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10/16/10 8:35pm
10/16/2010 8:35 PM

It was halftime of Friday night’s Suffolk County Division IV football game, and the visiting Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs trailed The Stony Brook School Bears by 20-16. As McGann-Mercy Coach Joe Read talked to his players, he reminded them to stay calm.

“We were in good shape,” Read said afterward. “We know we can outlast teams. We just had to stick to our assignments.”

In a thoroughly dominating second-half performance, the Monarchs did just that. The McGann-Mercy defense held the Bears to five first downs. On offense, the Monarchs’ Pat Stepnoski ran for three of his four touchdowns. He finished with a career-high 259 yards on 31 carries.

McGann-Mercy won, 40-20.

“Once we settled down,” Read said, “our lines did a great job.”

Both teams scored at will in the opening half. McGann-Mercy (2-4) opened the game with an onside kick and marched down the field to score on Rob Terry’s two-yard dive into the end zone. Stepnoski then caught the two-point conversion pass from Keith Schroeher (4 of 7, 73 yards passing).

The Bears (0-6) struck right back when McGann-Mercy missed a defensive assignment and Stony Brook quarterback Marco Masakayan scampered five yards to score.

Early in the second quarter, Stepnoski burst 20 yards up the middle for a touchdown. Terry (87 yards on 10 carries) ran in the two-point conversion to put McGann-Mercy back on top, 16-6.

But Stony Brook answered with two quick touchdowns, the go-ahead score coming on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Masakayan to Jerome Washington.

The Monarchs, who were almost completely healthy for the first time this season, played like a different team in the second half.

D. J. Wilmott and Terry contained Masakayan. The Stony Brook offense never got going again. McGann-Mercy’s Ryan Heimroth recovered a pair of fumbles and teammate Ryan Stetler intercepted a pass.

“Our defense was much better,” Read said. “We were disciplined and aggressive. We gang tackled.”

Stepnoski, running behind the superb blocking of Ray Ellis, Anthony Heppner and Terry, picked up huge chunks of yardage. Early in the third quarter, Stepnoski, on an option run, scooted 23 yards around the end for a touchdown. Terry ran in the two-point conversion.

Stepnoksi then sliced off tackle seven yards into the end zone. He also scored on the two-point conversion run.

Stepnoski capped his performance by galloping 37 yards straight up the middle in the fourth quarter to score untouched. Schroeher ran for the two points. Stepnoksi also caught four passes for 73 yards.

“Pat is a great athlete,” Read said. “Rob Terry is a tremendous asset as his lead blocker, but Pat also has great instincts. He reads the blocks and moves the right way. His instincts take over.”

Read was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“Our potential is now starting to be seen now that we are at full strength,” he said. “I knew we were capable of moving the ball. Now, the defense is starting to kick in.”

This post was originally published Oct. 16, 2010

10/13/10 8:12pm
10/13/2010 8:12 PM

Louis Manoussos knows the growing pains can be difficult. But the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs boys soccer coach also knows what it takes to successfully build a young program. In their fourth varsity season, Manoussos knows the scores right now are irrelevant.

While it was a difficult week on the scoreboard for McGann-Mercy — Center Moriches beat the Monarchs, 7-1, on Tuesday after the Mattituck Tuckers had shut them out, 6-0, last Wednesday — Manoussos said, “The effort was there, but the execution isn’t there yet.”

In the game at Center Moriches, the Red Devils jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before McGann-Mercy’s Bereket Watts scored on a rocket of a shot from 18 yards out. Watts, who started last year as a seventh-grader, is now considered a veteran by Manoussos. Center Moriches (10-2 overall, 7-2 in Suffolk County League VII) scored the final five goals of the game. If not for 12 saves by McGann-Mercy goalkeeper Roger Young the score could have been even more lopsided.

Mattituck (9-1, 6-1), on its home field, thoroughly dominated the Monarchs (1-9, 1-6). The Tuckers, sparked by Andres Aldaz and Shawn Smiley, who scored two goals apiece, exploded for five first-half goals and added four more in the second half. Young had 13 saves. Cody Huntley (two) and Austin Scoggin combined for three saves as the Tuckers recorded their sixth shutout of the season.

“We are overmatched against the bigger schools like Center Moriches and Mattituck ,” Manoussos said. “We don’t have the experience to match up against them yet.”

The Monarchs are starting two eighth-graders, one freshman, and three sophomores. They have six seniors on the bench, and Manoussos is preaching patience.

“I’ve decided to go with youth,” he said. “I want the kids to gain experience so that we’re better next year. The scores of these games are not a true indication of how much we have improved. We’ve gotten spanked, but we will only get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Manoussos takes great pride in building a program.

“Right now we’re competitive in the first half, but we don’t have the experience to play a complete game,” he said. “These kids don’t give up. They are relentlessly on the ball. They play with emotion and passion. They are just young and inexperienced. Their conditioning is tremendous. They maintain their stamina. We’re getting respect, so I know we’re on the right path.”

Manoussos firmly believes “we’ll make some noise in a few years.”

“We’ve just [got] to continue to grow and mature,” he said. “This year we’ve added a junior varsity and a junior high team, which is a great feeder program. My vision is, what can Mercy do in one or two years? These kids really want to play. We’re not very far off.”

10/12/10 7:55pm
10/12/2010 7:55 PM

A funny thing happened on the way to a rebuilding a season — the Bishop McGann-Mercy High School girls tennis team won a championship. That’s right, another one. Who would have thought?

Certainly not the Monarchs.

With McGann-Mercy having lost eight players from last year, Coach Mike Clauberg’s expectations for this season were modest. After all, the Monarchs returned only three players from 2009: singles player Elizabeth Barlow and the first doubles team of Taryn Enck and Kayleigh Macchirole.

“Everyone was new besides the three of us, so we really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Barlow said. “A whole bunch of new girls, we knew there was talent, but we thought there would be no chemistry, but everyone clicked.”

The Monarchs claimed at least a share of their third straight league title — and fourth in sixth years — with a 6-1 defeat of the Rocky Point Eagles on Friday. Then the Monarchs topped that on Tuesday, assuring themselves of sole possession of first place in Suffolk County League VIII with a 6-1 win over the Hampton Bays Baymen in Riverhead .

The Monarchs (13-2, 13-0) may have surprised opponents; they surely surprised themselves.

“This is the biggest shock of my entire coaching career,” said Clauberg, who figured his team would be looking at third place, at best, this year.

How wrong he was. New players filled in wonderfully and produced results.

“It was like a whole new team,” Macchirole said. “This team showed me so much because I didn’t expect it at all.”

The Monarchs have won 79 games and lost 26 heading into their final regular-season match Thursday against the Riverhead Blue Waves. McGann-Mercy, which will be making its third straight appearance in the Suffolk Team Tournament, suffered its only two losses in non-leaguers to the East Hampton/Bridgehampton Bonackers and the William Floyd Colonials.

“I definitely think a lot of people underestimated us, but we definitely pulled through,” one of McGann-Mercy’s new players, sophomore Cassidy Lessard, said. “I think the girls are really excited. There’s a lot of meaning behind it, especially for our seniors. For the ones who were on the team last year, it was really great for them to have another league championship.”

For Barlow, Enck and Macchirole, it was their third straight league title as well. They join Liz Rossi and Brooke Lessard as the only McGann-Mercy players to have played on three league champion teams. Over the past three years, the Monarchs have put up a staggering 43-4 record.

Barlow, who played second singles for most of the season and first singles on Tuesday, said this latest championship is “probably the sweetest because I feel as if I had more of a part in it, not like I didn’t have parts in the others, but I feel like I’m a big component in this one.”

McGann-Mercy secured its 10th straight win on Tuesday and extended its league winning streak to 40 matches, a string that started in 2007.

All six of McGann-Mercy’s points on Tuesday came in tidy two-set affairs. The match of the day might have been at second singles, which saw Lessard score a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Davie Romer.

More wins for the Monarchs came from Lindsey Merker and Stefanie Blanco at third and fourth singles, respectively. Merker beat Lulu Zhou, 6-0, 6-0, and Blanco was a 6-0, 6-1 winner over Casandra Phillips.

Meanwhile, McGann-Mercy swept the three doubles matches with easy wins posted by the pairings of Erica Blanco and Macchirole (6-0, 6-1 over Abby Kraycar and Darby Tupper), Shannon Merker and Ashley Yakaboski (6-0, 6-0 over Klaudia Maslowska and Chessa Sheppard), and Caitlin Lalor and Jackie Read (6-1, 6-1 over Jackie Mogollon and Carly Rosenberg).

The only point for Hampton Bays (2-10, 2-10) came from Tarrin Joslin at first singles. Joslin’s formidable serve and ground strokes helped her to a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Barlow.

Prior to the match, McGann-Mercy’s final home contest of the season, assistant coach Dave Lessard presented flowers to the three McGann-Mercy seniors who were present at an emotional on-court ceremony: Barlow, Lindsey Merker and Macchirole. (The team’s fourth senior, Enck, has missed most of the season because of illness.)

“I was almost crying,” said Barlow. Referring to having played her final match on McGann-Mercy’s courts, she said, “It kind of hasn’t set in yet, but it’s sad, it’s really sad.”

Then again, there is the happiness of another league title, an impressive accomplishment for a school with the third-smallest student enrollment in Suffolk.

Clauberg attributed the title to off-season programs, camps, and players taking private lessons.

“We really work hard at practice,” Cassidy Lessard said. “We play in the off-season constantly. There’s a lot of dedication throughout the whole team.”

The results speak for themselves. So much for rebuilding.

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