Cape Elizabeth Capers Spring Athletes of the Year

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Male:

R.J. SARKA, Senior-Lacrosse

  • All-American

  • WMC all-star, first team

  • Senior All-Star

Sarka’s work ethic and leadership motivated his teammates to do great things and when the stakes were the highest, he always played his best.

Sarka’s first love was skiing (he attended Carrabassett Valley Academy in the seventh grade), but when he started lacrosse in the eighth grade, he liked it right away.

“Watching the high school games and how excited everyone got sparked my interest,” Sarka said. “The fast, physical pace of the game is awesome. Lacrosse is so important here.”

Sarka, a middie, joined the varsity team as a freshman and played an increasingly important role his first three years, seasons which all ended with state championship celebrations.

By the end of his sophomore year, Sarka began to think about playing lacrosse in college and his focus turned to honing his skills in the offseason.

This spring, Sarka was even more of a team leader and he scored 35 goals and assisted on 15 others.

Highlights included four goals in an early win at Yarmouth in a state final rematch, three goals in a home win over Falmouth, the winning tally in a crossover victory at South Portland, three goals in a win over Lake Region, five in a victory over NYA and four goals in a second win over Yarmouth.

In the playoffs, Sarka exploded for five goals in a semifinal round win over Waynflete. He added two more in the regional final against Falmouth, but the Capers’ reign ended with a 7-5 loss.

Sarka then received plenty of postseason accolades, including being named one of Maine’s eight All-Americans.

“I was very honored to receive All-American,” Sarka said. “I’ve always believed if I work as hard as I can, then I can get better. My coaches noticed that attitude.”

Sarka also played soccer and swam in high school, was a member of National Honor Society, the World Affairs Council and Model U.N. and was the co-President of the SuperFan Club. He’ll realize his dream of playing in college at Bates College next year.

This story of growth and triumph produced a high school career that won’t soon be forgotten. R.J. Sarka, Cape Elizabeth’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year, was a winner in every sense of the word.

Coach Ben Raymond’s comment: “R.J. was the best player on the field in almost all of our games this season and more importantly, he handled himself with class and grace all year long. He’s one of the most well-rounded lacrosse players I’ve worked with. He was an outstanding leader. He treated everyone with respect and wanted everyone to be their best. He pushed his teammates not only through words, but most often through how hard he worked and the way he carried himself.”

Previous winners:

2015 Griffin Thoreck (lacrosse)

2014 Tom Feenstra (lacrosse)

2013 Adam Haversat (lacrosse)

2012 Will LeBlond (baseball)

2011 Cam Brown (baseball)

2010 Ben Brewster (lacrosse)

2009 Andrew Guay (baseball)

2008 Zach Belden (lacrosse)

2007 Pat Murphy (baseball)

2006 Evan Bagley (lacrosse)

2005 Brett Brown (lacrosse)

2004 Garret Currier (tennis)

2003 Alex Weaver (lacrosse)

2002 Mike DiFusco (lacrosse)

Female:

LIV CLIFFORD, Junior-Tennis

  • WMC all-star, singles first team

  • Captain

Clifford faced the best players the conference and state had to offer and came up big time after time, leading the Capers to an elusive championship.

Clifford was introduced to tennis at a young age by her Mom and started to take it seriously in the fifth grade. 

Clifford, who also skis, made an immediate impact as a freshman, playing first singles and making the WMC first team. As a sophomore, Clifford repeated as an all-star and was a star this season as Cape Elizabeth won Class B for the first time since 2007.

Clifford had to battle the best girls’ players in the state during the regular season and won regularly. She got to the quarterfinals of the singles tournament, then went undefeated in the playoffs as the Capers ascended to the pinnacle.

Clifford greatly enjoyed the ride.

“Coach (Sarah Boeckel) helped me succeed this season with her good insights and humor,” Clifford said. “My teammates also helped a lot. Our team was very close and morale was great. 

While she’s a terrific individual talent, Clifford said she enjoyed being a part of a team.

“Playing for a team has really motivated me,” Clifford said. “Before joining the high school team, tennis was an individual sport for me. Getting to high school and having the added pressure of contributing to a team win was definitely motivating. I want to win every match, not only for my individual success, but for our team’s success.”

Clifford is also a Cape Mentor, working with elementary school kids twice a week. She wants to win another title next year, then hopes to play in college.

The future is bright for this budding star. Liv Clifford, Cape Elizabeth’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year, willed her team to a championship and isn’t done yet.

Coach Sarah Boeckel’s comment: “Liv is very important to our team. She handles the pressure well. She really showed her leadership as a captain this year. She had to fight for every match this season, as there were no easy matches. She had some great wins this year that she hadn’t been able to win in the past. She gets better every season. I think this season was the best she’s played, but she hasn’t even peaked as a player yet. She’s confident and loose on the court and is able to stay mentally tough, which allows her to win long points.”

Previous winners:

2015 Kate Bosworth (lacrosse)

2014 Abby McInerney (lacrosse)

2013 Lauren Steidl (lacrosse)

2012 Lauren Steidl (lacrosse)

2011 Elin Sonesson (lacrosse)

2010 Gabe Donahue (softball)

2009 Colleen Martin (softball)

2008 Trish Thibodeau (softball)

2007 Maureen Kertes (softball)

2006 Clare Egan (track)

2005 Elise Moody-Roberts (track)

2004 Dana Riker (track)

2003 Leslie Harrison (track)

2002 Anna Lombard (lacrosse)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached atmhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.