Category Archives: Oxford Hills

Travis Verrill wins 2nd leg of Bandit Triple Crown Series at OPS

Travis Verrill wins the Bandits Triple Crown feature

A line formed

(Oxford ME) It was like the old schoolyard days when the teacher told the class to get in line and stay there!

Travis Verrill started on the pole in the 25-lap Bandits feature at the Oxford Plains Speedway and nobody passed him.

Believe me, the attendees this sunny Sunday afternoon will tell you that those who wanted to pass Travis were close by for most of the race.

The track conditions forced drivers to stay down low (in line) and wait for something to happen.

Chad Wills and Shelby

“Today was pretty much a one-groove track,” explained 3rd place finisher Chad Wills afterwards.  “There were no second groove whatsoever.  It was too slippery out there.”

This was the second time Travis has won at OPS.

“It’s been an awesome weekend for our team,” he said.  “We won the Demolition Derby at the Fair (Oxford County) last night and then to come over here and win this race is something special.”

Travis got a good start and separated from the rest of the drivers in the early going.  Grady Doherty (finished second last week) was the nearest pursuer.

“In the beginning I broke away a little,” said Travis.  “I thought for a little bit that I had some room, so I tried to make the track a little wider for myself.  Once I saw (Chad) Wills and Alex (Mowatt) get by #1 (Grady Doherty) I knew that it would be only a couple of laps before they would get close.  It was just a fight for the bottom.”

Once Alex and Chad got close there were at least fifteen laps for them to get by Travis………..but they couldn’t.

Alex Mowatt

“Travis did a good job of holding me off,” explained 2nd place finisher Alex Mowatt.  “I didn’t have anything for him on the outside.  It was just too slippery.”

So in line they stayed and very close to each other.

“Everyone was sliding around so it was a much slower race,” explained Chad.  “You really had to use the brakes and pay attention so that you didn’t run into the guy in front of you.  On a normal night you’re able to coast through the corners but today people were slowing down because they had no grip.”

There was plenty of contact.

“Alex came into me a couple of times, but I managed to hold on,” said Travis.

“We were playing tag a little bit,” added Alex.  “I was having fun and they were having fun and we all got trophies.”

I asked Alex about moving out and trying to pass Travis: “I might have had a chance, but Chad was right on my butt and I didn’t want him to get under me.”

There was contact but Travis held on

“I could feel them there,” said Travis.  “There wasn’t time to look back.  I could hear them.  You get caught mirror-driving here and it will cost you.  I over-drove one corner because I made eye contact with Alex in the mirror.”

Alex won the first leg of the Bandit Triple Crown on July 7th.  (That was the first Bandits race I covered.)

The final leg of the Triple Crown is in October.

Travis: “Today is my last race.  My boy plays flag football and I’m a coach.”

Chad: “I will do the October race and maybe a race in Bangor after that.”

With a win and a second, Alex is the points leader going into the final race in October.

Chad: “GA Downing (Minot) sponsors me and I work for them.  They like racing and have helped me out a lot.”

Travis: “I told Alex in tech that he did a great job because he easily could have dumped me a couple of times.  Chad and Alex were in my rear view the whole race.  They certainly were faster than me.”

Nice weather with sun and temperatures in the low 70’s.

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

Car 50 starts on the pole

Frustration for driver of Car 50

Chad Wills, Travis Verrill, Alex Mowatt

Chad Wills tries the second lane

The final stretch of the Bandits feature

Grady Doherty was in second early in the race

Onto the tow truck in another race today

The finish of the top three

Travis and Alex afterwards

Travis out of the car with the checkered flag

Victory lane

Victory lap

The start of the race

Early in the race

 

 

 

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Bilal Hersi (4 goals,2 assists) leads Lewiston by Oxford Hills

Bilal Hersi had four goals and two assists

Senior Bilal Hersi

(South Paris ME) Bilal Hersi.

Special player.

Bilal scored goals and set up teammates as Lewiston dominated Oxford Hills, 8-0, on a sunny/cloudy/rainy Wednesday afternoon.

The Blue Devils (2-0) have won the Class A title two straight seasons and three of the last four.  They’re awfully talented.

I only saw a half of today’s game because by halftime there was drizzle under a threatening sky.  My camera and I have an arrangement; I keep it dry and it keeps working!

So I left at halftime but Lewiston was already comfortably ahead, 5-0, so I had good idea what the final outcome would be.

Bilal Hersi and Mario DeVivo

By then, senior Bilal Hersi already had three goals and had set up teammate Mohamedamin Nur beautifully for a goal.

My homework prior to today’s game led me to believe that the Vikings (0-2) would have their hands full with the visitors from Lewiston.  OH was coming off a 7-8 season with ten seniors.  Only five seniors are on this year’s team.  They were rebuilding.

I also read that Lewiston had taken Oxford Hills out of the Class A North quarterfinals, 5-0, in 2018.

What impressed me about Lewiston?  The first thing was their ability to possess the ball.  They weren’t hesitant to pass laterally and backwards in order to maintain control.  Secondly, they could get away from individual defenders and that created chances down the field.

Bilal Hersi

What impressed me about Bilal Hersi? He’s tall and fast.  He seemed to have the ability to control a possession for longer than other players.  He certainly had the skills to put himself in a position to finish.  I saw him score from long range, in from the right, and in from the left.  I wonder if there are any college plans?

I love watching unselfish players.  Bilal showed that side in the first half.  Hemmed in on the right by a defender near the goal, he managed to thread a pass across the goal mouth to uncovered teammate Mohamedamin Nur to set up the third goal of the game.  Creative play!

Sophomore Romano Bassa also had a goal in the first half.  He came in from the right past defender Casey Southworth for a clean look at goalie Sam Morton and capitalized.

Later I learned that according to a tweet by Lewiston AD Jason Fuller post-game, Bilal’s four goals and two assists tied a school record.

Abdirahman Daud and goalie Sam Morton

It is not wise to predict how a season will go after two games but come Class A tournament time it would be easy to imagine that Lewiston would be in the mix for a third straight title.

Despite the exceptional opposition, the Vikings never let up.  They gave up goals, but they didn’t get after each other.  They will get better as their inexperience turns into experience.

Thanks to Oxford Hills AD Kevin Ryan for making both rosters available to me on short notice.

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

Abdilahi Abdi and Daniel Paine

Andrew Merrill and Suab Nur

Bilal Hersi congratulates Mohamedamin Nur

Bilal Hersi puts on the captain’s band

Cam Stetson and Nick Bancroft

Lewiston coach Mike McGraw

Goalie Sam Morton

Keegan Watson and Suab Nur

Freshman Khalid Hersi

Lewiston goal scorer

Bilal’s long shot sails past Sam Morton

Romano Bassa and Casey Southworth

Goalie Sam Morton

surrounded by Blue Devils

 

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Will Dieterich hat trick leads Oxford Hills past Skowhegan 7-0

Skowhegan keeper  Zach Carrier faces a free-and-clear Will Dieterich of Oxford Hills

Tomas Mendieta (10) defended by Shawn Hewitt (8)

(South Paris ME) The tough season for Skowhegan continues.

The winless Indians (0-4) were routed by Oxford Hills, 7-0, on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

“It’s frustrating,” said SHS coach Jordan Hale afterwards.  “We went back to old habits that don’t work.  It looked like a U10 game the way we chased the ball.  Like a school of fish.”

Lousy game for the visitors but one to remember for the Vikings (3-2).

Oxford Hills has now won three straight.

Spencer Strong (4) gets the Vikings first goal

“We took care of business,” said Vikings coach Matt Dieterich.  “We came out strong.”

That’s for sure.  Less than two minutes in, Tomas Mendieta cut in from the left and fired a shot at Skowhegan GK Zach Carrier.  Before the shot got to Zach, senior Spencer Strong intercepted it and scored.

The Indians held their deficit to one for the next twenty minutes.  Sophomore Keegan Mantor cleared a loose ball from the goal line to keep SHS close.

The bottom fell out, however, over the last twenty minutes of the first half.  Spencer Strong started it by setting up junior Andrew Binette with a nice pass in front.

Will Dieterich (13) sends a header, off a corner kick, toward the Skowhegan goal

Then Will Dieterich took over.  The OH senior tallied twice in thirty seconds and then completed the 3-goal half with another goal in the last two minutes.  That 5-0 deficit at halftime took most of the mystery out of what the final outcome would be.

“That was my first hat trick,” Will told me afterwards. He now has seven goals on the season.

“I thought we played well,” Will added.  “We controlled the ball and after we got up by a few goals we didn’t get goal hungry.  We still played the right kind of soccer.”

In the second half, Spencer Strong collected his second goal.  Later teammate Colby Ventresca posted the Vikings seventh goal of the afternoon.

Matush Prokop (17) and Will Dieterich (13) chase the ball

The OH passing was impressive.  They kept the ball on the ground and trusted teammates.

The OH finesse made Skowhegan’s lack of same stand out more than it might have.  “Every first touch was up in the air and every pass was ten feet in front.  It was a mess,” explained Coach Hale.  “There were no positives.”

“Our defense was great,” said Will Dieterich.  “Our keeper (Sam Morton) didn’t have much action but he was good as usual.”

Fight for the ball

Will credited teammate Andrew Merrill for a good screen on the Skowhegan goalie on his first goal.  That goal was set up on Will’s header after a corner kick by Daniel Paine.

The Vikings are coming off a 2-10-2 2017 season.  “That was disappointing,” recalled Will.  “This year we have ten seniors and are in a win-now mode.”

Through four games Skowhegan has given up twenty-six goals and scored only one.

I was within hearing range of the players most of the time.  I was impressed with the Indians leaders on the field.  I heard nothing but instruction and encouragement from the players despite the lopsided score.

Spencer Strong (two goals) dribbles between two Indians

Will told me that his dream for next year would be to get into an Ivy League school.  “I expect to play club soccer or intramurals soccer in college.”

I asked Will about being coached by his father.  “It can be frustrating at times because more is expected of me, but it has really been a great thing to have him around as my coach for the past three years.  By him coaching, I know he cares.”

Nice crowd on hand for a sunburn kind of afternoon.

Both teams are in Class A North.

Both schools helped me by emailing their rosters to me.

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

Action in front

Freshman Aiden Clark

Andrew Ireland (16) saves a goal in the first half

Colby Ventresca (11) lines up a goal shot

Mike Rowe

OH goalie Sam Morton sees a shot

Spencer Strong (4) shoots on GK Zach Carrier

Tommy Bancroft

Tommy Bancroft and Abas Al Amiri

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