Monthly Archives: November 2019

Newtown’s defense creates turnovers leading to 17-2 win over Masuk

Newtown defenders signal another Masuk turnover

Chris Tillotson (2) leads Masuk onto the field

(Monroe CT) Even the winning coach wasn’t totally pleased.

It was shades of Patriots coach Bill Belichick: “We won but………..”

Newtown finished their regular season undefeated (10-0) with a 17-2 win over Masuk on Wednesday night at surprisingly “balmy” Monroe.

The Hawks now move on to a home playoff game on Tuesday.

The Panthers (6-4) are left to wonder what might have been against Newtown if they hadn’t ended four possessions with giveaways.

“It comes down to turnovers,” said Masuk coach Joe Lato post-game.  “We were thirty yards out and we put the ball on the ground…….and so it goes.”

Jeff Nugent (7) drops Brandon Lombardo (6)

The Hawks didn’t match Masuk’s turnover total, but they had other problems.  “We haven’t played a complete game yet,” explained Newtown coach Bob Pattison. “We at times hurt ourselves.  We had penalties, mental mistakes, and ‘so-and-so didn’t hear the calls.’  It makes it hard to win when you do those things.”

But Newtown did win, and Coach Pattison’s concerns will carry over into the tournament game ahead.

After an empty first half, the Hawks scored on their first possession of the second half.  Junior Luke Hannon (109 yards) covered the final two yards and senior Devin O’Connell kicked the extra point.

Jared Dunn (33) and Will Swierbut (1) bury QB Nick Saccu

The important play in that drive was a 4th down conversion from the Masuk 30.  QB Brandon Lombardo, with a ton of time, found senior Jack Zingaro in the middle of the field and the Hawks were set up for their first score near the goal line.

That touchdown-producing sequence impacted the final outcome, according to MHS coach Lato: “It was third-and-eight and we nearly had #6 (Brandon Lombardo) sacked for a big loss but he floated an incompletion.  That left them with a makeable 4th down.  On the next play he scrambled and hit the kid on a crossing route.”

When Newtown coach Pattison referenced “needing to get better” he wasn’t talking about his defense.  It was solid throughout.

Safety signaled

And it needed to be after a third-quarter bad snap resulted in a safety (5:03) as senior Colin Meropoulos dropped quarterback Jack Street in the end zone.  The Newtown lead was now only 7-2 with seventeen minutes of playing time left.

Linebacker Jared Dunn (33) loses his helmet

But the Hawks defense took charge the rest of the way.  “We harp on finishing strong,” said senior James Knox afterwards.  He and his teammates did just that.

To James it was “finishing strong.” To MHS coach Lato it was “too many turnovers.”

However you look at it, Newtown collected ten points the rest of the way and Masuk was shut down.

The Hawks caused fumbles (recovered one) and their pressure on quarterback Deric DeAngelis led to two interceptions (Jack Zingaro, Will Swierbut) in the final 1 ½ quarters.

Newtown interception by Jack Zingaro (4)

“Our defense bailed us out,” explained Coach Pattison.

“We didn’t execute the way we wanted to in the first half, but we battled back,” said Hawk running back Connor Breslin.  “We found ways to overcome obstacles.  Our linemen are amazing.  It’s easy to run with them up front.”

It certainly helped the Newtown rushing game to have fullback Jared Dunn (6-3/220) ushering Connor and teammate Luke Hannon on sweeps.

Jared (All-SWC 2018) made a nice catch in the first half and tallied Newtown’s final touchdown with a two-yard dive that barely broke the goal line plane.

Jeff Nugent (7) tackles Luke Hannan (9)

The Panthers lost starting quarterback Nick Saccu to an ankle injury late in the third quarter.  The sophomore’s ability to run the Masuk offense was missed down the stretch.  Nick was 15/21 for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers most recent game against Weston.

“Masuk gave us some looks that we weren’t expecting,” said Coach Pattison.  “They created some confusion and we had to make some adjustments.  A lot of guys touch the ball in their triple option and sometimes the ball gets on the ground.”

James Knox: “It was an amazing game.  It’s always great to play in front of friends and teammates.  We know every year that this game is going to be a tough one.  Our second-half adjustments really kicked in.”

Newtown linemen Jacob Riley (52) and Matt Heinlein (56)

James has committed to Columbia.  “It has a great variety of majors.  I’m leaning toward engineering or business.”

Newtown junior Pat Boyle recovered two fumbles.

Devin O’Connell had a 21-yard field goal in the 4th quarter.

Newtown has now won the SWC four straight years.  They also haven’t lost to an SWC opponent since 2017.

Newtown now leads the Thanksgiving series 14-9-1.

Both teams were held to their lowest point totals of the season.  Newtown came into the Masuk game with four straight 40+ point games.

Coach Lato: “I wish we could have gotten more out of this season.  These great kids deserved that.”

Remarkable weather.  A little drizzle early but temperatures were in the upper 40s with no wind.  Two years ago, after the game at Masuk, I was certain that I would require post-game frost bite care!

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

Ball on the ground. Pat Boyle (81) about to make a recovery

Brandon Lombardo (6)

Chris Tillotson (2) intercepts a pass intended for Riley Ward (13)

Connor Breslin (20) follows Jared Dunn (33)

Deric DeAngelis (19) pressured

Ian Jackson (3) bats down a pass

Jared Dunn makes a catch

Luke Hannan (9) chased by Dan Verrastro (22), Colin Meropoulos (55) and Thomas Palermos (50)

Luke Hannon (9) finds open field

Pat Boyle (81) blocks during Devin O’Connell field goal attempt








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New Hampshire stays undefeated at home with 28-10 win over Maine

Brice-Cowell musket and the UNH Wildcats post-game

Evan Gray with Coach Sean McDonnell pre-game

(Durham NH) “It’s a great day to be a Wildcat,” said senior back Evan Gray as he ran off the field Saturday afternoon.  “We don’t lose here.”

Evan’s 4-yard blast up the middle in the second quarter put UNH in front, 14-7, and the Wildcats defense took it from there. The Wildcats won all five games this season on the home turf.

UNH (6-5) also took back the treasured Brice-Cowell musket as the closing second counted down from the Maine sideline.

“We got the musket back where it really belongs,” said interim UNH coach Ricky Santos.

Coach Santos was suddenly thrust into the head coaching spot in August when head coach Sean McDonnell stepped aside to battle cancer.  Coach McDonnell was on hand to greet the honored seniors pre-game.

UNH linebacker Michael Balsamo eyes UMaine QB Joe Fagnano

The Black Bears (6-6) being held to only ten points was a big surprise.  The team from Orono (ME) hadn’t been held to less that thirty-one points in each of their previous five games.

Fifth-year coach Nick Charlton: “We had plenty of opportunities but didn’t capitalize.  In the big moments of the game we didn’t come up with the plays and they did.”

The final score was misleading.

UMaine’s Kenny Doak kicked a 45-yard field goal seven minutes into the final quarter and the Black Bears were within four, 14-10, with plenty of time left.

UMaine, in fact, got the ball back in great field position (their own 47) after a short (24 yards) Jason Hughes punt.

But after a first-down pass to Jaquan Blair (8 catches – 91 yards) the UNH defense forced two incompletions and Cameron Brusko recorded a sack forcing UMaine to surrender possession.

The Wildcats followed with their best drive of the day (92 yards).  Included in that drive was a 36-yard catch by Malik Love (11 catches – 115 yards) and a 34-yard run by Dylan Laube (9 carries – 63 yards).  The touchdown play was a four-yard pass from quarterback Max Brosmer (24/34 – 241 yards) to defensive end and seldom-targeted Gunner Gibson.

Gunner Gibson in for a touchdown past Adrian Otero in the 4th quarter

Gunner talked about the catch post-game: “We sometimes put in special packages where I’m at tight end or fullback.  We didn’t run that play a lot in practice.  I was a little surprised to see the ball come my way.”  Gunner made the catch, side-stepped a defender to get to the end zone.

Coach Santos joked that every time they ran that play for Gunner in practice the ball was dropped………but not this time and UNH had an eleven-point lead, 21-10.

The Black Bears had rallied back from a 14-point deficit against Rhode Island the previous week and they were on a four-game win streak but the UMaine comeback plans quickly went up in smoke!

On the first play from scrimmage in the first quarter, the Black Bears had fumbled (Devin Young) giving UNH possession.  Three plays later Dylan Laube had a catch/run for a 35-yard score.

Maine’s Devin Young fumbles on the first play.

On UMaine’s last play of the game there was another fumble (their fourth).  On this one, corner back Prince Smith picked up the miscue and ran it home.  Game, set, match.

Josh Kania causes Joe Fagnano to fumble

Ball on the ground

Prince Smith (6) picks up the loose ball

Prince Smith outruns Joe Fitzpatrick to the end zone

Pop Bush (23) and Prince Smith (6) celebrate

This sudden turn of events gave UNH two touchdowns in twelve seconds – “The game got away a little bit at the end” – Coach Charlton.

Despite the four scores for the game, there were times when the UNH offense struggled.  “Offensively, we did some good things in the first quarter and a half,” said Coach Santos.  “We were moving the ball at will until we shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of turnovers deep in the red zone.  But the defense had our backs and made sure it didn’t lead to points the other way.”

Earnest Edwards (81) now tops UMaine’s all-time list in pass receiving yards

UMaine senior Earnest Edwards ran for forty-nine yards and had sixty yards in pass receptions and scored a touchdown.  Big day for most players but not Earnest. He came into the game with 1037 yards pass receiving and ten touchdowns.  He had run two kickoffs back for scores and thrown four touchdown passes.

Earnest’s sixty pass receiving yards today, however, put him at 2641 career yards and make him UMaine’s all-time leader in passing yards.

Wildcat senior Malik Love on his big day (11 catches/115 yards): “The coaches did a good job of scheming up their defenses.  They put us in positions to be successful.  They were running coverages that we had gone over in practice.”

Coach Santos said, “Malik was inspired all week.  He said it was a game in which he was going to go off and he did.”

“This was a big win for UNH,” said Coach Charlton.  “They definitely earned it.  I thought that they tackled and covered well.  When we tried to take shots down the field, they eliminated that.  We did have some success in the short and intermediate area. Our turnovers killed our momentum.  Two of them were when the ballgame was close.”

QB Joe Fagnano

UMaine QB Joe Fagnano expressed disappointment post-game: “They were taking the deep play away.  I didn’t execute very well.”

“We did a good job of disguising coverage in the secondary,” explained Coach Santos.  “We may have tricked the freshman quarterback a couple of times.”

The weather at Wildcat Stadium was sunny and in the 40s.

UNH is now 18-5 at home since the new stadium was opened in 2016.

UMaine defeated UNH at Orono last season, 35-7, but have lost nine of their last ten to UNH otherwise.

Coach Santos is undefeated (9-0) against Maine; four as a player, four as an assistant coach, and now one as the interim head coach.

“We’re trying to create a winning culture at Maine,” said Coach Charlton.  “They already have a winning culture at UNH.”

Over 10,000 spectators attended the game.

I greatly appreciated the stats provided by the UNH athletic department.  Special thanks to Mike Murphy for arranging the media credentials for me.

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

Daniel Rymer (88) in the grasp of Michael Balsamo

Dylan Laube (20) dodges Erik Robertson (30)

Dylan Laube (20) scores in the first period

Evan Gray (22) block for QB Max Brosmer

Evan Gray (22) into an opening

Evan Gray (58 yards, 1 TD) backs into a hole

Griffin Helm (29)

Richard Carr (3) gets the facemask of Malik Love (1)

watching the screen

Jack Carroll (69)

Joe Fagnano (12) gets open

Josh Kania (95) and Pop Bush (23)

Prince Smith (6) and Cameron Brusko (5) carry the case with the musket in it

Prince Smith (6) elevates against a UMaine field goal attempt




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PKs send Amesbury by Manchester-Essex and into D4 state semi-finals

Dasa Hase and Gracie Doherty

Alyssa Pettet kicked home the game-winner in the shootout

(Lynn MA) I struggled all afternoon trying to guess how this game was going to go.

I tried the Manchester-Essex end at the start because Amesbury had beaten them twice during the season.

That put me out of close range as the Hornets dominated the first half and had a goal (Mia Cromwell at 17:16)) to show for it.

Second half I favored the Amesbury end because that was where ME had spend a lot of time in the first half.

Alli Napoli leaves the goal with Rachel Albertazzi (10) near the ball

That put me long range as Amesbury scored (McKenna Hallinan at 35:43) and carried the play in at least half of the second half.

In the final twenty minutes, both teams had chances but the goalies (ME’s Kara Glynos & Amesbury’s Alli Napoli) made plays.

Overtime?  Not yet.

In the final five minutes of regulation, the Indians were called for an infraction in the box.  Suddenly there would be a penalty kick (far from where I was standing!).

Mia Cromwell tried to go to the left corner with her PK but GK Alli Napoli lunged that way and the game continued.

Now we had overtime.

Ashley Flood (20) and Alyssa Pettet (5)

Last year, Amesbury defeated Manchester-Essex in double overtime in the same D4 North title game.

Both teams had chances to end it in the overtimes.  Amesbury’s Alyssa Pettet came very close in the first OT but the game continued as no one was found who could finish for either team.

That opened the door for the dreaded shootout.  The pressure, the lonely walk to the penalty line, and the elation/agony with the result.

The two goal scorers (Mia Cromwell & McKenna Hallinan) shot first.  Mia froze GK Alli Napoli with a shot to the right.  (In the PK at the end of regulation she had gone to the left and Alli was there.) McKenna’s shot against Leilani Brown was high to the left.

Bella Hadaegh & Gracie Doherty shot second. Bella also tried to go right but hit the crossbar.  Gracie scored past Kara Glynos on a grounder to the left.

Grace Doherty PK

So after two rounds the score was tied.  Who expected this after these teams were tied after eighty minutes of regulation and twenty minutes of overtime??

Maya Baker and Avery Hallinan were in the third round.  Maya shot up the middle and Alli Napoli hardly moved to save it.  Avery shot to the right and it slipped by ME GK Leilani Brown.  Advantage Amesbury.

Maya Baker PK

Avery Hallinan PK

The last round this game would need to reach an outcome had Sofia Gillespie and Alyssa Pettet in it.  Sofia’s shot went over the top and that gave the CAL Player-of-the-Year a chance at the game-winner.  She shot hard to the upper left by GK Kara Glynos and Amesbury had a 2-1 win in PKs.

Alyssa Pettet PK

With the victory the Indians (14-1-6) capture the Division 4 North title again and will face Millis (again) on Wednesday night (5PM) at Manning Field.

The Hornets’ goal in the first half was nicely set up.  “Maya (Baker) and Mia (Cromwell) worked a nice give-and-go on that one,” explained ME coach Luke Cosgrove afterwards.  Mia ended up with a good look and drove her shot to the right side.

Mia Cromwell shoots

ME celebrates Mia Cromwell goal

Junior Dasa Hase started the play by getting the ball from the left wing into the middle to Maya. Dasa’s corner kicks were threatening all game long.

The Indians’ goal in the second half resulted from a halftime adjustment in their corner kick formation.  Alyssa Pettet normally draws two and three defenders and usually heads close to the goal when a corner kick heads that way.

“Avery (Hallinan) suggested that having Alyssa go away from the goal would open up the front of the goal,” said Coach Adam Thibodeau.

“I ran Alyssa’s route,” explained Avery, “and no one was on me as the corner kick (MK McElaney) came in.  I tipped it and then McKenna (Hallinan) put it in.”

Avery “insisted” that the shot would have gone in without her sister McKenna’s “help.”  My pictures tell me, however, that McKenna’s part was essential.  She dove feet first into a ball that was just about to be cleared out and sent it into the left corner of the net.

Avery (11) about to deflect to McKenna (1) in front

McKenna sees the ball near the goal line

McKenna kicks ball into corner by a defender and GK Kara Glynos

McKenna’s goal signaled by official

One thing that was certainly agreed on was the extraordinary game Alli Napoli had.  “Alli is an outstanding athlete, “said Coach Thibodeau.  “She took the team on her back today.  She was disappointed with the first goal.  She has forty-nine career shutouts for a reason.”

Waiting for the shootout

Amesbury doesn’t give up many goals (16) but they also don’t score very many (35).  “We’ve had six ties this year, so we have been preparing our penalty kicks for a while,” explained Coach Thibodeau.

Senior Gracie Doherty spent most of the afternoon chasing talented Dasa Hase around.  “She’s good with the ball and very fast,” said Gracie.

On her successful penalty kick: “I wanted to take my time and try to get it into a corner.”

Coach Cosgrove: “Amesbury was very good.  The D4 North was a showcase-and-a-half.  #5 (Alyssa Pettet) was phenomenal.  Almost unstoppable.”

Avery Hallinan didn’t practice yesterday.  “My ankle is killing me,” she said post-game.

On her successful PK: “I walked up and my stomach dropped.  I shot it and thought, ‘Okay, it went in!”

Bella Hadaegh and Lily O’Neill

Alyssa Pettet’s game-winning penalty kick was her 4th of the season.  “PK’s are very tough mentally,” the Holy Cross commit said afterwards.  “You have to tune out everything that is happening.”

On Alli Napoli: “I was confident with her in net in the shootout.  She’s so athletic that she would probably be good in any sport she tried.”

Alli may have seemed calm on the field but she wasn’t.  “I was nervous out there all the time,” she said.

McKenna Hallinan on the goal she scored: “Avery’s shot was NOT going in.  It was a twin-to-twin effort.  We have twin telepathy.  We love our twin-twin moments.”

The Hornets (11-4-5) alternated goalies.  Junior Leilani Brown was in net for the first half and the first overtime as well as for the first and third PK.  Senior Kara Glynos guarded the goal in the second half, second overtime, and the second and fourth PK.

Overcast conditions with light rain after the game was over.

Tough day for Manchester-Essex.  Their boys’ soccer team lost to Burke in the game before the Amesbury girls soccer game.

(Many of the pictures are long range.  Essential that you click on them to see them enlarged.  Some, also, are a bit blurry because of the distance away that they were taken from.)

Sophia Carter (13), Lily O’Neill (16), MK McElaney (14), Gabby Smyth (17)

Alli Napoli above the crowd

Coach Adam Thibodeau with captains and trophy

Amesbury goal celebrated

Amesbury celebrates goal

Amesbury team celebrates win

Amesbury team picture with banner

Amesbury trophy raised

Dasa Hase and MK McElaney

Gracie Doherty (18) and Maya Baker (1)

Coach Luke Cosgrove with ME captains and trophy

Maddy DiPietro ready to head



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Bedford reaches D3 state semi-finals with 3-1 win over Lynnfield

Bedford – Division Three North Champions

Lynnfield with runner-up trophy

(Lynn MA) He told me afterwards that he was “surprised that it went in.”

But in it went, and the goal by junior Jasper Paez gave #1 seed Bedford a 2-0 lead in the first half.

That turned out to be enough, despite a Lynnfield goal later in the half, for the Bucs (17-1-1) and they  defeated the Pioneers, 3-1 on Saturday afternoon to claim the D3 North title.

Marcus Voss (11) and Domenic Ferrante (16)

That Lynnfield (12-9-1) even reached this game was remarkable.

“This was a great run for a tenth seed that barely got into the tournament,” said Pioneers coach Brent Munroe afterwards.  “We were fifth out of six teams in our Cape Ann League division.”

“Sometimes you go down to a better team,” added Coach Munroe, “and that is what happened today.”

That Lynnfield scored a goal on Bedford may have been equally remarkable.  The Bucs had gone ten straight games (late September) since they were last scored on.

Tommy Buston (12 covered by Matius Ou

I asked Bedford coach Dave Boschetto if he even remembered what it felt like to have a goal scored on his team: “I don’t recall what it felt like.  We’ve only given up five all season.”

You knew going in that goals against the Bucs would be hard to come by.  How about scoring goals?  Bedford had that covered too.

Right off the bat they were in on Lynnfield.  “We had a bit of a slow start,” said Coach Munroe.  “We weren’t ready for their pace.”

Inside the first minute of play, sophomore Max Alper nearly drove home a header.  It went just wide.


A minute later the Pioneers weren’t as fortunate.  Dexter Kennedy’s hard shot caromed back to senior Ryan Knight.  Ryan’s equally hard shot then went past Lynnfield GK Dante Gesamondo at 38:33.

It became obvious quickly that Bedford would be content to possess the ball continuously no matter what part of the field they were on.

“We wanted to hang onto the ball especially in the second half,” said Bedford goalie Chris Venuti post-game.  “They were only sending one guy up.”

Jasper Paez registered the eventual game-winner at 23:17 of the first half.

Jasper got beyond defender Benjamin Sykes on the left side and put a shot into the far corner.

“I received it (from Nolan Hafer), checked my shoulder, and the rest is history,” was the way Jasper summed up his second goal of the season.

After that goal it was easy to imagine that Lynnfield, down two goals, was on its way to a very long afternoon.

But the Pioneers had other ideas.

Lynnfield turned up a goal that Coach Munroe said was “probably the best goal we scored all year.”

The Lynnfield goal was set up by a cross from freshman Henry Caulfield from the right side.  Tommy Buston and Matheus Saramento both were in front of Bedford GK Chris Venuti as the ball sailed into the middle.

“#10 (Matheus Saramento) put a really good header on the ball,” recalled Chris.  “I was on the front post and he was too.  He flicked it back post.  It was a great play by him.”

The LHS goal (4:42) put the Pioneers back into the game.

“We felt good at halftime, to be honest with you,” said Coach Munroe.

The Bucs would gain permanent separation 5+ minutes into the second half.

The Pioneers committed an infraction about twenty-five yards from their goal.  That called for a direct kick and Dexter Kennedy cashed it.

Coach Boschetto: “We had worked on that set play for a while.  We knew that we had the goalie shielded a little bit.  We called for a direct shot on goal and Dexter finished it.”

Dexter’s goal was very important.  “His goal drew them out away from their goal,” said Coach Boschetto.  “Lynnfield didn’t give up, but that cushion made us a little more comfortable so that we didn’t panic.”

Bedford goalie Chris Venuti and Matheus Saramento after a Luke Martinho throw-in

The Bucs may not have panicked but the Pioneers Luke Martinho did his best to make that happen.  His throw-ins were instant threats.

“I told #9 (Luke Martinho) after the game that I was pretty scared of his throws,” said Bucs goalie Chris Venuti.  “He can put it anywhere.  He can put it right on you or to someone sitting outside the box.  You can’t see the ball.  It’s a very dangerous play.  We were lucky to defend it as well as we did.”

Coach Munroe: “Bedford’s possessions were awesome.  They switched the field.  They had really talented players at many positions.”

Alex Oleksinski

The Bucs also had depth. Every ten minutes another 5-6 players would substitute in.

“We know that everyone has out backs,” said Jasper Paez.  “The subs coming in are going to work just as hard as you.”

Bedford reached the D3 state semi-finals by defeating three Cape Ann League teams.  “We battled a couple of other Cape Ann League teams (North Reading, Newburyport) so we know that it is a good league,” said Coach Boschetto.

Coach Munroe: “I was really happy with our guys.  We fought so hard.  We lost to a great team.”

The Bucs certainly enjoyed winning the D3 North.  The team from the Dual County League had been ousted in the quarterfinals in the four previous years.

Lynnfield won sixteen games in 2018 and lost in the D3 North finals to Wayland.  This year looked to be a rebuilding one, but the Pioneers defeated the #7, #2, and #3 seeds to get to the finals.

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

Tommy Buston (12) and Matias Ou (10)

Luke Martinhow (9) and Nolan Hafer

Matheus Saramento (10 goal celebrated

Ryan Knight

Bedford celebrates third goal

Alejandro Lynch (13) and Jessop Collins (19)

Alejandro Lynch (13) defended by Jasper Paez

Bedford celebrates first goal

Dante Gesamondo up for a save for Lynnfield







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Winchester rallies past Beverly 2-1 in PKs

Winchester mob GK Kyle Ettenhofer after the Sachems win

Kaj Avola (14) and Diego Diaz (7)

(Beverly MA) Winchester will play some more soccer but there were times this afternoon when it wasn’t a certainty.

The #6 Sachems (12-3-5) needed a goal in regulation and a stop in the PK shootout to make it happen……and they got what they needed.

#3 Beverly (12-4-4) had their remarkable turnaround season come to an end.  The Panthers didn’t make the tournament last season.

“I am impressed with what Edgar (Beverly head coach Edgar De Leon) has done with the Beverly program in a small amount of time,” said Winchester coach Vinnie Musto afterwards.  “Beverly has nothing to be ashamed of.”

The crowd was enthusiastic and there was plenty to enjoy.

“It was fun to be here,” said Coach De Leon post-game.  “The atmosphere was remarkable.  It hasn’t been like this in Beverly for a couple of years.”

As the game wore on through a half and then twenty-five minutes of the second half you sensed that a goal would win it, but it didn’t.

The Panthers (Northeastern Conference) broke through with 12:55 remaining in regulation.  “Sam Phillips took a shot from the right that bounced off their goalie,” recalled Coach De Leon.  “Senior Joel Platt was there to put it away.”

Winchester was in trouble, but they regrouped.

“We called a timeout after their goal,” said Coach Musto.  “We regained our composure and realized that there was enough time to come back.”

The Sachems cashed the equalizer 4+ minutes later.

“We’ve worked on building on one side and then moving it to the other side where the open space is,” said Coach Musto.  “The ball came from the right and our outside back (Dylan Ross) had the composure to finish it with a header.”

Dylan Ross celebrates

“The ball came from Ben Van Halle our junior captain,” explained Dylan post-game.  “I was just hoping I wasn’t offsides.  You never know.”

It was Dylan’s third goal of the season.  He also scored in the Sachems 4-0 win over Boston Latin Academy in the previous round.

Into overtime the game went.  Beverly had good chances in both OTs.

Jackson Erwin got in on the left in the first overtime, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.

Beverly pressured Winchester in overtime

In the second OT, Nick Braganca had his head on a corner kick, but his shot went directly to Winchester GK Kyle Ettenhofer.

In the shootout, Beverly took the advantage when GK Finn Crocker lunged to his right to stop the 4th Winchester shooter (Dylan Ross).  The future of the Sachems soccer season was now on the shoulders of first-year senior Kyle Ettenhofer.

Beverly goalie Finn Crocker stops a PK

Kyle did his part, made a save and the two teams continued alternating shots.

Kyle’s next save won it for Winchester.

“I was shaking in my boots,” recalled Kyle of his game-winning stop.  “The kicker was a lefty. I thought about going right and just went left to get it.  It is all guesswork.”

Kyle Ettenfofer stops the final Beverly PK

Onto the field poured the Winchester faithful.  The team from the Middlesex League will play again on Wednesday against Belmont at Manning Field in Lynn.

Nick Braganca (Beverly) and Will Hoffheinz (Winchester)

The pressure on teams and individuals in these shootouts is enormous.  Each participant gets a long, lonely walk from midfield to the penalty line before getting their opportunity.  The result is the classic “thrill of victory and agony of defeat.”

Winchester’s Dylan Ross experienced both sides.  He had the goal that tied the game and then in the shootout had his shot deflected by Beverly GK Finn Crocker.  “That miss in the shootout brought me back down to earth in a hurry!” exclaimed Dylan.

Coach De Leon: “This is what tournament play is all about.  Two really good teams going at each other.  I couldn’t be prouder of my boys.  They defended their hearts out.”

Coach Musto: “The shootout is an awful way for someone to go out.  Our keeper (Kyle Ettenhofer) was fantastic today.”

I’ve been told that MIAA does not stand for Missing In Action Always.  You wonder, however, when you come to a tournament game and there is no charge, no programs, and little crowd-control presence.  Fortunately, the two officials did a remarkable job of making sure that the crowd was controlled and the game, itself, went smoothly.

Beverly missed the tournament the last two seasons.

Winchester is now 7-1-2 in away games.

In 2014, Beverly lost to Winchester in PKs.

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

Coaches confer before the shootout

Beverly goalie Finn Crocker

Darrugh Williams surrounded by Sachems

Diego Diaz shoots

Beverly pressures in regulation

Winchester goalie Kyle Ettenhofer

Kaj Avola (14) and Diego Diaz (7)






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Amesbury on to D4 North semi-finals after 4-2 win over Winthrop

Grace Doherty (18) between Emma Holmes (24) and Alex Gibbons (8)

Alyssa Pettet (2 goals) defended by Jenna Dorr passes ahead to a teammate

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury started tourney play with a 4-2 D4 North quarterfinals win over Winthrop tonight.

The Indians will play Essex Tech in the semi-finals next Monday (2PM) on Whittier’s new turf field.

Junior Alyssa Pettet paced the Indians (12-1-6) with two first-half goals while her sophomore teammate MK McElaney added a goal and two assists.

Junior Maura Dorr (with over fifty career goals) added two more to her total for Winthrop.

Alyssa Pettet breaks past Julia Marcoccio (16) for a shot

Amesbury applied most of the pressure during the game, but Coach Adam Thibodeau wasn’t pleased with his team’s style of play in the early going.

“We hadn’t played for a while (eight days) and it showed in the first 10-15 minutes,” he recalled.  “We didn’t have the energy, so we relied on long balls.  We should have been passing to feet and sending players into space.”

“Passing to feet,” and “sending a player into space” kicked in for the Indians at 25:14 as Lilly O’Neill and Alyssa Pettet worked together on a nifty give-and-go.

“Lilly sent a pass between the sweeper and stopper,” recalled Alyssa, “and I just needed a step to be in on goal.”

Lily O’Neill (16) and Alex Gibbons (8)

Amesbury’s first goal was Alyssa’s 20th.

Nine minutes later the Holy Cross commit had her 21st off MK McElaney’s corner kick.

“MK and I have done a good job of connecting on CK’s,” said Alyssa.  “She places them perfectly.”

“It was a great kick by MK,” added Coach Thibodeau.  “She’s been working on it all year.”

Three minutes later the Vikings (11-9) came very close to cutting into Amesbury’s 2-0 lead.

However, senior Ashlee Porcaro (Cape Ann League All-Star) saved the day for the Indians.

On the near-goal, defender Meg McElaney, goalie Alli Napoli, and prolific scorer Maura Dorr became entwined. The ball got behind them and was heading for the goal. Suddenly, out of nowhere came Ashlee to clear the ball away at the last second.

Afterwards, Ashlee (14 in the picture above) downplayed her part: “I was just at the right spot at the right time.  Things happen.  We practice for mistakes like that.”

Gabby Smyth (17) and Miya Grein (2)

“That non-goal would certainly have been nice,” said Winthrop coach Tracey Martucci.  “It would have changed the tempo.”

But the goal didn’t happen.

“Ashlee made a huge play,” added Coach Thibodeau.  “She recognized the hole there and played it perfectly.”

Recently returned sophomore Avery Hallinan increased Amesbury’s lead to 3-0 seven minutes into the second half.  MK’s lead pass to space was all that speedy Avery needed to break free and score.

“Avery has been out since Columbus Day when she rolled her ankle,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “It was great to have her back.”

Maura Dorr was carefully marked by Amesbury throughout the game, but she found a chance to possess the ball and face the goal with thirteen minutes left and capitalized.

Winthrop, however, could not narrow the two-goal deficit the rest of the way.

MK McElaney returns a rebound for Amesbury’s 4th goal

MK McElaney’s rebound bullet from straight away stretched Amesbury’s advantage to 4-1 early in the last five minutes.  MK moved up full-speed on the long rebound and two defenders turned their heads as the ball whizzed by them and into the upper center of the net.

Maura was able to pick up her 2nd goal of the game in the closing seconds after a dangerous play infraction by the Indians led to an indirect kick from very close to the Amesbury net.

“The referee called it a dangerous play which was why it wasn’t a penalty kick,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “One of our players had fallen and landed on the ball.  It was the right call.”

Avery Hallinan ahead of Stefania Spinzzola (15)

Coach Martucci: “We played well but Amesbury is a great team.  Their speed put a lot of pressure on us.”

Alyssa Pettet: “When I play striker, I move wherever I want.  When I feel we need more help on defense I move back.  We wanted to finish more opportunities today.”

Alyssa on Holy Cross: “They are at my club games and showcases.  They see me play center defense in club.  They give me pointers and encouragement.”

In nineteen games the Indians have scored thirty-two goals.  Alyssa has twenty-one of them.

Today’s four goals are the most Amesbury has scored in a game this season.  The same was true last year against Winthrop in the Indians 4-0 First Round victory.

Maura Dorr

Maura Dorr holds the all-time scoring title at Winthrop and is only a junior.  It is interesting that the school scoring record was held by Coach Martucci before assistant coach Julie Dawson broke the record.  Now it belongs to one of their current players, Maura Dorr.

Junior Julia Campbell replaced All-CAL goalie Alli Napoli in the latter part of the second half.  “We had a lead and the grass was wet,” explained Coach Thibodeau.  “I wanted to give Julia minutes.  She’s been working hard all season.”

The Vikings reached the quarterfinals when Maura scored in overtime against Mystic Valley.

Don’t ask me about the lights at Landry Stadium.

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

Alyssa Pettet (5) heads home her second goal

Alyssa Pettet’s second goal celebrated

Beverly Browne

Ella Marinopolous

Goalie Manuela Mejia makes a stop for Winthrop

Avery Hallinan and MK McElaney celebrate Amesbury’s 4th goal

McKenna Hallinan in the middle of two Vikings defenders

McKenna Hallinan (1) and Emma Forsyth (21)

Nora McCarey








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Newburyport routs East Boston in D3 North opening round

Olivia Coletti starts the Newburyport scoring

Maddy Felts (15) and Cricket Good (11) celebrate a goal

(Newburyport MA) The Clippers (10-6-3) scored early and often in their 11-0 Preliminary Round win over East Boston on Sunday afternoon.

The #17 Jets (10-8-1) struggled all game just to get into the #16 Newburyport half of the field.

Midway through the first half an EB long ball from midfield rolled to Newburyport keeper Anneliese Truesdale and the Clippers student section “cheered.”  Why?  That was the first and only ball that Anneliese handled during the entire half!

Meanwhile, down the other end, the Clippers applied pressure, pressure, and more pressure and the goals started adding up.

East Boston goalie Julianna Bonilla made some nice saves but also left some big rebounds.

Newburyport coach Kevin Sheridan had everyone on his bench in action in the first half and used reserves for most of the second half.

Molly Webster (2 goals) and East Boston GK Julianna Bonilla battle for a rebound

East Boston coach Richard LaCara took note: “Newburyport is very, very skilled.  We appreciate everything that took place here.  It could have been a lot uglier than it was.  There was no running up the score.”

The Clippers had nine different goals scorers.

Senior Cricket Good paced the home team with two goals and an assist.

Sophomore Molly Webster also had two scores.

“Other people had good shots,” said Molly afterwards.  “The rebounds were there for me to run into.”

Vanessa Rico (6) and Isabel Kirby (13)

The goals today were Molly’s 2nd and 3rd of the season.

Senior Olivia Coletti started the scoring for NHS three minutes into the game.  Denied a minute earlier, Olivia fielded a deflected shot by Kelsey Soule and cashed an open netter.

Five minutes later one captain (Molly Elmore) was set up by another captain (Cricket Good).

Another five minutes Cricket used her strong left foot from the left side to beat GK Julianna Bonilla to the far side.

Another five minutes Maddy Felts turned a rebound into a 4-0 lead.

This was the point at which Anneliese Truesdale finally had to field a long roller from midfield.

The Clippers added three more goals in the first half to lead 7-0 at intermission.

Katie Gallagher (2 assists) readies a corner kick

“The girls played well,” said Coach Sheridan after the game.  “Everyone had a chance to play.  There was quality time for everyone in a tournament game.”

Junior Matigan DeFeo had a goal and two assists while Norah McElhinney added a goal and an assist.

Newburyport is in the Cape Ann League while East Boston plays in the Boston City League.

“Our goal is always to win the city championship,” said Coach LeCara.  “Whatever happens after that happens.”

The Jets lost in the city semi-finals.

Anna Affolter (21) and Jennifer Sanabria (12)

Tuesday the Clippers will encounter #1 seed Stoneham in the First Round.  Trust me, “night-and-day” might describe the difference in competition Newburyport will face in that one.

At one point in the second half, the Jets had twelve players on the field before Coach LaCara realized it and got the attention of the extra player.

Soccer doesn’t have a mercy rule………or do they?  I believe that the second half (?) was played with running time.  Normally the clock stops after goals.

I did some last-minute homework on Newburyport girls soccer to see when the last time was that the Clippers were in the tournament.  Didn’t happen last year but in 2017 they reached the state semi-finals.  Who did they play in the First Round on November 4th?  East Boston.  Score?  12-0.  Two years ago at Stehlin Stadium.

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

Cricket Good shoots for the far corner

East Boston threatens late in the game

Jets circle Liberty Palermino

Maddy Felts (15) watches her shot that turned into a goal

Molly Elmore (9) lines up a header

Molly Webster (19) and Matigan DeFeo (26) break in

Norah McElhinney (12) celebrates her goal

Olivia Coletti nearly scores early

Olivia Sullivan

Page Cole (24) dribbles by an EB defender

Sami Cavanaugh (10) sets to turn a corner kick into a goal

Sierra Leahy







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New Hampshire catches Villanova in the second half winning 28-20

Plenty of celebrating for New Hampshire after their big CAA win over Villanova

NH coach Ricky Santos

(Durham NH) New Hampshire looked done for at halftime…………but they weren’t.

The NH Wildcats (5-3) turned offensive and defensive in the second half and erased a 20-7 halftime deficit and recorded a satisfying 28-20 win over the Villanova Wildcats (6-3) on Saturday afternoon in Colonial Athletic Association action.

The loss was the third straight for Nova and Coach Mark Ferrante expressed that frustration postgame: “We came out and put up a zero in the second half.  We need to figure out how we can play the full four quarters.”

New Hampshire remains undefeated at home (4-0) and owning the home field factored into their second-half turnaround, according to Coach Ricky Santos. “In the first half, they (Villanova) were playing downhill on us.  Halftime wasn’t so much the X’s and O’s.  It was a matter of challenging the guys.  Villanova was playing harder than us on our field.  No one in our locker room was going to allow that to happen in the second half.”

So, back came NH in the second half with three scores and a defensive shutout to grab the W.

Daniel Smith

Nova quarterback Daniel Smith dazzled in the first half (10/18 – 189 yards).  The Wildcats junior passed for a TD (Zac Kerxton) and ran for another (1 yard) on a fourth-down leap.

Second half it was NH’s Max Brosmer’s turn to shine.  The true freshman was 10/10 totaling 132 yards and two touchdowns (both to Dylan Laube).

Max had to recover from an interception (Keeling Hunter) in the last minute of the first half that cost NH some possible points.  “Max had a turnover right before the half,” recalled Coach Santos.  “It could have gone one way or another for him after that.  He internalized it, however, and wouldn’t let it stop him in the second half.”

New Hampshire QB Max Brosmer at halftime

“I erased it from my head,” explained Max postgame.  “I made a bad throw.  I had to move on.”

Villanova QB Daniel Smith came into today’s game with twenty-one touchdown passes.  He added one to that total today.  He also came into the game with only seven interceptions over eight games.  Key stat?  NH picked him three times this afternoon.

Two of the NH interceptions (Randall Harris & Evan Horn) ended Villanova’s last two drives of the contest and both were close to the NH end zone.

Efficient use by Villanova of timeouts (an issue in an earlier loss) gave the visitors possession in a one-possession game (28-20) at their twenty with 1:49 left and no timeouts.  Daniel Smith used time-stopping sidelines passes and a long scramble to reach the New Hampshire thirty-two with twenty seconds left.  A pass attempt down the middle, however, was overthrown and defender Evan Horn intercepted and sealed the win for the home team.

Dylan Laube (20) scored twice in the second half

NH freshman back Dylan Laube twice swung out of the Wildcats backfield to beat Nova defenders deep.  In the third quarter, Dylan escaped senior Julian Williams to give NH the lead for good, 21-20. In the fourth quarter, Dylan added an insurance score.  This time it was linebacker Drew Wiley who was burned deep.

“We wanted to get Dylan matched up on a linebacker because we thought he could run by them,” explained Coach Santos.

Big plays by the offense and the defense in the game-changing second half.  Not to be overlooked, for certain, was the very important handiwork of punter Drew Sanborn in the final quarter.  Drew had a punt deflected by freshman Elijah Solomon in the first half which set up a Nova drive that ended with a TD pass to Zac Kerxton.

Twice in the tense final quarter, Drew handled one-hop snaps and delivered long boots.  (Bless the turf-field true bounces?)  “Drew did a great job fielding those snaps and getting long punts,” said Coach Santos.  “Snapper Tim Bouchard has usually been very consistent.”

Darius Pickett led the Villanova defense with nine solo tackles.

Villanova coach Mark Ferrante

New Hampshire has now won five of their last six games.

Villanova will play their next three games at home.  “We never got it going offensively in the second half,” explained Daniel Smith postgame.  “That can’t happen.  I’ve got to do a better job.”

I knew that I wasn’t covering a high school game when I stepped out of my truck at UNH about 1 ½ hours before the game started and was confronted with grills and enticing aromas!

The second quarter has been the best for Villanova all season.  They have outscored opponents 130-47 in the second period.

My thanks for Mike Murphy for arranging today’s visit for me.  The stats (pre and post-game) as well as the rosters are never taken for granted by those of us covering high school events.

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

Brian Espanet (80) scores in the first quarter

Carlos Washington (26) congratulated by Curtis Linton (76)

Daniel Smith sneaks for TD

David Perry postgame

Evan Gray (22)

Evan Horn (33) after end-of-game interception

Forrest Rhyne (43) tackles Evan Gray (22)

Jaaron Hayek (26) makes a leaping catch

Malik Love (1) makes a nice catch

Max Brosmer on the sidelines

Max Brosmer (16) passes to the flat

Evan Horn (33)

Riley Burns

Oleh Manzyk

Jared Nelson (46) brings heat to QB Max Brosmer

Randall Harris (24) intercepts pass for Andrew Perez (80)

Simon Bingelis (81) makes a nice catch for VU

UNH Max Oxendine

Villanova gang tackles

Villanova pressures NH punter Drew Sanborn

Villanova’s DeeWil Barlee runs

Zac Kerxton (82) catches with Randall Harris (24) nearby




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