Fryeburg Academy gets 3-0 shutout vs Greely

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace Murley scores in first period

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

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

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

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

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

Greta had her own score in the second period.

Greta Hermanson had the second FA goal

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

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

Greely goalie Kate Parkinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharis Santos finds the ball behind the Greely goalie

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

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

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

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

Eliza Thorne had a hat trick last time against Greely

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

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

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

Pressure on GK Kate Parkinson by Grace Porcaro and Eliza Thorne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then came the top of the fourth inning.

One reporter said that it lasted thirty-five minutes! 

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

It was indeed a regrettable/forgetable inning.

Randy Vasquez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jasson Dominguez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deverne Hansack throws the ceremonial first pitch

Ceddone Rafaela pregame

Pregame player introductions

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Yarmouth defeats Poland 6-0

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

(Poland) Yarmouth boys’ soccer if very good.

They have been Class B champs the last two seasons.

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

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

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

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

Yarmouth scored three times in each half.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liam Hickey

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

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

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

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

Ian O’Connor recorded the shutout for the Clippers.

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

Taylor Langevin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luis Cardoso (30) lines up shot

Sam Lowenstein heads a corner kick

GK Sam Paladino tries to stop Sam Lowenstein

Truman Peters (9) – goal and assist

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Lake Region falls to Fryeburg Academy 2-0

Grace Murley and Greta Hermanson celebrate FA’s first goal

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

Coach Dede Frost

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, the Lakers fell further behind before halftime.

Gabby Udoto

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

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

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

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

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

The action was seldom deep in either end.

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

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

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

Eliza Thorne pressures LR goalie Reiyn Hart

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

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

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

Alegra Bartlett

Ashley Pelletier

Coach Pauline Webb

Greta Hermanson

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David Hamilton stars as Portland edges Binghamton 4-3

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

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

Today was the day for it.

The sun was shining, and the seats were filled.

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

But not this year.

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Hart earned the win for Portland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shortstop Ronny Mauricio

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

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

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

Ceddane Rafaela

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slugger with a huge lead around second base

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

Slugger runs out of gas and loses again

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

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

Slugger somersault

Christian Koss in pain after getting hit by a pitch

Pony race

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

Wyatt Young steals second as Christian Koss takes throw

Tyler Dearden pauses before the game

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

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Scarborough defeats defending Class A champion Windham 1-0

Emma Blanchette and Ali Mokriski celebrate a goal

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

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

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

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

Jaelyn Poitras defends Lana Djuranovic

It was exciting to watch.

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

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

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

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

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

Ali Mokriski’s shot gets just inside the post

It was certainly not an easy shot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abbey Thornton on the move

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

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

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

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

Abbey Thornton falls in the box

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

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

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

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

A less than serious moment

Scarborough was the Class A champion from 2017-2019.

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

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

The moon over the field was eye-catching

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Will Dunphy wins second Outlaws feature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victory lap

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

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

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

Skip Tripp finished second

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

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

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

Weather was cool but not cold.

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

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

Tight finish in the Outlaws heat with Betty Nelson winning

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

The top three stay close early in the Outlaws feature

Will Dunphy after the race

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Lake Region defeats Fryeburg Academy 1-0 in girls soccer

Margo Tremblay lines up a direct free kick

(Fryeburg) Sometimes the coach knows best.

Margo Tremblay congratulated

It seemed to work out that way in Friday afternoon’s girls soccer game between Lake Region and Fryeburg Academy.

The Lakers won the game 1-0.

Margo Tremblay scored the eventual game-winner on a direct free kick with less than three minutes left in the first half.

“The girls wanted to run a play that we’ve been working on,” said LR coach Peter Webb afterwards.  “It’s a side play that goes around the wall.  They looked at me and I said, ‘Put it on net,’ because Margo (Tremblay) can put it there every time.”

Margo’s shot turned out to be quite remarkable.  She chipped the ball over the Raiders wall and it hit the under part of the crossbar behind FA goalie Maya Meehan.  Down the ball went from there and into the net behind Maya.

“Coach (Webb) said at halftime that he thought I could make it so that’s why he had me take it,” explained Margo post-game.

Eden True just missed

Aside from Margo’s goal, the home team Raiders had the best scoring chances.

“I think that they had only one good shot on goal,” said FA coach Dave Hart afterwards, “and that was the one that went in.”

This was the season opener for both teams.

The weather was “typical” early fall Maine weather…….40’s when you wake up and in the 70’s in the afternoon when you’re playing/watching a soccer game.

Both coaches substituted freely because of the heat.  There were several moments of confusion as players acclimated themselves to new positions.

“We were in a lot of positions we aren’t normally in,” said Margo, “so it was hard adjusting.”

“We got tired, and people got out of position,” said Coach Webb.  “We had people in positions they weren’t used to.”

Emily Rock dives for loose ball

Hard-luck FA had the best chances to get on the board.  Their golden opportunities fell short because of LR goalie Emily Rock, the goal frames, and in-front misfires.

“Their goalie has good hands,” said FA coach Dave Hart.  “She made it harder for us today.”

“We did have some good shots,” he added. “Some off the frame.  Some off the posts.”

“The posts helped me once or twice,” said Lake Region goalie Emily Rock with a smile afterwards.  “Sometimes they helped a lot!”

Both coaches commended the efforts of their respective teams. 

Finding some shade

“Overall, we’re happy with our first performance,” said Coach Hart.

Battle for the ball

“The effort was there,” said Coach Webb.  “We’ve only had a couple of preseason games to work with.”

Emily Rock: “I love being in goal.  I appreciate my field players so much.  I’m a very vocal goalie, I’d say.  Kaylie Goodwin has the best touch on the ball and she’s only a sophomore.  I plan to play softball in college in state for the in-state tuition.  If someone wanted me to play soccer, however, I wouldn’t be opposed.”

Coach Webb: “Emily is a senior.  She is solid and she kept us in this game today.”

Margo Tremblay: “Emily is amazing.  She’s the whole reason we do good.  She always has the most positive attitude which really helps us in the games.”

(I am working these days as a MaxPreps photographer.  I took plenty of pictures from today’s game that aren’t in this blog entry.  They will be posted eventually in the MaxPreps section for both schools.  Check them out.  I am also on Instagram (McClelland Miscellanea).  Some of the pictures on this blog will be directed to players on that site.)

Collision

Fryeburg Academy wall

Ball in the middle

Bella Smith (16) heads a corner kick

Kayli Goodwin

Raiders pregame

Lakers pregame

Emma Keaton

Emily Rock

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Cole Butcher raises ruckus with Oxford 250 win

Johnny Clark spins out as Cole Butcher gets the lead with eight laps left
Cole Butcher hears it from the crowd

(Oxford) It wasn’t at the “Let’s go, Brandon” level but it was in the neighborhood.

The 49th annual Oxford 250 ended, and the boos descended.

The subject of the OPS spectators’ attention was young Cole Butcher who had just won the Oxford 250 on Sunday night.

As one of the regulars on the OPS track told me, “The winner should be proud of winning but not of how he won it.”

Most of the unhappiness was centered around an incident with eight laps left. 

Crowd favorite, and former 250 winner, Johnny Clark had the lead with Cole Butcher close behind.  Johnny came up on a lapped car driven by Jimmy Hebert and slowed down to avoid hitting Jimmy. 

Cole did not slow down and got into the back of Johnny’s car enough to start him spinning toward the infield.  With Johnny suddenly out of control, Cole, Gabe Brown, and Eddie MacDonald went past him.

Johnny settled back to 4th and that was where he finished.

Johnny took out his frustration on Cole after the race.  Cole parked on Victory Lane, but Johnny drove into Cole’s car and moved him off Victory Lane.

Things didn’t progress to the next level but there were plenty of angry words tossed around.

Interviewed afterwards Cole said, “I had nowhere to go.  I didn’t want that to happen, that’s not how I race.”

Cole, from Hantsport, Nova Scotia, has raced multiple times at Oxford.  It will be interesting to see how his next visit goes.

That ending “stuff” spoiled what was a great night of racing.  There was a great crowd and plenty of action to get excited about.

There were nineteen cautions and what is more exciting than a restart?

How about a caution with only two laps left??

It was a two-lap race for the championship

That’s what we had last night.  That final restart gave Gabe Brown and Eddie MacDonald a chance to move by Cole Butcher, but they couldn’t do it.

Eddie MacDonald finished second

“I knew that we didn’t have anything for the lead,” explained Eddie MacDonald (second) afterwards.  “That 53 was fast.  Whoever had the outside was going to end up third.”

Gabe Brown was third

“I was sideways the whole time around,” recalled Gabe Brown (third).  “I just had to get to the bottom as soon as I could.”

While the two challengers struggled, Cole had what was needed for the victory.

Eddie MacDonald has a flat tire

The beauty of the longer race was that drivers had the time to recover from early problems.  Eddie MacDonald pitted early because of a flat tire while Gabe Brown went into position-losing spins twice in the first twenty laps.

Both drivers rallied to get back on the lead lap and went from there to top three finishes.

Despite all the cautions and collisions there were no medical situations. 

There were several damaged cars that were brought back to life thanks to some great pit-crew work.

Max Cookson in the lead

Max Cookson was the 19-year-old in the field.  Max said that his crew was “unbelievable” and “it was awesome to be out there in such a big race.”  Max took the lead on Lap 81.

The restarts are treacherous for the leader because all of their competition is suddenly close by.

However, when there aren’t restarts the leader must deal with lapped cars.  Where is the lapped car supposed to go?  On a track as slick as OPS has been, moving up the track is a slide waiting to happen.

In the Clark/Butcher collision on Lap 242, the lap car was on the bottom.  There was room for Johnny Clark to go around the lapped car, but he closed so fast on the lapped car (which was going slower than he had expected) that he had to slow up.  Cole Butcher wasn’t ready for the slow down and went into the Clark car full speed causing it to spin.

Cole Butcher celebrates his win

There was plenty of sunshine, but the shade was welcomed as the race got underway. 

It was good to see so many spectators at OPS.  In most of the regular weekly races there often seem to be more folks in the pit grandstand than across the way. 

Thanks to the Mayberry’s for allowing me to check out the racing action.

The top three

Johnny Clark leads with Cole Butcher close behind

Tight squeeze for the leaders

Nick Cusack (2) off the track

Garrett Hall in the infield

Curtis Gerry spins out of the lead

Steven Chicoine in a spin

Joe Pastore, Curtis Gerry, Trevor Sanborn, Joey Doiron

Dan Winter off the track

Gabe Brown (50) spins in a crowd

Cole Butcher

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Preview of the 49th Oxford Plains Speedway 250

Cassius Clark’s winning car from last year

(Oxford) Go ahead, try to predict the outcome of Sunday’s 49th annual Oxford 250. (I will at the end of this entry.)

On Thursday afternoon, the OPS track owner (Tom Mayberry) and a collection of race entrants gathered on the track ahead of the Oxford 250.

OPS owner Tom Mayberry with Mike and Ben Rowe

Three tents were set up on the edge of the track for the purpose of lessening the heat for the projected warm afternoon.

Just as the proceedings were set to begin, the rains came.  Instead of the heat it was the down-coming water that the tents deflected.

Tom Mayberry laughed and said, “We could have been inside but there was 0% chance of rain.”

The unpredictable weather in these parts and projecting the OPS 250 winner on Sunday night are certainly similar: No one really knows for sure how things will go.

I had the chance to discuss the upcoming race with seven drivers on Media Day: Cassius Clark, Eddie MacDonald, Johnny Clark, DJ Shaw, Gabe Brown, Max Cookson, and Bubba Pollard.

Some of the OPS drivers I interviewed today

Owner Tom Mayberry said he expects sixty+ drivers to try to qualify and have forty-two drivers in the race.

Below is a selection of quotes from each of the drivers.

CASSIUS CLARK – “I haven’t raced since last year’s 250.  I did attend a race but sat in the grandstands. I’ve had my fair amount of laps around this place.  It hasn’t changed.  It’s still a big circle.  Just planning to get back in the car and go.  We’ll have plenty of practice this weekend.  I never watched last year’s race.  I did see the highlights on TV.  I haven’t thought too much about racing but when I walk though the kitchen in my house, I can see the trophy sitting on the mantle.  It’s a good memory. (Regarding Curtis Geary’s bumping on the final corner) We kind of expected someone to get into the back of us there.  I was prepared for it.  I slowed my pace down a little anticipating getting run into.  I didn’t want to get knocked off the bottom there.  He was going to have to do a lot more bumping to get by me through there.  I haven’t seen any of the guys since last year.  The car hasn’t raced since last year.”

EDDIE MACDONALD – “We switched cars up last week.  There are a lot of good guys here.  This is always a tough race.  Everything must work out for you.  It’s a lot of fun up there in the upper groove when the car handles right. Last year we ended pitting for four new tires near the end.  With 50-60 laps left we had the lead but then we ended up getting spun out going around a lap car.  Hopefully on Sunday we’ll be there at the end and have a shot at winning.”

JOHNNY CLARK – “Hoping for a little better than last year.  You try to put yourself in a position where good things can happen.  We want to be in the top five near the end with a shot at it.  Last year we were too tight on the last set of tires.  We would have been better off to have left them alone.  You don’t know if it will be a long-run race or a short-run race.”

DJ SHAW – “We won the last race here a couple of weeks ago.  I was running 17th through forty laps and then the car decided to take off.  I’m not usually too good driving on the ‘Angels’ Express’. The main goal in going higher is not to lose out there.  We did everything wrong all day last year. We pitted at the wrong time and then didn’t have fresher tires than the people in front of us.  We got caught up in a skirmish and just decided to park it.  Hopefully we’ll improve and get back to the previous year.  This is the best momentum I’ve had going into this race.  There are too many guys who have a shot to feel confident that you can win.”

GABE BROWN – “Luckily, we’ve gotten in on a provisional.  I think this year we’ve actually got a car that can make the race and be competitive.  In 2018 I raced here weekly and ran up front every week.  We then struggled in the PASS races with the same car and against the same people.  This place changes so much but that is the character of it.  I think that we have a better handle on it this year.”

MAX COOKSON – “It’s a pretty cool feeling to be in the race.  I’ve watched all the races forever.  I’ve watched the races online, picking them apart.  I admire Bubba (Pollard).  He’s won everything from here to California.  I want to do what he’s doing.  We have the car.  We need to stay patient.  We’ve got to complete all 250 laps.  We’re putting a crew together.  I have a lot of people involved from my hometown.  Some have never been to a racetrack before.  We’ve had them over practicing pit stops.”

BUBBA POLLARD – “What keeps me coming back (from Georgia) is the atmosphere, history, and the fans.  You look around and see all the campers and fans.  We had great success a couple of years ago.  We want to get our ducks in a row and our feet back on the ground.  We didn’t qualify last year so we started 40th.  We were able to drive up toward the front and have a top ten race car.  Hopefully, we can build on notes we took from last year.  The first year here we came in not knowing what to expect.  We didn’t know how the racetrack changed.  We ended up winning.  I believe that the last few years we’ve been overthinking it.”

I put this at the bottom because how many readers will actually read this far?  I am about to make my predictions.

I believe that the winner’s last name will be “Clark.”  It could be Cassius again or it could be Johnny. 

Cassius won last year.  His car is well rested and so is he.  He has finished in the top eight in six of the last eight years. 

Johnny won in 2020.  He has the best record of anyone over the past three years never finishing lower than fifth. 

Those two are my favorites but I must give consideration to several others in the field. 

Derek Griffith finished 3rd last year and 2nd in 2019.

Curtis Geary was a close 2nd last year. 

Joey Doiron finished 5th or better in three of the last four years.

DJ Shaw finished 6th or better in three of the last four years. 

Trevor Sanborn has been excellent at OPS this year and finished 8th in the last two 250s.

Dave Farrington has been in the top eighteen for five straight years. 

Brandon Barker has been in the top nineteen for four years in a row.

Ben Ashline has top-thirteen finishes the last three years.

Plenty of possibilities with very little certainly.  Could make for a very exciting Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway.

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