Laconia boys soccer coach sees team 'turning the corner'

LACONIA — Though the 2-0 loss to Gilford on Thursday was the third defeat in a row for Laconia, Coach Joey DeTommaso said he was encouraged by his team's performance and feels good about owning a record of 3-5 halfway through the season.

"I thought we played well," DiTommaso said on Friday. "We had a tough one on Tuesday against Belmont, I really challenged the kids to play with more passion and heart. Yesterday, I thought they showed up."

Losing by only a coupe of goals to Gilford, a perennial D-III powerhouse, is an improvement over last year's result, when the Golden Eagles scored eight times in a shutout win over the Sachems. DiTommaso doesn't just want to end up with a respectable loss, though.

"The mindset and the culture of our program here is that everyone expects us to lose to Belmont and Gilford. Everyone gives us a pass on that," he said. "I don't feel that way."

DiTommaso, now in his second year as head coach of the high school team, sees the Sachems as a team on the rise to a position where they will soon be a peer to teams like Gilford.

"I feel we played our best game yesterday, so that's good," he said. His challenge, as a coach, is to inspire the same level of play for each opponent. "Hopefully, we turned the corner yesterday."

Last year, Laconia finished with four wins and 12 losses, and didn't make the playoffs. This season, the team is shooting for an even record of 8-8, which would be enough for a post-season seed in the highly competitive D-III.

If he can achieve that goal, DiTommaso will be able to continue the momemtum that the team has already built.

Last season, the team bid farewell to only one senior, meaning that nearly the whole varsity team returned. This year, an astonishing 42 boys tried out for the junior varsity team – for the first time in the team's history, players were cut from the JV roster.

The style of play has also changed under DiTommaso. Before, defensemen who felt pressure would simply kick the ball toward the other end. Now, they know to pass to the goalkeeper, if necessary. DiTommaso preaches patience and keeping possession, not "boot-and-chase," which often has the result of handing possession to the opposing team.

As physical education director for Laconia Middle School, DiTommaso is in perfect position to scout for future players. Every student in the city is required to spend three years in his class, and he gets to know every one of them by the time they are ready for high school.

"There are so many really good athletes here that slip through the cracks," he said. I literally have the se kids for three years in P.E., then I get to coach them for four years in high school. It's awesome."

DiTommaso is looking to make a statement with this season, that Laconia is a team that can run with the pack in D III. In the near future, he thinks the Sachems could break out to the front of that pack.

"We're going to be good next year. We're going to be phenomenal next year," he said. "The better we are, the more buzz there is. But we've got to win some games first."

Laconia played at Campbell on Friday night – the results were too late to include in this article – and will travel to Prospect Mountain on Tuesday. The next home game for the Sachems will be at noon on Saturday, Sept. 30, hosting the 3-2-2 White Mountains.


09 22 LHS v Gilford soccer 1

Laconia’s Kaleb Shumway takes control of the ball with Gilford’s Shea Therrien in pursuit on Thursday afternoon. Gilford won the match, 2-0. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun) 

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Sidelined for a year, Gilford's Beaudet finds her voice

GILFORD — Last year, while playing AAU basketball, Brooke Beaudet felt her hopes of playing volleyball and basketball that year vanish in an instant. She stopped short after a sprint, and felt her knee give way, suffering a tear to her ACL and meniscus. The injury, surgery and recovery meant that the three-sport athlete was sidelined for the fall and winter of her junior year – after making a name for herself after just two varsity years.

"It was the worst thing," Beaudet said about the injury. "I go crazy not playing sports, so it was rough." 

Beaudet's junior year was rough, yes, but it was also instructive to her. She attended every practice and game, and, since she couldn't step onto the court, she did the best that she could from the bench – encouraging her teammates, providing suggestions and observations to the younger players. And, that's carried over to this year, when Beaudet's leadership on and off the court has inspired Gilford to a 4-1 start to the season, in a very competitive Division II.

Since losing the season opener, 2-3, to Windham, Gilford has only given up one set. Coach Joan Forge, said that Beaudet's tenacity has set the tone for the team, regardless of whether there's a match that day or not.

"I definitely have been stronger this year. I'm more of a captain, more of a leader," said Beaudet.

Forge has been thrilled to see the change in her star player, who last week celebrated her 500th career dig. Beaudet's mother, Jen, was the junior varsity coach when Forge took over the varsity job, and her father, Bill, has been her assistant coach for a quarter-century. Brooke grew up in gymnasiums, chasing down loose balls as and mimicing the older players. It was clear that she would have plenty of talent by the time she reached high school. But, Forge said, she was shy, and let older players take leadership roles. Then came last year, when Beaudet grew into the role of assistant coach, in which she learned that the other players respected her and would listen to what she had to say.

"This year, after coming back from surgery, and assuming the role of captain, she is out of her shell. She is a leader," said Forge. Beaudet practices the way other players play in a championship match – sprinting, diving for balls that are just out of her reach, Forge has to think back two decades to conjure a player that works as hard as Beaudet.

"She practices as hard as any player I've ever had," said Forge. "She is so athletic, so does so many amazing moves, the rest of the team is just in awe.. It inspires them."

Beaudet's stat line this year shows the results when talent is combined with relentless work ethic. She's averaging 15.2 kills per game, 20 digs, and an 80 percent serve receive proficiency. "Don't serve to Brooke," Forge advised other teams.

Beaudet's achievement of 500 career digs puts her in elite company. Forge said only four other players at Gilford have done that before, and Beaudet hit the mark in just two seasons and three games. "That's a phenom."

As impressive as her volleyball play has been, Beaudet's real athletic love is basketball, where she established herself as one of the school's best-ever outside shooters by the time she was a sophomore. Even after missing a year, basketball coach Rick Forge – Joan's husband – said she still could score her 1,000th career point this year.

Her third sport is softball, in which she most recently maintained a .422 batting average in the lead-off spot and committed only one error while playing shortstop and center field.

"She's one of those once-in-a-career players that coaches get," said Rick. "She has a lot of natural ability, but, when you watch her work ethic, you understand where it all comes from."

Next year, Beaudet hopes to be studying either sports science or sports management at a college or university that will put her on their basketball team. But, first, she's got a tough opponent in Coe-Brown Northwood (4-4) on Friday. She's focusing on one game at a time, and hoping to have something to proudly look back on in June. After all, she knows too well that her ability to play can be taken away in a snap.

"I look at it like I need to go all out for it, give it all I have," Beaudet said. "I feel like I need to make a statement at Gilford. I want to be the best."

09 21 Brooke Beaudet

Brooke Beaudet, center, was honored for achieving her 500th career dig during a volleyball match on Sept. 16. She is shown here with Jordan Dean, her parents Jen and Bill Beaudet, and Charlyne Panner. (Courtesy photo)

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Brooke Beaudet

Joan Forge

Father Bill Boudet has been helping me as an assistant coach for more than 25 years (Jen was JV coach a while ago)

I've got pictures of Brooke as a little girl shagging balls, just hanging around the gym.... One of those kids that has always played with the boys, a great athlete.

We call Bill 'Superman,' he's a major reason why the Gilford's program is so successful.

Brooke was very quiet when she was younger, this year, after sitting out last year for three sports, she was like an assistant coach last year, you watched her helping kids last year. And everyone listens to Brooke (especially younger players).

This year, after coming back from surgery, and assuming the role of captain, she is out of her shell. She is a leader, she leads by example. She practices as hard as any player I've ever had (Katie cardinal, early 90s) She will dive across the court to pick up anything – she is so athletic, she does so many amazing moves, the rest of the team is just in awe... What that does, the rest of the team, it inspires them. 

The practices this year have been so elevated. Brooke, she leads by example. She has elevated our practices, she elevates our games, for me as a coach, it's fun to watch.

(Played through knee pain during Laconia match after slipped on floor) (Didn't play Monday, working with trainer)

People love Brooke, Brooke is humble, she is so athletic. (Batted over .400 as lead-off batter, is shortstop) She gets out there and does her thing (her passion is basketball, wants to go to college for basketball)

That's a phenom

Averaging 15.2 kills per game, averaging 20 digs, 80percent serve receive proficiency – that's huge, meaning, don't serve at Brooke. 25 percent is the average.

(Not shooting for title, just looking at next game)

Rick Forge – Brooke's one of those kids that whatever what sport she plays, that's her favorite sport at the time. She loves competition, and she settles for nothing less than the best she can do. Tremendous outside shooter. (Even last year, she came to practice and she always had a basketball in her hand) She's one of those once i na career players that coaches get.

She has a lot of natural ability, but, when you watch her work ethic, you understand where it all comes from.

Round-up: Inter-Lakes volleyball team remains undefeated (368)

Inter-Lakes 3, Prospect Mountain 0
Key players for Inter-Lakes were Jessalyn Brown (21 assists, 13 service points, 8 digs), Emma Wheeler (13 service points, 14 digs, 5 aces, 6 kills, 3 blocks), Morgan White (5 kills, 7 digs), Hailey Hart (6 kills, 6 digs, 6 service points), Sarah Seeley (12 digs, 4 service points)
The Lakers remained undefeated with a win in straight sets over the Timberwolves. They are 4-0 and Prospect Mountain is 2-2.
“Nice team effort for the Lakers with all 14 players on the roster contributing.” said Inter-Lakes coach Randy Mattson
Newfound 3, Moultonborough 0
Key players for Newfound were Ashlee Dukette 21 digs, 8 kills, 7 aces, 3 blocks), Bailey Fairbank (25 digs, 8 kills, 6 aces)
The Bears won some long volleys to secure a tight 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 win.
Newfound is 4-2; Moultonborough 2-4.
Belmont 3, Pittsfield 0
Belmont's Arianna Janosz recorded 10 straight service points). Thanks to some clutch serving from Janosz, the Raiders were able to dig out of an early hole in the first set en route to a 26-24, 25-23, 25-21 victory over the Panthers.
“Belmont girls played well tonight but we still need to tweak some things. Each game we are improving and learning and that’s a really good thing. I think we have great potential and I am hoping we come together at the right time. It’s still early and we are still learning how we need to operate as a team.” – Belmont’s Adam Gaulin.
Belmont is 2-3; Pittsfield 1-3.
Prospect Mountain 2, Belmont 1
Julianna Estremera had a goal and Rebecca Fleming an assist.
Estremera cut the Prospect Mountain lead to one goal with 10 minutes left, but Belmont wasn’t able to tie it up before the horn. Belmont led Prospect Mtn. in shots, 11-4.
“We need to take care of the ball and finish.” said Belmont’s Mark Dawalga
Prospect Mtn. is 4-2; Belmont 3-2-2
Gilford 8, White Mountains 0
Key players for Gilford were Bri Salanitro (3 goals), Sydny Lehr (2 goals), Laurel Gingrich (goal, assist), Kellie Ryan (goal, assist), Allyson Carr (first varsity goal)
The Eagles defeated the Spartans for the second time this season, improving over their 5-2 victory from last week. Gilford moved the ball better and played better defense in the rematch.
“Positive passing has continued to improve and we are (better at) going to the goalie with our sticks down. We are still a work in progress.” said Gilford’s David Rogacki
Gilford is 7-1; White Mtns. 1-5
Inter-Lakes 3, Prospect Mountain 0

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