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McAuley Lions Fall Sports Preview

Sports

McAuley Lions Fall Sports Preview

All three McAuley fall varsity teams have high hopes in 2009. Girls' soccer is hoping to turn the close losses of last year into wins and a playoff run this season. Field hockey welcomes a new coach and expects to improve. Cross country has enjoyed great success in recent years and although this year's team is smaller, should be formidable again.

GIRLS SOCCER

COACH: Vince Aceto (second year)

2008 Record: 1-13 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Becca Tanous (Senior), Allison Bonner (Junior), Maura Esten (Junior), Paige Hickey (Junior), Shelby Bryant (Sophomore), Olivia Crozier (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 @ Portland, Sept. 15 (H) MARSHWOOD, Sept. 22 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 24 (H) WESTBROOK, Sept. 29 (H) DEERING, Oct. 2 @ Scarborough, Oct. 7 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 20 @ Cheverus

COACH'S COMMENT: "I feel it's wide open this year. Any team can step up. The beauty of this year's squad is we can draw from youth and speed. We're a very young team so being put into a varsity situation as a freshman may be difficult to adapt to. I have a lot of confidence the girls will represent themselves as positive student-athletes who will give 100 percent to achieve their goal of postseason play."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: For the first time since 2004, McAuley returns the same girls' soccer coach from the previous season. Although the Lions won just once in 2008, they could be due for a quantum leap this fall. McAuley had four one-goal losses in 2008, two of which came in overtime. The Lions were often competitive, but couldn't score consistently enough to win (McAuley averaged just over one goal per contest). This year, if the team can produce offense, look out. Bonner, Bryant, Esten, Hickey and Tanous will all look to fill the net. They'll be joined by new sophomores Cristina Leake and Kathryn O'Donoghue, who could make an immediate impact. Crozier leads the defensive effort with help from freshman Hannah Cooke. Freshman Molly Miller will receive trial by fire in goal. The Lions have a chance to get off on the right foot. If they can enjoy a few wins in the early going, the team's confidence will soar and they'll be in the mix throughout. While the playoffs appear to be a longshot, McAuley will make life difficult for most foes and should easily surpass last year's win total.

FUN FACT: McAuley enjoyed its lone two winning seasons in 2001 and 2002, combining for 17 victories. In the six years since, the Lions have won just 16 games.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Lauren Gillespie (first year)

2008 Record: 0-13-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Olivia Locke (Senior), Michelle Girard (Junior), Sara Mercier (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 12 @ Deering, Sept. 22 @ Sanford, Sept. 26 @ Westbrook, Oct. 2 @ Cheverus, Oct. 6 (H) GORHAM

COACH'S COMMENT "The 2009 season is a new slate for McAuley. The girls are incredibly committed to becoming the best team they can be and working tirelessly every day. They're learning to be confident with the skills they already have, which is allowing us to learn new skills and new ways of looking at and playing the game. We have a very positive outlook and hope to improve with every game and come out with a few more wins under our belts than most expect."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: McAuley has a new face at the helm this fall as Gillespie takes over. She played at Lake Region and later at the University of Massachusetts before assisting at Amherst (Mass.) High School a year ago. Gillespie inherits a team primed to make a move up the standings if it can only produce some offense. In 2008, the Lions scored in just four contests and managed only five goals all season. Any increase in production will likely spell more victories. This year's team features Mercier (an SMAA all-star last year), Locke and Girard, all of whom are hoping to breakout offensively. A pair of newcomers, junior Tori Tenenbam and freshman Liz Perkins, will also be in the mix. The defense is led by new junior Katie Dubois. Sophomore Jamie LaCasse returns in goal. McAuley has its share of speed and skill, but what the Lions really need is a dose of confidence. If they can find a way to score consistently, their chances will increase dramatically. Don't be surprised if a new approach pays dividends. Look for the Lions to win some games in the regular season and give some contenders a scare. By season's end, McAuley will be an opponent no one will want to face.

FUN FACT: McAuley's last victory came Sept. 12, 2007, a 1-0 overtime win at South Portland.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Tim Donovan (eighth year)

2008 Results: 15th @ Class A meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS: Margaret Cruz (Senior), Lauren Fecteau (Senior), Victoria Hugo-Vidal (Senior), Wendy Doan (Sophomore), Becca Kaiser (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Scarborough, Thornton Academy

COACH'S COMMENT: "Our numbers are down. We only have about 10 kids. I hope to be competitive. We hope to at least make states. Lauren will be our No. 1."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The McAuley cross country program has been consistently strong in recent seasons, but the Lions are facing a challenge this year with low numbers as they hope to qualify for states for the seventh straight year. Fecteau is the top returner. She was a second-team SMAA all-star a year ago and placed eighth at the regional meet. Kaiser (96th) is the lone returning scorer from the state meet. She stands to move up, as do Cruz, Doan and Hugo-Vidal who is bouncing back from injury. If the Lions can add to their small numbers it would help the cause. McAuley has its work cut out, but there is hope. Look for Fecteau to emerge as one of the league's top runners and for the Lions to be competitive all season, especially in the biggest meets at the end of the year.

Photo: File photo
Sophomore Shelby Bryant figures to be a scoring threat for the McAuley girls' soccer team this season.

Photo: File photo
Senior Lauren Fecteau is a leading runner for the 2009 McAuley cross country team.

Photo: File photo
Sophomore Rebecca Kaiser is an up-and-comer on the trails.