Northampton boys ultimate defends Pioneer Valley Invitational title

  • James Berger, right, of Northampton, passes against a Falmouth defender Sunday during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zach Levitt, of Northampton, catches during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zach Levitt, of Northampton, reacts to his goal at the end of his team's 15-7 win against Falmouth during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zach Dietz, left, of Northampton, defends a Falmouth player during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Julia Snodgrass, left, and Phoebe Jessup, of Northampton, converge on a pass during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Mescon, left, looks for a receiver, under pressure from a Falmouth defender, during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Mescon, right, of Northampton, passes against a Falmouth defender during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • James Berger, right, of Northampton, catches to score against a Falmouth defender during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amiel Hanley, of Northampton, catches to score against Falmouth during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rachel Levitt, right, of Northampton, passes against a Four Rivers defender during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton players Sylvan Norris, left, and Ben Sirulnik celebrate Sirulnik's goal during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Georgie Lellman, left, of Northampton, tries to grab a pass intended for a Four Rivers defender during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Claire Babbott-Bryan, of Northampton, passes during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jesse Carlino-Threlfall, right, of Northampton defends a Falmouth player during the Pioneer Valley Ultimate Invitational, Sunday at the Oxbow Marina Fields. —JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 5/22/2016 7:46:28 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Entering the Open A boys Championship bracket, Northampton Ultimate was 5-0.

The Blue Devils cruised through the Pioneer Valley Invitational up until the final game.

They dominated Cape Elizabeth (Maine) 15-2 in the semifinals, as Falmouth edged Amherst Junior Varsity A 11-7 in the other semifinal matchup.

Down 6-4 to Falmouth, Northampton had its back against the wall. It was how it handled the adversity that ultimately pushed them to succeed.

“We got a gut check, and we really responded,” Northampton co-coach Jeremiah Berlin said. “This is how great teams respond.”

Responding is exactly what the Blue Devils did, as they went on an 11-1 run to finish off the hard cap time and claim their second consecutive Pioneer Valley Invitational championship with a 15-7 win over Falmouth.

“It feels great to win, it feels good, the guys were focused, they played hard,” said co-coach Lee Feldscher. “It’s great to be their coach, great group of guys.”

Leading that great group for Northampton was its standout, Amiel Hanley. He made a number of diving catches in the end zone for scores as well as being a vocal leader for his teammates. Hanley credited how the team came together in order to complete the comeback.

“We kind of had to wake up and just realize that we needed to play to our full potential,” Hanley said. “We did it, and the results are shown.”

The journey is not over for Northampton, as it is headed toward the state championships next weekend. Berlin feels that the past tournaments as well as the preparation in practices should pay off.

“Our goal is to continue to improve,” Berlin said. “Every week that we’ve been practicing we’ve been incorporating new offenses, new defenses, gearing up to win states.”

The Northampton boys weren’t the only Blue Devils attempting to defend their title.

The girls team also reached the finals against Four Rivers. Northampton failed to finish it off, falling short, 11-9.

Similar to the boys, the Northampton girls were not used to being down in a game all tournament long, but Four Rivers earned the advantage. It factored into the loss.

“We always had the lead in all of our games up until now,” co-coach Clarissa Lyons said. “I think it kind of was surprising and the players got frustrated at being down all of a sudden.”

Despite the loss, there was plenty to be proud of.

“I’m super pleased with our performance,” said Lyons. “We saw some individual players raise their level of play.”

Hannah Finn-Erb brought defensive intensity, while Nell Sanders and Claire Babbott-Bryan anchored a steady flow on offense.

Amherst Junior Varsity A boys made a semifinal appearance after they knocked off a tough Longmeadow team 12-10 in the quarterfinals. As the Hurricanes couldn’t get past Falmouth, head coach Ben Matthews highlights how his team’s success in the earlier rounds led them to where they finished.

“In the quarterfinals, we stepped it up really hard,” said Matthews. “We played probably our best game of the season against Longmeadow.”

Hurricanes key contributor Nick Auerbach was pleased with how his team performed.

“I think we competed well,” said Auerbach. “We’ve been playing well, and we definitely broke seed.”

Participation numbers grew drastically in the tournament’s third year. From last year’s 33-team turnout, 43 teams competed this year with over 730 competitors representing six states as well as four Canadian teams.

Tournament director Josh Seamen was happy with the turnout this year and focused on the tournament’s purpose.

“We’re growing,” said Seamen. “Our goal is to offer spirited and quality competition for teams regardless of how strong they are.”




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