North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Fall Sports Preview
There are a lot of new faces at North Yarmouth Academy this fall. Not only is there an infusion of promising new athletes, but several teams have new coaches in 2009. Boys' and girls' soccer both have new faces at the helm and both squads are seeking to return to glory this season. Golf is now led by the athletic director. That team has the pieces in place to be a state title contender. Field hockey is defending a state crown. Last year's feel-good story has a shot to repeat. Both cross country squads are seeking to make it to states. Volleyball could be a team on the rise.
COACH: Martyn Keen (first year)
2008 Record: 4-9-2 (Lost 2-1 to Traip in Western Class C preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jay Garnett (Senior), Henry Sterling (Senior), Mohamed Dahia (Junior), Matt Michaud (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 10 @ Traip, Sept. 22 (H) WAYNFLETE, Oct. 6 (H) TRAIP, Oct. 13 @ Waynflete, Oct. 15 (H) FREEPORT
COACH'S COMMENT: "It's a nice group of kids. We're young on defense. We have some freshmen who will play. I'm a little worried about goal-scoring. We should be pretty competitive in our class and our number of wins should go up. I think we'll be pretty good. We believe in ourselves."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: For the third time in a little more than a year, the NYA boys' soccer program welcomes a new coach. Martyn Keen coached Deering for 10 seasons and more recently has served as a full-time coach with the Seacoast United premier program. He specializes in working with goalkeepers and likes what he sees in new junior Dylan Seely in that position. The Panthers figure to have their share of offensive firepower. Sterling, last year's NYA Fall Male Athlete of the Year and a reigning Western Maine Conference all-star, will be a force in the midfield. Up top, Dahia, Garnett and Michaud will look to do some damage. New senior Sam Nye is a stalwart on defense. NYA is a bit of an unknown commodity entering the season. The Panthers will likely be improved from last fall, but just how much so is yet to be determined. They don't have to face the Class A and B powerhouses that have been on the schedule the past couple of seasons. If Keen is able to get everyone heading in the right direction and if NYA can gain some early confidence (a chance to avenge the playoff loss at Traip Sept. 10 would do wonders), the Panthers figure to find themselves right in the thick of things come playoff time.
FUN FACT: NYA's program-record 12-year streak of 10 or more victories came to an end last season.
COACH: Charles Fischman (first year)
2008 Record: 10-7 (Lost 2-0 to Waynflete in Western C Final to snap five-year championship reign)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Courtney Dumont (Senior), Kate Lentine (Senior), Lilly Wellenbach (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 22 @ Waynflete, Oct. 3 (H) WAYNFLETE
COACH'S COMMENT: "The girls are working very hard to prepare for the season and I expect that everyone on the team will make an important contribution to our efforts. NYA girls' soccer has had much success in the past and we're trying to build on that foundation. We'll continue to practice hard to do our best in the games ahead."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Like the boys, the girls' team welcomes its third coach in as many seasons after Elayna Zachko left to take the Freeport girls' job. Fischman has coached club and school soccer for several years in Dallas, Colorado Springs and locally. The Freeport resident grew up in Dallas where he was a soccer standout. He later played at Brown University. He takes over a team that is in an unfamiliar situation: not defending a Class C state crown. The Panthers won every year from 2003 through 2007, but Waynflete finally got the better of them last year in the regional final. Now, NYA will focus on winning its eighth title in 11 seasons. There are several reasons to believe it is capable. Leading the way is the undeniable force known as Courtney Dumont. The three-year standout and reigning league all-star is simply one of the finest players to come our way. She has a flair for the dramatic like no other and it's hard to imagine that she doesn't still have a few dramatic goals in her powerful right foot. Lentine and Wellenbach are also solid returners who have enjoyed success in soccer and other sports. That winning pedigree will go a long way. Seniors Emily Mitchell and Ali O'Reilly, junior Caroline Bowne and sophomores Ally Morrison and Hannah Twombly also return. The Panthers will need to find a new goalie after Abigail Moss graduated. That position should sort itself out. NYA has an easier regular season schedule this year than in years past. The two Waynflete showdowns will go a long way toward determining playoff positioning. There's a very good chance the rivals will meet in the regional final for the fourth year in a row. If so, it will be tough for the Flyers to deny the Panthers again.
FUN FACT: In its postseason history, NYA has won 35 of 39 games and seven state championships.
COACH: Julia Littlefield (fifth year)
2008 Record: 16-2 (Beat Dexter 2-1, in overtime, to win Class C state championship)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Hayley Bright (Senior), Lianna Hachborn (Senior), Hayley McKinnon (Senior), Katie Paige (Senior), Kelsey Pietkiewicz (Senior), Jaime Rogers (Senior), Renee Lamoreau (Junior), Frances Leslie (Junior), Kylie Dalbec (Sophomore), Katherine Millett (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 @ Freeport, Sept. 14 @ Sacopee, Sept. 29 (H) FREEPORT, Oct. 5 (H) SACOPEE
COACH'S COMMENT: "We've had a great preseason so far. I'm not counting my chickens, but we're looking good. We have a lot of ice hockey players who can run the give-and-go. We're really fun to watch. It's a small team, but they want it. There's a lot of camaraderie. We're excited coming off a state championship. Our heads are high, but we're not overly confident."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Panthers lived a charmed life in 2008. After a superb regular season, NYA expected to play the semifinals and the regional final on the road, but got to stay home for both rounds due to upsets. The Panthers didn't allow a single goal in rolling to the regional crown, then surprised many by outplaying favored Dexter for most of the Class C Final. The Tigers managed to tie the game in the second half, but NYA wouldn't be denied, winning its first championship in 14 seasons when freshman Frances Leslie scored on a breakaway in overtime. It might be tough to build on so much drama and triumph, but this team has every reason to believe it can repeat. Several standouts return. Bright is back in goal. She has big-game experience, but probably won't be tested much in the regular season. The defense is spearheaded by Lamoreau, McKinnon, Pietkiewicz and Rogers. New junior Emily Harrison will be in the mix as well. Offensively, the Panthers can turn to several threats. Leading the way will be Dalbec, Hachborn (WMC second-team all-star last year), Leslie (second-team all-star), Millett and Paige. New senior Ashley Salerno and junior Rozi Smith will also look to make a mark. With St. Dom's out of the conference, NYA will be hard pressed to find many competitive games during the regular season. The Panthers should boast another very strong record by year's end and will get some serious tests in the playoffs. NYA has proved it can get the job done in the biggest games. After tasting triumph last year, this group expects to go all the way to the state final (which is played this year right down the street at Yarmouth High) again. It won't be wise to bet against them.
FUN FACT: NYA has won two state championships. Both were by a 2-1 margin in overtime (the Panthers edged Orono in 1994).
(BOYS) Peter Sillin (fourth year)
(GIRLS) Chris Mazzurco (eighth year)
(BOYS) DNQ for Class C state meet (8th @ regionals)
(GIRLS) DNQ for Class C state meet (6th @ regionals)
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Nick Kolkin (Junior), Rudy Guliani (Sophomore), Grant McPherson (Sophomore), Brian Trelegan (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Abbie McIvor (Senior), Maeve Stier (Senior), Maggie Meixell (Sophomore)
TOP FOES: Freeport, Waynflete
COACH SILLIN'S COMMENT: "We lost six of our seven scorers from last year, so we're pretty much starting from scratch. Fortunately, we have a great group of younger runners who have been together since middle school. This team is full of really positive energy. There are so many strong programs in our conference and in Class C. Our main goals are to stay healthy, get faster, gain experience and lay the foundation for a strong program for years to come."
COACH MAZZURCO'S COMMENT: "We have good depth. We have seven sophomores this year. I'm pretty excited about them. We just missed states by a hair the past couple years. These girls are very focused to get there this season. If we can stay healthy, we'll make a run at it."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both NYA teams are young, but promising this season.
The boys were the last team out at the regional meet a year ago, but could get the job done this time if some new runners can come through. Guliani is the only returner from last year's regional meet (he was 61st). He's joined by Kolkin, McPherson and Trelegan from last year's team and four newcomers who could pay immediate dividends: senior Phil Champoux and sophomores Evan Kendall, Cam Regan and Jake Susla. The Panthers will look to improve steadily between now and October and will take their chances at the regional meet. This is a program to watch going forward.
On the girls' side, NYA feels it can move up a spot or two at regionals and qualify this year. Meixell returns after qualifying for states as an individual. She was 11th at last year's regional meet. She'll be the team's lead runner. McIvor was 39th at last year's regional meet. She and Stier bring experience. A large group of newcomers will also have a chance to make a mark. The Panthers are focusing on being as competitive as possible in the regular season and being at their best on Oct. 24. This could be their year.
COACH: Mike Dutton (first year)
2008 Results: 8-1 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Toey LeBlanc (Senior), Nick Luce (Senior), Chris Whiting (Senior), Tim Millett (Junior)
TOP FOES: OOB, Waynflete
COACH'S COMMENT: "My top three are solid. There will be a healthy competition for the next spots. I'm new and am still learning. I think we have a chance to do great things. We're setting high goals. It depends on how hard the kids want to work."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: NYA is coming off a solid season, but the Panthers were disappointed not to qualify for states. The Panthers won every regular season match but one in 2008 and the one was a close loss to eventual Class B champion Falmouth. This year, with St. Dom's out of the picture, NYA appears to have an easier road to qualify. The Panthers welcome a new coach this fall after longtime mentor Don Curtis stepped down. Athletic director and boys' basketball coach Mike Dutton will step in. Dutton played golf in college, coached the sport at Mt. Holyoke and is a lifelong aficionado. He inherits some great players. Millett tied for the individual championship in Class C last year, shooting a 73 in the state match. He stands to be dominant. Luce was an all-star a year ago and is a No. 1-quality player in the No. 2 spot. He came in 10th at the Class C individual meet with an 80 in 2008. LeBlanc and Whiting also return. If NYA stays focused, it has be viewed as a favorite to have another great season, then go on and do big things at the team and individual state championships.
COACH: Nora Krainis (fifth year)
2008 Results: 0-14 (no postseason)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Hannah Bewsey (Senior), Rachel Clegg (Senior), Thu-Trang Ho (Senior)
PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 14 (H) YARMOUTH, Sept. 21 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 1 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 16 @ Cape Elizabeth
COACH'S COMMENT: "We're still maturing. We're looking forward to a good season and making the Class B playoffs."
FORECASTER'S FORECAST: NYA has a chance to make some noise with the new two-class system in volleyball. While their neighboring powers are in Class A, the Panthers are Class B with the squads from Down East. NYA has some solid returners in Bewsey (hitter), Clegg (setter) and Ho (setter). While the Panthers are still a work in progress, the word is they could be vastly improved. If NYA can win enough regular season matches to qualify for the postseason, it could be very dangerous. This appears to be a program on the rise.