Western Connecticut takes title 80-52 over Alfred

Gabby Hurlbert (11) gets to the basket for two of her twenty-one points.

Captains Genesis Torres, Gabby Hurlbert, and Jessica Davis with the title award

(Danbury CT) Western Connecticut won the Hat City Tournament, 80-52, over Alfred on Monday night.

Third time in four years for the Colonials.

West Conn senior Gabby Hurlbert (21 points) was named tourney MVP.

Gabby also won the award as a freshman.

WC coach Kim Rybczyk used her entire bench to press full-court from the get-go.  The resulting defensive heat created twenty-seven turnovers that led to twenty-six points.

The Saxon (4-7) had trouble scoring early and went down, 24-11, in the first quarter.  It looked like the start of a long evening, but the visitors from western New York made a game of it in the second period.

Sydney Gouveia (10 rebounds) and Ana Ion (All-Tourney)

“Our key word for this weekend was “persistence,” explained AU coach Mike Moskowitz.  “You’re going to get knocked down.  You’re going to turn it over four straight times but that doesn’t decide the fifth time.”

The Saxons got within six points (33-27) and only trailed by eight at halftime.

“I kind of expected that our pressure would tire them out,” said WC coach Kim Rybczyk afterwards, “but it didn’t.”

West Conn’s offense picked up considerably in the second half.

“Sometimes we struggle fundamentally,” said Coach Rybczyk.  “We don’t make layups.  We don’t make the right pass.  We struggled in those areas in the first half but really pulled it together in the second half and made our breakaway.”

Senior Gabby Hurlbert keyed WestConn’s third period success getting twelve of her twenty-one points during that quarter.

Gabby Hurlbert on a drive

Gabby was quick to the basket and set up teammates for scores.

“I was trying to find openings to the basket for myself and my teammates,” explained Gabby post-game.

The Colonials found openings to the rim most of the game.

“We chose to defend the perimeter,” said Coach Moskowitz, “and they only made four from out there.  But we gave them openings to the basket.”

WC had a remarkable fifty-four points in the paint.  During the first half some of the West Conn paint shots weren’t falling.  The second half they were and a 14-4 start to the second half gave the home team the separation needed to win the title game.

West Conn applies pressure

Last year the Colonials pressed full-court and shot quickly.  “I liked the style,” said Coach Rybczyk, “but we didn’t have the numbers to play it.  We had them at the start and put up some impressive stats but then we had injuries.  That style is not something you modify.  You can’t be in and out of it.  This year we’ve kept the full-court press but on offense we push the ball up the court quickly and we settle if we don’t have a shot.”

Jamie Wilcox (1000-point scorer) shoots a free throw

“Their press was very good,” said Coach Moskowitz.  “They have fourteen players used to that style and who are probably in better shape than we are at this point in the season.  We rarely see teams that press the way they do.”

Sophomore Kate Fanning made the All-Tourney team.  Kate had seventeen points in the opening round blowout of SUNY Delhi.

AU’s Ana Ion was selected for an All-Tourney award.  Ana (freshman) tallied twenty points versus Elms in the Saxons’ win on Friday night.

“Ana is a serious offensive threat,” said Coach Moskowitz.  “She can attack off the dribble.”

Gabby Hurlbert – Tourney MVP

Gabby Hurlbert had nineteen points in the championship game in 2016 against Trinity to capture the MVP trophy that year.

Coach Moskowitz: “We spent a day in New York City.  We have kids from California, Texas, and Florida who hadn’t been.  Some of our western New York players hadn’t been, or hadn’t been recently, to NYC.  It was nice to be able to give them that opportunity.”

Gabby Hurlbert (about the team): “I was drawn to Western Connecticut by the family atmosphere.  From freshman year to my senior year I have loved every player I’ve played with.”

Gabby Hurlbert (about her future): “I will probably take a year or two of schooling beyond West Conn.  I want to be an ultra-sound or a radiology technician.”

Last time I was at the Feldman Arena was for my youngest granddaughter’s graduation in June from Newtown High School.

Box from the game

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

Ana Ion – All-Tourney

Coach Kim Rybczyk

Gabby Hurlbert (11) gets her hand in the passing lane.

Sunsana Almeida (3)

Sydney Gouveia (34) guards Gillian Flint (20)

Gabby Hurlbert dribbles in front of the WestConn bench

Hannah Maghini (22) puts up a runner

Jessica Davis (4) and Gillian Flint (20)

Kate Fanning (30) and Lyndsey McCoy (11)


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Zac Gula (20 points) leads Northampton by Quakertown 82-55 in Salisbury tourney opener

Zac Gula (22) in for two of his twenty points

Zac Gula – gave Northampton points at the end of three different quarters

(Allentown PA) Zac Gula (20 points) made the end of the first three quarters a personal showcase and led Northampton to an 82-55 win over Quakertown on Friday night at Salisbury High School.

The victory puts the Konkrete Kids (5-2) into the Salisbury Holiday Tournament finals tomorrow.

Northampton will be looking to win the tournament for the third straight year.

Quakertown (0-7) came out with plenty of energy and made shots.  The Panthers were in a tie game (19-19) three minutes into the second quarter.

“We hadn’t played a game for a week,” said Northampton coach Coy Stampone.  “I wasn’t sure how we’d start out.”

The Kids came out missing and had to change their approach on offense.

“We started to go inside to score points,” explained Coach Stampone.  “When they doubled, we kicked it outside and got shots in rhythm.  I was pleased with the way we adjusted.”

Junior Jon Altomare (6-6) was the key force inside for Northampton and had nine first-half points.

Jack Gordon (11) and Spencer Cole (1)

Senior Zac Gula was a marvel at the end of each of the first three periods.  Zac ended up with twenty points but sixteen of them came within the last minute of each of those quarters.

First quarter? Converted a rebound and hit a runner in the lane.

Second quarter? Scored on a drive.  Scored on a drive + one.  Hit a fall-away three.

Third quarter? Scored on two drives.

These were all within in the last minute of each of those quarters!

Zac didn’t reference his last-minute heroics when I talked with him after the game.  “We started out slow and picked it up,” said Zac.  “We scored a lot of points.  I’m excited about the way this season is going.”

Matt Catalano (12 points)

Matt Catalino (12 points), Kayden Roley (12 points), and Jake Hallowell (10 points) led the Panthers’ scorers.

Matt’s three from the left earned Q’Town a 19-19 tie three minutes into the 2nd quarter.

The Konkrete Kids took the lead for good, 21-19, on a Jon Altomare layup in close.

The Panthers’ deficit was only four (27-23) after a Luke Bauer layin.  But then Zac Gula went off for eight unanswered points in the last minute and Northampton had a 35-23 halftime lead.

The margin reached twenty-one (58-37) in the third quarter.  Sophomore Isaac Harris (17 points) led the Kids with nine points in that frame.

“We’ve got great senior leadership,” said Coach Stampone.  “A bad quarter isn’t going to rattle them.”

Northampton is from the East Penn Conference while Quakertown is in the Suburban One League.

The best play of the game may have been a 4th quarter save Quakertown’s Luke Bauer made.  Not only did the junior keep the ball from going out but he also flipped the ball in to teammate Kayden Roley who made a layup.  Luke ended up out-of-sight behind the Quakertown bench.  Good hustle!

Luke Bauer

Northampton coach Coy Stampone

The Kids were in the district championship game two years ago.

Coach Stampone: “Our defense tonight eventually transitioned into some pretty good offense.  When we get stops, rebound, and transition, I like our game.”

Northampton box

Quakertown box

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

Spencer Cole (1) and Luke Bauer (23)

Ball on the floor

Donte Rodriguez

Isaac Harris (17 points)

Isaac Harris (24) and Matt Catalano (1)

Jake Christman passes

Jake Hallowell (12) shoots

Jon Altomare (9 points)

Kayden Roley (3) shoots over Isaiah Tyler

Kayden Roley (12 points)

Matt Catalano shoots a three



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Maddy Mandalinci (32 points) leads Pingree to 69-54 tourney title over Cushing Academy

Pingree celebrates victorious ending

Pingree – tournament champions

Tori Farrell (34) and Savannah Gibbs (12) trap Fanta Kone (22)

(Hamilton MA) Pingree defended well and senior Maddy Mandalinci (32 points) shot even better as the Highlanders won the Pingree Holiday Tournament, 69-54, over Cushing Academy on Saturday afternoon.

“I think that we were able to wear them down with our pressure,” explained Pingree coach Dave Latimer afterwards.

When pressure defense will make its mark on a game varies but when it happens the points will come in a cluster.  And that’s what happened in this game.

A jump shot by Cushing sophomore Katie Dolan tied that score at 29-29 with two minutes left in the second quarter.  This had the makings of a close game with an exciting finish.

But in a short period of playing time the closeness vanished, as well as the possibility of a tight finish.

Maddy Mandalinci (10) presses

The Penguins didn’t score a point during the next 3 ½ minutes, stretching into the second half.

Pingree during that time?  Sixteen unanswered points.  A tight game became 45-29 and Cushing never recovered.

“I called a timeout in the last minute of the first half to try to settle us down,” said Cushing coach Emily Roller.  “We were only down four.  Credit Pingree, they kept their run going.”

Maddy Mandalinci (32 points) was the tourney MVP

Maddy Mandalinci (tourney MVP) made shots all afternoon.  “When our defense is working and Maddy’s making shots, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Maddy made nine of Pingree’s sixteen points in the game-deciding run.  She had three layups as well as a three assisted by Savanah Gibbs.

Cushing, meanwhile, had four turnovers during the segment in which the game got away from them.

“That press sped us up,” said Coach Roller, “and he (Coach Latimer) has the depth to keep running it.”

The Penguins (4-2) controlled the early part of the first period.  A jump shot by Katie Nolan (11 points) and consecutive three’s by Lily Stone (9 points) gave the visitors from Ashburnham (MA) a, 13-7, lead four minutes into the game.

Freshman Tori Farrell (14 points), however, helped Pingree rally back before halftime.  “Tori has a motor that doesn’t stop,” said Coach Latimer.  “She is a great defensive presence.”  Tori made the All-Tourney team.

Erin Rutherford (14 points) covered by Abbey Skinner

In the second half, Cushing put an 11-2 segment together and trailed only 49-42 with two minutes left in the third quarter.  Steals by junior Fanta Kone led to layups by Natahsa Shade and Erin Rutherford (14 points).

Seven points would be as close as Cushing would get.  An injury took sophomore Katie Nolan off the court and the tiring Penguins had no answers for Maddy Mandalinci’s late-game, hot shooting.

How hot was Maddy?  She scored fourteen of Pingree’s final sixteen points.  Cushing went zone in the second half and that gave the Union College commit open looks.

“I work hard on shooting,” said Maddy post-game.  Maddy had three 3’s in the final period.

Erin Montigny looks to pass

“We all worked together on defense,” said Maddy.  “Everyone has to contribute to make the press work.”

“She (Maddy) is very composed and steady offensively,” added Coach Roller.

Cushing had a player (Katie Nolan) injured during the game and were missing senior captain Kate Montigny.  “Kate is a six-footer and could have helped us do a better job on the offensive glass.”

Coach Latimer: “It’s great to see the girls have some success winning a championship early in the season.  It gives us confidence.  Nine of our players are sophomores or freshmen.”

The Highlanders (4-2) have moved up from Class B to Class A this year.  Plenty of tough competition ahead for them.

Coach Emily Roller in the Cushing huddle

Coach Roller: “It’s early in the season.  There was lots of good stuff to build on for both teams.”

Maddy on choosing Union College: “I had an instant connection with all the coaches and players.  I am not sure what my major will be.  It might be psychology.”

I hadn’t been to Pingree since the new facility was built.  All I can say about it is, “Wow!”  Clean, nice lights, and plenty of space including an extra gym.  Nicely done.

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

Fanta Kone

Fanta Kone – All-Tourney

Fanta Kone and Samantha Jones

Fanta Kone (22) defends an inbounds lob attempt

Kendall Traveis

Maddy Mandalinci (10) shoots with her left hand

Pingree captains Maddy Mandalinci and Abbey Skinner

Abbey Skinner puts up two

Aicha Ndour

Aicha Ndour tries to drive past Abbey Skinner

Alexa Garcia breaks in for Pingree

Cushing defenders close in on Abbey Skinner

Coach Dave Latimer

Erin Rutherford floats in for two

Alexa Garcia (left) and Erin Rutherford (right)

Tori Farrell – All-Tourney

Tori Farrell defended by Natasha Shade




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Will Klein does it all……Abington defeats Leicester 21-7 in D7 Super Bowl

Senior Will Klein rushed for over 200 yards including two touchdowns

Will Klein post-game

(Foxboro MA) Will Klein was in the bleachers when Abington won their last football title (2014).

Unfortunately for the undefeated Leicester Wolverines, Will was on the field today for Abington.

The result? A 21-7 win and a Division 7 title for the Green Wave.

“Will had an unbelievable day today,” said dampened Abington head coach Jim Kelliher post-game.

And who could argue.

Will was even responsible for giving Coach Kelliher an icy bath as the celebrating started along the victorious Abington sidelines.

Abington post-game interviews

Will rushed for two touchdowns and finished with 207 yards on twenty-three carries.

On the Green Wave’s first possession, Will ran for a first down. On his second carry he disappeared off left tackle for a 61-yard score.  Looked like a long morning in the making for Leicester.

But the Wolverines (12-1) kept Will from getting the two-point conversion.

One minute later Leicester showed the Gillette Stadium gathering why they were undefeated and why they were in the championship game.

Jack O’Neil gets behind Will Klein as Leicester scores on a trick play.

Advertised as a team capable, and unafraid, of using trick plays, the Wolverines pulled one off against Abington.  The play started left and suddenly there was a pass to the right to sophomore Mike Mero.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  Mike then passed downfield to a wide-open Jack O’Neil and Leicester was immediately back in the game on the 74-yard touchdown.

Devon Gillis (26) up to stop a Will Klein two-point conversion attempt.

By the way, the pass over to Mike Mero drew up the Abington safety on that side which enabled Jack O’Neill to be by himself for the catch and score.  The defender?  Will Klein.

Nolan Power kicked the extra point and Leicester was ahead 7-6 with 6:52 left in the first quarter.

Now it looked as if a lot of points would be scored by both teams on this chilly/sunny morning, but they weren’t.  Leicester’s point production ended for the morning…….Abington’s didn’t.

“Their offense was complicated, but I credit my defensive coaches for figuring it out,” said Coach Kelliher.  “They did get one at the start, but we stopped everything else.  We did have some extra time to prepare for them and it helped.”

Gabe Spry (42) flies to Bryce Gosselin

The Green Wave (11-2) picked up a second touchdown in the second quarter (4:34).  Twice the team from the South Shore League converted fourth-down plays.  Once it was with a Will Klein rush.  Later it was a 4th-and-7 pass to junior Matt Maguire.  Will powered the final yard to the end zone and Seamus Schmidt swept left for the two-point conversion.  Abington had a 14-7 lead at half-time.

More Will Klein in the third quarter.  Abington looked to be in a punt setup, but Will Klein had the ball.  He could have punted but when he saw an opening, he ran for a first down.  Later in the quarter, with Leicester in possession, senior Bryce Gosselin found daylight down the right sideline, but over came Will to push Bryce out after an eighteen-yard game possibly saving a tying touchdown.

Daniel Mero (12) hands off to Bryce Gosselin (8)

Into the final quarter Leicester only trailed by one touchdown.  Did they have another trick play that could even the score?  Not on this morning.

They got into Abington territory (49) but the Green Wave defense forced them into a fourth down.  Daniel Mero’s pass attempt was then knocked down by defender Cedric Lucas with 3:31 left.

“I was glad to get in front of that ball and end that drive,” said Cedric afterwards.

“Abington had a really good defense,” explained Leicester QB Daniel Mero.  “They filled the holes when they needed to.  It was tough for us to execute.”

Bryce Gosselin (8) pushed out by Will Klein (4)

Will Klein sent Abington on their way to a final touchdown.  He swept right, dodged one tackler and put the Green Wave in business at the Leicester 20.  Senior Gabe Spry covered the final four yards for the score.  Tom Fanara kicked the extra point pushing the Abington lead to 21-7 with 1:42 remaining.

Will Klein follows blockers

Leicester went all-air on their last possession.  What a surprise, Will Klein ended Leicester’s last hope for points with an interception.

“The touchdowns and the other good things that happened were nice,” explained Will, “but I’m happier that the team won the game.”

“Will is one of those guys that every coach dreams of having,” said Coach Kelliher.  “It’s like, ‘Thank you, Lord!’”

Jarib Cole (55) and Cedric Lucas (14) elevate at the end

“It’s the second state championship game I’ve been in this year,” recalled Will.  He was part of Abington’s basketball team that lost in the title game in Division 4 to Worcester Tech in March.

The Green Wave won eleven straight games after starting with losses to Hingham and Rockland.  “That was a long time to be winless,” said Will.

Both Leicester and Abington lost in the regional finals the last two seasons.

Leicester plays in the South Worcester County League.

The sun may have been out for the 9AM start but most of the field was in shadows.

I greatly appreciated the stats provided by the MIAA before and after the game.

Game stats

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

MIAA banner

Abington banner

Green Wave cheerleaders

Chris Miranda (53) about to tack Will Klein (4)

Colby Augusta (2) ready to run a play near the goal line

Colby Augusta (2) swarmed by Wolverines

Abington’s Colby Augusta (2) with great protection

Daniel Mero (12) chased by Cedric Lucas (14), Shea McClellan (53) and Jarae Cole (52)

Daniel Mero (12) passes to Jamison Metcalf (3)

Gabe Spry (42) had a 23-yard reception for Abington

Will Klein (4) plows into the line

Michael Worden with the D7 championship trophy

Ryan Wessling (60) and Drew Donovan (7) cheer the outcome

Will Klein (4) cuts past Jeff Puchalski (15)

Will Klein at the end of a 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter











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

Newtown defenders signal another Masuk turnover

Chris Tillotson (2) leads Masuk onto the field

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Nugent (7) drops Brandon Lombardo (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety signaled

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

Linebacker Jared Dunn (33) loses his helmet

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

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

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

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

Newtown interception by Jack Zingaro (4)

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

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

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

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

Jeff Nugent (7) tackles Luke Hannan (9)

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

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

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

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

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

Newtown junior Pat Boyle recovered two fumbles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon Lombardo (6)

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

Connor Breslin (20) follows Jared Dunn (33)

Deric DeAngelis (19) pressured

Ian Jackson (3) bats down a pass

Jared Dunn makes a catch

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

Luke Hannon (9) finds open field

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








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

Brice-Cowell musket and the UNH Wildcats post-game

Evan Gray with Coach Sean McDonnell pre-game

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

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

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

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

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

UNH linebacker Michael Balsamo eyes UMaine QB Joe Fagnano

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

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

The final score was misleading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maine’s Devin Young fumbles on the first play.

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

Josh Kania causes Joe Fagnano to fumble

Ball on the ground

Prince Smith (6) picks up the loose ball

Prince Smith outruns Joe Fitzpatrick to the end zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QB Joe Fagnano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over 10,000 spectators attended the game.

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

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

Daniel Rymer (88) in the grasp of Michael Balsamo

Dylan Laube (20) dodges Erik Robertson (30)

Dylan Laube (20) scores in the first period

Evan Gray (22) block for QB Max Brosmer

Evan Gray (22) into an opening

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

Griffin Helm (29)

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

watching the screen

Jack Carroll (69)

Joe Fagnano (12) gets open

Josh Kania (95) and Pop Bush (23)

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

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




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

Dasa Hase and Gracie Doherty

Alyssa Pettet kicked home the game-winner in the shootout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overtime?  Not yet.

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

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

Now we had overtime.

Ashley Flood (20) and Alyssa Pettet (5)

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

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

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

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

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

Grace Doherty PK

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

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

Maya Baker PK

Avery Hallinan PK

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

Alyssa Pettet PK

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

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

Mia Cromwell shoots

ME celebrates Mia Cromwell goal

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

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

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

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

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

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

McKenna sees the ball near the goal line

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

McKenna’s goal signaled by official

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

Waiting for the shootout

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bella Hadaegh and Lily O’Neill

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

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

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

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

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

Overcast conditions with light rain after the game was over.

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

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

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

Alli Napoli above the crowd

Coach Adam Thibodeau with captains and trophy

Amesbury goal celebrated

Amesbury celebrates goal

Amesbury team celebrates win

Amesbury team picture with banner

Amesbury trophy raised

Dasa Hase and MK McElaney

Gracie Doherty (18) and Maya Baker (1)

Coach Luke Cosgrove with ME captains and trophy

Maddy DiPietro ready to head



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