Cheverus Stags Spring Sports Preview

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Cheverus greatly enjoyed the spring of 2011 and this new season promises to be successful as well. Baseball is coming off its first championship and has the pieces in place for another title run. Softball welcomes a new coach, one who is well known at the school. Boys’ lacrosse looks to get back to the playoffs after a year away, while the girls’ squad hopes to build on last season’s stunning and unexpected run to the regional final. Both track teams have runners, jumpers and throwers who will be in the hunt for June glory. Boys’ tennis remains a competitor, while the girls’ team is hoping to continue the momentum of last year’s squad, which was almost perfect.

BASEBALL

Coach: Mac McKew (fourth year, 38-17 overall record, one state championship)

2011 Record: 18-2 (Beat Lewiston 9-1 to win first Class A state championship)

Top returning players: Spencer Cooke (Senior), Louie DiStasio (Senior), Tyler Flaherty (Senior), Nick Melville (Senior), Harry Ridge (Senior), Ryan Casale (Junior), Mitchell Powers (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 24 @ Windham, April 26 @ Marshwood, May 3 @ Thornton Academy, May 10 (H) PORTLAND, May 12 @ Scarborough, May 17 (H) SP, May 19 @ Westbrook, May 22 @ Deering, May 29 (H) WINDHAM

Coach’s comment: “We lost a lot of offense. About 60 percent of our run production graduated. Our pitching is still fairly solid, but not as deep as it was. The defense up the middle is still solid. New bats this year are going to make a big difference. Run scoring will drop. That puts a premium on pitching and defense. I think the league will be tough like last year. Primarily because of pitching. We should be in the thick of it with a lot of other good teams.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus enjoyed a dream season in 2011, exceeding everyone’s expectations by emerging as the best team in Western Class A and ultimately the state, as the Stags won a championship for the first time. The loss of seven key seniors will be felt, but there’s enough talent in reserve for Cheverus to make another deep run. The pitching remains formidable, led by DiStasio (3-0 with a miniscule 0.51 earned run average and 33 strikeouts during an all-star campaign last spring) and Ridge (3-0, 0.76, also an all-star and a member of the All-Rookie team). Mix in Casale and Powers, the closer (2-0, 2.00 ERA, 17 strikeouts versus only two walks last spring in an All-Rookie team performance) and the opposition won’t have many easy at-bats. Replacing standout catcher Nic Lops (Cheverus’ 2011 Spring Male Athlete of the Year, now playing at St. Joseph’s College) will be sophomore Chris Tinsman, who transfers from Cape Elizabeth. Offensively, big boppers return in the form of DiStasio (.418, 21 hits, including two doubles, three triples, a home run and nine RBI), who plays shortstop when he doesn’t pitch, Ridge (.364, a home run, 12 RBI), who will be at first base or in the outfield when he’s not on the mound, and third baseman Flaherty (.333, 6 RBI, all-star mention and All-Rookie team a year ago). Football standout and 2011 All-Defensive team selection Cooke (centerfield), Melville (another All-Defensive team member, at second base), Casale (first base/designated hitter), senior outfielder Cam Mullen, junior first baseman/DH Drew Ferrick and sophomore shortstop Felix Delvecchio round out a talented lineup. The Southern Maine Activities Association is once again loaded with talented arms and teams so a repeat title won’t come easily, but if this group, led by reigning league and Forecaster Coach of the Year McKew, can stay healthy and hungry, it will once again be a force. You’ve got to believe this special core of seniors wants nothing more than to bow out with one last championship celebration. It isn’t wise to bet against them.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Maureen Curran (first year)

2011 Record: 3-13 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Erin Cianchette (Senior), Frankie Pasquali (Senior), Jamie Dulac (Junior), Kelsey Dulac (Junior), Izzi Grasso (Junior), Katie Roy (Junior), Staci Swallow (Junior), Brittany Bell (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 23 @ Deering, April 25 (H) MCAULEY, May 14 @ South Portland, May 21 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 23 @ Thornton Academy

Coach’s comment: “Joining the tremendous coaching staff at Cheverus has inspired me to get back into head coaching and I’m excited to have the opportunity to coach softball and have my father assisting me, bringing his considerable experience to the program. We have a solid core of versatile returning players who gained substantial experience last season and we’re hoping to build on the strong athletic tradition of Cheverus.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Curran (with the aid of her father, Tige Curran, the longtime Deering coach) inherits the program from Amy McMullin this spring. Curran was an athlete at South Portland High and Dartmouth College. She coached field hockey at South Portland for five years and assisted at Bowdoin for four, coached six seasons of girls’ lacrosse at South Portland and has assisted with the Deering softball program and most recently with Cheverus’ girls’ basketball team (she also teaches history at the school). The Stags could be poised to bounce right back into contention. Grasso returns as a top pitcher and Bell, along with new sophomore Mollie Thibodeau, will also see their share of time on the mound. Freshman Casey Simpson will be behind the plate as Cheverus looks to replace the graduated Jasmyn Welch. Offensively, Cianchette, Roy and sophomore Libby DesRuisseaux will look to do a lot of damage. Jamie Dulac, Kelsey Dulac, Pasquali and Swallow all have experience and should contribute. There are a few powerhouse teams at the top of the league, but after that, it appears wide open. If the Stags can improve their win total somewhere near the .500 mark, they could make it back to the postseason for the third time in four years.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Deke Andrew (14th year, 100-78 overall record)

2011 Record: 5-7 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Spencer Amberson (Senior), Mike Dedian (Senior), Cam Olson (Senior), Colm Pusey (Senior), Tommy Sullivan (Senior), Colie Walsh (Senior), Warren Murray (Junior), Jack Sutton (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 18 @ Thornton Academy, April 21 @ South Portland, April 28 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 16 @ Portland, May 30 @ Marshwood

Coach’s comment: “It was painful to not make the playoffs last year. I hope that drives us. We want to make the playoffs this year. It’s been a good preseason. We only lost a few guys from last year. It’s an interesting mix. We have a lot of guys with three or four years of varsity experience on defense. On offense, we’re more freshman and sophomore based. I think we’ll be able to play with most teams. There’s going to be parity like never before.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus’ 11-year run as a playoff team came to a screeching halt last spring, but the Stags are primed to return to form this season. For starters, they have Pusey, an honorable mention all-star, returning in goal. The defense is solid, led by Dedian, Sullivan and Walsh. In the midfield, the tenacious Olson will handle faceoff duties and attempt to jump-start the offense. He’s joined by Murray, who emerged as a scorer during his sophomore campaign, and Sutton. Amberson keys the attack and will hope to get some help from new faces. Eastern Class A appears wide open this year. Even though Cheverus got off to a slow start Friday, losing 4-2 to Deering (Pusey made 15 saves and Sutton had both goals, but the Stags were shutout in the second half), it has the opportunity to not only be a playoff team, but be a squad no one wants to face in June. This team might fly under the radar for awhile, but the hunch here is that Cheverus will evolve into a formidable foe.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Jamie Chamberlain (seventh year, 44-40 overall record)

2011 Record: 5-10 (Lost 14-3 to Brunswick in Eastern Class A Final)

Top returning players: Eliza Hellier (Senior), Sarah LaQuerre (Senior), Ali Saxton (Senior), Catie Walsh (Senior), Laura Peabody-Harrington (Junior), Elyse Caiazzo (Sophomore), Alex Logan (Sophomore), Meredith Willard (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 (H) MCAULEY, April 28 (H) NYA, May 1 (H) PORTLAND, May 10 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 12 @ Waynflete, May 17 (H) KENNEBUNK, May 21 (H) TA

Coach’s comment: “The kids who were there last year are working hard to build on it. It’s the most athletic team I’ve had. We have some experience, but a lot of our experienced players are sophomores. The defense is young. Our goal is go out and play hard for 50 minutes. We hope our inexperienced players will pick up skills during the season..”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus enjoyed one of the most improbable playoff runs in state history last spring. The Stags appeared out of the playoff picture, but a late upset of Gorham allowed them to steal the final Eastern Class A spot and once there, they made the most of it, upsetting Messalonskee and Cony before finally getting upended by Brunswick. This year’s squad should build on that run and has the pieces in place to be even stronger. In the draw circle, LaQuerre (a second-team all-star last season) and Logan will look to get the offense started. They’re joined in the midfield by Walsh, who also sees time on attack. Caiazzo and Willard should score their share of goals. They’re aided on offense by Hellier and sophomore Sadie Lyons, who is new to the team and brings great athleticism. Defensively, Saxton (an All-Rookie team selection last year), Peabody-Harrington, new junior Emily Rodrigue, sophomore Mary Kate Slattery and freshman Nicole Pineaux will hold the fort in front of new sophomore goalie Maddie Fenderson, a transfer from North Yarmouth Academy. While there is a lot of youth on the roster, there’s also no shortage of quality athletes. After last year’s run, Cheverus won’t be able to sneak up on anyone, but it won’t have to. While some tough challenges are on the slate, the Stags should have no trouble improving on last year’s win total and might be due for another stirring and deep postseason stay.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys’ coach: Steve Virgilio (second year)

Girls’ coach: Valerie Guillet (12th year)

2011 Results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 4th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Lars Murphy (Senior), Joe Slattery (Senior), Lukas Temple (Senior), Adam Zieba (Senior), Matt Benoit (Junior), Matt Cushing (Junior), Jackson McMann (Junior), Mike Orne (Junior), Andrew Rose (Junior), David Terwilliger (Junior), Colin Grove (Sophomore), Elijah Yeboah (Sophomore), Isaac Yeboah (Sophomore)

(Girls) Armani Alonzo (Senior), Emily Durgin (Senior), Fiona Hendry (Senior), Katie Shapiro (Senior), Taylor Spang (Senior), Alli Thomas (Senior), Anne Slattery (Junior), Shannon Conley (Sophomore)

Top foes: Bonny Eagle, Deering, Gorham, Scarborough, Thornton Academy

Coach Virgilio’s comment: “We’ll be a strong contender at the SMAA and state championship meets. The team is large and deep. This may be the first time we have more than 50 athletes out. The team has individuals who will compete and score at the highest levels and some will be able to do it in multiple events. The sprinting and middle distance corps will lead the team. There will be some athletes who excel in jumping and throwing as well as longer distance and hurdles. The team can cover every event in the regular season and be a championship contender in the postseason.”

Coach Guillet’s comment: “The team is looking good. We seem to have potential in a lot more events than in the past. We’ll be quite strong in the distance events, but obviously we’ll need to take advantage of all our seniors, who all happen to be good athletes. We’ll heavily rely on them. Our numbers aren’t as high as I’d like them to be to have depth, but we do have a decent number of underclassmen who have potential to develop nicely. It should be a good season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Cheverus outdoor track teams have reason to believe they’ll be among the best in the conference and state this year.

The boys’ team will certainly miss Jack Terwilliger, Maine’s Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year, who won the 800, mile and two-mile at last year’s state meet. This year’s middle and long distance corps features Murphy, Temple, Zieba and freshmen James Hannigan and Parker Montano. McMann (fifth in the 100) and Cushing (fifth in the javelin) are the lone returning state meet scorers. McMann will compete in the sprints and is joined by Grove, Rose, Slattery, new juniors Jimmy Campbell, Brady Foshay and Mike Flaherty and freshman Jake Dixon. Hurdlers to watch include David Terwilliger, Elijah Yeboah and Isaac Yeboah, along with freshman Jake Schott. On the field side, in the throws, Cushing is joined by Benoit, new juniors Parker Doyon and Brad Kritzer, new sophomore Mike Sinclair and freshman Nick White. Top jumping threats include Orne (who also pole vaults), Dixon, Flaherty, McMann, Schott and Slattery. There are several formidable teams standing in their way, but the Stags have a very good chance to finish in the top five in the state once more.

On the girls’ side, while Caroline Summa will be missed, Shapiro (champion in the discus), Conley (third in the two-mile, fifth in the mile), Durgin (relays), Hendry (fourth in the two-mile), Alonzo (relays), Slattery (relays), Spang (relays) and Thomas (relays) all return as state meet scorers. This year, Alonzo leads the sprinters, Slattery and Thomas are top hurdlers, Spang will be tough in the middle distance and Conley, Durgin and Hendry are as strong a distance contingent as you’ll find. Shapiro is the standout on the field side. She’ll be joined this spring by senior Megan Carroll. Freshmen Milena Opielowski will be a threat in the jumps and freshman Hannah Robbins hopes to score in the pole vault. There are enough points on this roster for Cheverus to not only be strong in the regular season, but to be one of the best teams at the state championships.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Wayne St. Peter (eighth year, 70-26 overall record)

2011 Results: 11-2 (Lost 3-2 to Deering in Western Class A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Drew Fernandez (Senior), Ryan Hoffman (Senior), David Woodbury (Senior), Reed Fernandez (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 25 @ Scarborough, May 4 (H) DEERING, May 16 @ Kennebunk

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot of new faces in new positions. I graduated my top two singles players. If we’re lucky, we’ll be in the middle of the pack. I’m surprised we did as well as we did last year. This year, time will tell.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus is consistently one of the best teams in Western Class A, but after last year’s top two singles players graduated, the Stags have some holes to fill. Woodbury, who was unbeaten at third singles last season, will move into the No. 1 spot. Hoffman also projects to play singles. Drew and Reed Fernandez will make up the first doubles team. Sophomore John Devine and freshmen George Budri and Pat Moumouras will factor into the ladder as well. The Stags suffered a disappointing end to last season and while St. Peter is hoping for a middle of the standings finish, don’t be surprised if this group exceeds those expectations and makes the playoffs and possibly stays awhile.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Erin Ovalle (third year, 21-6 overall record)

2011 Results: 13-1 (Lost 4-1 to Scarborough in Western Class A semifinals)

Top returning players: Maria Cianchette (Senior), Emily Gibson (Senior), Abbey Harrison (Senior), Stephanie Maxsimic (Senior), Conley Dion (Junior), Gillian Coates (Sophomore), Caty Galligan (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 25 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 2 (H) PORTLAND, May 4 @ Deering, May 9 @ McAuley

Coach’s comment: “We have such a strong team this year with four seniors. I’ve watched them grow, improve and work really hard over the past three years in hopes to win our conference title. We have support from two returning sophomores playing varsity and our only junior. We are still a young program and each year we make strong strides to developing a very competitive program. I couldn’t be more proud of the girls and their parents for committing so much of their time to this great sport and team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus was unbeatable in the regular season last spring, but met its match in the semifinals against Scarborough. Regardless, it was easily the best campaign in the program’s short history and announced to the rest of the league that the Stags intend to be consistent contenders. Cianchette (a first-team all-star last year) will play first singles, Harrison (another first-teamer last spring) will be in the No. 2 spot and Galligan (an all-star for doubles last season) moves up to play third singles. The first doubles team features Gibson (another league all-star in 2011) and Maxsimic. Coates and Dion make up the second doubles squad. The pieces are in place for Cheverus to be a force once more. This time around, the Stags won’t be satisfied with a glowing regular season record. They hope to advance even deeper in the playoffs and if all goes well, could find themselves in the final match June 9.

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

Senior Louie DiStasio is bound for the University of Rhode Island, but first he’ll look to dominate the rest of the league.

Senior Tyler Flaherty flashed the leather last season for a championship team and is a key returner this spring.

Mitchell Powers burst on to the scene last year as a freshman. This season, he’ll look to slam the door as a relief pitcher.

Senior Harry Ridge hopes to close his high school career with another title.

Junior Izzi Grasso returns on the hill for the Stags.

Junior Warren Murray is a top scoring threat for the Stags.

Senior Colie Walsh will be an imposing force on defense.

Senior Joe Slattery is a threat in the sprints and hurdles.

Senior Alli Thomas will look to be one of the league’s top hurdlers this spring.

Sidebar Elements


The Cheverus baseball team celebrated a state championship for the first time last spring. There’s a good chance the Stags could be exulting again in June.

More photos below.

2012 schedules

BASEBALL
Fri., April 20            H        BONNY EAGLE
Tues., April 24        @        Windham
Thurs., April 26        @        Marshwood
Sat., April 28            H        NOBLE
Tues., May 1            H        MASSABESIC
Thurs,. May 3            @        Thornton Academy
Tues., May 8             @        Kennebunk
Thurs., May 10        H        PORTLAND
Sat., May 12            @        Scarborough
Tues., May 15            H        BIDDEFORD
Thurs., May 17        H        SP
Sat., May 19            @        Westbrook
Tues., May 22            @        Deering
Thurs., May 24        H        GORHAM
Sat., May 26            @        Sanford
Tues., May 29            H        WINDHAM

SOFTBALL
Thurs., April 19        @        Sanford
Sat., April 21            H        MASSABESIC
Mon., April 23        @        Deering
Wed., April 25        H        MCAULEY
Fri., April 27            @        Kennebunk
Mon., April 30        H        MARSHWOOD
Fri., May 4            @        Windham
Mon., May 7            H        WESTBROOK
Wed., May 9            @        Biddeford
Fri., May 11            H        PORTLAND
Mon., May 14            @        SP
Wed., May 16            H        GORHAM
Fri., May 18            @        Bonny Eagle
Mon., May 21            H        SCARBOROUGH
Wed., May 23            @        TA
Fri., May 25            H        NOBLE

BOYS’ LACROSSE
Wed., April 18        @        TA
Sat., April 21            @        SP
Wed,. April 25        H        NOBLE
Sat., April 28            H        WAYNFLETE
Wed., May 2            @        Massabesic
Wed., May 9            H        WESTBROOK
Fri., May 11            @        Cape Elizabeth
Wed., May 16            @        Portland
Fri., May 18            H        GORHAM
Wed., May 23            H        WINDHAM
Wed., May 30            @        Marshwood

GIRLS’ LACROSSE
Mon., April 23        @        Massabesic
Thurs., April 26        H        MCAULEY
Sat., April 28            H        NYA
Tues., May 1            H        PORTLAND
Thurs., May 3            @        Deering
Mon., May 7            @        Marshwood
Thurs., May 10        H        SCARBOROUGH
Sat., May 12            @        Waynflete
Mon., May 14            @        Windham
Thurs., May 17        H        KENNEBUNK
Mon., May 21            H        TA
Thurs., May 24        @        Gorham

BOYS’ OUTDOOR TRACK
Wed., April 25        @    Sanford (BE, Windham)
Tues., May 1            @    Deering (Portland, SP)
Wed., May 9            @    Kennebunk (Gorham, Marshwood)
Tues., May 15            H    MASS, SCAR, TA
Fri., May 18            @    SP (Deer, Portland)
Sat., May 26            Southwesterns                        
Sat., June 2            CLASS A STATE MEET                

GIRLS’ OUTDOOR TRACK
Tues., April 24        @    Windham (BE, Sanford)
Mon., April 30        H    DEER, MCA, PORT, SP
Tues., May 8            @    Marshwood (Gorham, Kbunk)
Mon., May 14            @    Scarborough (Massabesic, TA)
Fri., May 18            @    SP (Deer, McAuley, Portland)
Sat., May 26            Southwesterns                        
Sat., June 2            CLASS A STATE MEET

BOYS’ TENNIS
Mon., April 23        H        SP
Wed., April 25        @        Scarborough
Fri., April 27            H        TA
Mon., April 30        @        Massabesic
Wed., May 2            @        Portland
Fri., May 4            H        DEERING
Wed., May 9            H        SANFORD
Fri., May 11            @        Westbrook
Mon., May 14            H        BONNY EAGLE
Wed., May 16            @        Kennebunk
Fri., May 18            @        Marshwood
Mon., May 21            H        WINDHAM

GIRLS’ TENNIS
Mon., April 23        H        SP
Wed., April 25        H        SCARBOROUGH
Fri., April 27            @        TA
Mon., April 30        H        MASSABESIC
Wed., May 2            H        PORTLAND
Fri., May 4            @        Deering
Wed., May 9            @        McAuley
Fri., May 11            H        WESTBROOK
Mon., May 14            @        Bonny Eagle
Wed., May 16            H        KENNEBUNK
Fri., May 18            H        MARSHWOOD
Mon., May 21            @        Windham

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