The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on May 21, 2007 · 36
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 36

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Monday, May 21, 2007
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D8 The Boston Globe monday, may 21, 2007 Lately, Revolution seem to be going places By Frank Dell'Apa GLOBE STAFF The Revolution are off to their second-fastest start to an MLS season after a 1-0 win at Houston Saturday gave them a 5-1-2 record (17 points). The last time the Revolution were alone in first place in the Eastern Conference was in 2005, when they began the season with an 11-match (7-0-4) unbeaten streak. And the team should be closer to full strength when it returns home to meet the Kansas City Wizards in the second game of a doubleheader at Gillette Stadium Saturday. The opener will be Bolivia and the Republic of Ireland in a friendly. Midfielders Shalrie Joseph, who in jured his right knee as he scored against the Dynamo, and Daniel Hernandez (groin) are expected to be available Saturday. Though the Revolution displayed resourcefulness against Houston, the early-season travel (six away matches) clearly has taken a toll. Many players lacked sharpness with their passing and touches on a bumpy, newly sodded field at Robertson Stadium, and the team's lack of possession allowed Houston to control the action. The Revolution have the best record in MLS, have compiled a seven-match unbeaten streak since losing their season-opener, and are 10-1-4 in regular-season matches since Sept. 2. "Everyone is delighted with that and, as long as we use it to our advantage, it will be great," Revolution coach Steve Ni-col said of the fast start. "It's a long stretch away from home and it's tough mentally and physically. We have been collecting points, but we need to build on it by performing in the next three, four, five games." The Revolution snapped a 15-match winless streak dating to July 22, 2000, against the Dynamo, who defeated them on penalty kicks in the MLS Cup in November. Asked if the team was inspired to break the streak, Nicol said: "Our motivation is self-motivation. You can't go looking at every weekend thinking like that But it's always nice to get the monkey off your back." The Revolution patiently absorbed pressure from Houston at the start, then struck quickly on a counterattack to score. Taylor Twellman sent the ball to Steve Ralston on the right wing and Ralston's cross was weakly cleared toward the penalty arc. Joseph, running at nearly full speed, scored in the ninth minute with a left-foot shot to the right of goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who was screened on the play. Defender Eddie Robinson collided with Joseph after the shot, and the kick-off was delayed while Joseph was treated. Joseph continued to play as his knee swelled, then was replaced by Joe Fran- chino in the 59th minute. "The result was good for us, but it seemed like we were on our heels from Minute 1," Revolution midfielder Jeff La-rentowicz said. "We are getting points on the road. We adapted to the conditions, especially at the end, when they were throwing a lot of guys forward." The Revolution have maintained their form since last November, but Houston (2-4-1) has struggled. "They beat us in the finals and they have the rings," Joseph said. "But we are just worried about ourselves and what we are doing." Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at fdeUapaglobe.com. 1 'A- '.jJ-JLZfJ, mf in i i isvV i ..V'" -. J I v Ml A SCOTT HALLERANGETTY IMAGES All three PGA wins for Zach Johnson (right, with Ryuji Imada) have come in Georgia. Golf roundup A true Georgia peach Johnson answers AT&T in playoff ASSOCIATED PRESS Zach Johnson is two-thirds of the way to the Georgia Slam. OK, no such achievement exists, but anything seems possible for the Masters champion in the Peach State. "Yeah, I'm not sure what it is," he said. "You know, for whatever reason, I've had success here." Johnson won the AT&T Classic yesterday, beating Ryuji Imada with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff. Johnson, also the 2004 winner, closed with a 5-under-par 67 to match Imada (70) at 15-un-der 273 on the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth.Ga. In the playoff on the par-5 18th, Johnson hit his second shot above the pin, then rolled a 60-footer for eagle within 5 inches of the hole. He now had his third PGA Tour victory, all in Georgia. Imada's tee shot landed in the left-side rough and his 3 -wood failed to clear the water in front of the green. Laying up was not an option, Imada thought, because with Johnson in the middle of the fairway, there seemed little chance his opponent would settle for par. "I don't want to second-guess myself," Imada said. "If I laid up, it was going to be a tough shot regardless. The green on 18, front left, is pretty hard. I mean, having a 15-footer for birdie, you know, your chances are not good." Seeking to become just the third player from Japan to win on the PGA Tour, Imada lost a critical stroke with a drop that all but nullified his next approach, which landed 13 feet from the pin. Matt Kuchar (70), Camilo Ville-gas (71), and Troy Matteson (73) tied for third at 12 under, and iris Tidland (68), Stephen Marino (70), and Bob Estes (70) followed at 11 under. Phil Mickelson, a week after winning the Players Championship, skipped the tournament. Tiger Woods and many of the world's other top golfers did, too. "This field was great," Johnson said. "It didn't have so-called marquee players that everybody knows or the media attaches to, but everybody that teed it up this week, for the most part ... is going to be in the top 50, top 30, top 15 players in the world." LPGA Lorena Ochoa won for the first time since replacing Annika Sorenstam as the No. 1 player in women's golf, and put an exclamation point on it by defending her Sybase Classic title in Clifton, N.J. Ochoa caught front-running Sarah Lee and finished three strokes ahead, closing with a bogey-free 4-under 68 in the event that turned into match play after the top two distanced themselves from the field the day before. The victory was the second of the season and the lth of her career for the 25-year-old Mexican. Ochoa had a 72-hole total of 18-under 270 on the Upper Mont-clair Country Club in successfully defending an LPGA title for the first time in her career. She won last year at the Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y. "I really liked my round today because I didn't make any bogeys and I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities," Ochoa said. "I played smart golf." Futures Liz Janangelo (76) of West Hartford parred the third playoff hole to beat Emily Bastel (72) in the Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City (Kan.) Championship for her second win of the season. They ended the 54-hole event at 4-over 217. "It's always hard to win and I Norfolk County Classic was very, very nervous on the front nine today" Janangelo, 23, said on the tour's website. "It's just nice to have another win to sort of validate the first one." Champions Defending champion Brad Bryant beat R.W. Eaks on the third hole of a playoff to become the first player to win the Regions Charity Classic in Hoover, Ala., twice. Bryant sank a nearly 13-foot birdie putt on the 470-yard, par-4 18th hole after both parred the hole twice in the playoff. Bryant and Eaks shot 7-under 65s to finish at 12-under 204. European In Adare, Padraig Harrington beat Bradley Dredge on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to become the first Irishman to win the Irish Open in 25 years. Harrington had a three-stroke lead going into the round and shot a 1-under 71 to finish at 5-under 283, but Dredge had four birdies on six holes on the back to nine to shoot a 68 that drew him even. Smith's birdie binge brings 5-shot victory ByJimMcCabe GLOBE STAFF QUINCY Young and impres-sionable, Phil Smith thought there might be a financial reward in the game of golf. He was wrong. Older and wiser, he never thought there'd be any way to achieve personal satisfaction from golf. He was wrong again. "It's almost like I'm a 15-year-old kid again, after getting my head handed to me as a pro," said Smith, whose return to the amateur ranks was validated yesterday with a resounding five-shot victory in the 29th annual Norfolk County Classic at Presidents GC. Smith, who lives in Tynsgboro and plays out of Vesper CC in that town, was most impressive when it counted down the stretch. In shooting a 2-under-par 68 to get to 4-under 136, Smith made all six of his birdies on Presidents' cozy back nine, including four of the final five holes that allowed him to pull away from first-round leader Larry Rentz of the Boston Golf Club in Hingham. ' Rentz, who shot 67 Saturday, bogeyed his first four holes but was just one down when he bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 to squander any hope of victory. He settled for a 74-141 to finish second, while three shared third at 2-over 142 Greg Chalas (71) and John Hadg-es (71) of Thorny Lea, and Frank Vana (71) of Marlboro CC. Now 34, Smith is back in the amateur ranks after spending 10 years as a professional. There were a few seasons chasing the minitours, then several as an assistant pro at Mount Pleasant GC ' in Lowell. Moderate success came his way, but the arrivals of daughters Morgan and Molly helped convince him that pursuing the pro golf life was not for him. "I was like a cat chasing my tail for a couple years," he said. He got completely away from golf for a while, but he has gradually reintroduced himself to the joys of the game, and this win convinced him he made the right decision. Having opened with a 68, he inherited the lead when Rentz got off to a sloppy start to match the weather, then Smith gave it back with three straight bogeys to close out a front-side 37. But with birdies at the par-4 11th, par-5 12th, par-4 14th, par-5 15th, par-4 17th, and par-3 18th, Smith scored one of the most lopsided wins in tournament history. Jim McCabe can be reached at jmccabeglobe.com. Plain truth for UMass: Sooners are a bit better By Marty Dobrow GLOBE CORRESPONDENT I AMHERST -Before this I blustery week end in Amherst, the victories had blown in from all over for the University of Massachusetts soft-ball team, 26 straight heading into the NCAA Regional on its home field. The nation's best streak climbed to 27 Friday against Long Island University, but then UMass encountered Oklahoma where the wins come sweeping down the plain. And while the top-ranked Sooners didn't blow away UMass, their two victories over the Minutewomen did allow them to set sail for next week's Super Regional. Yesterday they closed out UMass in the double-elimination tourney, 6-3, improving their record to a robust 55-6. The Minutewomen finished 39-14-1. Oklahoma was the aggressor and ultimately the crisper team. In two games with UMass, they committed just one error, while starting pitcher Lauren Ecker-mann didn't issue a walk UMass proved feisty and resilient, but the Minutewomen exceeded their slim margin of error. Yesterday there were three errors and a few execution problems that spelled the difference. The visiting third was particularly costly as Oklahoma scored four runs with particularly aggressive small ball. The first run College roundup scored on a fielder's choice when speedster Norrelle Dickson got a great break from third and outran a throw to the plate from third baseman Whitney Mollica even on a solidly hit and cleanly fielded ball with the infield drawn in. Later in the inning came a singularly excruciating moment for UMass when, with runners on first and third and two runs in, Jamie Fox laid down a squeeze bunt, and the whole infield seemed to get out of position. The lead runner scored, the other runner took third when UMass didn't cover, and the batter wound up on second. "That's one thing that won us this regional," said Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso. "It was extreme base running. We were just all over the place. We were looking for the next bag. We were always forcing the action. That was our goal, just apply pressure. Smother and smother, and go after and go after, and make you feel us 247." Trailing, 4-0, UMass fought right back against Eckermann, who had beaten the Minutewomen on a four-hit shutout the day before. In the home third, UMass rallied for three runs. The key blows in the inning were a two-run single by Amanda Morin, and a two-out RBI double by Stacy Cullington on the ninth pitch ofafierceat-bat. The Minutewomen could not sustain the momentum, however. They gave up an unearned run in the fifth and another in the sixth, leading coach Elaine Sortino to lament what might have been. "The bottom line is you've got to be able to stay in the cooker and get it done," said Sortino. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. We've got to be able to handle heat like this if we're going to go deep into the postseason. Today I know we're a little young but we just didn't have the poise when we needed it." Still, Sortino was pleased with the pluck of her young team, which features 13 underclassmen. UMass advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th straight season, a feat never accomplished by any team in any sport in Atlantic 10 history. (Temple's men's basketball team appeared in 12 straight NCAA tourneys from 1990-2001.) One of the few graduating seniors, leading hitter Candice Molinari, bade farewell to the program after a standout weekend, in which she got winning hits in both of UMass's tournament victories over Long Island University Friday and Saturday. "It's been the time of my life," said Molinari, tears flowing freely. "I did not want today to be the last day I wore this jersey, but we went down with a fight. If you're going to lose to anybody, at least it's Oklahoma. They're the best out there. I hope they take it to the end." Franklin Pierce rolling along Franklin Pierce and Eastern Connecticut State took care of business quickly yesterday. The Ravens and Warriors each could have afforded to lose a game in the final round of their double-elimination tournaments, but left nothing to chance in wrapping up NCAA regional tournament victories. Kevin Renaud hit a pair of solo homers as Franklin Pierce won the Northeast Regional and advanced to the NCAA Division 2 Championships in Montgomery, Ala., with a 5-2 victory over Bryant in Rindge.N.H. On Saturday, the Ravens (49-9) will face North Central region champ Southern Indiana or the South Central region champ, which will be determined today. In Harwich, Tristan Hobbes hit a first-inning grand slam as Eastern Connecticut pulled away to win the NCAA Division 3 New England regional with an 18-3 rout of Keene State. Eastern Connecticut (38-10) will play Central champ Carthage in a first-round game of the eight-team, double-elimination national tournament Friday in Grand Chute, Wis. Men's lacrosse NCAA Division X - Zack Greer's seven goals helped Duke to a 19-1 1 victory over North Carolina in a quarterfinal in Annapolis, Md. Duke (16-2) will meet Cornell (15-0) Saturday in Baltimore . . . Hat tricks by Jordan Hall and Dan Deckelbaum powered Delaware to a 10-6 victory over UMBC. The Blue Jays will play Johns Hopkins Saturday. NCAA Division 3 - Billy Fuchs's hat trick helped defending champ Cortland State edge Wes-leyan, 9-8, in a semifinal. North sectional tennis Nikolov, Lemos eye another prize By Mike Grimala GLOBE CORRESPONDENT Anton Nikolov of Ashland took another step toward defending his state tennis championship yesterday, defeating Ac-ton-Boxboro's Surainder Ashokoraj in straight sets to win the individual North sectional title. Nikolov, the top seed, dispatched Ashokoraj, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, to advance to the state semifinals. "I just tried to stay focused in the tiebreaker," Nikolov said of the crucial game in the first set. "I wanted to fight for every point and not Jhurt myself with errors. I thought if I could do that, I would be all right." Nikolov, a junior, leaned on his experience in the second set. He let Ashokoraj take chances while avoiding unforced errors. That led to a quick win and a chance at another state champi onship. "There's always great competition once you get to the semis," Nikolov said. "Hopefully, I'll play better than my opponents and I can win it again." In doubles, another state champion was victorious. Ryan Lemos, who won as half of the doubles team for Acton-Boxboro last year, teamed with Charlie Normington to defeat Jason Sa-bourin and Phil Johnson of And-over, 6-0, 6-1. Lemos, a junior, won last year with senior Patrick Burns as his partner. This season, he picked up where he left off, he and Normington storming through the sectional without dropping a set in their three matches. "We always want to get out strong," Lemos said. "And once we went up, 3-0, in the first set we felt like we were pretty much in control." Unseeded Sabourin and Johnson were underdogs against the second-seeded tandem of Lemos and Normington. They lost the first set in each of their previous two tournament matches before recovering, but Lemos and Normington wouldn't allow a comeback this time. "It was all about playing smart after the first set," Lemos said. "Playing steady, not going for big shots, and staying on top of them." Every other Eastern Mass. sectional was postponed yesterday. The boys' South singles and doubles quarterfinals and semifinals will be held at Barnstable High School Saturday. The girls' North matches will take place Friday at Newton South, with the finals the following morning. The girls' South quarterfinals are Saturday at Old Rochester. i

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