Looking back at the year’s best in Warwick sports
Big in 2013
Championships and deep playoff runs were on display throughout the last 12 months, as teams from all over Warwick left their mark on the statewide sports scene. We take a look back at some of the best moments.
Playing with the Best
The Warwick girls’ hockey team knew that it was good enough to compete with the state’s best teams – it just needed an opportunity to prove it.
Last winter, it got that chance and the Lady Titans showed what they could do.
After moving up to the state’s top division, the Emma Division, Warwick ran off a 10-7 regular season record, finishing in third place behind only eventual state champion La Salle and eventual state runner-up Mount St. Charles.
The Lady Titans’ record was the second-best in program history, and it included their first-ever win over Mount. They also tied La Salle.
Though Warwick lost to Mount in the semifinals, it was still an impressive debut against the state’s top competition.
Two for Two
The Toll Gate boys’ basketball team had a tough time once it got to the Division III playoffs, but that didn’t discredit what it was able to accomplish for the second straight year in the regular season.
Despite playing with almost an entirely new lineup from the year before, the Titans went 12-6 and claimed their second division title in a row. They finished a game ahead of Juanita Sanchez in D-III-Central to earn the top spot.
The Titans also completed their third straight season with a .500 record or better, the first time they’ve accomplished that feat since 1999-2001.
The Hendricken wrestling team has been near the top of the state wrestling scene for the last eight years without winning the title.
In 2013, the Hawks found their way to the top.
Thanks to a deep group that featured eight state medal winners – including champion Jason Davol – Hendricken overcame a mediocre first day to bounce back and easily capture the title on day two.
The Hawks out-distanced second-place Johnston and Exeter-West Greenwich by 34.5 points for their first championship since the 2003-04 season. They also went 15-0 in dual meets.
Hendricken wasn’t the only team that made headlines. Warwick Vets had three first-place winners: John Altieri, Nate Colicci and George Schmeider. It was Altieri’s third consecutive state title – he’s never lost in Rhode Island – and the second straight for Colicci and Schmeider.
For Toll Gate, Aaron Travers finished in second place in his weight class.
The Streak Continues
The Hendricken swim team, like clockwork, won the state championship again.
It was the 24th consecutive title for the Hawks, who have the second-longest state championship streak in Rhode Island history, behind Mount St. Charles’ string of 26 straight hockey titles.
Hendricken scored 309 points, easily out-distancing second-place Smithfield’s 224.5. Seniors Chase Martin, Nick Tomasso and Mike Fedorenko led the way, as well as Marc Andrews and Jon O’Connell.
On the girls’ side, Toll Gate’s Mikayla Rogers and Vets’ Katie Evans made individual waves with some solid finishes. Rogers took third place in the 500 freestyle, the best finish by a Warwick girls’ swimmer in recent memory, and she also took fifth in the 100 butterfly.
Evans, meanwhile, took fourth in the 100 butterfly and 12th in the 500 freestyle.
Pilgrim’s Becca O’Donnell was one of the favorites in the long jump heading into the indoor track state meet. She made good on that status.
O’Donnell jumped nearly 18 feet, winning the event and leading Pilgrim to a sixth-place finish, its best since 1997.
On the boys’ side, the Bishop Hendricken indoor track team had won 17 straight championships before its streak was snapped suddenly by Chariho in 2012.
Last year, the Hawks got things back on track.
Sophomore Lee Moses was the team’s brightest star, running anchor on the state championship 4x200 relay team, taking third in the 55, running anchor on the third-place 4x400 relay team and taking first place in the long jump.
Others, like Colin Tierney, Alex Perreault and Connor Doyle also helped out in a big way, getting Hendricken back to the top of the state.
Just Too Good
The Bishop Hendricken baseball team was the best team in the state right from the very start, and when the season came to a close, the Hawks were still the best.
And once again, they were state champions.
Led by Gatorade Player of the Year Mike King, as well as shortstop Lou Umberto, second baseman Matt Murphy, third baseman Ed Markowski and center fielder Rob Henry, as well as sophomore standouts Mike McCaffrey, John Toppa and Gian Martellini, the Hawks went 18-0 in the regular season and then swept North Kingstown for the title.
They lost only one game all year – game two of their semifinal series with Johnston. The championship was Hendricken’s second straight, fifth in sixth years and 18th overall.
Also on the baseball circuit, two former Hendricken products were drafted in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Former outfielders Tom Pannone and Jeff Roy each got the call, with Pannone being drafted in the ninth round out of the College of Southern Nevada and Roy going in the 18th round out of the University of Rhode Island.
Another Warwick alum, former Pilgrim standout Sean Furney, had a big year too, earning Atlantic-10 Pitcher of the Year honors at URI.
Both the Pilgrim girls’ and Warwick Vets boys’ lacrosse teams had the best years in their respective program histories in 2013, and each came up just a little bit shy of a title.
The Pats, in just their third year of existence, went all the way to the Division III finals, where they lost by just a 16-15 margin to Narragansett. Pilgrim also finished above .500 for the first time ever at 8-3. Just two years ago, the Pats were 0-14.
It was a special year for Pilgrim, which improved by leaps and bounds from where it began two years ago and nearly earned a championship, thanks to standouts like Haley McCusker, Betsy Heidel, Michaela Giuttari, Cara Beneduce, Kayleen Murphy, Amibeth Marks and Erica Hammond.
Vets boys’ season was equally as special. The ’Canes went 9-3 – their best record ever in the five years the program has existed – and they won a playoff game against Tiverton/Rogers in the quarterfinals. That was the program’s first-ever playoff win.
The ’Canes ran into eventual-champion Smithfield in the semis and put up a fight before eventually falling 10-4, but that didn’t put a damper on the team’s progress. Vets improved by four wins from 2012 to 2013.
Both the Toll Gate and Pilgrim softball teams thought they were good before the season started, and they validated that as the year wore on.
Pilgrim, the No. 2 seed from its subdivision in Division II after a 13-3 campaign, won two playoff games and made an appearance at Rhode Island College for the first time in a long time.
Meanwhile, Toll Gate went just 7-9 during the regular season but got hot when it counted most. The Titans won three games in the playoffs and ended up as one of the final three teams left standing in Division I before eventual champion Lincoln ended their run.
While many high school teams stood out throughout the school year, the Warwick PAL Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-stars and the West Side softball program did the same when summer time rolled around.
PAL used a talented roster loaded with pitching talent to go undefeated through the Rhode Island state tournament. PAL then went to the New England regional in Westfield, Mass., and the team made waves there as well. It went 2-1 in its three pool play games to advance to the final four.
Its run ended there, with a loss to Manchester, N.H., but PAL still had a summer that saw it win the state championship and come within two wins of an appearance at nationals.
On the softball circuit, West Side captured the 12-year-old district title and nearly won the state championship. The 10-year-old team made league history when it won the state title and made a trip to regionals in Pennsylvania.
The Warwick Vets girls’ soccer team and the Pilgrim girls’ soccer team had similar seasons all the way through, and both were certainly successful.
After dropping down from Division I, Vets went 10-4 in its first season in D-II and earned the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye. Pilgrim went 11-2-1 and picked up the No. 2 seed, also netting it a bye.
Both teams won their quarterfinal games, with the Pats beating Tiverton 3-1 to advance to the semifinals for the second straight year and Vets taking down Scituate 2-0 to advance.
In the semifinals, both teams were halted just a step shy of playing each other in the Division II championship game.
The Toll Gate girls’ tennis team hasn’t had a season like this in over two decades.
The Titans went 12-0 in Division II, finishing with their most wins since the 1991 Class A Title team. Toll Gate eventually lost a tough 4-2 decision to Narragansett in the state championship match, but there were plenty of highlights throughout the year.
The biggest highlight for the Titans was the regular season finale against Narragansett, where the No. 2 doubles team of Abby Ellis and Laurel Teneyck out-lasted Narragansett’s team in a third-set tiebreak to lift Toll Gate to a 4-3 team victory. That match finished off the perfect regular season.
Six in a Row
This year’s group of Hawks didn’t want to be the team that broke the five-year cross country state championship streak.
So instead, they won for a sixth time.
With senior Colin Tierney leading the way with a first-place finish, the Hawks won again, edging La Salle 37-42. Tierney became the program’s first individual champion since Jake Sienko in 2009.
Michael Potter, Tom Grizzetti and Collin Manning all finished in the top 10 as well. With the team victory, Hendricken became the first school to win six straight cross country championships in state history.
A Title for
Toll Gate boys’ soccer head coach Tim Hayes knew his team would be in the mix if it played well in the Division II playoffs.
But the Titans were better than that. They won the whole thing.
Senior Zach Bromage provided a dramatic and thrilling victory for Toll Gate with a game-winning shot in a shootout in the D-II title game against top-seeded Lincoln.
Bromage’s goal was Toll Gate’s fourth of the shootout, and it gave it a 1-0 victory on the scoreboard. The No. 3 seed, the Titans won the first boys’ soccer championship for the school since Toll Gate beat Hope for the 1990 Division I-B title.
Bromage was named MVP of the tournament, as Toll Gate won a state title – in any sport – for the first time since the boys’ tennis team won in 2008. It was the first boys’ soccer championship since Pilgrim won in 2000.
The title was even more impressive for Toll Gate given the fact that it missed the playoffs last season with much of the same team. But with the return of senior Nathan DaCosta from injury and the steady progression of forwards Josh Sandin and Jose Beltran, not to mention strong play from Ezequiel Franco and Corey Favino, the Titans got it done.
Last year’s victory for the Warwick Vets football team over Pilgrim on Thanksgiving was the most dominant in series history.
Not anymore. The ’Canes did it again.
With a potential school closure looming over the game, and neither team moving on to play in the postseason, Vets scored 28 second-quarter points en route to a 44-0 win.
Last season, the ’Canes won 40-0, giving it a two-year margin of victory of 84-0.
The win gave Vets something to be proud of in a season that otherwise ended in disappointment, as the ’Canes lost their final two regular season games to miss out on the Division II playoffs.
But on a big stage, playing in front of its biggest crowd all season, Vets delivered.
That Makes Four
The first three were impressive in their own right, but the fourth one made history for the Bishop Hendricken football team.
With its offense uncharacteristically dominating the day, the Hawks defeated Cranston East 45-34 in the Division I Super Bowl for their fourth straight Super Bowl title.
After going 15 years without winning a single championship, Hendricken did what no team in state history has ever done in the Super Bowl era – win four consecutive championships in the same division.
It wasn’t easy. The Hawks got a monster games from MVP Remington Blue, who won the honor for the second straight year, and receiver Lee Moses, whose kick return for a touchdown at the end of the first half proved to be a game-changer.
Most impressive was that Hendricken’s offense out-gunned the potent East offense, which scored the most points in D-I during the regular season. When it mattered most, though, the Hawks rose to the occasion, just like they’ve done every step of the way sine 2010.