Norton’s Campbell anchors run to NCAA soccer title
Norton alum stands up to pressure
When the Southern New Hampshire University men’s soccer team arrived in Evans, Ga., for the NCAA Division 2 semifinals, junior captain Keegan Campbell was feeling the pressure.
“My stomach was in knots, I couldn’t eat. My legs felt heavy,’’ said Campbell, a Norton High graduate whose adrenaline and talent more than offset his lack of appetite.
With Campbell playing his trademark in-your-face defense, the Penmen knocked off Rockhurst University of Missouri, 2-1, in the semis. On Saturday, SNHU captured the program’s second national championship with another 2-1 victory, slipping past Carson-Newman University of Tennessee.
After the final whistle and team celebration, Campbell ran into the stands to hug his father, Kent, and younger brother, Kolin, a varsity player at Bridgewater State University.
That evening, university president Paul LeBlanc took the team out to dinner, where Campbell polished off a juicy steak with mashed potatoes.
“It was the best-tasting meal I ever had, my first as a champion,’’ said Campbell.
The victory capped a 23-game unbeaten streak for Southern New Hampshire (22-1-1), which suffered a 1-0 loss in its season opener to LIU Post. And Campbell played an integral role.
Penmen coach Marc Hubbard calls the 5-foot-10, 150-pound left back “a leader who does everything asked of him and then more. He’ll carry the water, pick up the cones, and lug the ball bag at practice because that’s his nature.
“He has an incredible engine that never stops, and if you had a team with 11 Keegan Campbells in the lineup, you’d win championships all the time.’’ SNHU yielded just 11 goals all season, the best mark in the nation.
Campbell first met Hubbard the summer after his junior year at Norton High — where he was a soccer and track star — at the Collegiate Soccer Academy on the campus of Boston University.
“I just loved his demeanor and his focus,’’ recalled Hubbard, who was a member of the Academy coaching staff.
“Since coming here, he’s improved technically and matured as a player, but his speed and his drive was there from day one, and he’s started every game since his freshman season.
“He’s so consistent, composed, and versatile you never want to take him off the field,’’ added Hubbard, “and he has incredible endurance.’’
Shifted to defense by Brian Devaney, his coach with the New England Football Club, who played the position at Boston University, Campbell was urged to check out Southern New Hampshire University by his high school coach, Eric Greene.
“We had a big gap to fill at left back my freshman year of college, and even though I’m a right shot, I got the opportunity there and ran with it,’’ added Campbell.
An emotional player, Campbell — one of five soccer-playing siblings whose first names begin with the letter K — said being a team leader and the hardest worker in games and practices were his goals for the season.
And winning a national championship?
“It sunk in when we shot the ball safely downfield as the game ended. My jaw just dropped,’’ recalled Campbell, whose voice was still hoarse earlier this week. “After that, I can hardly remember what happened except I got my appetite back — real quick.’’
Emerson ends Amherst’s streak
Sophomore starting forward Brian Hurley of South Boston (Thayer Academy) and sophomore reserve guard Mike Corcoran of Scituate (BC High) are members of the Emerson College men’s basketball team that ended Amherst College’s 29-game winning streak, 90-79, last weekend.
The 6-foot-7 Hurley scored 16 points (7 for 12 shooting) and added six rebounds and four assists against the Lord Jeffs (5-1), the defending Division 3 national champions.
“Brian is one of our best players, who is just starting to come into his own, ‘’ said Emerson coach Jim O’Brien, who coached at the Division 1 level at St. Bonaventure, Boston College (his alma mater), and Ohio State.
“He’s a well-rounded young man off the court, with interests in music and the arts.’’
O’Brien’s assistants include his former player at BC, Bill Curley, formerly the coach at Thayer Academy, and Brockton’s Rico Cabral, who coached the men’s team at Mount Ida College the past 22 years. Corcoran’s father, Mike Sr., also played for the O’Brien-coached Eagles.
Emerson has moved from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference this season.
Meredith Kelly has week to remember
Former Cohasset High standout Meredith Kelly was named NESCAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after averaging 31.8 points in four games for the Bates women’s basketball team. A senior captain, Kelly scored 12 of her 30 points in overtime as the Bobcats won at Colby, 80-75. The 5-8 guard wrapped up the week with a Bates-record 42 points in a 104-83 win over UMaine-Augusta, also setting team records for field goals (18) and points in a half (25). Leading the NESCAC in scoring (24.8 ppg), she also averaged 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 steals, and 2.0 assists per game on the week.
Reaching out to YMCA, South Africa
The Wheaton College of Norton men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams and undefeated women’s basketball team are reaching out, respectively, to the Attleboro YMCA and to children’s causes in South Africa.
The track and field squad will support YMCA-sponsored meets at the college’s Beard Field House Sunday and Jan. 5. Team members will officiate and measure heights and distances. They will also promote health and wellness to individuals between the ages of 5 and 15. Competitors can register for either session for $5 on the day of the meet, which features 4 p.m. field events and 5 p.m. running events.
The basketball team has donated uniforms to the Orlando Children’s Home in Johannesburg and the Happy Feet Youth Project in Langa Township, Cape Town. Wheaton’s donation will help both communities participate in sport-related activities.