Going into this season, coaches, players, parents, and fans all knew this season would be different. To follow COVID-19 protocols, wearing a mask was required during games and practices. Most teams had a shortened schedule and some teams didn’t get the opportunity to compete altogether. This article will be covering the outcomes of all of the teams who had the chance to compete this winter.
Swimming & Diving
Leading up to the season, the Bobcats were only scheduled to practice due to COVID. However, on January 8th, they found out they would be able to compete. Despite the season being in question at the beginning of the year, the boys held the New Hampshire DII state title for the second year in a row, and the girls placed fourth.
Girls swimmer Maggie Sperry (‘21), explained the differences of this season. “We usually have four practices a week in a normal year ranging from an hour to two hours, but this year we only had one practice a week and it was only for 45 mins. We weren’t allowed to use the UNH pool so all our practices were at Dover indoor pool.” Sperry continued to say, “We usually have at least 8 meets including our big invitationals, but instead we only had 3 meets…we missed a lot of being a full team this year.” Facing all of the obstacles and challenges and winning back to back state titles just adds to the boy’s success this season. Emerson Moore (‘21) was happy with how everyone handled it. “I am really proud of all the swimmers on both the girls and boys team dealing with COVID during the season. We had no outbreaks and all the swimmers came to practice and worked hard.”
The Oyster River boys hockey team went into this season set on winning Oyster River’s first state championship in school history. Unfortunately, the Bobcats were taken out by Dover in the semifinals. Bobcats right winger, Andy Carlson (‘22) commented on how the team was feeling after their playoff loss to Dover. “I think everyone really thought that this was the year to win it all, so the fact that we didn’t was a tough blow to everyone.” Carlson knows this season may be looked back as a missed opportunity, but recognizes they still have a strong returning team next year. “Sadly, I think people are going to remember this season as what if, since it could’ve been the year to get the school’s first hockey championship and we had the potential to win.”
Although the team didn’t accomplish what they were set out for, the boys earned themselves a 10-2 record in the regular season, capping it off with a 2-1 win over Bedford who has won four out of the last five New Hampshire DI Hockey championships.
After posting an impressive 12-4-2 record last year and losing several key players including Lilli Poitras (‘20), Laura Dreher (‘20), and Anna Mazza (‘20), the returning squad had big shoes to fill. The girls had a 5-4-1 record during the regular season, but lost to St. Thomas-Winnacunnet-Dover in the quarterfinals.
Key player for the Clippercats, Natalie Lessard (‘22), was impressed with how the team handled this season. “I think we did really well given the circumstances. I’m fully confident that everyone did their absolute best and got us the farthest we could go this season,” said Lessard. The team had many newcomers this year, including freshmen and girls who had never played a game.
Lessard thinks the Clippercats will come back next year even stronger. “I think our team next year is going to do really well. We have a lot of really good upcoming freshmen and we’ve seen how much we can improve in such a short amount of time. I’m fully confident we will do the best we can and have a really good outcome next year.”
With a new coaching staff and two key players, Joe Morrell (‘20) and Kyle Miller (‘20), graduating last year, the Bobcats were unsure of what to expect out of this season.
Bobcats key player, Ben Mattioni (‘21), said COVID affected the season in several ways. “During the summer we didn’t have access to the courts, so we just had to go to an outdoor court on UNH’s campus and play. It was really our only opportunity to work together during the off-season. When it came time to play in the winter it had a more serious impact on us.” Mattioni also mentioned there were times they had to sit out a few days for COVID precautions. With everything the team dealt with, Mattioni was happy with his teammates’ effort and dedication this season. “Everyone came to practice and worked hard. As the year went on I could see everyone getting better. The record doesn’t show but we played some really tough teams and it definitely made us better down the stretch.”
The ORHS boys basketball team ended the regular season with a 7-6 record before losing to Sanborn in the quarterfinals.
Mattioni thought that the coaches were a huge part of their successes this season. “The whole staff does a really good job of balancing it out. They know when to have fun and when to work,” said Mattioni. Despite losing six seniors who played a key role for the team, the boys basketball program has a bright future with the new coaching staff settling in.
Coming off a 0-18 record in the 2019-2020 season and returning with just one senior on the roster, the Oyster River girls basketball team bounced back strong. The girls earned themselves a 9-6 record, giving them a .600 win percentage on the season. Part of the Bobcat’s success came from going on a five-game win streak to end the regular season.
Oyster River captain, Carissa Miller (‘21), credited their success to a defensive gameplay switch. “About halfway through the season we played Dover and decided to try our press against them[…]our press was very effective and made Dover panic. We played really well against Dover and it was definitely the turning point in our season,” said Miller. “We started to realize that we are a strong defensive team and we needed to harp on that. From that point forward we started playing an aggressive press against every team which led to our success. Our team’s mindset was that ‘defense wins games’ which we stuck by for the rest of the season.” Miller played a huge role for the girls this season but she credits everyone and knows she couldn’t have done it without them. “We overcame a lot of barriers that I never thought we would. There were so many moments of glory this season and I couldn’t have asked for a better team. We definitely surprised a lot of people,” said Miller.
The Oyster River unified basketball team had a great comeback season improving their regular season record from 1-4 in the previous year to 3-1 this season. The Bobcats made it to the semifinals, beating Dover in the quarterfinals, but lost to the tough Exeter basketball team.
Bobcats player, Noah O’Hearn (‘21) was very happy with the turnout of this season. “The team played great and made it to the semi finals which hasn’t happened in a long time I think and overall we were a really good team.” O’Hearn also thought all of his teammates were proud of how they played this year. “I would say overall the team was really happy with the season both because we went far and even had a season to begin with,” said O’Hearn.
Photos by Catherine Rinko