Brady O’Donnell (2 goals/2 assists) in Clippers 5-0 shutout vs Georgetown

Brady O’Donnell (2 goals/2 assists) and Carson Purcell

Max Gagnon and Cam Rooney

(Newburyport MA) The weather changed but the Newburyport Clippers didn’t.

On a cloudy/rainy/sunny Saturday morning, the home team was consistently persistent and earned a 5-0 win over Georgetown.

“We have depth,” said NHS coach Shawn Bleau afterwards.  “We can run eighteen players out there and not have much of a drop off.”

Pacing the Clippers (3-0-2) was junior Brady O’Donnell with two goals and two assists.

“Super exciting to win this one,” said Brady who had a hat trick against Amesbury last week.  “Georgetown is always tough.”

Some NHS starters sat out 4th quarter

Newburyport was up by three at halftime and added two more in the third quarter.  Many of the Clippers’ starters sat out the entire final period.

“Give Newburyport credit,” said Georgetown coach Chris DiFranco post-game.  “They really dominated the play.”

The Royals (1-2-2) were missing their top two goalies (Luke van Galen & Riley Soucy) because of injuries.

Freshman Jake Gilstein started as a result.  Sophomore Kyle Davies took over in the second half.

The Clippers poured into the Royals half of the field from the get-go.  A direct kick by Trevor Ward turned into a rebound in front that senior Owen Spence cashed with an assist to Owen McNeil.  Just over two minutes had gone by.

Ryan Archer (goal and assist)

Less than two minutes into the 2nd quarter, another direct kick from the left (Ryan Archer) caromed loose on the right side and Brady O’Donnell hit the open spot.

Just over a minute later Max Gagnon boosted the NHS advantage to three.  Max was in the middle with plenty of players in the way of an open, low shot on net.  Instead of trying to shoot through the players, Max lofted a shot over them. It worked. Max caught the GHS goalie out from the net and his shot went just under the crossbar.

The Clippers, in five games, have only been scored on once and that was off a penalty kick.  That 3-0 halftime lead was going to hard to come back against for the Royals.

“We’ve got to find our scoring,” explained Coach DiFranco.  “We had chances today but didn’t finish.”

The Clippers, however, weren’t done finishing.  They added two more goals in the third quarter.

Brady O’Donnell came in from the right, after a pass from Ronan Brown, with a defender (Cole Zadina) to his left.  Brady was able to get off a low shot that went through the legs of GK Kyle Davies at 9:45.

Three + minutes later the “prettiest” goal of the day was scored.  Brady O’Donnell had possession on the right side and was able to send a pass across the front.  Ryan Archer, with perfect timing, redirected the pass past Kyle Davies.

Ryan Archer converts a crossing pass

“We’ve been working on crossing the ball on the ground, since we can’t head it,” explained Coach Bleau.  “We’ve had similar chances this season, but this was the first one that ended in a goal.”

“It was an awesome pass (by Brady O’Donnell),” said Ryan Archer afterwards.

Coach Bleau rested numerous starters for the final quarter.

Coach DiFranco: “There’s no blame on the fill-in goalies today.  They’re young and we didn’t help them very much.”

Ryan Archer: “The game (this year) is very different.  You have to play a whole different style because there’s no heading.”

Coach DiFranco: “The season is so short (ten games) that every game really counts.”

Ryan Archer: “I am hoping at the end that there is a Cape Ann League tournament going and we get a championship here.”

Newburyport seniors honored

Newburyport seniors were honored pre-game.

The Clippers are undefeated in their last seven meetings with the Royals.  There have been three ties.

I will post this story on my blog (McClelland Miscellanea).  I am also on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea)

All the pictures will enlarge if you click on them.

Sean Lavell and Ronan Brown

Evan Philbrook and Spencer Colwell

John Donovan makes a save for NHS

Zach Rosa and Adam Sadler

Ryan Archer and Brady O’Donnell

Graham Smith and Aidan Maguire

Kyle Davies makes a leaping save

Ronan Brown and Cam Rooney

Kyle Davies saves in front of Brady O’Donnell

Aidan Maguire kicks. Chris Thoreson defends

loose ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GK Julia Campbell stars in Amesbury’s 1-0 win over Newburyport

Senior Julia Campbell earned a shutout against Newburyport this morning.

GK Julia Campbell

(Amesbury MA) Senior goalkeeper Julia Campbell has not played much for Amesbury.

Blame graduated Cape Ann League MVP Alli Napoli for that.

However, although Julia didn’t play often, she did get to face Newburyport several times because of injuries to Alli.

“I’ve played them quite a few times and I knew their offense really well,” said Julia post-game.

Julia’s goalkeeping turned out to be a key for the Indians (2-0) as they defeated Newburyport, 1-0, on a sunny, windy Saturday morning of soccer at Landry Stadium in Amesbury.

“We don’t win this without Julia,” admitted Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau afterwards.  “She earned that shutout today especially in the first half.”

Avery Hallinan’s goal celebrated

Defender Avery Hallinan struck the game-winner for the Indians in the third quarter.

The Clippers (1-1) started the game with a double-team on CAL All-Star Alyssa Pettet and the (substantial) wind to their backs.

Both factored significantly early on.

It was 6 ½ minutes before Alyssa actually touched the ball.

It was eleven minutes before Amesbury could even get the ball into the Newburyport side of the field.

That’s dominance………..but the Clippers didn’t score.

Allie Waters and Riley Doherty

“We had more chances and more possessions early,” said Newburyport coach Kevin Sheridan.  “We just didn’t capitalize.”

A number of the good Newburyport looks were shot over the net, certainly influenced by the strong winds.

The teams changed ends after the first quarter, which didn’t happen last game I was at.  It gave Amesbury the favorable wind.

Now it was Newburyport GK Anneliese Truesdale’s chance to face pressure.  And she faced it well.

Amesbury’s MK McElaney had a golden chance after a rebound in that 2nd quarter but Anneliese dove to stop an in-close shot.  Later, Anneliese was out of the net to beat McKenna Hallinan to a dangerous ball.

GK Anneliese Truesdale robs MK McElaney

“Anneliese is fearless,” said Coach Sheridan.

Gabby Loughran replaced Anneliese in the second half.

“We made some adjustments at halftime,” explained Coach Thibodeau.  “We wanted to fill the middle better.  They were taking away our immediate scoring threats, so we looked to get the ball to our 2nd and 3rd layer of players.”

That strategy paid off in the third quarter.

“I got a rebound off of a Newburyport player and dribbled in closer,” said junior defender Avery Hallinan discussing her goal.  “I had an opening, and their goalie was a little bit out, so I took the shot.  It dipped just under the crossbar.”

GK Gabby Loughran leaps for Avery Hallinan’s high shot.

“Two players dove at her and she got around them for the shot,” recalled Coach Sheridan.  “We needed to be containing there.”

That goal, at 12:29 of the 3rd quarter, spelled trouble for the Clippers.

Why?  The Indians switched into a defensive mode and moved Alyssa Pettet (Holy Cross commit) back as a defender.

“We knew that she (Alyssa Pettet) would go to defense if they scored,” said Coach Sheridan.  “She is a high-quality player.”

Alyssa was happy with the switch: “I feel more natural playing defense.”

A key to Alyssa being on defense was her ability to make long kicks, especially on goal kicks, that relieved pressure on Amesbury.

Maddie Felts shadows Alyssa Pettet

GK Julia Campbell was also happy to have Alyssa on defense. “The wind was killing all my punts,” said Julia.  “Alyssa could actually kick the ball out.”

“We packed it in defensively in the second half and it kept Newburyport from getting good chances,” recalled Alyssa.

Julia Campbell: “Avery’s goal was beautiful.  She had the wherewithal to hold onto the ball as long as she could.  She saw an opening and took it.”

Coach Sheridan: “I thought we did a fairly good job of shutting down Alyssa Pettet.  Using her the way they did was a winning strategy for them.”

Continue to be impressed with Deidre McElhinney’s in-traffic skills.

There were a limited number of spectators at this game.  First time that’s happened.  I counted twenty-six of them in the second half.

I have no doubt that “real” soccer folks are being, or would be, driven crazy by the rules that are in play for soccer in Massachusetts.  The ever-blowing whistles are the most maddening part.  I had to agree with Amesbury’s Sydney Aldrich when she said as the game was going on, “The game is now like field hockey and lacrosse.”  BUT, and I have to keep reminding myself, they are playing!

Coach Adam Thibodeau and Katie Gallagher

Great rivalry between Newburyport and Amesbury.  The last two years it was 1-1 ties.  Before that it was a 1-0 Amesbury win and the two years before that Newburyport won by a 1-0 score.

This game story, with pictures will be posted my McClelland Miscellanea blog.  There will also be coverage posted on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures will enlarge if you click on them.

Amesbury celebrates a win

Jackie Doucette, Calista Catarius, Izzy Kirby

loose ball

Alyssa Pettet shielded from the ball by Maddie Felts

Avery Hallinan and Liberty Palermino

Maddie Felts and Sydney Aldrich

Deidre McElhinney and Sarah Chace

Deidre McElhinney and Avery Hallinan

Sarah Chace defends Allie Waters

Calista Catarius and Gabby Waters

Molly Webster (19) shoots

Allie Waters and Gabby Smyth

Allie Waters and Riley Doherty

 

 

 

 

 

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Alyssa Pettet (3 goals) leads Amesbury by Georgetown 6-1 in season opener

Alyssa Pettet (5) had three goals vs Georgetown. Megan Skahan (21) defends

Alyssa Pettet splits the Royals defenders

(Amesbury MA) Senior standout Alyssa Pettet scored three times in the first half leading Amesbury to a 6-1 win over Georgetown on Monday afternoon.

The Indians (1-0) rode Alyssa’s twenty-two goals last season to the D4 state semi-finals.  In the process she gained recognition in New England and will play for the Holy Cross Crusaders in 2021.

“Alyssa’s ability to run off the ball makes her so special,” explained AHS coach Adam Thibodeau post-game.  “She requires so much attention that she opens up the field for her teammates.”

Containing Alyssa became extremely difficult for the Royals (0-1) when defender Erin Irons went out with a sprained ankle just four minutes into the game.

Alyssa Pettet and Erin Irons early in the game

“Erin is not someone we can replace,” said assistant Georgetown coach Kevin Fair, who was filling in for head coach Colleen Gibbs.

The Royals trailed by four at halftime but were the better team for most of the third quarter.

“Our compete level was good, and we finally got a goal for our efforts,” said Coach Fair.

The Royals goal was set up by freshman Kayla Gibbs (coach’s daughter).  “She made a nice steal and put a beautiful ball to sophomore Carena Ziolkowski for the scoring play,” said Coach Fair.

There were other chances for the visitors to Landry Stadium but netminder Julia Campbell was “fantastic” according to her coach.  “She had new players in front of her and she communicated well with them,” added Coach Thibodeau.

GK Mary Surette and Callie Catarius

The Georgetown goal seemed to wake up the Indians.  In the final two minutes of the third quarter, MK McElaney and Callie Catarius elevated the Amesbury lead to, 6-1, and stopped any comeback plans the visitors might have had.

“It was a good first game for us,” said Alyssa Pettet afterwards.  “A lot of times against Georgetown we kind of struggle because they clump things up so much in the back.  But this time we found space.”

Alyssa finished with three goals, an assist, as well as two hit crossbars.  The girl can play!

Maddy DiPietro shoots

Two of Alyssa’s goals in the first half came after she had drawn penalties from the Georgetown defense.  One earned her a penalty kick and the other a direct kick from a short distance.  She collected goals in both instances.

Royals keeper Mary Surette had a busy afternoon.  She, in fact, was injured in the final quarter and was carried off the field by Coach Fair.

McKenna Hallinan followed Alyssa’s successful penalty kick with a long-range goal in the first quarter.  Goalie Mary Surette came out to kick a ball away and it went directly to McKenna.  The AHS junior wasted no time in taking a high shot on goal that Mary couldn’t recover to save.

Alyssa had her goal off the direct kick in the second quarter.

She also added another one in that quarter.  This time she made a long run down the right side with defenders on either side.  She got in close to goal with defenders still nearby and found room to squeeze a shot into the net.

MK McElaney (19) reacts to the goal she just scored

MK McElaney had one of Amesbury’s two goals in the third quarter.  Alyssa Pettet set it up with a kick from the side that went past several players into the middle in front of the net.  MK came down the middle and one-timed a shot for a score.

Later in that quarter, newcomer Callie Catarius hit a long-range shot from the right.

“Callie is a good counterpart to Alyssa,” said Coach Thibodeau. “She can score.”

The grass at Landry Stadium was long and it affected play.

“I love Cashman because it’s a hard, fast surface,” explained McKenna Hallinan.

The Indians practice at Cashman.

Coach Fair: “We had a couple of defensive breakdowns.  We have to do a better job of marking people.  I loved the effort, though.”

Avery Hallinan (11) shoots

McKenna Hallinan: “It was nice to be able to play.  I wasn’t sure it was going to happen.”

Looking forward to next Saturday (10AM) when Newburyport comes to Landry.  That one will feature two players (Alyssa Pettet & Allie Waters) who are committed to Holy Cross.

“The Holy Cross coach has already asked for the film from that game,” said Alyssa.

Georgetown had two close games with Amesbury last season but have lost ten of their last eleven to the Indians.

Ideal soccer weather with plenty of sun.

The pictures will enlarge if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).  This story will be on my WordPress blog (McClelland Miscellanea).

Rylie Lasquade

action in front

Sydney Aldrich (2) in on goal

Julia Mabius and Alyssa Pettet

Callie Catarius

Alyssa Pettet’s direct kick that became a goal

Elle Schneider and Sydney Aldrich

Alyssa Pettet over GK Mary Surette

Ella Marinopoulos watched by Riley Smith

McKenna Hallinan and Sarah Chace celebrate a goal

Taylor Wight

MK McElaney

GK Mary Surette reaches for Alyssa Pettet’s PK

Georgetown coach Kevin Fair

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Girls soccer happens! Newburyport 1 North Reading 0

Deidre McElhinney chased by Sophia Galuppo

Mattie DeFeo and Norah McElhinney celebrate Newburyport’s goal in the 3rd quarter

(Newburyport MA) “If we had to play with our shoes tied together, we probably would have,” according to Newburyport girls soccer coach Kevin Sheridan.

And that pretty well summed up the attitude of today’s participants.  Whatever it takes to play!

“We were just happy to be playing,” said North Reading coach Sean Killeen.  “The Cape Ann League and the principals have done a nice job to make it happen for the kids.”

I talked to both officials pre-game to get a sense of how the game might go.

One of them said that without tournaments and playoffs that the games this season would be more like “friendly” games.

The other official gave me a 3-page copy of the MIAA soccer rules for 2020.  “It will be an adjustment for us and the teams.  Several teams had scrimmages in which referees came in so that everyone could get used to the new rules.”

There actually was a lot of “normal” soccer played.  “I thought it went pretty well with all the rule changes,” added Coach Killeen.  “It looked like a regular soccer game for a lot of it.”

Samantha Magner chased by Norah McElhinney

Newburyport came away the winner, 1-0, on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams at Newburyport.

The games are now played in quarters instead of halves.

Mattie DeFeo’s goal in the third quarter spelled the difference.

The NHS senior had a long run toward the goal after an excellent outlet pass/set up by junior Katie Gallagher.

“The entry pass split my two central defenders,” recalled Coach Killeen.  “The scorer ended up with a good look and she put it where she needed to.”

Olivia Vasquez (5) watched by Katie Gallagher (22)

“Katie (Gallagher) had a monster game,” added Coach Sheridan.  “She played the entire game without any mask breaks.”

“The goal and the assist couldn’t have happened to two better kids, in my opinion,” said Coach Sheridan.

Coach Sheridan used a different goalie each half: “We have two great goalies (senior Anneliese Truesdale & sophomore Gabby Loughran) and both of them deserve to play.”

Both of the Clippers’ GK’s were called on to make tough saves.

“We never got too comfortable and that was to North Reading’s credit,” added Coach Sheridan.

Newburyport GK Gabby Loughran saves in front of Madison DiNapoli

Coach Killeen was disappointed that his Hornets didn’t collect any goals.  “We need to calm down a little bit in the finishing third.  As we build our chemistry, I think we’ll be in a good place.”

“It was a good start for us considering we’ve had no scrimmages,” said Coach Sheridan.  “We could have been better connecting on passes.  I thought we played better in the second half.”

Senior Julia Thorstad was solid in net for NR.

Senior Allie Waters is back playing for Newburyport this season.  Allie has already committed to playing at Holy Cross next season.  Next Saturday, at Amesbury, Allie will play against Alyssa Pettet who has also committed to Holy Cross in 2021.

Anne MacLellan (12) and Allie Waters (21)

Both Katie Gallagher and NR’s Katelyn Gorgenyi had threatening long-range shots in this game.

Coach Sheridan regarding sophomore Deidre McElhinney: “She plays with such poise and control in the middle of the field.”

Gabby Waters has joined the Clippers after playing at Berwick Academy previously.

The hardest rule change to get used to was the second whistle.  Soccer is usually free flowing, but that rule forced players to distance themselves before a 2nd whistle would blow resuming play.

Coach Killeen probably summarized the game atmosphere best: “The kids were good despite some confusion.  It was a lot of fun.”

Stehlin Stadium is an excellent place for a soccer game.  I was limited to the stands but even from there I could get a good look at the action.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

I will post the game story on McClelland Miscellanea.  I also plan to post pictures on my Instagram account (McclellandMiscelleanea).

Newburyport celebrates win

looking for control

collision course

Shot by Katelyn Gorgenyi (11)

Newburyport GK Gabby Loughran pressured by Madison DiNapoli

loose ball

Newburyport coach Kevin Sheridan

Julia Thorstad saves with Norah McElhinney nearby

Samantha Magner (9) and Molly Webster (19) in front of NR GK Julia Thorstad

Anna Affolter tries to get away from Samantha Magner

NR coach Sean Killeen at halftime

Madison DiNapoli (22) and Maddy Felts (15)

Marykate Lundy (17) tries to get control

Captains meet

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Alex Mowatt wins Bandits finale and points championship at Oxford Plains Speedway

Alex Mowatt takes a victory lap after winning the Bandits feature tonight

Alex Mowatt

(Oxford ME) Great start.

Great finish.

And in between wasn’t so bad for Alex Mowatt either!

Tonight, at Oxford Plains Speedway, 21-year-old Alex won the Bandits twenty-lap feature and took the points championship as well.

“We got what we wanted,” said Alex afterwards.

Alex was the winner on opening night (June 27th) and finished the same way in tonight’s season finale.

In between those victories, Alex won two other races and never finished lower than fifth in any race in a very competitive division.

Spinout early in the race

This season OPS used a 3-week rolling average to place cars in the Bandits features.  That rewarded the faithful attendees who weren’t doing very well with front-of-the-pack starts.  The “successful” drivers had to start further back and get by cars to get to the front.  This arrangement had a habit of making the first few laps exciting to watch.

Tonight was no exception.  Lap One, spinout and a caution.  Lap Two, spinout and another caution.

Fortunately, for Alex and his brother Lukas who finished second, the spinouts didn’t bother them.

Lukas Mowatt

“I started in ninth,” explained Lukas.  “and was on the bottom.  I saw it happen and was able to sneak under it.”

Alex gained ground on the first caution and had the lead after the second caution.

After that tonight’s race reminded me of many from last year.  The cars got in a row on the bottom (Alex, Lukas, Eric Parlin, Chad Wills, Ralph Green) and stayed there, lap after lap.

“If you pull up to try to pass you may not get back,” said Eric Parlin.

“After the first few laps, everybody kind of cleared out and it was clear sailing,” said Lukas.

Lukas told me that he felt lucky to have finished second.  “I changed a tire after the heat and it probably wasn’t the greatest idea,” he said.  “The car was really loose in the feature.  I had all I could do to keep it under control.”

Chad Wills was 5th tonight and finished 2nd in the Bandits points standings.  “It was an up-and-down season for us.  We won two races and used four different cars.  We won the overall championship last year so I’m happy with how this season ended up.”

Eric Parlin finished 3rd in the race and 4th in the points standings

Eric Parlin used the same “up-and-down” description for his Bandits season.  He won a race on Week #3 after finishing 10th and 15th the two previous weeks.  He also had his share of car trouble.  “Please include in the story how thankful I am for the help Caleb Proctor and Brandon Caston have given me,” said Eric.  “I never would have finished 4th in points without them.”

Six different drivers (Alex, Lukas, Chad, Eric, Jeff Libby, Travis Verrill) took checkered flags during the eleven-race season.  Next year looks as if it may be just as competitive.  Alex Mowatt was the only one that I spoke with who wasn’t certain he’d race with the Bandits.

“I’m going to have a full season of Bandits next year,” said Lukas who didn’t compete until August.  “I’ve got a new car.”

“I’ll be back racing again,” said Eric.  “It’s fun.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s a blast.  I’ve raced other tracks just trying to get more experience.”

Chad Wills

“I’d like to try the Outlaws,” said Chad, “but my budget will keep me in the Bandits division for a while.”

I have gotten used to the small crowds in the grandstands.  It would be nice to have that all changed to the way it was come next season.

Really impressed with the driving skills of Alex Mowatt.  His ability to race up on the track kept him away from much of the trouble early in races.  Never finishing lower than fifth enabled him to win the points championship by a wide margin.  He was a distant 7th in 2019.

Nice crisp fall night for racing.  There was only one race (of eleven) postponed in 2020.

The delayed start of the racing season worked well for me because my wife and I don’t usually arrive in Maine until June.

I enjoyed interacting with the cooperative/appreciative drivers.

All the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (mcclellandpeter) and Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea).

Eric Parlin, Travis Verrill, and Chad Wills

Alex and Lukas Mowatt finished 1-2 in tonight’s feature

Alex Mowatt under the checkered flag in the Bandits feature

The lineup for many laps – Alex, Lukas, Eric, Chad, and Ralph Green

Start of the feature

Jeff Libby, winner in Week 10, off with car trouble

Chad Wills chased by Lukas Mowatt in the 2nd heat

Alex Mowatt passes Eric Parlin in the first heat

First heat – Alex Mowatt on the upper level

 

 

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Jeff Libby gets first Bandits win at Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby got that elusive first feature win tonight at Oxford Plains Speedway

Jeff Libby (44) never trailed in his heat or in the feature.

(Oxford ME) Food can be a great motivator.

“My friend Chris Foster told me that if I won tonight, he’d buy me some ice cream,” explained tonight’s Bandits winner Jeff Libby laughing afterwards. “Now I’ve got to go find him.”  Good luck with that!

Last time the Bandits raced (August 28th) at Oxford Plains Speedway, Jeff broke through with his first heat win.  Tonight, he topped that with not only a heat win but also his first feature’s win.

“We had great starting positions (front row), new tires, and a crew that has been working real hard on this car,” Jeff explained.

All those things came together on this night to make it easy for the driver from Auburn (ME).  “We led all the green laps today,” recalled Jeff.  “That was awesome.  It felt amazing to finally win.”

Jeff is the fifth different driver to get a checkered flag in the ten Bandits races to date.

Shelby, Mason, and Chad Wills after tonight’s 2nd place finish

Chad Wills, who finished second, saw the multiple winners as a good thing for the division: “Seeing others win, opens peoples’ eyes to their chances of building a car and doing the same.”

“Jeff has improved every year,” added Chad.  “He’s a lot more competitive than he’s been in years past.”

In the 20-lap feature, Jeff started in the front next to rookie Doug Churchill.  Three laps into the race, Jeff was away from the pack and on his way to an easy win.  Not so fast.

On Lap Three, Eric Parlin (driving Chad Proctor’s car) and points leader Alex Mowatt collided bringing out a caution.

“It was my fault,” said Eric post-race.  “I’ve got to do better.”

Getting ready for the restart in the Bandits feature

The caution gave the field a chance to get another crack at the lead.  “When you’re out front you never want to see yellow,” said Jeff.

But yellow it was.  On this night, however, it didn’t matter.  Jeff flew away from Chad Wills and the rest of the Bandits on the restart and restored a sizable lead quickly.

“I thought that we might be able to battle it out with Jeff a little bit,” said Chad, “but as the laps ticked off, he just pulled away.”

Chad ended up feeling fortunate that he held off Luke Mowatt (winner on 250 weekend) for second.  “I thought that Luke had a faster car,” explained Chad.  “It forced me to protect the bottom a little more because if Luke got under me, I would have been 6th before I could get back down.  I appreciated Luke driving me clean.”

Alex Mowatt, who was put at the back of the pack from the Lap Three spinout, rallied to finish fifth.  Because the starting positions in the Bandits feature are determined by a 3-week rolling average, the points leader is regularly needing to rally to improve a bad starting position.  Alex has accomplished this feat so often that he should be the 2020 Bandits points leader after the divisions next, and final, race of the season on September 26th.

Ralph Green ended up 4th.

Jeff Libby leads Dean Jordan in the first heat

Jeff Libby defeated Dean Jordan and won the first heat handily.

The second heat featured a tight battle between Alex Mowatt and Eric Parlin.  Alex, who seems to thrive on the upper levels of the track, pulled by late in the race to take the win.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

I am also on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

Travis Verrill (24) veers off course in the feature

Alex Mowatt (11) and Eric Parlin (04) off the track in the feature

Jeff Libby all alone in the lead early in the feature

Jeff Libby pulls away early in the feature

Getting ready for the start of the Bandits feature

Alex Mowatt (11) gets past Eric Parlin (04) in the 2nd heat

Eric Parlin (04) pressed by Alex Mowatt (11) in the 2nd heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Johnny Clark wins the 47th Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway

Johnny Clark is all smiles after winning the 47th Oxford 250

Johnny Clark moments after winning the Oxford 250

(Oxford ME) Please don’t tell me that you had Johnny Clark winning the 47th Oxford 250 on Sunday.

The 41-year-old from Farmingdale (ME) hadn’t won a race at Oxford Plains Speedway since 2005.

Johnny was also the guy on July 18th at OPS who finished 26th, three laps behind the winner Curtis Gerry.

But there Johnny was on Sunday night under the Victory Lane banner.

I think that it is fair to say that to win the Oxford 250 you must be lucky.  And likewise, your closest competitors must be unlucky.

Everyone in the top five had the car to win but four of the top five recalled, post-race, things that happened that cost them the top spot.

Jeff Taylor came in second

Whether it was confusion in the pits (Jeff Taylor), missing a shift on a new car (Joey Doiron), frustrations with the nine cautions (Dave Farrington Jr) or getting behind a stalled car before pit road (Mike Hopkins), all of them would have won but….

The caution on Lap 180 was the killer for both Jeff Taylor and Mike Hopkins.

Jeff (57), who has now come in second three times, went in for tires during that caution on that lap.  He left the pits and, to the surprise of everyone, came back into the pits again.

“I thought that I had gone through a stop sign leaving the pits,” said Jeff, “so I penalized myself by coming back in.  I don’t know if it was the right move or not, but that’s the one I made.  Inevitably, it cost us our chance.”

When Jeff left the pits the second time, he was now in tenth place rather than 3rd place right behind Johnny Clark.

Joey Doiron was third

Johnny would quickly take the lead from Alan Tardiff and never give up the front the rest of the way.  Jeff rallied from 10th to settle for second.  But oh did that pit-road malfunction hurt him!

“If he hadn’t done that, he’d probably be here (Victory Lane) instead of me, wouldn’t he,” said Johnny Clark during the post-race interview.

Mike Hopkins grabbed the lead in Lap 98.  “We had the car to win,” he said afterwards.  “We went from 11th to the lead and made everyone else look silly doing it.”

Mike would lose the front some thirty laps later but was still in the top five.  His chance to get tires and challenge for the top spot went south as he attempted to get onto pit road on the Lap 180 caution.

“Car 51 (John Peters) stalled going into pit road and we were behind him,” said Mike.  “By the time we got around him and got the tires we had lost probably ten spots.”

The top three finishers; Joey Doiron, Johnny Clark, and Jeff Taylor

Joey Doiron (Berwick ME) finished third despite having trouble earlier in the race.  “I had only driven this car six or seven times,” explained Joey.  “It’s a different chassis than I’m used to driving.  On Lap 100 I was running second to Jeff (Taylor) and I missed a shift and I think I cut something down trying to get out of the way.  I ended up with a flat right front tire.  Luckily, we were able to get a timely yellow and do something about a tire with only 12 pounds of air in it.  We were a lap down after that because we had lost all our track positioning.  We did come back strong at the end.”

Mike Hopkins was fifth

When I thought pre-race about who I thought should be the favorite, my choice was Dave Farrington Jr.  You talk about momentum going into a race!

“The month of August was incredible,” said Dave.  “We won four straight here (OPS).  A lot of momentum carried in here and a lot of people had high hopes for us.”

Dave had actually beaten Johnny Clark two weeks ago at OPS.

The nine cautions were the problem for Dave.

“We had more cautions in this 250 than a lot of other ones,” he said.  “I don’t know why that was.  Not enough patience.  I’m not sure.  We didn’t want cautions.  We want to go long green-flag runs and they didn’t help us there.”

There were two cautions in the final twenty-seven laps.  “I think that we would have caught Johnny if it had stayed green,” suggested Dave.

Jeff Taylor took the lead on Lap 24 (from Alan Tardiff) and had, at one point, a six-second lead over the rest of the field.

Johnny Clark

“We weren’t bad at the beginning of the race but Jeff (Taylor) was stellar,” added Johnny. “We had to go and just stay on the lead lap and let the guys in the pits do their jobs, and it’s up to you after that.  That’s exactly how it worked out.”

Johnny got right tires on Lap 91 and four tires on Lap 180.

Johnny came into 2020 not having won a race since 2016.  The restrictions of Covid-19 kept him close to home and helped turn things around.  “We worked so hard right from March,” he said.  “The fact that I was forced to slow down a ton has been huge benefit for my family and everything else.”

Disappointing that the grandstand “crowd” was limited to 200 people.  That place holds 8,000.  Don’t start me on Governor Mills (D)!

“I wish that I could have heard the roar of the crowd,” added Johnny.  “It was awesome to win.  Even better than I thought it would be.”

Saturday’s rainout turned Sunday into a morning/afternoon/evening racing event.  It was almost 8 o’clock when the 250 started.

That fact had Dave Farrington wondering about being better prepared.  “It’s way cooler than we’ve raced all year.  Maybe we should have practiced in temperatures like this.”

All of the pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClelland Miscellanea).

Joey Doiron, Johnny Clark, and Jeff Taylor with trophies

Johnny with daughter Alivia (left) and Miranda (right)

With hand raised, Johnny Clark crosses the finish line

 

 

 

 

 

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Mowatt and Mowatt dominate Week 9 in Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway

Luke Mowatt (18) wins the Bandits feature for the first time

Alex Mowatt (current Bandits points leader) finished second

Jeff Libby gets an elusive win

(Oxford ME) Racing was back.

At least the way I remember it.

The pits were crowded, and race cars were in places unused until today.

The parking lot was transformed into a campground.  Fires were burning and, I suspect, stories of previous races were being shared.

Races were won and for the first time since June 27th you could hear the winner’s support system erupt in cheers.

But all this was tempered by a look across the infield to the grandstand.

There the policies of Governor Mills (D) were on display.  In an area ready and willing to hold thousands, there were several hundred spectators.

Infield dust kicked up in the heat race

The Oxford 250 is scheduled for Sunday (August 30th).  In the past, the noise of the cars warrants some sort of hearing protection.

The crowds make plenty of noise too. But not this year.

The race will end, and the primary excitement will come from the driver and his close associates.

But I digress!

This is a story about last night’s Bandit’s racing.

It was exciting.

Let me tell you why.

Chris Foster (71) gets turned in the feature

There were folks in the pit grandstand, and they came to root for specific drivers.

There were more cars in the race than usual.  I counted at least twenty.  The more cars, the more action on the corners.

With eight divisions racing in the heats and a large delay while some 250 drivers got some practice, the start of the feature was delayed into darkness.

Without headlights and running under streetlights, the visibility was limited.  Another direct link to action on the corners.

The cautions were frequent in the Bandits 20-lap event.  Cars went into the infield.  Others went off the track high-side.

The placement in the feature is based on a rolling three-week average.  That puts those who show up every week, but haven’t been very successful, in the front.  The successful regulars face the task of getting by a collection of less-successful drivers to get where they have been ending up.  I actually like the concept because it makes every feature interesting.

But I continue to digress.

Luke Mowatt wins his heat

The surprises for the Bandits were already in place even BEFORE the race itself.

Jeff Libby got a pole start in the first heat and actually won.  I know that he has never won a feature at OPS.  I’m guessing that the winless thing might also extend to heats as well.

I have interviewed Jeff after several of his near-wins and he has never made an excuse.  He sees me coming and he says, “One of these times….”  Tonight was that time!

Jeff had points leader Alex Mowatt chasing him at the end but on this evening, Jeff held off the challenger and had, what has been, the elusive win.

The other heat winner was young Luke Mowatt.  Last week, in a heat shocker, Luke held off his older brother for the victory.  That impressed me at the time.  However, in the feature that followed, Luke could only get 6th.

But there was Luke again tonight winning a heat.

Chad Wills (52) and Jeff Libby (44) off the track in the feature

Tonight, however, was only Luke’s fourth feature race of the season, all in the last few weeks. I didn’t think he had the experience yet to be a feature contender.

“I didn’t have a car,” Luke told me afterwards as to why he hadn’t raced earlier in the season.

Tonight, Luke started on the pole in the feature and won the biggest race of his life.

“It was his time to win tonight,” explained his brother Alex post-race.

Luke had the sweet starting spot and a car that could handle the numerous restarts.

Meanwhile, Alex the points leader with three wins, started back in the pack thanks to the 3-week rolling average.  That was indeed where the action was.

Luke leads Caleb Proctor and his brother Alex in the feature

In recent weeks Alex has avoided most trouble by staying away from the inside.  Not tonight.  With 20+ cars in play, Alex went off the track early along with Chad Wills and his new car.

“I got a nice dent that I’ll have to fix,” said Alex.

But Alex stayed in the race, as did Chad, and thanks to cautions moved back in contention.

Luke, meanwhile, escaped the fender benders.

“I knew about them, but they were all behind me,“ he said.

Before too many laps were gone, Alex had recovered from his earlier mishap and was in 2nd challenging his younger sibling.  Having seen Alex for eight weeks show the ability to engineer comebacks, I was quite certain I knew what would happen next.

The Mowatt brothers with Eric Parlin spinning behind them

But I was wrong.

Luke held his own.

A caution put them side by side near the end but that didn’t matter.  On this night, Luke did not wilt.  He rode to his first feature win in only his 8th race.

I have four siblings and I know how competitive things can get among us, so I tried the “sibling rivalry” angle with the Mowatt brothers but they wouldn’t take the bait.

“You weren’t just letting your brother go, were you?” I asked.

“No, I was actually trying to catch him,” Alex laughed. “With all that went on I was fortunate to be there to get second.

“I’m happy for Luke,” said Alex.

Caleb Proctor ended third in the car that Chad Wills borrowed (for a win) on August 15th.

Track dispute in the feature

Tempers reached an elevated status after one of the multi-car spinouts.  OPS security made sure that things didn’t get worse in the pits.

The weather turned cool as the evening wore on.

One of the most dangerous places you’ll ever be in would be the pits at night.  The cars, coming and going, have no lights and there are no overhead lights in the pits.  It truly can be “look, listen, and run for your life” in that area!

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClelland Miscellanea).

Luke Mowatt, Alex Mowatt, Caleb Proctor, and Chris Foster in the last lap of the feature

Luke Mowatt in front followed by his brother in the feature

Cars in the infield in the feature

Spin off the back in the feature

Brady Heath (91) and Luke Mowatt (22x) in front on a restart

Travis Verrill in the infield in the feature

Brady Heath between races

Doug Churchill (07) spinning in first heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chloe Kiley wins 4th straight Ladies Division feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chloe Kiley gets the checkered flag and her 4th straight Ladies Division victory

Chloe Kiley

Betty Nelson

(Oxford ME) You don’t have to look very hard to find the weekly winner in the Ladies Division at Oxford Plains Speedway.

It’s going to be either Betty Nelson or Chloe Kiley.

At least that’s the way it has been through nine features this season.

Betty dominated July with three wins.

Since then?  It’s been all Chloe.

Tonight, was Chloe’s fourth straight victory in August at OPS.

“It’s been nice,” said Chloe about the consecutive wins.  “The car wasn’t so good today in practice but felt great in the race.  The rain really loosened the rubber up.”

The start of the feature with Betty Nelson (8) on the pole

Betty started on the pole in both the heat and the feature.  Chloe was in the second row in both races.

Betty lost the inside lane in both races and Chloe took advantage and went on to win.

“It was all about learning for me tonight,” explained Betty afterwards.  “We didn’t race last week, and we have a new motor.  This car has more power, so cornering was an adjustment. I need to get better getting into corners and off corners.”

In the feature, Betty held the lead into the sixth lap with Chloe close behind looking for an opening. On a corner in Lap Six the opening presented itself.

“I think she (Betty) got a little loose and went up and I had enough to fill the hole and took it from there,” said Chloe about getting the lead for good.

Chloe Kiley (16) gets inside of Betty Nelson (8) in the heat race

“She (Chloe) got by me because of my error,” recalled Betty.  “I went up a little bit on the corner and it was all her lane.  She took it.  She’s a good driver.”

Chloe was able to expand her lead over the final fourteen laps.

In the closing laps, Addie McDaniels was able to get by Kasie Kolbe to reach third.  At the end, Addie was pressuring Betty for second place.

I asked Chloe about winning four straight times: “I have a great car.  I’d like to thank my dad, Johnny, and Michael Haynes for lending me this motor and everyone who helps out back.”

It will be interesting to see how Chloe and Betty match up in the races ahead as Betty gets more familiar with the new car.  “We’re hoping over the next few weeks to get it all dialed in,” added Betty.

Chloe Kiley gains separation in the feature

Chloe has annually made steady progress in the points section of the Ladies Division and is the current leader.  She was 4th in 2017.  Tied for 3rd in 2018 and 2nd in 2019.  “I don’t really know how I’m different from 2017 which was my first year of driving,” said Chloe.  “I have had a lot more seat time since then.  Larry Emerson has been very helpful in teaching me how to drive this track.”

A little bit of rain before the races but dry once it started.

The Bandits weren’t scheduled for tonight so that gave me a chance to cover the Ladies Division.  Bandits are scheduled to race on Friday with the 250 two days later.

I am on Twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Start of the feature

Heat battle for 3rd place

Betty Nelson (8) holds off Addie McDaniels (68) for second place

Chloe Kiley takes the lead from Betty Nelson in the feature

Chloe Kiley presses Betty Nelson

Betty Nelson led some early laps in the feature

Between races

 

 

 

 

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Chad Wills catches a break and wins 2nd Bandits race at Oxford Plains Speedway

Chad Wills wins the Bandits feature with Jeff Libby second at OPS

Chad Wills takes a victory lap after winning for the second time at OPS this season

(Oxford ME) Over a year ago in the Bandits Division at Oxford Plains Speedway, Caleb Proctor won his only race of the season while driving the 04.

Tonight, Caleb’s 04 earned another checkered flag.  This time, however, the driver was Chad Wills.

“I’ve really got to thank Caleb,” said Chad post-race.  “I wrecked my car two weeks ago and he let me use his.”.

Chad has gotten a third and now a first in Caleb’s car.  Caleb will probably be the driver the next time the 04 appears at OPS.

There will be nearly two weeks off before the next Bandits race.  “I bought another car yesterday,” explained Chad, “like the hatchback that I wrecked.  Hopefully, in a couple of weeks I’ll be here with it.”

Chad Wills and Jeff Libby get inside Eric Parlin (3) in the last lap

Chad got his first win on July 25th when he took full advantage of a multi-car crash to move into contention.  Tonight, it wasn’t a crash. This time it was leader Eric Parlin slipping away from the bottom of the track near the end of Lap 18.

“Eric got loose in the last lap,” said Chad, “and I happened to be close enough to capitalize on it.”

Chad moved inside of Eric and Jeff Libby followed as Eric tried to recover.  Chris Foster also got to the bottom of the track.

“I could have forced my way back down there,” said Eric Parlin afterwards, “but cars might have been wrecked and I couldn’t do that.”

Eric ended the race settling for a tough fourth behind Chad, Jeff, and Chris.

Eric Parlin gets ahead of Brady Heath (91)

At the outset of the 20-lap feature, Eric took the lead from Brady Heath in the second lap.  Chad followed with Alex Mowatt running third.

Alex is not only the points leader but has won two straight weeks.  It was easy to expect him to get the lead sooner or later.  But not tonight.  In fact, his brother Luke, beat him in the second Bandits heat race.

Alex spent most of the evening racing on the upper levels of the track.  “Alex worked hard on the outside, but it heated his tires,” said Chad.  “It was impressive that he could hang out there as long as he did.”

Alex Mowatt (11) persisted in trying to pass Eric Parlin using the upper part of the track

Alex threatened leader Eric Parlin from the outside on several of the later laps.  When Eric slide up from the bottom in Lap 18, Alex got caught behind him and ended up finishing fifth.

Chad realized his good fortune.  “For the second time this year I was in the right spot at the right time.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky rather than good.”

Jeff Libby continues to chase that elusive first win.  He has finished second three different times, including tonight.

Jeff was behind Chad Wills when the bottom of the track opened up on Lap 18.  “We followed Chad and that’s how we ended up where we did,” said Jeff.

Luke Mowatt won the second heat defeating his brother Alex in the process.

Chad Wills won the first heat and Luke Mowatt won the second heat.

Eric Parlin’s car threw off plenty of smoke last week.  No sign of any smoke this week.

Eric had a pretty good hold on first until a spinout (Brady Heath) in Lap 11 forced a caution and a restart.  The restart bunched everyone up.

The good weather continues.  This is the 8th week I’ve been at OPS and it’s been nothing but sunshine.

Limited number of spectators on the other side of the track.

I am on twitter (McClellandPeter) and Instagram (McClellandMiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Caleb Proctor Chad Wills, Brandon Caston

Jeff Libby (2nd)

Last lap action

Alex Mowatt tries to get by Eric Parlin on the high side

Eric Parlin comfortably in front in the feature

Brady Heath has the early lead in the feature

Chad Wills and Brady Heath set up in front for the Bandits feature

Luke Mowatt

Luke Mowatt on the inside and Alex Mowatt on the outside in Heat 2

Chad Wills and Josh Lovell in front in Heat 1

 

 

 

 

 

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