The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » College Thu, 25 Aug 2016 04:29:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cal, Hawaii get ready to kick off season in Australia Wed, 24 Aug 2016 00:59:37 +0000 SYDNEY — With the usual touristy things — Opera House, Harbour Bridge and meeting mascot-sized koalas — out of the way, the California Golden Bears and Hawaii were set to continue their practice sessions in Australia on Wednesday ahead of the opening college football game of the season.

The midday Saturday game — prime time Friday night in the United States — will be held at Sydney’s Olympic stadium, where organizers expecting a crowd of more than 65,000.

On Tuesday, both teams were welcomed to the city at an Opera House reception. Cal coach Sonny Dykes and Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich were presented with Malibu-sized surfboards and some of the players posed for selfies with the iconic Opera House and bridge in the background.

After the festivities, both teams held workouts and Dykes said Cal got the kinks out during the fully-padded practice.

“The guys are getting acclimatized to Sydney time, so we had a good, intense practice and the guys worked hard,” Dykes said.

“Defensively it was one of the better ones we’ve had. Offensively I thought we were a little out of sync, but the guys were moving around well and I though mentally we were pretty sharp.”

Dykes said it was good to mingle with the Hawaii players at the Opera House welcome.

“It was a great activity, fun to see the guys from Hawaii,” he said. “It gets you thinking about the ball game when you see your opponent.”

Cal had a seven-win turnaround from the past two seasons, going from 1-11 in 2013 to 8-5 last year.

Hawaii, with former quarterback Rolovich in his first season as coach, is the most travelled team in U.S. college football. The Rainbow Warriors will play again on Sept. 3 when they make their first appearance at the Big House, taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In the meantime, he’s happy to make his coaching debut Down Under and give his players a unique lifetime experience.

“If they kick me out of my country, I’m coming here, save me a room,” Rolovich told local media. “How many people get to play their first game in Australia in Sydney? Your grandkids aren’t going to believe you that you got to do this in September when you’re 20 years old.”

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Dan Collins named UMaine’s starting quarterback Mon, 22 Aug 2016 20:54:07 +0000 Senior quarterback Dan Collins has played with confidence throughout the University of Maine’s football preseason camp.

So it should come as no surprise that his reaction was rather muted to the news that first-year coach Joe Harasymiak had chosen him as the Black Bears’ starting quarterback.

“He’s been really confident in what he’s been doing, so it wasn’t like he jumped for joy,” said Harasymiak, who succeeded Jack Cosgrove as Maine’s head coach. “He said, ‘Coach, I know I’m the guy.’ He’s confident and that’s good to see. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ ”

Collins said that he trusted that Maine’s new coaching staff would make the decision based on the competition between him, junior Drew Belcher and redshirt freshman Jack Walsh.

“I just tried to go out there and compete every day the best I can,” he said. “And that’s what happened. For me, being named the starter, I think that shows they have a lot of confidence in me.

“And when you’re playing for coaches like that, it makes it easier to go out and play loose.”

This is the third consecutive year that Collins has been named Maine’s starting quarterback. But in the previous two, his competition with Belcher wasn’t determined until the final week or, in the case of last year, just a day before the Black Bears opened the season.

“I’ve been through it twice before with Coach Cos and Drew as far as making the decision,” said Collins. “When Coach (Harasymiak) told me – after (Sunday) I felt like I was getting on a roll and I was feeling confident – it didn’t surprise me. But it’s very exciting.”

Harasymiak said all along that he would name a starter after the team’s second scrimmage, which was Sunday. Collins threw three touchdown passes in that scrimmage and displayed great command of the new offense installed by first-year offensive coordinator Liam Coen.

“Danny has been playing at a very high level,” said Harasymiak. “For the most part, we knew Danny had the talent. He’s got the arm. His decision-making has improved, the way he’s commanded this offense … it was time to let him know and the team know that he’s the starting quarterback and it’s his show to run.”

The 6-foot-3, 215 pound Collins has thrown for 2,485 passing yards and 15 touchdowns in 17 career games. He has started 13 games over the last two seasons while Belcher has started 15 over the same time.

Maine, which finished 3-8 last year, opens its season on Sept. 1 at the University of Connecticut. Collins has already been preparing for that game.

“I’ve been watching them on film,” he said. “You can’t not prepare for that. And I’m sure Drew prepared exactly as I did.”

Now that the starter has been named, Harasymiak said it’s time to start making plays on the field.

“He’s shown a great presence and he’s maturing,” said Harasymiak. “Now he’s got to prove it.”

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Sports Digest: Maine women’s soccer beats Central Connecticut State Mon, 22 Aug 2016 03:52:42 +0000 COLLEGES

Maine women’s soccer beats Central Connecticut

Theresa Gosch scored her first career goal on a feed from Mikayla Morin in the 60th minute to give Maine the lead for good, and the Black Bears defeated Central Connecticut State 2-1 at New Britain, Connecticut.

The Black Bears jumped out to a quick lead as Vivien Beil scored unassisted 2:52 into the first half, but Laura Casanovas Diaz scored the equalizer for the Blue Devils, on an assist from Emily Hogan from six yards out in the 13th minute.

Annalena Kriebisch stopped four shots for Maine (2-1), while Nicki Turley had a pair of saves for Central Connecticut State (0-2).


EASTERN LEAGUE: The Portland Sea Dogs’ game against the Binghamton Mets was canceled because of rain. The two teams do not meet again this season, so the game will not be rescheduled.

Portland opens a series at home against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at 7 p.m. Monday.


INDYCAR: The race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania was postponed until Monday because of rain.

The race was supposed to begin at 3:09 p.m. Sunday, but a steady midafternoon rain drenched the 2.5-mile track. IndyCar officials announced that the race would go off at 12:09 p.m. Monday.

OXFORD PLAINS SPEEDWAY: TJ Brackett of Buckfield won the 50-lap Super Late Model feature on Saturday night.

Brackett earned his second win of the season. His father, Tim, is the only other driver to win twice in the series this season. He finished third behind Shawn Knight of South Paris.

Matt Williams of Brownfield won the Street Stock feature, Jamie Heath of Waterford won the Bandits feature, and David Smith of South Paris won the Figure 8 race.


WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN: The world’s second-ranked player, Angelique Kerber, wasted a chance to end Serena Williams’ long run at the top. She fell behind at the outset, repeatedly missed routine shots and fell to Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-1 in the championship match in Mason, Ohio.

Because of Kerber’s loss, Williams will be ranked No. 1 for the 184th consecutive week, two shy of Steffi Graf’s WTA record.

On the men’s side, Andy Murray also ran out of steam in the title match. He fell to Marin Cilic 6-4, 7-5, ending his career-best winning streak at 22 matches.


MLS: Marcelo Sarvas and Patrick Mullins scored three minutes apart in the second half and D.C. United rallied for a 2-2 draw with the New York City Red Bulls in Washington in a game delayed 75 minutes because of lightning.

Sarvas scored on a penalty kick in the 70th minute and Mullins put in a header off a corner kick in the 73rd as D.C. United (6-8-10) moved ahead of Orlando City on the red line in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have 28 points, but D.C. holds the tiebreaker for the sixth spot.

SPANISH LEAGUE: A referee briefly stopped a match in Madrid between Sporting Gijon and visiting Athletic Bilbao because of racist chants aimed at Bilbao player Inaki Williams.

Referee Clos Gomez wrote in his match report that he suspended play for a minute in the first half when he heard racist chants imitating what he said were “monkey calls” from one section of El Molinon Stadium directed at Williams.

– Staff and news service report

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UMaine football shows progress on offense Mon, 22 Aug 2016 02:03:26 +0000 ORONO — For several years, the University of Maine’s football success had been forged by its defense, known as the Black Hole.

Sunday afternoon, the Black Bears’ offense made a statement in the team’s last scrimmage that maybe it would be a factor this year as well.

Maine’s offense scored eight touchdowns and senior Dan Collins made his pitch for the starting quarterback job as the offense found, well, gaping holes in the defense on the ground and through the air. Collins threw for three touchdown passes, two coming on the end of long drives that he directed.

“It was good,” said Joe Harasymiak, the first-year Black Bears coach. “You know, we battled through the spring, 15 practices, then you come into camp and we’ve had around 15 practices. Today was the first time you saw the explosive side of it. I’ve been saying we’re going to get our players the ball. And I think we did that.”

Harasymiak said he would probably name Maine’s starting quarterback on Monday with the Sept. 1 opening game at the University of Connecticut looming. It would be hard to imagine it being anyone other than Collins. While junior Drew Belcher, who has fought Collins for the starting position for two years, and red-shirt freshman Jack Walsh had their moments, Collins stood out.

He was calm and confident in the pocket and made all the throws. He found junior wide receiver Jaleel Reed for a 39-yard touchdown pass on the scrimmage’s first drive, hit sophomore Micah Wright for a 10-yard score and then passed to junior Marquise Adams for a 9-yard score.

The touchdown to Reed, who was one of the big offensive standouts of the scrimmage, was on a double-move post from the right. He threw a fade to Wright in the left corner and then hit Adams on a curl just inside the end zone.

Asked if he thought he had done enough to win the position, Collins said, “That’s up to the coaches to decide. It’s nothing different. I just wanted to go out and show I should be the starter and I think that’s what I did today.”

While the new Maine offense, directed by new offensive coordinator Liam Coen, is designed to score on big plays, it wasn’t just the passing that stood out. In short-yardage situations, Maine’s offense was 7 for 8 in picking up the first down. In goal-line situations, it scored every time.

“It’s a positive way to end camp,” said Reed, who scored a second touchdown on a scintillating 42-yard catch-and-run from Belcher. “We have a few more days left but that was the last time we were going live against each other. It was a big confidence boost for the offense.”

Running backs Nigel Beckford, a junior, and Josh Mack, a true freshman, ran hard. Collins and Mack credited the play of the offensive line with the success. “And that’s just a stepping stone for what they can do,” said Mack, who scored two touchdowns.

The defensive members of the Black Bears are happy that the offense played so well. But they know they have to play much better.

“We love to see that, of course” said junior cornerback Najee Goode. “But at the same time we’re the Black Hole. And since I’ve got here as a freshman, the Black Hole doesn’t let up anything.”

Goode said it wasn’t completely bad for the defense, but it wasn’t good enough.

“We’ve got to continue to get better,” he said. “We’re close to where we can be, but we’ve got to tighten up a lot of little things. I’m not satisfied with that right now.”

Harasymiak, the defensive coordinator last year, said he understands that the defense was upset, but he wasn’t worried about it.

“It was great to see it from the offense, moving forward that will be great momentum,” he said.

“The defense, I know they’re going to want to play better. But if I know the Black Hole, I know we’ll respond.”

The Black Bears had three players get injured – running back Zaire Williams (leg), safety Sinmisola Demuren (shoulder) and offensive lineman Daniel Burrows (ankle) – but Harasymiak didn’t think any of the injuries were serious.


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College football: Alabama tops AP Top 25 poll Mon, 22 Aug 2016 00:58:11 +0000 In a way, the 2016 season will pick up where 2015 left off: Alabama is No. 1 and Clemson is 2.

The defending national champion Crimson Tide is the No. 1 team in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 for the fifth time overall and third time under Coach Nick Saban.

The Tide received 33 of 61 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,469 points in the poll released Sunday. No. 2 Clemson, which lost a thrilling College Football Playoff championship game to Alabama in January, received 16 first-place votes and 1,443 points. This is the first time since 1992 that the teams that ended the previous season at Nos. 1 and 2 in the AP poll began the next season in the same spots. Miami and Washington did it that season.

Oklahoma is No. 3 in the preseason poll and received four first-place votes. No. 4 Florida State had five first-place votes. No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan all received one first-place vote.

Seven teams received first-place votes, the most in the preseason since 1998.

NOTRE DAME: Starting safety Max Redfield was kicked off the team and reserve cornerback Devin Butler was suspended indefinitely after they were arrested in separate incidents. Four others arrested with Redfield face internal discipline, the school said.

Butler, who already was out until October with a broken foot, was taken into custody early Saturday after a police officer said the player punched and slammed him to the ground outside a bar.

Redfield and the four other players – running back Dexter Williams, linebacker Te’von Coney, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson Jr. and cornerback Ashton White – were arrested Friday night after Indiana State Police said a trooper stopped a car in Fulton County, about 35 miles south of South Bend, for speeding.

The trooper detected the odor of marijuana and with the help of a drug-sniffing dog, he found the marijuana and a handgun, police said.

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Starting positions at stake in UMaine football scrimmage Sun, 21 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 With the University of Maine’s football opener less than two weeks away, first-year head coach Joe Harasymiak is looking to finalize some starting positions when the Black Bears hold their second preseason scrimmage at 4 p.m. Sunday at Harold Alfond Stadium.

“We’re going to answer some questions on depth,” said Harasymiak. “We’ll know our quarterback after Sunday. Our offensive line has got to get set. Defensive ends have got to get set. The secondary, especially the safety position, has got to get set.”

The quarterback battle between senior Dan Collins and junior Drew Belcher has garnered most of the attention – and Collins gained an edge with a strong showing in the first scrimmage – but the other positional battles are worth watching as well.

The offensive line took a hit when junior left tackle Jamil Demby, a two-year starter, suffered a strained posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the first scrimmage. Harasymiak said Demby might be ready for the Sept. 1 opener at the University of Connecticut.

“He’s ahead of schedule,” said Harasymiak. “But we don’t want him back too early and then lose him for league play.”

Senior Max Andrews has slid into Demby’s spot, with senior Sam Cooper becoming the top reserve on the offensive line. “There are a lot of moving parts there,” Harasymiak said.

At defensive end, both of last year’s starters graduated and one of them, Trevor Bates of Westbrook, is competing for a spot with the Indianapolis Colts. Among the possible starters for Maine at that position are junior Dakota Tarbox of Saco and sophomore Connor Walsh.

“There’s a good five or six guys battling it out there,” said Harasymiak. “We’ll probably play three or four but need to figure out the starting spots.”

Then there’s safety, where Harasymiak said another five or six players are battling for two positions. “I’d be shocked if we didn’t play at least four of those guys at those spots in the first game,” he said.

Beyond the individual battles, Harasymiak – who replaced longtime coach Jack Cosgrove after last season – will be watching his entire team closely.

“I want to see a consistent effort across the board,” he said. “I think the energy will be there. One other thing I want to see is how they respond when something doesn’t go their way.

“I kept some stats on that in the first scrimmage – whether it was the offense after a turnover or a three-and-out or the defense after a big play or a long drive. You know, it’s easy when you’re flowing and everything is going well. I’m looking for how we react when things go bad, how we turn the tables to get back on track.”

Senior linebacker Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, one of the returning defensive leaders, said everyone is looking forward to the opener.

“We’re definitely excited to play somebody other than our own teammates,” he said. “But there’s a lot to do to be prepared. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for Connecticut.”

And it starts Sunday.

“I’m just looking for the defense to get better, that all the assignments are done properly, that we line up right and that we play physical,” said Mulumba Tshimanga. “Our first scrimmage wasn’t too bad, but the second one … we’ve got to do better.”


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Sports Digest: UMaine seeks to host NCAA hockey regionals in Portland Fri, 19 Aug 2016 00:36:55 +0000 COLLEGES

Maine bids to host hockey regionals in Portland

The University of Maine and the Maine Sports Commission have partnered to submit a bid to the NCAA to host the East Regional hockey tournament in 2019, 2020 and 2021, according to WCSH-TV.

The event would be held at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Maine hasn’t hosted an NCAA hockey tournament game since the regional format was introduced in 1992, but the university previously announced its interest in submitting a bid when it hosted the Ice Breaker tournament in Portland last October.

Cross Insurance Arena already is scheduled to host the America East women’s basketball tournament in 2017 and 2018.

BASEBALL: Southern Maine Community College has hired Gray native Jordan Yanni as its head coach.

Yanni had been serving as the assistant varsity coach at Windham High.

He played college baseball at West Virginia Wesleyan and Southern Maine.

FOOTBALL: Mississippi running back Jordan Wilkins has been ruled ineligible for the upcoming season because he has not met NCAA standards for progress toward a degree.


WEEI: John Dennis, co-host of the popular Dennis and Callahan morning show, is leaving the program because of health reasons, the station said in a press release Thursday evening.

Dennis, who has hosted the show since 1997, was advised by doctors to reduce his workload, according to the statement. He will remain with the station in a part-time role.

His longtime partner, Gerry Callahan, will continue co-hosting the show with Kirk Minihane, who has been a part of the show since 2013.


LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES: Joaquin Tejada allowed one hit and struck out nine in 41/3 innings, Carlos Gonzalez had three RBI and Panama beat Mexico 10-2 in the opening game at South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Ryan Harlost had three hits, four RBI and pitched five scoreless innings to help New York beat Rhode Island 7-2.

Clayton Campbell pitched five scoreless innings and had one RBI to help Australia beat Italy 3-1.

Robert Carroll hit a walk-off, two-run double with two outs in the sixth and Tennessee rallied past Oregon 3-2.


PGA: Rested after finishing fifth in the Rio Olympics, Rafa Cabrera Bello shot a 7-under 63 in the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield in Greensboro, North Carolina, for a share of the first-round lead with Kevin Na.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Ryan Evans birdied the 18th hole for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Czech Masters in Vysoky Ujezd.

U.S. AMATEUR: Michigan sophomore Nick Carlson won two matches on the 19th hole at Oakland Hills to advance to the quarterfinals in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.


WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN: Rafael Nadal showed the rust from his layoff with a wrist injury, losing 6-1, 6-3 to Croatia’s Borna Coric at Mason, Ohio.

The 19-year-old Coric reached the quarterfinals of a Masters tournament for the first time.


NHL: College free agent defenseman John Gilmour agreed to a contract with the New York Rangers. Gilmour had nine goals and 14 assists last season at Providence.

– From staff and news services

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Former Thornton Academy star Dakota Tarbox looks to make an impact at UMaine Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 ORONO — Dakota Tarbox admits it was frustrating when he first arrived at the University of Maine to play football.

He had been a two-way all-star for Thornton Academy in Saco, winning a Class A state championship his senior year. But when he arrived in the fall of 2013, like so many first-year players, he wasn’t ready to play at the Division I level and was redshirted, meaning he practiced but never played in a game.

“It really humbled me,” Tarbox said recently. “You come in here and you were one of the best players on your high school team, and when you get here everyone is the same thing. Everyone was one of the best players on their high school team. So that really humbled me to learn that there were players just as good and giving just as much effort to play on the field.”

But Tarbox kept at it and is now competing for a starting defensive end spot, looking to replace – if possible – the graduated Trevor Bates, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the spring.

“Whenever times got tough, I thought about how much I love this game and how much I wanted to be part of this team,” said Tarbox, now a rugged 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior. “I thought about how badly I wanted to help out, to get wins. Being part of a team like this is beautiful, especially up here in Maine. There’s nothing else like it.

“We don’t have all the facilities in the world up here but we have each other and we really grow as a family.”

Tarbox, who has gained 30 pounds since joining the Black Bears, has been working with the No. 1 defense in practices. While position battles are ongoing – and Tarbox is vying with sophomore Connor Walsh of Milton, Massachusetts, for the weak-side defensive end spot – first-year coach Joe Harasymiak said he likes what he has seen from Tarbox.

“Dakota is a kid who loves football, there’s no doubt about that,” said Harasymiak. “We’ve never doubted that since he’s been here. He started on the offensive side early, then moved over and has really taken off. He brings a physical toughness to our defense that we will need at that position.”

Harasymiak said Tarbox defended the run extremely well in last Saturday’s scrimmage. “He’s doing a great job,” said Harasymiak. “There’s no doubt he’s playing. If he starts, that’s up to him.”

Pat Ricard, the veteran defensive tackle on the Black Bears’ defensive line, likes that physical aspect of Tarbox’s game.

“He’s not the biggest guy in the world but he plays hard,” said Ricard. “You can go far if you play hard.”

Tarbox, who is one of the 14 Mainers on the roster, arrived at Maine as a tight end. After his first year, former coach Jack Cosgrove switched him to defensive end, where he was behind Bates and Mike Kozlakowski.

He’s had limited playing time behind them. As a redshirt freshman, he got in six games with one tackle. Last year he got in all 11 games on special teams and made two defensive tackles, one for a loss.

Ricard had a talk with Tarbox last year when it became obvious Tarbox was frustrated with a lack of playing time.

“I tried to tell him that Trevor and Koz were pretty good and had been here a while,” said Ricard. “He’s serious about it. He wants to play. He wants to start. He loves football.”

Tarbox said the lessons he learned in that first year, along with everything Bates taught him, brought him to this point.

“Your freshman year, it’s all about humbling yourself and showing your commitment to the team,” he said. “You’re not going to play but you’re doing all the workouts, you’re doing all the conditioning drills, you’re doing the grind. At the end of the day it’s a gut check to see if you can go through the process and work your way up the hierarchy.”

Tarbox said Bates not only showed him how to play the position but how to conduct himself.

“Maybe I didn’t get to play early but I really learned a lot from him,” said Tarbox. “Now it’s my time to step up and help the team get some wins.”

Corey Hetherman, Maine’s new defensive coordinator, said there’s a huge difference in Tarbox’s play this year from last.

“It’s night and day,” said Hetherman. “He put in the work this offseason, bought into the weight room and worked hard all summer. He’s doing very well.”

Tarbox knows the competition is tight and he can’t let up.

“I’ve got to come ready to play every day,” he said. “Every day I’ve got to get a little better. I can’t get comfortable; I can’t settle for where I’m at.

“I’ve got to come every day and give it my all, and show these coaches that I’m ready to help the team in any way.”


DAN COLLINS took a step toward securing the starting quarterback spot with his play in the scrimmage last Saturday. Collins, a senior, threw three touchdowns, along with an interception (off a pass that was deflected at the line) and completed around 60 percent of his passes – a big improvement over last year when he completed just 49.5 percent of his passes. “What impressed me the most is that he’s taking control of the ball,” said Harasymiak. “Drew (Belcher) and Jack (Walsh) probably didn’t play as well as they would have liked but they’ll have a chance to do better this week.” Maine will have its second scrimmage at 2 p.m. Sunday. Harasymiak said he wants to name his starting quarterback after that. “We kind of have a picture right now but that can change,” he said. “We want to make a decision after the second scrimmage and we will.” … Defensive tackle Pat Ricard, running back Nigel Beckford and wide receiver Jordan Dunn didn’t play in the first scrimmage as they recover from injuries and/or off-season surgery. Harasymiak expects all of them to play Sunday.

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UMaine quarterback position still a battle between Dan Collins and Drew Belcher Sat, 13 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 ORONO — Dan Collins and Drew Belcher have been linked in competition for the University of Maine’s starting quarterback position for three years now, with very little separating the two.

Over the last two years they have alternated at the position, with Collins playing 15 games (starting 13) and Belcher playing 19 (starting nine).

Through it all they have remained friends and view the competition as something that will make them – and the team – better.

“Oh yeah,” said Belcher, a junior from Reading, Massachusetts. “We know at the end of the day (the coaches) are going to do what’s best for the team. I think we both help each other on the field. We critique each other with little things we notice. And really, there’s no bad blood. It’s just both of us going out and trying to do our best.”

If there is any bad blood, it might come when the two play video games, especially NBA2K. “Lot of trash talk going on there,” said Belcher.

But on the field their competition is, well, professional.

While there are four quarterbacks on the roster, they are again the lead candidates for the position. Saturday’s first scrimmage of the preseason will go a long way in determining who will be under center Sept. 1 when the Black Bears open the season at Connecticut.

Joe Harasymiak, the first-year coach who replaced Jack Cosgrove, wants to make a decision by Aug. 21, the date of Maine’s second scrimmage. They’re not making it easy on either him or new offensive coordinator Liam Coen, who brought in an offensive scheme with West Coast principles. They’ve both played very well in the early stages of Maine’s training camp.

“With the new system, they’ve shown a little bit of what they can do well and what they can’t do,” said Harasymiak, who was Maine’s defensive coordinator the last two years. “They’re all being asked to do the same thing. And for right now, they’ve got to prove themselves in every aspect of our offense.”

Collins said that because they are both learning a new offense, it’s easy to see who’s doing well in practice. “We go back-to-back on reps,” he said. “So you can tell who has the better ball or the better drop. So you get to come out every day and demand more of yourself to be more accountable to the team. That’s always a good thing. It makes you better.”

Collins, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, is regarded as the better passer, with 2,485 passing yards and 15 touchdowns in 17 career games. Belcher, 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, is probably the better runner, with 203 career rushing yards and three touchdowns.

“That being said,” said Harasymiak, “Drew can still throw it and Danny can still scramble.”

There really isn’t much to distinguish them.

“The thing about those two kids,” said Coen, “they’re the type of kids who have been here, so they just do the right things. You never have to worry about them not being on time or not being prepared for practice. They do the things you don’t have to coach in terms of being accountable, of being on time, of knowing what they’re going to do in practice. The play will handle itself. They’re both good players. They’ve both played in a lot of games. They just haven’t won a lot.”

Maine has won just eight games the last two years, including a 3-8 record last year.

“They need to learn how to win football games but not by themselves,” said Coen, who was the pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UMass last year (where he was also a four-year starter at quarterback from 2004-08). “There is a little misconception of the position – the quarterback isn’t the guy winning the game, it’s him getting his teammates to win the game. The guys who are the best are those who can facilitate, who can distribute the ball, who can take care of the football. And I think both have done that so far. I’m happy with both.”

He said the starter will be determined by who does better on third-down plays and red zone plays.

“Who can move the chains on third down, make the throws when they’re necessary and ultimately lead the team into the end zone when in the red zone,” said Coen. “When we do those situations in practice, because it is so even, whoever does the better job in those situations will probably end up winning the job. Both of them know how to take care of the ball, both know how to hand off the ball, both know how to make a check at the line.

“But to me, it’s who can make the throw when it’s third-and-11 and everybody knows you’re throwing it, it’s man-to-man (defense) and you’ve got to fit into a tight window. Who’s going to make that throw? I think that’s what it’s going to come down to because they’re even in every other aspect.”

Collins and Belcher take the competition very seriously. “I’ve been competing my whole life,” said Collins. “I had to compete for the job my junior year in high school. So nothing’s new in terms of competition for me. I like it and I think it makes everyone better. It’s something I look forward to every day.”

Redshirt freshman Jack Walsh of Waldwick, New Jersey, is also competing for the spot and has been very impressive in camp. He said the competition is making Maine a better team.

“It’s bringing out the best in all of us,” he said. “If it ends up to be Dan, or Drew, or me, it doesn’t matter because we’re pushing each other every day.”

Coen said it’s obvious they don’t let their egos “get in the way.” They are always making suggestions to each other, especially in the quarterback room.

“We’re all friends in that room,” said Walsh. “We’re watching film and someone makes a good throw, we say, ‘Good throw.’ If someone makes a bad throw, it’s, ‘Ah, what are you doing?’ And if someone trips over their own two feet, we’re all laughing. We’re all working to make ourselves better.”

Belcher knows there’s no time to let up.

“Someone has five great practices in a row and you have five bad practices in a row, he’s probably going to take your place,” he said. “You’ve got to compete every day.”

]]> 0, 12 Aug 2016 21:16:09 +0000
For UMaine football, primary focus is on the secondary Thu, 11 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 ORONO — The University of Maine had the top-ranked defensive unit in the Colonial Athletic Association a year ago, giving up an average of 283.4 yards per league game. Much of that success was built against the run, where the Black Bears had the CAA’s best run defense (79.1 yards) by nearly 50 yards.

This year Maine’s secondary is looking to make its mark as well. While still young with no seniors among the unit, the group of defensive backs has a lot of players who gained valuable experience during last year’s 3-8 season.

Juniors Najee Goode, A.J. Dawson and Tayvon Hall all return at cornerback, while safeties Sinmisola Demuren, a sophomore, and Jason Matovu, a junior, are also back.

“We always have something to prove,” said Goode, who had one interception and eight pass break-ups (tied for second in the CAA) last year. “Every year I’ve been here it’s been that way and we kind of like that. If we’re going to be the underdog of the defense, if that’s the case, we take that with a smile.

“I like that we’re hungry and we want to get better. We’re always talking about how we can get better every day, every practice.”

The return of Darrius Hart, a junior safety from Toms River, New Jersey, should help. Hart, who played in eight games and started three as a freshman, was hurt in the season-opening 24-3 loss to Boston College in 2015 and didn’t play again. He suffered a micro-fracture of his right knee that required surgery on Oct. 16.

“I feel stronger, I feel faster, I feel smarter,” Hart said during Maine’s media day on Wednesday. “I worked hard. I lost a lot of body fat, down from 14 percent to about eight or nine. All that time off got me into the playbook and studying film.

“I just feel like a better all-around player.”

His return, said standout defensive tackle Patrick Ricard, will bring an edge to the secondary. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, not only does he bring size but is considered an outstanding tackler. In other words, he loves to hit people.

“It’s huge,” Ricard said of Hart’s return. “He plays really tough, he’s a good tackler. He’s going to get the job done”

Goode added that Hart will “help us take the next step as a defense in the secondary.”

Corey Hetherman, the Black Bears’ defensive coordinator, said Hart also brings a leadership quality to a young unit.

“He’s someone who knows the system inside and out,” said Hetherman. “And he has stepped up (in the preseason) and made the calls. He’s done a really good job so far.”

Hart, 20, is currently second on the team’s depth chart at free safety to Demuren, who started eight games last year and made 34 tackles. And that’s all right with him right now.

“Even if I didn’t get hurt last year I’ve still got to win a spot,” he said. “It’s never guaranteed … Mentally I’m there, I’ve just got to show them I’m there physically with my knee. If I’m not (a starter), I’ve got confidence and don’t mind coming in the rotation.”

Hart said he was injured on the second or third series of last year’s opening game when a BC receiver tried to cut block him.

“I didn’t use my technique good enough and got in on me,” he said. “He didn’t hit me too hard. But I planted my foot and it sounded weird and it felt off. I finished the game but the next morning I woke up and it was as big as a basketball.”

He tried to come back three weeks later but had to stop after just two days of practice. Surgery followed, then rehab. During that time he believes he became better by watching his teammates, picking up tips on techniques they were using.

“I learned to appreciate the game a little more,” he said. “And I had to sit back and coach up my teammates. I got to see what they were doing that could maybe help my game get better.”

Now he’s using everything he’s learned to get back on the field and help the Black Bears improve a pass defense that ranked 10th in the CAA last year.

“We definitely are getting better,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of strides. We’re a tight group now. We’ve been together for two years. And we sat down and said there shouldn’t be any more errors, any more mistakes, because we are the veterans now.”


]]> 0, 10 Aug 2016 21:44:16 +0000
UMaine System to pay $30,000 to settle lawsuit by fired UMA athletic director Wed, 10 Aug 2016 17:04:42 +0000 The University of Maine System has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the former athletic director of its Augusta campus, who alleged that university officials failed to follow their own policies and were negligent when they fired him last year.

Warren Newton of Orrington, who worked at the University of Maine at Augusta from 2001 until he was fired, has agreed to drop all claims in the lawsuit filed in February in U.S. District Court in Bangor in exchange for the payment to him and his attorney, Naomi Cohen, to cover her legal costs.

Newton was fired on May 23, 2015, on grounds of “untruthfulness and deception” following an investigation into his relationship with a student. Newton argued in the lawsuit that he was denied his due process rights as guaranteed by university system policies to properly defend himself against the allegations and that the investigation found no reasonable grounds existed to believe he had violated the university’s guidelines.

As part of the settlement, the University of Maine System admitted no wrongdoing and Newton agreed to say nothing about the settlement or he would forfeit half of the $30,000 payment. The agreement also prohibits Newton from ever seeking a job again with the university system or any of its affiliates. A notice of the settlement was filed with the court Tuesday.

Cohen declined to comment on the settlement when reached by phone.

The university system’s general counsel, James Thelen, acknowledged in an email that while Newton is bound by the confidentiality agreement, the system is subject to the state’s Freedom of Access Act and released a copy of the 18-page settlement agreement to the Press Herald.

Thelen also represented three individuals named in the lawsuit as defendants: UMA’s former interim President Glenn Cummings; former Dean of Students Kathleen Dexter; and Sheri Stevens, executive director of administrative services. Newton agreed under the terms of the settlement to drop all claims against those defendants.

At the time Newton was fired, he was earning $88,000 per year plus benefits as director of student activities, athletic director and adjunct faculty member.


]]> 0, 10 Aug 2016 18:04:33 +0000
UMaine running backs setting lofty goals for 2016 season Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 ORONO — Joe Harasymiak believes that for his University of Maine football team to have an efficient offense, it has to run the ball effectively.

But in an interview a couple weeks before the Black Bears began practicing, even he couldn’t say what that meant. “It doesn’t have to be a lot, or a little,” he said. “It just has to be effective.”

The Maine running backs have a much clearer definition. Speaking after Monday’s third practice of the preseason – a spirited session that included a couple scuffles – junior Zaire Williams said, “As a team, we want 200 (rushing) yards a game.”

Sophomore Darian Davis-Ray added this: “We’re definitely going to lead the (Colonial Athletic Association) in rushing.”

Big words, big goals. But this is a confident stable of running backs. Even as the Black Bears continue their search for a starting quarterback, with senior Dan Collins and junior Drew Belcher once again the leading candidates, Maine’s running backs look to bring balance to an offense that has been very predictable at times in the past.

“We want to give the defense more than one look,” said Davis-Ray. “Rather than pass, pass, pass.”

Nigel Beckford, a junior who led Maine with 526 rushing yards last year, returns, as does sophomore Joe Fitzpatrick of North Yarmouth and Cheverus High. Williams transferred from Temple University and Davis-Ray is healthy after missing seven games because of an ankle injury last year. Freshman Joshua Mack, from Rochester, New York, is also getting carries in the early preseason.

They look to provide a thumping aspect to the offense that could open up the field for talented playmakers such as receivers Micah Wright and Jordan Dunn.

“We want to be aggressive, we’re looking to score touchdowns,” said Beckford. “We’re still learning right now. But we will get there.”

Liam Coen, Maine’s first-year offensive coordinator, is installing a new offense for the Black Bears and believes these backs are perfect for it.

“We want to be tough, physical and play fast,” said Coen. “I think our offensive linemen, tight ends and running backs are built for that type of play.”

And he likes that they’re already setting goals. When Coen played at the University of Massachusetts, he said the team goal was 225 yards a game.

“Two hundred is good for us,” he said. “But effectiveness, for us, is an attitude. If we start with an attitude, and a mentality, that we’re going to be able to run, come off the ball and be physical, then the statistics, the numbers, the efficiency will take care of itself.”

Jamil Demby, a junior offensive tackle, likes all this talk about a power running game.

“As an offensive lineman, we’re not going to score touchdowns, but seeing our running backs going up and down the field is our glory,” he said. “We run the ball, that opens up the offense.”

Coen said everyone will have a role. They all bring different talents to the club, but the one common trait is that they like to run “downhill,” or, if needed, over a defender. That’s the mentality he wants the offense to take: “We’ve got to be able to punch people in the face.”

Harasymiak said the competition for the running back position likely won’t be decided until after the team’s second scrimmage on Aug. 21. “That’s a group where every day is going to matter,” he said. “One thing we are stressing as coaches is that pretty much we’re grading everything. Every snap, every carry.”

Fitzpatrick, who just two years ago was preparing for his senior season at Cheverus, is in the mix. At 5-foot-10, 222 pounds, he is regarded as the power rusher among the group, most capable of picking up the short yards needed to keep drives alive.

“If Joey Fitz stays healthy, he can give us that power back that we can use,” said Harasymiak, noting that Fitzpatrick was banged up in the spring. “Like all of them, he’s got things to improve on. He’s a quiet, humble kid who comes to work every day.”

Fitzpatrick, who gained 63 yards in limited action last fall, said he has a much better grasp of college football this year.

“It’s like night and day,” he said. “I came in last year not knowing how different college football, let alone Division I college football, was from Maine high school football.”

He did learn much at Cheverus about the mental approach to the game from legendary coach John Wolfgram – “He showed me the way to play,” said Fitzpatrick – but it took him time to learn all the intricacies of college football.

“Now I’m able to read defenses and (properly) pick up the blitz,” he said.

He likes Coen’s offensive scheme, saying it is very similar to what Wolfgram ran at Cheverus. And he loves the running backs’ potential.

“We want to pound the ball as much as we can,” he said. “I think our offense can be really explosive.”


]]> 0, 09 Aug 2016 08:41:37 +0000
New coach brings excitement to UMaine football as practice begins Fri, 05 Aug 2016 00:37:06 +0000 Joe Harasymiak said he wasn’t being cocky, the new kid making a bold statement.

No, when he submitted a first-place vote for his University of Maine football team in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll, it was meant to show his players that he believes in them.

“You’ve got to believe in yourself,” said Harasymiak, who was named to succeed Jack Cosgrove as the Black Bears’ coach last December. “The goal is to compete. That (vote) was to show confidence in my players. No disrespect was meant to any other teams. That was to tell my guys that we believe in them.”

Maine, coming off a 3-8 season, will open its first training camp under Harasymiak on Saturday. The Black Bears open the season Sept. 1 at Connecticut, a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

Like Harasymiak, Pat Ricard is excited to get on the field.

“I’m looking forward to the development of this team,” said Ricard, a senior defensive tackle from Spencer, Massachusetts. “We have to do better than last year. I’m excited to see what players step up, see how they develop, who battles for positions and who gets the starting spots.”

The most interesting battle – the one everyone will watch – continues to be at quarterback, where senior Dan Collins and junior Drew Belcher shared the position the last two years.

“No matter if it’s Division III, Division I, high school, Pop Warner … your QB has got to play to win in this league,” said Harasymiak. “You look at our team since I’ve been here – 2011, Warren Smith has a great year, we go 9-4 (advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals); 2013, Marcus (Wasilewski) has a great year, we’re CAA champions.

“You need that guy to step up. We have a good challenge, had a good battle in the spring. We’re still going through it in August, but we’ve got guys who can get it done.”

Collins was injured two years ago in the sixth game, giving Belcher the opportunity to start five games. Last year Collins started seven games and appeared in two others, throwing for 1,542 yards and six touchdowns, completing 49.5 percent of his passes. Belcher started four games and appeared in five others, throwing for 728 yards, four TDs and completing 65 percent of his passes.

Redshirt freshman Jack Walsh is also in the mix as new offensive coordinator Liam Coen brings in a spread offense, which promises a more wide-open attack.

A successful quarterback will help bring balance to a team that has relied heavily on defense – Harasymiak was the coordinator – the last two years. The Black Bears gave up only 21.5 points per game – and just 316.8 yards, third in the CAA – a year ago, but scored only 14.9.

Ricard, who led the CAA in tackles for a loss last year (16.5), hopes that Harasymiak’s promotion, Coen’s arrival and a new offensive scheme pump some life into the offense.

“We have a new coordinator, new positions coaches, they all love football,” he said. “To see them in the spring game, I was very impressed. The offense was so new, so explosive.”

Quarterback is not the only position worth watching. Much like their head coach, who at 30 is the youngest head football coach in Division I, the Black Bears will be young. Maine has only eight seniors. Forty-three letter winners return, 17 of whom started at least five games.

“The good thing is that a lot of those sophomores, or redshirt freshmen, or even redshirt juniors, have played,” said Harasymiak. “I know we weren’t very good the last two years but they’ve played. And any time that happens, it’s a positive.

“So those guys who have played in CAA games, they need to take it to the next level because they’re going to have that opportunity.”

Start with the defensive backs. There’s not a senior among them. But junior Najee Goode (33 tackles, one interception), junior Jason Matovu (44 tackles, two pass breakups), sophomore Sinmisola Demurer (34 tackles), junior Tayvon Hall (19 tackles), junior A.J. Dawson (24 tackles) and sophomore Jeffrey DeVaughn (15 tackles, two interceptions) all return. Junior safety Darius Hart, lost in the first game of the season last year to an injury, is also back. He played in eight games as a freshman two years ago and is considered a key to the secondary.

At wide receiver, senior Jordan Dunn and sophomore Micah Wright form one of the most dangerous tandems in the CAA. Wright caught 61 passes for 818 yards and five touchdowns. Dunn caught 56 for 595 and three TDs. They’ll be joined by a group of young receivers that Harasymiak feels can be special.

The offensive line returns four starters, minus center Bruce Johnson, who graduated and signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. All four are underclassmen. The defensive line graduated two players, including end Trevor Bates, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. But the Black Bears are still strong there with Ricard and senior Darius Green.

Special teams also will be a Harasymiak focus. The Black Bears need to replace kicker Sean Decloux, who was 11 of 18 in field goals last year.

“We need to find consistency in that position,” said Harasymiak. “That is a very important position. Kickoffs killed us at times last year. We have to make it a field position game.”


]]> 0, 04 Aug 2016 20:41:28 +0000
College football: National semifinal dates are switched Fri, 29 Jul 2016 01:20:48 +0000 The College Football Playoff abandoned a plan to play most of its semifinals on New Year’s Eves after television ratings tumbled last year, moving the dates of future games to ensure they will be played on a weekend or a holiday.

The changes will start with the 2018 season. The TV ratings for last year’s semifinal games played on Thursday, Dec. 31, dropped 36 percent from the semifinals played the season before on New Year’s Day.

This season’s semifinals are still set for Saturday, Dec. 31. Next season’s playoff is scheduled to be back on Jan. 1. In 2018, the games initially scheduled to be played on New Year’s Eve now will be played Saturday, Dec. 29.

The 2019 games will move to Saturday, Dec. 28.

The other seasons affected by the change are 2024, when the semifinals will be moved to Saturday, Dec. 28, and 2025, when the games will be played on Saturday, Dec. 27.

EAST CAROLINA is conducting a campaign on its social media platforms to tout the reasons it deserves strong consideration for becoming a part of the Big 12 Conference. Last week, Big 12 presidents directed Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to study expansion.

Fellow American Athletic Conference schools Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, Connecticut and Tulane also are in the discussion if the 10-team Big 12 does decide to expand.

THE NCAA football oversight committee recommended Division I programs hold only one “live-contact” practice per week.

The current guidelines, which are not enforceable rules, allow two live practices per week. The new guidelines will take effect this season.

Live practices are defined as those that involve tackling to the ground and full-speed blocking, and can occur in full or half pads. Live contact doesn’t include thudding, when players aren’t taken to the ground.

JON STEINBRECHER, the Mid-American Conference commissioner, is calling for limits on when and where football satellite camps can be held.

Steinbrecher suggested a 15-day window to hold the camps and a requirement they take place on the ground of another four-year college. Satellite camps have become a big issue over the past year. The Southeastern Conference wanted them banned, with some coaches arguing it was just a way for programs to recruit.

]]> 0 Thu, 28 Jul 2016 21:35:49 +0000
Maine football picked to finish 9th in CAA Tue, 26 Jul 2016 21:23:05 +0000 BALTIMORE — Joe Harasymiak has a reliable sounding board as he makes the transition from defensive coordinator to head coach at the University of Maine.

That would be Jack Cosgrove, who stepped down last November after 23 years as the Black Bears’ head football coach. Cosgrove now works as the senior associate director of athletics at Maine.

But discussions between the two rarely touch on the fundamentals of football.

“A lot of it has been everything (else),” Harasymiak said. “That has been the biggest change for me. As an assistant you watch film. Now it is 95 guys (to be in charge of). Everyone is on me. When I reach out to Coach Cos it has not been (about) football stuff.”

The first-year coach has plenty of work to do after Maine finished 3-8 last season. On Tuesday, the Black Bears were picked to finish ninth of 12 teams at the Colonial Athletic Association’s football media day at M&T Bank Stadium. The poll was compiled from votes by league coaches and sports information directors.

“We can’t get too caught up on where people pick us,” said Harasymiak, who at 30 is the nation’s youngest Division I head coach.

Maine’s Pat Ricard, an all-CAA preseason pick on the defensive line, noted that the Black Bears were picked to finish eighth in 2013 but won the CAA title. Last season Maine was 3-5 in the league.

“It is nothing new to us. We are always picked near the end,” said Ricard, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound senior from Spencer, Massachusetts. “It just shows we need more respect.”

So far Harasymiak is getting high marks from his players.

“He is a player’s coach,” Ricard said. “He cares about us. (The staff) has a lot of energy and passion for the game.”

Maine will begin training camp Aug. 5 and opens the season Sept. 1 at UConn.

One of Harasymiak’s biggest decisions in camp will be to choose a starting quarterback. Contending are senior Dan Collins and junior Drew Belcher, both of whom saw extensive action in 2015.

“We look to make a decision after our first scrimmage in camp,” Harasymiak said. “We want one guy to take the job and run with it.

“I think we will be more of a pro-style offense (with) different forms, different sets. We are just going to play more complementary football. Maine has always been known as defense first.”

The Black Bears will have to replace Trevor Bates, an all-CAA defensive lineman who had 14.5 tackles for losses and 7.5 sacks last season. Bates was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round.

“Trevor is an absolutely amazing player,” Ricard said. “He is hard to replace but I feel we are confident in the players we have.”

Another key loss is Bruce Johnson, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent. Johnson was honored after last season as the top center in FCS.

Maine will begin CAA play at home on Sept. 24 against James Madison, picked to finish third behind Richmond and William & Mary. The Black Bears end the regular season at home against New Hampshire on Nov. 19.

“This league that we play in is special,” said UNH Coach Sean McDonnell. “We had four teams in the (national) playoffs last year, should have been five. We are the most competitive league in the country at the FCS level.”

Five CAA teams were ranked in the Athlon Sports Preseason FCS Top 25 poll: Richmond (4), William & Mary (13), James Madison (14), Towson (18) and Villanova (20).

JMU, William & Mary and Richmond shared the league title last year with 6-2 records. All three made the FCS playoffs, along with New Hampshire.

Harasymiak was on Cosgrove’s staff for five seasons, the past two as defensive coordinator.

“He is the reason Maine is what it is to be completely honest with you,” Harasymiak said of Cosgrove. “He is Maine football. He kept it sustained for a long period of time. I can’t replace him. That is not possible.”

]]> 1, 26 Jul 2016 22:08:59 +0000
Sports Digest: Maine men’s basketball to play at Duke on Dec. 3 Thu, 14 Jul 2016 02:25:52 +0000 COLLEGES

Maine men’s basketball to play at Duke on Dec. 3

The University of Maine men’s basketball team will play Duke University at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Black Bears will travel to Durham, North Carolina, to play the Blue Devils on Dec. 3, according to the Blue Devils’ nonconference schedule released Wednesday.

The scheduled showed Duke has an opening because of the state law that impacts LGBT people.

The Blue Devils were supposed to play Albany on Nov. 12 as part of the Hall of Fame Tipoff tournament but there’s no opponent listed on that day in Duke’s schedule.

Holly Liapis, spokeswoman for the State University of New York system that includes Albany, says that game won’t be played because of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning publicly funded, non-essential travel to North Carolina.


TWILIGHT LEAGUE: Mike Muise singled to drive in Zach Culver to give Edge Academy the lead in the top of the fourth and it beat On Target 5-3 at Standish.

Joe Quinlan had three hits to pace the offense for Edge (4-8-1), while Muise and Seth Dobieski each had two hits.

EMPIRE LEAGUE: Rob Frank threw a complete game four-hitter as the Sullivan Explorers blanked the Old Orchard Beach Surge 8-0 at Generals Park in Loch Sheldrake, New York.

Shaun Cooper had the lone extra-base hit for Old Orchard Beach (20-14).


NHL: The Edmonton Oilers signed Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick at the draft, to a three-year entry level contract.

The Tornio, Finland, native lead the 2016 world junior championship tournament in scoring with 17 points in seven games, helping Finland capture a gold medal. His 17 points rank second in all-time points for a player under the age of 18 at the tournament, behind Jaromir Jagr and tying Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros.

A person with direct knowledge of the decision said George McPhee, who spent 16 years as general manager of the Washington Capitals, has been hired as GM of the NHL’s expansion Las Vegas franchise.


TOUR DE FRANCE: Peter Sagan won the windy 11th stage at Montpellier after getting in a late four-man breakaway that also included overall leader Chris Froome.


GERMAN OPEN: Top-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber needed three sets to overcome Nicolas Kicker for a place in the quarterfinals at Hamburg.

HALL OF FAME CHAMPIONSHIPS: Top- seeded Steve Johnson advanced at Newport, Rhode Island, beating Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, 6-1, 6-4.

BUCHAREST OPEN: Polona Hercog of Slovenia took advantage of a poor performance from fifth-seeded Monica Niculescu of Romania to win a second-round match 6-4, 6-3 in Romania.

Second-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia rallied past Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.


WNBA: Brittney Griner had 22 points, eight rebounds and five blocks as the host Phoenix Mercury beat the Washington Mystics 78-74.

Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting with 11 rebounds as the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Chicago Sky 77-67 at Rosemont, Illinois.

]]> 0 Wed, 13 Jul 2016 22:39:36 +0000
Commentary: College athletic directors weaned on sports are becoming rare Fri, 08 Jul 2016 00:23:13 +0000 A dozen years ago, the athletic director at Syracuse was a gray-haired, cardigan-wearing, Winston-smoking man named Jake Crouthamel.

The job he held immediately prior was head football coach at Dartmouth. Crouthamel’s tenure ended in 2005, which doesn’t seem that long ago. In the realm of college sports, it might as well be eons. That was when sports people ran athletic departments because the most prominent feature of college sports was sports.

Since Crouthamel’s retirement in 2005, Syracuse employed two athletic directors, both of whom climbed sports administration rungs. The man they chose to succeed them aptly reflects the state of college sports: Until Wednesday, John Wildhack was ESPN’s executive vice president for production and programming.

Wildhack had worked at ESPN since 1980, becoming one of the company’s top executives and rights negotiators. He has no prior experience in athletic administration, which makes him both a wild-card choice and a perfectly logical hire. Businesspeople run athletic departments now because the most prominent feature of college sports is business.

Professor Dan Rascher, the director of the sport management program at the University of San Francisco, described the trend as temporary in a unique way. The professionalization of college sports is moving faster than the rate traditional administrators can be trained in the new expertise required to run the small corporations athletic departments have become. In time, perhaps a few years, traditional administrators will be people like Wildhack, or at least they will have been trained up through the ranks to develop his business-forward skill-set.

So the trend of businesspeople becoming athletic department leaders will be temporary, but only because big-time college sports administration and business will grow inseparable. And if college sports continue to bring in more revenue, it will compete on more equal footing to attract middle managers. A business executive on his way up the ladder could cross over to become an associate athletic director, then move up the chain.

“We won’t even notice it,” Rascher said. “They’ll just become athletic directors.”

It feels obligatory to note those primarily responsible for generating the “content” athletic programs profit from – the athletes – will receive no financial benefit from its sale. It’s why Wildhack’s hire, even though it makes perfect sense for Syracuse, is damning for the industry. It’s a clear statement when a television executive is better suited to run an athletic department than, say, a former football coach.

Schools can claim athletics play a vital role in the educational environment, or they can claim they’re entertainment vehicles used to extend their brands. One position can justify not compensating players; one can’t. Schools can’t viably claim both. By turning its athletic department over to a television executive, a school is essentially saying, “Our athletic department is a corporate entity whose product is entertainment. It is not an extension of our educational mission.”

Big-time athletic departments profit as producers of media content, and they’re increasingly giving up the charade of anything else. Outside of Wisconsin, the days of the beloved football coach golden-parachuting his way into the athletic director’s chair are as quaint as stadiums without luxury suites. Even career administrators with a knack in fundraising are in the process of becoming relics.

Wildhack makes sense for Syracuse, specifically. His connections run deep. He grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from the school. Rascher said the key to an AD’s success can hinge on how well he understands the culture. “To say this is a dream job would be a significant understatement,” Wildhack said in a statement.

He also makes sense given the current landscape. In a memo to ESPN employees, ESPN chief John Skipper said Wildhack “has had a direct hand in virtually every major content milestone ESPN has achieved.” Ostensibly, Wildhack will be working with coaches and athletes. What makes him attractive is how intimate he is with media rights and the value of content. If the Atlantic Coast Conference wants to start its own network, Wildhack will know how to position Syracuse. While the Orange’s football and basketball contracts are tied up, he’ll know how to position Syracuse’s online and radio programming.

Other schools who plucked businesspeople to run athletic departments have seen a mixed bag. Dave Brandon, a former Michigan football player, took over as Michigan athletic director from his position as the Domino’s Pizza chairman, and it was a disaster. Texas hired Mike Perrin, a Houston lawyer, last year to clean up the mess Steve Patterson, a former Portland Trail Blazers executive, left behind.

Before Jack Swarbrick became one of the most powerful figures in college sports as Notre Dame’s athletic director, he was a partner at an Indianapolis law firm. Tim Pernetti took over at Rutgers after a career as a television executive at ABC and CBS College Sports Network. He ushered Rutgers’ surprising, lucrative transition to the Big Ten, and he’d probably still be there if not for Mike Rice chucking basketballs at his players.

Those hires show the benefits and risks of hiring a business specialist and sports administration neophyte. At Michigan, Brandon’s failure owed in part to an inability to deal with angry fans. Pernetti navigated conference realignment brilliantly but couldn’t withstand a coaching scandal.

It’s not just a recent phenomenon. Morgan Burke jumped from a vice president position at Inland Steel to become Purdue’s athletic director in 1993; he plans on retiring in 2017.

“Do I think it’s a trend? Absolutely not,” said Bob Vecchione, executive director of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. “We have a lot of bright young administrators coming up the chain. There are always going to be a certain percentage (of athletic directors) who don’t have administrative backgrounds.”

Still, Vecchione acknowledged, the job has changed.

“Every case is different,” he said. “The world has changed a little bit. You do need a great business acumen to succeed in those positions.”

Syracuse decided the potential reward of handing its athletic department to an ESPN executive outweighed the risks. The line between college sports and big media is not blurry; it has disappeared. Skipper, the top executive at ESPN, tacitly recognized that in his message to employees. He wished Wildhack “a splendid next chapter in a distinguished career in sports media,” but he noted that Wildhack will not be too far away.

“The good news,” Skipper wrote, “is that John will remain a member of our extended business circle.”

]]> 0 Thu, 07 Jul 2016 21:53:03 +0000
UNE gathers ‘head hits’ data to assist athlete concussion research Fri, 17 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 BIDDEFORD — Andrew Curro knows first-hand how concussions affect an athlete.

So the University of New England junior didn’t hesitate when asked if he would be a test subject in a pioneering study of “head hits” in men’s lacrosse conducted by two faculty members in the school’s Department of Exercise and Sport Performance.

“It offers a lot of data for head impacts, and it has the potential to make this game a lot safer,” said Curro, a starter on the men’s lacrosse team from Tolland, Connecticut.

University of New England junior Chris Harlow adjusts his sensor during a lacrosse game in April. "We need to continue to compile data on all sports," says UNE Athletic Director Jack McDonald.

University of New England junior Chris Harlow adjusts his sensor during a lacrosse game in April. “We need to continue to compile data on all sports,” says UNE Athletic Director Jack McDonald.

“I’ve had a couple (of concussions)” he said. “I had one last year, so the study definitely appealed to me. Anything to make this game safer is a big thing . . . and anything to improve player health in the long run would be great.”

UNE has joined about two dozen colleges nationwide that are using head-impact sensors to conduct research on the force and frequency of head hits in sports. Many of the studies have been done on soccer and football players. UNE’s researchers chose men’s lacrosse because no academic studies have been conducted on the sport.

“What we can’t do is just focus in on what we think are the major concussion sports,” said UNE Athletic Director Jack McDonald. “We need to continue to compile data on all sports.”

University of New England's Mitch Mullin hits the turf under pressure from Anthony Verville of Nichols College during a lacrosse game in Biddeford. UNE is studying "head hits" in the sport.

University of New England’s Mitch Mullin hits the turf under pressure from Anthony Verville of Nichols College during a lacrosse game in Biddeford. UNE is studying “head hits” in the sport.

Throughout the 2016 season, as many as 20 UNE lacrosse players volunteered to wear headbands that contained impact-motion sensors (also known as accelerometers) during practices and home games. The sensors detect the magnitude of each blow to the head. They also detect the directional vector of the hit, another factor that has been shown to have a relation to concussions.

“Over time, we can see more correlation and see what type of hit caused concussions,” said John Rosene, who along with department head Paul Visich is conducting the UNE research. They plan to extend their study to the UNE men’s and women’s ice hockey teams next winter.


Between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur annually in the United States, and most researchers suspect many other cases go unreported, particularly in youth sports. Diagnosis of concussions has been on the rise, in part because of increased awareness of the long-term impact of concussions on brain function and health. Adding to the concern have been well-publicized cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, particularly among deceased football players.

“The big question emerging is what are all the repetitive hits doing, and when we look at all the CTE issues, that’s what keeps coming up,” Rosene said. “The effect of cumulative hits is, right now, an unanswered question.”

Nick Wirth, foreground, and Dr. John Rosene monitor UNE players in their concussion research. Data from G-force sensors worn by some players are relayed to a computer in the press box.

Nick Wirth, foreground, and Dr. John Rosene monitor UNE players in their concussion research. Data from G-force sensors worn by some players are relayed to a computer in the press box.

The impact sensors cannot diagnose a concussion. Rather, they can be used to show that a player has taken a significant hit to the head, helping to alert athletic trainers or other medical personnel.

The sensor detects acceleration of the head caused by either contact or whiplash, and transfers the data to a software program. The sensors, which measure the accelerations as multiples of the acceleration of gravity, can record a G-force as low as 15. For comparison, plopping into a seat can create an acceleration equal to 10 times that of gravity. In a 30-mph car crash, a head hitting the windshield creates a G-force of about 150.

Based on previous studies conducted with football players, the danger zone for concussions appears to be hits that generate G-forces ranging from 90 to 150, Visich said.

Sophomore Andrew Markham of UNE drives into Brian Hancock of Nichols College during a lacrosse game in Biddeford in April. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Sophomore Andrew Markham of UNE drives into Brian Hancock of Nichols College during a lacrosse game in Biddeford in April.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Although men’s lacrosse is not considered a contact sport in the same vein as football, lacrosse players can collide at high speed during competition. In UNE’s home game against Western New England in April, the greatest G-force reading came in a fourth-quarter collision that caused a UNE player to fall hard to the turf. It registered a 76.

“I can’t tell you what is the threshold (G-force) number and I don’t think anyone can,” Visich said. “We think it’s something up around 90, but it varies for every person.”


The sensors also can record how frequently an athlete is hit in the head. Counting head hits has value for academic research purposes and general player safety, said Chris Nowinski, president of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a leading nonprofit organization focusing on concussion education.

One of the foundation’s national initiatives is called Hit Count. Based loosely on the principle of a pitch count in baseball, Nowinski contends that if head hits are tabulated and limits set based on the sport and the athletes’ ages, then a reduction in concussions will follow.


BIDDEFORD, ME - APRIL 23: Junior Philip Young holds on to his concussion strap and helmet during the halftime break in a lacrosse game against Nichols College on Saturday, April 23, 2016. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)

Junior Philip Young holds on to his concussion strap and helmet during the halftime break in a lacrosse game against Nichols College on April 23, 2016. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“All other things being equal, if athletes are hit half as many times, it seems logical to think we’ll have half as many concussions,” Nowinski said. “And the only way to give (athletes) direct feedback is to have a way to count hits.

“Collecting data in every sport is critical. We’ve been trying to get people to count hits for nearly five years and we’re excited to have researchers adding more data to our understandings,” Nowinski said. “Data on exposure in college lacrosse I don’t believe has been published, so it will be a significant contribution to the literature.”

According to statistics published in 2013 from a five-year meta-analysis conducted by the Institute of Medicine, college men’s lacrosse players suffer sports-related concussions, or SRCs, at a rate of 3.1 per 10,000 athlete exposures, with an exposure consisting of one athlete participating in one game or practice. Lacrosse’s incidence rate is significantly lower than those for college sports such as wrestling (12.4 per 10,000 exposures), men’s ice hockey (8.2), women’s soccer (6.5) and football (6.3). According to the same report, high school athletes are most likely to be concussed in football (11.2), boys’ lacrosse (6.9), girls’ soccer (6.7) and wrestling (6.2).

No UNE men’s lacrosse player suffered a concussion this season while wearing a sensor.

“I don’t really know a good way to put it, but to learn more about what causes a person to be concussed, people have to get concussed while we’re measuring the G-force,” Rosene said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword when you do this kind of work.”


Over the summer, student research assistants Christian Merritt and Nick Wirth will review game and practice film to match each head hit with the on-field action. The UNE research team will analyze the data, with plans to publish a paper based on their findings.

Merritt and Wirth were responsible for monitoring the system during games and practices. Among the things they already have learned is that rather routine events can cause measurable readings. What appear to be gentle helmet-to-helmet touches during a goal celebration registered in the 30 G-force range during the April 16 game against Western New England. Merritt and Wirth said they quickly learned one UNE player is prone to banging himself in the head with his stick if he makes a bad play. Those self-administered blows routinely top a G-force of 40.

Although the data is recorded in “real time,” there has been no interaction during the game between the researchers and UNE’s coaches, players or athletic trainers.

Data from G-Force sensors worn by some of the UNE men's lacrosse players is transmitted wirelessly from the headbands, which are worn under their helmets, to the device at left, which then sends it to the computer at right, which keeps track of the frequency and magnitude of blows to the head a player takes in a game and season. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Data from G-Force sensors worn by some of the UNE men’s lacrosse players is transmitted wirelessly from the headbands, which are worn under their helmets, to the device at left, which then sends it to the computer at right, which keeps track of the frequency and magnitude of blows to the head a player takes in a game and season.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“We aren’t doing it that way right now,” said UNE Coach Charlie Burch. “I suppose if the technology gets better and the way to communicate that down to us from the press box gets better, it would be helpful probably to the trainer, but our trainers are pretty good. If they’re even suspicious that a guy got dinged, they’re going to check him out very carefully.”

UNE goalie John Dusel, a senior, wore a sensor headband for most of the season. He is studying to become an athletic trainer. Someday soon he’ll be checking other athletes for concussion symptoms.

“You could maybe monitor how much force was put on a guy and then maybe take that into account in his diagnosis,” Dusel said. “And then monitoring the amount of force he’s taken over the season.”

Rosene and Visich believe the real value of their data collection will come when it is paired with other measures.

“If we looked at cognitive function during the season then we could ask, ‘Is there a relationship between the number of hits, or the magnitude of hits, and cognitive function?’ ” Rosene said. “That’s not something we did this year.”


Rosene said he also would like to incorporate offseason training focused on areas such as reaction time and neck strength. Then counting the hits over multiple seasons could demonstrate that specific training can reduce the number of hits, and potentially their force.

Triax Technologies, a company based in Norwalk, Connecticut, manufactures the sensors, monitors and software being used by UNE.

Individual headbands with the “Smart Impact Monitors” sell for $189, and Triax is marketing its product for use by parents. The technology for small accelerometers was first developed for the auto industry to trigger air-bag deployment.

“We wanted to make a product that could collect data in all sports,” said Chad Hollingsworth, president and co-founder of Triax.

That process will keep researchers like Rosene and Visich busy.

“It’s such a new area of work, there’s years and years of research ahead of us,” Rosene said.

]]> 0, 17 Jun 2016 08:12:47 +0000
College football: Former coach blasts Baylor Fri, 17 Jun 2016 01:02:57 +0000 AUSTIN, Texas — Fired Baylor football coach Art Briles ripped his former employer Thursday, accusing the school of wrongful termination and indicating he has no interest in settling a federal lawsuit filed against him and the university by a woman who was raped by a football player.

In a motion filed Thursday as part of the lawsuit, Briles said he wants new attorneys separate from the school, and his personal attorney said Baylor was using the coach as a scapegoat for its failings in handling allegations of sexual assault.

“The conclusion is inescapable that the motive of Baylor and the Board of Regents was to use its head football coach and the Baylor athletic department as a camouflage to disguise and distract from its own institutional failure to comply” with federal civil rights protections, Briles lawyer Ernest Cannon wrote to Baylor’s attorneys in the latest development in a scandal that has gripped the world’s largest Baptist university for months.

Cannon also demanded that Baylor “immediately turn over to me the entire contents of each and every one of their litigation files” – including information given to the Pepper Hamilton law firm that investigated Baylor’s response to assault allegations in recent years.

Baylor officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Briles had been mostly silent since he was fired on May 26, but the brass-knuckles response from the 60-year-old coach suggests he’s willing to fight the school over his dismissal.

The pushback is similar to his on-the-field demeanor as he built the Baylor program from Big 12 doormat to powerhouse. The Bears went 50-15 over the last five seasons and won two Big 12 titles, stealing the spotlight from programs like Texas and Oklahoma.

Although Briles’ contract remains private, various outlets have reported that it ran through 2023 and averaged as much as $6 million per year.

Multiple outlets also reported this week that some wealthy Baylor donors were pushing Baylor regents to bring Briles back, but the effort appeared to fizzle out by Wednesday. Briles’ legal filings came hours later.

Key for Briles in a potential legal scuffle with Baylor will be his ability to retrieve investigation details that have not been publicly released.

Pepper Hamilton gave university regents an oral presentation of its investigation and issued a 13-page “Finding of Fact” that Baylor released to support its decision to fire Briles and demote school president and chancellor Ken Starr on May 26.

Briles was the only coach who was fired. His assistants, including son Kendal Briles and son-in-law Jeff Lebby, remain at Baylor under interim coach Jim Grobe.

]]> 0 Thu, 16 Jun 2016 21:05:15 +0000
Colby foul line dunker appears on ‘Good Morning America’ Thu, 09 Jun 2016 02:15:48 +0000 WATERVILLE — Colby College junior Pat Dickert, who became an internet sensation when he posted a video of himself dunking from behind the foul line to his Instagram account, appeared on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ Thursday.

“I’m super excited,” Dickert, a Hatfield, Massachusetts, native and reserve guard on the Colby basketball team said Wednesday. “It’s been so crazy. It’s been such a ride to be doing this all because of a crazy video. It’s pretty wild. I don’t even know how to explain it. This kind of came out of thin air. I got a text from Matt Stone of ABC News. I said, ‘OK, we’ll see where this goes.’ ”

Dickert performed the dunk May 24 at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Not long after, his eye-dropping slam created a buzz online. ESPN, FOX Sports, NESN and CBS Sports all aired the dunk.

“I didn’t think I’d be doing this a few weeks later,” he added. “It’s just so amazing,” he said. “I’m going to have fun with it.”

Dickert appeared on the show via Skype.


]]> 2, 09 Jun 2016 13:57:27 +0000
Sports Digest: Hyland earns conference Man of the Year at Bentley Tue, 07 Jun 2016 03:13:24 +0000 COLLEGES

Hyland earns conference man of the year at Bentley

Bentley men’s basketball player Keegan Hyland of South Portland was named the Northeast-10 Conference Man of the Year on Monday night at the annual conference banquet in Providence.

Hyland played for three seasons at Bentley while getting his bachelor’s degree in finance and also earning his MBA.

He averaged 20.4 points per game while leading Bentley to the Northeast-10 regular season championship and a berth in the NCAA Division II East Regional.

MAINE: Jesse Orach (men’s cross country), Shannon O’Neil (women’s cross country/track) and Liz Wood (women’s basketball) were honored by the America East Conference as Presidential Student-Athletes.

The award recognizes graduating student-athletes who earned a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher as an undergraduate student and graduated this spring.

KENTUCKY: Brad Calipari, son of Wildcats Coach John Calipari, will be be on next season’s roster. A school release does not specify whether the 6-foot, 180-pound Calipari will be scholarship or walk on.

Calipari averaged 15.3 points per game last season at the MacDuffie School in Massachusetts.

NCAA BASEBALL: More home runs have been hit in Div. I regional play than in the entire 2015 tournament. There were 166 homers in 96 games through Monday. That compares to 150 in 136 tournament games through the College World Series last year.

This year’s total also is the highest since new bat standards went into effect in 2011. This is the second season a flat-seam ball has been used. The new ball was put into play to increase the amount of offense in the college game. In 2014, the last year for the raised-seam ball, 87 home runs were hit in 139 tournament games.


BASEBALL: Nick Mazurek pitched a one-hitter and also drove in the a run as fifth-seeded Oceanside (13-4) earned a 6-0 win over No. 12 Presque Isle (6-11) in a Class B North prelim at Rockland.

Mazurek struck out 11 and did not issue a walk.

Mazurek doubled home Michael Norton in the bottom of the first for an early lead.

The Mariners then put the game away with a five-run fourth, highlighted by Thomas Curtis’ two-run double.


EUROPE: Host Italy again dominated as it beat Finland 2-0 in its final warmup for the European Championship.

AFRICA: Zimbabwe’s soccer federation folded with a debt of more than $6 million and has formed again under a different name.

The debt, blamed on previous leadership, was passed to a liquidator to deal with.

COPA AMERICA: Blas Perez scored two goals, including the winner in the 87th minute, and Panama beat Bolivia 2-1 on a rainy night in a Group D opener in Orlando, Florida.

ITALY: Chinese retail giant Suning has bought a majority stake in Inter Milan, marking the latest entry into the European soccer market by cash-rich firms in China.


NOTTINGHAM OPEN: Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic came late to the Nottingham Open but avoided an early exit.

Saving the only break point she faced, Pliskova served superbly to outlast Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-2.

Second-seeded Johanna Konta of Britain and No. 8 Christina McHale of the U.S. also advanced.

– From staff and news services

]]> 0 Mon, 06 Jun 2016 23:13:24 +0000
UMaine hockey to play three games in Portland Wed, 01 Jun 2016 18:16:54 +0000 The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team will play three games at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland next winter.

The Black Bears will play Boston College, Notre Dame and Brown University at CIA. Seth Woodcock, the associate director of athletic development at UMaine, said more details, including dates and ticket information, will be released on Friday.

“Typically we try to play a game in Portland every year,” said Woodcock. “Red (Gendron, UMaine’s head coach) does a great job with the schedule to bring quality opponents to Portland. And with the Pirates out, we saw an opportunity to bring great hockey to Portland.”

Boston College and Notre Dame, Hockey East opponents, will play back-to-back games, one in Portland and one in Orono.

“Being conference opponents, it’s a big deal for us to move those games from Alfond,” said Woodcock.

]]> 0 Wed, 01 Jun 2016 19:24:49 +0000
Colby College player makes foul-line dunk video that goes viral Tue, 31 May 2016 23:09:27 +0000 When it comes to foul-line dunks, the first name that comes to mind is Michael Jordan.

Now it’s time to add another name to that list – Pat Dickert of Colby College.

Dickert, of Hatfield, Massachusetts, posted a video of himself making a foul-line dunk to his Instagram account as part of his “Take Flight Tuesday” series last week. Dickert, a 21-year-old junior guard on the Colby men’s basketball team, said he performed the dunk last week at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

“I went there with the intent to make the dunk,” he said. “I’ve been practicing it for a long time and I didn’t want to be the known as the ‘missed dunk guy.'”

By Tuesday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 233,000 times on Instagram and another 35,000 times on YouTube.

“It’s something I couldn’t possibly have expected,” Dickert said. “It’s blown up on so many different platforms. It’s even popular on Reddit, and I’ve posted a bunch of stuff on Reddit before and it really went nowhere.”

The 6-foot-2 guard said he’d never completed a dunk from the foul line before hitting the one featured in the video, which the school confirmed was completed on a regulation-sized basketball hoop.

For authenticity, Dickert opens the video by standing directly under the rim with his left arm reaching toward it.

“I get asked if I lowered the hoop but I didn’t,” he said. “I don’t even know how to lower a hoop.”

Dickert appeared in all 25 games for Colby this past season, averaging six points and just over 19 minutes a game. He was named to the New England Small Athletic Conference Winter All-Academic Team.

Colby Coach Damien Strahorn said Dickert was a “significant contributor” off the bench who will have a chance to start this season.

Strahorn said he was in awe when Dickert showed him the video.

“The fact that he is able to physically take off take off from 15 feet away and stay in the air long enough to dunk it, it’s a very impressive feat. It’s pretty crazy,” said Strahorn, noting Dickert is “no taller” than his listed 6-2.

“To think about the athletes you see do it in the NBA dunk contest, for him to do it at his size is remarkable.”

Dickert said the “Take Flight Tuesday” idea was a product of the “hobby” of dunking basketballs during breaks in training sessions.

Three weeks ago, he posted a video of him missing a foul-line dunk. That, he said, provided all the motivation he needed.

“I’ve been trying the dunk for a while,” Dickert said. “I was especially motivated because I’d missed it. So, I came back at it with a vengeance.”

In other videos, including compilations of several dunks, Dickert can be seen leaping over the head of a 7-foot teammate and dunking from just inside the foul line.

“It’s something I enjoy doing,” Dickert said. “I was always told, ‘If you want to be a Division I player, you have to be more athletic.’ I couldn’t really jump that well when I was younger.”

A number of national media outlets have reached out to Dickert to talk about the feat, but there’s one person he hopes will see the video: Julius Erving, the originator of the foul-line dunk.

“I was at a dinner where he was the featured speaker when I was 11,” Dickert said. “I got to meet him, and I told him that I wanted to grow up to be just like him.”

To have his name mentioned with Jordan and Dr. J, though, takes some getting used to.

“It really is surreal to hear that,” Dickert said.

As for what’s next on “Take Flight Tuesday,” the economics major takes a pragmatic approach.

“Now I have to go work on my jump shot,” he said. “That’s what’s most important.”

]]> 3, 31 May 2016 19:24:45 +0000
College Roundup: Tar Heels edge Terps to win lacrosse title Tue, 31 May 2016 01:21:53 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Chris Cloutier’s goal with 1 minute, 39 seconds left in overtime propelled unseeded North Carolina to a 14-13 win against No. 1 seed Maryland and the program’s first NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse championship since 1991.

North Carolina capped the year with a 12-6 record buoyed by four consecutive wins against seeded opponents in No. 6 Marquette, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 7 Loyola Maryland and now Maryland. The Tar Heels became the first unseeded team in seven attempts to win the title.

Cloutier, who broke Eric Lusby of Loyola’s NCAA tournament record of 17 goals in 2012 with 19 goals during this postseason march, paced the team with five goals. Junior attackman Luke Goldstock scored four times, and redshirt sophomore goalie Brian Balkam made a game-high 13 saves including a stop on sophomore midfielder Connor Kelly during a Terps extra-man opportunity.

Maryland fell to 17-3 and suffered its first loss in 17 contests and first since a 9-4 setback to Notre Dame on March 5. The Terps’ lack of success in NCAA title games is now 0-9 since the 1975 squad captured that championship.


NCAA TOURNAMENT: Mackenzie McDonald became the first player in 15 years to pull off a double national championship.

About four hours after he upset top-seeded Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State 6-3, 6-3, to win the NCAA men’s singles title, McDonald and UCLA teammate Martin Redlicki beat Arthur Rinderknech and Jackson Withrow of Texas A&M to claim the doubles championship at Tulsa, Oklahoma.

McDonald is the first player since Matias Boeker of Georgia in 2001 (and fifth since 1974) to win both titles.

n Danielle Collins of Virginia defeated top-seeded Hayley Carter of North Carolina 6-3, 6-2 for her second NCAA women’s tennis national championship.

Carter (47-5) battled back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the first set 3-3. Collins then won the last three games to take the set. Collins (38-4) rolled to a 5-1 lead in the second set before winning it.


BAYLOR: Athletic director Ian McCaw has resigned, less than a week after he was put on probation as part of the school’s reaction to a scathing report about its failure to properly respond to allegations of sexual assaults.

The announcement of McCaw’s resignation came a little more than an hour after Baylor hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe to replace the ousted Art Briles.

McCaw, who worked in the UMaine athletic department from 1986 to 1992, said in a statement he was stepping down because it would be help Baylor promote “unity, healing and restoration.”

Last week Briles was suspended with intent to terminate and university president Kenneth Starr was demoted.

McCaw has been AD since 2003, hired after a scandal involving the men’s basketball program led to the resignation of then-athletic director Tom Stanton.


FLORIDA: The Gators will have to break the curse of the No. 1 seed to win its first national championship in baseball. No top seed has won the title since Miami in 1999.

The Gators were awarded the top seed in the NCAA tournament, leading a record four SEC teams among the eight national seeds. Florida (47-13) was ranked No. 1 in the polls for most of the season and finished runner-up to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament.

The Gators have been a national seed seven times under Coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

The 16 regionals are Friday to next Monday and include four teams playing a double-elimination format. Regional winners advance to super regionals to determine the eight teams in the College World Series in Omaha beginning June 18.

]]> 0, 30 May 2016 21:21:53 +0000
Saturday’s college roundup: Black wins fourth NCAA title Sat, 28 May 2016 23:55:02 +0000 WAVERLY, Iowa — Mitchell Black of Brunswick won his fourth national championship Saturday, setting a Walston Hoover Stadium record of 1 minute, 49.58 seconds in the 800 meters while running for Tufts University at the NCAA Division III track and field championships.

It was the second straight outdoor title for Black, who is also a two-time indoor champion.

Emily Doyle and Alanna McDonough, both of Colby, and Jeremy Collins of Southern Maine were the top finishers from Maine schools with fourth-place finishes in their events.

Collins broke his own school record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 51.76. Doyle ran a 55.31 in the women’s 400, and McDonough finished in 10:42.28 in the 3,000 steeplechase.

Two Bates athletes, Allison Hill of Brunswick and Sally Ceesay, earned All-America honors. Hill was seventh in the 100 hurdles (14.48), and Ceesay placed eighth in the triple jump (39-0 1/2).

Bowdoin’s Katherine Krupp was 14th in the triple jump at 38-1 1/2.

In other men’s results, Adedire Fakorede of Bates was 15th in the hammer (175-7), and Brian Greenberg of Bowdoin (46-6 3/4) and USM’s Connor Harris (46-3 1/4) were 15th and 16th in the triple jump.


NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Bates College won the second varsity eight race as the Bobcats finished second overall at the NCAA Division III championships in Gold River, California.

The Bobcats’ No. 2 boat finished in 6 minutes, 50.927 seconds, beating the runner-up team from Wellesley by nine seconds.

Bates placed fourth in the first varsity eight race, which was won by Wellesley, the overall champion.


NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Bowdoin’s women’s doubles team of Joulia Likhanskaia and Tiffany Cheng lost in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III championship, falling to Juli Raventos and Linda Shin of Williams, 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Raventos and Shin beat Caroline Ward and Katie Kuosman of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the final, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

]]> 0 Sat, 28 May 2016 21:50:08 +0000
Friday’s Maine college roundup: Runner from Brunswick stays on track for repeat title Sat, 28 May 2016 03:17:19 +0000 WAVERLY, Iowa — Defending champion Mitchell Black of Brunswick, a senior at Tufts, kept his quest alive for another national title by posting the second-fastest preliminary-round time Friday in the 800 meters at the NCAA Division III track and field championships.

Black was clocked in 1 minute, 50.42 seconds. He’ll race in the final Saturday afternoon as he tries to sweep the indoor and outdoor titles for the second straight year.

Allison Hill of Bates and Emily Doyle of Colby also qualified for Saturday’s finals.

Hill, a Brunswick High graduate, had the sixth-fastest time in the 100-meter hurdles prelims – 14.33 seconds. Peyton Dostie of the University of Southern Maine missed out on the final, placing 14th in 14.56.

Doyle advanced to the 400 final with a time of 55.30 seconds – also sixth fastest.

In other women’s events Friday, Colby’s Jenna Athanasopoulos finished 15th in the heptathlon with 4,284 points, Nicole Kirk of USM was 18th (12.19) and Alexis Dickinson of Bates was 22nd (12.45) in the 100 prelim; and Kim Donaldson of Colby was 18th in the shot put (41-73/4).

Nick Margitza of Bates was 16th in the men’s shot put (51-1), and Colby’s Brian Sommers was 16th in the 400 (48.39).

WOMEN’S TENNIS: Tiffany Cheng and Joulia Likhanskaia of Bowdoin advanced to the doubles semifinals with a victory in the NCAA Division III championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Cheng and Likhanskaia defeated Kait Brogan and Shelby Harris of Mary Washington, 6-3, 6-1, and will play in the semifinals Saturday.

Likhanskaia also competed in singles but lost in the quarterfinals to Eudice Chong of Wesleyan, 6-1, 6-0.

MEN’S TENNIS: Luke Tercek and Luke Trinka of Bowdoin lost their doubles quarterfinal at the NCAA Division III championships.

The pair were beaten by CJ Krimbill and Louis Stuerke of Case Western Reserve, 6-3, 6-4.

Ben Rosen of Bates was eliminated in the singles quarterfinal, losing to Skyler Butts of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 6-3, 6-2.

]]> 0 Fri, 27 May 2016 23:26:23 +0000
Thursday’s college roundup: Maine ousted in conference baseball tournament Fri, 27 May 2016 04:13:39 +0000 LOWELL, Mass. — The Maine baseball team lost 9-8 to Albany on Thursday night in an elimination game of the America East tournament.

Maine, which ends its season at 20-35, had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth inning but was unable to push across the tying run. Danny Casals, Lou Della Fera and Tyler Schwanz each had two hits for Maine.


NCAA TOURNAMENT: Joulia Likhanskaia and Tiffany Cheng of Bowdoin advanced to the quarterfinals with a straight-set victory at the NCAA Division III women’s tennis doubles championships at Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Likhanskaia and Cheng beat Marie Lutz and Liza Southwick of Trinty (Texas), 6-3, 6-1, and will play Kait Brogan and Shelby Harris of Mary Washington.

Likhanskaia also made it to the singles quarterfinals. She will face Eudice Chong of Wesleyan Friday.


NCAA TOURNAMENT: Bates sophomore Ben Rosen won two matches to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III men’s single championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Rosen earned All-America status with a 6-2, 6-1 win against Arthur Fagundes of the University of Texas-Tyler, then knocked off the No. 8 seed, C.J. Kimball of Case Western Reserve, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

Rosen faces fourth-seeded Skyler Butts of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Friday.


NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: USM hurdler Jeremy Collins and Colby steeplechaser Alanna McDonough advanced to the finals by recording the third-fastest prelim times at the NCAA Division III championships in Waverly, Iowa.

Collins finished second in his 400-meter hurdles heat with a school-record time of 52.22 seconds. He’ll compete in the finals Saturday afternoon.

McDonough also placed second in her heat, posting a time of 10:56.87. She goes into Saturday’s final as the No. 2 seed.

]]> 0 Fri, 27 May 2016 00:18:21 +0000
Baylor demotes president, fires football coach in sexual assault case Thu, 26 May 2016 22:41:45 +0000 AUSTIN, Texas — Ken Starr, who zealously pursued charges against a sitting U.S. president in a White House sex scandal, was stripped of his job as president of Baylor University on Thursday after a scathing review showed that under his leadership, the school did little to respond to accusations of sexual assault involving members of its vaunted football program.

The board of regents at the nation’s largest Baptist university said Starr will vacate the presidency May 31 and stay on as chancellor and law school professor, jobs that will not include any “operational” duties for the school.

Baylor also fired Coach Art Briles and put Athletic Director Ian McCaw – who was the sports information director at the Universty of Maine from 1986-92 – on probation after an external investigation found the actions of the football staff and athletics leadership “in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the university.”

The report didn’t identify specific cases, but two football players have been convicted of sexual assault since 2014. In the past year, there have been multiple reports of assaults and women who said the school did nothing to help.

“We’re deeply sorrowful (for) these events,” said Baylor regents Chairman Richard Willis. “We’re honestly just horrified.”

Starr gets to keep a title and a job, but his demotion at the school in Waco, Texas, is a stunning fall for the prosecutor whose dogged investigation of President Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky led to Clinton’s 1998 impeachment.

The review by Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton found that under Starr, school administrators discouraged students from reporting or participating in student conduct reviews of sexual assault complaints and even contributed to or accommodated a “hostile” environment against the alleged victims.

In one case, the actions of administrators “constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault,” the report said.

University leadership was also slow to enact federally-required student conduct processes, and administrators failed to identify and eliminate the hostile environment toward victims, the report found.

In a statement to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Starr apologized to “those victims who were not treated with the care, concern, and support they deserve.”

He insisted he didn’t learn about the problems until fall 2015 and launched investigations as soon as he did.

“Despite these dark days, I remain resolved to join hands with the Baylor family to continue to build the University as we carry out its distinct mission in Christian higher education. May God grant us grace, mercy, and peace,” Starr said.

Once a losing program, Baylor football enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles, including two Big 12 championships in the last three years. Starr, who arrived at the school in 2010, went along for the ride and often ran onto the field with students during pregame ceremonies.

Football victories brought a financial windfall. In 2014, Baylor opened a new, $250-million on-campus football stadium and Starr became one of the leading voices among the presidents in the Big 12.

The 13-page “findings of fact” released by Baylor didn’t name Starr, Briles or McCaw individually, but the investigation covered from 2011-2015. Briles has been Baylor’s football coach since 2008 and McCaw became athletic director in 2003.

None of those three immediately responded to requests for comment.

Jasmin Hernandez, a former Baylor student who testified in football player Tevin Elliott’s 2014 rape trial, has filed a federal lawsuit against the school. She said Thursday the Pepper Hamilton report appears “honest and forthright” and shows the systemic way students who complained of sexual assault were denied their rights.

While The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims, Hernandez has spoken publicly to draw attention to the case.

Hernandez agreed with Starr’s demotion but said “what concerns me more was the propagation of rape culture within Baylor University.”

University officials time and again had knowledge of assaults committed by football players and others but took no action, Hernandez said, adding she won’t drop her lawsuit.

It was Starr who initiated the Pepper Hamilton review that would lead to his downfall, ordering it last year after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player.

Pepper Hamilton lawyer Gina Smith said the firm reviewed more than a million pages of documents, reports and interviews before presenting its findings to Baylor’s regents earlier this month.

While critical of top administrators for ignoring problems or being slow to act, the most critical elements were aimed at Briles’ football program.

The report found that football coaches and athletics administrators had run their own improper investigations into rape claims, and that in some cases, they chose not to report such allegations to an administrator outside of athletics.

By running their own “untrained” investigations and meeting directly with a complainant, football staff “improperly discredited” complainants’ claims and “denied them a right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation.”

The football program acted in ways that “reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules,” the report said.

]]> 0, 26 May 2016 19:06:31 +0000
Wednesday’s Maine college roundup: Bowdoin men’s tennis team wins NCAA crown Wed, 25 May 2016 22:16:09 +0000 KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Bowdoin College men’s tennis team won its first NCAA Division III title Wednesday, defeating conference rival Middlebury 5-0 in the championship match.

The Division III title is the first for a Bowdoin men’s program. The Polar Bears’ field hockey squad has won four NCAA championships, most recently in 2013.

Bowdoin had lost six consecutive matches to Middlebury, a NESCAC foe, dating to 2012. The win gave the Polar Bears a school-record 20th victory on the season.


AMERICA EAST: Colin Ridley had three hits, drove in three runs and scored once as Maine (20-34) cruised to an 11-1 win over fourth-seeded UMBC (28-23) in an elimination game during the first day of the America East tournament at Lowell, Massachusetts.

Brett Chappell added four hits, two runs and one RBI for the sixth-seeded Black Bears, who scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend their lead to 10-0.

Starter John Arel gave up one unearned run on two hits, striking out 11 and walking three over eight innings.

In their opening game of the day, Maine lost 1-0 to third-seeded Stony Brook on a walk-off homer by Bobby Honeyman in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Maine will play another elimination game at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Black Bears won’t know their opponent until after the two earlier games.

]]> 0, 26 May 2016 00:06:09 +0000
Tuesday’s college roundup: Bowdoin men’s tennis team wins to reach NCAA final Wed, 25 May 2016 01:38:21 +0000 KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Luke Trinka battled back to force a tiebreaker in the second set at third singles to pick up the pivotal fifth point Tuesday as Bowdoin outlasted Emory 5-4 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III tennis championships.

Luke Tercek won at No. 1 singles for the Polar Bears, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Gil Roddy and Grant Urken each picked up points with straight set victories at No. 5 and No. 6 singles.

Gil Roddy and Chase Savage picked up the Bowdoin point at doubles, winning 9-7.

The Polar Bears advance to the championship match at 10 a.m. Wednesday vs. Middlebury.

It is the first men’s program in Bowdoin history to play for a national title.


BOWDOIN: Bowdoin was swept in its doubles matches and fell 5-0 to Williams in a NCAA Division III semifinal at Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The Polar Bears finished 15-7, reaching the NCAA semifinals for the first time.

Tiffany Cheng fell to Mia Gancayo in straight sets in No. 2 singles and Samantha Stalder was defeated by Hannah Atkinson at No. 5 singles to finish the match.

The Ephs (22-3) avenged a regular-season loss to Bowdoin and advance to face Emory for the national title on Wednesday.


SMCC: Katie Bergeron was named the new coach.

Bergeron, the seventh coach in program history, recently was an assistant coach at South Portland High School.

VANDERBILT: The Commodores want Stephanie White of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever as their new women’s basketball coach so much that they’re willing to wait.

And White will lean on her old Purdue coach, Carolyn Peck, to run the Commodores while she finishes out the WNBA season.

Vanderbilt announced that White will be the program’s fifth head coach, and Peck will be the interim head coach while White works the rest of the WNBA season. When Indiana’s season ends, Peck then will be associate coach.

]]> 0 Tue, 24 May 2016 22:16:44 +0000
Oklahoma State eliminates UMaine from NCAA softball regional Sat, 21 May 2016 22:22:55 +0000 ATHENS, Ga. — Although Maine was the first team ousted from the NCAA softball regional at the University of Georgia, there were a couple bright moments in the Black Bears’ 10-1 loss Saturday to Oklahoma State.

First, Maine scored for the first time in an NCAA tournament game when Janelle Bouchard – the team’s only senior – drove home Erika Leonard with a single in the fourth inning.

And while the Black Bears (28-21) seemed overmatched against Oklahoma State (30-25), the team’s future looks bright, with a host of battled-tested young players who are hungry to earn another shot at the NCAA tournament.

“We’re not ready to play at this level offensively, so it’s a thing we’ve got to learn from and move forward from. … We know now that we have to play at a level higher than our conference is,” UMaine Coach Mike Coutts said.

“We struggled offensively, and there’s a reason we struggled. We have to be able to address those reasons every day we go to practice next year.”

Maine dodged bullets in the first and second inning as Oklahoma State, which recorded 14 hits, put runners aboard but couldn’t score any runs. An unassisted double play by third baseman Alyssa Derrick ended the first inning, and starter Molly Flowers snuffed out a second-inning threat by striking out Randee O’Donnell.

But Oklahoma State’s Tiffany Mikkelson drilled a three-run homer in the third inning, then added an RBI double in the fourth, capping a three-run outburst that made it 7-0.

Oklahoma State also scored another run in the sixth and two in the seventh.

“They keep coming at you offensively, and we’ve got to pitch more efficiently,” said Coutts. “We scored one run, and you’re not going to win a lot of games – you’ve got to pitch perfectly to win 1-0. Their 1-9 (hitters) put a lot of pressure on you, and we just weren’t ready to handle it all (Saturday).”

Kacey Freeze held Maine hitless through the first three innings. Leonard singled to start the fourth, reached second on sacrifice by Rachel Carlson and scored on Bouchard’s single – the first of her two hits.

Bouchard, a Kennebunk native who played two years at Valparaiso before transferring to Maine, said she sees happier days ahead for her teammates.

“My time here was short, but I definitely feel we got better this year and I think we’re going to get every better next year,” said Bouchard, who finished the season batting .398 with 40 RBI. “I’m proud of how the girls fought this year and how far we’ve come from last year. We struggled offensively last year, but everybody in the team improved this year. We had a great run and I’m really proud of the girls.”

Coutts, in his first year at the helm of the program, knows the Black Bears will miss Bouchard’s presence in the lineup.

“It’s going to be hard for us to replace (Bouchard’s) leadership,” he said. “Her passion and commitment to the game – it’s going to be hard for us to replace that. I’m hoping that someone will step forward and do that.

“It’s a great learning experience and it’s going to be exciting to build on it, and the girls will be ready to do it because we felt we could win a game here. It wasn’t that we were just happy to be here; we felt we could win a game here. Having that taste in your mouth just makes you want to go home and work your tail off to win a game.”

]]> 0 Sat, 21 May 2016 20:23:08 +0000
UMaine softball shut out in NCAA tournament opener Fri, 20 May 2016 21:50:58 +0000 ATHENS, Ga. — For a team with only one senior, Maine’s opening game of the NCAA softball regional was a learning experience.

The Black Bears, making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004, fell behind early against 16th-ranked Georgia and couldn’t generate any offense against the host team. Maine struck out 14 times and didn’t advance a runner beyond first base in a 6-0 loss Friday afternoon.

“It was a great experience for our girls to get here,” said UMaine Coach Mike Coutts, whose team won the America East championship last weekend. “What we went through … I can’t teach at any practice session or anything else, so as I said to the girls afterward, just having the opportunity to play in a regional is huge for us, and we’ll be better prepared (Saturday).”

Maine (28-20) will face Oklahoma State (29-25) at 3:30 p.m. in an elimination game. Oklahoma State lost 2-1 to Northwestern in Friday’s opener.

Northwestern (27-26) will meet Georgia (41-17) at 1 p.m. and the loser of that contest plays the Maine-Oklahoma State winner at 6 p.m.

The trouble began early for Maine, as Erin Bogdanovich walked the first two batters, setting the table for Bulldogs slugger Alex Hugo. Bogdanovich was able to coax a popup to the pitching circle, but her throw to first base for a potential double play was mishandled by Kristen Niland.

After another infield out by Georgia’s Tina Iosefa, freshman Alyssa DiCarlo doubled, driving home two runs to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, Hugo opened the inning with a walk and came all the way home on a deep drive to left field by Iosefa that was dropped by Rachel Harvey at the warning track. Iosefa eventually scored on a fielder’s choice by DiCarlo, putting Georgia up 4-0.

The Bulldogs also scored in the fifth and sixth.

Coutts admitted that the inning-opening walks were problematic, but he said tighter defense would have made a considerable difference.

“That usually does present trouble, but in the first inning, if we catch a ball at first base on a popup to (Bogdanovich) we’re out of the inning, and if we catch a fly ball in left field (in the third inning) we’re out of that inning,” he said.

“When you play good teams, when you walk people and give them extra people on base, it shows up a little bit more, no question.”

Just getting on base proved difficult for the Black Bears, as Georgia starting pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson and reliever Kylie Bass held Maine at bay.

Wilkinson pitched the first three innings and fanned eight of the 10 batters she faced, allowing one hit, to Felicia Lennon. Bass closed out the game, giving up four hits and striking out six.

“The first couple of innings we were just trying to get the jitters out – maybe everybody came in a little too hyped for the game, but once we settled in we were working the counts more and working against pitching from a (Southeastern Conference) school,” said Janelle Bouchard, who recorded one of Maine’s five hits.

“It’s certainly pitching we haven’t seen a lot of this year, but we made great adjustments, and toward the end of the game we were making better contact.”

Maine also got hits from Harvey, Rachel Carlson and pinch-hitter Maddie Decker.

Bogdanovich went the distance for the Black Bears, allowing nine hits, including a towering fifth-inning home run by Iosefa, her 21st of the season. She walked four and struck out four.

“I knew I couldn’t give them anything great to hit,” said Bogdanovich, noting Georgia had seven players in its starting lineup hitting .327 or better. “They did a good job holding off on some close ones. They did very well.”

Although the Black Bears are now in a must-win situation, Coutts insists there’s no extra pressure on his team.

“To be honest, it’s just another game,” he said. “For me, it’s more (a question of) how are we going to come in tomorrow to play. Will we come in a little nervous like we did today or are we going to use today’s experience and be better tomorrow?

“And to me, that’s how we’re building our program. We learn from today and (get) better tomorrow. At the end of the day, if we’re good enough to win, that’s great. But we haven’t talked about winning all year – we’ve talked about handling every pitch and every inning and every situation, and I’m really anxious to see how we come in and play.”

]]> 0 Fri, 20 May 2016 20:38:21 +0000
UMaine softball team brings winning mindset to NCAA tournament Fri, 20 May 2016 08:00:57 +0000 Mike Coutts believes that winning softball teams have the better hitters, better pitchers and better mental approach.

It is the mental trait that may be behind the University of Maine’s success this spring. The Black Bears qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004.

Maine (28-19) will play Georgia (40-17) in a regional double-elimination first-round game in Athens, Georgia, at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be preceded by the opener between Oklahoma State (29-24) and Northwestern (29-29).

The host Bulldogs are ranked in the Top 20 (between 15th and 19th in the three national polls) and will make their 15th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Georgia won its first 11 games this season and struggled down the stretch in the tough Southeastern Conference, losing seven of its last 10 and nine of its last 14.

But the Bulldogs went 20-7 at home and hit .354 as a team, fourth-best in the nation.

The Black Bears will be underdogs but also believe their mental approach has put them in a very good place.

“It’s come together for us,” said Coutts, who took over as head coach last summer, replacing his wife, Lynn, after she was named an associate athletic director at UMaine.

“Obviously you’ve got to have decent players. But more than anything these days it’s about chemistry and culture, and kids being unselfish and playing for each other. That’s a hard thing to get.”

As the team prepared for the America East tournament, junior pitcher Erin Bogdanovich (the conference pitcher of the year from South Portland) and senior catcher Janelle Bouchard (the conference player of the year) talked about how much team chemistry factored into the Black Bears’ success.

“We spend so much time preparing for the mental side of the game,” said Bouchard, who is from Kennebunk.

It started last summer with a reading assignment for the team: “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon. Afterward, Coutts said, “The girls understood the importance of being positive and being around the right people.”

Coutts said the Black Bears now do five things each day to improve their focus and team chemistry:

 A team member has to send a text message to everyone in the program with a quote and why it’s important to her. She also picks the next person to send the message.

 A team member is assigned to call an inspirational-message hotline. At practice she tells her teammates about the message was and what it meant to her.

 A team member has to read a passage from “The Daily Dominator,” a book by sports performance coach Brian Cain that includes a lesson of the day. The player then tells her teammates what the lesson means to her. Coutts said the team has Skyped with Cain four times this year to help retain their mental focus.

 At the beginning of the year, the players had to select words or phrases that would become the team’s five core principles. They came up with “represent, toughness, family first, all-in and finish.” Each day at practice, Coutts will pick a player, give her one of those core principles and ask her to say what it means to her.

 Finally, Coutts will ask the team a question – such as, “What does preparation mean?” – and the players have to talk about it. “It gets you on the same page thinking about the importance of those words,” he said.

Through these exercises, Coutts and his players believe they formed a bond that will carry them through adversity.

“I told the kids, ‘I can teach you how to hit and pitch and field, but if you’re not doing the other stuff off the field and not making a commitment to your teammates, we have no shot at winning.’ ”

Coutts also sometimes comes up with a theme for a practice, telling a player that she has to pick a teammate to dedicate that practice to.

“It makes them practice a little harder,” he said. “We try to make practice really important so that the games didn’t become really important.”

It appears to have worked. The Black Bears have great confidence in their ability to hit (.320 batting average, 33rd in the nation), pitch (3.01 ERA, 12 shutouts) and field (.960 fielding percentage, only 52 errors).

They are willing to do whatever is needed to help the team. Junior Rachel Harvey, for instance, was a catcher last year but told Coutts she wanted to learn the outfield. “She went home last summer, learned the outfield and played left field for us every day,” said Coutts. She also hit .352, second on the team to Bouchard’s .395.

Pitching was a question entering the season. But Maine has three pitchers it can count on, led by Bogdanovich, who is 10-4 with two saves and a 2.87 ERA, and sophomore Molly Flowers, who is 11-10 with a 2.58 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 1081/3 innings.

“We’ve got to do what our team does best,” Coutts said of the NCAA tournament. “We’ve got to go play with the mentality that we can win and that we’ve got to play good. We don’t have to play great but we have to play good.

“That comes from our preparation and our mental game and staying in the moment, all the stuff we’ve talked about all year. We’ve got to have a championship mindset.”


]]> 0, 20 May 2016 00:51:56 +0000
Two starters leaving UMaine men’s basketball program Thu, 19 May 2016 12:36:53 +0000 The University of Maine men’s basketball roster underwent sweeping changes Thursday.

Coach Bob Walsh announced that guard Kevin Little and forward Devine Eke, both starters last winter, have been granted requests to transfer from Maine – the third and fourth scholarship players to leave the team since the end of an 8-22 season.

A few hours later, Walsh announced that the Black Bears would add two players: 5-foot-10 freshman guard Marcus Floyd of Wilmington, Delaware, and junior college transfer Ilker Er, a 6-foot-6 wing from Istanbul, Turkey.

“We knew all of it was coming. This has all been part of what we’ve been doing the past six weeks,” Walsh said.

The roster overhaul began when freshman Issac Vann, the team’s leading scorer, decided in late March to leave Maine. Limited to 17 games by injury, Vann averaged 16.4 points per game and was named to the America East all-rookie team. He accepted a scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth University, a member of the Atlantic-10.

Reserve guard Lavar Harewood (28 games, 8 starts, 5.1 points) was the next to announce his intention to transfer.

Then came Thursday’s announcement that Little and Eke – the second- and fourth-leading scorers on the team – also would be departing.

Together the four departed players accounted for 46 percent of Maine’s points last season and 37 percent of the minutes played.

“When guys see what other opportunities are out there for a teammate, they begin to think, ‘We can be part of that, too,’ ” Walsh said. “We have a free-agent culture in our sport and it’s really common for guys to look around. I certainly think (Vann’s transfer) had an impact.”

Eke, from Plainfield, New Jersey, played 30 games last season as a freshman, starting 22. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 9.5 points on 61.2 percent shooting and led the team in rebounding (6.8 per game) and blocks (1.7).

Little, a 6-foot guard from Wyandanch, New York, appeared in 23 games with 20 starts as a sophomore, and averaged 14.7 points with 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals. He scored 12.5 points a game in an all-rookie freshman season.

Walsh said Little and Eke told him they were happy with “our culture and happy with the way they were coached and they were successful academically” but wanted a chance to see if they – like Vann – could play in a higher-profile conference.

Walsh was asked how he would handle negative perceptions from having four of his recruits transfer in just a few months.

“Transparency. That’s how we do it,” he said. “I reached out to (incoming recruits) Andrew Fleming and Danny Evans and told them what was going on, and we’ve had honest conversations with the guys we have here now.”

Walsh emphasized he wants a roster full of players fully committed to Maine basketball.

“I will say this candidly: I could not get this team to respond the way we needed to respond (last season) when things got tough,” he said. “We made progress. We had talent. But ultimately that high level of trust you need, we hadn’t gotten there yet. I didn’t correlate it at the time (to players thinking about transferring), but certainly now looking back I have an understanding of why it was so hard.”

Floyd and Er, the newest additions, are eligible for next season.

Floyd played last season for Sunrise Christian Academy, a prep school in Wichita, Kansas. He played his final two seasons of high school ball for Trenton Catholic Academy.

“Marcus Floyd is a talented, tough, competitive scoring guard,” Walsh said. “He’s a great penetrator. He lives in the paint and can make his teammates better.”

Er, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds last season for San Jacinto Junior College in Pasadena, Texas.

“He is a skilled, versatile wing player,” Walsh said. “He can shoot it. He’s a veteran with two years (of eligibility) left. Again, he’s a player who is really excited to be here.”

Walsh is 11-49 in two seasons as Maine’s coach. He said the transfers “will leave some voids,” but does not mean the building process is starting over.

“I don’t agree with that at all,” Walsh said. “We’re moving forward, not starting over. We’re in a really good place with the culture we’re creating, and we have talented kids fully invested who are mentally tough, and we have newcomers who we think can help us.”

The returning players include point guard Aaron Calixte (10.8 points, 2.7 assists in 26 starts), forward Ilija Stojiljkovic (22 starts) and guard Troy Reid-Knight (five starts).

Redshirt freshman Vincent Eze (6-8, 202 pounds) and junior transfer Wesley Myers, who played two seasons at Niagara, are “college ready,” Walsh said.

In addition to Floyd and Er, Maine will add incoming freshmen Fleming of Oxford Hills High and Evans of Leeds, England.

Fleming, a 6-7 forward, was the Gatorade Maine high school player of the year this winter, averaging 28.2 points and 14.0 rebounds. Evans, a 6-4 point guard, averaged 17.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in a postgraduate year at Phillips Andover (Massachusetts) Academy.

]]> 2, 20 May 2016 00:59:17 +0000
Sunday’s Maine college roundup: Maine headed to Georgia for NCAA softball tourney Mon, 16 May 2016 00:16:13 +0000 The University of Maine softball team will play at 16th-ranked Georgia in its NCAA tournament opener Friday afternoon.

The Black Bears (28-19), who earned an automatic bid by winning the America East championship on Saturday, were drawn into a regional that also includes Oklahoma State (29-24) and Northwestern (26-26). Maine’s game against Georgia (40-17) is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

The double-elimination regional runs through Sunday, with the winner advancing to the best-of-three super regionals.


BOWDOIN 5, MIT 2: The Polar Bears (17-3) won three of four completed singles matches in Brunswick to advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals for the third time in program history.

Bowdoin grabbed a 2-0 lead, getting doubles victories from the tandems of Chase Savage and Gil Roddy and Kyle Wolfe and Jerry Jiang.

Roddy also won his singles match in straight sets, as did Grant Urken. Luke Trinka provided the clinching point with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph.

Bowdoin will play Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on May 23.


SPRINGFIELD 3, BATES 2: The Pride (16-5) scored the final two goals in Lewiston to win the lowest-scoring game in NCAA Division III tournament history and advance to the third round.

Kaileigh Maguire of Bates opened the scoring in the first half, which ended in a 1-1 tie. The Bobcats (12-6) took a 2-1 lead on a goal from Alex Briody with 21 minutes remaining.


STONY BROOK 9, MAINE 0: The Black Bears (18-31, 7-13 America East) couldn’t get their offense going on Senior Day, producing just three hits in a loss to Stony Brook (22-24, 11-8) in Orono.

Tyler Honahan struck out 10 en route to the shutout.

Danny Casals, Brenden Geary and Kevin Stypulkowski recorded the only hits for Maine.

]]> 0 Sun, 15 May 2016 22:53:12 +0000
Readfield native excelling in men’s field hockey Sun, 15 May 2016 01:05:03 +0000 When Nick Richardson tells people that he’s a member of the United States Junior National men’s field hockey team, they usually offer him congratulations. Then they ask the inevitable question.

Did you say men’s field hockey?

“All the time,” Richardson, a Readfield native, said. “That’s something I’ve been getting ever since I started playing.”

So, when Richardson, a midfielder, and his Team USA teammates compete in the Pan American Junior Championships, beginning May 20 in Toronto, they’re making a social statement as much as an athletic one. Guys not only play field hockey, the excel at the sport.

According to the website, field hockey has two billion fans, making it the third most popular sport in the world, behind soccer and cricket.

“It’s only really the U.S. where it’s a girls’ sport,” Richardson said.

Team USA will play three games in pool play, against Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Trinidad and Tobago. After that, the team is guaranteed three more game. The tournament winner and runner-up qualify for the Junior World Cup in December in New Delhi, India.

A 2013 Kents Hill School graduate, Richardson is finishing up his sophomore year at St. Anselm in Goffstown, New Hampshire. He fell in love with field hockey when he was a child, hanging around as his father, Randy Richardson, coached the Kents Hill team.

“I picked up a stick on the sidelines at Kents Hill when my dad was coaching and I was hooked,” Richardson said.

Once he reached high school, rules barring boys from competing in field hockey alongside girls forced Richardson to find a team. He found the Cape Ann Field Hockey Club, a Boston club that featured a men’s team. If you’re serious about wanting to become a better player, Pothier said to Richardson, we’ll get you good enough to play with the guys.

Along with his time with Cape Ann, Richardson worked with coaches at USA Field Hockey’s East Coast High Performance Center in Pennsylvania, where he met many of his teammates on the junior national team. The American male field hockey community is a small one. The high performance center in Pennsylvania is one of three in the country, with the other two on the West coast.

“The guys I’m playing with, I’ve known since I got involved,” Richardson said. “Us three (centers) are basically the small feeder program for the national team. It’s slowly growing, emphasis on the slow.”

The game played by men is the exact same game played by women, Richardson said. Unlike ice hockey and lacrosse, which have different rules for the sexes, or basketball, in which women play with a smaller ball, field hockey is field hockey, no matter the gender on the pitch. The game played by Richardson and his teammates is faster, and men strike the ball harder, but the rules don’t change. It’s about skill, not force.

“If you’re skillful, you have an advantage, rather than if you’re big and strong,” Richardson said.

“I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been knocked on my (butt) by girls who were better stickhandlers than me.”

While still in high school, Richardson went to South Africa to train and play field hockey. As a freshman at St. Anselm, he was a student assistant coach with the college’s team. Richardson took 2015 off from school before his sophomore year to play and coach in Melbourne, Australia.

“They (Australia) have a very strong men’s team. They have very strong hockey,” Richardson said.

Richardson’s goal is to help make Team USA stronger. At 20, this is his last year of eligibility at the junior level. In the long term, Richardson hopes to make the Olympic team in 2020. In the short term, he hopes to help Team USA qualify for the Junior World Cup with a strong showing in Toronto.

“If we qualify, it would really bring publicity to the guys’ side. It would get interest up and start scrubbing away the ignorance that field hockey is just a girls’ sport,” Richardson said.

Until then, the question is still going to be asked of Richardson, over and over. Did you say men’s field hockey?

You’re darn right he did.

]]> 0 Sat, 14 May 2016 21:23:03 +0000
College roundup: UMaine captures America East softball title Sat, 14 May 2016 19:19:53 +0000 ORONO — The University of Maine softball team left no doubt Saturday.

The Black Bears stormed past Albany 14-1 in five innings to capture the America East championship and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

The pairings for the national tournament will be given at 10 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

Maine won all three of its games in the tournament, outscoring its opponents 24-5.

On Saturday, Maine took a 4-0 lead in the first inning and led 11-0 after three.

Janelle Bouchard, the America East player of the year, had an RBI single to put across the first run before Felicia Lennon, Alyssa Derrick and Kristen Niland followed with run-scoring singles.

In the second, Bouchard made it 6-0 with a two-run homer.

In the third, Rachel Carlson and Rachel Harvey had RBI doubles, and Erika Leonard, Bouchard and Lennon added RBI singles. Leonard had a three-run double in the fourth to make it 14-0.

Junior pitcher Erin Bogdanovich of South Portland, the America East pitcher of the year, allowed four hits and improved to 9-0 against America East competition. She was named the outstanding player of the tournament and was joined on the all-tournament team by Bouchard, Lennon and Leonard.


MAINE, STONY BROOK SPLIT: Kevin Stypulkowski’s second-inning homer down the right-field line made it 1-1 before Colin Ridley singled home Jeremy Pena in the third as Maine (18-30, 7-12 America East)won the opener 2-1 at Orono.

Stony Brook (21-24, 10-8) came back for an 8-1 victory in the second game.


BOWDOIN 5, NICHOLS 0: Kyle Wolfe and Jerry Jiang opened Bowdoin’s second-round play in the NCAA Division III tournament with an 8-0 victory against Nichols in second doubles at Brunswick.

Luke Tercek and Luke Trinka followed with an 8-1 win in first doubles before Chase Savage and Gil Roddy earned an 8-3 win at third doubles. Grant Urken and Roddy added singles wins to clinch the victory for the Polar Bears.


BOWDOIN 5, TUFTS 1: Tess Trinka won her singles match 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to clinch Bowdoin’s victory in the NCAA Division III regional final at Brunswick. The Polar Bears advance to the national quarterfinals May 23 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Tufts won the first match, with Conner Calabro and Tomo Iwasaki downing Kyra Silith and Pilar Giffenig, 8-2. The Polar Bears tied it with an 8-3 doubles win by Trinka and Samantha Stalder. Joulia Likhanskaia and Tiffany Cheng then gave Bowdoin the lead for good, winning 8-6 as Likhanskaia held serve at 6-6 before the Polar Bears broke for a 2-1 overall lead.

Stadler and Sarah Shadowens also won singles matches for Bowdoin.

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UMaine softball advances to conference title game Fri, 13 May 2016 21:55:28 +0000 ORONO — Erin Bogdanovich pitched her fourth shutout of the season and the University of Maine advanced to the championship round of the America East softball tournament Friday with a 3-0 win over Binghamton.

The Black Bears are the only unbeaten team remaining in the double-elimination tournament. The other remaining teams – Albany and Binghamton – would need to beat Maine twice on Saturday to win the title and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Albany and Binghamton meet in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to face Maine at 1 p.m.

Bogdanovich allowed six hits, struck out three and walked one to improve to 9-4 overall and 8-0 against conference opponents.

Maine got all of its runs in the first inning. Erika Leonard walked and eventually scored on a passed ball. Alyssa Derrick drove in two more runs with a double off the wall in right field, scoring Janelle Bouchard and Felicia Lennon.

Binghamton loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third, but Maine escaped when Kristen Niland threw out a runner at home and Bogdanovich snared a line drive.

Bogdanovich and Maine’s defense allowed only one hit over the final three innings, locking up the win as the Black Bears advanced to their first America East title game since 2004.

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Thursday’s college roundup: USM baseball eliminated, UMaine softball wins tourney opener Thu, 12 May 2016 20:17:14 +0000 BOSTON — Dan Mantoni allowed one run over seven innings, and went 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs to lead UMass-Boston to a 5-3 victory against Southern Maine in an elimination game at the Little East Conference baseball tournament Thursday.

It was the second straight loss for second-seeded USM (29-13), which needs an at-large bid to reach the NCAA Division III tournament for the fifth straight year. The field will be announced Monday.

Mantoni’s RBI single off Dalton Rice gave top-seeded UMass-Boston (27-13) a 1-0 lead in the third inning, and Dave Murphy followed with a two-run homer. The Beacons added two runs in the fifth on bases-loaded walks.

USM scored a run in each of the final three innings, on RBI singles by Nick Bowie, Jake Glauser and Sam Dexter. After Dexter’s hit cut the deficit to 5-3, the Huskies loaded the bases with two outs, but Glauser grounded out.


MAINE 7, ALBANY 4: Maddie Decker capped a five-run fourth inning with a pinch three-run homer, propelling the second-seeded Black Bears (27-19) over third-seeded Albany (32-18) in the America East tournament at Vestal, New York.

Maine trailed 2-0 before Felicia Lennon’s double started a two-out rally in the fourth. Alyssa Derrick and Kristen Niland had RBI singles to tie it, and Decker’s homer made it 5-2.

Lennon added an RBI triple in the fifth and scored on an error.

Molly Flowers (11-10) took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and allowed two hits and two earned runs in 52/3 innings. Erin Bogdanovich recorded the last four outs for a save.

The Black Bears will face top-seeded Binghamton at 11 a.m. Friday with the winner advancing to Saturday’s championship round.


MISSISSIPPI: Text messages exchanged by Miami Dolphins rookie Laremy Tunsil and Ole Miss officials were confirmed by the school, which, according to ESPN, is still trying to determine whether they were altered before being published.

The texts were part of two social-media incidents that caused Tunsil to tumble to the 13th overall pick in the NFL draft. The first incident was a tweet of a video of Tunsil smoking while wearing a gas mask/bong. The longer texts were screenshots posted to Tunsil’s Instagram account, which has been deleted, and were conversations that occurred in February and April 2015.

In them, Tunsil allegedly asks Ole Miss assistant athletic director John Miller for money to pay rent and his mother’s $305 utility bill. Miller’s answer was to “See Barney next week.” That appears to be a reference to Barney Farrar, the school’s assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations.

In an interview with ESPN’s Joe Schad, Farrar said Tunsil didn’t ask for money and he hasn’t given him any.

In a news conference after the April 28 draft, Tunsil admitted to taking money from an Ole Miss coach. “I’d have to say yeah,” he told reporters.

]]> 0 Thu, 12 May 2016 22:23:13 +0000
Wednesday’s college Roundup: USM baseball falls in tourney opener Thu, 12 May 2016 01:17:55 +0000 BOSTON — Alex Parkos hit a three-run homer during a four-run first inning and added an RBI single during a four-run rally in the fifth to lead fifth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University to a 13-6 win over Southern Maine on Wednesday on the opening day of the Little East baseball tournament.

USM (29-12) will next face top-seeded UMass-Boston – who fell 4-3 to Western Connecticut in its opener – in an elimination game on Thursday at noon.

Nick Dibiase and Sam Stauble each had three hits and one RBI for the Huskies and Dibiase also scored a run.

Brandon Martins had two hits and Jake Glauser drove in two runs for USM.


NORTH CAROLINA: Roy Williams tried to play golf the weekend before last, he said, and that experience provided all the incentive he needed to go ahead and schedule the double knee replacement surgery that has seemed inevitable for him.

“I was so bad and I hurt so much during the course of it,” Williams said of that particular round of golf. “So that was the final straw … and I interviewed four different doctors, and they told me there wasn’t much left to do.”

And so that was that: Williams, who was speaking this week at the ACC’s annual spring meetings, scheduled the surgery to replace both of his knees. He’ll have it done later this month, and he plans to be back up and mobile by July, in time for the busy summer recruiting season.

MINNESOTA: A prosecutor has delayed a decision on whether to charge a Minnesota basketball player arrested on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct last weekend. Minnesota, however, has suspended Reggie Lynch, 21, indefinitely – pending an investigation. University President Eric Kaler called the allegations “deeply troubling.”


FLORIDA STATE: Coach Jimbo Fisher believes the Atlantic Coast Conference has three legitimate contenders for the Heisman Trophy in 2016.

Fisher’s picks are Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, FSU running back Dalvin Cook and Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Watson is the offseason favorite to win the award.

RUTGERS HAS raised more than $50 million since the start of the year in its campaign to build new athletic facilities and upgrade others in a bid to become more competitive in the Big Ten Conference.

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Black Bears poised to make a run Wed, 11 May 2016 22:45:01 +0000 The University of Maine softball team had the America East player of the year (senior catcher Janelle Bouchard), pitcher of the year (junior Erin Bogdanovich) and rookie of the year (third baseman Alyssa Derrick) this spring.

But as the Black Bears enter the conference softball tournament, they’re not celebrating individual honors, but a team-first approach.

“Obviously the talent is completely here,” said Bogdanovich, the former South Portland standout who transferred to Maine from Stetson University. “But (Maine) is definitely about team chemistry. We all get along and it’s so enjoyable to go out to practice every day surrounded by people you love.”

Maine (25-19, 12-5 in the conference) plays Albany at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Binghamton University. The Black Bears are seeded second in the tournament – their highest seed since 2009.

Bouchard, the former Kennebunk star who played her first two college seasons at Valparaiso, said the team never got caught up in its success this season.

“We’re just a group of selfless individuals,” she said. “Everybody is involved in every game. We’re all supporting each other. I consider (her teammates) to be my sisters and my family-away-from-home. I know they’ll always have my back and they know I’ll always have theirs.

“At the end of the day, we all play for each other. And that’s been a big part of our success this year.”

But talent cannot be completely discounted.

And the Black Bears have plenty of that too. In addition to the individual honors, Maine had three other players selected to the all-conference second team and two more named to the all-rookie team.

“Offensively, we’re hitting about 70 points higher than we did last year,” said Mike Coutts, in his first season as Maine’s coach after replacing his wife, Lynn, when she was promoted to senior associate director of athletics.

“It’s all confidence. I think the girls, through all their hard work, through what we do in practice every day, got confidence.”

Maine batted .314 this season, compared to just .251 a year ago. Bouchard, the only senior on Maine’s roster, was a big part of that turnaround.

In her first season with the Black Bears last year, she batted just .230. This year, she hit .394 with four home runs, 35 RBI and 34 runs scored. She hit .421 in conference games.

“Every at-bat she has, I’m confident she’s going to get a hit or an RBI,” said Bogdanovich, who pitched against Bouchard in high school.

“She’s been our leader on the field,” said Coutts. “The girls follow her because she’s really committed to the team and to winning.”

She also threw out 38 percent of attempted base stealers in conference play, and helped Maine achieve a 3.11 ERA.

Bouchard said the opportunity to work with the pitchers last year was huge.

“I just think we clicked as a staff this year,” she said.

And the Black Bears were led by Bogdanovich, who won the same award her older sister, Alexis, won a year ago. Bogdanovich, who added a deadly knuckle-curve to her repertoire this year, went 8-4 with a save, a 3.12 ERA and 61 strikeouts and only 26 walks in 961/3 innings. She was 7-0 in the conference with a 1.11 ERA.

“She struggled when we were in Florida,” said Coutts. “But she came back and really worked hard. Talk about a girl whose confidence changed.”

“When she’s on, she’s on,” said Bouchard. “And with her knuckler, even if you know it’s coming, you can’t hit it anyway.”

The winner of the tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But Coutts doesn’t want his players thinking that far ahead. And he’s sure they won’t.

“Our thing this year has been a present-day focus,” he said. “Where your feet are, that’s where your focus is. Tomorrow we’ll worry about tomorrow.

“I know they’re going to be pumped up. But we’ve got to be able to control that. We should be able to handle what the game presents.”

]]> 0, 11 May 2016 20:56:15 +0000
Jamie Dumont named new Bowdoin men’s ice hockey coach Wed, 11 May 2016 16:59:43 +0000 Bowdoin College didn’t have to look very far to find its new men’s ice hockey coach.

Jamie Dumont, an assistant coach for the Polar Bears since 2011, was named to the position Wednesday, replacing Terry Meagher, who retired this year after 33 years and 542 victories.

Dumont, 42, is the ninth coach in the school’s 93-year-history and only the third since 1959.

Dumont, a Lewiston native, is a 1998 graduate of Oswego State University of New York. He has had two stints as an assistant with the Polar Bears, the first from 2001-05. Since he returned in 2011, Bowdoin has won 83 games and two New England Small College Athletic Conference. Between his first and second stint as a Bowdoin assistant, Dumont coached in Europe, the American Junior Hockey League and at Bowling Green.

“I am honored and humbled to follow Terry Meagher and Sid Watson as head coach of the Bowdoin men’s ice hockey program,” Dumont said in a press release. “Since the moment I stepped foot on campus in 2001 I have known Bowdoin to be a uniquely special place.”

“It is clear that Jamie has a deep, personal knowledge of, and appreciation for, the tradition in our program,” said Tim Ryan, the Bowdoin athletic director. “He will bring his tireless support of our student-athletes in every aspect of their experience to his new role at the college.”

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College Roundup: St. Joseph’s baseball team edges Nichols Wed, 11 May 2016 02:15:04 +0000 STANDISH — Max McCoomb had three hits and a stolen base to lead St. Joseph’s past Nichols 5-4 in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday.

The Bison (24-17) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth as Tim Ford singled to drive in Nick Roy, but the Monks answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning as Noah McDaniel lined a two-run double to left center to score Scott Betts and Jacob White.

McDaniel scored on a Nic Lops RBI double.

Nichols regained the lead with three runs in the top of the sixth inning on a pair of RBI singles and a sacrifice bunt. St. Joseph’s (26-14) took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning on a Taylor Black sacrifice fly and Betts scored from third on a passed ball.

Black and Lops each had a pair of hits for the Monks, while Nick Malatesta picked up the win with 32/3 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed two hits with one strikeout and one walk.


UMaine catcher Janelle Bouchard was named the America East player of the year at the annual league banquet at Binghamton University on Tuesday.

Bouchard, Maine’s lone senior, batted .394 with 13 doubles, four home runs, 35 RBI and 34 runs in 44 games.

Erin Bogdanovich, a junior, was named the America East pitcher of the year after compiling an 8-4 record with one save, 61 strikeouts and a 3.12 ERA in 25 games (15 starts).

Maine freshman Alyssa Derrick was named rookie of the year after hitting .300 with eight homers and 37 RBI in 44 games.


After his second surgery in as many months, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski wanted to let his boss know that he was all right.

So in the aftermath of his hernia surgery at Duke Hospital Monday, Krzyzewski sent Duke Athletic Director Kevin White a text message.

Or more accurately, Krzyzewski sent him a picture: A Bitmoji, created in Krzyzewski’s likeness, smiling above the words, “I’m good.”

White, who is in Amelia Island for the ACC’s annual meetings, showed the text to a reporter.

“And here was my response,” White said. ” ‘You’re damn good.’ ”

And White expects him to be good for the foreseeable future. Krzyzewski, 69, has five years left on his contract, which would take him through the 2020-21 season.

Krzyzewski is scheduled to be Duke’s commencement speaker on Sunday, and his Olympic coaching duties will be in full swing soon this summer.

The coach underwent left-knee replacement surgery in April.

Tubby Smith has filled out his Memphis coaching staff by hiring four of his assistants from Texas Tech: Pooh Williamson, Joe Esposito, Saul Smith and Zo Goodson.

]]> 0 Tue, 10 May 2016 22:15:52 +0000
Former UMaine coach Joanne McCallie to remain at Duke after investigation Mon, 09 May 2016 13:49:02 +0000 DURHAM, N.C. – Duke has completed the investigation of its women’s basketball team and says Joanne P. McCallie will remain the coach.

McCallie is a Brunswick High School graduate whose career took off with an eight-year stint as the head coach for the University of Maine women’s team.

Duke athletic director Kevin White said Sunday night that McCallie “is, and will be, our head women’s basketball coach and we support her.”

Duke officials said March 12 that the school’s human resources department was reviewing the program.

Though the reason for the review was never made public, two players left after the season and one starter transferred midway through last season.

White said the evaluation was “for Duke women’s basketball to get even better” and that “we are indeed in a position to improve” the program.

Duke (20-12) dropped from the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1999 and missed its first NCAA Tournament in 22 years.

]]> 0, 09 May 2016 10:17:11 +0000
Sports Digest: McCallie to stay Duke’s women’s basketball coach Mon, 09 May 2016 02:08:39 +0000 Joanne P. McCallie, a former Brunswick High player and University of Maine coach, is keeping her job as Duke’s women’s basketball coach after an investigation into claims that she mistreated players and coaches, the university announced Sunday night.

“Joanne P. McCallie is, and will be, our head women’s basketball coach and we support her,” Athletic Director Kevin White said in a release.

Duke has won four Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championships and three ACC tournament titles during McCallie’s nine years in charge of the program, but the Blue Devils missed the NCAA Tournament this past season for the first time since 1994.

The university announced April 12 that it would investigate the program, after two of its top players transferred.

“The purpose of this evaluation, which Duke Athletics initiated with an outside party, was for Duke women’s basketball to get even better,” White continued. “I have discussed the results at length with coach McCallie and we are indeed in a position to improve Duke women’s basketball for present and future student-athletes, coaches, and staff alike.”

McCallie, 50, has a record of 245-65 at Duke and a career record of 531-213, including eight seasons at Maine.

“The information we received from this process, and the subsequent conversations with Duke athletics leadership, afforded me an opportunity to consider my ongoing efforts to be the best possible basketball coach and leader of young women,” McCallie said in the release.


MLS: Robbie Keane scored two goals, Gyasi Zardes had two assists and the host Los Angeles Galaxy beat New England 4-2, pushing the Revolution’s winless stretch to six games.

Kelyn Rowe and Juan Agudelo scored for New England.

PREMIER LEAGUE: Manchester City’s return to the Champions League is in doubt after a 2-2 draw at home with Arsenal, while Tottenham is assured of a top-three finish and thus a spot in Europe’s elite competition despite a 2-1 loss to Southampton.

Also, Liverpool beat Watford 2-0 on goals by Joe Allen and Roberto Firmino.


SOFTBALL: Ashlyn Wintle struck out eight and also had two hits to lead Bonny Eagle (4-3) to an 8-5 win at Gorham (5-2) on Saturday.

Melissa McDonald added two hits and two RBI for the Scots. Noelle DiBiase doubled and drove in two runs for Gorham.


MADRID OPEN: Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the final to win a record 29th career Masters title.

Djokovic saved seven break points in the final game and converted on his third match point to secure the win over the defending champion, moving one victory ahead of Rafael Nadal in Masters tournament victories.

ITALIAN OPEN: Serena and Venus Williams entered the doubles draw to kick off their preparations for the Rio Olympics.


GIRO D’ITALIA: Another superb performance from Marcel Kittel saw the German cyclist claim a second successive sprint victory and replace Dutchman Tom Dumoulin as the overall leader after the 118-mile third stage between Nijmegen and Arnhem, Netherlands.

]]> 0 Sun, 08 May 2016 23:09:29 +0000
Maine college roundup: St. Joseph’s falls in GNAC baseball final Sun, 08 May 2016 23:13:57 +0000 PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A bases-loaded walk in the top of the 10th inning Sunday night gave Suffolk University a 5-4 win over St. Joseph’s College in the championship game of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference baseball tournament.

St. Joseph’s (25-14), the No. 1 seed, forced a winner-take-all game by defeating the second-seeded Rams 8-7 earlier in the day, then sent the final game to extra innings with a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.

An error in the 10th led to an unearned run, however, as Suffolk (33-11) earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament for the second straight year.

Nic Lops had three hits and two RBI in each game for St. Joseph’s. His sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of Game 2 cut the Monks’ deficit to 4-3, and Jameson Collins followed with a game-tying single.

In the first game, St. Joseph’s fell behind 5-0 in the first inning but fought back with a 13-hit attack. The Monks scored three runs in the second inning and took the lead for good with three more runs in the fourth. Taylor Reuillard tripled home the tying and go-ahead runs.

Taylor Black, Brett Barbati and Anthony DiPrizio each contributed two hits for the Monks.

Starting pitcher Corey McNamara (4-2) lasted into the eighth inning despite his shaky start. Josh Partridge recorded the last four outs for his first save of the season.

ALBANY 9, MAINE 4: Maine (17-29, 6-11 America East) took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Great Danes (19-23, 7-10) scored six runs in the fifth to sink the Black Bears in Albany, New York.

Brenden Geary gave Maine its early lead with a double that scored Tyler Schwanz, Jeremy Pena and Lou Della Fera.

Albany responded with two runs in the third and then pulled ahead in the fifth.

Maine got its last run in the eighth on Caleb Kerbs’ RBI single.

CASTLETON STATE 6, HUSSON 5: Julien Boone went 3 for 5 with two runs scored for Husson (23-21), but the Eagles couldn’t hold on to a 4-0 lead against Castleton (32-10) in the North Atlantic Conference final at Castleton, Vermont.


BATES: The Bobcats (12-5) received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament and will host a second-round game Sunday against Springfield (14-5) or Bridgewater State (12-5).

]]> 0 Sun, 08 May 2016 23:08:40 +0000
Saturday’s Maine college roundup: St. Joseph’s advances to GNAC baseball final Sun, 08 May 2016 00:55:31 +0000 PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Nic Lops and Jameson Collins hit back-to-back RBI singles in the seventh inning, and St. Joseph’s College beat Lasell 2-0 in an elimination game at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference baseball tournament Saturday.

St. Joseph’s (24-13), the No. 1 seed, will face second-seeded Suffolk (32-10) at noon Sunday. If the Monks win, the teams would play a second game to determine the champion.

Suffolk beat the Monks 10-0 in the first game Saturday.

MAINE, ALBANY SPLIT: Colin Ridley hit a two-run single in the first inning and added a two-run homer in the fifth to lift Maine (17-28, 6-10 America East) to a 5-2 victory against Albany (18-23, 6-10) in the second game of a doubleheader in Albany, New York.

Albany won the opener, 7-1.

In the second game, John Arel of Maine (17-28, 6-10) gave up two unearned runs on four hits, striking out nine and walking one over six innings. Nick Silva picked up the save, striking out two in a perfect inning of relief.

BOWDOIN SWEEPS MIDDLEBURY: Joe Gentile had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in three runs to lead the Polar Bears (22-14) to a 6-0 win over the Panthers (11-20) in the opener at Middlebury, Vermont. Bowdoin won the second game, 3-0.

In the opener, Brandon Lopez struck out seven and walked one in a four-hitter for the Polar Bears. Michael Staes and Kyle Stanley combined on a three-hitter in Game 2.

AMHERST SWEEPS COLBY: Three pitchers combined on a four-hitter and Ariel Kenney hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to lift Amherst (24-10) to a 1-0 win over the Mules (11-24) in the opener at Amherst, Massachusetts.

Amherst also won the second game, 9-1.

Soren Hanson of Colby gave up one run on six hits, striking out seven and walking one over six innings in the opener. In the second game, Noah Tocci hit an RBI single and Matt Reveloni added two singles for the Mules.

BATES, WILLIAMS SPLIT: Brandon Fox led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single and scored the go-ahead run on a pair of errors as the Bobcats (14-21) won the second game, 3-2, and split with the Ephs (13-19) at Lewiston.

Williams won the opener, 10-1.

SOUTHERN MAINE C.C. 10, NHTI 5: Tim Rodrigues and Shawn Murphy each hit two-run singles during a six-run second inning as the Seawolves (19-21) erased a 3-0 deficit and pulled away from the Lynx (5-22) in the YSCC final at South Portland.


ST. JOSEPH (VT.) 4, SOUTHERN MAINE C.C. 0: Maggie Miller had six strikeouts and one walk in a three-hitter, and also had two hits and drove in a run to lead the Fighting Saints (22-14) over the Seawolves (4-23) in a Yankee Small College Conference semifinal at Concord, New Hampshire.

MAINE, UMBC SPLIT: Molly Flowers had 12 strikeouts and one walk in a no-hitter for Maine (25-19, 12-5) in a 6-0 win over the Retrievers (24-29, 5-11) in the opener at Orono. UMBC won the second game, 2-1.


MIDDLEBURY 10, BOWDOIN 9: Tim Giarrusso scored four goals as the fourth-seeded Panthers (12-5) defeated the third-seeded Polar Bears (12-5) in a NESCAC semifinal at Medford, Massachusetts.


TRINITY 14, BATES 3: Clare Lyne had four goals and Georgia Mergner added four assists to lead the top-seeded Bantams (15-2) past the fifth-seeded Bobcats (12-5) in a NESCAC semifinal at Hartford, Connecticut.

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UAB’s Bryant in critical condition after shooting in Florida Sat, 07 May 2016 18:09:44 +0000 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — UAB running back Greg Bryant was injured in a shooting early Saturday in South Florida, Blazers football Coach Bill Clark said.

Clark said in a statement that Bryant was surrounded by family as he received treatment for gunshot wounds he suffered in West Palm Beach. The Palm Beach Post reported that Bryant was in critical condition at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Bryant and passenger Maurice Grover were found shot in a car along southbound Interstate 95 in West Palm, according to police. Grover had minor injuries, police said.

Investigators are seeking witnesses to the shooting and so far, no suspects have been identified.

Bryant, a former Notre Dame player, was the biggest name in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s first recruiting class since restarting the football program.

He spent last season living out of a hotel room in Miami with friends while attending classes at ASA College, playing in only one game. Bryant left Notre Dame after one season when he was ruled academically ineligible for the 2015 season.

Since UAB won’t play again until the 2017 season, Bryant was allowed to enroll in January 2016 instead of possibly having to wait an extra year to get eligible elsewhere. He could become eligible to compete after spending an academic year at UAB.

“Coach Clark, he really did me a favor, because I was living in hotels in Miami,” Bryant told The Associated Press before national signing day in February. “He said I could come in as soon as the semester was over. Any other school I would have had to wait another semester and probably be enrolled by December. I just bought into what coach Clark was saying and I got in with a 2.0” GPA.

]]> 0 Sat, 07 May 2016 16:59:02 +0000
Black Bears wrap up football spring practice in style Sat, 07 May 2016 16:25:09 +0000 ORONO — There was no small amount of apprehension Saturday at the 12th annual Jeff Cole scrimmage to cap off spring football practice at the University of Maine.

After all, the Black Bears have a new head coach in Joe Harasymiak, at 29 the youngest in the nation for Division I.

They have a new attack thanks to an offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, who came on board in February.

At the same time, they had only six healthy offensive linemen because of injuries, one of them with a hand bandaged so heavily it resembled a club.

They also have an unsettled situation at quarterback. Dan Collins, a rising senior, and Drew Belcher, a junior, shared the starting role last fall during a 3-8 campaign.

But after a sluggish start Saturday, the offense came to life in the form of four touchdown passes from three quarterbacks. Harasymiak blew an air horn to signal the end of the scrimmage as players whooped it up in the corner of the end zone after Collins connected with redshirt freshman wide receiver Jaquan Blair for a 25-yard touchdown.

“We came out here to find a new identity,” Blair said, “but also to show that we’re a new team in general. It’s not that different, just younger guys and new energy.”

The scrimmage marked the end of three weeks of practice. Jack Cosgrove, who won three conference titles and led the Black Bears to five Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances in his 23 years at the helm, watched as his hand-picked successor and former defensive coordinator, Harasymiak, directed the proceedings from midfield.

“We’re building,” Harasymiak said. “We have a long way to go, a lot of things to learn, a lot of things to improve on, but this was a step in the right direction.”

Collins, Belcher and redshirt freshman Jack Walsh alternated at quarterback, with Collins taking the most snaps (26). Belcher had 18 and Walsh 14. Each threw a touchdown pass.

Belcher’s came first, finishing a 60-yard drive with a 14-yard catch-and-run to Zaire Williams, a transfer from Temple.

Walsh’s first attempt resulted in a scramble to his right before launching a 36-yard touchdown pass to Blair. Collins got in on the act after his first three drives ended with punts. He converted a third-down pass of 32 yards to Jaleel Reed, then found Jared Osumah for 19 yards and a score.

“Right now these guys have had 15 practices with the offense,” Harasymiak said of his quarterbacks. “We’re not going to make any decisions right now. Come (training) camp, and after our first scrimmages, we’ll probably set that. But I think all three of them have taken steps forward.”

Williams rushed for 533 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman at Temple before being moved to linebacker last fall. He transfered to Maine this winter.

The other significant transfer is junior defensive back DeAndre Scott, who played 16 games in two seasons at Arizona State and last fall served as a special teams captain. He was also a high school teammate in Philadelphia of UMaine junior defensive back Najee Goode.

Maine’s defense forced two turnovers Saturday. Sophomore Sinmisola Demuren intercepted a Belcher overthrow and classmate Uchenna Egwuonwu, a defensive lineman, picked off Belcher on an attempted center screen.

“I had a shot earlier this week in practice and dropped it,” said the 295-pound Egwuonwu. “When they ran it again, I was hoping and hoping. I saw the ball come out and just put my hands up.”

Egwuonwu rumbled 50 yards with the pick before Belcher knocked him out of bounds to save a touchdown.

The scrimmage also included a pair of trick plays on point-after attempts, with the Black Bears lining up in place-kick formation before shifting players wide left and right, leaving a nearly unprotected center snapping deep to Collins.

A 2-point conversion pass from Collins to kicker James DeMartini failed when DeMartini slipped and fell in the end zone. When the Black Bears tried a similar conversion later, a wide pass was successful but negated by an illegal motion penalty.

“Two things with that,” Harasymiak said of the trickery. “I think it keeps the defense or specials teams unit on their toes. So now you’re not getting the true block looks all the time. I also think it lets the kids have fun.”

Spectators clearly enjoyed the change of pace.

“It’s fun for us as coaches, too,” Harasymiak said. “And hey, those are game-changers. You’ve got to be smart as to when you do them, but we’re going to take risks.”

DeMartini, Sam Lenson and Derek Deoul all had a chance to punt, with varying degrees of success. More than a dozen players looked on from the sidelines because of injuries.

The team’s leading returning wide receiver, sophomore Micah Wright, did not participate because he was one of the three people arrested Wednesday at a Maine Day pool party at an off-campus apartment complex.

“We’ve done a good job (on defense) the past few years and I’m trying to bring that mentality to the whole team,” Harasymiak said.

“There’s a positive sense of enjoyment (on offense). That’s what I’m excited about.”

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Friday’s Maine college roundup: St. Joseph’s rolls in GNAC baseball tournament Sat, 07 May 2016 02:11:02 +0000 STANDISH — Josh Partridge pitched eight innings of six-hit ball, and St. Joseph’s College used a four-run fifth inning to pull away from Johnson & Wales in an 8-1 victory Friday in the second round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference baseball tournament.

Anthony DiPrizio opened the fifth-inning rally with a double down the left-field line and scored on a single by Nik Lops. The Monks (23-12) then added runs on a walk, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly to take a 5-1 lead.

Jordan Pilarski doubled home a run for the Wildcats (24-15) in the second inning.

The Monks host Suffolk at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

BATES 11, BOWDOIN 4: Sam Warren was 4 for 5 with three extra-base hits and three RBI as the Bobcats (13-20, 4-8 NESCAC) downed the Polar Bears (20-14, 4-8) at Brunswick.

Warren sparked a three-run first with a two-run homer, then hit a two-run single as Bates added five runs in the second.


MAINE 11, UMBC 0: Erika Leonard had three hits, two RBI and two runs scored to pace Maine (24-18, 11-4 America East) to a five-inning win over the Retrievers (23-28, 4-10) at Orono.

Erin Bogdanovich threw a two-hitter for the Black Bears, and Rachel Harvey homered for the third time in four games.

KEENE STATE 9, USM 3: Jen Galavotti hit three homers and finished with four hits and six RBI as the top-seeded Owls (22-14) eliminated the No. 6 Huskies (23-14-1) from the Little East tournament with a with a win at Keene, New Hampshire.

Mary Caron had three hits and scored two runs for the Huskies.

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