Newburyport gains D3 volleyball Final Four

Captains Emma Foley, Viive Godtfredsen, Sophie Messina
Sophie Messina had five blocks

(Newburyport) The (20-3) Clippers have reached the MIAA Division 3 volleyball Final Four.

Newburyport accomplished this by overwhelming Ashland 3-0 on Friday afternoon.

The Clippers have now won six straight matches including three in the tournament.

The #6 Clockers (13-10) struggled in the first two sets before coming to life in the final set to lead for part of it. 

However, in that last set, the #3 Clippers fought back to tie the score at 10-10 and sailed home from there.

The set totals were 25-16, 25-13, and 25-12.

Newburyport has gotten better as the tournament has progressed.  Maybe they were “scared straight” after nearly losing to #30 Bishop Fenwick in their tourney opener.

“I think that this is the best I’ve seen us play this season,” said junior Zoey Calitri after today’s win.

“Our defense was strong,” she added.  “When it’s strong, we can run a quick offense.  Then we get to run our middles and that’s an automatic kill.”

Receiving serves successfully was important.

Sophie Messina returns serve

“The key to this win was serve-receive,” said Coach Lori Solazzo.  “We knew that they were good servers.”

The Clippers had seen Ashland’s win over Greater New Bedford.

“We watched it,” said senior Viive Godtfredsen, “looking for places we could score.  We were prepared for everything.”

“We practiced a lot, so we were ready to play today,” added senior Bea Cortecci.

Senior Sophie Messina paced the Clippers with eleven kills and five blocks that converted into points.

“Sophie has been a force in the middle,” said Coach Solazzo.  “People haven’t been able to stop her.”

Sophie was on the scoring end of some terrific setups by Emma Foley.

“Our service-receive was great,” said Sophie.  “We’ve been working on that.”

Junior Lily LeDuc finished with ten kills.  “Lily had a heck of a game,” said Coach Solazzo.

Bea Corecci had five aces

The Clippers serving was outstanding as their sixteen aces reflects.

“We started the first set strong with a serving run by Viive (Godtfredsen),” explained Lily.  “We limited our errors.”

Four of the top five seeds are in the D3 Final Four.  Newburyport will face #2 Tewksbury at a neutral site this week.

Viive knows a little bit about (19-4) Tewksbury. “I play club with a few girls who are on the Tewksbury team.”

Can the Clippers advance?

“I knew at the start that our team was talented,” said Coach Solazzo.  “I wasn’t anticipating that we were going to go this far but we’ve shown that we belong here.”

The Newburyport captains (Emma Foley, Viive Godtfredsen, Sophie Messina) received the Final Four trophy from an MIAA representative after the Ashland win.

“We’ve got a trophy now,” said Sophie afterwards.  “It’s the first time.”

Viive was pleased with the Final Four trophy but added, “we want the next trophy.”  That would be the one given next weekend to the Division Three champion.

Coach Solazzo: “We have been focused on our next opponent.  We keep saying, ‘One point, one set, one match at a time, together.”

Lily LeDuc had ten kills

Emma Foley about to set up Bea Cortecci in the middle

Clippers celebrate a berth in the D3 Final Four

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Nashua South defeats Hanover 2-0 to repeat as NHIAA Division I Champs

Goal scorer Revin Olsen and goalie Ansh Khanna jump above the well-wishers at game’s end
Carter Guerin double-teamed

(Exeter) “We’re starting a new tradition at South,” said Nashua South coach Tom Bellen.

“We’ve been decent in the past,” he added, “now we’re one of the powerhouses.”

Coach Bellen’s Panthers solidified their status with a 2-0 win over Hanover to gain the NHIAA Division I state title for the second straight season.

Revin Olsen’s first-half goal off a header turned into the game winner.

“I saw the ball crossed in,” explained Revin’s teammate Leonel Lopez afterwards.  “I saw Revin there above everyone else.  He was right where he needed to be.  When he scored it, I was so happy.”

Leonel not only saw that goal but later in the second half the sophomore defender kept the Bears (16-5) from scoring a tying goal. 

On the crucial play, South goalie Ansh Khanna had the right side of the net covered but to his left was wide open.  The Hanover shot headed for what looked to be an open space.

Goalie Ansh Khanna thanks teammate Leonel Lopez for saving a goal

“I saw the net was open so I jumped into the spot,” explained Leonel.  He was able to head the incoming shot away to preserve the shutout.

“Both teams created great chances,” said Hanover coach Rob Grabill afterwards. 

“I love the fact that it was an attractive game,” he added.  “It was a game that represented the sport very well.  It was high level soccer.”

Temperatures were in the 70’s with a steady breeze. The weather and the soccer were equally impressive.  Whistles were few.

Earlier in the season after Nashua South lost to Nashua North, Coach Bellen made a surprising prediction.  “I told the kids after that loss that we were going to win the state championship.”

“It was just a matter of doing the little things better, “he added.

“At the time, I knew we were a talented team and thought that we could win again,” said senior Jadiel Bomfim, “but it was going to take a lot of work.”

Battle for control

Senior goalie Ansh Khanna agreed, “We came into the season thinking we could do it again.”

The Panthers (17-3) put the game out of reach in the closing minutes with a second goal.

The Panthers were awarded a corner kick.  Bears goalie Ty Nolon recognized that the Panthers, with the one-goal lead, would take their time preparing for the play.  So he carried the ball to the corner and put it down in front of the corner kicker (Santi Somorrostro) and quickly headed to the front of the net.  Santi saw the opportunity and curled a shot into the net before Ty or his teammates were set up to defend.

“That was high soccer IQ by Santi in that second goal,” said Coach Bellen.  “We talk all the time about being smart out there.  We’ve had a couple of free-kick plays during the season similar to the one today.”

The #2 Panthers had defeated the #5 Bears 2-1 at Hanover on September 14th.

Hanover came into today’s game on a 12-game winning streak.  The Bears won the state title in 2013 and 2019.

Ryder Hayes and Rory Olsen

Ansh Khanna: “I did my job.  To beat the same team again was lovely.  We showed them that we’re one of the best.”

Jadiel Bomfim: “Hanover is a good team.  I have a lot of friends there.”

Coach Grabill: “Two very different high school communities and yet how much they have in common and how well they got along with each other.  It was heartwarming.  I really liked to see that.”

Joona Hantula: “I was on the bench for the first goal.  I said to one of my teammates that we’re going to score….and we did.”

Coach Bellen: “Leonel did the same thing in another game this season to save a goal.  I owe him twice!”

Revin Olsen (5) celebrates his goal with teammates

2022 NHIAA Division I boys soccer state champs

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Newburyport barely survives tourney opener against Bishop Fenwick

(Newburyport) “It looked as if our season was going to be over a little earlier than we thought,” was how Newburyport senior Sophie Messina explained their tight tussle with Bishop Fenwick on Friday night.

The #3 seed Clippers (18-3) had their hands full and then some against the #30 seed Crusaders (8-14).

The home team was down 2-1 after three sets but rallied to escape a shocking upset in the MIAA Division 3 Round of 32.

Viive Godtfredsen had fifteen kills for Newburyport

Newburyport had twice defeated BF 3-0 going into this one.

“It was easy to see an easy win based on where we were in the bracket,” explained Fenwick coach Sam Kelly afterwards.  “Our goal was to make it challenging for them.”

Mission accomplished on that!

Lacey Murphy ready to block

“Bishop Fenwick definitely took it to us tonight,” said NHS coach Lori Solazzo afterwards.  “I’m proud of the win but Bishop Fenwick played great.”

The set results were 22-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-16, and 15-8.

The Clippers will return to action on Tuesday.

Calli Symond returns service

The keys to the early success for BF were limiting unforced errors and attacking the Clippers.

“We knew they would be running a tall front row with an aggressive attack,” said Coach Kelly.  “We brought up Kylie Murphy from the JVs to start for us in her first varsity game.  She played fantastic.”

Kylie is tall like her teammate sister Lacey and between them they made it difficult for Newburyport to find open shots at the net.

Both teams struggled to run points together.

“We were going point to point instead of getting some runs,” said Coach Solazzo.

Newburyport’s inability to put point together kept BF in each of the first three sets and after the Crusaders won two of them the pressure was squarely on the Clippers.

“Being down 2-1 was a little nerve wracking,” said Newburyport senior Viive Godtfredsen.  “It was a matter of who was mentally tough at the end.”

Coach Solazzo credited senior Bea Cortecci with swinging things in the Clippers favor in the fourth set.

Bea Cortecci returns serve

“Bea pulled us through in that 4th set with her aces and kills,” Coach Sollazzo said.  “It was the turning point for the team for sure.”

Once the Clippers were back even after four sets the momentum switched completely in the 15-point final set.  Several miscues gave Newburyport a quick 4-0 lead.  Then it was 8-3 and 10-3.  The final was 15-8.

“Passing was a struggle the first couple of sets,” said Sophie Messina afterwards.  “Setter Emma Foley was running all over the place.  In the 4th and 5th sets we were able to get passes closer to the net and score off of that.  A win is a win.  We’ll take it.”

“We’re excited to keep going and get as far as we can,” said Vive Godtfredsen.

Sophie Messina had 17 kills.  Bea Cortecci had 16 kills and 10 aces.  Viive Godtfredsen had 15 kills while Lily LeDuc added 14 kills.

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Fryeburg Academy gets 3-0 shutout vs Greely

Grace Murley congratulates GK Rayna Wales after the win
Coach Burgess LaPage

(Fryeburg) “It’s a mystery to us why we can’t score,” said Greely field hockey coach Burgess LaPage.

The Rangers (0-5-1) were shut out, 3-0, by Fryeburg Academy on Thursday afternoon.

While the visitors have only two goals for the season the Raiders (5-2) have scored thirteen times.

The issue for FA was recovering from an 8-0 loss last game (Tuesday) versus Freeport.

“We had a good comeback today,” said FA senior captain Grace Murley afterwards.  “We had all our defense for this one.”

Grace Murley scores in first period

Grace had a goal for Fryeburg as did teammates Greta Hermanson and Sharis Santos.

“We certainly played better today than we did for sure on Tuesday,” conceded FA coach Dede Frost post-game.

The Raiders had goals in each of the first three periods this afternoon.

I asked Grace Murley about her goal in the first period.  “That goal was on a corner,” she recalled.  “It was off a rebound.  I just tapped it in.”

Sophomore Greta Hermanson was given an assist on Grace’s goal.

Greta had her own score in the second period.

Greta Hermanson had the second FA goal

“It was a cross from Eliza Thorne,” explained Coach Frost.

Eliza came very close to scoring later in that second period, but Greely GK Kate Parkinson made a big stop.

Greely goalie Kate Parkinson

“Kate has been playing incredibly,” said Coach LaPage.

Senior Eliza Thorne was no stranger to Greely.  Eliza had three goals during FA’s 3-0 win at Greely earlier in the season.

“We had to adjust for her,” said Coach LaPage. “She moves around a lot.”

Several times Eliza showed speed and dribbling skills to carry the ball for long distances.  The Portland Press Herald has Eliza on their list of “Twenty-five Players to Watch.”

Coach Frost described the Raiders final goal as, “super cool.” 

“We had a junior (Grace Porcaro) who is new to our team set up a freshman (Sharis Santos) for a goal,” added Coach Frost. 

Sharis Santos finds the ball behind the Greely goalie

The Rangers had chances, but the FA defense led by Haley Littlefield and GK Rayna Wales kept Greely scoreless.

“We showed up a little flat in the first half,” said Coach LaPage, “but in the second half we were much better.  We were stronger and mentally tough.”

“I love playing Fryeburg,” she said. “They’re very intense.”

Coach Frost talking about Eliza Thorne: “She had a hat trick at Greely. They marked her man-to-man in the second half which is exactly what I would have done.  Eliza is tough and tenacious.”

Eliza Thorne had a hat trick last time against Greely

Grace Murley: “I am hoping to play field hockey in college somewhere in Massachusetts.  I really like Bentley and Babson.  I am visiting Bentley next weekend.  My captain here when I was a freshman went there and we play the same position.”

Today’s weather was bizarre.  It had rained steadily all day and the chance to play this 4PM game seemed small.  But Greely was short on makeup-game options, so they headed over from Cumberland.  Suddenly at 3:30PM the rain stopped, and the sun showed up.  It was as nice as could be for the entire game! 

Grace Porcaro (#7) had an assist on the third FA goal

Pressure on GK Kate Parkinson by Grace Porcaro and Eliza Thorne

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Bad inning dooms Portland in 9-4 loss to Somerset in the EL Playoffs first round

Shane Drohan’s bad toss to first was part of Somerset’s 8-run inning

(Portland) It was a fall-apart inning of immense proportions.

The Portland Sea Dogs suffered through the disastrous frame, and it cost them as the Somerset Patriots took Game 1 of the Eastern League Playoffs, 9-4, on Tuesday night at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs giddy-stepped into the top of the fourth inning with an impressive 3-0 lead. 

Consecutive homers by Niko Kavalas (two-run) and Hudson Potts (solo) in the bottom of the second inning had the Hadlock faithful feeling good about the team’s chances.

Nike Kavalas had a two-run homer in the second inning.
Hudson Potts removed the UMass football helmet after his homer celebration

But then came the top of the fourth inning.

One reporter said that it lasted thirty-five minutes! 

We saw three Portland pitchers.  We also saw four walks and eleven straight Somerset batters reach base. An error and an unturned double play were also on display.

It was indeed a regrettable/forgetable inning.

Randy Vasquez

Somerset starter Randy Vasquez was about to make an early exit after Portland’s three-run second inning but found new life after his teammates raised the eight-spot on the scoreboard in the fourth inning.  Randy retired eleven Sea Dogs in a row to keep the home team from getting any comeback ideas. 

When the Sea Dogs did get a runner in scoring position, a call to the Somerset bullpen brought in the relief required.

Certainly, a different atmosphere at Hadlock tonight.  The usual crowd comes to be entertained.  Tonight’s crowd was there to actively support the Sea Dogs, a team that hadn’t been in the EL Playoffs since 2014.

Devern Hansack from the 2006 Sea Dogs EL Championship team threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The two-out-of-three series moves to Somerset on Thursday and possibly Friday night. 

I like the Sea Dogs’ chances. That bad inning is over with.  The team has won 17 of their last 21 games.  Last week they won 4 of 6 games at Somerset.

If Portland can get by the Patriots, there will be one and possibly two EL Championship games played at Hadlock starting next Tuesday.

Jasson Dominguez

No question the Somerset roster is loaded with New York Yankees’ prospects.  Six of their top nine prospects are on the team.

Nineteen-year-old Jasson Dominguez tops the group as their second-best prospect.  #1 prospect Anthony Volpe was with Somerset for part of the season but has moved up to AAA.

Ceddone Rafaela is Boston’s #3 prospect and he is the only one of their top-ten prospects to be at Portland.  I see the exciting fielder/hitter starting at AAA Worcester next season.

Very disappointed with Slugger tonight.  It had been ten days since he had raced at Hadlock.  I assumed he would have trained during those days off.  Severely doubt he did that after watch tonight’s race.  He started the race almost on third base and looked good until he crossed first.  His eyes told him that he could win (and he had a good lead) but his body said otherwise, and he went down in a heap as his two opponents ran home winners.

It’s not pretty to watch when you see your hero disintegrating into a season-long loser. 

September brings earlier darkness and despite the 6PM start the artificial lights of Hadlock had to be relied on for any of the game pictures.  Trust me, it’s a challenge.

Continued thanks to Chris Cameron for enabling me to be on hand for an EL Playoff game.  I hope to return next week when the stakes will be even higher.

Shortstop Christian Koss in the middle of a double-play turn

Deverne Hansack throws the ceremonial first pitch

Ceddone Rafaela pregame

Pregame player introductions

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Yarmouth defeats Poland 6-0

Battle in front of the Yarmouth net
Matt Gautreau – 2 goals, 1 assist

(Poland) Yarmouth boys’ soccer if very good.

They have been Class B champs the last two seasons.

They were ranked #2 in New England in a preseason poll this year.

The Clippers had that quality on display today as they defeated Poland, 6-0, on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Yarmouth is now 5-0-1 and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see them making noise later in the season.

The Clippers have won ten state titles in the last eighteen years.

Yarmouth scored three times in each half.

Matt Gautreau paced the Clippers with two goals and an assist. 

“Our goal was to compete against them, and we did,” said Poland coach Josh Kennison afterwards.  “I think we played as well as we could.”

The busiest player on the field was Knights’ goalkeeper Sam Paladino.  Yarmouth had at least ten corner kicks by my unofficial count.

GK Sam Paladino clears away a corner kick
Stevie Walsh (10)

Stevie Walsh scored the first Yarmouth goal at 28:46 out of a scramble near the goal.

Truman Peters and Adam McLaughlin added first-half scores within a minute of each other.  Both players had good looks from further out.  Truman found the right corner while Adam’s shot went just under the crossbar.

“Most of them can take a shot from anywhere,” said Coach Kennison.  “They have multiple ways to attack you.”

“We moved the ball pretty well,” recalled Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty post-game.  “We have a lot of talented upperclassmen.”

Matt Gautreau’s two goals came in the second half.

Liam Hickey

Matt’s first goal was set up by a long-distance pass from Liam Hickey down the right sidelines.  Matt ran under it and was off on a clean look that led to a goal.

“I have been working on those long balls all year,” said Liam Hickey afterwards.  “We practice it a lot.  Matt made a good play.  He’s very fast.”

Matt’s next goal was set up by Zach Kelly. 

Luis Cardoso had a great look from in close after a pass from Truman Peters.

Ian O’Connor recorded the shutout for the Clippers.

Coach Hagerty limited his starters’ playing time and had his team in a possession approach late in the game.

Taylor Langevin

“They showed good sportsmanship and I appreciated that,” said Coach Kennison.

“Their one touch is what makes Yarmouth special,” added Coach Kennison.  “Their first touch is just unbelievable.”

“I just happen to have some players who have played a lot more soccer than Poland does,” said Coach Hagerty.  “Poland (1-4) is making strides.  They’re positive and they work hard.”

“We’ve had a good start to the season,” said Liam Hickey, “but we have a long way to go.  We have to keep working in practice.”

Liam told me that he wasn’t sure if he would be playing soccer next year in college. 

The weather is the weather!  Temps in the low 40’s at 7AM give way to temps in the 70’s at the 11:15AM start time. 

(I made a picture gallery for MaxPreps from this game with fifty-five pictures.)

Luis Cardoso (30) lines up shot

Sam Lowenstein heads a corner kick

GK Sam Paladino tries to stop Sam Lowenstein

Truman Peters (9) – goal and assist

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Lake Region falls to Fryeburg Academy 2-0

Grace Murley and Greta Hermanson celebrate FA’s first goal

(Fryeburg) Fryeburg Academy scored twice in the second quarter and defeated Lake Region, 2-0, on Tuesday afternoon in Western Maine Athletic Conference action.

Coach Dede Frost

“It’s a local rivalry,” said FA coach Dede Frost afterwards.  “I was sure that it would be a good game, and it was.”

Greta Hermanson gave the (4-1) Raiders the lead three minutes into the second quarter.

Greta was well set up by teammate Eliza Thorne.  A pass across the front of the net gave the FA sophomore an open look which she cashed.

“We’re not marking up in the circle,” explained LR coach Pauline Webb post-game.  “Players are getting wide open shots.”

Getting down a goal was a problem for the (1-3) Lakers because goal-scoring has been difficult so far for the team from Naples.

“We had some good shots today,” added Coach Webb.

Unfortunately, the Lakers fell further behind before halftime.

Gabby Udoto

Junior Gabby Udoto took a centering pass from freshman Jocelyn Ray and drove it home from the left with only thirty-seven seconds left.

Being one goal down was a problem.  Two down was a very difficult place for the Lakers to be and they never recovered.

FA’s Eliza Thorne came close several times in the second half. One shot came after a long run down the left sidelines.

Despite the loss, Coach Webb was pleased with her team’s effort.  “We’re missing two starters (Kasey Johnson and Emma Aker) and have had freshmen filling in.  They’re getting experience.  We’ve had to change our formation to make up for the missing players.”

The FA defense did a good job of keeping the pressure off goalkeeper Rayna Wales. 

The action was seldom deep in either end.

I was very impressed with Raiders’ seniors Grace Murley and Eliza Thorne. 

“Those two are our captains,” said Coach Frost.  “They are both quick and determined.  They are little spitfires!”

Eliza was first-team all-conference in the WMC last year.

Eliza Thorne pressures LR goalie Reiyn Hart

The Raiders have now scored ten goals in five games.  Their only loss was 2-1 to York.

The game was a bit of surprise to me because the weather forecast said rain throughout the day.  Looked like a postponement in the making but the rain never came.  They did start the game early (3:45) which I like because it gave me more daylight to shoot pictures in.

Being at Fryeburg Academy recently, it is hard not to notice the beautiful turf football field that is going in.  They also have a new scoreboard.  It should soon be ready for use.

Alegra Bartlett

Ashley Pelletier

Coach Pauline Webb

Greta Hermanson

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David Hamilton stars as Portland edges Binghamton 4-3

Field of Dreams reenactment
David Hamilton had three hits, three RBI, and a record-setting steal

(Portland) The Field of Dreams reenactment at Hadlock Field is always a good take.

Today was the day for it.

The sun was shining, and the seats were filled.

In recent years the sight of Portland Sea Dogs players in uniforms from the 1920’s signals a season coming to a close.

But not this year.

The Sea Dogs are leading the Northeast Division in the second half and have a chance to make the Eastern League Playoffs.  That feat hasn’t happened since 2014!

Portland has another game with Binghamton and then a full week at Somerset (Yankees farm team) to close the regular season.

If the Sea Dogs are still standing after that series, they will start the Playoffs at home on September 20th.

The Binghamton Rumble Ponies fell to the Sea Dogs 4-3 this afternoon.

That’s forty wins for Portland in the second half with only twenty-two losses.  Overall, Portland is 70-61.

Kyle Hart earned the win for Portland

Sea Dogs’ starter Kyle Hart allowed a hit to the first batter (Wyatt Young) and a two-run homer to the second batter (Carlos Cortes).

Long afternoon ahead?  Not today. Kyle shut down the RP’s for the next six innings to get the win.

David Hamilton stole his team record-breaking 65th base and hit a three-run homer to give Portland the lead for good.

David also scored the first run.  He was on third base when Ceddane Rafaela hit an infield grounder.  The fielder looked David back but as soon as he threw to first David headed home diving in ahead of the throw.

David Hamilton dives for home as catcher Hayden Senger waits for the throw

On David’s 65th steal there wasn’t even a throw.

Shortstop Ronny Mauricio

The New York Mets only top-thirty prospect at Binghamton is shortstop Ronny Mauricio.  The 21-year-old has twenty-five homers and eighty-two runs batted in.  Certainly a next-level player in 2023.

The last-place Rumble Ponies have definitely been helpful to the Sea Dogs.  The current record between them is 15-2 in Portland’s favor!

Christian Koss will win the team MVP Award tomorrow (Sunday).  He leads Portland in almost every offensive category.  Good chance Christian will be at the next level in 2023.

Ceddane Rafaela

Another rising player in the Red Sox farm system is Portland’s Ceddane Rafaela.  He instantly catches your eye with his defense in centerfield.  He can hit and has speed.  Hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be at Worcester next year.

The pregame show was excellent…as usual.  Emma Tiedemann was in costume and was the narrator.

One difference I noticed this year was that the players did not have cellphones with them.  Last year many of them were busy taking pictures while pretending it was the Field of Dreams era.  Not this year.

Many hands were involved in getting the cornfield setup in centerfield and afterwards removing the cornfield. Well organized.

Very warm day.  May have reached the mid-80’s.  Sunburns were there for the taking!

Slugger was victimized by the weather.  Management had the talented big guy out there doing an energetic dance routine the inning before the race.

But credit Slugger, in his race around the bases he got off to the best start I’ve ever seen.  The young opponent was fast, but Slugger toasted him around second.  For a second I thought that finally the losing streak would end.

Slugger with a huge lead around second base

But as Slugger passed first base, he just flat-out ran dry.  He couldn’t move another step. He went down in a heap and his opponent got the win.

Slugger runs out of gas and loses again

I have to partially blame management for the loss because dancing and doing somersaults just before you’re running the bases (on a hot day) is asking a lot.  Fortunately, the big guy wasn’t seriously injured. 

Thanks again to Chris Cameron for setting up my visit.  I plan to return on September 20th if the Sea Dogs are in the Playoffs.

Slugger somersault

Christian Koss in pain after getting hit by a pitch

Pony race

Carlos Cortes crosses home after two-run homer in the first inning

Wyatt Young steals second as Christian Koss takes throw

Tyler Dearden pauses before the game

Portland players go into the crowd as part of the pre-game festivities

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Scarborough defeats defending Class A champion Windham 1-0

Emma Blanchette and Ali Mokriski celebrate a goal

(Windham) A beautiful moon was rising in the background as Scarborough edged Windham, 1-0, on Thursday night at Windham.

The Portland Press Herald had both teams (Windham/Scarborough) worthy of watching as well as four players (Abbey Thornton, Stella Gervais, Lana Djuranovic, Ali Mokriski) equally deserving of a special look.

Those stars were definitely special tonight and each one impressed me.

Both teams had players who could possess the ball and both teams were quick to go on the attack.

Jaelyn Poitras defends Lana Djuranovic

It was exciting to watch.

Senior Ali Mokriski (Bryant commit) produced the game winner with 10:55 left in the game.

Ali set up the scoring opportunity by pressuring the Lady Eagles defense and causing a violation to be committed.

Ali’s score came off a direct kick from about twenty yards on the right side.

“It was set up just right for her,” said Scarborough coach Mike Farley afterwards.  “She is left-footed and just wrapped it around the side of the wall.”

Ali said, “it was set up perfectly so that I could get the ball around the wall and go to the other side of the goalie.”

Ali Mokriski’s shot gets just inside the post

It was certainly not an easy shot.

“I had a feeling she was going to wrap it around,” recalled Windham coach Deb LeBel post-game.  “It was perfectly placed.  It was a great shot.”

And that was all the scoring there was….although both teams had chances long range and in close.

Sophomore Sophie Rinaldi had the shutout for the (3-0) Red Storm. 

The Scarborough GK sounded like a future coach afterwards when asked about getting the win and the shutout.  “It was very exciting, but we really need to focus on the rest of the season.  It’s early.”

Sophie spent the second half in front of the active Eagles student section with a slippery grass field in front of her.

“It was pretty hectic at times,” she said.

Sophie got high praise from Coach Farley.  “Sophie had the game of her life.  She made a ton of good saves.”

Goalie Sophie Rinaldi mobbed by teammates at the end of the game

“I’ve been asking our goalies to make those one or two saves that keep us in it,” he added.  “She probably made four in this one and made it look easy.”

The most dangerous attacker for the Lady Eagles is Abbey Thornton.  Abbey had 32 goals last year in Windham’s undefeated (19-0) Class A championship season.  She had a goal in the title win versus Brunswick.

Abbey Thornton on the move

Abbey can create her own space and she moved into some with eighteen minutes left in the game.  Abbey launched a laser that clanked off the crossbar.

“We dodged a bullet when Abbey got that open shot,” said Coach Farley.

If you’re thinking that a little lower would have been a goal, not so fast.  “I literally had my hands right under the crossbar,” explained GK Sophie Rinaldi. “So, it was either the crossbar or my hands.”

Abbey was in the middle of some more excitement in the final two minutes in front of the Scarborough net.  The ball got into the box with lots of players there.  The ground was mushy and players from both sides were struggling to get a foot on the ball.  Down went Abbey as she tried to get control.  Foul?  Not according to the official.  That lack of a call didn’t set well with Windham afterwards.  My picture of the action, however, would suggest that Abbey fell over the ball and would justify the lack of a whistle.

Abbey Thornton falls in the box

Coach LeBel had Scarborough as “the team to beat in the league” even before this game was played. 

“It was tough to play a game like this for our second game,” she added.  “To have a close game with them this early makes me happy with the way we played.  We had our chances.  Our goalie (Reilly Russell) was very good tonight. The ball just didn’t fall.  We’re fine.  We have a young team.  We’ll clean up some things and we’ll be fine.”

Ali Mokriski and Lana Djuranovic totaled thirty-nine goals for Scarborough last year. 

Windham’s Stella Jarvais was on the SMAA’s all-conference first team last year as a freshman.  She was an excellent defender vs Scarborough.  She went down with a leg cramp in the second half but returned.  I’m sure the cramp was painful but someway the players from both sides were smiling as she was being attended to.

A less than serious moment

Scarborough was the Class A champion from 2017-2019.

It was a beautiful night for soccer.  The 6PM start provided a first half of daylight.  Did I mention that the moon was spectacular?

It is not a reach to imagine Scarborough and Windham meeting in the regional Class A finals.

The moon over the field was eye-catching

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Will Dunphy wins second Outlaws feature

Will Dunphy (4) avoids trouble in Lap 12
Will Dunphy wins his 2nd feature

(Oxford) Will Dunphy waited patiently, and it paid off.

Will took the win tonight in the Outlaws’ twenty-lap feature at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Will sat comfortably in fourth through twelve laps watching drivers Betty Nelson, Drew Morse, and Skip Tripp battle for first.

“I saw them rattling each other pretty good,” said Will afterwards, “and I decided to back off.”

“I knew that something was going to give at some point,” he added.  “I didn’t know when, but I wanted to be on the defensive for it.”

Sure enough, the three lead cars got tangled up and Will sailed by on the low side to take the lead. 

Will quickly took control on the restart and won for the second time with room to spare.

The last time Will won an Outlaws feature was on June 10th.  He had finished second seven times since then mostly to Skip Tripp.

Victory lap

“Even when I finished second to him (Skip Tripp) this car was far superior to his,” said Will. “I just ran out of laps.”

Skip Tripp took second tonight and has a commanding lead in the Outlaws points race.

“We had a shock that was bad in the heat, and we were so loose in the feature,” said Skip afterwards.

Skip Tripp finished second

“Will was really good tonight,” added Skip.  “He had the better car.  I was glad to see him win.  We go a long way back.  If it’s not going to be me, it might as well be him.”

Betty Nelson won the 8-lap heat and was leading the feature until she was sent spinning in Lap 12.

Betty has competed in all twelve Outlaws features this season.  The best she has done, so far, is third.  She looked like she had a chance for her best finish of the season until trouble happened tonight.

Weather was cool but not cold.

I liked the 5PM start because it extends daylight.  Trying to photograph (or really see) action on the track when relying on the OPS lights is a major reach.

Still keep thinking about the action on Lap 242 in the Oxford 250.  There were some seriously unhappy folks after the race because of that incident!

Tight finish in the Outlaws heat with Betty Nelson winning

Betty Nelson, Drew Morse, and Skip Tripp lead early in the feature

The top three stay close early in the Outlaws feature

Will Dunphy after the race

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