Falmouth Yachtsmen Fall Sports Preview
Autumn is always a triumphant time of year at Falmouth High School and 2009 figures to be no different. Girls' soccer and golf are defending Class B state championships. The former welcomes a new coach and has a bevy of returning standouts. Golf is rebuilding, but is always competitive. The boys' soccer team is hungry to win a title after last year's agonizing regional final loss. Speaking of which, field hockey suffered the same fate and despite the loss of many seniors, will have a shot at finishing the job. Football enjoyed its first playoff berth in 2008 and is hoping to continue its upward climb. Both cross country teams will be serious contenders in the league, region and state. Volleyball is coming off a superb second season and looks for even more glory this time around.
COACH: Dave Halligan (23rd year)
2008 Record: 13-1-3 (Lost 2-1 to eventual state champion Yarmouth in Western B Final)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ford Bohrman (Senior), Alec Dunn (Senior), Michael Gardner (Senior), Gabe Hoffman-Johnson (Senior), Kyle Lucas (Senior), Kellen McDonald (Senior), Dixon Pike (Senior), Bruce Tuttle (Senior), Nick Bachman (Junior), Michael Bloom (Junior), Sam White (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 @ Greely, Sept. 14 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 17 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 3 (H) GREELY, Oct. 6 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 8 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 13 @ Freeport
COACH'S COMMENT: "Most of our guys are returning. We've had a good preseason. Most of these kids play year-round. We're looking forward to a good season. They'll be motivated, ready to go. That's the difference between a junior team and a senior team."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Most teams would be ecstatic with a season that saw just one loss in 17 outings, but the Falmouth boys' soccer juggernaut is not one of them. Thoughts of 2008 conjure up the loss much more than the many victories. Entering the second half of the Western B Final last November, the Yachtsmen were 40 minutes away from a trip to another state game and a step closer to a third successive crown. Instead, fierce rival Yarmouth rose up and shocked Falmouth, ending its season with a 2-1 decision. That's in the past. An impressive group of returning players is bound and determined to right that wrong and restore the Yachtsmen to their usual perch. Falmouth certainly has to like its chances. The offense, as always, is explosive. Leading the way is Hoffman-Johnson, the reigning All-American and Fall Male Athlete of the Year, who is arguably the best player in the state. Not only is he uniquely skilled, but he displays great poise and leadership on the pitch. Bohrman, Bloom and White (a second-team league and a regional all-star last year) are also forces to be reckoned with. Dunn, Gardner and Lucas (a WMC second-team and a regional all-star in '08) will also be heard from at midfield. Four newcomers will work their way into public awareness. Junior midfielders Joe Barnes and Brandon McDonnell, sophomore midfielder Andy Murray and freshman forward J.P. White figure to soon be household names. The key to this program has always been defense and the 2009 group is prepared to live up to the legacy. Bachman, McDonald, Pike and Tuttle all return and will look to make the transition easy for new goalie, junior Ben Goffin. It's quite possible the Yachtsmen are the best team in the state. The problem is, the second best squad could be those pesky Clippers. Local soccer fans are in for at least two delicious showdowns this fall. A third, in the playoffs, is almost a lock. If Falmouth can stay healthy and hungry, it's unlikely it will meet its match this time around. The Yachtsmen are dangerous enough every season. When they're playing for a cause, namely revenge, pity those who stand in their way.
FUN FACT: Last year marked the first time Falmouth lost a regional final since moving up to Class B. It was its first regional final setback since losing to NYA in the 1998 Western C Final.
COACH: Jon Shardlow (first year)
2008 Record: 16-2 (Beat Presque Isle 2-0 to win Class B state championship)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jill Alvarez (Senior), Nancy Cooper (Senior), Sarah Girouard (Senior), Jessica Hoch (Senior), Anna Keeler (Senior), Maura LaBrecque (Senior), Katie McCarthy (Senior), Corey Morganstern (Senior), Meredith Quirk (Senior), Adrienne Sanford (Senior), Katy Vogt (Senior), Jess DiPhillippo (Junior), Elizabeth Estabrook (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) GREELY, Sept. 14 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 17 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 26 (H) YORK, Oct. 2 @ Greely, Oct. 6 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 8 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 19 @ York
COACH'S COMMENT: "I think we're up to the challenge. The new staff is asking the girls to look at the game a little differently. I think we'll be prepared to compete against different styles by the end of the year. Our strength is getting forward and attacking. We won't have two 20-goal scorers. We'll probably have seven or eight seven- or eight-goal scorers. We'll spread it around. That should allow us to absorb injuries. There's no dropoff when we go to the bench."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Generally when teams win a state title, they're somewhat weaker the following season. It's quite possible this Falmouth team will be even stronger in 2009. The program certainly isn't hurting for talent. After winning three titles in four years, Deb LeBel stepped down and has been replaced by Jon Shardlow, who has a pretty impressive resume of his own. Shardlow led Waynflete's girls to the 2004 Class D title and the program's first-ever Class C championship a year ago. He inherits an embarrassment of riches, but will have the challenge of finding tme for so many talented players. The most decorated returner is Girouard, who was a league and a regional all-star last year. She'll be one of the top scoring threats, along with Cooper, DiPhillippo, McCarthy, Morganstern and junior Jamie Sabo. Then there's Alvarez, Hoch, Lycan, Vogt and junior Rachel Bauer, all of whom figure to get in on the act. Defensively, Falmouth is set as well. Keeler, LaBrecque, Quirk and Sanford, along with juniors Elizabeth Carew and Caitlin Costello will hold the opposition in bay. The last line of defense, Estabrook, is battle-tested. The Yachtsmen's balance on offense and experience and poise on defense are nearly impossible to counter. Shardlow is still mixing and matching players and positions, trying to put together the most optimal lineup. This is a team that can survive any growing pains it might need to undergo. Falmouth figures to outman any squad it faces. If the Yachtsmen can keep their eye on the prize, they have to be considered to be heavy favorites to not only repeat, but possibly produce the best team in program history.
FUN FACT: Since moving up to Class B for the 1999 season, Falmouth has averaged over 12 wins per season and has won five state championships.
COACH: John Fitzsimmons (third year)
2008 Record: 6-4 (Lost 41-6 to eventual state champion Mountain Valley in Western B semifinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Josiah Feigleson (Senior), Caleb Bowden (Junior), David Goodrich (Junior), Jack Horton (Junior), Storm McGovern (Junior), Greg Oulton (Junior), Jack Cooleen (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 (H) YORK, Sept. 25 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 2 @ Wells, Oct. 16 @ Mountain Valley, Oct. 30 (H) GREELY
COACH'S COMMENT: "We want teams to have to prepare for us now. I feel very good about the upcoming season. The strength of our team will be our line. We only have five seniors, but we started a lot of sophomores last year. I feel we're playoff-bound. We should be in the playoffs."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Falmouth was one of the feel-good stories of the 2008 football season and is looking to build on that success. The Yachtsmen saved their best for last, rallying to beat Greely in a make-or-break regular season finale before losing to eventual state champion Mountain Valley in the Western B semifinals. The program is now seeking to compete on a regular basis and there is ample reason to believe Falmouth will make another playoff run this autumn. Junior Zack Alexander takes over at quarterback this season, replacing Stefano Mancini. Alexander was the junior varsity QB in 2008 and has shown promise. His top receiving target is Cooleen. Bowden will see a lot of action at running back, racing into holes created by Oulton (the former center who is now at fullback) and a solid line, which features reigning Campbell Conference all-star Feigleson and Horton. Horton will also be a stalwart on the defensive line. The Yachtsmen's linebacking corps is daunting. Feigleson, McGovern and Oulton will see time at that spot. Bowden, Cooleen and Goodrich play defensive back. Goodrich will handle the placekicking and unlike most Maine high school kickers will get a chance to boot field goals on a regular basis. Western B has several strong teams, led by Mountain Valley and Cape Elizabeth. Falmouth is in the mix with Wells and York for the No. 3 spot. The Yachtsmen have a chance to make an early statement, hosting York and Cape Elizabeth in the early portion of the season. If Falmouth can beat one of those teams, it would do wonders for confidence. Mancini's loss will be felt, but if Alexander can continue his development and get help from his talented teammates, the Yachtsmen will be able to live up to expectations and play into November for a second straight year.
FUN FACT: Last year wasn't just Falmouth's first playoff appearance, it also was the program's first winning record in six varsity seasons.
COACH: Robin Haley (15th year)
2008 Record: 13-4 (Lost 2-1, on third set of penalty corners, to eventual state champion York in Western Class B Final)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Amber Aaskov (Senior), Jacki Aaskov (Senior), Nicole Foley (Senior), Adrianne Madden (Senior), Jaclyn Scott (Senior), Emma Sipperly (Senior), Kelsey Freedman (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 (H) LAKE REGION, Sept.15 (H) YORK, Sept. 17 @ Wells, Sept. 21 (H) GREELY, Sept. 23 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 29 @ Lake Region, Oct. 3 @ York, Oct. 5 (H) WELLS, Oct. 7 @ Greely, Oct. 10 @ Cape Elizabeth
COACH'S COMMENT: "We graduated 16 seniors from last year's team which made it to the Western Maine finals. Although there is some rebuilding to do, we have a great nucleus of players to take over. We hope to continue to improve and be a contender in the league this year. With a competitive schedule, it could be very exciting."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Falmouth's 2008 campaign was magical. The Yachtsmen returned to the regional final for the first time in 31 years and did everything they could to beat York before suffering an agonizing loss in penalty corners. Falmouth said goodbye to a huge contingent of seniors, but there are still plenty of reasons to think the Yachtsmen will keep pace with the best teams in Western Class B. Leading the way is Foley, a first-team Western Maine Conference all-star, who was named Falmouth Fall Female Athlete of the Year in 2008 for her ability to score big goals. Her cannon blast is something no opposing goalie looks forward to. Jacki Aaskov and Madden will also be factors on offense, as will new senior Victoria Bridges and new sophomores Catherine Hebson and Courtney Proctor. The Yachtsmen have been very successful in recent years producing a balanced attack and since Foley will be the focal point this season, they'll need to find others to rattle the cage. On defense, Amber Aaskov, Scott, Sipperly and new sophomore Megan Fortier will look to hold the fort in front of Freedman, who returns in goal. This program is no longer happy to just make the playoffs. Falmouth has become one of the better teams in the region and expects to be a serious contender again. It might take the Yachtsmen a little time to jell with all the new faces and players in different positions, but by year's end, this team will once again be a force. Perhaps enough of a force to do what it takes to win the biggest games.
FUN FACT: Prior to 2002, Falmouth had posted double-digit wins in a season just once (1986). In the past seven seasons, the Yachtsmen have had four such seasons, including last year's 13, which set a new program benchmark.
CO-COACHES: Jorma Kurry and Danny Paul (sixth year)
(BOYS) 3rd @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) 8th @ Class B state meet
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Eric D'Agostino (Senior), Mike Serunian (Senior), Charlie Swerdlow (Senior), Ben Weigel (Senior), Henry Briggs (Sophomore), Tom Edmonds (Sophomore), Tim Follo (Sophomore), Conor McGrory (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Francesca D'Alfonso (Senior), Erin Morris (Senior), Sarah Abramson (Junior), Adrienne Michalakis (Junior), Maggie Parrish (Junior), Shaina Sirois (Junior), Jena Manette (Sophomore), Emily Rand (Sophomore)
TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Greely, York
COACH KURRY'S COMMENT: "The boys graduated a strong class. This year's team will be led by Tim, Conor and Charlie. We'll rely on some other young runners to fill spots. If the boys train well through the season, they'll be very competitive at the end. We've been working very hard. We hope to challenge Cape and Greely at the WMC and state meets. The girls return most runners. We'll look for a strong finish led by Erin and Francesca. Several newcomers will hope to challenge for podium spots at the big meets. These girls have competed successfully at big meets before and know what it takes. If they pull together as a team and challenge themselves, they can be a top team again."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both Falmouth teams will be fun to watch this autumn.
The boys lost some firepower from a year ago, but retain plenty of strong runners. Leading the list of returners are Follo (10th at last year's Class B state meet and a league all-star), Swerdlow (31st at states) and McGrory (41st). D'Agostino, Serunian and Weigel provide experience. Briggs and Edmonds bring depth. Five newcomers will also be in the mix. That group includes senior Eric Hemphill, junior John Lake, sophomore Sean Hodgdon and freshmen Azad Jalali and Jay Lesser. The numbers and raw talent are in place. If the Yachtsmen can stay healthy and ramp up for late-October, they'll give Cape Elizabeth and Greely a run for their money at the biggest meets. Once again, Falmouth will be one of the best teams in the state, regardless of class.
On the girls' side, the Yachtsmen have most of their top runners back and should move up. Morris (a league all-star last year who was 19th at states), Parrish (26th), D'Alfonso (40th), Rand (51st) and Sirois (72nd) all are back. Abramson, Manette and Michalakis also return. Falmouth adds new senior Grace Baker, junior Amy Webster and freshmen Abby Payton and Molly Ryan. While Cape Elizabeth once again appears to be a heavy favorite, Falmouth is right there among the next level of top contenders. Look for yet another top 10 (possibly top five) finish from this group.
COACH: Spike Herrick (19th year)
2008 Results: 7-2-1 (Class B state champions)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Connor Burfeind (Junior)
TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Greely, York
COACH'S COMMENT: "We lost four of our top five golfers, so needless to say, we're rebuilding. We'll be a very young team with a lot of potential. Connor should be our No. 1, All the other spots are up for grabs. My goal for this season is to make it back to states."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: A year ago, Falmouth shocked favored York to capture the Class B state championship. Unfortunately, most of the top players from that team graduated, leaving this year's squad in a position to start over. Weep not for the Yachtsmen, however. As always, Herrick has plenty of good, young talent to work with. Burfeind is the only player returning from last year's state match (he shot an 88). He figures to move into the No. 1 spot this time around. Other players looking to secure spots include seniors Will Linthicum and Connor Nolan, juniors Taylor Dimick and Alex Groat, and sophomores Will Bucklin, Nick Franco, Peter Kyros and Matt Packard. Falmouth's regular season record probably won't reflect its growth. The Yachtsmen have to go up against Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Yarmouth and York, teams that will be in contention for league and state supremacy. The Yachtsmen will hope to be at their best during the qualifying rounds. Based on its history, it would be foolish to count Falmouth out of anything.
COACH: Gary Powers (third year)
2008 Results: 12-4 (lost 3-1 to Biddeford in West Region semifinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Carolyn Smyth (Senior), Emma Wilberg (Senior), Alyssa Yeung (Senior), Kate Sparks (Junior)
PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 4 @ Scarborough, Sept. 15 (H) BIDDEFORD, Sept. 21 (H) YARMOUTH, Sept. 26 @ Biddeford, Oct. 5 (H) GREELY, Oct. 14 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 16 @ Greely
COACH'S COMMENT: "We graduated seven seniors, five who were starters. We're in the process of getting players up to speed to play on the varsity level and hope to be in the thick of things come the end of the season. With Smyth, Yeung, Sparks and Wilberg, we have the makings of a good offense. We have a couple holes to fill and we'll see how the new players fit in. With the league going to a new classification, only six teams go to the state tournament, so getting the last couple spots will be a fight. We're looking forward to an exciting season."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Like its powerhouse neighbor Greely, it didn't take Falmouth long to emerge as a volleyball threat. The Yachtsmen enjoyed a stellar second season and now take aim at more triumph in 2009. While graduation did a number on the program, there are an abundance of new players eager to make their mark this fall. The top returners are Smyth (an outside hitter), Sparks (opposite), Wilberg (setter) and Yeung (middle hitter, who earned all-state honors in 2008). Four new seniors look to step in. That group includes Perri Ariens (libero), Rachel Brown (opposite), Maggie Bruen (outside hitter/libero) and Karita Stevens (setter). Six new juniors are also on-hand. Keep an eye on Alana Becker (outside hitter), Sarah Collmus (setter), Laura Fay (middle hitter), Karla Galli (setter), Jackie Keroake (middle hitter) and Lexi Pauls (outside hitter/libero). Falmouth has shown it can compete. Now it needs to sustain its success. With the new playoff format (volleyball is now split in two classes by enrollment with just six teams making the postseason in Class A), the Yachtsmen will need to post another solid record to play on. If the newcomers get up to speed as hoped, Falmouth will be able to chase the likes of Greely, Biddeford, Scarborough and Gorham and have a chance to finish on a high note.