LONGSHOTS: A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
by Dave Long
We are at the close of an eventful year. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights, not necessarily the ultimate best of the best, but the things that caught my attention.
January — The Patriots got to 18-0 with two playoff wins, the Celtics were in high gear in January for the first time since George Bush the father was in the White House, Arizona Sun Devil John McCain won the GOP primary as Hillary Clinton knocked off wiry southpaw Barack Obama on the other side to gain her first and last lead in their brutal primary fight. The best local game played in the month came from Mike Stys in putting up 37 points in a Central win over Bishop Guertin, although the 21-point, eight-rebound effort for BC by Londonderry’s Steph Murphy in a 60-59 upset of North Carolina State was the best out-of-town score for sure.
February — Plaxico Buress shots the Patriots in the foot with a touchdown catch in the final minute to win the Super Bowl and end the Patriots’ hopes of a glorious season. With KG missing 10 straight with an abdominal pull, the Cs lost three straight for the only time all year and endured their worst month at 9-5 — a cause for celebration in any other year. Monarchs rookie Teddy Purcell scored four times, including the game-winner to give Canada a 9-8 win over Planet USA in the AHL All-Star game. Local lad and Central alum Bill Foti got his 300th win (against 127 losses) as Colby-Sawyer beats New England College 72-59. And the NHIAA hoop playoffs got under way as Alicia Doucet and Christiana Backolas combined 65 points in Central’s first two wins.
March — The world famous Verizon Wireless Arena hosted an NCAA Hockey Regional, though it wasn’t good news for the U, which was one and done by losing to Charlie Weis and Notre Dame 7-3. The St. Anselm women finished off a magical year with an easy 7-2 win over Sacred Heart to win the ECAC title. Manchester’s Charlie Davies impressively qualified for the under 23 U.S. soccer that began their quest to make the Olympic team beginning this week. Stefanie Murphy was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team after the Londonderry alum scored 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for Boston College, while the Trinity boys and Central girls came up short in the Class L Basketball finals in losing to defending champions Salem and Winnacunnet respectively.
April — Kirsten Provencher threw a no-hitter in leading West to a 1-0 win over Concord when opposite number Paige Hansen lost her perfect game in the sixth. Ian McCarthy of the Manchester Millrats was named the ABA General Manager of the Year in his first year at the helm after going 28-12. Some nitwit paid $175,100 in an eBay auction for the David Ortiz jersey buried by construction worker Gino Castignoli in the new Yankee Stadium and later excavated by order of the Yankee high command.
May — The powers that be smartly settled on Mike Fitzpatrick as their choice to lead the basketball program at Memorial. Domingo (Sea) Cruz won the 100-meter, 200-meter and long jump in the city track meet while Meggie Donovan took the 100 and 200 meters. West shortstop Andrew Klimm snared a line drive off the bat of Matt Shaughnessy, stepped on second and threw to first to complete the rare feat in an 8-4 loss to Central. Memorial’s Kerry Webb struck out 12 and no-hit Central girls by the unusual no-no score of 7-2. Bishop Guertin powdered Nashua North 27-0 in lacrosse action as 13 players scored at least one goal. Pinkerton’s Bree Robinson became the first girl ever to leap more than 19 feet in the broad jump at the Class L track meet on Friday in Concord.
June — Bruce Boudreau was named NHL Coach of the Year after the 6-14-1 Washington Capitols he inherited went 37-17-7 upon his arrival from the AHL. Bedford right-hander Nick Asselin took his 93-mile-an-hour heater to A ball after signing with the (yikes) Yankees, while Colin Lynch joined the San Deigo Padres after a stellar career at St. John’s. Goffstown won its first Class L baseball title by knocking off Salem 4-3 when Kory Kiro drove in the winning run in the top of the seventh. Derryfield was upset in the Class S baseball playoffs by Lin-Wood 8-3 when Andrew Kelley struck out 13 Cougars. Londonderry’s (babbling) Brooke Beaudet eliminated Central from the Class L Softball playoffs when she struck out 16, throwing a no-hitter in a 9-0 win. Joanne Dow claimed a spot on the U.S. Olympics team with a second-place finish in the 20-kilometer walk at the Olympic trials. And the Celtics routed the Lakers just as I predicted in the NBA Finals as Paul Pierce won MVP honor.
July — Manchester Little League All-Star team headed to the Eastern Region Tournament for the first time since 1990. They got there by dethroning two-time defending champion Portsmouth with a 12-4 game won by Nolan Flynn. A record crowd of 8,762 streamed into the ball park for the Eastern League All-Star game won by the North Division 5-3. F-Cat slugger Travis Snyder won the Home Run Derby. Concord’s Mark Stevens took the NH State Amateur golf tournament by beating Ryan Friel 2 and 1 at the Lochmere Golf and Country Club in Tilton. Londonderry’s Brian Wilson was named to play in the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.
August — After a sensational run through the elite Little League teams in New England it sadly all came to an end one game from the LL world series when Manchester lost 2-1 in the Eastern Region finals. The Manchester Wolves season ended with a 45-35 playoff loss to Tennessee Valley after winning 10 of their last 12 to get there. Chris (leg of) Lambert was summoned by the Tigers at the close of the month and got his first major-league win 6-5 over the Twins in his second start. Former Dartmouth head man Dave Faucher was named head man at Daniel Webster.
September — Dan Arvanitis and Louise Billy were winners again in the city golf championship to give them a combined total of championships too high to count. The Nashua Pride closed their season and ended operations only to re-emerge a few weeks later as American Defenders of Nashua under an ownership including former Rex Sox GM Dan Duquette. The F-Cats set an all time attendance record of 373, 237 despite finishing 26 games out of first place. UNH stunned Army with a 28-20 win at West Point which was followed up by a five touch pass effort by newcomer RJ Toman in a 51-42 win over URI. The soon to be state champion Central girls got out of the blocks by scoring 28 goals in a 4-0 start.
October — Katherine DisPastina scored her school-record 76th career goal as Derryfield beat Winnisquam 3-1 in field hockey. Kaleigh Roberge had a hand in all six goals when she scored two assists on four more when Memorial beat Timberlane. Seven different players scored TDs as Goffstown pounded John Stark in a 53-14 win. A stunning 9,383 were on hand at the V when the world champion Boston Celtics downed the Houston Rockets 90-89 on a jumper by point guard Gabe Pruitt with 6.6 seconds. The Saint Anselm football team ended a 34-game losing streak in a wild 48-42 triumph over Merrimack as Luke St. Marie ran for a school record 241 yards. Liz Belanger and Cassey Muse each got a hat trick as Central soccer pulverized Timberlane 11-0.
November — Derryfield climbed out of a 1-0 hole to claim the Class S title when Camille Smith and MacKenzie Logan scored a minute 16 seconds apart to claim a dramatic 2-1 win over Wilton-Lyndeborough. Central claimed the Class L soccer title with a 4-1 win over top-seeded Merrimack when Lindsay Johnson, Meghan Tobin (two) and Casey Muse got the goals. Behind Dave Zocco’s five-TD effort, Nashua South dethroned three-time defending champion Pinkerton with a tremendous 33-32 overtime win to take the Division I football title that had too many stars to name in this space.
December —UNH loses 36-34 for the third time in four years to Northern Iowa after leading at half-time 27-26. Alums Dan Mullen and Chip Kelly make news in big-time college football as after heading the Florida offense all the way to the BCS title game Mullen is named head man at Mississippi State and Kelly is promised the Oregon spot when current head coach Mike Bellotti steps down so he’ll spurn interest from Syracuse and others.
Dave Long can be reached at email@example.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.