Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Windham U12 girls win New England Invitational Soccer Tourney - By Jason Dakin and Leo Tinkham

On Sunday, November 13, the Windham U12 Girls Soccer team competed against state champions from Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire for the regional title. 

Windham opened the tournament on fire with three goals, all by Elizabeth Talbot, in the first five minutes of play. From there, Windham coasted to a 6-0 win over the Vermont State Champion Nordics from Essex, VT. 

The second match, against the Rhode Island State Champions from Warwick, RI, was an evenly contested tilt between two talented and determined opponents. After battling to a scoreless tie at the half, Rhode Island struck in the second half converting a long, pop up, wind assisted, lost in the sun, wobbler off a corner kick. 

It was 1-0 Rhode Island. 

With their backs against the wall, the Windham girls acted on their team rally cry “Now we just play harder!” and dominated play in the Rhode Island zone. After several minutes of intense pressure, the Rhode Island defense cracked by pulling down a Windham striker inside the penalty box. Abbey Thornton converted the penalty kick for a 1-1 tie, which is how the game ended. 

The final match, against the New Hampshire State Champions from Concord, was the match to determine the tournament title. If Windham won the game, it would win the tournament. If they lost, then New Hampshire would win the tournament. And if they tie, then Windham must go cheer for Vermont to beat or tie Rhode Island, an outcome which would enable Windham to win the tournament on points. Coaches Dakin and Bell took time between matches to ensure the team understood the situation and to plot strategy for the championship matchup. 

In another evenly contested match between two very tough teams, this time with a championship on the line, Windham scored first on a long hard shot from a steep angle by Abbey Thornton. Windham 1-0 at the half. Early in the second half, Elizabeth Talbot added a second goal to extend the lead to 2-0. Shortly afterward, Windham coaches dropped more defenders back to preserve the victory. 

With this win, the Windham U12 girls completed the Triple Crown of the fall season: Falmouth Columbus Day Tournament Champions, State of Maine Champions, and New England Invitational Champions. The team suffered only one defeat all season, back in early September, in a scrimmage; and the team rallied to win from behind in five games this fall. The team players are: Sarah Bell, Ashley Clarke, Monique Dakin, Kylie Garrison, Morgan Hammond, Elizabeth Leveque, Rianna Mattox, Elizabeth Talbot, Ali Tetrault, Abbey Thornton and Emma Tinkham. Coached by Jason Dakin and Matt Bell.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Windham Eagles football ends winning season - By Stephen Signor

It was two years ago that Perkins established a leadership council composed of 12 players, including underclassmen, to discuss issues and concerns among players. The council, Perkins said, allows players to have a voice and police themselves. Apparently this move is beginning to show benefits.
Head coach Matt Perkins led his team into another season on the winning side. While they may have lost 27-14 a week ago in the semi-final of the Class A championships to the Portland Bulldogs and for the second year in a row, he does walk away with a young team that is sure to show promise and improvement next year. And although they took a loss, it was a big improvement compared to the loss suffered earlier in the year when the Eagles fell 42-21 to the same team.

The Eagles ended up 6-4 having scored 213 total points while giving up 163 and rank 21st in the state. Although 163 points sounds like a lot this is not a true testament to the young talent. The good majority of those points were scored earlier in the season and the performance in last two games before the semi-final against Chevrus was a sure indication of what is to come. 

Next season should see the return of 35 players in the current roster of 45 players. The majority of those will be either sophomores or juniors. 

Perkins has been the head coach of the Eagles since 2004 with a won-loss record of 75-53 and it doesn’t appear that his tenure will end any time soon.

Windham U14 soccer concludes 2016 with a big win - By Krista Abbotoni

The Windham U14 Soccer team playing for the Windham Youth Soccer Association finished their final travel season games by winning the New England Invitational championship in Pembroke, NH, over the weekend.  In the first game of the New England Invitational, Windham won 1-0 versus John Stark United U14 (Henniker, NH) with the lone score coming from Simon Gabaree assisted by Hayden Bilodeau with Ryan Abbotoni in net stopping three shots for his fifth shutout of the season. 

The second match featured a physical game versus Portsmouth YSA U14 (Portsmouth, RI) with Windham winning 2-0.  Cam Joyce opened the scoring unassisted from 25 yards out in the first half with Hayden Bilodeau adding another in the second half with Sean Cunniffe aiding with the assist.  A late penalty kick miss that hit the crossbar by Rhode Island maintained the shutout by goalkeeper Simon Gabaree, who stopped four shots on goal (Gabaree's ninth shutout of the season). the final match, Windham faced NHSL Fall League Div 1 Champion Portsmouth City (Portsmouth, NH).  In the first half Windham got the offense going early with Ethan Wert putting in the first goal in the fourth minute off a pass from Hayden Bilodeau. Shortly after, Julia McKenna added Windham's second goal unassisted, in the sixth minute, with a low driving shot from the left wing which quickly went to the back of the net past the NH keeper.  Early in the second half Hayden Bilodeau connected off a pass from Griffin Black for the third Windham goal.  Portsmouth was able to garner a single goal off a corner kick in the second half.  Simon Gabaree and Hunter Vail combined for the 3-1 win, stopping five shots.  

Players for the team are Alec Brooks, Baxter Chavonelle, Boden Sabasteanski, Cameron Joyce, Connor Cummings, Devon Harnden, Dustin Noonan, Dylan Gorman, Ethan Wert, Ezra Smith, Griffin Black, Hayden Bilodeau, Hunter Vail, Jacob Noonan, Julia McKenna, Keegan Brooks, Ryan Abbotoni, Sean Cunniffe, Simon Gabaree and Tyler Collins.  The team is coached by Patrick Noonan, Peter Brooks and James Livengood. The Windham U14 team played a total of 30 games during the 2016 season, concluding with 22 wins, 3 losses and 5 ties. This was their fourth tournament championship for 2016, compiling a combined 14-0 record in tournament play (44 goals for, 4 goals against) including U14 championships in the Seacoast United Labor Day Tournament (Epping, NH), Sanford Soccer Columbus Day Tournament (Sanford, ME), Soccer Maine Fall Classic League Champions Cup (Yarmouth, ME) and in the New England Invitational (Pembroke, NH).

Friday, November 11, 2016

Windham U12 girls win SoccerMaine State Championship - By Mike Garrison and Leo Tinkham

Windham U12 girls played in the state semi-final and championship games held in Freeport on Sunday, October 30. Windham won its morning semifinal matchup vs. a greatly improved southern division champion from York, 4-0. On to the afternoon championship match versus a very tough, experienced, and disciplined northern division champion from Hampden (near Bangor). The Hampden Broncos had already beaten Windham in the Cumberland Labor Day tournament, 2-0, and Windham avenged that loss at the Falmouth Columbus Day tournament, 2-1 (OT). For both teams, the loss to each other was the only loss in a fall season they had both otherwise dominated. This is the state championship pairing everybody on both teams predicted and prepared for. 

On a beautiful afternoon for soccer, Windham’s Abbey Thornton opened the scoring on a penalty kick. Windham 1-0. 

The Broncos responded with a high arcing rocket from well outside the box that caught the high corner of the Windham goal, just beyond the reach of the keeper. Then Hampden was awarded a penalty kick of its own, threatening to go ahead 2-1, until Windham goalie Ali Tetrault dove hard to knock the ball away, preserving a 1-1 tie, which held until halftime. 

Windham’s coaching staff, Jason Dakin and Matt Bell, made adjustments at the break, resulting in a meteor storm of second half goals by Windham. First a Sarah Bell tap in from a crossing pass; then a Monique Dakin tap in from a crossing pass; then Elizabeth Talbot returned a rebound; then a low hard shot from long range by Rianna Mattox, capped by Abbey Thornton’s second goal of the game. Final score Windham 6-2. 

No team can win a championship without a determined defense. Windham’s tenacious defenders Ashley Clarke, Kylie Garrison, Morgan Hammond, Elizabeth Levesque, and Emma Tinkham notched several shutouts this season, including two vital shutouts in the state quarterfinal and semi-final games. The defense never allowed more than two goals in any game this season. 

The team is invited to play for the New England U12 championship on Sunday, November 13, near Concord, NH.

Special Olympics goes bowling

Special Olympics Bowling was held at Vacationland Bowling in Saco on October 24th.
RSU14 sent 34 athletes kindergarten through 12th grade to compete both at the competitive and non-competitive levels.

A great time was had by all.

Photos by Jody Colangelo

Windham football scores thrilling victory - By Stephen Signor

The first time, the Windham Eagles 6-3 faced the 4-5 Chevrus Stags was the season closer on October 22nd in which the Eagles won 13-12. The stage had been set. That victory secured a playoff berth in the Class-A North Tournament and a bye week going into the quarterfinal playoff game that was played last Friday. In a game filled with near misses on the offensive side, the two defenses provided fans with a low scoring battle. The Windham Eagles would outlast the Stags and walk away with an exciting 9-7 victory.
Head coach Matt Perkins’ team was prepared, taking away lessons from their previous meeting. To summarize he said, “We have to clean things up, do better in certain areas. We didn’t execute well on third down. Offensively we didn’t sustain our blocks very well so linebackers got through pretty easily last time."

The Stags also learned from that game as well and made their own adjustments. To counter that, “We have to recognize what they are doing and come in with things a little different. It’s just like a chess game,” continued Perkins. 

Defense proved to be the theme in this match up. No real sustained drive was achieved until just seconds remaining in the first quarter when the Eagles took the ball down inside the Stags 10-yard line threatening to score. However an errant pass by Desmond Leslie was intercepted by the Stags Dominic Casale and returned for a touchdown.  A successful conversion made the score 7-0 going into the second quarter. 

The Eagles would eventually score on a field goal by Liam McCuster with 8:47 left in the second quarter cutting the lead to 7-3. 

Near the end of the half the Eagles punted the ball away. Starting from their own 7-yard line the Stags failed to make a first down, in between wise decisions by Perkins to call two time outs to stop the clock, giving his team one more shot of scoring before the half. However, the Stags defense answered and although close enough, the field goal attempt went wide right and a bit short. The Eagles would go to the locker room down 7-3.

The second half saw once again defense would prevail on both sides. Then with just under 5 minutes remaining big yardage completions to Griffeth Heber from Desmond Leslie set up Kyle Houser for a 5-yard scramble into the end zone. The conversion failed and the quarter would end but the Eagles now led 9-7.

Chevrus did manage to make one push on the final drive of the game and drove down to the Eagles 7-yard line with time running out. Two key Eagles defensive plays stalled the drive forcing the Stags kicker Chandler Hartigan to attempt what would have been a game winning 22-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the game. The Windham defense would have no part of it. Nazari Henderson penetrated the offensive line and blocked the kick, sealing the Eagles victory. The final score of 9-7 sent the fans into frenzy.

In hindsight the score may have been higher on the side of the Eagles but a dropped pass in the end zone and several other key passes either missed their mark or were mishandled. This was attributed to the nerves of a young team who have not been in this pressure situation before. 

“Just one of those things with big moments; some of these guys haven’t been in big moments; its part of the excitement of getting to the next round,” confirmed Perkins. But the defense made up the deficit keeping the Stags in check.

Unlike previous games this one was almost totally devoid of penalties. After the game there was time to reflect. “The game was played the way it should be; aggressive and downhill on both sides,” said Perkins. It was also the time to speak of the team’s readiness for the next game to which Perkins replied with confidence “We will be.”

The next game is the regional final of this tournament and will be away against the 9-1 Portland Bulldogs on Friday, Nov. 11th.