Nicolette Arnold ’19 Named All-NEPSAC Class B Player of the Year

Groton, Mass. — Lawrence Academy has its first-ever All-NEPSAC Player of the Year in girls’ basketball, Nicolette Arnold ’19 (Derry, NH).

Nikki Arnold ’19. Jon Chase photo

Arnold, the squad’s captain, who joined fellow girls’ varsity basketball player Ashley Evans ’20 (Londonderry, NH) on the 10-person 2019 NEPSAC Class B first team, paced the Spartans throughout the 2018 – 2019 winter season.

Known on campus as “Nikki,” Arnold will join the varsity at Sacred Heart University next fall. She was the fifth-ever woman to join Lawrence Academy’s 1000-point club and helped lead the Spartans to the precipice of the New England championship.

Currently on Winterim working with the Give Kids The World program, Arnold got the good word from her head coach, Donna Mastrangelo.

“Only one player gets ‘Player of the Year’ and that is just outstanding,” said Mrs. Mastrangelo of the accolade, a new benchmark for her program.

“I just spoke with Nicolette down in Florida a bit ago and [the emotion] was certainly felt over the phone,” added Coach Donna. “She is just a little overwhelmed and beyond thrilled about this news.”

Congratulations to Nikki and all of the girls’ basketball Spartans for an amazing season.

Girls’ Basketball: A First and a Familiar Foe

Coach Mastrangelo – LA’s NEPSAC Entries Appreciate Spartan Nation’s Support

LA girls’ basketball v. Middlesex. Jon Chase photo

Generally, playoff games need little in the way of hype, but it would be wrong to label Saturday’s NEPSAC Semifinal between The Governor’s Academy and Lawrence Academy as “just another game.”

“We are looking forward to hosting for the first time; the NEPSAC Semifinals,” said LA Head Coach Donna Mastrangelo on the eve of the matchup. “As the #3 seed, Govs is an excellent team who has been coming on strong late in the season.”

What the coach didn’t say is that Lawrence Academy and Gov’s have a long-time rivalry in many, many varsity sports. And, never mind the many heated regular season matchups between the two semifinal squads, the Spartans have faced Governor’s twice in recent NEPSAC quarterfinals, with GA taking the matchup in 2015 and LA emerging victorious in 2015.

“We did not get the job done vs. them on the road a little over a week ago falling short with a score of 40-36,” said Coach Mastrangelo. “It was a battle of a game that did go back and forth.”

But that game was in Byfield, Mass., and on their opponent’s home court.

“Although we know that Gov’s will have great fan support this coming Saturday, now it is our time on our home court,” added Coach Mastrangelo.

Oh, and by the way, there’s a higher prize in store for the winner on Saturday.

“We have not gotten to the Finals since 1995,” explained Coach Mastrangelo. “We want to make it our day and, as a team, get ourselves to that championship contest at Loomis Chaffee on Sunday.”

But there are several factors that weigh into that winning equation, including the strength of their opponents, the natural ebbs and flow of the season, as well as the nature of LA’s academic schedule.

You see, LA heads into Winterim this Monday, and many students may be enjoying a three day weekend with family.

Gov’s, on the other hand, has classes in session on Monday. So, Coach Mastrangelo is calling on her sixth player – Spartan Nation.

“We want to thank everyone for the fan support this past Wednesday during our Quarterfinal contest vs. #7 Williston Northampton,” she said. “It did help tremendously to have that encouragement for our girls.

“We know that this coming Saturday is a busy time with Winterim approaching and with the completion of final grades, but we do hope that the LA community can rally up and cheer on the girls’ basketball team along with the boys’ varsity hockey team [playing at KUA].

Lawrence Academy Head Coach Donna Mastrangelo

“These moments are special and take a great deal of time and commitment,” added Mrs. Mastrangelo. “We hope to see the support for both programs and help these players continue their quests for NEPSAC Championships!”

Spartan Nation

Good luck to the girls’ basketball team…

Bailey Earns 1000th “Kill” During LA’s Volleyball Championship Victory

Groton, Mass. — Being close to the court (rink, field, mat), the game-within-the-game becomes clearer, particularly regarding interactions between coaches and players.

Most of the time coaches endeavor to motivate (in many, many ways), but sometimes they simply celebrate the fantastic achievements of their charges.

As the Spartans completed their first successful set during their eventual 3-0 win over Governor’s on Sunday, some cards came into view via Head Coach Steve Engstrom; cards announcing how close Gabi Bailey ’19 was to breaking the 1000 “kill” marker for her high school career.

Casually held aloft, the cardboard ticked up to the significant milestone, alerted the partisan home crowd to impending collective memory.

997.

998.

999.

Then, at the beginning of the second set, it happened:

“Oh gosh,” said a visibly relieved Bailey, postgame. “This is so awesome.

“I couldn’t have done it without all of [my teammates] and they really, really put on a show today.

“It was awesome,” she said. “So exciting.”

Bailey’s memorable play set the tone for the Spartans taking the second and third set — after a very, very tight opening stanza against a tenacious Govs team — en route to the eventual victory and a NEPSAC Class B title for LA.

But then, Gabi setting the tone is certainly no surprise to anyone who has seen her play for Lawrence Academy.

“[Bailey] really has turned around the program,” said Head Coach Steve Engstrom. “She was able to give us the offense that we never had before.

“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here in the finals was – well, it was amazing.”

For her part — and true to form on this team — Bailey passed the praise on to others.

“I knew [what] Dasha was going to do; couldn’t have gotten it without Dosh,” said Bailey of fellow senior Dasha Zhuravleva, who has fed Gabi’s powerful right arm for two seasons. “She’s an awesome setter.

“And with everyone’s passing,” she added, “I just knew I was going to come together.”

However, her teammates were thrilled to see the future Nittany Lion (as Bailey is heading to Penn State next fall) hit the heretofore unexpected milestone.

Coach Engstrom had kept the possibility a secret…

“I did not know that was happening today,” said a laughing senior Spartan standout Nicole Winthrop. “I guess I missed the memo.

“I saw Mr. Engstrom holding up like the 999. I was like, ‘Well what the heck is that?’

“And then she comes out with a 1000 sign; it was so exciting!” she said.

It certainly was, Nicole! It certainly was… Congratulations to Gabi and the entire roster. Mr. B & Mr. G

Gabi

Lawrence Academy Girls’ Volleyball Takes the New England Class B Title

Groton, Mass. — After a 3-0 victory over Governor’s Academy on Sunday, Lawrence Academy Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Steve Engstrom smiled ear-to-ear as he recounted his club’s journey from also-rans to NEPSAC champions. 

“Oh Man, what a game,” said the deceivingly intense, bespectacled coach of the Spartans. “[I remember] three years ago after the first playoff loss in the quarterfinals; then the semi-finals last year. Then we made it to the finals this year.

“We’re really excited about how it turned out.”


Watch the entire championship game… 


As far as Mr. Engstrom’s understatement goes, the entire LA community — many of whom were in the gym to witness LA’s latest NEPSAC title — were pretty pleased, as well.

Far from the easy 3-0 romp belied on the scoreboard, Governor’s girls’ varsity volleyball, a tried-and-true ISL foe, gave the Spartans all they could handle early.

“It was an exciting game from start to finish,” said the coach, trying to calculate stats in his head. “We were just nervous in the first set.

“That was quite a struggle … similar to yesterday [a 3-0 win against Dana Hall]. We couldn’t quite get our offense going.


Vs. Dana Hall in the Semi-final…


“The second set, we felt a little more comfortable,” added Engstrom. “We were getting our serves in… we started getting going, and we never looked back.”

However, many Spartan fans will look back at this game as the culmination of the career of — perhaps — the best volleyball player to don the red, white, and blue, Gabi Bailey ’19.

The Penn State-bound senior, whose grandfather was a member of LA’s undefeated 1955 football team, posted her 1000th high school “kill” early in the second set.


Gabi Bailey’s 1000th…

The full Twitter thread is may be found @lawrenceacademy.


“It was awesome,” said Engstrom, who held up cards signifying Bailey’s progress toward the goal to the delight of the partisan LA crowd. “I mean, she really has turned around the program.

“She was able to give us the offense that we never had before,” he continued, speaking to Bailey’s arrival two years ago. “And, what it did, was help the other girls in the team get so much better; being able to practice against the best hitter in the ISL.

“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here with in the finals was – well, it was amazing,” he said.

And the progress of the entire team was first-and-foremost on Coach Engstrom’s postgame mind.

IMG_5746

“We’ve had some of our seniors have been here since freshman year, and we were something like 3-16 at that point, and it was a totally different team,” he explained. “But they have put in the years, and we slowly grew in our success.

“We worked a lot during preseason and during the season in practices just to keep getting as many touches and get as much experience on the court, so we feel comfortable when it comes down to the games like this.”

Despite that experience, Engstrom also spoke about the LA community and how it embraced his team down the stretch.

“It’s so much fun to be able to see is our fan section out there and just really trying to bring it,” said Engstrom. “Our girls noticed them, for sure, and we saw it yesterday, and they talked about it after the game; how exciting it is when, when the fans get on their feet and just in our new ‘newish’ gym.

“It’s been a lot of fun.”


FWIW: LA’s Most Recent New England Titles

2018 – 19 — Volleyball

2017 – 18 — Football, Boys’ Hockey

2015 – 16 — Football

2014 – 15 — Boys’ Soccer, Football

2011 – 12 — Boys’ Hockey

2008 – 09 — Field Hockey

2002 – 03 — Girls’ Soccer

Last volleyball title?

1997 A.I.S.G.A. Volleyball Tournament  – 1st Place

Arnold & Evans: NEPSAC All-Stars

LA Basketball

Coach Mastrangelo congratulates Nicolette Arnold ’19 and Ashley Evans ’20.

DEDHAM, MA — Two girls’ basketball Spartans took to the court to represent Lawrence Academy at the 2017 – 2018 NEPSAC Class B All-Star Game.

Hosted by Nobles, Nicolette Arnold ’19 and Ashley Evans ’20 joined the “East” squad and impressed LA’s longtime girls’ basketball guru Donna Mastrangelo.

“Both girls did an outstanding job representing our school,” said Coach Mastrangelo, postgame. “They made big stops defensively, rebounded well, and there was a huge block by Ashley

“Also, they both did well on the offensive end with impressive assists by Nicolette, and key baskets by each girl.

“They put the East ahead while they were in the game,” she said.

Congratulations to both Spartans, not only for their fine showing on Sunday but also for an excellent winter season.