The Needham girls’ swim and dive team is celebrating its first Division 1 state championship. First-year Coach Kate Curtin’s Rockets amassed 335 points at last weekend’s state meet at MIT to 277.5 for runner-up Acton-Boxboro, which was seeking its third straight title. They especially excelled in the relays, with Lucy Mackey, Becky Hwang, Julia Shulman and Ella Bobocea winning the 200-yard freestyle, and the team of Mackey, Shulman, Bobocea and Chloe Wukitch finishing first (and breaking the school record) in the 400-yard freestyle.
Curtin described her team as hard-working and determined. She said she had a strong group of seniors, but “the depth of our team was one of our strengths.” The best evidence of that depth was their winning the overall title without winning a single individual event.
Curtin was especially pleased that her athletes came together as a team while participating in events that often emphasize individual achievement. “They worked together so well,” she said. “They cared about each other.”
The state championship caps a season which saw the Rockets snap the 75-meet win streak of archrival Wellesley and later capture their first Bay State Conference title in 20 years.
For the second year in a row, the boys’ soccer team is headed for the Division 1 final after beating Winchester 2-0 Tuesday night in Lynn. Matt Brayer and Zander Laidlaw scored for the second-seeded Rockets, who haven’t given up a goal through four tournament games behind goalkeeper Max Glazer.
Coach Jim Odierna cites staunch defense, hard work and experience as among the reasons for his team’s success. “We’re very senior-heavy, there’s lots of experience there,” Odierna told the Observer. “Most teams that are successful have a strong senior class.”
This year’s team motto: “You get what you put in – the decision is ours.” The ultimate test comes Saturday (weather permitting) when the No. 2-seed Rockets, now 18-2-2, face No. 1 Concord-Carlisle (19-0-1), a 3-1 winner Wednesday night over Weymouth. The game will be played at Walpole High School at a time to be announced.
It was a disappointing ending for the girls’ volleyball team. With a spot in the Division 1 final on the line, the No. 5 Rockets fell to No. 1 Newton North in straight sets Wednesday night, 25-19, 25-12, 25-17. Coach Courtney Todesco’s team, which had not lost a set in three previous tournament games, finished the season with a 17-4 record. “I’m very proud of the team – especially for a Final Four appearance,” said Todesco. “Of course, we would’ve liked a different end result, but I’m definitely proud and the team should hold their heads high.” In the final, Newton North will face No. 3 Barnstable, which defeated Franklin 3-0 Wednesday night.
Needham’s football team is a step away from the Division 1 Super Bowl. After rolling over Methuen 42-24 on Nov. 9, the No. 3 Rockets (9-1) take on No. 2 seed Xaverian (8-2) in the semifinals Friday night in Brockton. Coach Doug Kopcso told the Needham Observer he loves the culture his team has created. “Our team has great leadership,” he said. “We play with exceptional effort for all four quarters. We pride ourselves on playing for one another. Our kids are great athletes, but even better people.”
Friday night’s winner goes to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium against the winner of Friday night’s game between unbeaten and top-seeded St. John’s Prep and Andover. The date and time for the final have not been announced, but it would be some time after next week’s traditional Needham vs. Wellesley Thanksgiving Day game, scheduled this year in Wellesley.
The girls’ cross country team qualified for Saturday’s All State Meet in Devens. The Rockets finished sixth in last weekend’s MIAA Division 1A championships.
The Needham cheer squad finished ninth in last weekend’s Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association South regional tournament and did not qualify for the state finals.
The dance team competes in Saturday’s MSAA state championship tournament at Braintree High School.