Attleboro’s Beland Making Most of Final Salve Season

Kerri Beland
Attleboro High grad Kerri Beland battled back from a knee injury in high school and has gone on to play four years of college basketball at Salve Regina, including two years as the team captain. (Rob McGuinness/Salve Athletics)

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In the summer before her senior year at Attleboro High, Kerri Beland suffered a torn ACL while playing with her AAU team. It was the type of injury that could have ended her final season at Attleboro and even cost her a chance to play basketball at the next level, but Beland fought her way back. She missed soccer that fall but managed to get back on the court for the final few games of basketball season.

Despite the injury, Beland remained focused on her goal of playing collegiate basketball. With the help of former Attleboro and current Adelphi University coach Missy Traversi, Beland reached out to local schools to find the right fit.

Salve Regina coach Cori Hughes took a chance that Beland could make it back to full fitness and contribute. It was a decision that paid off, as Beland jumped right into the rotation as a freshman and is in the midst of her second year as captain for the Seahawks.

“She told me, ‘It’s going to be hard, but it will be fine. You just have to keep working,’ and I did,” Beland said of her conversations with Hughes during the recruitment process. “She’s been a huge supporter of me and she always gave me a lot of opportunities, which was nice.”

It has been a long road for the senior guard, but Beland appreciates the new perspective that she gained from being sidelined. Beland explained, “It sucks getting hurt but it’s an eye-opening experience. You see the game from a whole different perspective sitting on the bench. I feel like I learned a lot from sitting on the sidelines, as much as it sucked, it was horrible, but I learned a lot.”

The Seahawks had a four-game win streak coming into the week, but dropped games to Roger Williams and Nichols and dropped back to 9-11 overall and 5-6 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). Beland has started all 20 games this season. The 5-foot-8 guard is second on the team with 12.6 points per game, and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game.

“We’re playing together better,” she said about the win streak. “We have a lot of strong players on our team but it took us a while to really mesh. We have so much talent but it was one person or a few people trying to do too much and not spreading the floor out.”

After three straight first round exits in the CCC Tournament, Beland thinks that the Seahawks have the opportunity to make a run this winter. “This is anyone’s year and it’s exciting,” she said.

When asked what it would mean to bring home a title during her senior year, Beland replied, “It would be indescribable. The girls that I play with just love the game and my senior class, which is half of the team, we’ve just been through it all together. Finishing it out with them…words wouldn’t even be able to explain how happy I would be.”

Heading into her senior year of high school there was also a lot of excitement for Beland and the Bombardiers. After a playoff appearance the season before, Attleboro looked poised to make even more noise in the Kelley-Rex division. But then Beland went down with an injury and not long after Traversi left to take the job at Adelphi. “It just felt like my whole senior year was crashing down honestly,” Beland reflected. Traversi stayed close with Beland and used her contacts in the coaching world to keep Beland on the radar of area colleges.

Beland made it back onto the court with a few games remaining in the regular season, but it was difficult to adjust to playing after the injury. “It was definitely frustrating,” Beland said. “I’ve never been a quick player and so that was really frustrating to be even slower than I was before and to have to drag around the extra weight on my leg.”

“it was just amazing to play again because basketball has always been a huge part of my life. It was crazy to go that long period without being able to play.”

She admitted that it took a long time to get back to playing like she did prior to the injury. It wasn’t until her sophomore year at Salve that the brace came off and she was able to play with the freedom of not worrying about her knee. That season Beland, who is also a member of the Salve lacrosse team and two-year captain in the spring, was named third team All-CCC and named the 2016-17 Salve Sophomore Athlete of the Year.

“When I had the brace, I could go a little harder because I knew it was there but when you lose the brace you have to kind of start all over about being nervous of hurting yourself again,” she said.

Spending so much time on the sidelines was a reminder of how much she loved the game of basketball and gave her a unique perspective on the work that it takes to play at this level.

“DIII is draining,” Beland said. “You’re not getting money for it and you’re putting in as much time as any other division. You have to love it and, honestly, the injury reminds me every day that there was a time when I didn’t get to play and I never want to have to feel that way ever again. It’s nice to know that I don’t have any regrets.”

With the end of her basketball career in sight (and even with a lacrosse season still to come), Beland and her classmates are trying to slow down and enjoy these final weeks together.

“We’re kind of at that stage right know where we’re at the edge of the cliff and we want to walk back because we’re so nervous,” she said with a chuckle. “It feels like it’s coming to an end so quickly and we just want to slow the time down.”

Salve has five games left before the conference tournament kicks off and will get the final stretch started with the visit of Endicott.

Canton’s Proctor Setting Salve Volleyball Up for Success

Erin Proctor
Former Canton standout Erin Proctor has been one of the top setters in the history of the Salve Regina volleyball program and has the Seahawks rolling into the CCC tournament. (Salve Regina Athletics)

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Following a standout career at Canton, which included four league titles, more than 1,000 career assists, and being named 2014 Hockomock MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, Erin Proctor was not sure that she would try to continue playing at the collegiate level.

It wasn’t until May or June of her senior year that Proctor started looking for college programs that would be a good fit, she explained in a phone call this week. She was already interested in Slave Regina University (Newport, R.I.) for its nursing program, so Proctor took a closer look at the volleyball team as well.

“I chose it primarily for nursing,” she said, “but I was looking at their volleyball program and did an overnight with one of the girls that year and the team was really close and I wanted to be part of that family like we did in high school.”

The Seahawks will be grateful that Proctor changed her mind about playing collegiate volleyball.

With another 37 assists on Saturday morning, in a 3-0 victory over the University of New England, Proctor now has 719 for the season, which is the fifth highest single-season total for a setter in program history (the top four all belong to career leader Taylor Violet), and she is now second all-time in career assists and third in assists per game.

Her assist numbers would likely be even higher if Proctor had been the primary setter all four years. She took on a more defensive role for the Seahawks last fall and had only 110 assists on the season, after recording 425 as a freshman and 339 as a sophomore.

“I did a little bit of setting last year, but towards the end of the season I was playing back row,” Proctor explained. While it was a change of position, it was one that Proctor was comfortable with going back to before she took over the setter position at Canton. “Sophomore year of high school I switched to setter,” she said, “but before that, throughout middle school and everything, I was a libero. It was fun to go back to that for a little while.”

It was also fun to get back to being the primary passer for the Seahawks attack, which has flourished with Proctor spreading the ball around. She admitted, “I’ve kind of liked going back to setting, to what I knew and everything. I definitely like being more involved in all the plays.”

With Proctor back in her usual spot in the thick of the offense, Salve has built a 20-8 regular season record and sits in third place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) heading into the league’s postseason tournament. The Seahawks had a blip in the middle of the season where they lost four of five games, but are rolling into the playoffs, having won nine straight and 10-of-11 matches.

Salve coach Lauren Parsons said of Proctor, “Stepping in as the senior starting setter can come with some pressure but she never adds pressure to any situation. She loves to compete and when she is challenged her level and ability gets better and higher. She’s quick, scrappy on defense and gets a good amount of touches on the block to slow the ball down. She plays the game all the way around and that is exactly what you want out of your setter.”

Included in that win streak was the program’s first-ever, three-game sweep of Roger Williams University. In fact it was only Salve’s third win in 27 matches against Roger Williams and first win in Proctor’s four years in college. “I’m not sure when the last time we beat them was,” she said. “It was awesome.”

“We found some way to turn things around,” Proctor said about the team’s late-season run, although she admitted it was hard to pinpoint exactly what changed. “I think it just has to do with our mentality and our confidence. We lost one of our star players (middle hitter Annie Donahue missed most of the 2017 season and has been out the past five matches) so just having other girls transition into that role kind of brought us together.”

When asked what attributes make for a strong setter, Proctor replied, “I think it’s just mentality. Keeping calm and keeping everyone else calm when things get hectic and I think I do a pretty good job doing that.” She is asked what has been her biggest improvement from her time at Canton and she responded, “I think confidence-wise, I’m a lot more confident in my abilities after four more years of playing.”

Proctor is no stranger to success on the volleyball court. She picked up the game in middle school, playing for the Canton Cobra clinics, and she fell in love with the sport. Canton won the league title all four years that Proctor was there and was a perennial contender for a Div. 2 state title.

After a year without a championship, Canton earned its 10th league title in 11 seasons just last week. Proctor was asked what makes the Bulldogs such a consistently strong program and she immediately credited head coach Pat Cawley.

“I think obviously Pat Cawley does a phenomenal job,” said Proctor, who added that her former coach checks in each preseason and tries to bring the Bulldogs to a Salve match each season.

“She’s all about the mental game. She’s just always encouraging us to not get down on ourselves and she’s just very encouraging.” Asked whether that is one of the reasons that so many former Bulldogs have found spots on college teams, she answered, “Yeah. Absolutely.”

Cawley helped Proctor find the Salve program and helped with her transition to the college game. “She’s just phenomenal and someone I’ve always looked up to as a coach,” Proctor added.

Proctor and the Seahawks have found their groove this season and they are hoping to carry that momentum into the CCC tournament with their sights set on bringing home a championship. The last three years have ended in the CCC semifinals at the hands of league power Endicott, but there is confidence around the program that this year could be different, despite a 3-0 loss to the Gulls in the regular season.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” said Proctor about the loss to Endicott in September. “We’ve could’ve played a lot better and given the opportunity I think we can show them that.”

She added, “I think we have a really good shot in the postseason… I think our team chemistry is there and that’s, honestly, sometimes more important than skill on the court.”

As a senior, with her college career entering its final stages, all that is on Proctor’s mind is bringing home a trophy. She reflected, “Looking from when I was in sixth grade playing for Cobra club to now…it went by really fast, too fast.

“Definitely, I want to leave with a championship. That’s really all that’s on my mind right now. It would be awesome and I hope we can do it.”

Salve Regina will open the CCC tournament with a quarterfinal match on Tuesday.

McDermott Taking His Chance as Senior at Salve

Danny McDermott
Franklin High alum Danny McDermott (17) was a back-up for three years, but this fall, as a senior, he earned the starting spot and has led the Seahawks to a 5-2 start. (Zan Carver/Salve Regina Athletics)

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On Saturday afternoon, the Salve Regina University (Newport, R.I.) football team lost its second game of the season, 35-26 to Commonwealth Coast Conference rival Western New England. Even with that defeat, the Seahawks are an impressive 5-2 this fall and just a game back of the league leaders.

One reason for Salve’s success on the gridiron this season has been the play of senior quarterback Danny McDermott. The Franklin High alum has waited three years for his chance at the starting job and he is making good use of the opportunity, completing more than 54 percent of his passes, throwing for more than 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns in the first seven games of the season.

Last week, against rival Endicott, McDermott set a career-high with 321 passing yards and also tossed three touchdowns in a big win. In an interview in the days following the Endicott win, McDermott passed most of the credit onto the play of his teammates.

“I got put into a spot that makes it look like I’m doing very well, but they make it a lot easier for me to perform,” he said. “I think the whole team is really playing well.”

After three years of waiting for his name to be called, McDermott (who saw limited action at quarterback over the past two seasons) has a deeper appreciation for what it means to be able to run out on the field with his teammates every weekend. It isn’t just about wins and losses but about the experience of putting on the uniform and being part of the team.

“It’s one of those things that I walk onto the field, whether it’s a game or it’s a practice, and I say thank you,” McDermott explained. “For me, as someone who went three years without starting, I get to go start on Saturday and it’s an amazing thing that I definitely don’t take for granted.”

Before arriving on the Newport campus, McDermott already knew what it was like to be the backup. He was second in the depth chart behind Nick Zucco at Franklin and he was regularly shuffled each season to the defensive side of the ball.

That continued when he got to Salve as a freshman. Record-setting quarterback Steven Wilken was the starter during McDermott’s first collegiate season and Brandan Basil, who is now on the Salve coaching staff, was the starter for each of the past two seasons. McDermott did get some experience in big wins and got to start last year against Maine Maritime, but most of his time was on the sidelines.

Every player wants to get on the field and play. To put in all the work during the week and not play on Saturday is a hard experience for players at any level, but McDermott credited Salve head coach Kevin Gilmartin for being upfront with him about his role on the team and the friendship he developed with Basil for always making him feel like he was contributing.

“I could come to him with any question, about football, not about football,” McDermott said of Gilmartin. “Having that relationship made it so that being on the sidelines on Saturday was much more bearable because he could come to me and ask, ‘What did you see on this play,’ or I could go to him and say, ‘Why don’t we try this?’”

He added, “Sometimes backup quarterbacks could feel like they’re not really valued on the team because they’re not playing on Saturday’s but, between [Brandan] and Coach Gil, they made it that as a backup I was valued much more than maybe other backups feel.”

McDermott made the switch to wide receiver last fall in the hopes of getting more playing time, but the experiment only lasted a few weeks of the season before he decided to go back to being a QB. He said, “I really liked it but my body wasn’t really having it. I was having back problems and…I’m not really able to help the team if I can’t run a seam route.” That change of position did make him closer to the young receiving corps on the team, including then-freshman Brendan Nunes (Attleboro) who has caught seven touchdowns this year.

“With the older guys, we’ve gone through four years of playing together, so that kind of comes naturally,” said McDermott. “I built that rapport with the freshmen last year and then over the summer I was able to throw with a couple guys just to build that relationship even more. This year, there’s been tremendous growth with me and those guys from camp to now.”

Coming into camp as the presumptive starter was a completely new experience for McDermott. Even if the starting job was not guaranteed, there was a different feel to his role on the team and how he was viewed by his teammates.

“It’s a cool feeling. Guys are looking up to you and you’re expected to step up and play that position,” he reflected. “It makes it so much more fun when you have that opportunity put in front of you and you want to work towards it with everything you’ve got.”

As a lacrosse player as well, McDermott could not fully participate in spring workouts, so he was concerned that he might not get the nod, but at the end of camp Gilmartin said that he won the competition and earned the starting spot. He admitted that being a starter was a great feeling, but also acknowledged that he never wanted his role to impact how he felt about being part of the team.

McDermott said, “I love football, so I enjoy coming to practice every day even if I’m not going to start on Saturday (or Friday). It’s more about, I love my boys, so if I can ball out at practice and make them better then how we do on Saturday reflects on me too.”

The Endicott came was the culmination of three years of waiting, watching, and learning. The Gulls decided to put the game in McDermott’s hands and the senior responded.

He explained, “They would bring six or seven every time and out-number our line, so one kid would get free shot at me but if I could get it off then it would be a big play and luckily I was able to get it off most of the time so it turned out well for me.”

During the second quarter, McDermott had his helmet knocked off and was forced to the bench for a play. Former Attleboro quarterback Tyler McGovern came in and connected with former Bombardiers teammate Nunes on a 28-yard completion, much to the delight of the Seahawks.

“It was awesome,” said McDermott. “Coach was just like, ‘We’re going to run this play, throw it to this kid (Brendan Nunes), and he’s going to be open. It was a little Attleboro connection and it was awesome. The crowd was hyped, the whole team was hyped, we were so excited for the kid.”

As a three-year back-up who collaborated with the starter, McDermott can appreciate the importance of being a leader to the guys lower on the depth chart, including McGovern. Rather than approaching the relationship like the backups are trying to take his job, McDermott wants to include them and let them learn from his experience.

“The last couple years, me and Brandan Basil had a very good friendship,” McDermott said. “I tried to bring that into this year. There’s a few backup quarterbacks who could be some dudes and there’s no reason for me not to share my knowledge with them because I’ve been here for four years and I know the playbook very well.”

McDermott has a lot to share. He is balancing a demanding nursing program with collegiate athletics; he is balancing lacrosse and football at Salve; and he spent three years balancing his desire to play with his desire to be a good teammate. In addition, he can pass along his experience of just what it means to be able to pull on the pads every day, whether it means a starting role on Saturday or not.

“In high school,” he explained, “I got to say, maybe I’ll play in college, but it’s senior year of college football and I don’t see myself playing any more after this. So, my days are numbered as a college quarterback.

“You don’t want to take any second for granted.”

Former Warrior Leading Salve Field Hockey

Abby Tepper
Foxboro alum Abby Tepper (12) lead Salve Reina with 13 goals on the season, as the Seahawks eye a conference title. (Courtesy of Salve Regina Athletics)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

On Sept. 26, the Salve Regina field hockey team snapped a six-game losing streak against Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champion University of New England with a 1-0 victory at Gaudet Field.

The lone goal of the game was scored early in the second half by senior Abby Tepper and at the final whistle the Foxboro alum and her teammates stormed towards goalie Jessie Severino to celebrate a confidence-boosting win for the Seahawks.

“That was crazy for us,” said Tepper on Saturday. “We were so excited that we tackled our goalie at the end.”

She explained, “That was a big win for us because we haven’t beat them since our freshman year and we’ve been intimidated by them. We came out and didn’t care who we were playing and gave it our all.”

Salve is currently 7-2 and Tepper has played a major role in that early season success with 13 goals and three assists through nine games. She is well on her way to matching and beating her career high of 19 goals from last season.

With eight seniors on the roster, Tepper, who is a captain, came into the season with high expectations for the team and for herself and she believes the win over UNE was proof that this is a team that can compete for the CCC title.

“This year we think we can win the championship,” she said. “Since freshman year we’ve been saying senior year is going to be crazy and we want to leave a legacy.”

“Beating the conference champions at our turf…that is what made us feel like we can actually do this; we can actually win our conference.”

Tepper did not start playing field hockey as a child. She did not come through youth leagues or even start right away when she got to Foxboro High. In fact, she was a cheerleader during the fall of her freshman year. It was not until the spring and she became close with her lacrosse teammates (a sport she played since third grade) that she was convinced to give field hockey a shot.

“I got really close with those girls and they were like you have to play field hockey,” Tepper said. “I tried out my sophomore year and made varsity so I was like I’m sticking with this.”

Abby Tepper

She fell in love with the sport and the competitiveness, even though when she was at Foxboro the Warriors were forced to play on grass, which made it a very different game than the one she plays for Salve. Some of the skills that she used to be a successful attacker and midfielder in lacrosse also made her a standout in field hockey, most notably her speed.

Tepper also had the benefit of playing for a coach that understood her desire to win and continued to push her to get better. Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri was a former college field hockey player and her intensity and her training helped Tepper’s potential emerge.

“We’re both very competitive, winning is very important to us,” said Tepper about her high school coach. “Everyone would joke that we’re the same person. When I was a captain for her, we wanted every win we could get.”

By her junior year, Tepper started to see both field hockey and lacrosse as sports that she could play at the next level and the chance to play both was an important factor in her deciding to attend Salve.

“That’s why I did in Div. III because I knew that in Div. II or higher that I wouldn’t be able to play both sports,” she explained. It also helped that she was being recruited by the same coach – Jennifer Foster was also the women’s lacrosse coach at Salve when Tepper was a freshman. Tepper said, “You want to play for a coach that wants you and she came to three or four of my events in high school and club.”

As a senior, Tepper is the captain of both the field hockey team this fall and the lacrosse team in the spring, but four years ago she came to the school not knowing whether she was even going to make the team. She followed the preseason guides handed out by the coaches and did the work outs they recommended and gave it a shot at tryouts.

“My freshman year I wasn’t confident,” she recalled. “I said that I’m going to do everything I can so that if I got cut I could say that I did all I could.”

Seven years after picking up a field hockey stick for the first time, she is the leading scorer for the Seahawks. “My teammates laugh about it,” Tepper admitted. “I was a cheerleader…and I really don’t fit that anymore.”

She scored the game-winner against UNE and had a goal and an assist against Lasell to be named the CCC Offensive Player of the Week. Tepper followed that with two goals in an 11-0 rout of Nichols. It’s a strong scoring run, but she insists it is not something that she thinks about much on the field.

“I try not to overthink it because if I start to think about scoring than I’m probably not going to,” she said. “I try to focus on getting on the goalie’s pads and doing everything I can to get the ball in the net.”

With a tough game against Roger Williams coming up on Saturday night, Tepper was trying to not think too far ahead, but she knows that Salve has the chance for success this fall. As the captain, she accepts the pressure of making sure the team is ready each and every game.

Tepper said, “I just think it’s important to keep my team’s head in it. In past years I know we’ve thought, ‘Oh God, it’s Endicott’ or ‘Oh God, it’s University of New England’ but we need to go into every game thinking that were going to win.”

With Abby Tepper leading the line and a group of experienced seniors on the field, there are a few opponents this fall that will be thinking, “Oh God, it’s Salve.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.