Quarterback Evan Gwozdz guides Middleboro to 43-20 Division 6 title over Littleton

Nothing but end zone ahead for Evan Gwozdz (12). He passed for four TDs and ran for two others.

Jeremy Soule had 102 yards on twelve carries

(Foxboro MA) I guess I’ll never know.

Know what?  Who the punters were for Middleboro and Littleton.

No need of them as the two Division Six finalists vied for the 2017 football state championship in the “sunrise” game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning.

Tons of offense (628 yards between the two of them) but it was the point-producing offense of Middleboro that carried them to a 43-20 title.

Evan Gwozdz was the star of the show for the Sachems (10-3).  The 5-8 senior passed for four TDs and ran for two others.

Unlike his number-sake (TB12 of the Patriots), however, Evan also showed up in one of my pictures in the “good hands” section of Middleboro’s kickoff return team.  No surprise on this day, Evan recovered the onsides kick!

Luke Elliott (with ball) gets first Littleton score

Anyone sitting through the first quarter of this game might not have been certain that Middleboro would even win it.  Why?  Littleton (11-1) controlled over 90% of that quarter (20 plays) and had the only points on the board.

Harrison LaPierre snuffed out Brad Klock’s two-point conversion attempt.

When Middleboro finally did get a chance on offense they quickly showed that they would be a handful to defend.

“We like to get the ball to the perimeter and we are fast,” said MHS coach Paul Kingman afterwards.  You put a fast team on the extremely fast surface at Gillette and containment will be tough.

The key to Middleboro’s answering touchdown early in the 2nd quarter was a remarkable 4th-and-4 scramble by QB Evan Grozdz.  Evan rolled left and was being dropped by Kevin Frisoli when he spotted, and connected with, Colin O’Brien.  “He (Colin) broke off his route when he saw me scrambling,” said Evan.  “We practice that a lot.”

The strategy of Middleboro was to let the Littleton defense determine their attack.  “If they (Littleton) were going to shut down Jeremy (Soule) we would pass and if they defended the pass we would run Jeremy,” explained Evan.

Pass catchers from left to right – Davis Riendeau, Colin O’Brien, Harry LaPierre, and Matthew Crowley

That strategy worked to perfection in the final three quarters.  Jeremy Soule collected 102 yards on 12 carries while there were fifteen catches, and four touchdowns, among five Middleboro receivers.

It was one of those days in which, after the first quarter, Littleton was competitive but not able to neutralize the Sachems on either side of the ball.

I thought that Littleton, after the first quarter TD, would always be able to put long marches together and answer Middleboro TDs.  But that Middleboro quickness on offense showed up on defense too.

Evan Gwozdz (with ball) looks for an opening

There was a remarkable turnout of Middleboro support. That will happen when a town realizes that a thirty-four year football state championship drought could end.

Evan Gwozdz (15-for-17) had two incompletions.  One was a spike to stop the clock and the other was a prayer at the very end of the first half.

Those three onsides kicks by Littleton in the second half not only failed but they gave the quick-scoring Sachems half a field to work with each time.  I know, that’s second guessing of the highest order.

Mitch Beaudoin (8) versus Harry LaPierre

One of the luxuries of doing a game at Gillette is that you get to see instant replays.  A couple of decisions by officials drew some serious groans from each team.  One time, Littleton was assessed a penalty for a sideline’s hit.  The replay showed that there was hardly contact.  Another time, Middleboro had an interception denied when the replay suggested otherwise.

Turned out to be an excellent day for December football in Massachusetts.

Middleboro coach Pat Kingman: “Evan Gwozdz was the best player in the South Shore League and he’s an even better person than he is a quarterback.”

A win by Littleton would have enabled them to be the first Central Mass team to win two state championships.

Harry LaPierre

Coach Kingman: “Harry LaPierre has been our best defensive player all year.”

Evan Gwozdz: “We knew that they would score.  We didn’t let it get us down because we knew that we could score too.”

Colin O’Brien’s two touchdowns give him twelve for the season.

Evan Gwozdz finished this season with sixteen rushing touchdowns and twenty-two passing touchdowns.  Amazing numbers!

Second guessing that didn’t materialize was over Coach Kingman’s decision to rest all his starters against Carver on Thanksgiving Day and take a loss versus Carver.

Today was Littleton’s third trip to Gillette in the past five years.

Middleboro’s Pat Kingman has had the Sachems in the playoffs the last four seasons.

Middleboro’s three previous state championships were in 1983, 1978, and 1977.

In the state semifinal game, Jeremy Soule had seventy-six yards on his first touch and totaled 246 yards in 13 carries including two touchdowns.

Colin O’Brien (7) runs under a perfect pass for a first-half TD

Littleton won their last state title in 2013.  They were undefeated in 1967, 1968, and 2013.

The Tigers are in the Midland-Wachusett League.

Middleboro opted for a trick play after their sixth touchdown.  Evan Gwozdz was the holder and Brandon Buote was the kicker.  Instead of holding the ball, Evan flipped the ball over his head to Brandon who swept right to gain two points.

This was my first time in Gillette.  Just the size of the complex is remarkable.  Trying to find my way around was an adventure but I managed.  I was well treated and well fed.  Their after-game stat sheet is a Godsend.

Final stats

(Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them considerably.)

Championship banner

Matthew Crowley

Anthony Silvestro

Brandon Buote

Kicker Brandon Buote (17) gets a 2-point conversion

Littleton QB Will Scott

Evan Gwozdz (12) faces an onsides kick………and recovers it.

Davis Riendeau (3) gets to the end zone

Mitchell Crory (11) sends Jeremy Soule flying and saves a touchdown

Evan Gwozdz (12) congratulates Harry LaPierre after a touchdown

Harry LaPierre (11) eyes the last Littleton defender Evan Lyons (3)

Loose ball

Matthew Crowley (24) intercepts

Battle in the air between Colin O’Brien (7) and Kerr Boyle (6)

Jackson Ellis

Colin O’Brien (7) takes a swing pass from Evan Gwozdz (12)

Jeremy Soule (34) uses a good block from Robert Nestor (62)

Colin O’Brien (7) gets first Middleboro touchdown

 

 

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Newtown chills Masuk 14-7 on two Dan Mason TDs

Dan Mason (7) breaks loose late in the first half

Dan Mason scored twice for Newtown

(Monroe CT) It was a passing down, but Newtown opted instead for a run up the middle.

The result was a momentum-changing 49-yard touchdown shocker by Dan Mason and Newtown went on to defeat undefeated Masuk, 14-7.

“Cold” doesn’t come close to describing the weather conditions on the Wednesday pre-Thanksgiving event at Benedict Field.  Add an occasional gale-force wind to the low temperatures and you could imagine the discomfort.

Jack Duignan (50) flies after Joseph Pagett (2)

Two years ago, Ben Mason the linebacker became Ben ball-carrier having a five-touchdown evening leading the 2015 Nighthawks to a 40-8 rout over Masuk.  Ben’s brother Dan didn’t get five TDs on this evening but he got two and that was enough to earn Newtown a sixth straight win over the Panthers (9-1).

The Nighthawks (7-3) showed in the first half that they were not going to be another team rolled over by Masuk’s high-scoring offense.

The Panthers, on occasion, did look like the teams that had 401 points in nine games, but Newtown limited lengthy drives by pressuring QB Matt Hersch and containing Jack Roberge.

“I’m quite sure that their quarterback hasn’t been sacked that many times in a game this year,” said NHS coach Bob Pattison afterwards.

Nicholas Lorusso (25) gets behind Connor Marlin (13)

Masuk scored their only touchdown in the first quarter.  Nicholas Lorusso ran a nice fade route into the right corner of the end zone and Matt Hersch delivered a perfect nine-yard pass (behind Connor Martin) for the early lead at 3:02.

It was the 12th touchdown catch for Nicholas and the 31st touchdown pass for Matt.

At the time, I thought that this would be the beginning of a parade of points for the undefeated Panthers.

But it wasn’t.  Why?  Newtown got the stunning equalizer before the half and had the ground game to control the clock in the second half.  Add a defense that held a team that had not been behind all season, and had scored at least twenty-points in every game, to one touchdown speaks for itself.

Most important play?  The Dan Mason touchdown at the end of the second quarter. With less than a minute left in the half and forty-nine yards to go it looked like a good time to go to the air.  Newtown opted for a running play instead.

“It was a passing down, but we thought we’d see what we could get with a quick hitter up the middle,” explained Coach Pattison.  What they got was pure gold as Dan Mason followed a key block on the Masuk linebacker and then split the safeties into open territory.

Dan Mason after the NHS upset

“The grass just opened up,” said Dan later.  “I knew that I wasn’t going to let anyone take me down.”

Masuk coach Joe Lato recalled that play: “Our techniques were wrong on the touchdown.  We fixed it at halftime, but we couldn’t take the points off the scoreboard.”

The team from Monroe had a promising second-half start when Robert Martinsky brought an interception back to the Newtown 17.  Enter the high-powered Masuk offense?  Not on this evening.

The Nighthawk defense held and then the wind sent Nolan McCarter’s 28-yard kick wide left.

While the Nighthawks’ turnover wasn’t costly, the Panthers weren’t as fortunate after Jack Roberge fumbled and Joe Pagett recovered at the Masuk 33 with 3:24 left in the 3rd quarter.

Patiently Newtown moved the ball, running the clock, and converting 4th downs along the way.  Dan Mason finished the job behind terrific blocking, rushing two yards into the end zone as the third quarter ended.

Ryan Kost (12) kicks Newtown’s second EP

The extra point confirmed that this was Newtown’s day!  Joseph Lewis kicked wide right and was injured on the play. But there was a penalty on Masuk.  No Joseph Lewis to kick?  No problem.  Quarterback Ryan Kost stepped in (He was Newtown’s kicker last year) and the extra point was added.

An earlier confirmation of it not being Masuk’s day was on Robert Martinsky’s interception.  Looked like a pretty clear path to the end zone for Robert but the gathering Masuk blockers turned into obstacles and one of them forced Robert out at the Newtown seventeen.

Why does this happen?  For such an important game, why would the roster handout be messed up for Newtown?

I was impressed with Masuk’s turf field.  Great surface.  I was at the Yale Bowl for the Harvard/Yale game Saturday on regular grass.  Very slippery and uneven.

“Some of the motivation in the game was from our seniors,” said Nighthawks first-year coach Bobby Pattison. “The papers predicted a big season for Masuk and not much of one for them.  This was a game that we weren’t supposed to win but the seniors made it happen.”

Dan Mason two touchdowns gave him six for the 2017 season.  I don’t doubt that he’ll have a few more next season.

Matt Hersch at the end of a 4th quarter trick play

Coach Joe Lato went the trick play route late in the game as QB Matt Hersch handed off to Ryan Shaw and then went downfield for a pass.  The wind got into Ryan’s pass, however, and Matt’s catch was way out-of-bounds.

Good luck to Masuk in the playoffs.  Tonight’s loss should toughen them up for the do-or-die games ahead.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably BUT you have to click on them to make it happen.)

Masuk team arrives

Jack Roberge sweeps

Jack Roberge (34) follows Nicholas Lorusso (25)

Ryan Shaw catches a pass along the Newtown sidelines at Matt Dubois defends

Trying to stop Dan Mason

Tyler Michalka brings down Dan Mason

Ryan Williams (62) goes for the block

Dan Mason stiff arms Tyler Michalka (4) on his TD run

Dan Mason steps into the end zone with his first half touchdown

Robert Martinsky runs back an interception chased by Jack Miller

Robert Martinsky

Shea Talbot (32) breaks up a pass intended for Ryan Shaw

Newtown blockers for Dan Mason (7)

Dan Mason (7) powers into the end zone

Joseph Pagett set to tackle Nicholas Lorusso

Jacob Riley and Rolt McIntyre

Kyle Good and Shea Talbot

Matt Dubois and Alex Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yale alone atop Ivy League with 24-3 win over Harvard

The Yale student section had plenty to cheer about at the Yale Bowl

Yale QB Kurt Rawlings had a touchdown pass

(New Haven CT) Special game for Yale as they ended a 9-1 season with a 24-3 win over Harvard on Saturday afternoon.

The victory gains the Eli undisputed possession of first place in the Ivy League.  That hasn’t happened for them since 1980.

Harvard led early, but I kept waiting for the Yale offense to kick in.  It happened in the second quarter as the home team collected seventeen points to gain permanent separation from the Crimson.

Harvard (5-5) botched two quarterback options in that second quarter and both led to Yale scores in less than a minute.

The touchdown that I had the best look at was Malcolm Dixon’s.  The six-foot sophomore beat teammate Michah

Awodiran and fumbler Aaron Shampklin for a loose ball and jetted nineteen yards into the end zone.  This all happened right directly in front of me.

Plenty of smiles after Zane Dudek gave the Eli a three-touchdown lead in the 4th quarter.

Yale (9-1) sealed the deal in the last quarter.  Freshman Melvin Rouse rushed the ball close to the goal line and fellow freshman Zane Dudek covered the final two yards over right guard.  It was Zane 15th rushing touchdown of the season.

The rest of the game was scoreless played in darkening conditions (no lights at the Yale Bowl) with an occasional drizzle.

It was my first experience on the sidelines for such a big Division 1 game.  Touted by some as The Game. It drew 51,426 spectators.

Yale was the better team, in my opinion, on both sides of the ball.  Harvard passers (Jake Smith,Joe Viviano) were heavily pressured while Yale QB Kurt Rawlings had time.  Kurt was also able to scramble for yards.

JP Shohfi (88) beats defender Isaiah Wingfield for 1st Yale touchdown

Kurt’s pass to JP Shohfi in the second quarter was lofted perfectly over defender Isaiah Wingfield.  It was Kurt’s 19th TD pass of the season.

The significance of the victory was understood by the active Yale student section.  They flooded the field after the game ended to celebrate with the team.  I wished that I had had my wide-angle lens with me for that scene.

Plenty of tailgating going on pre-game.  I don’t drink and I don’t eat meat but I can tell you that there was plenty of both being consumed outside the Yale Bowl.

During the game only one person was taken away in a stretcher and she was a spectator.  It was a wakeup call to me because if one of those players runs out-of-bounds and into me I will almost certainly be hospitalized.  Must stay full-time alert!

Outstanding bands from both schools.

Some Yale pranksters placed a huge misspelled Harvard (Havrard) sign on the back wall behind the Harvard student section.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that somewhere in the second half large numbers of male/females in the Yale student section removed more clothing than they should have.

I traveled with an umbrella that I can attach to my mopod.  Came in handy during the second half.

I am very thankful to Steve Conn for arranging my visit to the Yale Bowl.

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

Malcolm Dixon (1), Aaron Shampklin (20), and Micah Awodiran (25) lunge for a ball on the ground.

Malcolm Dixon scoops up the loose ball

Malcolm Dixon (1) on his way to the end zone.

Senior Jon Bezney

Senior Jeho Chang

TV network waiting game

Kurt Rawlings (6) with time in the pocket

Senior Alex White

Junior Charlie Walker

Tanner Lee (36) grounds JP Shohfi (88)

Jaeden Graham (46) brings down Luke Hutton (35)

Freshman Jake Smith under pressure from Foye Oluokun (23)

Yale kickers Alex Galland and Sam Tuckerman

Freshman quarterback Jake Smith (10) sets out on a quarterback option

Harvard turnover in the second quarter

Ball about to go on the ground

J Hunter Roman (36) makes a fumble recovery

Zane Dudek (33) eyes Harvard defenders

Zane Dudek scored his 15th rushing TD

Zach Schmid takes a knee before the start of the 2nd half

Kurt Rawlings behind good blocking

Kurt Rawlings (6) in flight

Freshman Melvin Rouse (7) breaks up the middle

Senior Harvard QB Joe Viviano

Alex White (38) flattens Andrew Johnson (15)

 

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Amesbury glides by St. Joseph’s Prep 6-0 and into the D4 state semifinals

The Amesbury Indians are the Division 4 North champions

Maddy Creps (2) ripped a goal from the left side in each half.

(Lynn MA) This was not a game to come late to.

Two minutes into it the Amesbury Indians had two on the board against St. Joseph’s Prep on Sunday afternoon.

The final was 6-0 and with the win Amesbury reaches the Division 4 state semifinals.

The Indians (16-5-1) will face Millis (16-2-2) on Wednesday night (5PM) at Manning Field in Lynn.

Amesbury has had few games this season in which they dominated a team the way they did in this one.  “Being in the Cape Ann League has helped prepare us for the tournament,” explained AHS coach Adam Thibodeau.

Chelsea Lynch gets a full swing at a shot from very close.

Newburyport, also from the CAL, reached the D3 state semifinals on this same Sunday at Manning Field.

“Amesbury came out with the horses and we just didn’t match up, “said St. Joseph coach Damian Shiner afterwards.  “We gave them the freedom and opportunity to take the shots they wanted.”

It was a busy and dangerous afternoon for Phoenix netminders Maria DiFelice (first half) and Shannon Daly (second half).  Both girls allowed three goals.

Michaela Halloran and the ball arrive at the same time.

I say dangerous because multiple times those goalies and incoming Amesbury players were on collision courses chasing an incoming ball.

Sophomore Maddy Creps paced the Indians with two goals and an assist.  Both of Maddy’s tallies were similar.  In each she found an opening on the left side and was on target with her left foot.  Both shots in each half ended in the upper right corner above the Phoenix goalie.  “I wasn’t aiming for that spot,” Maddy told me.  “I was just trying to get it on net.”

Chelsea Lynch, Ashley Pettet, Brooke Taylor, and Maia Esty had Amesbury’s other goals.

While the Indians had a feast of opportunities the team from Boston didn’t.  AHS goalie Alli Napoli touched the ball for the first time fifteen minutes into the game.

Credit the Amesbury defense.  Hannaih Burdick, Ashlee Porcaro, Alyssa Pettet, and Madison McGrath were terrific in their half of the field.  There were few panic kicks and plenty of passes to each other to keep St. Joseph’s from threatening.

Anne McElroy and Maddy Creps battle for a loose ball

Despite the mismatch, St. Joe’s and their fans never quit.  “We’re a young team,” said Coach Shiner.  “We’ll be back next year.”

The Indians notched their first goal (Chelsea Lynch from Brooke Taylor) at 38:47. Thirty-three seconds later, Maddy Creps had her first successful blast from the left on a pass from Ashley Pettet.  A timeout by the Phoenix quickly followed.

“I told them to calm down and relax,” said Coach Shiner. “We had plenty of game left but Amesbury is an excellent team.”

The prettiest goal of the game was the third one, Ashley Pettet’s.  The Cape Ann League Player-of-the-Year dribbled past two defenders into the middle of the field and ended up with a straightaway, clean look which she buried.

Nice November weather.  Temps in the upper 40s with sun and little wind.

AHS coach Adam Thibodeau cleared his bench early and often.  Freshman Julia Campbell played the final nine minutes in net for the Indians.

Anne McElroy and Molly Wheet were tireless on defense for the Phoenix.

Ashley Pettet fires a shot.

Covering games is never easy during the regular season.  Many teams have no scoreboards.  Rosters are seldom available.  In the tournament you expect better.  Well, the scoreboard at Manning Field worked.  The rosters?  Not so much.  I noticed right away that the two St. Joseph goalies had numbers that aren’t on the rosters the MIAA handed out on the way into the game.  I chased down Coach Shiner afterwards to get the names of the two goalies he used.  Then there was the Amesbury roster. I knew that roster because I had done their game with St. Mary’s.  I never looked at it until I was home.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Amesbury roster was the 2016 edition!

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

Amesbury seniors with Coach Adam Thibodeau and the D4 North trophy

Coach Damian Shinere, Nailah Khoory, Hannah Sansone, Assistant Coach Lindsey Hughes

Maia Esty (15) after scoring the 6th Amesbury goal

Second half action in front

Maddy Crep’s 2nd goal celebrated

Brooke Taylor (7) shoots

Goalie Shannon Daly and Chelsea Lynch

Michaela Halloran on the doorstep in the first half

Freshman Alyssa Pettet

Emma DiPietro

Chelsea Lynch and Camille Taylor

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Amesbury advances to D4 semis with 2-0 win against St. Mary’s

Amesbury put pressure on the St. Mary’s defense. Here Sherly Feliz (24) is chased by Brooke Taylor (7)

Michaela Halloran’s tap heads for the goal line as a lunging Morgan Mackie tries to stop it.

(Amesbury MA) The scoreboard at Landry Stadium wasn’t up to speed but the Amesbury girls’ soccer team sure was as they defeated St. Mary’s, 2-0, in the Division 4 North quarterfinals.

The Sunday evening matchup featured a heavy dose of pressure by the Indians on the Spartans.  There were plenty of passes away from the middle that gave Amesbury’s speedsters opportunities to create scoring chances.

“When we play fast, we play our game,” said Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau afterwards.

Ashley Pettet (8) chased by Joslyn Deschenes (16)

The Indians (14-5-1) scored both of their goals (Hannaih Burdick, Michaela Halloran) in the first half.  Instead of playing conservatively in the second half, Amesbury just kept attacking.

And there was only one reason why this didn’t end up being a seven or eight goal game: Alex Iacoviello.  The St. Mary’s goalie faced shots from just about everywhere in the second half and dazzled everyone with the saves she came up with.

“She (Alex) kept us in the game,” said Spartans coach Jim Foley.  “Several of her saves were unbelievable.”

Chelsea Lynch stopped by Spartans goalie Alex Iacoviello

“Their goalie was absolutely spectacular,” said AHS coach Adam Thibodeau.

By keeping the heat on the St. Mary’s defense, Amesbury was able to limit the chances the Spartans had.  But the team from Lynn did have several anyhow.

St. Mary’s top scorer (Kayla Demers) had a good look in the second half.

There was also a situation where Amesbury GK Alli Napoli had the ball get away from her after attempting a save.  The ball was loose close to the corner and a St. Mary’s player was about to take a shot at an unguarded net but three Amesbury players slid in to block any straight shot at the goal.

That’s what makes Amesbury so tough: Not only are they fast into the attacking zone but they are also fast to get back to help on defense.

Amesbury GK Alli Napoli (green) gets help from three teammates

“Amesbury is probably the best team in the D4 North,” explained Coach Foley.  “We ended up meeting them a little earlier than I had hoped.”

The #6 Indians will meet #2 Essex Tech in the semifinals on Wednesday night at Manning Field in Lynn.

Freshman Alyssa Pettet (5) pressured by Kayla Demers (27)

Hannaih Burdick’s goal was set up by Emma DiPietro seventeen minutes into the first half.  A throw-in from the left side reached Emma.  Instead of trying to go toward the goal, Emma passed further right to an uncovered Hannaih.

The shot was a long one but Hannaih had experience taking it from that far out.  The shot was a high one and sailed into the top of the net on the left side.

“I thought that the shot had gone over the net,” recalled Hannaih afterwards.

The battle AFTER Michaela’s shot had crossed the line

The second Amesbury goal was set up by Chelsea Lynch.  Down the middle she came with defenders on either side.  Alex Iacoviello came out to challenge and Chelsea’s shot bounced off her and over her.  The ball headed ever so slowly toward the net.  Michaela Halloran saw it and tapped it just enough to get it across the goal line.  Michaela and Morgan Mackie battled for possession inside the net, but the goal had already been scored.

In the second half, St Mary’s (9-8-3) couldn’t get the goal that would have made things more interesting down the stretch.  “We’ve had trouble scoring all season,” added Coach Foley.

The speed of Amesbury has been noted.  Also important is to have players in the midfield who have the dribbling skills to make players miss.  Most opponents attack someone with the ball at full speed.  The talented players often make those attackers miss by pulling the ball back.  Those of us who enjoy watching Charlie Brown attempt to kick a football with Lucy holding the ball know what I mean!  Midfielders Ashley Pettet and Emma DiPietro make players miss on a regular basis.

Freshman Susannah Cornell (17) and senior Ashley Pettet (8)

Morgan Mackie was a standout on defense for St. Mary’s.

Part of the scoreboard was not working.

The lighting in Landry will test the quality of the best of cameras.

Pleasant night in the 50’s.

Pretty good crowd for a Sunday night.

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

Captains Brooke Taylor (7) and Caitlin Foley (3)

Chelsea Lynch assisted on Amesbury’s second goal

Morgan Mackie

Alex Iacoviello

Maddy Creps in for a testing shot that went just wide.

Michaela Halloran surrounded by Spartans

Chelsea Lynch in on goal

Jenna Foley (22), Maddie McGrath (4), Maddy Creps (2), and Kayla Demers (27)

Waiting to head

 

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Profile boys’ soccer gets first Division IV title 2-0 over Littleton

Seamus Slattery accepts the Division IV state title trophy for Profile

Profile seniors Shamus McKim(19), Dylan Robie(4), Seamus Slattery(9), Hanzon Hunt (7),  Shea Young(6) and Cam Hoyt(13) with trophy

(Manchester NH) Solid defense and opportunistic offense propelled Profile to the D4 boys’ soccer title, 2-0, over Littleton on Saturday at SNHU.

The title was the Patriots’ first one.  They hadn’t even been to the state finals before.

How did they get there? “Our defense got us here,” explained Profile coach Brent Detamore afterwards. “Our center backs (Shea Young, Jeff Weinrich) are the two best in Division 4 in my opinion. They have been amazing all year.”

No argument from Littleton coach Jo Gardner: “They have a dynamic backfield.”

Seniors Hanzon Hunt and Shamus McKim had the goals for (16-4) Profile.

Turning point in this game?  First minute of the second half.  Down 1-0, Littleton’s 20-goal scorer Danny Kubkowski blasted a shot past Profile GK Jordan Brusseau.  The scoreboard changed as the Crusaders’ celebrated.  But then came the bad news: someone had been offside.  Off came the goal and the momentum that would have come with it.

The goal was posted on the scoreboard but an offsides took it away from Littleton.

“That offsides in the first minute of the second half killed us,” said Coach Gardner.  “A goal there would have rejuvenated us.  It is interesting that in our semifinal win over Portsmouth Christian, they had two of their goals called back.”

The celebration after the 2nd Profile goal

Not only did Profile dodge a bullet but seven minutes later Shamus McKim found the back of the Littleton net.

“The ball was sent in from the left by Seamus Slattery,” explained Shamus.  “The ball was up in the air.  I trapped it down, looked up and saw the goalie coming at me, and put it into the left corner.”

There was plenty of time left (over thirty minutes) for Littleton to do something about their 2-goal deficit but the Patriots’ defense just wasn’t allowing it on this sunny afternoon.  Most of the potential Littleton threats were snuffed out in the midfield area.

Shea Young (6) and Scott Ridlon (11)

Coach Detamore mentioned Jeff Weinrich and Shea Young but my pictures indicate that Sam Greene, Cam Hoyt, and Jack Sampo had big defensive afternoons too for the D4 titlists.

Hanzon Hunt tallied the first Profile goal.  “Seamus Slattery got the ball into the middle,” said Hanzon.  “I got my head on it and it went past the goalie.”  Seamus didn’t get credit from the official scorer but Hanzon gave his own credit!

#6 Profile ended with ten shots including five on net.  #5 Littleton took eleven shots with three reaching the Patriots goalie.

Littleton was higher seeded because they played and defeated a D3 opponent.

Before today’s loss, the Crusaders (15-5) had won eight straight.

Battle for the ball

Profile finished the season winning ten of their last eleven.  After two losses in August, the Patriots went on a 16-2 run.

This was definitely a game with few surprises by either team.  Why? Bethlehem (home of Profile) is only four miles away from Littleton.  “The kids are on travel teams together in the off-season,” said Coach Gardner.  “Brent Detamore (Profile coach) teaches at Littleton.”

Both teams were chasing their first soccer title.  “It was good to have two teams from the ‘north’ in the finals,” added Coach Gardner.

The Patriots and the Crusaders met twice in September.  Each team featured the game as a Homecoming event and came away with a win.

Christian Silveria (20) heads a shot just wide of the Profile net.

Nice setting a Southern New Hampshire University.  Even folks who couldn’t get seats in the stands had elevated views along the perimeter.

I appreciated the game information provided by the SNHU stat crew.

One thing I discovered, and I may not be the only one, is that the SNHU address (2500 North River Road) was unrecognized by my GPS.  Fortunately, I had been to SNHU (from Massachusetts) for several NH high school basketball games in previous years.

I continue to like the favorable weather we have been having.  The bright sun we had today helped to make this an enjoyable event.

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

Celebrating begins for Profile

Jeb Weinrich (11) Hanzon Hunt (7), Jack Sampo (2), Jason Brammer (14), and Sam Greene (8)

Littleton coach Jo Gardner

Jean Rodriguez (7) heads forward

Profile goalie Jordan Brusseau backs up teammate Jeb Weinrich

Littleton’s Todd Krol-Corliss surrounded

Danny Kubkowski avoids a sliding tackle

Derek Walker gets a shot on Profile GK Jordan Brusseau

Danny Kubkowski chases a ball

Ball in the middle

Jeb Weinrich slides to clear the ball away from Todd Krol-Corliss

Danny Kubkowski (21) heads

Dylan Robie (4) and Derek Walker (13)

Hanzon Hunt scored first Profile goal

Littleton GK Quintin Ross saves

Shamus McKim (19) and Zack Lahout (25)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Newburyport uses Pentucket turnovers to gain 21-13 victory

Senior Myles Maloof (9) followed some excellent blocking to get two Newburyport TDs

Thomas Murphy (10) intercepts a pass intended for Jake Etter

(Newburyport MA) You can’t always get away with things in a football game.

And that was certainly the case for Pentucket on Friday night as they were done in by three turnovers.

The costly result of the three miscues was a 21-13 loss to Newburyport in a Cape Ann League matchup and an extension of a losing streak that has now reached four.

The Sachems (1-5) led 13-7 entering the fourth quarter but the Clippers (3-2) tied things one minute into the final frame.

The visitors followed with a forgettable possession that included a holding penalty (Liam Murray), a sack (Connor Smith), and an interception by junior Thomas Murphy.

Set up on the Pentucket 36 with 7 ½ minutes to go, Newburyport ran senior Myles Maloof right on one play and left on the next.  On the first play, Myles was untouched thirty-six yards into the end zone.  On the second play, Myles was untouched for the two-point conversion.  NBPT led 21-13.

Untouched runs always direct your attention to terrific blocking and there was plenty of that for Newburyport with the outcome in the balance.

Nathan McGrail (2) had eight catches and two Sachem scores

The Sachems had 7:29 left to catch up.  They ended up with two possessions. During this game’s hectic ending, quarterback Gus Flaherty had first-down passes to wide receiver Nathan McGrail in both possessions.  Nathan’s catches brought Pentucket to the Clippers 32-yard-line where both drives ended.

In the first of those Pentucket possessions, a sack by NHS senior Eben Mulvey was the killer.  The next possession?  A game-deciding interception by Myles Maloof that turned out to be the last play of the contest.

Truly an exciting game at a terrific stadium with fine weather to boot for a mid-October night game.

Nathan McGrail encounters Connor Smith

I referenced the costly mistakes of Pentucket.  There were others they made that weren’t costly but could have been.  The Sachems had fumbles in the first and second quarters that were recovered (Gus Flahery, Brian Wilbur).  Later, a low snap by center Jack Mitchell on an extra point attempt threw off the timing of Daniels Lathum and his kick went wide right.

The missed EP didn’t hurt because the Clippers missed on their EP attempt after their second touchdown.

The Sachems had serious trouble, especially in the second half, stopping Myles Maloof.  Clever ball-handling by QB Owen Bradbury was a factor.  (I found myself visually chasing the wrong runner on several occasions.)  I have included pictures to show the kind of blocking Myles had in front of him.

Ethan Dore left the game early with a leg injury

A leg injury sent two-way Sachems starter Ethan Dore to the sidelines on Newburyport’s second possession of the game.

Give credit to the Sachems because despite all these handicaps they gave the Clippers plenty of trouble.

Pentucket was able to run the ball (Brandon Wilbur) and pass it during the first half.  The second half?  The Clippers took away the run.  That left the Sachems one dimensional and easier to defend.  The Clippers single coverage gave way to zone coverage in the end game and interceptions resulted.

Nathan McGrail (8 catches/132 yards) and Jake Etter (7 catches/68 yards) were favorite targets of QB Gus Flaherty.

Nathan McGrail got behind the Newburyport secondary twice for touchdowns

Nathan torched the NBPT secondary twice for scores.  Both times the Clippers deep defenders appeared to underestimate the arm strength of Gus Flaherty (17-for-24 217 yards) and were beaten deep.  Later when Newburyport’s zone coverage was in place, there was no getting beaten deep.  Extra defenders downfield in the pass-receiving areas led to the two crucial late-game interceptions.

Connor Smith excelled on offense and defense for the home team.  With good height and instincts, he provided constant problems for Pentucket.

Just wondering: If coaches can manage defenses without having a player come to the sidelines and report back in, why can’t they do it on offense?  I think of that when a team needs to move quickly because they are trailing, but instead the trailing team waits while the seconds run off for the quarterback to go to the sidelines and then back to the huddle.

Brandon Wilbur (21) tries to excape Noah Van Schalkwyk (20)

How to drive your coach crazy.  Late in the game, Newburyport had the lead and the ball.  Pentucket was burning it timeouts hoping for another series of downs.  Newburyport quarterback Owen Bradbury looked to be running an option but at the last second decided to pass into the flat.  The ball was dropped and the clock STOPPED with 59 seconds left instead of running and running until a 4th down punt was attempted quite a few seconds later.

Pentucket had won four of the last five meeting with Newburyport.

Both teams were defeated badly by Masco.  Lynnfield also took down Newburyport by a big score (32-0).  Pentucket has the Pioneers ahead on their schedule.

The lights and the setting at the stadium were excellent.

Wide receiver Nathan McGrail showed the ability to jump over defenders.

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

Nathan McGrail

QB Owen Bradbury pitches to Myles Maloof

Brandon Wilbur (21) looks for running room

Jake Etter (left) interferes with Owen Bradbury

Leaping catch by Nathan McGrail in front of Noah Van Schalkwyk

Nathan McGrail (2) finishes his 2nd TD

Donte Harmon (15) tries the right side

Myles Maloof (9) finds the end zone

Action at midfield

Gus Flaherty (7) was 17-for-24 with two touchdown passes

Myles Maloof behind excellent blocking

Myles Maloof (9) outruns Jake Etter for six

Myles Maloof (9) heads for the end zone

Myles Maloof (9) ends the game with an interception

 

 

 

 

 

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