Tag: Bridgewater State University

Football Friday: Revisiting Framingham State’s 2012 Campaign

Endicott Football
Framingham State’s Melikke Van Alstyne chases Endicott College’s PJ Bandini after an interception in the second half. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Friday, everyone!

And welcome to our second installment of ‘Football Friday,’ a post where we revisit stories, teams, coaches, and student-athletes that we have covered over the past decade.

Today, we’re jumping back to 2012 to highlight a Framingham State University football team that not only won the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship against Salve Regina University but also advanced to its first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament.

The Rams’ run toward a national championship, unfortunately, concluded in the opening round against SUNY Cortland – the Red Dragons edged Framingham State, 20-19, despite a fourth-quarter rally by the Black and Gold.

Yet, despite a one-point setback in the national tournament, the 2012 season was quite a memorable one for the Rams, which captured the program’s first and only NEFC title, while four members of the squad, including coach Tom Kelley, garnered major postseason awards from the conference. Additionally, Framingham State won 10 games for the first time in program history and only lost once in the regular season to Endicott College, which defeated the 2011 NEFC Bogan Division and Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions on the opening day of the 2012 season.

Endicott’s defense shined in its week one victory against the Rams as the unit finished the contest with five interceptions, five tackles for a loss, one fumble recovery, and a trio of pass break-ups.

“We stuffed them on first down (and) forced them (into) long second downs (and) that really got them out of their groove,” Endicott’s Andrew Holfinger said following his team’s initial win of its 2012 campaign.

Luckily, the loss to the Gulls was quickly forgotten six days later when Framingham State scored its first win of the 2012 season against Nichols College.

The Rams, who defeated the Bison by a score of 34-6, leaned on its ground game as both Matthew Mangano and Melikke Van Alstyne combined for four touchdowns and 393 rushing yards.

The victory over the Bison seemed to provide the Rams with a ton of momentum as they would go onto capture its next nine contests, including a 16-0 win over rival Bridgewater State University followed by an exciting overtime victory against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Not only did the Framingham State offense shine throughout the 2012 season, but so did  the defense, which limited its numerous foes to 12.8 points per game, along with 63.0 rushing yards per contest.

After registering just seven points in the opening week, the Rams concluded seven contests with 30 points or more. But during the team’s final regular-season contest against Worcester State University, all three units – offense, defense, and special teams – collaborated to produce a season-high 65 points.

The 65-21 win over the Lancers allowed the Rams to clinch its second-straight NEFC Bogan Division crown, as well as secure a spot in the conference’s championship round one week later against Salve Regina.

“We’re certainly going to be tested,” Kelley said when previewing his team’s contest against the Seahawks at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon, which was held at Harvard University.

Salve Regina entered the contest with an identical 9-1 record. The Seahawks averaged nearly 400 yards of offense while the defense limited opponents to roughly two touchdowns per game.

But despite scoring the first points of the 2012 NEFC title game, Salve Regina struggled to contain both Melikke Van Alstyne and Matthew Silva, who combined for three rushing touchdowns. 

James Muirhead led the Rams defense with eight total tackles, including three stops for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble.

Salve Regina, which trailed Framingham State by four points (14-10) at the break, attempted to mount a late comeback during the final minutes of the fourth quarter but saw its rally dashed when the Rams recovered its onside kick.

Moments after the final kickoff of the game was recorded, the Rams celebrated a hard-fought championship, which Muirhead considered “so surreal.”

“All the hard work paid off,” said Muirhead, who was named the Bull Mottola Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award following the final whistle.

“I don’t really have any words to explain it,” he would add.

The 28-16 win over the Seahawks was a culmination of the Rams’ commitment of hard work and determination that was fueled by an overtime setback one year earlier in the same contest to Western New England. And while the victory over the Seahawks did not spark a deep postseason run, it was certainly the beginning of many more conference titles and postseason appearances for a squad that has maintained its success over the past few years.

Watching – and yes, covering – this team truly made me fall in love more with small college football. The 2012 season truly marked the beginning of my tenure of producing content on various New England D-III athletic teams and programs, and I am thankful for the time both Tom Kelley and the players provided me throughout this exciting and historic campaign.

Family, Motivation Fueled Bridgewater State’s Victoria McDonough

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Bridgewater State’s Victoria McDonough was a player to watch the past three years with the Bears’ women’s lacrosse program. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bridgewater State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Victoria McDonough will always remember the “good times” with the Bridgewater State University women’s lacrosse program: dinners with teammates, spring break trips, and wins, of course. But she will also remember being a part of a family – “We really grew closer and closer every day,” said McDonough of her coaches and teammates.

This family – the Bridgewater State women’s lacrosse program – was instrumental in helping the Marshfield, Massachusetts native thrive on the lacrosse field, including as a first-year student-athlete that was named Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Rookie of the Week four times. 

Over the next two years, McDonough became the player to watch on the Bears, averaging 48.5 goals, 47 assists, and 89 draw controls in 35 contests. She posted a career-high 96 points in 19 games during her sophomore season before registering career-bests in goals (52) and draw controls (92) one year later.

McDonough’s effort last spring earned her a slew of postseason honors, including a spot on the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) D-III All-Berkshire Second Team.

“I didn’t physically do anything different,” McDonough said when asked how she prepared for her third season with the Bears. “I kept the same workout regiment, but once the season started I (just) noticed a mental change.”

McDonough claims she took more risks as a junior while becoming one of the team’s leaders. She led the Bears to the MASCAC Tournament and was named a captain for the 2020 season.

In just five games this year, McDonough tallied 15 goals and seven assists while snatching 35 draw controls. She was also named the MASCAC Player of the Week on Monday, March 16.

McDonough hopes to stay involved with lacrosse, perhaps as a coach after volunteering for Bridgewater Raynham Girls Youth Lacrosse last year. “(My experience) made me realize how much I want to help these kids learn this sport at a young age,” she said.

As for what the future holds, McDonough claims she is interested in “many different” opportunities and has not decided which path she will pursue after graduation. But one thing she does plan to do is stay involved with her second family – she looks forward to attending games next school year while cheering on her teammates from the stands.

“This team has a lot of amazing players,” she said. “I believe they have a great season ahead of them, and I cannot wait to (cheer them on) next year.”

Catching Up With Laura Pierce (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)

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Laura Pierce, who competed and coached at Wheaton College, was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Fitchburg State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Laura Pierce was ready for that next step in her coaching journey.

She had gained valuable experience at both Wesleyan University and Wheaton College as an assistant for both women’s basketball programs but appeared eager – and ready – to become a head coach.

And that eagerness – and readiness, too – paid off as she was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University.

“I am excited to get to work with the young women to create a culture in which our program makes Fitchburg State proud on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Pierce in the press release announcing her hiring.

Pierce inherits a Falcons squad that finished 9-17 a year ago, including 2-10 against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) foes.

The Falcons did qualify for the MASCAC Tournament last winter but saw their bid for a conference crown conclude in the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State University.

Coaching in the MASCAC is something Pierce is very excited about – she described the conference as “really competitive,” while also noting that “you have to bring your best effort every (single) evening.”

Said Pierce, “My hope is that we enter the gym every day with the mindset of effort, focus, and attitude because it will help us be successful, both this upcoming season and in the future.”

Prior to becoming an assistant for both the Cardinals and Lyons, Pierce enjoyed an impressive career at Wheaton, tallying 622 points, 253 rebounds, 424 assists, and 68 steals in 100 games played. Pierce, who was a three-year captain, also attended “So You Want to be a Coach” Program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida in April of 2015 before graduating from Wheaton one month later.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Pierce about her excitement for leading her own program, but also what she learned as both a student-athlete and assistant from Coach Melissa Hodgdon.

What excites you about coaching your own program?

Being able to teach the game I love while shaping these young women’s lives.

Coaching is about so much more than the X’s & O’s (on a chalkboard). It’s about building relationships and mentoring (your players) to become the best they can be, both on and off the court. I have had many coaches and mentors along the way that I have played for and coached with, and they have all have shaped me into the coach and person I am today.

I think the exciting thing about coaching your own program is having a vision and being able to shape that vision throughout the season. It’s all about the process and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s such an exciting time for the Fitchburg State women’s basketball program.

Do you feel your previous stops as an assistant at Wesleyan and Wheaton have prepared you for a successful first season with Fitchburg State?

Absolutely. Kate Mullen, who is the is the head coach of the Wesleyan women’s basketball team, took a chance on me – she hired me right after I graduated college (in May of 2015) and I will be forever grateful to her for providing me with my first collegiate coaching role.

Coach Mullen gave me the opportunity to coach and prepare to play against teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is one of the most competitive Division III women’s basketball conferences in the country. 

I am really fortunate that both Coach Mullen and Melissa Hodgdon gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a young coach (these past few years). I consider them not just mentors, but great friends, as well.

Tell me about your experience learning and playing for Melissa Hodgdon. How did she help mold you into the current coach you are today? 

I honestly had never heard of Wheaton until Coach Hodgdon began recruiting me. But attending Wheaton and playing for her was the best decision I ever made.

Coach Hodgdon challenged me every day to become the best basketball player I could be so I could reach my highest potential on the court with hopes of leading the Lyons to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.

Her biggest impact though is she genuinely cares about each and every one of her players.

I missed my entire sophomore year with a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Coach Hodgdon from including me in team activities. She made sure I was included and kept me engaged throughout the entire season while allowing me to see the game from her perspective. And once my sophomore year concluded at Wheaton, I knew I wanted to become a collegiate basketball coach when I graduated, so I began gaining experience as an intern at the Duke University women’s basketball camp, along with several local camps, too, before I returned to campus for my senior year.

A few years after my final season with the Lyons, I returned to campus after completing my graduate assistantship program at Wesleyan – I knew (deep down that) I wanted to return to Wheaton and assist Coach Hodgdon, who established a program that meant so much to me, both as a student-athlete and assistant coach.

Being able to work (and learn) from Coach Hodgdon as an assistant was an amazing experience. She challenged me to become the best coach while giving me responsibilities that prepared me for my next step in my coaching journey.

Finally, what goals and objectives do you have for the team heading into the upcoming season?

We have a great group of young women returning this year as well as a couple of incoming first-year student-athletes that are excited to get to work. We’re going to focus on getting better every day, whether that be in the classroom, weight room, film room or on the court.

We are also going to have this mindset of getting better (every single day). But our number one goal is always going to be to represent the Fitchburg State community with class and pride.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops

The Early Preseason Outlook: Bridgewater State

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By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Our ‘Early Preseason Outlook’ continues today with a closer look at the Bridgewater State University football team, which begins its 2019 season on Saturday, September 7 when they host Morrisville State at 12 p.m.

The Bears’ 2018 Season: Bridgewater State enjoyed a successful ending to its 2018 season, winning five of their final six contests, including a New England Bowl contest against Salve Regina. They competed in an epic four-overtime clash with Western Connecticut – crazy to think they almost beat the Colonials! – before capping their regular season with a victory over Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the 40th Annual Ocean Spray Cranberry Bowl. Their 8-3 mark matched the 2016 squad, which captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown.

The 2019 Season Outlook: One of the biggest questions facing the Bears this season is who will replace wide receiver Jack Lavanchy, who led the unit last season in receptions (97), receiving yards (1,236) and touchdown receptions (13)? Additionally, the squad will miss Lavanchy’s classmate, Travis Bassett, who also enjoyed a successful final season with the Bears by catching six touchdowns. Lavanchy and Bassett were just two of the 17 student-athletes that graduated this spring, so finding replacements for them, along with defensive lineman Chris Gemayel will be something this unit must do before they commence their 2019 season.

Luckily, the Bears return a slew of talent on both sides of the ball, including defensive back Mark Wilson, linebacker Michael Rosa, and quarterback Stefano D’Emilia. Bridgewater State will certainly be a team to watch this fall, especially in the MASCAC.

Bridgewater State’s Schedule: The Bears will be challenged immediately when they face Morrisville State before traveling to St. John Fisher for an intriguing week two matchup. Both games are winnable – if the Bears beat both teams it would certainly provide the unit with some momentum heading into late September league tilts against Western Connecticut (week three) and Fitchburg State (week four). Weeks after their meeting with the Falcons, the Bears will cap their regular season slate with a home game against Plymouth State followed by an important trip to Framingham State.

Players to Watch: Stefano D’Emilia (Quarterback/Bridgwater, Mass.), Brad Thiltgen (Quarterback/Cumming, Ga.), Nick Santavicca (Running Back/Yorktown Heights, N.Y.), T.J. Hairston (Wide Receiver/Watertown, Mass.), Mark Wilson (Defensive Back/Foxborough, Mass.), Michael Rosa (Linebacker/Uxbridge, Mass.), Steven Silvia (Linebacker/Dighton, Mass.), John MacDermott (Linebacker/Bridgewater, Mass.), Jaren Alves (Defensive Back/Providence, R.I.) and Dimitri Dorinvil (Defensive Line/Brockton, Mass.).


Stay connected with Noontime Sports’ football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB

Mass. College Soccer: NCAA D3 Pairings

By NoontimeSports.com 

The NCAA released the 2013 Division 3 men’s and women’s soccer tournament pairings this afternoon and below is the first round schedule, which features a variety of local teams that either won their conference tournament or were an at-large bid.

Men’s Soccer: 

* Johnson & Wales at Brandeis

* Elms at Williams

* Western New England at MIT @ Williams College

* Wheaton vs. Plattsburgh State @ St. Lawrence

* Bridgewater State State at Amherst

* Gordon vs. East Conn. State @ Amherst College

Women’s Soccer:  

* MIT vs. Rochester Inst. @ TCNJ

* Lasell at Messiah

* Amherst vs. Springfield @ Messiah

* Endicott vs. Scranton @ Middlebury College

* Bridgewater State at Middlebury

* Lesley at Williams