the study of all things kicker related

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wales Men's National Rugby Team News

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February 28, 2015 - Leigh Halfpenny kicks 5 penalties in win over France
"Dan Biggar's second-half try and the unerring boot of Leigh Halfpenny secured Wales a fourth successive win over France to keep their 2015 RBS 6 Nations title hopes alive. Warren Gatland's side are fast-becoming Les Bleus' bogey team and a fourth win in a row against their Gallic counterparts had not been achieved by Wales since the 1950s. But while Camille Lopez and Morgan Parra were both wasteful from the kicking tee, Halfpenny was ruthless in securing a 15-point individual haul and Biggar crossed for a fine team try." - RBS 6 Nations

February 15, 2015 - Leigh Halfpenny kicks 4 penalties & 2 conversions in win over Scotland
"Wales kickstarted its Six Nations campaign with a 26-23 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday. Warren Gatland’s men lost their opener to England but hit back in Edinburgh with tries in either half from scrum-half Rhys Webb and centre Jonathan Davies for an eighth successive victory over Scotland. Leigh Halfpenny chipped in with 16 points as Wales put a dent in growing Scottish confidence after full-back Stuart Hogg had given the hosts an early lead. Jim Hamilton barged over in the last few seconds to draw Scotland to within three points but referee Glen Jackson called time before the home side could mount one last push to avoid a second Six Nations defeat in a row. Halfpenny had delivered an immaculate performance in attack and defence, while Scotland replied through Hogg’s breakaway score and substitute lock Hamilton’s late touchdown, plus three Greig Laidlaw penalties and a conversion, and a Finn Russell conversion." -  The Globe and Mail

February 6, 2015 - kicking trio
"Sam Warburton has identified Wales's bootboys as holding the key to sending England packing in the Six Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium tonight. Stuart Lancaster's Red Rose team launched the ball skywards more than 100 times during their four autumn internationals. Wales reckon they will aim to use the same strategy in Cardiff but are confident that in Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny they have a trio of players who can match anything England propel at them. Warburton said: 'Two years ago ball in play was a big factor but teams are kicking a lot more now and it is so important. Win the kicking game and it takes you a big way to winning the game. It's about using attacking kicks and turning wingers. It will be a huge battle there, as well as the set-piece, contact area and gain-line.' Both Biggar and Webb have been on song all season, while Warren Gatland this week paid Halfpenny a warm tribute. 'He's the best goal-kicker in world rugby,' said Wales's coach." - South Wales Evening Post

January 20, 2015 - Gareth Anscombe named to Six Nations squad
"Former Blues and Chiefs flyhalf Gareth Anscombe has been included in Wales' Six Nations squad. The 23-year-old, who qualifies for Wales through his Cardiff-born mother, has been steady rather than spectacular for the Cardiff Blues since joining the club last year, but has shown good distribution and option-taking and his kicking has been impressive in all departments." - SA Rugby
"Anscombe will compete with Dan Biggar and Bath-bound Rhys Priestland for the No 10 jersey, while Leicester youngster Owen Williams must wait a little longer for his opportunity. There had been suggestions that Williams would not be considered for selection because of his decision to sign a contract in England, however Gatland revealed the 22-year-old was still in contention before he was dropped for the Champions Cup tie against the Scarlets." - Daily Mail

January 5, 2015 - first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe
"Kiwi Gareth Anscombe looks to be on track to feature in the Six Nations rugby championship with his Cardiff coach Mark Hammett believing the young first five-eighth can "add things" to the Welsh campaign. Anscombe was a key figure in guiding Cardiff past Newport Gwent Dragons 11-9 in their tight Pro 12 derby and he won the praise of his Kiwi coach, Hammett. Anscombe set up the only try with some sweet distribution and kicked a dropped goal and penalty to sneak Cardiff home." - Stuff

Italy Men's National Rugby Team News

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February 28, 2015 - Tommaso Allan kicks late conversion over Scotland
"A penalty try in the 80th minute gave Italy a dramatic 22-19 win over Scotland in their Six Nations clash at Murrayfield. Italy were trailing 19-15 and facing their third defeat of the competition when Irish referee George Clancy awarded them their third try of the game after the backpedalling Scotland pack pulled down a threatening maul close to the home line. That put Sergio Parisse's side  20-19 ahead and, for good measure, replacement stand-off Tommaso Allan added the conversion to confirm a third defeat out of three for Scotland, the country he represented at age group level." - Sky Sports

February 2, 2015 - the fly-halves for Six Nations
"For over ten years Italy have looked for the successor to Diego Dominguez. In Kelly Haimona they may have finally found their man. Italy have always had a decent pack but they’ve often been let down by their backs. Haimona offers more control at 10 and kicks his goals. With Tommaso Allan backing up they’re looking their strongest in this position for over a decade." - Green and Gold Rugby

January 15, 2015 - Tommaso Allan & Kelly Haimona named to 6 Nations squad
"Italy head coach Jacques Brunel today announced a 30-man squad ahead of the first two rounds of the 2015 RBS 6 Nations.... Fly-halves: Tommaso Allan (USAP Perpignan, 10 caps) & Kelly Haimona (Zebre Rugby, 3 caps)." - RBS 6 Nations

Norfolk State Spartans Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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February 27, 2015 - kicker Bo Lomax commits
"Hampton kicker Bo Lomax, whose 35-yard field goal as time expired gave the Crabbers a win over Kecoughtan, has committed to Norfolk State. Lomax said he will receive a partial scholarship from the Spartans and hopes to earn the rest either academically or by becoming the starter. 'I have to work for it,' he said. 'They want to see what I do best and how I compare to their kicker from last year.' Lomax made three field goals last season in four attempts, including a long of 38 yards. He said he visited the Norfolk campus twice and met with new coach Latrell Scott." - Daily Press

Florida Tech Panthers Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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February 27, 2015 - kicker Drake Hillman switches from soccer
"Drake Hillman, who scored 21 goals in his career at Florida Tech, missed just three of the 12 field goals he took Thursday with the football team. It has been a crazy couple of weeks for the Plymouth, England, native who had no intentions of playing football just a couple of months ago. 'This came out of nowhere,' Hillman said. 'Around the end of February, I got a text saying the football team was looking to see if anyone wanted to try out to kick.' His teammates mentioned it to him because he is out of eligibility in soccer, but has an extra year of eligibility if he changes sports. So Hillman decided to give it a shot." - Florida Today

February 4, 2015 - three specialists sign
"Jason Gangwisch, K, Oviedo, Fla. - Attended Lake Howell High School…a two-time First Team All-Southern Athletic Conference selection…converted a school-record 52-yard field goal…made six-of-seven field goals and all 14 extra point attempts his senior year…converted 10-of-12 field goals and 24-of-24 PAT attempts his junior year…member of National Honor Society…also played soccer.
Curtis Theis, K, Pensacola, Fla. - Attended Pensacola High School…named to the 2014 Subway High School All-Star Game…earned Second Team PNJ All-Area honors as a senior.
Kyle Gullikson, P/K/LB, Titusville, Fla. - Attended Titusville high school…recognized as Scholar Athlete, special Teams player of the Year, all-conference as a punter, second team safety and Most Versatile Player…awarded three varsity letters…member of Interact Club, National Honor Society and chosen as leadership member of Assembly for RYLA…also played soccer and ran track." - Panthers

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ireland Women's National Rugby Team News

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February 27, 2015 - Niamh Briggs kicks winner over England
"The boot of captain Niamh Briggs secured a late win for Ireland Women as they edged England Women 11-8 in a tightly-fought encounter at Ashbourne. Larissa Muldoon responded for Ireland after Harriet Millar-Mills crossed on the stroke of half time while Briggs and Katy Mclean had scored a penalty apiece. And after a series of promising moves broke down for both sides, Briggs kept her cool to slot over a penalty in front of the posts." - RBS 6 Nations

February 6, 2015 - Niamh Briggs busy in win over Italy
"Ireland Women kicked off their assault on the Women's Six Nations with a comfortable 30-5 victory over Italy Women in Florence.... And despite some determined defending from the hosts, Briggs herself was eventually able to make the breakthrough after 20 minutes, when she burst over the line to the right of the posts after some quick-ball from the scrum. The full-back converted her own try to make it 7-0, but Italy hit back straight away with their first meaningful possession in the Ireland half.... Briggs left the conversion short and then saw her 53rd minute penalty drift wide as well as the wet and windy conditions made kicking tough. But a superb kick from Ireland's captain four minutes later saw them stretch their lead to 15, Briggs striking a 30m effort under the wind and through the posts." - RBS 6 Nations

January 27, 2015 - Niamh Briggs named captain
The UL Bohemians full back, who was named on the IRB women's team of the year in 2014, takes over from Fiona Coughlan ahead of Ireland's Six Nations campaign. The County Waterford native, who has 45 international caps, made her debut for Ireland against Italy in the 2008 RBS 6 Nations. Niamh is a member of An Garda Síochána based in Limerick City. Speaking on her appointment, Briggs said 'It's a massive privilege to represent your country at any level, but to Captain your country is a great honour and I was delighted to be asked'."  - Independent

Detroit Lions Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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February 27, 2015 - long snapper Don Muhlbach re-signed
"The Lions and veteran long snapper Don Muhlbach have come to terms on a new one-year contract for the 2015 season. Muhlbach, who was a Pro Bowler in 2012, has spent his entire career in Detroit and will play his 12th season in the NFL in 2015. He is steady when it comes to long snapping, and the velocity and precision in which he snaps the football has often been an unnoticed weapon for Detroit's special teams unit for a decade now." - Lions

February 7, 2015 - Joe Marciano hired as special teams coordinator
"He replaces John Bonamego, who reportedly will accept the Central Michigan head coaching position. Marciano has spent the past 29 years coaching special teams in the league, dating to a spell with the Saints from 1986-95. He moved onto the Buccaneers from 1996-2001. Current Lions head coach Jim Caldwell was also on Tampa's 2001 staff under Tony Dungy. When Dungy (and Caldwell) left for Indianapolis after that season, Marciano joined the newly founded Houston Texans. He was fired late in the 2013 season, then spent 2014 as the Vikings' interim special teams coordinator while Mike Priefer missed time due to the Chris Kluwe situation." - MLive

December 14, 2014 - Matt Prater kicks winning points against Vikings
"Blair Walsh's kick came up short and wide to the left, and Detroit held on for a 16-14 victory over Minnesota.Matt Prater's 33-yard field goal with 3:38 remaining gave the Lions their first lead of the game, and Detroit withstood two more tense possessions for the Vikings.... Prater's field goal made it 14-10 at halftime. Prater, who helped stabilize Detroit's terrible kicking game when he joined the Lions in October, connected from 30 yards in the third quarter to cut the deficit to one. Jones' block in the fourth meant Detroit only needed a field goal to take the lead." - NFL

October 26, 2014 - Matt Prater misses, then makes game winner over Atlanta
"For a second consecutive week, Detroit delivered a stirring fourth-quarter comeback, this time erasing a 21-0 deficit with 22 unanswered points in a 22-21 win Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in London. The Lions' woeful kicking game nearly cost them again, with Matt Prater missing the would-be game-winner as time was expiring. But he was saved by a delay of game penalty, and then converted a 48-yarder to win the game on the second chance.... Prater missed wide right, which would have sent Detroit reeling. But as Atlanta fans celebrated here at Wembley, refs called a delay of game penalty that gave Prater another chance to break their hearts." - MLive

October 16, 2014 - Matt Prater familiarizing himself with Ford Field
"Matt Prater last kicked at Ford Field in a preseason game in 2006 with the Lions, when he nailed a 28-yarder to conclude the scoring in a 20-13 win over Denver. That was more than eight years ago, so Prater plans on familiarizing himself with Ford Field on Thursday. 'I’m going to go (Thursday) because I haven’t been there in eight years, just get a feel for the turf,' Prater said. 'They redid the turf since I was here. Just get a feel of the stadium, see where the clocks are and everything.' Will he do any kicking? 'I might kick,' he said. 'I’ll be kicking field goals today here (in Allen Park), and depending on how that period goes, (will decide) whether I’ll kick. The only thing I want to do really is feel the field with the cleats on and see how it feels and get a feel for the stadium because I haven’t been there in so long'." - Lions

October 12, 2014 - Matt Prater misses two field goals in debut
Matt Prater was hailed as the savior of the Detroit Lions' dismal kicking game, but the 2013 Pro Bowler missed two of his three field-goal attempts in his debut, a 17-3 road win over the Minnesota Vikings. He sent a 50-yard boot wide left in the second quarter and clanged a 44-yard effort off the left upright in the third frame. Sandwiched between the two misses, Prater converted his longest attempt of the day, knocking it down from 52 yards out. Following the game, Lions coach Jim Caldwell expressed the utmost confidence in the team's newest addition. 'I think wind, like we had today, you're going to have an issue,' Caldwell said. 'He kicked a 52-yarder, which was great, and we have all the confidence in world in him. The guy has a great track record. We feel good about him.' Prater agreed the wind, announced at 17 miles per hour at kickoff, was a factor. He also acknowledged that there may have been some rust after not kicking in a game since the preseason, but he didn't want to make excuses for the misses. 'If they send me out there, I'm supposed to make them,' he said. 'I'm upset with my performance today, but I'm glad we got the win.' Prater confirmed the snap and hold were good on the errant kicks, he just pulled both efforts." - MLive

October 7, 2014 - Matt Prater the next kicker
"The Detroit Lions have found their third kicker of the season. The Lions are signing former Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater to a one-year deal over former Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely after the two tried out for the team Tuesday, according to league sources. Prater, Feely and former Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth were all part of a kicker tryout in Allen Park, Michigan to replace Alex Henery, who was cut Monday after missing three field goals on Sunday during a 17-14 loss to Buffalo. Prater, who made 25-of-26 field goals last season for the Broncos, was available after he was released by Denver last week after coming off a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy." - ESPN

October 6, 2014 - kicker Alex Henery released
"The Detroit Lions don't have a new kicker in place just yet, but they have already released Alex Henery. Jim Caldwell broke the news of Henery's release during his Monday press conference, and he made it clear that the kicking game is something the Lions have to get fixed going forward.... With the Lions now set to have their third different kicker this season, they have scheduled a workout for Tuesday, according to Dave Birkett. It's unclear how many kickers have been invited to the workout." - Pride of Detroit 
Postscript: Matt Prater, Connor Barth & Jay Feely to be worked out.

October 5, 2014 - kicker Alex Henery takes the blame for three misses
"Detroit Lions kicker Alex Henery shouldered all the blame after he let his team down by missing three field goals, including a crucial 50-yarder with 26 seconds left, in a 17-14 loss today to the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. 'I think I blame myself,' he said. 'As a man, I should stand up and I'm the one kicking the ball. So, as the kicker, I've got to make those kicks. And I'm not looking to blame anyone else.' Henery missed two field goals from 44 yards, with one clanking off the right goal post. He also missed one from 50 yards with the scored tied at 14 when he mishit the ball. 'I just hit a lot of ground,' he said, 'and when you do that on a long one like that it's going to show. It did.' Coach Jim Caldwell said he would reevaluate Henery's job. He wouldn't say if he was committed to sticking with Henery, who replaced struggling rookie kicker Nate Freese two weeks ago. 'This is the big leagues, plain and simple,' Caldwell said. After the game, Henery stood at his locker ready for the barrage of questions about his poor performance in two weeks. He was 1-for-2 in his first game with Lions last week at New York. After missing three kicks Sunday, he's conversion rate dropped to 1-for-5." - Detroit Free Press

September 22, 2014 - kicker Alex Henery signed, Nate Freese released
"The Detroit Lions tried to fill their vacant kicker position in the 2014 NFL Draft, with the 7th round selection of Nate Freese. The Boston College kicker 70 for 81 for field goals in his career, and 111 for 114 in extra points. But so far in his professional career, Freese is just 3 for 7 in field goals and has missed a field goal in all three games this season. On Monday morning, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported that the team will released Freese, and plan to bring in Alex Henery to be their next kicker. Henery was the kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons." - WDFN

September 21, 2014 - Lions analyzing kicking again
"Nate Freese's job may be in real jeopardy. The Detroit Lions rookie kicker has struggled through the first three weeks of his NFL career, making only 3 of 7 field goals -- and going 0-of-4 from 40 yards or longer. The concerns elevated again Sunday, when Freese missed a 41-yard field goal wide left at the end of the first half of the Lions' 19-7 win over Green Bay and the miss did not look particularly close. For the second straight week, Lions coach Jim Caldwell also appeared noncommittal to Freese after the game. 'We have to evaluate and see where we are and see what the situation is,' Caldwell said. 'We'll do that pretty shortly'." - ESPN

September 17, 2014 - Nate Freese remains the kicker
"Freese missed a 43-yard field goal in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants and two 49-yarders in a Week 2 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Lions responded to the early struggles by bringing in three veteran kickers — Alex Henery, Garrett Hartley and Rob Bironas — for a workout Tuesday, according to ESPN. But on Wednesday, Caldwell said, 'Yes,' when asked if Freese will be the kicker when the Lions host the Green Bay Packers at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Field. 'At this point in time, he is our guy,' Caldwell said. 'He’s, I think, a young guy who has potential, but just like anything else in our business, it’s a performance business. And we all certainly understand that, and he understands it as well'." - Detroit News

September 15, 2014 - the day after, still analyzing
"A day later, though, Caldwell didn’t give Freese a ringing endorsement, either. 'We’re still discussing, talking, looking at different options,' Caldwell said Monday. 'I still believe this young man is going to be a fine kicker in this league. I don’t think there is any question about that. We’ll see how it goes here but I still believe, you look at him, he had three kicks of 50 yards plus in the preseason, so you know he can get it out there. Sometimes guys just have a bad day, but we’ll look at that.' Caldwell declined to say whether the team will audition kickers this week.... As the Lions decide what to do with Freese, they are also working on trying to figure out what his struggles are. 'We don’t analyze it any differently than any other position when you have some mistakes and problems you need to get corrected,' Caldwell said. 'We try to look at those from a technical standpoint. We try to look at all the variables just to make sure we narrow it down and see if we can solve the problem. Take a look at what the problem was, what caused the problem and how do we go about correcting it'." - ESPN

September 14, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese misses twice
"Jim Caldwell wasn't ready to make a snap decision on kicker Nate Freese's future following the Detroit Lions' 24-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but the coach kept the door in regards to making a change at the spot. Freese, a rookie out of Boston College, missed two field goals, both from 49 yards, and has shanked three of his five attempts this season. 'We won't make any rash decisions, right now, five minutes after the game, 10 minutes after the game,' Caldwell said. 'We want to take a look at all of our options and see where we'd like to go from here.' Even though the team wasn't ready to make an immediate decision on Freese's status, Caldwell made it clear the Lions expect much better results from the kicking game. 'One of the things that we have as a goal is to make 100 percent of our kicks,' Caldwell said. 'Obviously, every once in a while, you have a long kick that's an extenuating circumstance. I think that's an area we have to be able to count on'." - MLive

September 1, 2014 - depth chart
"Punter Sam Martin, as expected, will handle kickoff duties instead of field-goal kicker Nate Freese." - The Detroit News

August 25, 2014 - kicker Giorgio Tavecchio waived, Nate Freese wins job
"Tavecchio's release means that the Lions have picked Nate Freese to be their kicker. Freese and Tavecchio were quite even throughout the preseason, and by all accounts Tavecchio had actually been more consistent during training camp. In the end, though, the Lions opted to hang on to Freese, their seventh-round pick this year." - Pride of Detroit

August 22, 2014 - third preseason game
Kickers Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio didn’t get a lot of action in this one. In fact, Tavecchio had the only field goal attempt of the night. He missed it from 51 yards in the waning moments of the game. Caldwell has said all along this competition is a marathon, not a sprint, but missing a 51-yarder indoors didn’t look so good after Freese hit one from 55 yards outdoors from the dirt of O.Co Stadium in Oakland last week. The edge might be tipping in Freese’s favor. 'It’s one of those things we’ve been constantly evaluating, this is not the first opportunity to evaluate,' Caldwell said after the game. 'We’ve been doing that all along. It’s been a close race but we’ll see how that goes'.” - Lions

August 19, 2014 - kicking switch-up
"The Detroit Lions will look a little different this week when their kickers step on the field. For the first time this preseason, punter Sam Martin will likely handle some of the kickoff duties as he competes to hold on to that job along with his already-secure status as the team’s punter. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday he has liked how both field goal kicking candidates – Giorgio Tavecchio and Nate Freese – have handled that spot as well. The bigger wrinkle is how he’s going to handle Tavecchio and Freese during the game. In the first two games, Freese has been the kicker for the first half and Tavecchio the second half. Now, he is going to a rotational system for Friday’s game against Jacksonville. One player will take one kick. The next player will take the next kick and so on and so forth." - ESPN

August 15, 2014 - second preseason game
"In the kicking competition, rookie Nate Freese made a 55-yard field goal off the stadium’s infield dirt, but missed a 33-yard extra point off the right upright. Giorgio Tavecchio, who’s competing with Freese for the kicking job, made his only field goal of the night from 25 yards." - Detroit Free Press

August 13, 2014 - kicking competition
"Kickers Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio were put in such a spot during Wednesday's practice. The schedule called for a “kicking competition” at practice, but neither Freese nor Tavecchio knew exactly what that meant. It turns out they’d be kicking with the entire team surrounding them while yelling and taunting them.... Freese and Tavecchio rotated kicks from 36, 45, 54, 62 and 67 yards. Freese made his attempts from 45 and 54 and missed from 36, 62 and 67. Tavecchio made his kicks from 36, 45 and 54 and missed the last two from 62 and 67, though the 67-yard attempt looked to be only a yard or two short." - Lions

August 9, 2014 - first preseason game
"Nate Freese made both of his field goals in the first half, although both were somewhat chip shots -- 33 and 37 yards. Meanwhile, Giorgio Tavecchio made the game-winning extra point. Freese and Tavecchio also handled kickoffs as the Lions try to keep Sam Martin's leg as fresh as possible for the season." - ESPN

August 4, 2014 - kicking competition
"Nate Freese missed two more kicks on Monday, badly shanking a 39-yard attempt and pushing a 48-yard effort with plenty of distance wide right. Freese's primary competition, Giorgio Tavecchio, was perfect once again, and hasn't missed since the first day of camp. 'It's never one of those situations where we strictly look at because a guy was drafted or not drafted is how you judge him,' coach Jim Caldwell said. 'What we're going to try to do is get the best player out there playing for us to give us the best chance to win. And we don't care where he came from, who he is. We're just looking for results and that's what counts.' Freese has taken all the first-team reps at this stage, but Tavecchio has clearly outperformed the seventh-round draft choice. While practice success will carry plenty of weight in the final decision, Caldwell reminded reporters it's not the only factor in the competition. 'You like data, you like hard, firm data,' Caldwell said. 'You like to try and challenge them in a number of different situations, so you really get a good feel of what he's capable of doing. But we're looking at results, more so than anything else'." -  MLive

August 2, 2014 - scrimmage
"The first-team offense scored on two of its four drives.... The other score was a 47-yard field goal by rookie kicker Nate Freese. In addition to Freese’s field goal, Giorgio Tavecchio hit a 50-yarder." - The Detroit News

August 1, 2014 - kicking competition
"The field goal kickers rebounded in a big way. Both Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio converted all on five of their attempts, including a pair of blasts easily clearing the cross bar from 53 yards out. " - MLive 

July 31, 2014 - punter Sam Martin an option on long field goals
"Nate Freese nor Giorgio Tavecchio has separated himself from the other so far in camp. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was because both have been impressive, but that hasn’t been the case. Both have suffered from inconsistency and though Freese likely has the advantage due to being drafted in the seventh round last May, concerns about his leg strength appear well-founded. If Freese can at least show the high level of consistency that helped make him a Lions draft pick – he didn’t miss a kick as a senior at Boston College – then the Lions may be able to live with the limited range. Why? Because they have another option. Punter Sam Martin. Via the Detroit Free Press: 'Martin also said there’s a possibility he could be used on longer field-goal attempts. He lacks consistency as a placekicker, but he has plenty of power.' Martin showed plenty of power in winning kickoff duties last season, a role he’s expected to keep no matter who ends up as the kicker on the final roster." - Side Lion Report

July 25, 2014 - punter Drew Butler signed
"Butler played for the Steelers in 2012, averaging 43.8 yards per punt. Last season, he broke camp with the Steelers, but was cut before the first game in favor of former Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko. He signed an future/reserve contract with the Bears at the end of December, but was released in May." - Detroit Free Press

June 27, 2014 - kicking competition
"Nate Freese, a seventh-round pick from Boston College, remains the favorite over Giorgio Tavecchio, who went undrafted out of Cal in 2012, but the competition will likely continue through training camp and into the exhibition games.... 'It’s good so far,' Freese said Tuesday at the NFL Rookie Symposium in Berea, Ohio. 'I’m glad that there’s some competition. Competition makes everyone better.' But Freese also said he’s not approaching the competition as a simple head-to-head with Tavecchio. 'I have more of a competition with myself,' he said. 'I see it in that sense, but if I go out there and do what I need to do every day, I should be OK.' Freese said he and Tavecchio have gotten along well in their nearly two months together in Detroit. They’re the only specialists competing for a job, with punter Sam Martin and long snapper Don Muhlbach cemented in their roles." - Detroit News

June 17, 2014 - minicamp kicking update
"Nate Freese's kicks were more difficult to judge last week during minicamp, when the team moved to its outdoor practice field, but he said he kicked much better. He attributed his successes to establishing a more comfortable pace with long-snapper Don Muhlbach and holder Sam Martin. 'Just getting used to everything,' Freese said. 'Not really technique. Just getting used to their rhythm on the snap and hold, and when I should leave my approach and whatnot.' Giorgio Tavecchio, meanwhile, trended the other way. The Italian appeared to be Detroit's best kicker during OTAs, including nailing a 56-yarder -- with room to spare -- during that special teams session. But he was more erratic during minicamp. 'I'm furious, because that was probably my worst day in my professional life,' Tavecchio told after Day 1 of minicamp. 'But the show must go on. Keep working and keep moving forward'." - MLive

June 12, 2014 - punter Sam Martin working on consistency
"But when Martin went back and looked at the film after the season, there were some things that concerned him. 'I noticed lots of times, no matter what the result of the punt was, good punt or bad punt, my technique oftentimes would deviate between punts,' he said. 'Even if I hit a good ball sometimes I wouldn’t like my follow through. So the big focus was just getting more technically sound and repeating the same thing over and over.' That’s been the main focus in practice through the offseason training program, OTAs and minicamp, and Martin says he’s seeing results. 'It’s resulted, at least from what I’ve seen so far, in a lot more control of my directional punts,' he said. 'I’m putting punts a lot closer to the sideline consistently and I’m just more comfortable'.” - Lions

May 29, 2014 - OTA's kicking update
"The battle to be the Lions starting kicker continues. Rookie Nate Freese missed from 46 and 48-yards out. Meanwhile, kicker Giorgio Tavecchio was four-for-four, including a 56-yarder." - Detroit Sports 1051

May 27, 2014 - punter Sam Martin prepares for long season
"Martin, a fifth-round pick last year, rewarded the Lions' faith in him. He was among the five best punters in the league for much of last season. But all that work also took a toll. He became more inconsistent during the second half of last season. He battled a groin injury, which was known, and also back pain, which was not.... Martin says he's better prepared for the rigors of the NFL as he enters his sophomore season with the Lions. That starts with technique. He has modified his punt and kickoff motions to make them less violent. That should diminish the toll on his body over the long haul. 'I'm just a little more technically sound now,' he said. 'I've sacrificed a little torque -- violent movement -- but the ball is still going as far, and it's not as hard on my body.' Martin also has emphasized rest this offseason, which has helped to rejuvenate his leg strength. While he wasn't punting, he was maintaining his body through yoga, massages and a functional core/mobility routine that is designed to stabilize his back. 'Stuff that will be able to help me kick late into December, January -- even February -- without breaking down,' Martin said." - MLive

May 19, 2014 - kickoff competition
"[Nate Freese]'s expected to challenge Sam Martin for kickoff duties as well. 'I think it's a competition right now,' Freese said Sunday after wrapping up rookie camp in Allen Park. 'Obviously it's Sam's job, but whoever is hitting them best in camp I think they might go with'. Martin was in a similar position last year, after the Lions took him in the fifth round out of Appalachian State. He was immediately slotted as the starting punter, but also expected to challenge veteran David Akers for kickoff duties. He won that job and had some success early in the season. He finished seventh in the league with an average of 69.7 yards per attempt, according to ProFootballFocus, and didn't allow a return 58.6 percent of the time. That ranked 16th. Martin ceded those duties to Akers late in the season, as his leg tired from the long draft process and season. Though he's the favorite to reclaim the job this year, there's another challenger he will have to beat out. 'I want it just as much as he does, you know?' Freese said. 'But it's a competition. We'll see what happens'. Freese generated touchbacks 69.9 percent of the time last year with Boston college, which ranked fourth in the country, and averaged 64.2 yards per kickoff. That was sixth -- and he thinks there's still some untapped juice in that big right leg." - MLive

May 18, 2014 - Nate Freese consults Jason Hanson
"Speaking of Jason Hanson, he's been helping the Lions kickers at times this offseason, and was at this weekend’s rookie minicamp helping out Freese for the first time. 'I just kind of picked his brain,' Freese said of working with Hanson. 'What did you do your first minicamp? How did you handle yourself? What’s your routine? Just little things like that.' Freese said Hanson told him he did a good job, which is a good start to his NFL career.... 'Now, in terms of going with a young kicker, I’ve been there before,' head coach Jim Caldwell said. 'A couple years ago with Baltimore we had a young guy that kicked pretty well as a first-year kicker.' Caldwell was referring to Justin Tucker, who was undrafted in 2012 and made the Pro Bowl last year. 'We anticipate that Nate’s (Freese) going to just continue to develop and be very, very good at what he’s doing,' Caldwell said." - Lions

May 13, 2014 - kicker John Potter released
"Potter, 24, suggested his departure from the Detroit organization was a result of the Lions not wanting to have more than two kickers on its expanded 90-man roster and that Tavecchio, who spent time in the Green Bay Packers training camp in 2013, and seventh round draft pick Nate Freese were the two choices. 'I think they wanted to stick with two kickers,' Potter said. 'Giorgio kicked better than me in the first couple weeks, so I’m not surprised with the decision. I would have liked to have a few more weeks, because my field goals had been getting better'.... Just hours after his release, Potter already had a plan in place for moving forward. He said he will continue to train in the Detroit area for the time being and had a kicking coach lined up in Chicago he would be working with." - Mlive

May 13, 2014 - punter Nick Liste invited to minicamp
“I thought I was done, to be honest,' said Liste, a Niles High graduate who was first team all-conference punter at Youngstown State last season. 'But I was holding out hope. I do understand teams are not necessarily going after kickers and punters first when it comes to free agency. I thought maybe I could still get a shot down the line.' Then, on Monday morning, Liste got a call from his agent. The Detroit Lions were inviting him to Friday’s rookie minicamp. True, the Lions already had a good ex-FCS punter in Sam Martin, who Detroit selected in the fifth round of last year’s draft out of Appalachian State, but it was an opportunity.
That’s all Liste wanted. 'Obviously I’m looking to do the best I can,' he said. 'No matter what happens, I’ll get my foot in the door and that’s really what I’m hoping to do. If I can get on film, maybe other teams will get it too'.” - The Vindicator

May 12, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese inside & out
"The past four years I've been in Boston under not ideal situations,' Freese said. 'The stadium is really windy and cold, so I'm really excited to be playing indoors.' The conditions in Boston should prepare Freese for the blustery, inclement, and sometimes downright frigid conditions he'll face during annual road games in Chicago and Green Bay. Last season, the Lions drafted punter Sam Martin, another under-the-radar special teams talent. After a couple months working with Detroit special teams coordinator John Bonamego, Martin was able to improve his distance and consistency. General manager Martin Mayhew is confident Bonamego will be able to do the same for Freese. 'Bono (John Bonamego) will get working on his technique and stuff, so we'll see how he does,' Mayhew said. 'He's been very consistent and very accurate. He has not been a guy that's booming 58-yard field goals, but these guys develop over time and mature. We'll see how strong his leg gets when he gets here.' Freese will take the field as a member of the Lions for the first time during the team's rookie minicamp, which gets underway on Friday." - MLive

May 10, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese drafted
With the 14th pick of the 7th round in the NFL Draft, the Lions selected Boston College kicker Nate Freese. See his profile here.
"When Day 3 of the NFL draft kicked off around lunchtime today, Nate Freese had no expectation of being drafted. By dinner, he was a Detroit Lion. The Lions used their final pick of the draft, No. 229 overall, to take Freese, a kicker from Boston College. 'Going into it, not really,' Freese said when asked if he expected to be drafted. 'I had heard some teams were interested, but I was expecting whatever. But I think it’s pretty awesome that it happened.' Freese is the first kicker the Lions have drafted since they traded up to take Jason Hanson in the second round of the 1992 draft.... General manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions thought about taking Freese with their sixth-round pick, and were pleasantly surprised when he was still on the board at pick No. 229. 'He kicked outside his whole career,' Mayhew said. 'I think he’ll be great in our division. Didn’t miss a field goal last year. I think he missed two in 2012, I think. But very accurate guy. Very consistent'.” - Detroit Free Press

April 24, 2014 - kicking consultant Jason Hanson
"Hanson is spending time with young kickers in what amounts to free-lance consulting in this week’s veteran mini-camp in Allen Park. Hanson, who retired before last season after 21 seasons with the Lions, said he was invited to mini-camp by John Bonamego, who is beginning his second season as special-teams coordinator. Hanson’s presence was obvious Wednesday during the portion of practice that was open to the media. 'He (Bonamego) just wanted another set of eyes for the guys they want to kick,' Hanson said in a telephone interview from his home Wednesday evening. 'He wanted my opinion – somebody else to give feedback to him. They have a short time to look at the guys, to see if they feel they have the guys they want or if they want to look at other people'.... John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio, who have combined for four field-goal attempts – all by Potter – are the only kickers on the roster. Both were signed in the offseason, and Potter is the only one who has kicked in a regular-season NFL game." - Lions

April 15, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese visits
"The Lions also brought in Boston College kicker Nate Freese, one day after special teams coordinator John Bonamego outlined finding David Akers' replacement as a top offseason priority. Highly accurate, Freese connected on 86.4 percent (70-81) of his field goals in four seasons, including a perfect 20-20 last year. The potential downside is his range. Freese made just two kicks from beyond 50 yards last season, including a career-best from 52. Although the Lions wouldn't need him in either role, Freese also handled kickoffs and punts for the Eagles last season." - MLive

April 15, 2014 - kicker search
"The Detroit Lions have two kickers on their roster — John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio — but the man who handles field goals for them this fall could be someone entirely different. Special teams coordinator John Bonamego said at a town hall meeting for season-ticket holders Monday night that the Lions are still on the lookout for help at kicker. 'From a scouting standpoint, it’s our top priority in my department,' Bonamego said. 'We have two guys on the roster right now that both have some experience.… We’ll evaluate those guys in this upcoming period and we’ll compare them to the guys that are coming up in the draft, the draft-eligible guys, and we’ll find one'. Potter played six games as a kickoff specialist for the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and three games for Washington last year. He made three of four field goals in Washington, with a long of 43 yards. Tavecchio was in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and the Green Bay Packers last year. He nearly beat out Mason Crosby for the Packers’ kicking job last fall and then tried out for the Lions in December." - Detroit Free Press

February 27, 2014 - long snapper Don Muhlbach re-signed
"The Detroit Lions have signed longtime long-snapper Don Muhlbach to a one-year contract, according to the team's website. Muhlbach has been with the organization the past 10 seasons after signing as a undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2004. He's missed only one game since 2004 and is considered one of the best in the business. He was a Pro Bowler in 2012. Muhlbach is believed to have signed a minimum salary benefit deal. That means he will make the 10th-year veteran minimum ($955,000, plus up to a $65,000 bonus) but the contract will count as a third-year veteran minimum ($645,000 plus the bonus) against the cap." - MLive

February 21, 2014 - parting ways with kicker David Akers
"Embattled Detroit Lions kicker David Akers is among five veterans who were informed by general manager Martin Mayhew they will not return next season.... Akers is the most notable player of those who will not return. He signed with the Lions last offseason, but fell out of favor after struggling with his accuracy. He was 19-of-24 on the season, good for a 79.2 percent hit rate that was his second-worst mark since 2007. Mayhew said he expects kickers John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio to compete for the job after signing futures deals this offseason, though the club could pursue veterans in free agency." - MLive

Australia Women's National Soccer Team News

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February 24, 2015 - roster named for Cyprus Cup
"Australian head coach Alen Stajcic has named a 22 player squad for the 2015 Cyprus Cup held in Cyprus from 2–11 March 2015. The squad consists of 17 of the 23 players who made the trip across the Tasman for the tri-nations series with hosts New Zealand and DPR Korea. Meanwhile Laura Alleway, Kate Gill, Collette McCallum and Gema Simon have been added after overcoming injuries.... While many of the faces have been national team regulars in the past 2 years, one ‘new’ face is goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold who joins the squad after a strong W-League season with Perth Glory and a good training camp. Noticeable absentees and World Cup aspirants from the squad include Sam Kerr (knee), Lydia Williams (knee). While goalkeeper Casey Dumont is out of contention after undergoing a knee reconstruction late last week." - The Women's Game

February 12, 2015 - van Egmond, Heyman & Foord score in win over New Zealand
Australia have held off a New Zealand fightback in a frenetic finish to clinch a 3-2 win the final match of a women's soccer tri-series. Emily van Egmond, with a spectacular effort, Michelle Heyman and Caitlin Foord all scored in the opening half-hour to put the Matildas in a commanding position. But New Zealand mounted a big comeback in the second spell, with substitute Sarah Gregorius getting a brace, the second in the 84th minute.... Australia then struck with a stunning goal in the ninth minute, van Egmond having a go from more than 30 metres out. The ball dipped beyond keeper Erin Nayler and into the back of the net. The Matildas doubled their lead three minutes later, when Heyman latched on to the defensive mix-up to score her second goal of the series.... It became 3-0 in the 29th minute, Gorry winning the ball in the attacking third and feeding Foord, who made no mistake." - Sydney Morning Herald

February 10, 2015 - Clare Polkinghorne & Michelle Heyman score in win over North Korea
"The Westfield Matildas have claimed an encouraging 2-1 win over DPR Korea in Auckland as the side builds towards June’s FIFA Women's World Cup. Defender Clare Polkinghorne gave the Matildas the lead in a frenetic opening at Bill McKinlay Park, timing her run into the box from a corner and applying a thumping volley from close range. The lead was short lived however, with DPR Korea finding the back of the net minutes later through Kim Yun Mi to sqaure the ledger at 1-1 after just 14 minutes. Australia regained the lead before the break through Michelle Heyman after some good link up play from Elise Kellond-Knight and Westfield W-League grand final hero Ashleigh Sykes. Kellond-Knight found Sykes inside the box with a delighful pass, who provided a neat lay-off for her Canberra United strike partner Heyman to fire home." - Matildas

February 2, 2015 - roster named for next week's matches
"Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic has named a 24-player squad for next week’s internationals against New Zealand and DPR Korea in Auckland. In what will be the Westfield Matildas’ first matches since the team finished runners up at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in May last year, the squad for this upcoming international tri series features a host of familiar names as well as some fresh faces and players who are returning to the national team setup. There are 16 players from last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup campaign, including current Asian Player of the Year Katrina Gorry, while Larissa Crummer, 16 year old Alex Chidiac and Amy Harrison are three new players in the squad, the trio having impressed at the training camps Stajcic has held in the lead up to these matches.... Midfielders Kyah Simon and Aivi Luik are two players who are back in calculation after overcoming injuries. In contrast, there are some notable absentees that could not be considered because of injury. 'There are a few girls returning from injury and a few girls that are currently injured as well such as Ellie Brush, Kate Gill, Sam Kerr, Lydia Williams and Tameka Butt so there are a number of girls still in contention,' said Stajcic." - Football Australia