Category Archives: Bedford

Early hits and strong pitching gets Exeter second straight title 6-2 over Bedford

In Exeter’s 3-run first Cody Morissette tripled and later scored the Hawks second run

Bobby Cliche pitched a five-hitter with seven strikeouts

(Manchester NH) The Exeter Hawks put a nice combination of early hitting and quality pitching together and won their second straight Division 1 state title, 6-2, over Bedford on Monday afternoon at the home of the Fisher Cats.

Exeter jumped all over Bedford starter Geoff Mosseau in the first two innings with four runs and seven hits.

“We talked before the game about setting the tempo and that is what we did early,” said 1B Tom Polhemus afterwards.

“Geoff (Mosseau) is a very good pitcher and we didn’t want him to settle in,” explained Exeter coach Kevin McQueen.  “We had him at 52 pitches after two innings.”

Senior Cody Morissette paced the Hawks (20-3) getting three hits and driving in three runs.  Cody had a triple in the first and a single in the second, driving in a run with each hit.

On the other side, the Bulldogs (21-2) were being held hitless by Exeter starter Bobby Cliche until two were out in the third inning.

Ryan Lee heads for 3B

Bobby ended up giving up just five hits and two runs.  He struck out seven Bulldogs.

Bobby said that his curve was the key to today’s success.  “The curve was good today.  I had the fastball but if your secondary pitch isn’t there you’re screwed.  Things were working today.”

The only glitch for Bobby was in the fourth inning when his pickoff attempt went past 1B Tom Polhemus allowing baserunner Joey Barrett to reach 3B with no outs.  Joey would later score on Ryan Lee’s infield out.

The Hawks would get that run back in the sixth inning.  Davis Leighton reached on shortstop Joey Barrett’s error and later scored on Cody Morissette’s second triple of the game.

Watching from the Exeter dugout

Coach McQueen talked about this game being a “white knuckler” as it played out.  The Bulldogs’ sixth inning was certainly that.  Bedford had a walk (Joey Barrett) and a two-out double (Ryan Lee) and a run-producing single (Peyton Murray).  One run in, two on, down by three.  A hit would cut the deficit to one with four outs left.  But Bobby Cliché struck out Patrick Harrington swinging to end the threat.

Exeter stretched their lead to 6-2 in the seventh inning.  It was all “small ball.”  A walk, a hit batsman, and a suicide squeeze (Garrett Roberts) got it done.

Double play in the 7th

Avery Mosseau opened the last of the 7th with a hit but was soon doubled off first after Zach Fletcher lined out to 2B.  Nick Mokas’ pop to 3B Brady Green brought on Exeter celebrations.

Bobby Cliché: “It was definitely more comfortable to be working with the lead.  I’ve worked with the seniors on this team for seven or eight years now.  To end our time together with a state championship is amazing.”

Cody Morissette: “The reason I haven’t pitched since May is that I’ve had arm issues.  I’m not sure what the problem was.  I could have pitched for an inning today if needed.  We have all kinds of good pitching on this team, so I knew that we’d be safe without me pitching.”  Cody pitched all three tournament games last season as the Hawks were a perfect 21-0.

Grant Lavigne

The missing piece in what I’ve written so far is Bedford’s Grant Lavigne.  Grant was recently drafted in the first round (#42) by the Colorado Rockies.  Bobby Cliché retired Grant all three times (infield groundout, infield popup, and outfield fly).

I asked Coach McQueen about keeping Grant off the bases: “Keeping Grant off the bases is nothing short of a miracle!  He’s a great hitter with a great future in front of him.  In this game, he didn’t come up with a lot of runners on the bases.”

Joey Barrett scored two runs for Bedford.  He also dislocated a finger sliding into third base.

Tom Polhemus had two hits, and RBI, and scored a run for Exeter.

The crowd was good although you wonder how many working folks can attend a 4PM game on a Monday.

Surprised by the small number of media in attendance.  I was the only photographer in the dugouts during the entire game.

Having the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium evolve into part sun and part shade made for difficult photography, at least for this amateur!

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

Tom Polhemus with trophy

Cody Morissette

Exeter Hawks

Grant Lavigne

Celebrating

Celebrating a title

Grant Lavigne, Peyton Murray, Zach Fletcher

Geoff Mosseau

Shortstop Cody Morissette

Garret Roberts bunt turned into a hit

Grant Lavigne in the dugout

Cody Morissette’s second triple

Davis Leighton scores the 5th Exeter run in the sixth inning

Shortstop Joey Barrett

Joey Barrett slides into 3B

Tom Polhemus steals 2B as Trevor Anibal awaits throw

Patrick Harrington pitched well in relief

Catcher Kyle Lavigne

 

 

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Londonderry stuns undefeated Bedford in D1 title game 57-56

Celebrating begins for the D1 champion Londonderry Lancers

Celebrating begins for the D1 champion Londonderry Lancers

Londonderry coach John Fagula retires with 12th state championship

Londonderry coach John Fagula retires with 12th state championship

(Hooksett NH) What a finish!

Junior Brittany Roche broke a tie with a clutch three for Londonderry with twelve seconds left and the Lancers upset Bedford, 57-56, to take the Division 1 title at SNHU on Sunday night.

The win sends LHS coach John Fagula into retirement with his twelfth state title.  John had won the previous eleven titles coaching Nashua.

Gatorade’s NH Player-of-the-Year Aliza Simpson finishes a winner and will be off to UNH in the fall.  Aliza had sixteen points to lead all scorers as well as six assists.

The loss ends a 39-game win streak for Bedford the defending D1 state champs.

The ending of this year’s D1 championship finals will be hard to forget for anyone who was part of the full house at SNHU.

The Bulldogs (21-1) took a five-point lead (54-49) into the final 2:49 of the game.  But in a minute the Lancers drew even with an old-fashioned three (Jackie Luckhardt) and a jump shot (Aliza Simpson).

Finals seconds as Aliza Simpson dribbles.  Note Brittany Roche in left corner

Finals seconds as Aliza Simpson dribbles. Note Brittany Roche in left corner

On Bedford’s next possession, Aliza Simpson tracked down a loose ball in the corner and called a timeout.

With no shot clock, Londonderry (19-3) had plenty of options with 1:20 left.  They opted to run the clock and look for something with very little time left.

At that point I would have bet the store that Aliza would get the final shot on some sort of drive toward the basket.  And that may have been Londonderry’s plan.

Brittany Roche

Brittany Roche

What actually happened was very surprising.  With close to fifteen seconds left sophomore Jackie Luckhardt drove in from the right toward the basket.  I thought at the time that it was way too early for a shot to be taken.  Jackie, however, did not shoot but instead drove under the basket and tossed a bounce pass to junior Brittany Roche in the left corner.  Brittany, called “Big Shot” by her coach and teammates, was wide open and nailed a truly big shot with twelve seconds left giving Londonderry a 3-point lead.

Plenty of time for Bedford to get those three points back and they had at least two timeouts left.  McKenzie Brown misfired on their first 3-point attempt but Bedford maintained possession.  After a timeout Brianna Purcell attempted to tie the game with a second three.  That try was short and Nicole Tucci put in a 2-point rebound at the buzzer.  The Bulldogs still trailed by one, 57-56, and Londonderry’s celebrating began.

Bedford’s biggest lead was six (35-29) while Londonderry’s biggest lead was seven (26-19 & 29-22).

The Lancers made the first attempt to separate getting nine straight late in the second quarter to turn a 19-17 Bulldogs lead into a 26-19 deficit with a minute left.  Aliza Simpson had a three (off the backboard) and a jump shot during this run while Brittany Roche had a jump shot and Tara Burke added a layup.

McKenzie Brown gets a rebound

McKenzie Brown gets a rebound

Bedford’s best collection of offense was in the third quarter.  During 4+ minutes the Bulldogs turned a 29-22 deficit into a 35-29 lead with thirteen unanswered points.  McKenzie Brown converted two rebounds, Brianna Purcell had a three and a driving layup, Ali Glennon added an old-fashioned three, and Haley Driscoll made a free throw.

As the points in the 13-point run continued to roll up for Bedford, I thought the Bulldogs were on their way to taking total control, but it didn’t happen.  Casey Evans stopped the bleeding for the Lancers with an old-fashioned three and Elizabeth Caron hit a jump shot putting Londonderry right back in it.

There were three ties and three lead changes in the last quarter in a game that’s outcome was in doubt until the end.

The loss took the luster off of terrific games by Bedford’s seniors McKenzie Brown and Ali Glennon.  McKenzie contributed a double/double (13 points/12 rebounds).  Ali added eleven points.

Ali Glennon and Aliza Simpson

Ali Glennon and Aliza Simpson

Brianna Purcell started out guarding Aliza Simpson but two quick fouls later it was Ali’s turn to defend Aliza.  I thought Ali did a great job of hounding Aliza everywhere she went.  Anyone taking pictures of Aliza with the ball is sure to have Ali somewhere in the picture.  Aliza did end up with sixteen points but it took her fifteen shots to get there because of the defense she faced.

Jackie Luckhardt of Londonderry led everyone with seven assists and none bigger than the one that set up Brittany Roche for what became the game-winning three.

The killer stat for Bedford was free throws.  They missed eleven of them (17-for-28) and one was the front end of a one-and-one.

Aliza Simpson with D1 trophy

Aliza Simpson with D1 trophy

Aliza Simpson missed eight games and all three of the Lancers’ losses including a 50-36 one to Bedford.

Bedford won easily over Keene, Trinity, and Nashua North to reach the D1 finals.  Londonderry had a tight one with Pinkerton Academy (42-38) in the D1 semis.

Great crowd with plenty of cheering and chanting from both sides.

Hats off to the SNHU security for completely preventing the dangerous end-of-game student rush onto the court.

Thanks to the SNHU staff for providing me with half-time and full-game stats.  Lessens the guesswork.

Full-game stats

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

Bedford coach Sue Thomas

Bedford coach Sue Thomas

Aliza Simpson tries to get free

Aliza Simpson tries to get free

McKenzie Brown shoots a late three over Casey Evans

McKenzie Brown shoots a late three over Casey Evans

Aliza Simpson attracts three defenders

Aliza Simpson attracts three defenders

battle for the ball

battle for the ball

rebound battle

rebound battle

Jackie Luckhardt (10 points) drives on Haley Driscoll

Jackie Luckhardt (10 points) drives on Haley Driscoll

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Julia Davis (22 points) leads Ipswich past Bedford (46-38) into the D3 North finals

Julia Davis (22 points) found ways to get to the basket.

Tiger celebration

(Danvers) Ipswich had the lead for good two minutes in and never trailed as they defeated Bedford, 46-36, to gain the finals of Division 3 North on Wednesday night at St. John‘s Prep.

The #4 seed Tigers (18-4) will face the winner of the Pentucket/Swampscott matchup on Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.

Junior Julia Davis (22 points) was the difference maker for the Tigers.  The 5-10 post player overwhelmed one-on-one coverage, scoring eleven in each half. Also trying to stop her ended up putting Bedford into serious foul trouble.  Two of the Bucs best inside players (Elisabeth Watson and Sam Cowan) were not available for the final 3 ½ minutes because they had fouled out.

Amanda Cohen shoots from in front of the Ipswich student section.

#1 seed Bedford (19-3) may never have led but they were within a point in the fourth quarter before the game slipped away from them.  The crowd noise was nonstop and maybe the fact that Ipswich has had fourteen road games helped them handle things better down the stretch.

A seven-point run by Ipswich (Nyra Constant jumper and free throw plus two Julia Davis layups) boosted their lead to 32-22 midway through the third quarter.  They looked to be in command but the Dual County champs rallied to make things very exciting in the final frame.

Despite missing four free throws, the Lady Bucs put a 10-2 segment up and only trailed 34-32 early in the fourth quarter.  Free throws by Alaina Greaney, a layup by Jennifer Zolla, and long ones by Kristen Bullock and Amanda Cohen produced the Bedford points.  The Tigers only answering points were a jump shot by Julia Davis from Brigid O’Flynn.

A Julia Davis (she had eight straight Tiger points) spin in the lane put Ipswich ahead by four (36-32) but three free throws by the Bucs made this a one-point game (36-35) with 4 ½ minutes to go. Anyone’s game, for sure!

The rest of the way was a nightmare for Bedford.  Their only points were a triple (Jennifer Zolla) and that came over three minutes of playing time later.

In the meantime, Ipswich had a converted rebound by Caroline Soucy, a free throw by Julia Davis, and a Julia jump shot from Caroline Soucy.  The lead became six (41-35) with 2 ½ left.

Jennifer made the triple and it was a one possession game (41-38) with 1:18 to go.  Bedford was one shot away from a tie.

Shannon McFayden – five made free throws down the stretch

But Ipswich senior Shannon McFadden (11 points) was the only one to score thereafter hitting free throws (she made five) in every Tiger possession while Bedford launched long ones hoping for the quick fix that never came.  Their long ones rimmed out and Ipswich was able to come away with a 46-38 win.

The Bedford full-court pressure was effective – twenty-two Ipswich turnovers.

In the half court, both teams flocked to the ball while heavily defending the strong-side post.

The schools brought plenty of colorful, student noise-makers.  You know that it is noisy when you can’t hear individuals.

The Swampscott girls team and Pentucket coach John McNamara were on hand.  Pentucket plays Swampscott at Beverly on Thursday night.  I also saw Masco coach Bob Romeo in the house.

Bedford was a 4-16 team last year.  This year they won the Dual County Small division for the first time ever.  New coach Matt Ryan had plenty to do with the turnaround by successfully installing pressure defense into the mix at Bedford.

Bedford had won thirteen straight before the Ipswich loss.
Ipswich has won seven of their last eight.  The loss?  59-57 to Swampscott on February 20th.

Sophomore Sam Cowan (eight points) led Bedford scorers while Elisabeth Watson had seven points.  The Lady Bucs certainly missed having those two on the floor during the season-on-the-line last 3 ½ minutes.

The Bedford defense did a great job of containing freshman Masey Zegarowski (4 points) with their high zone but in the process opened up opportunities for Julia Davis to work one-on-one inside.

Ipswich boxscore

Bedford boxscore

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

Kristen Baratta

Sam Cowan (eight points) puts up a three

Caroline Soucy tries a three as IHS coach Mandy Zegarowski watches

Masey Zegarowski

Kristen Baratta, Kristen Bullock, Julia Davis, and Alaina Greaney

Elisabeth Watson drives

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Newburyport girls soccer wins tourney opener 2-0 versus Bedford

Hannah Martin (#15) and Clipper coach Robb Gonnam (left)

(Newburyport) The Lady Clippers (11-4-4) took out the Bedford Buccaneers (9-5-4), 2-0, at cold, windy Cherry Hill Field on Monday afternoon in the first round of the Divsion 2 North state tournament.

The crosswinds didn’t seem to bother either team.  I am not sure the spectators weren’t bothered, however.

Coach Robb Gonnam’s team (seeded #8) scored in each half but had to survive several golden Buc opportunities in the second half to advance.

The Buc’s (seeded #9) second half chances were thwarted by a combination of Bedford doorstep miskicks and the clutch saves of Clipper senior goalie Eleni Kacher. The Cape Ann League All-Leaguer survived some shaky moments before recording the shutout.

Another CAL All-Leaguer, junior Hannah Martin, drilled a long-range, left-footed rocket from the middle of the field over the head of the Bedford goalie after a pass from Amy Sullivan to break the scoreless deadlock in the first half.

Hannah was the best player on the field in my opinion.  Her ability to use either foot was noticeable especially on goal kicks.

The Bucs had several near-goals in the second half (mentioned above) before Jaycie Triandafilou sealed things for the home team.  A ball came across the goal from the left side to Jaycie on the right side. The freshman converted the in-close, open look at the Bedford goal.

In 2008 Newburyport got past Dual County Bedford on the same field on its way to the state championship.

Newburyport next plays the winner of #1 seed Belmont and Pentucket.

Clippers celebrate opening round win.

(All observations from this game are made without interviewing either coach or having access to stats at the game.  I apologize in advance if there are any errors.)