Category Archives: Newburyport

Lynnfield VB sweeps Newburyport

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

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

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

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

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

Lynnfield now has a similar player in junior Ella Gizmunt.

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

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

Ella Gizmunt (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Foley (8)

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

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

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

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

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

Ava Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

Ella Gizmunt (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Newburyport keeps ALS Cup with 1-0 win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie Gallagher and Victoria Wilson

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

Both teams had excellent scoring chances.

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

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

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

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

Molly Webster and Lia Goodwin

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

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

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

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

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

Bella Rosa has great setup from Anna Affolter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gabby Loughran down for a save

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Breen up for a Pentucket save

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

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

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

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

Alexis Greenblott

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

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

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

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

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

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Chase Dwight leads Pentucket by Newburyport 21-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone’s game going into the second half.

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

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

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

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

Chase Dwight behind blockers

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

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

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

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

Ryan Miles reaches for a pass as Paul Parachojuk defends

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

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

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

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

Adam Payne celebrates Chase’s third touchdown

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

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

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

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

Johnny Igoe (20) with the ball

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

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

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

Henry Hartford kicked 3 extra points

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

Finn passed to Grant Mosesian for the final nine yards.

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

Finn added the extra point with Chris Salvatore holding.

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

Chris Salvatore and Iyobosa Osazuwa tackle Chase Dwight

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

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

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

Luke Stallard pregame

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

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

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

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

Peter Osazuwa tackles Chase Dwight from behind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newburyport (3-2) had won three straight.

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

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

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

Chris Tineo signals Chase’s touchdown

AD Dan Thornton has PA announcer skills!

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

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

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

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

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

So they packed in the defense around goalie Kyle Davies.

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

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

Zack Rosa and Griffin Cobb

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

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

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

Max Gagnon looks to pass

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

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

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

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

Jack Fehlner

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

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

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

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

Jameson Brooks

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

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

Jameson’s goal happened four minutes into the game.

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

Henry Acton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caelan Twitchell

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan Slimak (18) and GK Kyle Davies

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Rose and Brady O’Donnell

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

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

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

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

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

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Newburyport rallies to defeat Triton 3-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mia Berardino had nineteen kills

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

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

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

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

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

Anna Rossi had six aces

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

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

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

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

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

Molly Kimball had twenty-two assists

Mia will be playing volleyball for D2 Stonehill next year.

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

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

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

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

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

Ava Hartley

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

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

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

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

Trinity Cole had twelve digs

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

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

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

Mia Berardino up to finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jack Fehlner leads Newburyport to Spofford title

Jack Fehlner was the center of attention when the game ended
Newburyport Clippers win the 2021 Spofford Tournament
Baserunner Cael Kohan and 1B Brady Ford

(Georgetown MA) Newburyport was desperate for a win.

After an impressive 9-1 month of May, June turned into a problem.

After an early win in June, three straight losses had followed, most recently, a 12-1 nightmare loss to North Reading.

Before that NR disaster had been a tough 7-2 defeat this past Wednesday to Triton.  A game in which Jack Fehlner came in to give relief and suffered through a five-run outburst by the Vikings.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  Again, it was Triton and again it was Jack Fehlner doing the pitching.

But what a difference this time!

Jack Fehlner limited Triton to four hits

Today, Jack pitched a four-hit, complete-game shutout as the Clippers downed Triton, 5-0, to take home the championship trophy in the Spofford Tournament.

“After that loss to Triton, the team gave me some great words of encouragement,” said Jack post-game, “that really helped.”

Jack’s pitching was probably enough to make him the tourney MVP but when he added a home run in the seventh inning the guesswork ended.

“Jack’s homer wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Newburyport coach Mark Rowe. “He hits bombs in practice.”

Tony Lucci had a 2-run double

Through three innings, Jack allowed only one baserunner while Triton starter DJ Watson allowed just one hit (Luke Stallard).

The Clippers bats came to life in the fourth inning.

A single (Luke Stallard) and a walk (Jax Budgell) set up Newburyport’s leading hitter (Jake Buontempo) for an RBI single to left. 

Jake took second without a throw and senior Tony Lucci followed with a two-run double to right center.

“It was an outside pitch,” recalled Tony.  “Coach (Rowe) always tells us to take that one to rightfield and that’s what I did.”

Triton (7-7) threatened to cut into Newburyport’s 3-0 lead in the fifth inning.

Andrew Masher and Griffin Dupuis executed a perfect hit-and-run to put runners on first and third with two outs in that inning.  Jack Fehlner, however, was able to get a strikeout to get out of it.

Jake Buontempo had a long homer to left in the sixth inning
Brady Lindholm had a hit

The Clippers (11-4) added another run in the sixth as Jake Buontempo hit a long home run over the leftfield fence.

“I was down 0-2,” said Jake.  “I had seen two curveballs.  I choked up a little bit like I always do and got a nice curveball and ripped it.”

The Vikings were back threatening in the sixth inning.  Consecutive singles by Brady Lindholm and Cael Kohan set up Triton with one out. After a flyball out to left, Ryan Lindholm hit a flare into short left.  It had trouble written all over it!  But Newburyport shortstop Tony Lucci ran straight back for it and caught it in true snow-cone fashion to end the inning and save a run.

“The catch by Tony was awesome,” said Jack Fehlner.  “It was such a clutch play.”

“I was a bit nervous going after it, but I ran as fast as I could to make the catch,” said Tony.

Jack finished off the final Triton inning with consecutive strikeouts.

Pickoff attempt

“Jack came in determined after they got to him the other day,” said Coach Rowe.  “He felt that he had something to prove today.”

Triton coach Ryan McCarthy: “Both teams hit the ball hard today.  I thought that the Fehlner kid pitched a great game today.  We hit him hard the other day, but he bounced back.”

Nick White: “It was a nice bounce-back win.  We’ve been struggling lately.”

Coach Rowe: “We were kind of on our heels after the last few games, but we had a long talk yesterday and had a good practice.”

Jack Fehlner celebrates home run

There was some uncertainty on Jack Fehlner’s homer in the seventh inning.  “I wasn’t sure it was out,” said Jack, “until their shortstop told me.”

Newburyport captains Tony Lucci, Ryan Archer, and Nick White with trophy
3B Andrew Masher had a hit for Vikings

Jack Fehlner: “My two-seam fastball was working really well.”

Triton had seven infield groundouts.

Newburyport last won the Spofford Tournament in 2018.

Triton’s last one was in 2012.

Ideal weather.

Generous donations announced pre-game to help the family of a firefighter who is battling cancer.

I learned from Coach McCarthy that the post-season tournament will only be for the North title.  He also thought that the tournament had to end by July 1st

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

Clippers celebrate
Team picture
LF Ryan Archer congratulates Tony Lucci
Tony Lucci makes a (blurry) snow-cone catch
Jack Fehlner pitches
Jax Budgell heads home with the second Newburyport run
RF Cole Daniels made a terrific catch in the second inning
SS Tony Lucci
Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch
Owen Roberts

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Newburyport dominates rematch with Triton

Emily Meleedy pitched a 2-hit, complete-game shutout with 8 strikeouts
The Clippers had thirteen hits

(Byfield MA) “We showed up to play,” said Newburyport senior Cali Caponigro.

And show up they did.

The Clippers (8-5) had everything going as they took a, 13-0, mercy-rule win over Triton on Thursday afternoon.

The way this game went was a surprise.  Back in May, the Clippers held on for an, 11-10, victory against the same Vikings.

Today, Newburyport grabbed the lead immediately, had terrific pitching (Emily Meleedy), and made the plays in the field.

Liv Kiricoples had one of Triton’s two hits

Triton (6-6) just couldn’t match up on this afternoon.

Emily limited the Vikings to their fewest hits of the season (two) while striking out eight batters.

“Their pitcher was terrific,” said Triton coach Alan Noyes.

The Clippers scored early and in five of the six innings played.

“We started off strong today and that really helped,” said Emily Meleedy.

An infield error prolonged the first inning.  Grace Habib singled in the first run and Emma Keefe doubled in two more sending Newburyport off to a quick, 3-0, lead.

Clippers watching the action

The Clippers were ahead, 4-0, before Triton had their first hit (Liv Kiricoples) in the third inning.

The visitors gained serious separation in the fourth inning adding a four-spot to their run total.

As in the first inning, the Triton trouble started after two outs.  Nieve Morrissey and Maddie McLeod each drove in a run while Emily Meleedy’s double to left brought two Clippers home.

That moved the lead to, 8-0.

The Newburyport defense also had a good afternoon.

Centerfielder Nieve Morrissey made the play of the game in the Triton fourth IMO.  Nieve came running to the rescue when an infield popup near second base looked to be falling in.

CF Nieve Morrissey (3) makes a remarkable running catch
Triton shortstop Kyla Story

“Nieve’s catch was amazing,” said shortstop Emma Keefe afterwards.  “She’s a fast one.”

The Vikings did get a runner to third (Liv Kiricoples) in the fifth inning with one out.  However, Emily Meleedy escaped damage with a strikeout and an infield grounder handled by 3B Cali Caponigro.

The Clippers had thirteen hits.  Emily Meleedy had three, while teammates Nieve Morrissey, Cali Caponigro, Emma Keefe, and Sophie Lavallee had two each.

Emma Keefe had four RBI while Grace Habib and Emily Meleedy had two each.

Emma Keefe had four RBI

“Our bats showed up today,” said Cali Caponigro. “I’m really proud of our team.”

Coach Bob Gillespie: “They came out ready to go.  We put up three right away in the first inning.  Emily (Meleedy) pitched great.  We thumped the ball all day long.  Anytime we beat Triton it’s a great day in Newburyport.”

“Give Newburyport credit,” said Coach Noyes, “they swung the bats and made the plays.”

Coach Noyes: “We lost Izzie (Reiniger) yesterday and didn’t have time to move bodies around to adjust to it.”

Natalie Indingaro had the second Triton hit.

Running try by 2B Maddy Jacques

Coach Noyes: “Grace (Romine) was fine today.  We just made too many errors behind her.”

Coach Gillespie: “We had a tough game yesterday against North Reading but that’s old news.  We’re as happy as can be with this win.”

Emily Meleedy didn’t walk anyone.  “I threw in a couple of different pitches today,” she explained.  “I’ve got a good team behind me.”

Triton will face undefeated Amesbury on Saturday.  It’s a little difficult to figure out how good the Indians are defensively because of all the strikeouts Alana Delisle and Liv DeLong have been getting. 

The weather was cooler than it’s been and there were no complaints. 

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

CF Nieve Morrissey about to catch the final out of the game
Cali Caponigro scored three runs
LF Matigan Richmond
Emma Keefe steals second
Skylar Colburn
Emily Meleedy was on base four times
Keira Dowell gets to third base
3B Cali Caponigro
Grace Romine throws to first base
Grace Romine pitches
Emily Meleedy pitches
Gabbie McKendry catches a popup
Baserunner Maddie McLeod

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Cael Kohan impressive in 7-2 Triton win over Newburyport

Cael Kohan (1) congratulated after victory
Vikings celebrate during 7th inning

(Newburyport MA) “It was a good baseball game for six innings,” lamented Newburyport coach Mark Rowe afterwards.

Triton erupted for five runs in the seventh inning and claimed a, 7-2, win over the Clippers.

Senior Cael Kohan was the complete-game winner for the Vikings.

“Cael was awesome,” said Triton coach Ryan McCarthy post-game.

“In this (hot) weather, I kept checking with him and he just wanted to go back out there,” said Coach McCarthy.  “He was gutsy out there.”

Jake Buontempo scores for Newburyport

Cael scattered four hits and recorded nine strikeouts.  He also drove in the go-ahead run in the game-turning seventh inning.

“We’ve been in a bit of a funk at the plate the last couple of games but the pitching we’ve faced has something to do with it,” said Coach Rowe.  “Cael pitched a great game.”

Cael said that he felt, “really great after the game. I could go again.”

Triton (7-6) went up by two after 3 ½ innings.  Brady Lindholm and Joe Abt had RBIs.

The Clippers (10-3) tied it in their half of the fourth inning on a Ryan Archer two-run single to rightfield.

2B Joe Abt (3 hits) flips to first

“We were up by two,” said Coach McCarthy, “but Newburyport came back.  They are a very good team.”

The fourth was the only inning that Cael struggled as he gave up three walks and hit a batter.  “I fell apart in that one inning,” said Cael. 

But after the Ryan Archer two-run single, Cael regained control.  A couple of strikeouts minimized the damage in the fourth inning.  He allowed only two baserunners over the final three innings.

Luke Stallard started for Newburyport and limited the Vikings to two runs over 5+ innings.

Jack Fehlner finished the sixth for Newburyport.

Kyle Odoy singled in a run in the 7th

“In the seventh there was a leadoff walk and then Triton really started hitting the ball,” recalled Coach Rowe.  “Jack is one of the best pitchers in the league and they just teed off on him.  But those things happen.  He’ll be back.”

A walk (Tim Carter), a sacrifice bunt (DJ Watson), and a wild pitch put pinchrunner Stone Butler on third with one out.  Next was a walk (Brady Lindholm).  Still no runs yet but three straight run-producing singles followed by Cael Kohan, Kyle Odoy, and Joe Abt.

Later, Ryan Lindholm had an RBI double.

“We wanted to put some pressure on them,” said Coach McCarthy.  “We had some great at-bats in the last inning.”

Cael Kohan had a complete game 4-hitter

Cael enjoyed the five-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.  “I was confident that my team would make plays behind me.  I was just throwing strikes.”

Cael said, “My curveball was great.  I was hitting my spots with the fastball.”

Junior Joe Abt led the Triton attack with three hits and two RBI.

Cael Kohan, Kyle Odoy, and Ryan Lindholm each had two hits for the Vikings.

Luke Stallard paced Newburyport with two hits.  Ryan Archer had two RBI.

The two teams faced each other on opening day in May and the Clippers put a six-run inning together defeating Triton, 10-4.

The last ten times the two teams have faced each other they have each won five times.

Tony Lucci and Ryan Lindholm

The teams will meet again in the Spofford championship game on Saturday at Georgetown.

After two straight days of games being cancelled because of the heat, it was good to see games being played even with temperatures in the 80s.

Cael pitched an impressive game today, but his college future involves another sport, golf.  He’ll be playing golf at Bryant University in the fall.

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

SS Tony Lucci in on a grounder
SS Brady Lindholm handled the last two outs
Sacrifice bunt
Connor Stick steals 2nd as SS Brady Lindholm reaches to tag
Joe Abt and Brady Ford
Luke Stallard went 5+ innings for Newburyport
Luke Stallard back to first
Kyle Odoy scored two runs
Kyle Odoy slides in with a triple as Demitri Connor takes throw
SS Brady Lindholm
3B Andrew Masher
Ryan McCarthy and Mark Rowe go over the rules pre-game

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Seven-run inning gets Newburyport 10-5 win vs Pentucket

Grace Habib had four hits and drove in three runs for Newburyport
Sarah Sargent (3 hits, 3 RBI) for Pentucket

(Newburyport MA) The Newburyport Clippers (6-4) used a seven-run third inning to defeat Pentucket, 10-5, on Tuesday afternoon at Cashman Park.

The Sachems (3-7) had tied the score at, 3-3, in their half of the third inning.

Freshman Keira Dowell was the surprise starter for Newburyport.

“I found out last night that I was pitching today because Emily Meleedy was sick,” said Keira who had done some pitching for the Newburyport JVs. 

Keira had six strikeouts and only two walks.

The secret to her success against Pentucket was her ability to keep the Sachems from putting a big inning together.

Pentucket had at least one hit in every inning, but they stranded runners in every inning.  The chances were there but on this sunny afternoon the big hits weren’t.

Keira Dowell won her first varsity start

“It was rough,” said Pentucket coach Deb Smith afterwards.  “We usually come out stronger.  We’ve been hitting so well lately.”

The Clippers had twelve hits but stranded only FIVE runners.  That made the difference.

Half of the NHS hits came in the breakaway third inning.  Twelve Clippers batted.  Five batters in, Newburyport had only one run in and two outs.  But Keira Dowell followed with a two-run single.  After that, an infield error and three additional hits (Maddie McLeod, Cali Caponigro, Grace Habib) turned minimal damage into significant damage.

“When people start hitting, it’s contagious,” said Clippers coach Bob Gillespie of the big inning.

Maddie McLeod scores for Clippers

The 10-3 spread after three innings had some thinking of a possible 10-run, mercy ruling ahead but Pentucket would have none of it.

Pentucket starter Charlotte Latham allowed only one baserunner over the final three Newburyport innings. 

Meanwhile, the Sachems added a run in the fifth (Sarah Sargent RBI double) and another in the seventh (Nicole Tocci RBI single).

But the big inning didn’t happen for the visitors and Newburyport came away with a 10-5 win.

Grace Habib continued her remarkable hitting against Pentucket.  In two games versus the Sachems, Grace is eight-for-eight with seven RBI.

“It’s easy to time out someone’s speed when you’ve already hit against her,” explained Grace afterwards. 

Grace was Newburyport’s catcher.

Nieve Morrissey and Emma Lopata

“Grace did a great job behind the plate,” said Coach Smith. “We couldn’t steal after the first inning.”

Sophomore Maddie McLeod had three hits, two RBI, and scored two runs.  Maddie had singles in each of the first three innings.

Cali Caponigro and Keira Dowell each had two RBI for Newburyport.

I’ve seen Pentucket senior Sarah Sargent twice and been impressed both times.  Sarah can certainly play shortstop with good leadership skills and has a strong, accurate arm.  Her hitting was equally eye-catching today.  She had two doubles, and a single and drove across three Pentucket runs.

Charlotte Latham pitched for Pentucket

Senior Nicole Tocci also had three hits for the Sachems.

Charlotte Latham and Megan Codair each had two hits.  Meghan Hamel scored twice.

Bob Gillespie: “Pentucket is always tough to beat.  Keira pitched very well.  It was her first varsity win.”

I’m suspecting that many of Keira’s pitches were up in the strike zone because Pentucket totaled nine flyball/popup outs.

I showed up at Pioneer Park looking for the game.  Back in the day all of the softball games were at Cashman Park, so I knew where to look next for today’s game.

Meghan Hamel scores for Sachems

Nice weather after a cold, damp Memorial Day weekend.  Cashman Park always has a nice breeze when it’s a warm day.  Play there when it’s cold, and that breeze isn’t as friendly.

Another thing about Cashman Park is that Park Lunch is nearby and occasionally the aroma of hamburg/steak ventures over. 

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

Keira Dowell
Sarah Sargent forces Jenny Masone at 2B
1B Sydney Pichette
Meghan Hamel scored two runs
1B Lea Quintiliana
RF Bailey Stock makes a nice catch
2B Maddie McLeod under a popup
SS Sarah Sargent throws to first base
Senior Isabel Garcia
Near catch by CF Nieve Morrissey
3B Cali Caponigro throws to 1B
Collision course
LF Sophie Lavallee in on a line drive
SS Emma Keefe
Cali Caponigro and Keira Dowell pre-game

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Undefeated Newburyport gets 7-6 walkoff win over Amesbury

Amesbury catcher Will Arsenault can only watch as Luke Stallard crosses with the winning run
Clippers celebrate

(Newburyport MA) If it wasn’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.

Nice song but today we could apply it to the Amesbury Indians.

Twice in three days Amesbury has been close to a win only to have their hopes dashed in the late innings.

On Thursday it was a loss in extra innings to Hamilton-Wenham.

Today, it was a, 7-6, walk-off loss to Newburyport at Pettingell Park.

The undefeated Clippers (7-0) are into a remarkable season.

“Our team never feels as if they’re out of any game,” said NHS coach Mark Rowe afterwards, “There is something special going on.”

This game definitely required some of that “special” stuff for Newburyport because Amesbury was up, 6-0, after 4 ½ innings thanks to a five-run fifth inning.

Jeremy Lopez had a solo home run

“The third time through the lineup we started hitting the ball and we scored some runs,” said AHS coach Joel Brierley afterwards.

Newburyport, however, answered with five runs in the bottom of the 5th.  Jake Buontempo’s 3-run, two-out homer was the big shot.

“I was down 2-2 so I had to protect the plate,” explained Jake.  “I choked up on the bat.  I think it was a fastball away.  I got all of it.”

“Jake’s homer was huge,” said Nick White.  “The momentum after a home run is like nothing else.  It gets the whole dugout fired up.”

The Clippers tied the score in the sixth.  Quinn Fortuna (two hits) started the inning with an infield single.  Freshman Connor Stick was inserted as a pinch-runner. Connor stole second and came home on Ryan Archer’s single up the middle.

Jake Buontempo (gold helmet) had a 3-run shot during the Clippers’ rally

The Indians (4-3) had the go-ahead run on second with one out in the top of the seventh, but reliever Charlie Forrest got a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.

Newburyport won the game in their half of the seventh inning.

Luke Stallard singled off reliever Josh Sorgini and stole second.  Jake Buontempo walked.  Quinn Fontana’s deep grounder to short would have loaded the bases but a wide throw to second allowed Luke to score from second with the game-winner.

Charlie Forrest had the win in relief

“That last play was a hit,” recalled Coach Brierley.  “The throw probably should have gone to third base because it was in front of him.  He’s a good kid.  He’ll learn from it.”

Amesbury took a 1-0 lead in the 4th inning on a Jeremy Lopez home run over the rightfield fence.  It was the senior’s first varsity homer.

“Jeremy’s our leader on the field, on the mound, and at the bat,” said Coach Brierley.

The Indians had five runs in the fifth inning on five hits.  Tim Gilleo cleared the bases with two-out double.  Before Tim’s hit, Drew MacDonald had singled in a run.  After Tim’s hit, Trevor Kimball drove in a run.

Quinn Fontana had two hits

Amesbury looked in good shape, with a six-run lead, to pin a loss on Newburyport, but the Clippers rallied and remain undefeated.

“We have a lot of good hitters,” said Coach Rowe.  “I now kind of expect something good will eventually happen.”

Drew MacDonald and Trevor Kimball paced Amesbury with two hits each. Will Arsenault, Jeremy Lopez, Tim Gilleo, and Drew Scialdone each had a hit.

Quinn Fortuna led Newburyport with two hits.  He also got the “cooler” treatment after his single contributed to the winning run being scored. 

Tim Gilleo had a 3-run double

It was hot and humid enough that we all could have used some cooling off.

Newburyport’s other hits were by Jax Budgell, Tony Lucci, Luke Stallard, Jake Buontempo, and Ryan Archer. Jax, Luke, and Ryan each had an RBI.

Luke Stallard started for the Clippers and went 4 2/3.  Charlie Forrest took it from there.

Charlie came on in the fifth inning with two-on, two-out, and five runs already in for Amesbury.  He got a ground out to end the inning.

“It hurt us to leave those two runners on,” said Coach Brierley.

Jeremy Lopez went five innings for Amesbury.  Josh Sorgini followed and pitched into the seventh. 

“It was great to catch sophomore Charlie Forrest,” said Nick White.  “I think it was his first time pitching varsity.”

Nick will be attending Clemson in the fall.  He assured me that it had nothing to do with the weather!  “I have family down there, and they have a good business program.  I might try to play club baseball.”

Pickoff attempt

Jake will be playing baseball at Framingham State next year.  “I will be majoring in criminology,” he said.

Coach Brierley: “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but we’ll bounce back.”

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

Luke Stallard started for NHS
Jeremy Lopez started for Amesbury
Aidan Donovan
Luke Arsenault chases a popup
Brady Ford chases a popup
Tiernan Bentley congratulated after scoring
Tim Gilleo scores as catcher Nick White corrals the throw home
SS Tony Lucci throws to first
Tyler Cowles
Ryan Archer scores
Jake Buontempo had a 3-run homer
Drew MacDonald swings
Connor Stick ties the game
Josh Sorgini
Celebrating the win begins for the Clippers

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