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Belmont’s Katy Ananian backstops Wheaton lacrosse to NCAA tourney

Katy Ananian

Katy Ananian

Belmont’s Ananian gains title in goal for Wheaton

Katy Ananian has experienced more than a few excruciating postseason losses in goal on talented lacrosse teams, at both Belmont High and Wheaton College.

“Sudden death, penalty shots, some really crushing endings,’’ said Ananian (inset). “We just couldn’t quite make it past the semifinals.’’

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Her fortunes changed dramatically Sunday, when the junior backstopped top-seeded Wheaton to its first New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference tournament championship since 2004 with an 8-5 victory over Babson College.

“When the horn sounded and when we began to celebrate,’’ she said, “the tears really started because I had never been a part of something like this.’’

The Lyons also earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 tournament; they’ll learn the identity of their next foe when the brackets are announced on Sunday.

Ananian played every minute of every game this season, after the team’s recruited freshman goalie did not enroll at the Norton school.

She responded with a 13-6 record (7-0 conference), a 9.16 goals-against average, and .420 save percentage.

Her aggressiveness and athleticism also resulted in Ananian ranking second on the squad with 43 ground balls, and fourth with 16 caused turnovers.

“In my entire career, I’ve never seen a goalie have so many ground balls,’’ said Wheaton coach Emily Kiablick. “Katy has always been our top goalie. She came on very strong last year and now she’s having her best season.

“In high school she was a little unorthodox, but her instincts and reactions are so good that we’ve never tried to completely change her. Katy can really control a game and set the pace.’’

Ananian, a second team All-NEWMAC pick last season, ranks second in program history with 35 career wins.

“I’ve really learned a lot about myself and my position this year with a lot of extra work with Coach Kiablick,’’ said Ananian, who posted a .630 save percentage in her senior season at Belmont High, and was named the team’s MVP, a Middlesex League all-star, and a Globe All-Scholastic.

“I never played in goal until my freshman year at Belmont because we needed someone for the position,’’ said the 21-year-old, who used to practice in her backyard absorbing stinging shots from her sister, Abby, who was a year ahead of her in high school.

“Abby played attack and the balls that missed the net at home wound up putting a lot of dents in the back porch,’’ said Ananian. “I miss being her teammate.’’

Abby Ananian, also a team MVP at Belmont High — where she graduated as the career points leader in girls’ lacrosse — has gone on to star at Division 1 St. Joseph’s University. Her season this spring was cut short after two games because of a knee injury, and she hopes to return next year as a medical redshirt.

Their younger sister, Sarah, is a sophomore attack on the Belmont High team. Their father, Sheldon, was a varsity baseball and soccer player at Belmont Hill.

“My dad is a great student of the game. He has a feel for lacrosse that I appreciate,’’ said Katy Ananian. “We always give one another a thumbs up before my games.’’

At halftime on Sunday, with Wheaton holding a 4-3 lead, her father offered words of encouragement.

“I told Katy to play like a champion,’’ he said. “I was pretty choked up being able to share in her memorable day.’’

Tufts baseball coach Casey earns 600th win

Tufts University baseball coach John Casey reached 600 victories in the first game of a doubleheader at Bowdoin College on Sunday.

The 5-1 win clinched one of the four New England Small College Athletic Conference tourney spots for the Jumbos, and taking the second game gave Casey a 601-361-4 record in his 31st season at Tufts. The team was 27-4 after Monday’s nonconference loss to Eastern Connecticut State.

Casey’s 600th was less painful than his first victory as a college coach.

“It was at Stonehill and I was hit in the head by a line drive’’ while throwing batting practice, the longtime Milford resident said. “The sky was purple until the third inning.

“I’m at the point now where I’m recruiting former players’ sons and I appreciate the job more. These guys keep me young.’’

He has coached two of his sons, Brian and Kevin . Kevin is now an assistant coach at Tufts, and Brian, a former assistant for their father, holds a similar position at the College of William & Mary.

Casey is the 43d coach in NCAA Division 3 baseball to reach 600 wins, and the seventh in New England.

A Tufts graduate, Casey pitched the Jumbos to consecutive ECAC tournament appearances, and was a tight end on the school’s undefeated 1979 football team.

Erlichman helps college land NCAA golf berth

Shrewsbury’s Nick Erlichman, a senior captain of the golf team at Endicott College, bounced back from an opening day 81 at the Commonwealth Coast Conference championships to shoot an even-par 71 Sunday at Franconia Golf Course in Springfield.

His unusual round of six pars, six bogeys, and six birdies was crucial for the Gulls, who received the conference’s first automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 tourney via a tiebreaker.

“Nick would three-putt and then come back with a long putt for a birdie. He kept fighting,’’ said Endicott coach Tom Smith. “His comeback was just amazing, hard to put into words.’’

Erlichman was named the conference’s Golfer of the Week for his performance. A two-time captain on the Shrewsbury High squad, he was named MVP of the Midland Wachusett League’s A Division for his senior season, when he helped lead the Colonels to the state championship.

Erlichman was recently hired by the New England PGA as operations manager for its Massachusetts chapter, after interning the last two years.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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