Area girls’ soccer
A couple of girls’ area soccer teams are highly ranked, as everyone gets ready for post-season play, which begins next week. The Leland & Gray girls have completed their regular season 12-2 in Division III and await their probable third place seeding, which should come with three home games if they continue to win when the tournament starts. Meanwhile, the Springfield Cosmos are 9-3, presently fifth in Division II, with a road game at Mill River and a home finale Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. on Senior Night with Otter Valley to complete their regular season.
Coach Lucas Bates considers his Leland & Gray team special. He has felt all season things were lining up and he said, “One of the goals we had was to be 12-2. This group of kids is not just a pleasure to coach, but one of the easiest. I can say that because they understand their roles within the fabric of the team. Each of them fits very, very well.”
Both of the Rebels’ losses came early in the season to a Thetford team (0-5) that sits just above them in the standings and to Division I Burr and Burton (2-6), who stands fourth in Division I. Obviously, how Leland & Gray lines up against Thetford is the more important one because the rivals could well match up down the road. “We weren’t at our best that day,” Bates says looking back at the defeat to Thetford. “There were multiple reasons we didn’t click that day.”
A rematch would suit the ladies from Townshend well.
Arin Bates leads in scoring with 18 goals and 13 assists, seemingly always a part of the action. Freshman Abby Towle has 7 goals and 10 assists, Ellie Longo has contributed 12 goals and 3 assists, Bay Holmes has 4 goals and 6 helpers, while another freshman Izzy Ameden has netted the ball 6 times with 2 assists, and Hannah Landers has 3 goals and an assist. The goalie is Sydney Hescock, who along with a strong defense, has allowed one goal or fewer in 11 of the 14 games.
Springfield has a new coach this year, and Ray Curren is a strong soccer man with years of experience in other places. The Cosmos, who have averaged three victories a year over the past three seasons, have tripled that with two games remaining in 2019. “This team has a belief,” Curren says when asked what might separate this year’s team down the stretch and in the playoffs. Curren has studied the Division II field closely and sees the north tends to be better in most seasons, but he notes, “Our ability to score goals has helped separate us in many close games.”
The Cosmos are led in scoring by Jenna Veysey, who has 16 goals and 6 assists. Other significant scorers for Springfield are Kayla Gibbons with 6 goals and 1 helper; Mycah White, who has a couple of goals and 4 assists; Laila Buskey, who has netted 3 goals with 1 assist; and Ari Cioffi, with two of each. Cioffi has been versatile for her team as she played goalie when the number one netkeeper was injured. That goalie is Megan Stagner, who averages yielding 0.89 tallies a game. Similar to the Rebels, Curren notes, “Our defense has done very well.”
Incidentally, Springfield has avenged all three of their losses. They fell to Fair Haven, who is one spot above them in the standings 0-2 but also defeated them 1-0. They lost to Hartford 2-3, but turned them back 2-1. Then they lost to Woodstock 0-1 only to also beat them 2-0. If the standings don’t change, Fair Haven could be a possible matchup in the quarterfinals.
Both these area teams have one more thing going for them when the playoff bell rings: they both are senior laden and looking to make as much noise as they possibly can. Leland & Gray has had some playoff success before, but these Cosmos seniors have been outscored 24-0 in three playoff games in their careers. They are quite hungry for success.
This weekend’s football
There is little question that this is an important weekend in local high school football. There is also little question that Springfield’s trip to Poultney on Saturday is the game of the week.
These two teams hope to reach the Division III title game, and it just might take two victories in a three-week period for one of these teams to earn the trip to their title game to likely find Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax waiting. Chances are, regardless of Saturday’s outcome, that the two teams will meet again in two weeks in the Division semifinals. It will actually be the winner of that game that will be the ultimate winner this year between these two teams, especially if they end up splitting. These should be two really good games.
New Hampshire Division IV has two weeks remaining in their regular season schedule, but it is much tougher to get into the playoffs in the Granite State because only the top four teams advance to the post-season. With the countdown proceeding, the Fall Mountain Wildcats still have their destiny in their own hands. It is even possible if Orion Binney’s 11 wins out, they may finish as high as third in the division. Fall Mountain has a Saturday afternoon game at Mascoma, and both teams need the victory to guarantee finishing in the post-season picture. The Wildcats have one more home game a week from Friday against Newfound. It wasn’t long ago that Springfield and Fall Mountain competed in a varsity and junior varsity game hoping to keep their programs alive, and both have become a big feel good story.
Bellows Falls has had another successful season and has Senior Night awaiting with Milton as the opponent Friday night. The Terriers will need some help to finish above a third seed, which is what is expected to happen with a victory over last place Milton. The Terriers have overachieved by at least a game in my opinion; but with the growth they have shown, don’t be surprised if their heroics don’t end soon. They have big play explosion capabilities. So in the end, their plight this season should come down to their defense. Don’t anyone put all the blame on the defensive backs. The line and linebackers have to do their part to stop the pass, which has been a real problem for the Terriers.
Another area marathon success
Saxtons Rivers Dave Moore dropped me a note about a half marathon performance by his son, former BFUHS runner Willie Moore, who ran a 107:31 in the big San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon a day after the Bellows Falls Front Porch Marathon. Moore finished a strong 22nd out of 10,000 runners. It is extremely tough to compare distance-racing times because all courses are nowhere near created equal. Dave noted in Willie’s case, one advantage for Willie in the race was that the recent graduate of the University of Colorado has done his training at 6,000 feet and to run the race at sea level was a big part. Another big part might be that Willie trains 80to 90 miles per week.
My grandson, who went to school at Boston University, and did a little summer training with Willie in past summers, sent a long a text to me about training differences. The winning time in Bellows Falls last weekend was less that two minutes off his best half, but he wasn’t sure if that meant he could have competed for the top spot.
He noted, “I might find that a challenge because I am sure the course is more difficult than I usually work with.” The majority of his distance races have been in Florida where the highest hill might be a pitcher’s mound. One interesting tidbit is that Willie and my grandson were close to equal in their abilities before Willie took his talents west. There must be something about that high altitude training.
Local baseball champions
Unfortunately, I was under the weather and on the IL when both regional summer leagues crowned their champions. Walpole and Putney once again stood atop their respective Fall Mountain Babe Ruth League and Connecticut River Valley Baseball Leagues.
The Babe Ruth age league has undergone quite a transition in the past few years. No longer are the familiar faces of longtime members Alstead, Saxtons River, North Walpole, and Westminster around in the mix. Some of the teams that may have come around to fill in for them or join them, Townshend, Londonderry, and Springfield, are gone too. The only teams that were a part of things for 30 or more years left are Walpole, Bellows Falls, Charlestown, Chester, and Ludlow, and they are now joined by two teams from Sunapee, Lebanon, Hartford, Claremont, and Newport. It is sad to see so many communities without teams now, but it proves that baseball is not the sport it used to be in the area.
One thing is certain, and that is Walpole fields a good baseball team year after year. The defending champions will hold that title for another year. It is impressive that they excel even with the bigger communities in the loop. Walpole defeated Lebanon in the title game after finishing second with an 8-3 record in the regular season. Hartford won the regular season title with a 9-1-1 mark with Bellows Falls third at 7-4-1, followed by finalist Lebanon 7-5, Sunapee 1 with a 5-4-1 mark, Charlestown 5-6 Sunapee 2 3-5-1, Claremont 4-8, Chester/Ludlow 3-7, and Newport 2-10.
Putney was successful, just like Walpole, in defending their title in the adult area circuit. The Fossils and Claremont rose to the top for yet another summer in the CRVBL. Putney won the title game over Claremont after they also nipped the New Hampshire team 10-2 to 8-3 in the regular season standings. The Keene Monument Men finished third at 7-5 ahead of the Walpole Maples 5-6, Connecticut River Ironmen 4-8, and Brattleboro 0-10.