Anne Delaney

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Delaney: Angels' touching celebration

I'm ready to head out to Atunoyte Golf Club in a few minutes to see what's going on for the second day of the Turning Stone Resort Championship. Let's hope the rain will stop.

One thing I did see this morning was a touching series of video clips on SportsCenter of the Anaheim Angels celebrating their American League West Division title.

In the locker room, the players gathered around a No. 34 Nick Adenhart jersey and poured champagne on the jersey in memory of their late teammate. Adenhart, 22, was killed in an April car accident, hours after pitching well in his season debut with his father in the stands.

In another clip, the Angels jogged to an outfield wall to touch an image of Adenhart. The players then posed for a picture in front of the wall.

I like what the Angels did to remember Adenhart in the middle of the celebration. So much of what I see from professional athletes is spin - sterile, cliched responses for any question. More and more, it seems to be athletes' practice. No one wants to give a creative, thoughtful answer because it could be misconstrued. No one wants to show themselves in case they're misunderstood.

There was no mistake with the Angels. They remember Adenhart.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Delaney: Mercurio, always helpful

I join others in the Utica area youth hockey associations who feel terrible about Bob Mercurio's death.

I had not talked to or dealt with Bob for many years. I wrote an in-depth feature on one of his Whitestown Youth Hockey Association teams several years ago.

I remember the day Bob and I talked about the story, at a conference table overlooking the rink. He did not know from the man on the moon, and I think he was skeptical. I think he was skeptical, as anyone would be when an unfamiliar reporter asks for access to do a long-term project.

A photographer and I regularly attended team practices and games. We were in the locker room as the boys and parents laced up skates, put on pads, straightened their jerseys.

Once we were included in Bob's minivan for a Saturday morning trip to Elmira for a game. Bob's son Jack was on the trip with assistant coach Bill Caldwell and his son Dylan.

It was a long day, a fun day and the photographer and I got a perspective of what hockey parents do. Bob wrote an e-mail to me after the story ran in the paper. He was complimentary, kind and thankful. A story like that doesn't happen without Bob Mercurio, who was patient, gracious and willing to help.

That just made my job much easier.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Delaney: MV United Soccer not going national

The Mohawk Valley United Soccer Club is not going to join the semiprofessional National Professional Soccer League for the 2010 season.

United general manager Allan Foote told me this evening a lack of financial support and unexpected expenses led to the decision, made by Foote and fellow investor Marc Silverstein. The economy continues to be a problem for some people, at least those trying to roll out a new sports team. That's a tough sell even in the best of times.

Foote said an investor pulled back on a $10,000 pledge and some travel expenses were projected at another $10,000.

"It would be farther into the Midwest," Foote said. "Based on projections, I don't think we could've handled them."

The United played an exhibition summer schedule with the hope of joining the mega NPSL next year. United home matches were going to be played at Herkimer County Community College's Wehrum Stadium.

The seven-year-old NPSL is a 27-team league with five conferences in four regions. The league originated in the western United States and is the fourth of five tiers in the soccer hierarchy.

Foote said he's not going to try to get the United in local league.

The club still exists, but will probably lay dormant," he said. "We were founded to take region to some kind of national play."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Delaney: Golden Knights beat Whitesboro

In TVL boys soccer Thursday evening, Holland Patent defeated Whitesboro 5-2.

The Golden Knights scored four goals in the first half against a shorthanded Warriors team. Whitesboro starters Vinny Barbato, Dom Wise, Garrett Fletcher and Matt Brooks didn't play. Jordan Collver, another starter played only the second half.

Despite Whitesboro being without several top players, Holland Patent's win said something to Golden Knights coach Ron Haier.

"It tells us we can be competitive in this league," Haier said.

Holland Patent moved to 4-0 in the league and 6-0 overall. Haier said it's been 11 years since the Golden Knights started the season with such a win streak.

Haier will find out more about his team in the next 12 days when they face Clinton and New Hartford to wrap up the first-half schedule.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Delaney: HCS No. 1 in boys soccer poll

The first boys soccer state rankings of the season are out.

And surprise, surprise, the Hamilton and Poland boys teams are both ranked in Class D. Defending state champion Hamilton (3-0-1) is No. 1. Poland (3-1) is 11th. Poland's only loss is to Hamilton, a 1-0 score, in the teams' season opener on Sept. 4.

The only other Utica area team in the rankings is Cooperstown. The Redskins are 7th in Class C.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Delaney: Interesting evening in boys soccer

On a beautiful September evening, I had to do my work from the office - instead of enjoying one of the final days of summer at a field covering a game.

Here are some of things I missed:

Old Forge and Owen D. Young-Richfield were tied 1-1 and ready for overtime, but the game ended with an Old Forge 1-0 forfeit win.

ODY-Richfield had only 11 eligible players for the game. One player was injured late in the first half. The team played all of the second half with 10 men, and it lost another player to injury late in the second half. ODY-Richfield coach Jerry Manning drew a yellow card for protesting a hard tackle on R.J. Peplinski.

Manning didn't send out his guys for the OT because of "physical exhaustion."

"It was a tough match," Manning said. "It was a good, hard-fought match."

Despite playing with 10 men in the second half, ODY-Richfield's R.J. Peplinski tied the game at 1-1. Peplinski had a chance for the go-ahead goal on a 'Bend It Like Beckham' free kick that hit the crossbar and bounced out.

"It was a hallow victory," Old Forge coach Don Allen said. "I understand his position."

Tyler Banker tallied a hat trick - including a PK - in Morrisville-Eaton's 3-2 win over Sherburne-Earlville. Banker opened the Warriors' scoring with the PK in the 31st minute. He scored an unassisted goal in the 34th minute and on a direct kick in the 78th minute.

Clinton (3-0) defeated Whitesboro, 1-0 in double OT in a key Tri Valley League match.

Defending state champion Hamilton remains undefeated with win over Canastota. The Emerald Knights are 3-0-1.

Holland Patent is 5-0 after lopsided, shutout over Camden. Eleven Golden Knights players earned a point as the team moved to 3-0 in the TVL.

Whitesboro girls are 3-0 in TVL, 4-0-1 after league win over Clinton.

VVS field hockey remains undefeated in the TVL, as does rival Camden (3-0, 3-0). They meet for the first time this year on Sept. 24 at VVS (3-0, 4-1).

Delaney: Federer, Williams too good for antics

I love tennis. I find it very relaxing to watch.

There was anything but relaxation during two high-profile matches at the U.S. Open.

Serena Williams' behavior last weekend is well-covered territory. Roger Federer didn't behave much better in a smart-alecky exchange with an official during Monday's men's final.

I understand heat of the moment. I don't understand a lack of professionalism. Would Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Bjorn Borg or Pete Sampras have acted that way? No.

Federer is an amazing talent, smooth and graceful, beautiful on the court. The best. Williams, too, is in a different class - a female with incredible power and strength.

Both are too good to behave as they did. Even in the heat of the match.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Delaney: Clijsters, a trend setter?

I wouldn't have guessed it. I'm surprised it took 29 years for another female tennis player to win a major championship after giving birth.

Kim Clijsters became the second woman to do that with her straight-set victory at the U.S. Open Sunday night. Evonne Goolagong was the first, in 1980 at Wimbledon.

I wonder if Clijster's amazing run will change women's tennis or women's sports. Remember, Clijster only returned to tournament tennis several weeks ago after a two-year retirement. Clijster was injured for some of the time, but she also took time off to get married and have a child.

Candace Parker returned to the WNBA this spring after having a baby. That's a little different because basketball is a team sport and Parker was probably under contract. A tennis player doesn't have that obligation.

Maybe another woman will feel the competitive pull to return to tennis, as Clijsters did? I bet it won't take 29 years.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Delaney: Vaughan wins 400th

Morrisville-Eaton field hockey coach Patti Vaughan won her 400th game Thursday with the Warriors' 3-2 season-opening victory over Canastota.

"I feel like I've done my job," Vaughan said. "It's like getting on a Smuckers jelly jar when you're 100. If you manage to stay alive that long, you're going to reach those milestones."

In her 30th season at Morrisville-Eaton, Vaughan is 400-90-40 after the Game 1 win.

The milestone victory looked to be in the bag early for Morrisville, which took a 3-0 lead. Canastota scored once, then again and had a chance for a game-tying goal with no time left on the clock.

"It didn't come all that easy," Vaughan said. "I think we let down and Canastota didn't let down."

With a young team, the victory was a "relief" for Vaughan who took over the program from her mother, Evelyn, in 1980. Patti said her mother won between 130-150 games playing a 12-game schedule.

Morrisville had a chance to wrap up the win for Vaughan during sectionals last fall. An overtime home loss to Cooperstown not only ended Morrisville's 2008 season, it forced the team to postpone the celebration to this year.

Not that Vaughan wanted a celebration. After Thursday's win, there was no cake, no post-game gathering in the cafeteria. She received congratulations from former players and the Verne family, featuring four daughters Vaughan coached, made a sign.

Vaughan didn't want the win for herself as much for her players. The young women were excited to get the win before last year's sectional game against Cooperstown. When it didn't happen, Vaughan hoped No. 400 would come early this year.

"I was glad to get it out of the way," she said. "It was like the elephant in the room. I didn't want it to drag on. We have a young enough team as it is. If we had lost a couple of games, there would've been pressure."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Delaney: Do they know?

I went to a girls soccer game the other day, Herkimer at Clinton. And there were two girls on one sideline working as ball girls. I'd say they were each about 6 or 7 years old.

They both wore shorts, an oversized Clinton soccer jersey and cleats. Sometimes they juggled the soccer balls as they roamed the sideline. Always, they were enthusiastic about their responsibilities. Both were johnny-on-the-spot with a ball when the game ball went out of bounds.

Watching them, each with a ponytail bobbing behind, I wondered if either girl has heard of Mary Hopsicker. On Tuesday, the day before the game I had a phone conversation with Mary who started the field hockey program at New York Mills about 40 years ago.

I doubt the girls know of Mary, and it really doesn't matter. That's not the point. Before Title IX, Hopsicker and other pioneering women like her did what they could to give a generation of female athletes the chance to play sports.
The Clinton ball girls don't know any other way. That's the point.

Thanks to Hopsicker, there is a thriving field hockey program at New York Mills - the sport's smallest Class D program in the state. There have been multiple levels of field hockey at the school since the mid 1970s. The school does not have soccer, and the field hockey tradition is not likely to be threatened by the demand to add it. We'll look deeper into this in Tuesday's edition of the Observer-Dispatch.

Whether the Clinton ball girls read the story is not important. They can be ball girls, or they can play the game as I suspect they already do. But thanks to Hopsicker, and women like her, they can do so much more.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Delaney: Big 3 get big wins in TVL boys soccer

In Tri Valley League boys soccer recently, the league has been dominated by Clinton, New Hartford and Whitesboro.

One of those three schools has won a league title dating back to 2004. The three schools were off to winning starts Tuesday with large victories over TVL opponents. Not only did each school record a shutout, the Warriors, Spartans and Warriors combined for 29 goals.

New Hartford defeated the revived Camden varsity, 12-0. Whitesboro defeated Notre Dame, 9-0, and Clinton shut out Oneida, 8-0.

In the other TVL game Tuesday, Holland Patent defeated VVS 4-3 in overtime. Paul Mueller had two goals for the Golden Knights (1-0, 1-0) and Ben Neal added a goal and an assist.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Delaney: Soccer Hall on its way out?

The National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum is apparently in jeopardy of closing.

There is no timetable for a decision on the Oneonta organization, but closure is a real possibility, according to Jack Huckel, director of the museum and archives. Starting this week (Tuesday), the Hall of Fame is cutting its hours back to days when there are events on the adjacent fields. For the near future that is Sept. 12-13, 19-20 and for the boys state championships Nov. 21-22.

It is sad the Hall of Fame is in jeopardy, but it's not surprising. I was in Oneonta two weeks ago to tour the museum and I pretty much had the place to myself.

There is no reason to believe a soccer hall of fame in the U.S. will be a sustainable destination like Cooperstown. Soccer just doesn't have the historical foothold in the U.S. Maybe the only reason a comparison is made is because of the proximity of Cooperstown to Oneonta.

Moving the Hall of Fame out of Oneonta will at least give it a chance to draw more fans.

Delaney: More change, more of same in TVL hockey

There will be plenty of new faces on Tri Valley League field hockey sidelines this fall. Eleven of the league's 16 first-team all-league selections last year were seniors.

With such a high number of good players graduating in the spring, at least one league coach is unsure of what to expect in 2009. Four of the five top returning scorers, leaving New Hartford junior Andrea Keady (10-4) as the leader in that category.

"Early on, it's anyone's game," said longtime Holland Patent coach Denise Dunn. "It's trying to get a look."

One thing Dunn does know is, regardless of personnel, the TVL will be competitive - as usual.

"No matter how many kids those players graduate, there is strength in those programs," Dunn said.

Defending regular season champion Camden (10-2, 16-3) graduated seven "very, very talented seniors," in the words of Blue Devils coach Shannon McPheron. McPheron, in her ninth season, returns four starters: Aubrey Coon, soph., MF; Kelcy Forbragd, jr., F; Megan Kell, jr., MF; and Kelsey Mastin, sr., D.

McPheron, whose team was unexpectedly defeated by VVS in the Section III Class B final last year, said the league's top contenders will be VVS and New Hartford.

VVS (9-3 TVL, 17-4-1) went all the way to the state semifinals last year after the 1-0 OT sectional final win over Camden. VVS graduated some talented athletes including Vicki Moats and Kathy Junglen. The Red Devils, though, have some pretty good players coming back including: sophomore forward Ashley Palmer (10-2), who scored the game winner against Camden; and senior midfielders Mary Schilling (4-1) and Dominque Coy (2-3).

New Hartford (7-5, 10-6) has a new coach, sort of. Experienced assistant Kelly Reese takes over for Jonna Izzo. Reese has 10 starters returning including Keady, one of the league's non-senior first teamers from 2008. Among New Hartford's other returners are seniors captains Jessie Rys and Katie Cadieux (6-2) and junior Chloe Hutchinson, another captain.

Whitesboro (4-8 TVL ) returns seven starters, including goalkeeper Marissa Vomer. The Warriors' top returning scorer is junior midfielder Allie Webb, who had 2 goals and 3 assists.

There is a young team Oneida (3-9, 3-12-1), where longtime coach Teresa Costello is excited about the potential impact of the sophomore class. Sophomore forward Kissandra Blaiser is the top returning scorer with 3 goals and 1 assist. Costello, in her 21st season, has five other sophomores on the squad: MF Abby McNichol; D Casey Woodcock; MyCarle Kimball and Morgan Bernier.

At Holland Patent, Dunn graduated six players but has the luxury of bringing back goalkeeper Samantha Ranaudo, a senior who was stastically the second best goalie in the league last year. Junior Karlene Freiermuth is working her way back after knee surgery.

"You want to go in positive, play basic ball and be competitive," Dunn said.

The TVL opens its season Tuesday: Whitesboro at VVS; New Hartford at Camden; and Holland Patent at Clinton.
On Wednesday, Holland Patent hosts VVS, and on Thursday: Oneida is at Camden and Clinton is at New Hartford.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Delaney: Boise State DE deserves suspension

Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount deserved a suspension and he got it.

The same goes for Boise State defensive end Byron Hout, whose words to Blount started the whole fracas Thursday night. It takes two to tango, and Hout should also receive a suspension.

Delaney: Hamilton Central soccer wins openers

The Hamilton Central boys and girls soccer teams won their opening matches Friday.

The Emerald Knights girls team needed OT and goal by Emily Truett to defeat Sherburne-Earlville with 4:41 left in the second OT.

On Friday morning, Drew Thompson scored a first-half goal for Hamilton, as the defending state champion Emerald Knights beat rival Poland, 1-0 at HCCC's Wehrum Stadium.

In another game today: the Mount Markham boys defeated Little Falls, 8-1. Despite the score, Little Falls' John Famulare was the best player on the field for several minutes during the second half. At quick glance, Famulare has speed and skill. He's not big and plays the game much like Mount Markham's Darvon Juarez - another very talented player who lacks size.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Delaney: New season, new coaches

One of the challenges of starting a new sports season is finding out about coaching changes. This is toughest in the fall, I think, because we have little contact with schools/athletic directors during the summer months.

Once fall practice opens, it's an all-out mad rush to find out who will be returning to the soccer and field hockey sidelines. There are plenty of area schools with boys and girls soccer teams so the process is like a real live 'Where's Waldo?'

Here is what I've been able to find out about coaching changes this fall:

In field hockey, there are two new head coaches in the Tri Valley League. Kelly Reese at New Hartford and Theresa Staring at Clinton. Reese, who has been in the New Hartford program, takes over for Jonna Macri-Izzo. Staring, a former Little Falls standout, takes over for Jean Vicks who is still coaching in the Clinton system.

In soccer, Dylan Klock is taking the Camden boys back to varsity. The Blue Devils did not field a varsity team last year because of inexperience and lack of numbers. Klock coached the JV team.

Longtime Ilion girls soccer coach Dan Huntley is stepping down to coach one of his children's youth teams. Longtime West Canada boys soccer Bob Faduski moved to Little Falls. His spot in Newport now belongs to a new teacher named Dustin Cool.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Delaney: Two games open season at HCCC

Correction on previous blog post. Two days ago we wrote there will be 3 boys high school soccer teams opening the season at HCCC on Friday.

There will be only 2 games: 11 a.m., Poland and Hamilton; and 1 p.m., Little Falls vs. Mount Markham. Both are CSC crossover matches. The scheduled 3 p.m. match is apparently not going to happen.