Category Archives: Portland

Mitch Keller (#2 Pirates prospect) and Michael Chavis (#3 Boston prospect) in action at Portland

Pittsburgh Pirates #2 prospect Mitch Keller

Michael Chavis (Boston Red Sox #3 prospect)

I love going to Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine for a Sea Dogs game.

Why?  The atmosphere is so unpretentious.  There are no airs put on.  The players hustle and their recognition by the fans is minimal.  Top draft pick?  Who cares?  Let’s see some baseball played.

Today’s noon game had perfect summer weather to boot.

A big attraction at Portland is the concession stands.  The smell of pizza and French fries is overwhelming.  And there I am on a nutritarian diet in which such things are totally avoided!

While others fail to take note of top draft picks, I don’t.  I can trace that “noticing” back to a game I covered in New Britain (CT) in 2012.

I somehow became aware that Gerrit Cole (#1 draft pick the year before) would be at the Twins former AA site representing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Altoona team.

Shortstop Cole Tucker was the Pirates #1 pick in 2014

So I went to New Britain with a specific goal of getting a good Gerrit Cole picture.  I managed that and also added shots of Brock Holt (leading Eastern League in hitting) and Aaron Hicks (New Britain outfielder).

Therefore, with that background, my latest visit to Hadlock included prospect chasing.  Getting Rafael Devers earlier this summer convinced me that chances may end quickly.

Portland currently has 2014 first-rounder Michael Chavis on their roster while visiting Altoona has 2014 first-rounder Cole Tucker on theirs.  Portland also has Josh Ockimey (5th round) and Mitch Keller (2nd round) from the same year.

Pitcher Mitch Keller was the important one.  He is now the Pirates #2 prospect.  He started in Bradenton this season moved to Altoona on August 4th.  He is a pitcher on the rise.

Michael Chavis is a 22-year-old third baseman for Portland.  He’s rated 3rd in the Red Sox prospect list.  Where Michael fits into the Boston team of the future is a bit of a mystery.

Cole Tucker is ranked fifth by the Pirates and is a shortstop.

Josh Ockimey is Boston’s #10 prospect.

I had my first look at Boston’s Josh Ockimey.  The tall first baseman has not been in AA very long.  He’s rated the 10th Red Sox prospect.

I have now seen Michael Chavis twice.  His ability put in quality at-bats reminds me of Rafael Devers.  Neither player seems to be over-matched by pitching and both can hit the ball hard.  I did not have the same vibes last summer with Yoan Moncada.  Way too many swings-and-misses and that still seems to be the case for Yoan.

Another player who has impressed me during my recent Hadlock visits is outfielder Danny Mars.  Again, trying to imagine an outfield future in Boston with the young B’s strongly entrenched is a stretch but you never know.  Danny plays the position well and is hitting over .300 in his full season in Portland.  I figure him for Pawtucket in 2018.

The star of the game I saw Thursday was Portland pitcher Trey Ball.  Trey was a RS first-rounder in 2013.  He looked exactly like he deserved to be that high pick with a 9-strikeout, 7-inning performance in Portland’s 2-0 win.  It was likely the lefty’s best effort of the year.

The Big Event for me is always Slugger’s race against the very young.  I continue to believe that a win is in his future and I want to be there when it happens.

As today’s race unfolded I couldn’t help but think that Slugger’s life-long losing streak was about to end.  The big guy blazed around second leading by five yards.  Around first he went on the final stretch still in good shape.  But suddenly the big fellah ran out of gas.  Too fast a start, I suspect.  He just wilted near the first-base box and hit the ground.  Meanwhile, the opponent, who was so young he had to be guided by a staff member, kept a race-long even pace and won easily.  What’s the problem? It was a bit warm but it is obvious that Slugger is spending too much time walking the aisles of Hadlock greeting fans.  His legs were shot by the time the race took place.  An earlier race start would improve Slugger’s chances.  Maybe my hero is being set up to lose every time?  That would be outrageous.

More thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging Thursday’s visit.

Play at the plate

3B Michael Chavis

Cole Tucker

Play at second

Danny Mars

Chad De La Guerra

Cole Tucker

Baserunner

Pitcher Trey Ball was impressive against Altoona. He is a former #1 Red Sox selection (2013)

Michael Chavis

Chad De La Guerra

 

 

 

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Filed under Altoona Curve, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

Rafael Devers (#1 Red Sox prospect) and Gleyber Torres (#1 Yankees prospect) at Portland

Gleyber Torres

Rafael Devers

I had my first visit of the season to Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine on Saturday.  I hope it won’t be the last.

The intended plan was to get a look at the #1 prospects of both the Red Sox and the Yankees.

I had checked the Portland schedule and discovered that April 21-23 would have the Trenton Thunder in Maine.

You always wonder about what April weather will bring.  It was supposed to rain early in the day but then clear off.  What I ended being in was 40’s and occasionally misty.

The good news?  The players weren’t wearing sunglasses.  The bad news?  The players covered parts of their faces to protect from the cold.

When Mookie Betts briefly came through Portland two years ago my pictures had him wearing what looks like a red ski mask.  It can be that cold in Maine in April.

Jalen Beeks was the winning pitcher

I overheard one of the Trenton players say that he hated to come to Hadlock except in August because it is always too cold.  I would agree with that assessment if he had left it to April. May into September can be very pleasant in Maine.

I wanted pictures of Rafael Devers (Red Sox) and Gleyber Torres (Yankees).  These 20-year-olds are considered the best in each system.

Gleyber was a problem because I learned on Thursday night that he was on the 7-day DL.  I wondered if he would be traveling with the team.  I also did not know what he looked like even if he was with the team.

Rafael was a different story: He was active and in the starting lineup.  The Sea Dogs also have their names on the back of their uniforms.  Trenton had no names on the back and no number on the front.

I decided to concentrate my efforts on discerning Gleyber’s whereabouts.  I thought I had him spotted in front of the Trenton dugout.  Finally realized that I was shooting Dante Bichette.  He looked familiar because he looks just like his father the former major leaguer!

I was helped in my Gleyber search by Yankee autograph seekers.  Several of them were nearby and they started yelling into the Trenton dugout for Gleyber.  I heard one of the “yellers” say that Gleyber was sitting in the dugout.  Sure enough, it was him.  He was out of uniform trying to keep warm.  I got several shots of him.  Trenton is back in Portland the end of May.  Hopefully, Gleyber will not have been promoted to AAA or to the Yankees.

Rafael signed autographs so he was out in the Portland dugout area early.  I was impressed by the size of him.  He is broad and looks strong.  I had the chance to get shots of him before game time.

Game time changed from 1 to 1:30. The infield was covered and it was misty.  Off came the tarp.  I think that I could have helped them roll it up if I had moved in quickly enough.

Proposal accepted

It is a routine at Hadlock to have a collection of folks throw first balls.  Within that collection today was a college student (Husson?) and his girlfriend.  Unbeknownst to the girl, the guy had written, “Will you marry me?” on the ball that was going to be tossed.  When his turn came to throw the ball, he presented it to his girlfriend as he got down on his knee.  He asked the Big Question and got a positive response.  Whatever works!

In a 7-inning game (first half of a double-header) the Sea Dogs won 3-0.  Jalen Beeks, Portland starter, was in serious bases-loaded trouble in first inning but escaped it.  The lefty was impressive in his six innings.

Aneury Tavarez, who is way too good for AA, had two hits and scored the first Portland run.  He wouldn’t have scored if the Trenton leftfielder (Billy McKinney) hadn’t bobbled a single that came his way.

Nick Longhi in dugout after homer

Boston’s #11 prospect (Nick Longhi) is also with Portland.  Nick is a first basemen.  He homered over the Hadlock monster to get Portland’s second run.  His full face is still a rumor to me but I did get him heavily covered in the Sea Dog’s dugout after the long one.

Rafael was very good at 3B.  He made a terrific stop on a ball to his left.  His arm is strong.  He was not cheated at the plate.  His swing looked long to me but he did make contact.  How well the left-handed batter does against lefties may well determine how fast he moves to Pawtucket.

I also got my first look at outfielder Danny Mars.  It is extremely hard to imagine a bright future for an outfielder in the Red Sox farm system with youngsters Bradley, Betts, and Benintendi already at Fenway.  Danny looks like a pretty good hitter.  Injuries happen.  Trades happen.  We’ll see how Danny’s future plays out.

Miguel Andujar

I did not see Prospect 7 (Justin Sheffield) or Prospect 8 (Chance Adams) as both are Yankee pitchers.  With numbers on the front of their uniforms, I would have a chance when they came from the clubhouse.  Minus the numbers, I’m in trouble, unless they’re starters.  Maybe in May?

I did see Miguel Andujar (#10 Yankee prospect) again.  He was playing shortstop last year but with Gleyber Torres on the team he has switched to third.  The 22-year-old will make the majors in time.

I may be the only one who looks forward to it but the Slugger race is big to me.  I want the big guy to win.  I want that losing streak ended and I want to see it when it happens.  I wish I could coach Slugger.  Today he rounded second, his opponent was going in the opposite direction, with a nice lead.  Stay the course and grab the W would have been my coaching encouragement.  But not today.  Slugger felt a breeze (It was a windy day) and raised his arms and got blown off course.  While he’s trying to re-navigate his course, his chance for a victory dissolves.  His opponent had another gear from third to home and won handily.  Slugger, even in defeat, tried to be friendly afterwards but the young winner did not appear to reciprocate.

I enjoyed the visit and thank Chris Cameron for arranging it.  There is good baseball at affordable prices at Hadlock Field in Portland.

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

Aneury Tavarez scores first Portland run

Dante Bichette jr

Rafael Devers

Danny Mars

Rafael Devers

Rafael swings

Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers

Slugger has the early lead

Slugger caught in a draft

Post-race confrontation

 

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Filed under Portland, Portland Sea Dogs, Trenton Thunder

#1 Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada has three errors in Portland loss to Akron

Five errors, including this one by Nate Frieman, doomed the Sea Dogs. (The ball is on the ground.)

Five errors, including this one by Nate Frieman, doomed the Sea Dogs. (The ball is on the ground.)

Kevin McAvoy was let down by the Portland defense.

Kevin McAvoy was let down by the Portland defense.

(Portland ME) The Sea Dogs’ Kevin McAvoy picked a bad night to be pitching.

Why?  The Portland infield defense fell apart five different times worth five unearned runs and the home Dogs lost, 8-2, to the Akron RubberDucks on a sunny/windy Friday night.

The last-place Sea Dogs (42-69) have struggled to put up the W’s all season.  Some losses have been over a combination of deficiencies.  Not tonight.

The biggest culprit?  #1 Boston prospect 2B Yoan Moncada.  Three times the 21-year-old fumbled grounders.

Yoan Moncada emerges from the Portland dugout

Yoan Moncada emerges from the Portland dugout

My primary reason for getting to Hadlock Field was for a last look at Yoan before he was promoted to Pawtucket or even to the Red Sox.  After tonight, I have a feeling he’ll be staying in Maine for a while.

Interesting that there is talk of Yoan learning a new position because 2B in Boston belongs to Dustin Pedroia for the next five years.  One game is a small sample but there is fielding improvement needed before any transitions by Yoan are made.

Also with Yoan there continues to be hitting struggles from the right side.  He is often linked to Andrew Benintendi but Andrew was hitting well and fielding well when he was called up.  I am not certain at this point that Yoan has the handle necessary on either of those.

2B Yoan Moncada finishes a DP throw to first

2B Yoan Moncada finishes a DP throw to first

BUT as Manager Carlos Febles suggested afterwards,
“Teams have games like this.  We’ll put it behind us and prepare for the next game.”  We are talking about the minors where scores and championships are minimized.  The RubberDucks “lost” their top two prospects in the past two weeks via promotion.  Tied for the top of the Eastern League West before the promotions, they are now six games back in the standings.

Also memorable in this game was that Yoan was injured during a caught-stealing at third base.  It appeared to be quite serious because he hit the bag hard but there was a collective sigh of relief in the Red Sox organization as Yoan was able to walk off with only a sore left ankle to deal with.

Rob Kaminsky - pitched well for Akron

Rob Kaminsky – pitched well for Akron

Akron’s top remaining prospect, Rob Kaminsky, was their pitcher in this game.  He was a #1 pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014.  The lefty limited Portland to three hits.

I was impressed with Akron first baseman Nellie Rodriguez.  Only 22, he has a history of good numbers.  Led the Midwest League in hits and homers in 2014.  Led the Carolina League in homers and RBI in 2015.  Nellie is currently 4th in the Eastern League in homers and extra-base hits.  What will slow his rise to the majors?  150 strikeouts.

Portland’s Aneury Tavarez must be getting the eye of higher up’s in the Boston front office. The Sea Dogs’ right fielder is near the top of the EL batting leaders at .323.  He had three hits this evening against Akron.

Slugger loses his opponent

Slugger loses his opponent

Disappointed in Slugger tonight.  I always root for him at the start of each race.  He is always the underdog because he runs against kids.  For some reason on this night the big guy chose to impede the progress of the speedy girl he was up against.  He squared himself to block her path near second base but the clever opponent darted through his legs.  The move dazzled Slugger.  In fact, for a second or two he had no idea where she had gone!  That momentary confusion, plus the girl’s significant running skills, doomed Slugger.  I just never thought he would even consider cheating to win but I saw it with my own eyes.  Shame on him!

Thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging the visit.  Not too many home games left and they are all in August.  Good take.

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

Rainel Rosario, Mauricio Dubon, Yoan Moncada

Rainel Rosario, Mauricio Dubon, Yoan Moncada

Ryan Court

Ryan Court

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Nellie Rodriguez breaks a bubble

Nellie Rodriguez breaks a bubble

Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith

Nellie Rodriguez and Nate Frieman

Nellie Rodriguez and Nate Frieman

Force at home

Force at home

Trouble riding a horse

Trouble riding a horse

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Nellie Rodriguez

Nellie Rodriguez

Aneury Tavarez is hitting .323 for Portland.

Aneury Tavarez is hitting .323 for Portland.

Look at the strings hanging off Yoan's glove

Look at the strings hanging off Yoan’s glove

Play at the plate

Play at the plate

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Portland catcher Jake Romanski

Portland catcher Jake Romanski

 

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Filed under Akron, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

Dominic Smith (New York Mets) and Yoan Moncada (Boston Red Sox) in action at Portland

Top prospects Yoan Moncada (Boston Red Sox) and Dominic Smith (New York Mets) together at Hadlock Field

Top prospects Yoan Moncada (Boston Red Sox) and Dominic Smith (New York Mets) together at Hadlock Field

Mets #2 prospect Amed Rosario

Mets #2 prospect Amed Rosario

(Portland ME) Irresistible collection of baseball prospects at Hadlock Field in Portland on Thursday night.

The local Portland Sea Dogs, however, lost 4-0 to the Binghamton Mets and continue to have the worst record (35-62) in the Eastern League.

I arrived at Hadlock 1 ½ hours early in time to see long lines of folks outside the park ahead of the 7PM start.  Didn’t imagine that the fan passion was over the prospects I hoped to see……..and it wasn’t.

Turns out that the first 1000 fans were going to receive a free Travis Shaw bobblehead.  The lure for a $3 item featuring the former Sea Dog drew that crowd and I’m guessing that there were more than the 1000 in the lines.

Anyhow, the lure for me was a look at the New York Mets’ top two prospects as well as yet another look at Red Sox prospects Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi.

Red Sox #3 prospect Andrew Benintendi

Red Sox #3 prospect Andrew Benintendi

There was clearly a sense of urgency.  All four players could well be in triple A very soon, they’re that good.  In fact, I checked the Eastern League transactions regularly while the Sea Dogs were on the road to see if any of them had been moved.  I remembered how quickly Xander and Mookie came and went from Portland.

But none of the four had moved up and when I checked the starting lineups all four were there.

I had seen Andrew twice and Yoan once, so spotting them for pictures was easy.  The tough part in shooting them was the setting sun which necessitated sunglasses for some players.  Andrew is one of those.

The two Mets were a different problem.  I had never seen them before in person.  I did have numbers but in the Eastern League the numbers are only on the back. So I didn’t expect to get any early shots of #1 Amed Rosario or #22 Dominic Smith.

I was wrong about that because both players stopped and interacted with Portland players so that I was able to see the numbers on the back.  The Portland players have names on the back as well but not Binghamton.

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith

Since I had pictures of Yoan and Andrew from a previous visit I concentrated on being sure I had some of Dominic and Amed.  I started the game on the edge of the Binghamton dugout because those two players would come towards me at the end of innings.  I was also aware that switch-hitting Yoan would be facing my way while batting.

I had to adjust my settings on the Binghamton side because the sun was blocked by the height of the stadium as it set.  Not so on the Portland side.

I would have loved to have had another camera available with a small lens because I was very close to the Binghamton players.  That Nikon I made an offer for during a recent yard sale might have been the ticket.

Yoan Moncada batting

Yoan Moncada batting

Despite all the hype (in my head), the four promising ones were all hitless for the night.  Yoan reached on a walk and I hoped that the minor league’s leading base stealer might run but he didn’t.

Dominic Smith was a Mets first-rounder in 2013.  Not tall (6’) but big (250 pounds).  The twenty-one year old Binghamton first baseman was the MVP in the Florida State League last season.  Going into last night’s game he had 12 homers, 67 RBI, and a .294 batting average.

Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario is only twenty.  The Dominican was signed by the Mets as a 16-year-old.  The 6-2 shortstop has played a good part of this season with St. Lucie in the Florida State League.  With Binghamton so far, after 23 games, he has 33 hits, 14 RBI, and a .379 batting average.

The two Mets players should reach AAA Las Vegas in August.  Yoan and Andrew should see Pawtucket shortly.  Andrew may make it to Fenway.  I will be very pleasantly surprised if I return to Hadlock and Yoan and Andrew are still on the Portland roster.

Speedster speeds past tightly-dressed Slugger near second

Speedster speeds past tightly-dressed Slugger near second

It was disco night at Hadlock and that may well have been why Slugger continued his losing streak.  His pants were seriously tight and I think he was afraid that he might rip them out so he didn’t take any chances.  On this night he faced a little kid with plenty of jets.  This kid was so fast that he was able to stop at second and allow Slugger back into the race and then blow the big guy away.  I am not sure that looser pants would have made a difference now that I think of it.

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

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith

Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario and Mauricio Dubon

Amed Rosario and Mauricio Dubon

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Mauricio Dubon (#11 Red Sox prospect) triples

Mauricio Dubon (#11 Red Sox prospect) triples

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

20-year-old Amed Rosario

20-year-old Amed Rosario

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Kid torches Slugger

Kid torches Slugger

 

 

 

 

 

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Top Prospects Manuel Margot (Red Sox) and David Dahl (Rockies) at Hadlock Field today

Manuel Margot hit for the cycle versus New Britain driving in five runs

Manuel Margot hit for the cycle versus New Britain driving in five runs

David Dahl heads for the New Britain dugout

David Dahl heads for the New Britain dugout

(Portland ME) Four years ago I was chasing the 18-year-old phenom of the Washington Nationals. Today it was David Dahl of the Colorado Rockies.

I did get pictures of both of them despite the fact that both of them were out of uniform on the day that I saw them at Hadlock Field in Portland.

It helped that I had looked at several pictures of the player. Interesting, both players wandered from the clubhouse to the dugout at the last minute.

Today I was blessed to have a photographer near me in the New Britain dugout who has been covering the Rock Cats for twelve years. He told me earlier that he had been at Hadlock when the team bus arrived and didn’t see David Dahl get off. However, later when a player strolled into the Rock Cats dugout just before game time I asked him if it was David Dahl and he confirmed that it was.

Today was Field of Dreams day at Hadlock. The cornfields were set up in center field and the Portland players did come out from the fields as narrator Mike Antonellis told the story.

The idea of having the cornfields as part of an event at Hadlock began in the ‘90’s when efforts were being made by Eastern League teams to celebrate the league’s 75th anniversary. One of the Portland owners suggested the cornfield idea and it has become an annual event ever since.

Portland players were in the stands today wearing their 2926 Portland Eskimos uniform

Portland players were in the stands today wearing their 1926 Portland Eskimos uniform

Thirteenth sellout of the season for Portland. The team will finish last in the Eastern League eastern division. Fans show up anyhow. Why? Prices are low. Plenty of entertainment during the game. Good view of the action.

I go there to try and get an early glimpse of future stars. Once I got Bryce in 2011 I have done homework to try and photograph others with big futures.

David Dahl is listed as Prospect #3 in the Colorado system. David is 21 and was selected in the first round in 2012.

The Number 3 prospect in the Red Sox farm system put on a huge show today. I’m talking about Manuel Margot. The 20-year-old hit for the cycle in today’s game and drove in five runs.

Very unlikely Manuel Margot will be in the Portland dugout next season

Very unlikely Manuel Margot will be in the Portland dugout next season

Manuel has all the skills needed to be a star. His home run today was to the opposite field.

Manuel will start next season in Pawtucket but then what? You look at the Red Sox outfield (Mookie, Rusney, and Jackie) and wonder which one Manuel could replace. Trade bait??

The New Britain franchise will be moving to Hartford (CT) next year to a new stadium. An independent league team will be playing in New Britain’s park.

The Sea Dogs win today ended New Britain’s eight-game winning streak.

It was a beautiful day with plenty of September sun.

Many thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging my visit today.

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

Red Sox #3 prospect Manuel Margot

Red Sox #3 prospect Manuel Margot

David Dahl in the Rock Cats dugout

David Dahl in the Rock Cats dugout

Manager Darin Everson

Manager Darin Everson

Fan gets ready to catch Manuel Margot home run. Ball is above top railing.

Fan gets ready to catch Manuel Margot home run. Ball is above top railing.

Will Swanner home run trots past pitcher Mike McCarthy

Will Swanner home run trots past pitcher Mike McCarthy

Will Swanner

Will Swanner

Sam Travis gets a day off

Sam Travis gets a day off

Pat Valaika

Pat Valaika

Noel Cuevas

Noel Cuevas

Joey Wong fires to first

Joey Wong fires to first

Jordan Patterson bunt attempt

Jordan Patterson bunt attempt

Jordan Patterson

Jordan Patterson

David Chester stretches to take a high throw

David Chester stretches to take a high throw

Harrison Musgrave eyes the home plate umpire

Harrison Musgrave eyes the home plate umpire

Carlos Asuaje

Carlos Asuaje

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

Carlos Estevez

Carlos Estevez

Dave Burba

Dave Burba

John Cornely

John Cornely

Jordan Weems

Jordan Weems

Sea Dogs announcer Mike Antonellis narrated the Field of Dreams event

Sea Dogs announcer Mike Antonellis narrated the Field of Dreams event

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Filed under New Britain Rock Cats, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

Halloween comes early but Windham survives 3-2 over Portland

Ciera Berthiaume unleashes the game winner versus Portland in the Class A West quarterfinals

Ciera Berthiaume unleashes the game winner versus Portland in the Class A West quarterfinals

Portland GK Taylor Crosby had 24 saves in a very busy night.

Portland GK Taylor Crosby had 24 saves in a very busy night.

(Windham ME) It wasn’t Halloween but the scare was real for the Windham girls’ soccer team.

Serious underdog Portland had the #1 seed Eagles down, 2-0, eight minutes into the second half but the home team rallied its way to a 3-2 win in wet conditions on Wednesday night.

Windham (14-0-1) will host a semifinals game on Saturday.

Portland (9-7) was the #9 seed and needed to defeat #8 Deering on the 24th to even get into the tournament.  It was hard to think that the Bulldogs would have much of a chance against high-scoring Windham.  The Eagles already had a 2-0 win over Portland this season and the last time the Bulldogs had even scored a goal against Windham was back in 2009!

Portland celebrates a 2-0 lead in the second half

Portland celebrates a 2-0 lead in the second half

But on this night, Portland put up the first two goals (Madison Bolduc and Ella Altidor). Both WHS coach Deb Lebel and Holy Cross commit Cassie Symonds admitted afterwards that the thought that the season might end early went through their heads.

“I knew we had kids who would dig deep but it was worrisome to trail by two goals,” said Coach Lebel.

Maggie Symonds collides with Portland GK

Maggie Symonds collides with Portland GK

There was, however, one thing that was consistent during this game and it wasn’t the drizzle/stop, drizzle/stop weather.  It was the persistent attack of the defending Class A state champs.  Portland GK Taylor Crosby ended up with 24 saves and there were plenty of other Eagles’ shots that went high and wide.

“Their keeper (Taylor Crosby) deserves all the credit in the world,” said WHS Coach Lebel afterwards.  “She had an amazing game.”

Portland had few scoring opportunities but they were glittering chances as the visitors poured into the Windham end with player advantages.  Senior Madison Bolduc put Portland on the board at 15:40 of the first half.

Freshman Ella Altidor added to the Portland lead eight minutes into the second half.  Ella made a terrific hustle play in front of the Portland bench to keep the momentum going toward the Windham goal.  Ella later ended up in front of the Eagles’ goal and put home a juicy rebound.  The vision of the biggest upset in Maine’s 2014 girls’ soccer season started dancing through my head.

Melissa Morton (9) goes high to head

Melissa Morton (9) goes high to head

But the never-ending pressure of the Windham attack finally caught up to Portland in the second half.  It seemed as if every Bulldog goal kick was immediately controlled by midfielder Cassie Symonds and her teammates and another Eagles’ attack initiated.

At 23:27, junior Ciera Berthiaume finished off a long run, with Merritt Ryan defending, beating Taylor Crosby on a low shot.

That goal just added to the Windham persistence.  Freshman Maggie Symonds had a great setup from her sister Cassie in close and missed high.  Jenna Soucy shot from long range and Taylor Crosby deflected the shot off the crossbar and over the net.

Jenna Soucy watches her shot sail into the net

Jenna Soucy watches her shot sail into the net

At 7:13 Jenna launched a long shot into the upper left corner and the teams were even, 2-2.  It was Jenna’s 30th goal of the season.

Two minutes later GK Taylor Crosby made her best save of the night robbing Ciera Berthiaume from in close and preserving, for the moment, the 2-2 tie.

Forty seconds later (4:33) Ciera broke away from a tiring Portland defense in the middle and took the equivalent of a running penalty kick to notch the game winner.  Taylor never had a chance on Ciera’s second goal of the game and 17th of the season.

(I can edit this blog so if there is a mistake let me know.)

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

Chesa Hoekstra

Chesa Hoekstra

Madison Bolduc scored the first Portland goal

Madison Bolduc scored the first Portland goal

Rachel Glover

Rachel Glover

Cassie Symonds (13) eyes a corner kick

Cassie Symonds (13) eyes a corner kick

Hayleigh Blanchard

Hayleigh Blanchard

Ciera Berthiaume gets Windham on the board

Ciera Berthiaume gets Windham on the board

Ella Altidor put Portland in front by two goals

Ella Altidor put Portland in front by two goals

Portland GK Taylor Crosby

Portland GK Taylor Crosby

Ciera Berthiaume congratulated after goal that put Windham in front 3-2

Ciera Berthiaume congratulated after goal that put Windham in front 3-2

 

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Immaculate defeats Portland 5-0 to win Class S girls soccer title fifth straight time

2012 Class S champions – Immaculate High School

Immaculate captains Lindsay Jossick (3 goals) and Sierra Stein (1 goal) head out for championship award.

(Waterbury) That’s five straight Class S girls soccer titles for the Immaculate Mustangs.

The ten-time champs from Danbury overwhelmed Portland, 5-0, on Friday afternoon at Waterbury Stadium.

The Mustangs (17-1-2) had great chance after great chance in the first half but their only score was a Natalia Diaz penalty kick with 3:49 left.

During the second half those great chances, that missed in the first half, turned into four Immaculate goals in the first 12 ½ minutes.

Up 5-0, Mustang coach Nelson Mingachos began pulling starters with twenty-five minutes left.  Good move on his part because the Highlanders could not defend the straight ahead attack of Immaculate.  Things could have become more embarrassing then they had already become for Portland.

Lindsay Jossick takes PK

Senior Lindsay Jossick had a second-half hat trick and was named tourney MVP.  Coach Mingachos probably sealed the award for her when he let her take the penalty kick that gave her the hat trick.

The number of clean-look opportunities the Mustangs had in the first half was mind-boggling.  And we’re not talking long shots either.  Sierra Stein, Lindsay Jossick, Hailey Davis, Caitlyn Linden, Madeline Horosky, and Natalia Diaz all were in position at one time or another to notch Immaculate’s first tally.  But credit the Mustangs they never seemed too bothered when they didn’t score……they just kept coming back into the Highlanders end for more.

Portland goalie Marisa DiMare was huge in the first half positioning herself perfectly for several of the point-blank attempts.  A couple of the other threatening shots were either wide or high.

Natalia Diaz prepares to take a first-half penalty kick that produced the first Mustang goal.

However, when Emilie Hernandez got called for a handball at 3:49 the string of missed opportunities came to an end.  Natalia Diaz took the shot and hit the net to Marisa’s right to give Immaculate a 1-0 advantage.

Portland (16-3-1) probably had their best scoring chance of the game before the half ended.  Nicole Caruso got in close on Mustang goalkeeper Ashley Houghton’s right but her shot went just wide.

In the second half, Immaculate capitalized early and often.

The dangerous Natalia Diaz reached the end line and gave teammate Lindsay Jossick a glorious setup in the middle.  Lindsay put a foot on the aerial pass and Immaculate was up 2-0 with less than two minutes gone by.

Senior Sierra Stein set up the third goal.  She took one direct kick from close to the right sidelines which reached PHS goalie Marisa DiMare on the fly.

Sierra Stein direct kick gets by Jackie Otake (18) and Hailey Davis (99).

Sierra’s next direct kick, from almost the same spot, curled across in front.  Hailey Davis took a wild kick at the ball and missed so the ball kept going and Lindsay Jossick was all alone at the far post for an easy tap in.  That gave the Mustangs a 3-0 lead.

The 4th Immaculate score was nicely arranged by freshman Caitlyn Linden.  Caitlyn dribbled in from the wing past two Portland defenders and passed into the middle to Sierra Stein.  Sierra drilled a rocket to the left corner that GK Marisa DiMare never had a chance on at 28:36.

The last Mustang goal came at 27:25.  Lindsay Jossick  broke into the box and Emilie Hernandez kept her from scoring but drew a penalty.  Lindsay Jossick took the PK and her shot to her left broke through Marisa’s hands into the net.

Marisa DiMare makes a save in traffic for Portland

Shortly after that fifth score the serious substituting started off the Immaculate bench.  Didn’t see many changes on the Portland side.  Natalia and Lindsay were back in the last five minutes and I assumed that they might combine for a sixth goal.  Credit the Highlanders defense for preventing it.

This may not be the last trip for either of these teams to a big Class S soccer game.  I could find only two seniors on each team.

I was impressed with the all-around play of Portland’s McKenzie Riemondo and Amanda Ghent.

The big excitement at the game was actually outside the park.  About fifteen minutes into play there was a tremendous bang up on the nearby roadway.  I never saw the vehicles involved but police cars and an ambulance were soon on the scene.  Kind of puts real life into perspective when you’re enjoying a soccer game and something like that happens.

I didn’t see a lot of tears from the Portland side with the loss.  It helps when there aren’t many seniors I suspect.  I did hear the girls laughingly chanting on the way to the bus, “We’re #2, we’re #2.”

The only game Immaculate lost was 1-0 to Weston on September 12th.

Waterbury Stadium was built in 1930 as a dog track.  The original bleachers were off in the distance.  Eastern League baseball (AA) teams played there until 1986.

I don’t know if Neil Cavuto (Fox Business News) was in the house but he is an Immaculate graduate.

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

Natalia Diaz (72) threatens in the first half

Caitlyn Linden (18) and Natalia Diaz (72) threaten early in the first half

Sierra Stein (00) about to drill home Goal Four with a nice assist from Caitlyn Linden

Emilie Hernandez (14) trips Lindsay Jossick in the penalty area

Immaculate keeper Ashley Houghton

Portland coach Sandy Booth accepts runner-up award

Emma Ruppert (2) and Natalia Diaz (72)

Portland goalkeeper Marisa DiMare

Caitlyn Linden (18) gets a good look in the first half.

Natalia Diaz (72) is about to set up teammate Lindsay Jossick for the second Mustang goal

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