By David Willis
---- — The time has arrived. Baseballs, bats, hurdles and lacrosse sticks have been safely packed away as summer is officially in full bloom.
The 2014 spring sports season has come to a close at Andover High, but not before delivering another season of thrills and excitement.
It was a season that saw the baseball team advance to the Division 1 state semifinals — its best tourney run in nearly 10 years, track star Sebastian Silveira go from hurdles newcomer to starring at Nationals, Nicole Ericson return to the softball diamond and fine seasons from lacrosse to volleyball.
Oh, and then there was the girls tennis team, which took home a thrilling state title.
Here is a look back at some of the greatest moments and biggest stars from the 2014 Golden Warriors spring season.
What more can be said about the amazing season for the girls tennis team?
The Golden Warriors flew through the regular season undefeated, then multiple stars took turns coming through in the clutch to lock down the state title.
Whether it was Courtney Nash in the first round, Samantha Camilo in the North finals, Karena Yan in the state semifinals or the doubles team of Laurie-Maude Chenard and Sydney Ferry in the title match, when the meet was on the line, the Golden Warriors always found a way to play like champions.
With a combination of brilliant pitching and explosive hitting, Andover baseball advanced all the way to the Division 1 state semifinals, its best showing in the playoffs since the 2005 season.
Reid Bryant’s complete-game three-hitter led the Warriors to an upset over Malden Catholic, Gabe Hernandez was the surprise hero with a game-winning two-run triple in the North title game and Sam Bennett was brilliant throughout, even in the state semifinal loss.
Third baseman Frank Potts finished the year as the Warriors’ top hitter, batting .452 with 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
Tommy John surgery may have prevented Alex Brickman from pitching, but it sure didn’t stop him from hitting. He finished with a .428 batting average and 15 RBIs. Despite spending most of the year in the leadoff spot, Tim Awiszus drove in a team-high 20 runs to go with his .400 average, while freshman E.J. Perry IV matched that batting average while scoring and driving in 18 runs.
On the mound, Bryant finished with a miniscule 0.67 ERA and Colin Flynn led the team in wins (5) and strikeouts (49).
Ask just about anyone involved in track, and they will tell you the hurdles are the most grueling events to take on.
As a freshman, Sebastian Silveira was jokingly told to stay as far away as possible from the hurdles. So who could have guessed what would happen this season.
Picking up the event out of curiosity — and necessity for the team — Silveira wasted no time becoming a star.
After taking second in the 400 hurdles at the Haverhill Invitational and Andover Boosters, Silveira won the MVC Meet title and was third at the EMass. Division 1 Meet. Finally, at New Balance Nationals, he took seventh in the 110 hurdles emerging elite division in 14.85, on the heels of the Andover (automatic-timed) school record of 14.62 run by Jason McCue in 1991.
It was also a huge year for junior Hamza Naveed, who won the 400 crown at Andover Boosters and the MVC Meet and was fifth at the Division 1 meet.
He then earned gold at Nationals, as he teamed with Dylan Epstein, Kevin Chen and Ray Gorzela to win the 800 sprint medley relay emerging elite crown.
It was a successful return to the track for girls star Courtney Comeau after missing her junior season with a back injury. She took second at MVCs, then was seventh at EMass. Division 1 states in the 100 hurdles.
Burning the net
It will be very strange around Andover girls lacrosse next season without a Gross on the team.
The third of three sisters to star for the Warriors, Weezie Gross finished her career in style this spring. The senior midfielder scoring an outstanding 63 goals this season, including a 10-goal game and six games of five goals or more.
Her running mate was Charlotte Lenes, who led the team in scoring with a whopping 79 goals including nine games of five goals or more. Courtney Grygiel also starred, netting 37 goals.
Jake Lakos entered the lacrosse season with a heavy heart, following the unexpected passing of his mother. Lacrosse proved to be the escape he desperately needed, and with that came an outstanding season.
Lakos erupted for 61 goals this season, scoring four or more goals seven times during play. He had plenty of help from the likes of Hunter Tyrrell (26 goals) and Penn State football-bound Will Eikenberry (26 goals). But it was the all-around play of gritty multi-sport star John Oteri (24 goals) that earned Merrimack Valley Conference MVP honors.
All of that and more led the Golden Warriors to the Division 1 North semifinals, before falling to eventual state champion Acton-Boxboro.
The baseball and girls tennis teams weren’t the only ones with heart-stopping finishes this spring.
Determination was clearly on the face of girls track star Hannah Ameen after she was just edged out for the 100 dash title at MVCs.
Later in that meet, running the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay, she took the baton in second place and toasted the opposition on the way to gold. She was joined by Michelle Gencorelli, Miranda Lawrence and Audrey Adam for that relay.
It was an overall huge season for Ameen, who also set the Andover High School record in the dash in 12.45, snapping the mark set by Kayla Baldwin in 2010.
Andover boys tennis suffered just one loss during the regular season, but it wasn’t always easy. Twice, the Golden Warriors were pushed to the limit — by powerhouses St. John’s Prep and Wellesley — only for the Warriors to come away victorious 3-2.
In both cases, Andrew Imrie earned victory at No. 1 singles and Drew Rooks came through in the No. 3 spot.
The softball team opened the season in April in dazzling fashion with a comeback victory over archrival North Andover.
Amy Stankiewicz singled, went to second on a walk and scored on a single by Tori Roche in the seventh for the winning run in Andover’s 12-11 victory.
Later that month, the Warriors added another thriller. Trailing 10-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Andover scored six runs on seven hits to surge past Haverhill 11-10. Brooke Kabriel had three hits on the day, including the game winner. Theresa Ross had an RBI double.
Behind 22 kills by Chase Webber, the volleyball team rallied to upset Lincoln-Sudbury 3-2 on May 6.
Love of the game
Very few, if anyone, love softball more than Andover senior Nicole Ericson. So it cut her heart out when she had to miss her entire junior season with a torn ACL suffered during ski season.
But she bounced back this year, finally healthy, hitting .322 with 15 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
Don’t bother asking Kenny Doherty what sport he loves the most. A true three-sport throwback, he loves football, basketball and volleyball equally.
He certainly starred in his final season on the court for Warriors volleyball, as the team leader in service points.
His running mate was senior co-captain Alec Dean, a four-year standout who was the team’s kills leader.