BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer A slew of younger players will get their chances this season as the Middletown High School South girls basketball team looks to bounce back after losing three starters who accounted for about 65 percent of its offense. Coach Tom Brennan’s team went 13-11 a year ago and he believes the Eagles will be competitive. The first test promised to be difficult as St. John Vianney came to visit on Friday. “Some people might consider this a rebuilding year, but we’re setting the bar higher,” Brennan said. “We have plenty of talent and I expect they’ll win a lot of games.” Fortunately Middletown South has a few solid veterans back, including center Jenna Cancillieri and shooting guard Brianne Moran. Cancillieri, a senior, averaged eight points and 4.5 rebounds last season, while Moran, a junior who played the point last winter, averaged nine points and three assists. “They’re key players for us,” Brennan said. “Cancillieri gives us a real strong presence underneath and Moran is a three-point threat. We’re counting on them.” The Eagles will, however, be without sophomore guard Michele Whalen, who played well in limited time last season. Whalen, who underwent ACL surgery in August, is expected to return in mid-January. Junior Karra Cancillieri should provide help with the rebounding, along with Cara DiCicco, another junior, and senior Erin Cullen. Junior Tara Pauley will swing between the guard and small forward posts. Brennan plans to give four freshmen plenty of playing time. Brittany Hoffman, whom the coach termed an “excellent passer with good court vision who can shoot,” will play the point. Shealyn Taggart, Christina Longo and Courtney Herring are promising forwards. Taggart is 5-9, while Longo and Herring are both 5-7. In addition, sophomore guard Caitlin Kenah will be in the mix. “One of the keys for us will be controlling the boards, and that means committing to boxing out and making good outlet passes,” Brennan said. “Another will be the ability of our freshmen to play with discipline at both ends of the floor. That’s something that should improve with each game.” The coach said his team will play a “slashing” style and will occasionally try to run. Defensively, the Eagles play man-to-man, but do employ a zone press from time to time. Following Friday’s game, Middletown South will compete in the Point Pleasant Beach Holiday Jubilee and return to regular-season action against Raritan at home on Jan. 2. Middletown South girls team expects to remain competitive BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer
With just three games remaining, the Middletown North senior American Legion team needs to win them all to qualify for the state playoffs. Coach Ken Rotolo’s team is currently 7-5 thanks to some solid defense and a lineup that features six players batting .300 or above. “Our guys have developed a good attitude and they work well together and play as a team,” Rotolo said. Speedy center fielder Chris Sadecki leads the offense with a .631 average and 10 RBIs. Sadecki, who opened the campaign with 13 straight hits, is equally proficient with the glove. First baseman Chris Rotolo is batting .486 with nine RBIs and second baseman Mike Collison is hitting .438 with five RBIs. Shortstop Kevin Mager is at .371 and has driven home eight runs, and designated hitter Ryan Koegel and catcher/outfielder Jim Trancucci are both batting .300. Mike Condon tops the pitching staff with three wins, while Matt Devenny has a pair of victories to his credit. Ryan Dougherty has posted a win and three saves in relief. Other members of the squad include catcher Ryan O’Mara, infielders Kevin Engelbrecht and Jason Morris, and outfielders Sean Byrnes and Chris Saginor. Engelbrecht and Morris have also seen some time on the mound. “Most of our players will be the core for Middletown North High School next spring so this is a good opportunity for them to play together and work on some things,” the senior Rotolo said. Frank Mager and Dean Sadecki are the assistant coaches.
BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer There will be some new faces on both sides of the ball for this year’s Raritan High School football team, but the expectations remain the same. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Raritan’s offense will once again be led by Brian Kalarjian (above) at quarterback, while Chris Van Fechtman (below) should be the workhorse out of the backfield. As long as Bob Generelli is the head coach of the Rockets, they will be focusing on playing championship-level football. Last season, Raritan took a lot of people by surprise. After graduating All- Shore-caliber players such as Andrew Mandeville, Rick Jaeger and Matt Fitzpatrick, the Rockets did not take the step back that some people expected, going 8-4, and playing their best football of the season down the stretch, when they made a run at the Central Jersey Group II title before falling to Weequahic, 6-0, in the championship game. Their late-season success merely cemented the notion that Raritan is one of the top programs in the Shore Conference, and has earned the high level of expectations that surround celebrated programs such as Middletown South, Jackson Memorial, Manasquan, and the like. That being said, the 2007 Rockets have their work cut out for them. Graduation has once again stripped Generelli’s squad of some key players, with players like Carmen Dente, Chris Mooney and Brian England moving on, as well as several players on both the offensive and defensive lines. However, the cupboard is far from bare, as Raritan returns enough veteran players to maintain the level of competitiveness that the team will need as it looks to groom its newcomers over the early part of the schedule. Leading the way is senior quarterback/ running back Brian Kalarjian, who started all 12 games as QB last year and will be the primary offensive weapon for Raritan this fall. Generelli plans to have the ball in Kalarjian’s hands as much as possible, as the Rockets will operate out of the shotgun quite a bit this year. Junior Mark Stancati may also see some time at QB this year, while junior Chris Van Fechtman and sophomore Jesse Raymond are likely to get most of the carries out of the backfield. Raritan also has some talent at the receiver position, with Robert Palmer, a legitimate deep threat, along with a pair of newcomers in sophomore Bennett Jackson and John Krajunus, while senior Ryan Campbell returns at tight end. The offensive line returns two starters in senior right tackle Tim Noland and senior left guard Nick McMahon, while newcomers Brian Flynn, a junior left tackle, and senior center Nick Hungerford have looked good in the preseason. The other players likely to make up the line include junior Aaron Cruez and sophomore Dan Gibson. The Rocket defense will be led by its linebackers, as senior John Boyle and junior Jerome Dean head an athletic group that also includes juniors Devin Fitzpatrick and Chris Raitano, and sophomores Carlo Caponetta and Marc Cogliano. The defensive line returns senior Wilfredo Montes and will need steady improvement from newcomers such as junior Ed Perez, senior John Mooney, junior Cliff Gabriel and Flynn, while the defensive secondary is entirely new, with junior Cody Mooney, who did see time last year at cornerback, junior Paul Amakihe, senior John Gazerwitz, senior Nate Rucinski, Van Fechtman and Raymond all in the mix. With so many newcomers playing such important roles for the Rockets this year, Raritan fans may be in for another season of development. And facing what appears to be a particularly difficult National Division schedule this fall, headed by teams like Manasquan, Point Borough and Barnegat, Raritan will need to get better each and every week if they have any hopes of making a run at another sectional title. This Friday, Raritan opens up against a St. John Vianney team that is facing a number of questions itself. There’s a lot of talk about SJV’s freshman quarterback Charles Davis, a prolific playmaker during his Pop Warner days in Neptune who should provide the Rocket defense with a good early test. Game time is 7 p.m. in Hazlet. Raritan ready for another run at National Division title
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown South Middletown High School South’s football team will be eyeing revenge in a different context when, as the No. 7 seed, it travels to No. 3 seed Colts Neck High School for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinals at 1 p.m. on Dec. 1.Coming off a gritty 21-13 Thanksgiving victory over Middletown High School North, the Eagles (7-3) remember a late season 28-9 loss to Colts Neck on Nov. 11 that dropped it from a No. 3 playoff seed at the time.“It was disappointing as far as the effort we put forth,” Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci said after the Colts Neck game that was the Eagles’ second straight loss. “That was a huge game for seedings.”After practice early this week, Antonucci said, “I don’t have to go about motivating them. They’ve got all the motivation they need, and they’re 48 minutes from a state final. I expect a much better effort. We have to protect the ball and sustain an offense. They (Colts Neck) got after us defensively and put us in a bind when we played them. We have to convert third down plays and put a drive together.”Middletown South comes off its victory over Middletown North injury-free, but it got a good warmup for its semifinal playoff game. The Eagles rallied from an early 6-0 deficit and had to hold off Middletown North’s 37-yard touchdown pass from Cody Thompson to Rob Spinelli that cut the lead to 21-13 with 3:34 left. “We need to continue to do better. We need to be more consistent in moving the ball and on defense to be a little tighter like early in the season,” Antonucci said after the Colts Neck game. It won its playoff opener, 40-8, over West Windsor- Plainsboro High School South on Nov. 16.On Thanksgiving, Thompson caught an 8-yard pass from Jake Betkowski on a trick play off a reserve as Middletown North struck first. But, the extra point kick was blocked, which Antonucci said was a “huge” play.Eagles quarterback Kyle Brey connected with Elijah Smith for a 48-yard pass play that tied it midway through the second quarter and Connor Ryan’s extra point then gave the Eagles the lead for good.“This game is always difficult because it’s a rivalry for them and it’s their last game. We have nothing to gain but bragging rights and we’re playing on,” Antonucci said. “It’s difficult to motivate our players off a playoff win like we had against West-Windsor Plainsboro South, but the kids responded.”Brey completed a 30-yard scoring strike to Andrew Wisialko for a 14-6 lead with 7:09 left in the third quarter and Smith ran nine yards for a touchdown with 7:39 left for a 21-6 lead before Middletown North battled back. Smith also was named the Defensive Player of the Game. Thompson got the offensive honor.
The Matawan Regional High School girls basketball team has overcome a scarce amount of starting experience, putting together a strong start to the season.The Huskies, playing without any seniors on their roster, are relying on a group of relative newcomers and a thin roster. The pieces have quickly come together for Matawan, though.After losing the season opener by a large margin, the Huskies bounced back to put themselves on track to compete for a division title.A 75-44 loss to Red Bank Regional High School last month was followed by a big 77-35 win over Asbury Park High School, then victories against Long Branch High School and Old Bridge High School.On Jan. 17, Matawan (7-3) recovered from a 13-point deficit with about nine minutes left to edge Freehold High School, 46- 43. The Huskies put up a 21-11 fourth quarter to secure the win.Tracey Brereton posted 16 points to lead the Huskies, while Jenelle Long added 12 points. Colleen Branagan scored 10 points, and Rose Egan had six.Brereton, a junior, and sophomores Long and Branagan lead the starting five as captains. Egan and a rotation of Mary Tomkins and Erin Powers also start for Matawan. Adrianna Fletcher fills in at the varsity level to add depth.Matawan’s ability to work together is paying dividends, head coach Jay Lagomarsino said. “We have a very young team, and we talked early on about progressing each game. We’ve been seeing that,” he said. “The team is improving. It’s starting to show.” Lagomarsino, now in his fourth year with the Huskies, arrived with a team predominantly comprised of sophomores. They graduated last year, so, in a way, he’s back to square one, the coach said. Even though Matawan is again a young team, the up-andcoming players have stepped up to provide leadership. “You need that leadership on the court,” said Lagomarsino, who has coached for more than 20 years. For one, Brereton has put up some impressive scoring totals. In addition to leading the team against Freehold, the junior logged a 30-point game in a loss to Wall High School on Jan. 13. She also scored 32 points for Matawan in an earlier loss to Howell High School. Lagomarsino noted that his time with the Huskies “has been a pleasure,” adding that Bob Harrigan, a longtime varsity girls coach at Howell, was an important addition to the coaching staff this season.Matawan has a challenging schedule for the second half of the regular season, including games against Holmdel High School and Marlboro High School.The Huskies were slated to host Neptune High School on Jan. 21, before hitting the road for a rematch against Red Bank on Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. The team is also scheduled to play at Middletown High School North on Jan. 24 with a 6:30 p.m. tipoff. By MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent
It did not take long for St. John Vianney to make a name for itself in Shore Conference gymnastics. In their first year on the varsity level, the Lancers will be among the favorites to compete for conference and state titles.The Lancers, who have won four of their six meets this season, put together a strong performance in their introduction to the Shore Conference’s best squads. The team’s only two losses came in meets against Colts Neck High School and archrival Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School. The Caseys are 9-0 on the year, including a close contest with the Lancers Oct. 5. St. John Vianney lost the meet, 112.55-111.3.The upstart program saw the defeat as a sign of good things to come, given the way RBC — ranked No. 1 in some New Jersey polls — has plowed through its competition. The Caseys, led by sophomore Alex Cucich, also are coming off their first team title in 12 years at the 2014 NJSIAA championships.“I think we have a very good chance to take it,” co-head coach Tracie Vaz said of the Shore Conference championships scheduled for Oct. 31 at Brick Memorial High School. “We’re still improving. We still have a lot of room to grow.“I think it’s going to be neck and neck like when we met RBC.”All NJSIAA sectionals will take place Nov. 7, and the team championships will follow Nov. 12. The NJSIAA individual championship meet is set for Nov. 14. St. John Vianney senior Kristen Politz has emerged as the top performer on the Lancers. The Penn State University-bound gymnast gives the team a strong contender for an individual title, and her presence on the varsity roster is a big reason for St. John Vianney’s instant success. In the matchup with RBC, Politz posted the high score for either side, 38.425.“Kristen is coming from being a champion from every event and the all-around,” said Vaz, who coaches the Lancers alongside Diane Farrell, owner of Rebound Gymnastics in Marlboro.Politz, a top gymnast in New Jersey, has long trained at Rebound Gymnastics and committed to Penn State during her sophomore year at St. John Vianney.She earned the 2015 New Jersey All- Around title in March after taking first place in the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. At the Level 10 Regionals, Politz qualified to compete in the Junior Olympic Nationals that were held in May.“Kristen has some interesting things in her routine that are different from the others. You can tell she knows what she’s doing,” Vaz said. “Everything so far has been very consistent for her, and she’s extremely talented. She should do very well at Shore Conference and states.”The Lancers also have seen big contributions from two juniors, Jennifer LaPoff and Marina Pietri, and two freshmen, Ariana Agrapides and Alexandra Panetta.Vaz believes the team’s freshmen are on their way to winning more events as high school gymnasts, noting that Agrapides holds the highest uneven bars score this season. By MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent
By Mike CollettGoals from Gary Cahill and Diego Costa gave Chelsea a deserved 2-1 comeback win at Liverpool on Saturday as they stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to 11 matches from the start of the season.Chelsea stayed four points clear at the top from Southampton, who won 2-0 at home to Leicester City after Shane Long came on as a 67th-minute substitute and scored with a left-foot shot on 75 minutes and a right-foot effort five minutes later.Chelsea have 29 points, Southampton 25 with champions Manchester City, who are third on 20 points, playing at Queens Park Rangers in the evening kick-off.Elsewhere goals were in short supply as Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 1-0 with a 67th-minute effort from substitute Juan Mata, while Burnley beat Hull City 1-0 for their first league win of the season thanks to Ashley Barnes’ 50th-minute header.West Ham United drew 0-0 at Upton Park with Aston Villa, whose run of six successive defeats came to an end.The most exciting match of the afternoon came at Anfield where Emre Can scored his first goal for Liverpool with a long-range shot after nine minutes that took a deflection off Gary Cahill’s shoulder leaving Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois stranded.Cahill pulled Chelsea level after 14 minutes – awarded after the Goal Decision System proved the ball had crossed the line even though his shot was smothered by Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet.Costa settled the points in the 67th minute when he put Chelsea ahead with a low, powerful drive, but Liverpool thought they should have had a penalty in the 88th minute when Cahill appeared to handle a Steven Gerrard shot.Their strong claims were denied though and they lost for the third time in a week.
David de Gea’s camp are increasingly confident the Manchester United goalkeeper will complete a long-protracted move to Real Madrid before Tuesday’s transfer deadline, The Mirror reports.De Gea hasn’t featured for the Red Devils so far this season, having been exiled by manager Louis van Gaal until his future is resolved either way.And sources close to the player believe that a transfer can be done by Monday, it is claimed.Real have so far failed to meet United’s £35m asking price for the Spaniard – a world record for a goalkeeper – but is understood that an offer slightly less than £30m will be accepted by United.Reports suggest the Premier League side have reached a stage where they feel they would be better off without De Gea, given the distraction his protracted transfer has caused.The 24-year-old has also refused to sign a new contract at Old Trafford, meaning he would leave them for free next summer barring a dramatic u-turn before then.Stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Romero has proved an able deputy so far and it is unclear if United plan to bring in further reinforcements before the deadline.One player who had been tipped to replace De Gea is Dutchman Jasper Cillessen, but the Ajax No.1 has since pledged his future to Ronald de Boer’s side.De Gea’s fellow Spanish shot-stopper, Victor Valdes, is also on is way out of Old Trafford, with a move to Besiktas all but complete.Elsewhere, Manchester City have made an ‘astonishing’ wage offer to winger Kevin de Bruyne, claims Wolfsburg’s director of sport Klaus Allofs.De Bruyne, 24, has been left out of Friday’s game with Schalke as talks continue over a move to City.City have not responded to reports a £58m deal has been agreed for the Belgium international.Chelsea meanwhile have made an offer for China and Guangzhou Evergrande defender Zhang Linpeng, Chinese media reported on Friday.The Premier League champions sent a contract on Wednesday and hope to secure the 26-year-old right back before the summer transfer window closes on Tuesday, Titan said.Even if were to go ahead, Zhang said he did not expect to get straight into Premier League football.Players from non-European Union countries are subject to tighter work permit requirements in Britain, and Chelsea might elect to loan the defender to a European side for a period of time to pave his way into the league.Technically proficient and solidly built, Zhang has been a key player in Guangzhou’s success in China and their run to the 2013 Asian Champions League title.He carries the nickname ‘Zhangmos’ in China in a nod to Real Madrid’s stalwart defender Sergio Ramos.
By Ian RansomAustralia has backed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommendation that Russia be banned from international athletics, including the 2016 Olympics, after a report alleged systemic state-backed cheating.Both the Australian Olympic Committee and Athletics Australia (AA) said Russian track and field athletes should not be allowed to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games.AA chief executive Phil Jones said there was not enough time for Russia to prove its track and field program was clean before Rio 2016 started on Aug. 5.“The runway clearly is very short to address all the issues that the report calls out,” he told state radio broadcaster ABC on Tuesday.“I think given the time between now and the Rio Olympics, it’s very difficult to see that their house is going to be demonstrably in order by the middle of next year.”Australia’s Olympic chef de mission Kitty Chiller said she hoped the IAAF’s new president Sebastian Coe would have the courage to “do what’s required”.“If Russia is not in Rio, I think the reputation of athletics will be enhanced,” she told reporters in Sydney.A WADA anti-doping commission reported allegations of widespread corruption and collusion by Russian officials, including state security services, to cover up the results of drug tests, destroy samples and intimidate laboratory staff.Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said there was no evidence for the accusations.DEMANDING GOLDThe WADA report also identified “systematic failures” at the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, which has been rocked by a French judicial investigation into fraud involving its former chief Lamine Diack and other senior officials.The accusations have angered Australian athletes, including race walker Jared Tallent, who has demanded he be awarded the 50km gold medal from the 2012 London Games after finishing runner-up behind Russian drug cheat Sergei Kirdyapkin .Only the IAAF has the power to ban Russia from international competition. Coe has given Russia a week to respond formally to the allegations.Jones doubted Russia was alone in its doping problems.“I don’t think it’s surprising in any way,” he added.“It’s difficult to imagine Russia is the only country where there would be anti-doping issues. It would be very surprising if Russia was an island in this regard.”The report has cast doubt on results at a number of international events, including the London Games, where Russia won eight gold among 17 track and field medals.Athletics New Zealand joined Australia in supporting the WADA stance and said if Russia was proved to have been involved then they should face sanctions.Russia is to host the World Race Walking Cup at the Volga river port of Cheboksary in May, 2016.Many of Russia’s leading walkers have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and Tallent said he had no intention competing at the meeting unless it were moved from Russia.Jones said AA would support other local athletes if they wanted to boycott the meeting.
By Greg StutchburyWorld number one doubles pairing Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza clinched their first Australian Open doubles title together with a 7-6(1) 6-3 victory over Czech pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka on Friday.It was the 12th grand slam women’s doubles title for Hingis while the third for India’s Mirza, all of which have come with the Swiss in the last year.The pair, who have now won 36 successive doubles matches, are also the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions.“Thanks to my partner, we have had an incredible year,” Mirza said in a courtside interview. “We keep going and it’s great to have all these records with you.”Both pairs were broken four times each in the first set before Mirza sealed it in the tiebreak after 62 minutes when Hradecka sent a forehand service return long over the baseline.Hingis, who was knocked out by Mirza and Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in the mixed doubles quarter-finals, took a medical time out at the end of the first set to have treatment to her right shoulder, but did not appear troubled.Hradecka dropped serve in the first and fifth games of the second set, to give the top seeds a 4-1 lead, and while Mirza lost her next service game they never looked like relinquishing control with Hingis dominant at the net.The Swiss was then broken while serving for the title, though they sealed it on their fourth championship point when Hradecka’s running forehand sailed over the baseline, the third time she was broken in the set.“You have won two grand slam doubles so you were very tough,” Hingis said of the Czech pair.“I know everyone will say break, break, break but you guys have the best returns in doubles.”