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Globe South sports notebook

Norwell’s Tasiopoulos stepping right into the net for Stonehill

By Jake Seiner
Globe Correspondent / November 20, 2011

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Patrick Leahy wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in his first season as the men’s hockey coach at Stonehill. Hired June 1, he essentially inherited a squad that finished 5-18-1 a year ago.

The task of turning around the program is a daunting one, and won’t likely happen this season.

Despite a 2-4 start, there are promising signs, including the stellar early play of freshman Chris Tasiopoulos of Norwell.

The Thayer Academy graduate faced nearly 30 shots per game in his five starts, and turned those shots away at a .911 clip.

Last Saturday, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Tasiopoulos turned away 36 shots in a 2-0 win over Nichols. The performance, paired with his 41-save outing in a 4-3, overtime loss to Plymouth State, helped him earn Northeast-10 Goaltender of the Week honors.

Tasiopoulos followed up with 20 saves in a 4-3 win over Southern New Hampshire State last Wednesday.

“I definitely knew that if we were going to start winning, it had to start in net,’’ Tasiopoulos said. “I just wanted to provide the team a chance to win.’’

Last year’s starting goaltender, senior Tyler Jackson, underwent knee surgery in the spring, and isn’t expected back until after Thanksgiving. Entering the preseason, Tasiopoulos, and fellow freshmen Will Husic and Dominic Sawaia, were vying for the starting position.

“It was anybody’s job to take from the start, and Chris stepped to the forefront,’’ said Leahy, who guided The Winchendon School to back-to-back 20-win seasons from 2007-2009. “Overall, his hockey experience and the way he played in practice the first two weeks, that gave him the nod.

“I think he’s gained confidence, and feels he should be in there every game. That’s the way every goalie should act and feel.’’

Not surprisingly, facing in-game shots from college players has been an adjustment for Tasiopoulos. “The first game was definitely a reality check,’’ he said.

But his work over the summer with the Cape Cod Whalers has helped ease the transition. He faced shots from a number of college players and pros, including former Boston College standouts Brian Boyle (Rangers) and Brian Gibbons (Penguins).

“They guys feel confident with him behind them,’’ Leahy said.

Canton duo shines in UMass hoops

When Amanda Van Voorhis was named women’s basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2008, she felt the program was a tough sell.

Her challenge: finding under-recruited players who she thought could play in the Little East Conference.

She struck gold at Canton High School.

In her first recruiting class, she landed Colleen Moriarty, a 6-1 forward with a low-post game and a captain’s attitude. The next year, she brought in another ex-Bulldog forward, Erika Bornemann.

Last year, Bornemann earned Little East Rookie of the Year honors. Last Tuesday, the duo combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds in a 65-61, season-opening win over Salve Regina.

“[Tuesday], it became pretty clear that we have a tag-team force inside,’’ Van Voorhis said. “Colleen is more of a back-to-the-basket player, and Erika can step out and shoot the 3.’’

Hopefully for the Corsairs, the duo will be tag-teaming opponents all year. That was the plan last season, but it failed as Moriarty battled injuries.

“For any coach, they’re a tremendous piece of the puzzle,’’ Van Voorhis said. “They get it done for us. They’re legit.’’

Moriarty, a junior captain, is a mentor to many of the Corsairs low-post players, and Bornemann is one of her top pupils.

“Colleen really took Erika under her wing,’’ Van Voorhis said. “[Bornemann’s] really developed her game, and I think Colleen’s had a lot to do with that.’’

Bentley benefits from Battista

As a student-athlete at Oliver Ames, Lauren Battista did a lot of scoring, and the Tigers did a lot of winning, including a Division 2 state title her senior year.

Three games into her sophomore season, Battista’s story at Bentley has been much the same.

The former Gatorade Player of the Year leads the Falcons (3-0) in scoring (17.7 points per game) and rebounds (8.0). Bentley, ranked No. 2 nationally, is shooting to repeat as Northeast-10 champions and another trip to the Elite 8.

“At first, it was a big adjustment because everything seemed like it was 100 miles per hour,’’ Battista said. “Once I adjusted to that, once I got in control of myself and got used to playing at a faster pace but in control, it felt slower.’’

Neville performs for Skyhawks

Stonehill senior Stephan Neville of Foxborough racked up 234 return yards in the Skyhawks’ 28-23 season-ending win over Assumption College last week, including a pair of kick returns for touchdowns and a punt return for a score.

The performance put the senior at 2,785 kickoff return yards with 11 kick/punt returns for scores in his career, with the latter stat tying the NCAA Division 2 record for touchdown returns for a career.

The returning All-American earned Northeast-10 and Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the performance.

Jake Seiner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.