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Greely Rangers Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Greely Rangers Fall Sports Preview

Greely fall athletes and coaches, along with administrators and fans, are usually occupied into November. That's because the Rangers excel at so many autumn sports. A pair of teams are defending state titles and there should be more hardware on the horizon. Boys' soccer fell one step shy of an opportunity to defend a state crown last year. This year's team needs to focus on making the most of regular season opportunities to get into the playoffs. The girls' squad could be one of the best in Class A. Field hockey has suffered its share of postseason heartbreaks in recent years, but has the talent to advance deeper this time around. Boys' cross country won Class B a year ago and figures to be in a fierce battle with a couple rivals in its quest to repeat. The girls' team should also be very strong. Football and golf welcome new coaches and look to return to glory. Speaking of glory, volleyball is going for a seventh successive state crown.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Michael Andreasen (12th year)

2008 Record: 12-4-2 (Lost 1-0 to eventual state champion Scarborough in Western A Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Luke Booth (Senior), Matti Ingraham (Senior), Will Lones (Senior), Ted Russell (Senior), Jon Coyne (Junior), Sean Ross (Junior), Austin Spencer (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 26 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 1 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 3 @ Falmouth, Oct. 14 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 20 @ Yarmouth

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're not young, but we are inexperienced. We lost 10 starters. We're getting by. We'll hopefully build it up. We look to improve. We need some game experience. We have to play mistake-free. We want to be better at the end of the year than at the beginning. I like this group. It's very coachable. I think we're fortunate that in our first seven games we have a chance to build some confidence. We get the heavies at the end. If we can make the playoffs, we could make some noise."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Greely could wind up one of the best teams in the state by late-October, but there's no guarantee the Rangers will be in the postseason. With just 50 percent of teams from each region qualifying (per the new MPA rule), Greely has to find a way to earn a couple wins in its six games against rivals and powerhouses Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Class B champion Yarmouth. The Rangers lost 14 seniors from a very successful class and also bade farewell to Tucker Geoffroy, who transferred to Waynflete. As a result, many of this year's players are either seeing dramatically more playing time or are taking over at new positions. While Greely's challenges are evident, you can never write this program off. The offense will come as the season progresses. Coyne, Ingraham, Lones, Ross and Spencer will look to score their share. Several newcomers also have a chance to shine. That group includes senior Matt LeBlanc, a transfer from Cheverus, and senior Francisco Marques, a transfer student from Portugal. Defensively, Booth and Russell (a three-year player) anchor the unit, along with new seniors Max Freeman and Richard Hawkes, in front of new senior goalie Patrick Blum, brother of former superstar Oliver. Greely's mission is simple. Win the games it's supposed to and find a way to earn points against the big three. If the Rangers can come of age and find a way into the postseason, they could steal the show. It's hard to imagine a team covering the extremes of being capable of winning it all or missing the postseason altogether, but Greely is in that boat. The can't-miss big games this fall will determine whether the Rangers will sink or float.

FUN FACT: Greely is on an unprecedented streak of five straight seasons of double-digit victories.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Michael Kennedy (second year)

2008 Record: 12-5 (Lost 4-1 to Gorham in Western Class A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Allie Andrews (Senior), Taylor Hicks (Senior), Jamie Moody (Senior), Becca Otley (Senior), Kylie Ross (Senior), Kelly Burrell (Junior), Maggie Johnson (Junior), Audrey Parolin (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 @ Falmouth, Sept. 14 (H) YORK, Sept. 28 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 30 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 2 (H) FALMOUTH, Oct. 6 @ York, Oct. 13 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 19 (H) YARMOUTH

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have a good team. I have a year under my belt. We're jelling as a group. We're very balanced. Our young talent is great. We'll have a couple freshmen start. The sophomore class got a lot of experience last year. We have very good juniors and a nice senior class. There are a lot of good teams out there. We won't get too ahead of ourselves."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Greely is quietly positioning itself to be a top Western A contender this year. Gorham has stolen the show the past several seasons and will be very good again, but the Rams don't figure to be the juggernaut that won three straight state titles and played in fourth state game. That means the door will be open for other teams to move up and the Rangers have to like their chances. Greely will score its share of goals behind Burrell, who was last year's leading scorer, Parolin and freshman Sammi Toorish, whom Kennedy believes will make an immediate impact. Hicks, Johnson, Ross and senior Jesse Reade, who returns to Greely after spending last season at Cheverus, will be forces in the midfield. The defense features Andrews, Otley and freshman Holly Rand. Moody, who had seven shutouts last fall, is one of the league's premier goalkeepers. Other than tests from defending Class B champion Falmouth and York, the first half of the schedule is favorable. Greely has plenty of returning talent and the newcomers should fit right in. The players are now used to Kennedy's style and all the pieces appear in place for a very strong season. If the Rangers can stay healthy, they're capable of returning to the Class A Final for the first time since 2004.

FUN FACT: Gorham has knocked Greely out of the playoffs each of the past two years. The last time the Rangers were eliminated by the same team in consecutive seasons, Cape Elizabeth was doing the honors in four straight years (1996 through 1999).

FOOTBALL

COACH: David Higgins (first year)

2008 Results: 3-6 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Carter Cyr (Senior), Brandon Hethcoat (Senior), Michael Burgess (Junior), Jonathan Higgins (Junior), Justin Moore (Junior), Alex Parenteau (Junior), Ethan Wyman (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 (H) WELLS, Oct. 2 @ York, Oct. 10 (H) MOUNTAIN VALLEY, Oct. 16 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 30 @ Falmouth

COACH'S COMMENT: "It'll be a real learning experience for us this year. We have a bunch of freshmen coming up. We lost 15 seniors and have seven kids with varsity experience. We play in a competitive league. We want to be competitive this season. We'll make up for our inexperience with enthusiasm and attitude."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Greely welcomes the third varsity coach in its history. Higgins was an assistant with the program for three seasons. He's also coached Greely Middle and sixth grade football. He played at Cheverus, Bridgton Academy and at the University of Maine. He takes over a team that isn't being mentioned as a contender, but has a chance to be a pleasant surprise over the next several weeks. The Rangers were world beaters at the start of last year, winning three in a row, but they wouldn't taste victory again and had their season end with a bitter pill, letting fierce rival Falmouth rally in the waning moments to earn a win and a playoff spot. This time around, Greely will strive for consistency and to be at its best by year's end. Moore and Parenteau will look to replace Nate Martin at quarterback. Jonathan Higgins will be the lead back. Cyr and Wyman will be receiving threats. Burgess and Hethcoat anchor the offensive and defensive line. When the other team has the ball, Wyman will also be on the line. Higgins leads the linebacking corps. Cyr, Moore and Parenteau are in the secondary. The Rangers have a chance to get off to a hot start with three of their first four games at home. If Greely can win a few early, it might have a chance to battle Falmouth with a playoff spot on the line. Rest assured, the Rangers would love another crack at the Yachtsmen in a meaningful contest.

FUN FACT: Greely averaged 41 points per game in winning its first three contests last year, then scored only 10 points per contest during a season-ending six-game losing skid.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Kristina Lane Prescott (third year)

2008 Record: 12-2-1 (Lost 2-1 to Fryeburg in Western Class B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Anna Maine (Senior), Sarah Robinson (Senior), Julia Roy (Senior), Eleanor Saffian (Senior), Kate Storey (Senior), Jackie Andrews (Junior), Leah Wilcox (Junior), Ceci Hodgkins (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 (H) FRYEBURG, Sept. 9 @ Lake Region, Sept. 11 @ York, Sept. 21 @ Falmouth, Sept. 25 (H) LAKE REGION, Sept. 29 @ Fryeburg, Oct. 1 (H) YORK, Oct. 7 (H) FALMOUTH

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have a young team this year bringing a fresh perspective to the program. I am looking forward to a successful season and hoping to get over the 'Greely playoff curse.'"

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Greely had a very strong regular season in 2008, but in an ominous sign of things to come, often didn't play a full 60 minutes. Then, against Fryeburg in the quarterfinals, the Rangers found themselves behind and couldn't rally, falling in the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2000. Several stellar players graduated, but Greely should once again be in the hunt in Western B. The biggest hole to fill will come in goal. Standout Rebecca Stevenson's heir apparent will either be junior Maggie Bower or junior Hannah McCord. On defense, the Rangers figure to continue to be stingy. Robinson and Saffian lead that group. On offense, look for Andrews, Hodgkins (who impressed as a freshman), Maine, Roy, Storey and Wilcox to get the job done. Greely is younger this year and perhaps won't feel the pressure that's been present most of this decade. With that said, don't mistake youth for a lack of talent. The Rangers will be good. Perhaps not 12-1-1 good, but good enough to get into the postseason and maybe this time good enough to stay awhile.

FUN FACT: Last year's 12-1-1 mark was the second in Greely history. The first time the Rangers posted that record (2003), they won it all. Last year's postseason ended much earlier.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: David Dowling (13th year)

2008 Results:
(BOYS) Repeated as Class B state champions (12th @ New Englands)
(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet (25th @ New Englands)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Mark McCauley (Senior), Logan Price (Senior), Sam Humphries (Junior), Sam Johnston (Junior), Connor Regan (Junior)
(GIRLS) Marissa Goding (Senior), Emily Norton (Senior), Emily Christensen (Junior), Melissa Jacques (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth

COACH'S COMMENT: "The boys return five of seven from a state championship team. Falmouth, Cape and Greely will vie for the top spot. All three teams return with experienced runners. We hope to be among the top. The girls only return two of our top seven from last year. We have new runners who should help develop a solid top seven. We hope to qualify for the state meet."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both Greely cross country teams are eager to get started in 2009.

The boys took states for the second year in a row and have the pieces in place to make it three straight. McCauley was brilliant at states a year ago, finishing third. Price was sixth. Johnston (13th), Humphries (17th) and Regan (22nd) also dazzled. Good luck to anyone hoping to match up with that pack this season. Sophomores Jamie Currie, Isaak Emery and Stefan Sandreuter join in the fun and provide hope for the future. Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Hampden Academy will be formidable opposition, but the Rangers usually find a way to excel at the biggest meets. If they can stay healthy, they'll have a great shot at another crown.

On the girls' side, the team is rebuilding, but still dangerous. Jacques finished 48th at last year's state meet. Christensen, Goding and Norton also provide promise. That group is joined by new junior Dee Little, who has distance running experience, and newcomers Addie Halligan and Julia Isaacson will also be in the mix. If this group can come together, it should be one of the better teams in the Western Maine Conference and should be able to qualify for states. Expect another solid season from the Rangers.

GOLF

COACH: Brian Bickford (first year)

2008 Results: 3-7 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kerri Grant (Senior), Jason Lewis (Senior), Dean Maynard (Senior), Ben Walsh (Senior), Peter Westra (Senior), Meghan Bickford (Junior), Laura Grant (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Yarmouth, York

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have a nice mix of upper and underclassmen. We look for strong leadership and should be competitive during the regular season with our sights set firmly on qualifying for states. We're the only team in the state with nine girls who compete at a very high level. We expect to surprise some teams this year as the freshmen and sophomores mature."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Greely will be one of the most intriguing teams to watch this fall, as several of its girls will be very strong. Bickford takes over as coach. He once starred for the Rangers, is the club pro at Val Halla and coached Yarmouth for three years, capped by leading the Clippers to a surprising berth in the state meet last season. The squad he inherits has a solid returning core, led by Bickford (who shot a 92 at last year's girls' individual state match), Lewis and Maynard. Kerri Grant (85 at states last year) and Laura Grant (89), Walsh and Westra are all back and eager to produce. Sophomore Richard Judge and freshmen Kyle Bickford, Sarah Hansen and Kyle Megathlin are new to the team and provide depth. The Rangers have to compete against some of the best teams in the state during the regular season, but should only get better as the year goes on. Everything comes down to the qualifying rounds and if all goes well, Greely could make it to the state meet. Whatever happens, expect the Rangers to wake up the echoes and become a top contender going forward.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Kelvin Hasch (eighth year)

2008 Results: 17-0 (Defeated MDI 3-0 to win sixth consecutive state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Karlee Biskup (Senior), Michaela Campbell (Senior), Leah Churchill (Senior), Erin Kinney (Senior), Mary Zambello (Senior), Sara Warnock (Junior), Emily Sampson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 4 @ Biddeford, Sept. 8 @ Gorham, Sept. 22 @ Scarborough, Sept. 24 (H) BIDDEFORD, Oct. 2 (H) GORHAM, Oct. 5 @ Falmouth, Oct. 8 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 16 (H) FALMOUTH

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're blessed to have 10 seniors. We're already at a high level of play. I think we'll have everyone playing at the same level this year. We have 14 strong kids. We should be a really strong team, but you never know."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Don't let Hasch fool you, Greely will once again be a very strong team and if history is any indication, the Rangers will be the best team when all is said and done. Greely has lost just one match in six years and has set the bar for volleyball excellence so high that the other programs can only try and keep up. The gap is slowly closing, but Greely has to be the favorite again in 2009. Campbell was the Gatorade Player of the Year last season. She returns at outside hitter, along with Kinney. Biskup and Churchill are back at setter. Zambello will play middle hitter. Warnock is at opposite. Sampson can fill in at different positions on the floor. Four former junior varsity players have stepped up and are ready to contribute. That list includes seniors Holly Bannister, Taylor Roach and Claire Sawyer and sophomore Maggie Bradley. Simply put, the beat goes on. Greely should get some tests this year, but when all is said and done, whether the sport is classified in one class or two (which is new this year), the team to beat is the Rangers. The dynasty figures to continue. Grab a front row seat.

Photo: File photo
Senior Becca Otley is a defensive force for the Greely girls' soccer squad.

Photo: File photo
Senior Julia Roy is one of many scoring threats for the Greely field hockey team.

Photo: File photo
Senior Kate Storey features a rifle shot.

Photo: File photo
Senior Mark McCauley was third at last year's Class B state meet.

Photo: File photo
Sophomore Melissa Jacques is looking to build on her strong freshman season.

Photo: File photo
Reigning Gatorade Player of the Year Michaela Campbell and her teammates are seeking a seventh consecutive state championship.