Alyssa Pettet and Allie Waters are playing soccer at Holy Cross

Allie Waters and Alyssa Pettet
Alyssa started for Holy Cross

(Worcester MA) The first adjective that came out of their mouths was, “awesome.”

I met with Alyssa Pettet (Amesbury) and Allie Waters (Newburyport) this afternoon after the Holy Cross/Navy women’s soccer match.

Both girls are freshmen on the team.

I had seen Alyssa and Allie play plenty of soccer in the Cape Ann League and wondered how they were doing at the college level.

That “awesome” in the first paragraph was in response to my, “How are things going?” question.

Instead of trying to summarize what they told me, I will let them speak for themselves.

“How are things going?”

Alyssa: “It’s awesome.  I love it here.  I’m having lots of fun.”

Allie: “The team and the community here are awesome.  It’s definitely a huge transition from club to college.  The level of play is a lot higher.”

Allie pre-game

“How did you get to come to Holy Cross?”

Alyssa: “I started talking to their coach in January of my freshman year.  Then I committed in July.  I have been in contact for a long time.  I am excited to be here.  I loved the community here and the beautiful campus.  It’s a great academic school and they play high-level soccer.”

Allie: “I got here through communications between my club coaches and the coaches here.  The prior coach saw me at a couple of showcase games.  I committed here February of my junior year.”

“How are things going academically?”

Alyssa: “Academically, it is definitely a transition.  It is a prestigious school. I haven’t gotten any grades yet.  I’ve been balancing the academics with soccer.  I think I’m figuring it out. We have academic chats with the assistant coaches every week.  It’s a good thing.”

Allie: “It’s a lot fewer actual hours of school.  In high school you sit eight hours in the classroom. For me, I have two classes a day at a top of 1 ½ hours each.  In soccer season, they set you up with a strict schedule so that you know to get things done.  Out-of-season will not be the time to procrastinate.”

Pause in the on-field action

“Have you been home at all?”

Allie: “We drove back together to watch our high school teams.  We had fall break so there were no classes here, so we had the time.  I watched Newburyport versus Rockport.  It made me want to be out there.  I have so many memories on the field.”

Alyssa: “I saw Amesbury against Triton.  It was great to see the team at our game against Boston University.  It is cool how supportive everyone has been.”

“How about the soccer facility here?”

Alyssa: “The facility is beautiful. They really maintain this place.  It’s a little bit nicer than Cashman!”

Allie (3) on the sidelines

Allie: “It’s weird playing on grass.  I was used to playing on turf in club and high school.  It has been an adjustment.”

Alyssa started for the Crusaders and played the first twenty minutes.  Allie didn’t get into the game.

Holy Cross (1-14-1) has struggled in the very tough Patriot League.

“Every game is a battle,” said Alyssa, “and it’s awesome to be part of it.”

The Crusaders had a tough, 1-0, loss to Navy today.  The Midshipmen are 10-5-3 and have been an impressive 5-0-1 in their last six matches.

Navy freshman Alexa Riddle scored her seventh goal of the season today in the 16th minute of the first half.  She took a long pass and broke in behind the Holy Cross defense.  Alexa nearly had another goal in the final seven minutes of the game.

Alexa Riddle breaks in
Alexa Riddle shoots
Navy celebrates the only goal of the game

The Crusaders had chances.  In fact, Cerys Balmer had a penalty kick with thirteen minutes remaining in the game.  The PK attempt went wide left.

Cerys Balmer’s penalty kick goes wide left

“Not winning as much as high school is a mental battle,” said Allie.  “In the end it will make us stronger.  There will be a huge time of development in the off-season.”

Holy Cross is blessed to have Alyssa Pettet and Allie Waters within their student body.  Now if they can just start winning some games!

Thanks to Charles Bare and Delaney O’Brien for arranging my visit today.

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

Alyssa on the ground
Allie in practice
Alyssa (16) defends
Find Alyssa
Find Alyssa

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Pentucket shuts out Amesbury 2-0

Pentucket seniors with Coach Ruth Beaton
Haley Dwight had a goal and an assist

(Merrimac MA) The Pentucket seniors were honored before the game and the team was honored afterwards.

The Sachems (15-1) defeated Amesbury, 2-0, on Friday afternoon.

“We’re CAL field hockey champs for the first time in school history,” said Pentucket coach Ruth Beaton afterwards. Her team has won twelve straight games.

Junior Haley Dwight had a goal and an assist for Pentucket.

“Pentucket is an awesome team,” said Amesbury coach Kerri Doherty post-game.  “They consistently come out fast and move the ball extremely well.  They can play on both turf and grass.”

The Sachems put pressure on the Indians (2-8-4) most of the game. 

“We had a ton of chances,” said senior Lana Mickelson.  “I know because I missed a few.”

Lana had two goals against Amesbury in Pentucket’s 4-1 win at Amesbury.

Busy afternoon for Amesbury goalie Nuala Arsenault

The Sachems scored early in the second quarter (Reese Gallant) and early in the final quarter (Haley Dwight).

Pentucket had nine corners (by my unofficial count) and numerous opportunities.

Credit Amesbury goal-keeper Nuala Arsenault along with defenders Lizzy Deacon, Hannah Gale, and Ella DeLisle for finding ways to prevent more Pentucket goals.

“It was hard in there,” said GK Nuala Arsenault, “and I was really tired…..but it was fun.”

Pentucket goalie Charlene Basque didn’t see much action.  However, after Haley Dwight’s goal four minutes into the final quarter, Amesbury did apply some pressure and rang a shot off the sidebar.

A goal there would have cut the Pentucket lead to 2-1 with six minutes left.

“All credit to Amesbury for the way they hung in there,” said senior Meg Freiermuth afterwards.  “We stayed gritty.”

“Defensively, we held our own,” said Coach Doherty.

Haley Dwight passes across in front
Reese Gallant gets her stick on Haley’s pass
Ball on the way into the Amesbury goal
Reese Gallant reacts to her goal
Pentucket celebrates first goal

But Pentucket had so many in-close chances in the first quarter that you assumed that a goal would come that way.  But that wasn’t the way the first goal was scored.

Haley Dwight intercepted a pass at midfield and headed for the left endline. 

“When I see the open net, I always shoot for it,” said Haley, “but I’m also looking for my teammates.”

When Haley got close to the endline, she sent a pass across the front of the net between the goalie and a defender.

“Reese was right there,” said Haley.

“Haley put it right in front,” said Reese Gallant. “It was nice to be there on the end of Haley’s pass.”

“That first goal was picture perfect,” recalled Coach Beaton.  “Reese was where she had to be when Haley made the crossing pass.”

Ball in the air in front of Izzy Deacon (11)

There was not much that Amesbury GK Nuala Arsenault could do about the goal.  “Their first one was rough to get to because the player shooting was on the opposite side,” said Nuala.

The Sachems were finally able to pad their lead with a goal in the final quarter.

Pentucket had crowded in near the Amesbury goal many times, but this time Haley Dwight produced a goal out of the congestion.

“I did a spin move on the goalie and shot it,” recalled Haley.  “It didn’t bounce off anyone.  It went right in. The sound of a goal is something my teammates and I love to hear.”

Amesbury threatens

Coach Doherty: “Ruth (Beaton) is well respected in the league.  There was no doubt in my mind that Pentucket was the Number One team this year.”

Coach Beaton: “Kerri’s kids play hard and don’t give up on the ball.”

Six seniors (Bailey Stock, Madi Kuchar, Sydney Matthews, Meg Freiermuth, Lana Mickelson, Gabrielle Cloutier, and Charlene Basque) were honored pre-game. 

Meg Freiermuth was pleased to have her brother Pat (Pittsburgh Steelers) on hand for the celebration.

“It is awesome to have Pat around,” said Meg.  “He has a bye week, so he was able to come.”

Hannah Gale (11) and Bailey Stock (20)

Amesbury is one of the best 2-8-4 teams you’ll ever see.  They tied highly regarded Triton recently.  The Vikings are the only team with a win over Pentucket.

The Sachems have games left with Lynnfield and North Reading.  Pentucket defeated both 4-0 the first time around.

The seedings for the Division 3 state tournament come out on November 1st.  How far can Pentucket go post-season?

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

Lana Mickelson
GK Nuala Arsenault out to block Bailey Stock (20)
Sydney Matthews shoots
Ana Tomkiewicz (4) and Meg Freiermuth (24)
Lizzy Deacon (10) and Madi Kuchar (21)
Alana DeLisle and Madi Kuchar
Alana DeLisle, Sydney Matthews, and Gabrielle Cloutier
Isabelle Levasseur (17) and Haley Dwight (34)
Julia Mitchell (15) and Reese Gallant (19)
Meagan McAndrews
Amelia Kirby

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Lynnfield VB sweeps Newburyport

Junior Ella Gizmunt had a big night for the Pioneers
Sarah Foley returns a serve for Lynnfield

(Newburyport MA) Lynnfield seldom loses to Cape Ann League opponents.

And Newburyport had too many unforced errors tonight to change that.

The Pioneers (14-2) took the match, 3-0, winning 25-23, 25-18, and 25-15.

Sydney Yim (now at Purdue) was a dominating player for Newburyport for several years.

Lynnfield now has a similar player in junior Ella Gizmunt.

“I must have done something right to get Ella on my roster,” said Lynnfield coach Brent Ashley with a smile afterwards.

The six-foot Ella finished with nineteen kills, ten digs, and three aces.

Ella Gizmunt (6)

“We had trouble defending her in our back row and when she was hitting from their back row,” said Newburyport coach Lori Solazzo. 

“You have to have blockers against a player like her,” added Coach Solazzo.

But the Clippers (6-10) didn’t do much blocking and the result was an evening with frequent hard-to-handle volleys coming their way.

Newburyport squandered a lead late in the first game and didn’t recover in the last two games.

“We came in strong and then we lost our stamina,” said Coach Solazzo.  “I don’t have an explanation for it.  Lynnfield came back around, and we couldn’t fight them off.”

The Clippers had a 19-14 lead in the first game and forced Coach Ashley to call a timeout.  The Pioneers rallied to tie things at 20-20.  It was still anyone’s game at 23-23.  On the crucial next point, the visitors recovered after hitting the ball into the Newburyport ceiling. The final point was on a serve that the Clippers couldn’t keep in play.

Emma Foley (8)

“We knew that Newburyport would make adjustments after their loss to us earlier in the season,” said Coach Ashley.  “Lori (Solazzo) has done so many new things with their offense and defense.  It took us a while to adjust and figure out what they were doing.”

The slow start tonight didn’t surprise Ella Gizmunt.  “Sometimes we start out slow,” she said.  “That’s been our weakness this season.  The second and third game we were ready to play.  We were excited and got some momentum going.”

The home team went down 10-3 in the second game and 13-4 in the third game.  Credit the Clippers for fighting back in each game but the unforced errors prevented any kind of threatening run.

“We’ve been battling the unforced errors all season,” said Coach Solazzo.  “We talk about it all the time. It’s hard to pull ahead when you have so many of them.”

There were some bright spots for Newburyport.  Sophia Messina had seven kills and Ava Hartley had six kills.  Lauren Kolman recorded four aces.

Ava Hartley

I thought that Sarah Foley (Lynnfield) and Emma Foley (Newburyport) each did a nice job of setting up teammates.

Coach Ashley mentioned that big numbers were turned in by junior Giuliana Guarracino: sixteen digs, seven aces, and four kills.

I asked Ella Gizmunt about her volleyball plans after Lynnfield: “I don’t have any definite college plans yet but I’m certainly looking to keep playing.  I’m talking to a few schools but no names to mention yet.”  Based on what I saw in tonight’s limited sample, I could see her holding her own at the D1 level.

Coach Ashley: “Ella is a fantastic player.  She knows the game so well.  We knew that she was coming into our program when she was in seventh grade.”

Big game ahead for the Pioneers.  On Monday night (October 25th), they will be hosting Ipswich.  The Tigers have only one loss.  They, in fact, shut out Lynnfield in their first meeting.

Ella Gizmunt (6)

Of note is the fact that in the current MIAA power rankings for Volleyball Division 4, Ipswich is first and Lynnfield is second.  Hamilton-Wenham is fourth.

“It will be a great match,” said Coach Solazzo.

“The game with Ipswich is really important,” said Ella.  “We want to get our redemption.”

Coach Solazzo: “We improved from the last time we played Lynnfield.  That was our first and foremost goal today.”

I did some checking on Lynnfield volleyball.  Mascores has their VB stats starting in 2012.  Between 2012 and now, they have been 178-37.  They have been to the state finals or semi-finals six times.

The Pioneers have now won seven of their last eight games.

Newburyport has gone 2-8 since they had a four-game winning streak earlier in the season.

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

Lynnfield wins 14th
Ava Hartley spikes
Anna Rossi at the net
Abby Dwyer
Sarah Foley (10) and Giuliana Guarracino (11)
Lynnfield sets up for a spike
Ella Gizmunt
Emma Foley (8)
Ava Hartley (10) returns
Ella Gizmunt spikes from the second row
Sophia Messina (3) and Grace Davie (4)
Celia Carbone (7) and Lily LeDuc (5)
Emma Foley
Sophia Calle
Anna Rossi
Ella Gizmunt

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Newburyport keeps ALS Cup with 1-0 win

Newburyport captains (Carly Webb, Katie Gallagher, Izzy Kirby, Caity Rooney) with the ALS Cup
Deirdre McElhinney

(Newburyport MA) Deirdre McElhinney had been practicing penalty kicks.

“We knew that if our ALS Cup game ended in a tie there would be penalty kicks,” said Deirdre afterwards.

Tonight’s game with Pentucket didn’t end in a tie but the need for a penalty kicker arrived late in the first half.

“I tried to act like I was at practice,” added Deirdre.  “I was trying to read the goalie.”

The shot was taken and found the left corner of the net.

“Fantastic PK by Deirdre,” said Newburyport coach Kevin Sheridan.  “She just crushed the ball to the back corner.”

And that was the only goal scored. It turned out to be enough to get Newburyport past Pentucket, 1-0, on a balmy Saturday night at James Stehlin Stadium.

Both teams came in 9-2-2.  This was, indeed, a heavyweight match.

Newburyport was 5-0 at home while Pentucket was 5-0-1 on the road.  Something had to give.

Katie Gallagher and Victoria Wilson

“A fair result would have been a tie,” said Pentucket coach Dan Millard.

Both teams had excellent scoring chances.

“I knew that I would have plenty of action today,” said Clippers’ goalie Gabby Loughran.  “They had lots of open shots today.  We got lucky.”

Coach Kevin Sheridan saw Gabby’s play in net as very important.  “She was outstanding,” said Coach Sheridan.  “Perhaps she was the player-of-the-game.  She came off the line and didn’t give rebounds.  She handled the crosses and the corners.”

This game featured plenty of physical action.  Every 50/50 ball was heavily contested.  Some serious collisions resulted, and medical attention and free kicks followed.

“It was so intense out there,” said Anna Affolter post-game. “Both teams wanted to win this one badly.”

Molly Webster and Lia Goodwin

The physicality cost Pentucket (9-3-2) late in the first half.  Newburyport sophomore Brela Pavao had possession in Pentucket’s box and was knocked down by a Sachem defender. 

“Credit to Brela for drawing the penalty kick,” said Deirdre. “That was huge.”

The Clippers (10-2-2) had several scoring chances early in the game. 

The first one was set up by Anna Affolter who came in along the left endline.  Anna crossed the ball in front to where Bella Rosa was located.  There was plenty of net to shoot at (as the picture shows) but Bella lifted the shot over the net.

A few minutes later freshman Alexis Greenblott broke into the middle from the left and got off a pretty good shot.  Junior goalkeeper Emma Breen was well positioned to make the save.

Bella Rosa has great setup from Anna Affolter

The constant threat for Pentucket was junior Sabrina Campbell.  Likely the fastest runner on the field.  Several times she found space down the wings.

“Sabrina’s a really tough competitor,” explained Izzy Kirby who spent some time trying to stay with her.  “She’s really fast.  Our game plan was to make sure we had marks on her and layers.  If she got by one of us, we had others back to mark her.”

“Sabrina and Mollie (Cahalane) are really good,” added GK Gabby Loughran.

The visitors trailed, 1-0, at the half and seemed (to me) to elevate their intensity in the second half.

The Sachems had their best scoring chance with fourteen minutes left.

Katie Gallagher clears a ball away from the front of the Newburyport net

Sabrina broke down the right side and found sophomore Victoria Wilson cutting down the middle.  GK Gabby Loughran dove out to get in front of Victoria’s shot attempt.  Gabby’s dive not only blocked the shot but also took out teammate Caity Rooney.  And so there the ball sat near the three of them and none of them could get it.

Gabby Loughran down for a save

Fortunately for Newburyport, senior Katie Gallagher hustled over and cleared the ball out of danger.

“Their goalie came out strong and hard,” said Coach Millard of the play.  “She cut down the angle and made it difficult to score.  That would have been a nice one for us to tie the game on.”

“We played hard in the back,” explained Katie Gallagher.  “Pentucket is tough.”

The Clippers took a 3-0 loss to Pentucket on September 13th at Pentucket.  Newburyport has only allowed five goals all season and three of them came in that decisive loss.

“We didn’t have a good game that day,” recalled Gabby.  “We took a red card halfway through the second half and they scored two more goals after that.”

Emma Breen up for a Pentucket save

Anna Affolter: “Deirdre finished like she always does in practice.  It was revenge for the 3-0 loss.”

Katie Gallagher: “We stuck together through all eighty minutes of it.  We went forward with speed.”

Coach Millard: “My girls gave 110%.  We could have played better.  Maybe we’ll see Newburyport again in the tournament.”

Coach Sheridan: “What a great game.  Both teams had a bunch of chances.  Pentucket played hard.  They have good players.”

Alexis Greenblott

Molly Webster: “We have been building up to this game all year.  This is such a great game whether you are on a team or not.”

Katie Gallagher: “The cup stays in Newburyport.  I hope to play soccer next year.  I’ve applied to all the schools I want to go to.  I love the game.  I want to keep playing.”

The crowd was impressive and so was the weather.  Low 70’s at night on October 16th.  Who saw that coming……….but I’ll take it!

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

Izzy Kirby, Katie Gallagher, and Gabby Loughran celebrate
Gabby Bellacqua
Annabelle Sylvanowicz (17), Sabrina Campbell (10), Izzy Kirby (13)
Sydney Trout salutes the Pentucket fans
Annabelle Sylvanowicz sent flying
Clippers celebrate Deirdre McElhinney’s goal
Pentucket goalie Emma Breen reaches for Deirdre McElhinney’s penalty kick
Brela Pavao
Bethany Cloutier and Bella Rosa
Gabby Loughran makes a save
Sabrina Campbell breaks down the right wing with Katie Gallagher chasing her
Grace Pherson

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Amesbury defeats Manchester-Essex 2-0

Avery Hallinan had a goal and an assist for Amesbury
MK McElaney

(Amesbury MA) “MK (McElaney) gives great corners and they always somehow come to my head,” said Avery Hallinan.

Twice this afternoon in the first half, the Indians turned set plays into goals and defeated Manchester-Essex, 2-0, at Cashman Elementary School.

Avery ended up with an assist and a goal.

“This was the best we’ve looked for a while,” said Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau afterwards.  “We worked together as a team.  We defended as a team.  It was old-school Amesbury.”

Another tough outing for the Hornets (2-10-1).

Their inability to score goals this season has offset their hustle and strong goaltending (Madi Cook).

Emalia Collins (11) shoots at GK Zena Fitzgerald

The Hornets have been limited to four total goals in this season’s thirteen games. In the last nine games they have scored only once.

ME had several glittering chances today (as my pictures will show) but came up empty.

Senior Emalia Collins had a break-in from the right late in the second half that Amesbury GK Zena Fitzgerald turned away.

A goal there and that 2-0 Amesbury lead would have been cut in half and the momentum would have shifted to the Hornets.

“A 2-0 lead is the scariest lead to have,” said Coach Baker.  “We just needed a goal.”

Cali Catarius and Riley Doherty

“Zena has kept us in every game this year,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “We have had a string of very talented goalies at Amesbury.”

Amesbury (6-6) had defeated Manchester-Essex, 2-0, over a month ago with two second half goals.

“It took us a while to score last time,” recalled sophomore Cali Catarius.  “This time we scored early.”

Seven minutes into the first half, MK McElaney sent a deep free kick toward the ME goal.  As the kick came past the far post, Avery Hallinan slid in between two defenders to head the ball.

I thought Avery had headed the ball into the net because of the instant celebrating.  Wrong.  Avery had indeed headed the ball but back toward the front of the net.

There stood junior Lidya Belanger.  Off Lidya’s shinguard went Avery’s header and into the net.

“That first goal was almost mine,” said Avery, “but it’s okay.  I’ll take the assist.”

Lidya Belanger scored her first goal

“Lidya was in the right spot,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “The best goals are when you don’t have to shoot.”

It was Lidya’s first career goal.

Near the end of the first half, MK McElaney lined up a corner kick.

“We noticed last game with Manchester-Essex that the back post was a little open,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “We want to create chaos in front of the net.”

The Cashman field is narrow and reaching the far post for a strong kicker like MK is a regular occurrence.

This time Avery was in the midst of several Hornets defender but elevated to redirect MK’s corner kick into the ME net.

“We’ve gotten killed on set plays this season,” said Coach Baker.

McKenna Hallinan breaks in

In the second half, the Amesbury senior trio of Avery & McKenna Hallinan and MK McElaney put pressure on the Manchester-Essex defense several times.

“We’ve been playing together for probably ten years,” recalled Avery.  “We work well together.”

Manchester-Essex GK Madi Cook was left to face Amesbury attackers alone several times but earned a second-half shutout.

Riley Doherty: “Defensively, we held our own.”

Cali Catarius: “I am okay with playing anywhere.  (Cali had been a striker.)  We played well through the middle.  Our passes were better than in previous games.  Riley and I are a very good team back there.  We’re working on turning and playing the ball up the field.”

Stella Mitchell and Sarah Baker

Coach Baker: “We have a great bunch of girls.  It’ll get better.  We just didn’t do as well in the final third of the field as we would like.  Our passing was an issue and they capitalized on our mistakes.”

Avery Hallinan: “We were a lot more focused today.  All of us hustled.”

Cali was part of the Amesbury softball team that lost the one-run heartbreaker to Turners Falls in the state finals in June.  “That still is a sensitive subject,” said Cali when I asked her if she had gotten over that loss.  “We’ll get them next year.”

Avery Hallinan: “I want to play basketball in college.  I like UMass Boston (her sister McKenna is going there for soccer), Endicott, and St. Joe’s.”

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

Ema O’Neil and Lidya Belanger
McKenna Hallinan and Amelia Donnellan
Loose ball in the ME end
Avery Hallinan gets a head on the first Amesbury goal
Amesbury GK Zena Fitzgerald sees a shot by Libby Lawler
Kendall Newton (16) in on the right for a shot
Riley Doherty
Ella Arntsen and Lidya Belanger
Kendall Newton and Chloe Molin
Libby Lawler and MK McElaney
Golden chance in front for the Hornets
Amelia Donnellan and Bayleigh Shanahan
Header by Avery Hallinan (11) headed for the net for the second Amesbury goal
Emma Dollas
Save by Manchester-Essex GK Madi Cook
Avery Hallinan (left) and Lidya Belanger (12) celebrate goal

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Triton sweeps Pentucket on Senior Night

Triton wins sixth game of the season
Molly Kimball (8) blocks

(Byfield MA) Triton shut out Whittier last night and did the same thing to Pentucket tonight.

Senior Night is as good as any to put on a good showing.

Mia Berardino, Molly Kimball, and Raegan Falooon were honored pre-game.

“Tonight was really special,” said senior Mia Berardino. “I’m so thankful that our friends and family came and supported us.”

“We had a lot of people come out for the first time,” said senior Molly Kimball afterwards.

The Vikings (6-7) swept the Sachems, 25-6, 25-17, and 25-15.

Pentucket (1-11) had times of competitive play, led by senior Jillian Sheehy, but consistent play continues to be missing.

The Molly (Kimball) and Mia (Berardino) Show has been fun to watch.  Just when you think that it may go on forever, Senior Night arrives and the two of them are part of it.

Mia Berardino (1) spikes

Molly is the setter you dream about if you’re a finisher.  She consistently puts the ball into the hitter’s sweet spots.  “I love playing with her,” said Mia afterwards.

Molly ended up with twenty-three assists versus Pentucket in just three games. 

“Molly has been averaging over twenty assists in the last seven or eight matches,” said Triton coach Bob Van Etten.

Mia is the finisher that every setter dreams of setting up.  Mia is tall, can jump, and hits the ball with authority.  Pentucket struggled to block Mia’s hard hits at the net.

“Mia had twelve kills on just seventeen attacks, which is crazy,” admitted Coach Van Etten.

Mia will be playing for Division 2 Stonehill next year.

Mia gave praise to her teammates: “It all starts with the passers.  They were very, very good tonight.  It helped us get good sets and hits.”

The Vikings will need to get to .500 to make the playoffs.

Jillian Sheehy returns a shot

“We’re going to keep pushing,” said Mia. “We really want to make the playoffs.”

Triton has five matches left and several of them are with teams they have already won against.

“We’re going to get to .500,” Coach Van Etten promised.  “We’ll be 9-9 or 10-8.”

I was impressed with the serving skills of Pentucket’s senior Nicole Zahornasky and the net play of sophomore Ava Snyder.

Grace Romine, Emma Campbell, and Kendall Liebert should be key pieces in the 2022 version of Triton volleyball.

Emma had five kills.  Kendall had big blocks at critical times.

Coach Van Etten: “I thought we played well on an emotional night.  They enjoyed themselves but got right down to business when the game started.”

Molly Kimball: “I am undecided on college.  Recently I have been in contact with the basketball coach at Salem State.  We have a fall league and she’s planning to come to some of the games.  If that doesn’t work out, I could take a gap year.”

The most difficult sport for me to photograph is definitely volleyball.  The action is so unpredictable so getting in position to get a shot is elusive.  But I love the challenge!

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

Mia Berardino
Molly Kimball
Raegan Faloon
Jillian Sheehy
Grace Romine
Jocelyn Bickford
Brianna Welch (21)
Mia Berardino dives for a return
Mia Berardino set to return a shot
Nicole Zahornasky serves
Maisie King blocks Mia Berardino
Kendall Liebert blocks Ava Snyder
Eloise Kirkpatrick serves match point
Triton poses during the game

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Chase Dwight leads Pentucket by Newburyport 21-7

Chase Dwight scored three touchdowns including this one
Jeffrey Thurston (9) chases Chase

(Haverhill MA) His running style isn’t complicated.

“I see space and I hit it,” explained Pentucket quarterback Chase Dwight.

Chase scored three short-yardage touchdowns and that was enough for the Sachems (4-1) to defeat Newburyport, 21-7, on Saturday afternoon.

Chase ended up with a career day that included 148 yards rushing and 152 yards passing (10-for-17).

Both teams produced TDs on their opening possessions and the score was tied at, 7-7, at halftime.

Grant Mosesian (8) scored for Newburyport in the first quarter

Anyone’s game going into the second half.

After matching turnovers to start the second half, Pentucket dominated on both sides of the ball.

The next two possessions Newburyport punted while the Sachems scored each time.

The defensive key for Pentucket was limiting Clippers QB Finn Sullivan.  The talented senior came into today’s game with seven touchdown passes, and five rushing touchdowns.

Finn finished with fifty-five yards passing (seven-for-seventeen) and seventy-six yards rushing on sixteen carries. Little of the yardage came in the second half.

Chase Dwight behind blockers

“Defensively, we were able to keep their quarterback under wraps,” said Pentucket coach Steve Hayden afterwards.

“He ran all over us last year,” added Coach Hayden recalling last year’s 40-6 loss to the Clippers.

“After their first score today, we kept our gaps controlled a little bit better,” said Coach Hayden.

On offense, Pentucket overcame bad starting field position in the second half twice (their eight and their ten) and turned in two time-consuming scoring drives.

Ryan Miles reaches for a pass as Paul Parachojuk defends

“The key to our offense is 4 (Chase Dwight) and his composure,” said Coach Hayden.

In the go-ahead score, Chase rushed for three first downs and passed to Adam Payne for another to set it up.

In the backbreaker (for Newburyport) third score, Chase converted three 3rd downs while still on the Pentucket side of midfield.  Passes to Will Sutton and CJ Condon kept the sixteen-play drive going.

The beauty of the third score for Pentucket was that it cleared 10 ½ minutes off the 4th quarter clock while giving them a two-touchdown advantage. 

Adam Payne celebrates Chase’s third touchdown

The Clippers were left with a little over a minute of game-time and a fourteen-point deficit.

“They took the wind out of our sails in the second half,” said NHS coach Ben Smolski afterwards.

“They established a good ground game by winning in the trenches,” Coach Smolski added.

“Their defense gets after it,” said Coach Smolski.  “They get eleven guys to the football.  They always have that relentless effort.”

Johnny Igoe (20) with the ball

Pentucket started with the ball in the first half and put points on the scoreboard.  Chase passed for first downs to Che Condon and Adam Payne before plowing in from a yard away.

Henry Hartford added the extra point as Pentucket led, 7-0, at 6:57 of the first quarter.

The Clippers responded with their own touchdown.  Finn Sullivan was key in the seventy-yard drive.

Henry Hartford kicked 3 extra points

Finn opened space for himself with well-executed fake handoffs.  His speed and elusiveness created big gains for the Clippers.

Finn passed to Grant Mosesian for the final nine yards.

“Finn went for the initial read and didn’t see it there and popped it into Grant,” said Coach Smolski of the scoring play.

Finn added the extra point with Chris Salvatore holding.

It was Finn’s eighth touchdown pass of the season and Grant’s second touchdown catch.

Chris Salvatore and Iyobosa Osazuwa tackle Chase Dwight

The Clippers started three other first-half possessions in very good field position: Newburyport 49, Pentucket 46, Newburyport 42.  The upgraded Sachems defense, however, did a better job of containing Finn Sullivan and so punts ended each opportunity.

In both of Chase Dwight’s second-half touchdown, the Sachems were close to the goal-line.  There was no mystery as to who would carry the ball.  The mystery was, in which direction will he run. 

Chase carried a defender into the end zone on the second touchdown (six yards).  On the third score (two yards), he went left and into the end zone still standing.

Luke Stallard pregame

“Chase (Dwight) is just a hard-nosed kid,” said Coach Smolski. “He is mentally and physically tough.  He’s hard to bring down.”

Chase is a baseball pitcher so I knew that he could throw a ball.  On most of his throws, he was on the move.

What caught my attention about Chase was his speed.  I also noticed that he wasn’t shy about lowering his head on potential tacklers.

Chase Dwight: “There was a lot of excitement going into this week.  Newburyport is a good team, so we had some nerves, but we played to our potential.  We kept pounding today.  We kept confidence in ourselves.”

Peter Osazuwa tackles Chase Dwight from behind

The Sachems were winless last year.  I asked Coach Hayden what the difference has been this season: “Our seniors have stepped forward.”

Pentucket’s blocking was very good today.  “The guys up front did a good job,” said Coach Hayden, “that includes; John Smith, Remo Pezzi, Bryce Winter, Ethan Drummond, and Chris Tineo.”

Chase is also a very talented baseball pitcher.  “He has several options for next year,” added Coach Hayden.

Chase’s three TDs today give him six for the season.

William Pessina (26) strips the ball from Jack Sullivan (22) on the second half kickoff

A key missing piece for Newburyport is Luke Stallard.  Luke had four TD receptions and may well have been Newburyport’s best defender.

“Luke is out for the season with a broken collar bone,” said Coach Smolski.

Newburyport (3-2) had won three straight.

Two years ago, Pentucket defeated Newburyport, 35-7.

I was impressed with Haverhill’s Trinity Stadium.  There are plenty of seats and there is room behind the team areas.

It was senior day for Pentucket, and twenty-one students/cheerleaders were honored.

Chris Tineo signals Chase’s touchdown

AD Dan Thornton has PA announcer skills!

(All the pictures should enlarge significantly if you click on them.)

Will Sutton’s interception ended Newburyport’s last chance
Chase Dwight
Chase Dwight tries to avoid Will Walsh (88)
Eamonn Sullivan and Chris Salvatore converge on Chase Dwight
Chase Dwight throws on the move
Iyobosa Osazuwa (80) runs after making a catch
Finn Sullivan avoids a tackler
Jake Sherman (51) tackles Chase Dwight
Grant Mosesian
Finn Sullivan finds an opening

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Clippers now 12-0 after 3-0 win over Royals

Georgetown GK Kyle Davies under attack from Henry Acton (6) and Max Gagnon (10)
Georgetown concentrated on defense

(Newburyport MA) All Georgetown wanted to do was keep the game close on the scoreboard.

So they packed in the defense around goalie Kyle Davies.

The undefeated Clippers (12-0) were still able to win, 3-0, but their high-powered offense was slowed down a bit.

“We were just trying to keep it close,” said Georgetown coach Chris DiFranco afterwards. “I thought our guys did a good job at that.”

Zack Rosa and Griffin Cobb

The Royals (3-8) gained some satisfaction defensively, but in doing so, they surrendered on the offensive end.

About thirteen minutes into the game, a weak roller reached Newburyport goalkeeper Owen Tahnk.  That was the ONLY time he touched the ball the entire game.

Down the other end, Georgetown goalkeeper Kyle Davies was busy.

Max Gagnon looks to pass

“It was crazy back there,” said Kyle postgame.  “They had a ton of shots on net (20?), but I had my defense in front of me keeping me alive.”

Jameson Brooks and Henry Acton scored in the first half while Caelan Twitchell added a goal in the second half.

“Georgetown had a defensive plan for us, and it frustrated us for a bit,” said Coach Shawn Bleau of Newburyport afterwards.  “They made it difficult for us after the first two goals.”

“They dropped a lot of guys back and were well organized,” added Coach Bleau.  “They always had 2-3 players around our top players.”

Jack Fehlner

“We did well possessing the ball,” recalled Clippers senior Jack Fehlner.  “They didn’t seem to want to go on attack.  They would boot it out.  We would settle it and pass it around some more.”

“The score doesn’t show how well we played,” added Jack.

The Clippers moved closer to the school’s record for goals scored in a season.  The record is currently forty-five.  By adding three goals today they have now reached forty-four.

“We had some great goals today,” said Coach Bleau.

Jameson Brooks

“We work in practice on getting the ball to the end line and then cutting it back,” said Coach Bleau.  “That’s what happened on the first goal. Great timing and the shot (by Jameson Brooks) went inside the side post.”

“The shot was unstoppable,” said Royals GK Kyle Davies.  “He got it at the top of the box and turned and shot.  It went in the bottom corner.”

Jameson’s goal happened four minutes into the game.

Thirteen minutes later (23:21) it was Henry Acton’s turn to score. Instead of a pass to get closer to the goal, a back pass set Henry up further away from the goal. Henry had time to really get his foot into a shot.

Henry Acton

“It was a complete bomb from twenty-five yards,” said Coach Bleau.  “He couldn’t have gotten a much better hit.”

“It was just a rip to the top corner,” recalled Kyle Davies.  “I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Coach DiFranco said that he, “hadn’t seen a shot like that all year.”

The Royals persisted with the defensive strategy in the second half. 

“Their goalie was good,” said Jack Fehlner.  “He’s big and he came out and caught a lot of our crosses.”

Although the outcome was settled, the Clippers wanted at least another goal.

Caelan Twitchell

“We pressed and pressed at the end to try and get one more goal on account of the ranking stuff,” said Coach Bleau.

With 7:50 remaining, Caelan Twitchell ruined Georgetown’s second-half shutout.

“It was off a side volley which is a pretty impressive shot,” recalled Coach Bleau.

“He made a good move,” said Kyle Davies.  “It was a good turn-and-shoot.”

It has now been eight years since Georgetown had a win versus Newburyport.

Dylan Slimak (18) and GK Kyle Davies

The Royals have now lost four straight games.  They have wins over Triton, Cristo Rey, and Hamilton-Wenham.

The twelve wins to open the season are the best in NHS history. 

The Clippers have nine shutouts in their twelve wins.  I did see NHS goalie Owen Tahnk make some saves in practice!

Newburyport is 49-14-17 since the start of the 2017 season.

I asked Coach Bleau what makes the 2021 team so good. “We have a lot of kids who came up through our youth system.  They’ve been together for a while.  We’ve got depth.  We’re playing a lot of guys, so we don’t have any injuries.”

Mark Rose and Brady O’Donnell

Coach DiFranco was very optimistic about the future for Newburyport this season.  “They have a good chance at a state championship.  It’s a special year for them.”

Senior Jack Fehlner has been a terrific athlete for NHS in soccer, basketball, and baseball. I asked him about next year: “I haven’t really decided.  I probably won’t play soccer at the next level.  It could well be baseball.”

New England weather!  A nice warm morning and afternoon turned into a cold, windy evening. 

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

Brady O’Donnell
Will Acquaviva on the attack for Newburyport
Henry Acton’s goal celebrated
Graham Billington
Ronan Brown
Graham Smith
Traffic in front of the Georgetown net
Caelan Twitchell and Graham Billington
Jake Gilstein
Will Acquaviva gets off a shot
Caelan Twitchell’s goal celebrated

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Newburyport rallies to defeat Triton 3-1

Sophia Messina had fourteen kills for the Clippers
Clippers break a five-game losing streak

(Byfield MA) Newburyport hadn’t won in over two weeks.

And they were blown out by Triton (25-10) in tonight’s first set.

After that, the Clippers (5-7) managed three straight happy endings to catch a 3-1 win over the Vikings.

The endings, however, weren’t so happy for Triton.

“Those last three games could have gone either way,” lamented Triton coach Bob Van Etten afterwards.

Mia Berardino had nineteen kills

The Vikings (4-7) led 23-22 in the second game, 25-24 in the third game, and 24-21 in the fourth game.  The Clippers were able to rally back each time; 25-23, 27-25, and 26-24.

“I don’t know what it is about Triton,” said Newburyport coach Lori Solazzo post-match, “it’s always a battle.”

Last time the two teams met, it took five games before the Clippers prevailed.

“We always end up having drastic highs and lows against Triton,” said Coach Solazzo.

“The first game was certainly a low, but we worked through it,” she added.

Anna Rossi had six aces

A key to the win was the play of Newburyport junior Sophia Messina who had fourteen kills.

“I switched her to the outside part-way through the set and she made a huge difference for us,” said Coach Solazzo.

“We struggled with our offense the first two sets and Sophia came out and hit well tonight,” explained Coach Solazzo.

“We’re a work in progress,” explained Coach Van Etten.  “We have a lot of new players.”

Two of the Vikings veterans (Mia Berardino and Molly Kimball) carried the team tonight.  Mia had nineteen kills while Molly had twenty-two assists.

Molly Kimball had twenty-two assists

Mia will be playing volleyball for D2 Stonehill next year.

“The team was very welcoming,” said Mia about Stonehill.  “I love the coach.  I’ll be playing at a D2 level in a very competitive conference.”

“We dominated the first set tonight,” recalled Mia, “but Newburyport adjusted.”

One of the “adjustments” was moving Sophia Messina to the outside.

Coach Van Etten noticed another one: “They kept feeding our setter (Molly Kimball) on free balls to take her out of the play.”

When Molly has a chance to set Mia up, good things usually happen for the Vikings.

Ava Hartley

Newburyport’s Ava Hartley is a senior and has seen Mia play numerous times.  “Mia is insane,” laughed Ava.  “You can’t necessarily stop her.  We wanted to keep the ball away from her and on our side.”

Ava did a good job of blocking some of Mia hits and receiving some of her hard serves.

“Coach has been stressing blocking a lot recently,” added Ava.

Ava is hoping to play volleyball at Endicott next year.  “I’ve been talking with the coach,” said Ava, “and things look good.”

Trinity Cole had twelve digs

Triton has now lost three straight, but they are optimistic about the future.

“We have a path to .500,” said Coach Van Etten with seven matches remaining.  “We have a lot of new players but by the end of the season we’re going to be ready to go.  We should make the states.”

Mia was also optimistic.  “I’m really proud of our team,” she said.  “Almost all of the girls were JVs last year.  They are improving and getting better.”

Mia Berardino up to finish

Ava Hartley: “Tonight was important for us mentally so that we know that we have a team.  We’ve had a lot of losses the last couple of weeks.”

Coach Solazzo: “We knew that this would be a rebuilding year, but we do have a lot of talent.  It’s a matter of who plays where and trying to get that magic combination.”

Anna Rossi had six aces for Newburyport while teammate Abby Dwyer had four blocks.

Trinity Cole had twelve digs for Triton and teammate Kendall Liebert had three blocks.

My wife and I are officially back in Amesbury after 3 ½ months in Maine.  Hoping to cover several area games each week.

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

Brianna Welch with blockers Abby Dwyer and Sophia Messina
Molly Kimball (8) sets up Kendall Liebert
Brianna Welch blocks
Sophia Messina up for a big hit
Mia Berardino set to block and Ava Hartley set to spike
Ava Hartley blocks at the net
Mia Berardino spikes and Anna Rossi blocks
Ava Hartley spikes
Emma Foley sets for Newburyport
Abby Dwyer and Emma Campbell

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Lake Region defeats Poland 4-2

Sophomore Abigail Roberts scored twice for the Lakers
Lakers celebrate third win

(Naples ME) Abigail Roberts to the rescue.

The Lake Region sophomore scored twice in the final 8 ½ minutes to give the Lakers (3-4) an exciting, 4-2, win over Poland (1-7) today.

LR coach David Jaeger said of Abigail, “Give her some space.  Give her some time and she’s going to put it around the keeper.”

Emma Williams and Delia Fontana

The Lakers scored on long shots by Shelby Sheldrick and Hailey Brewer to carry a, 2-0, lead into the final thirty minutes of the game.

It looked as if the Knights might be heading for another shutout loss.

Not today.

“I was proud of the girls fighting back,” said Poland coach Tyler Connors afterwards.  “It was 2-0 at one point.”

Shelby Sheldrick and Gretchen Paradis

The Knights had a pretty good breeze to their backs in the second half.

A corner kick by Gretchen Paradis put the visitors on the board. Gretchen’s kick curled right into the top of the far corner.

“The wind helped that kick,” recalled Coach Connors.

Eight minutes later things were even.

“On that second goal, Lexi Wallingford made a good pass to Ava Anderson,” said Coach Connors.  “Ava lined it up from the left from about 20-25 feet.”

So, with fourteen minutes remaining in the game it was, 2-2.

Abigail Roberts and Lexi Wallingford

“I was scared a bit when they tied it and it was going downhill,” said Abigail Roberts post-game.

When the Knights pressed to get the lead, Abigail was able to take advantage of weakened Poland defense.

“Abigail is a quick player,” said Coach Jaeger.  “If we can get her out wide in space, she has a confident touch.”

Abigail broke in from the right and at 8:38 put LR in front for good.  “I snuck it in the corner,” she said.

Abigail Roberts takes the shot which will be LR’s 4th goal
Arianna Gammon and Bri Sargent

When Poland went all-out to tie the game, Abigail had a second break-in and cashed that with two minutes left to push the LR lead to, 4-2.

“It was nice to come out on top in a home game,” said Coach Jaeger. 

Shelby Sheldrick’s goal was off a free kick from the left.  The Knights had a wall set up, but Shelby shot right past it into the upper near corner.

Hailey Brewer’s goal was another shot over the Poland GK.  “She kicked it with her left foot which is not her favorite,” said Coach Jaeger.

Coach Jaeger had praise for goalie Jordan Blanton.  “She came up big when we needed it on that first-half penalty kick that would have tied the score.”

Ragyn Harvey and Abigail Roberts

Abigail Roberts goals today were her second and third of the season.  “I usually play center-mid so it’s hard to score,” said Abigail.

Coach Connors: “The Lakers possessed the ball very well.  They attacked our sidelines which we kind of gave up a little bit.  Their strikers made good timing runs and that was the difference today.”

Coach Jaeger: “Poland worked hard, and all the girls gave 100%.  They came back and didn’t put their heads down when they fell behind.”

Sayla Bergeron and Bri Sargent

Coach Jaeger: “Both schools are in Class B.  We play strong competition.  We are on the smaller side of Class B.  We don’t have nearly the athletes that the Portland area schools have.  But we compete.”

How often does it happen?  The referee made a mistake, and a player (Lexi Wallingford) made the correction.  The referee was all set to give Poland a direct kick, but Lexi told him the kick was Lake Region’s.

There was rain in the afternoon, but things cleared out for the game. 

(All pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

GK Jordan Blanton denies Madison Valentine (1)
Emma Jenkins 11 (Poland) and Delia Fontana 11 (Lake Region)
Knights celebrate Gretchen Paradis goal
Lakers celebrate Hailey Brewer goal
GK Jordan Blanton gets in front of a first-half penalty kick
Bella Smith and Ava Anderson
Abby Lavoie
Margo Tremblay, Madison Valentine, Abigail Roberts
Delia Fontana
Hailey Brewer (25)
Poland goalie Kadie Coutts-Farrington

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