes left, Danny Graham (Billerica/Arlington Catholic) slipped past the Coastal coverage for the winner.
Joey Gomes (Dartmouth HS) scored first on a pass from Garrett Allen (Dartmouth HS) with 14:44 left in the second period to give Coastal the early lead.
Southeast 11, Central 2
Southeast steamrolled Central to keep its gold-medal hopes alive. The Southeast assault was paced by two goals apiece from Thomas Trogele (Hingham HS), Terrence Durkin (Scituate/Boston College HS), Timothy Boyle (Hingham/ Catholic Memorial) and Danny Griffen (Hingham HS). SE outshot Central, 60-23.
Zach Byczko (Auburn, St. John's HS) and Corey Lussier (Spencer, Auburn HS) collected the two goals for Central.
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