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Cape Elizabeth Capers Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Cape Elizabeth Capers Fall Sports Preview

Cape Elizabeth figures to be in contention for championships in several sports this fall. Football has become a first-rate contender and might finally be ready to leapfrog Mountain Valley. Boys' soccer is always in the mix and despite being hit hard by graduation, will be very tough. The girls' team finished the 2008 season on a high note and hopes to build on that success. Field hockey was hit hard by graduation, but could still be playoff-bound. Cross country has excelled in recent years. The girls' team might have been the best in state history last fall. This year, the Capers will be a powerhouse again. The boys hope to unseat Greely and win Class B. Golf expects to rebound after a rare year away from the state match. Volleyball embarks on its second varsity season and will be improved.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Aaron Filieo (sixth year)

2008 Record: 9-2 (Lost 25-19 to eventual state champion Mountain Valley in Western Class B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Tommy Foden (Senior), James Martin (Senior), Finn Melanson (Senior), Luke Morin (Senior), Kyle Piscopo (Senior), Brenden Shields (Senior), Caleb Tracey (Senior), Ezra Wolfinger (Senior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 11 @ York, Sept. 25 @ Falmouth, Oct. 9 (H) WELLS, Oct. 16 (H) GREELY, Oct. 30 (H) MOUNTAIN VALLEY

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have a strong senior class. Those guys all played last year. Experience helps. We'll be right in the mix, but we still have a lot we have to do. Our offense is very balanced, but our defense is kind of young. We're focusing on getting better. I think Mountain Valley is always the team to beat. York will be tough as well. We're going to be competitive."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Capers will be more than competitive. They'll be very, very strong in 2009. After three years of close calls, this might be the season that sees Cape Elizabeth finally get past Mountain Valley and reach the state final. Last year, the Capers gave the Falcons a scare in the Western B Final, but couldn't quite finish the job. This year's team is bound and determined to make history. Wolfinger returns as quarterback. He was a Campbell Conference all-star in 2008 and has a potent arm. He figures to regularly connect with Melanson, another reigning all-star. Tracey could also be a target. A big part of the offense will be the tough, elusive and quick Foden, an all-star a year ago, who is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Piscopo and Shields will also see their share of carries. Keep an eye also on new junior Jack Barber, who could be in the mix. The line will miss last year's Fall Male Athlete of the Year Nate Lavallee, but is still in good hands with Martin, Morin, new senior Will Panette and senior Brian Stephenson, who missed time last year with injury. Senior Max Puslifer is the placekicker. Cape Elizabeth averaged 34 points a game last season. There is every reason to think the Capers will light up the scoreboard again. The defense is also a proud and successful unit which stands to be dominant this fall. On the line, Martin, Morin, Panette, Stephenson and Tracey will be formidable. The linebacking corps includes Piscopo and Shields. Foden, Melanson and Wolfinger will anchor the secondary. Western Class B is loaded this season. The Capers and Mountain Valley again lead the pack, but York and Falmouth also look tough, with Wells, Greely and Fryeburg hoping to spring an upset or two. As was the case two years ago, Cape Elizabeth hosts Mountain Valley in the season finale, which will likely be a game for homefield advantage. In 2007, the Capers couldn't beat the Falcons a second time. This time around, if they get to play Mountain Valley at home in the postseason, Cape Elizabeth has a great shot to complete their rise to the top and bring home a first-ever gold ball.

FUN FACT: If it wasn't for Mountain Valley, Cape Elizabeth would be on a three-year unbeaten streak. The Capers have only dropped five games since 2006, but all five were to the Falcons.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Ben Raymond (fourth year)

2008 Record: 12-3-2 (lost 2-0 to eventual state champion Scarborough in Western Class A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Brock Barritt (Senior), Ben Brewster (Senior), Will DeSena (Senior), Harper Nelson (Senior), Blake Barritt (Sophomore), Nick Breed (Sophomore), Tim Lavallee (Sophomore), Jack Queeney (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 14 @ Falmouth, Sept. 17 (H) YORK, Oct. 1 (H) GREELY, Oct. 3 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 6 (H) FALMOUTH, Oct. 8 @ York, Oct. 14 @ Greely, Oct. 19 @ Freeport

COACH'S COMMENT: "We graduated quite a bit. Ten seniors. Eight who played a lot and started two-plus years. We'll have to work through some growing pains. The kids are working hard. A lot of these guys had to wait their turn. We're right where we want to be. Making the tournament will be a challenge. We have some great games with Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth, but we could lose all six, still be a very good team and struggle to get the points to get into the playoffs."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Raymond's concerns notwithstanding, the Capers should make the playoffs and could make quite a bit of noise while there. Last year, Cape Elizabeth was one of the best teams in the state in the regular season, but couldn't finish the job. After barely surviving Bonny Eagle in the preliminary round, the Capers got past Thornton Academy, but Scarborough was too much to overcome in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth had to say goodbye to standouts Marcus Goldbas and Amory Houghton, but several key players return. Brewster (a conference and regional all-star in 2008) is viewed as one of the best players in the area. He and Brock Barritt figure to light it up on offense. They'll get help from Blake Barritt, Breed, Nelson, junior Teddy Smith and freshman Alex Cooley. The defense features DeSena, Queeney and Lavallee, who might get moved around as the season progresses. Junior Cam Brown, the backup to Jon O'Hearn last season, is now the starting goalkeeper. He's a solid athlete who has enjoyed great success on the basketball court. He'll be the last line of defense. With the exception of games at defending Class B champion Yarmouth and traditional juggernaut Falmouth, the early portion of the Capers' schedule is favorable. The stretch run is brutal. Cape Elizabeth needs to take advantage in September, get some wins under its belt and create confidence for the season-closing crucible. By year's end, the Capers will be battle tested and primed to meet anyone in the playoffs. This team isn't on the list of favorites, but has to be in consideration. Don't be surprised if Cape Elizabeth is stealing headlines at season's end.

FUN FACT: Cape Elizabeth needs to avoid Scarborough in even-numbered seasons. In 2004, 2006 and 2008, the Capers were eliminated by the Red Storm in the semifinals.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Gary Newell (second year)

2008 Record: 7-9 (lost 2-1 to Greely in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Emma Goldbas (Senior), Katie Lavallee (Senior), Meredith Riker (Senior), Colleen Thibeault (Senior), Abby Armstrong (Junior), Karyn Barrett (Junior), Lexi Weatherbie (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 14 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 17 @ York, Sept. 30 @ Greely, Oct. 3 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 6 @ Falmouth, Oct. 8 (H) YORK, Oct. 13 (H) GREELY

COACH'S COMMENT: "The girls came in in shape and dedicated. We have very good senior leadership and good chemistry. We hope to build on last year's late success. It will be more difficult this year because of the rule changes with the Heal Points. We want to make the playoffs first and foremost. I want to be one of the last two teams to play. I think we can go deep."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cape Elizabeth rides a wave of momentum after the strong way it finished 2008. On the verge of missing the playoffs, the Capers squeaked in, then shocked Scarborough in the preliminary round before losing a close decision to Greely in the quarterfinals. This year's team has the opportunity to post the program's first winning mark since 2005 and could be even more dangerous in the postseason. Cape Elizabeth features one of the most exciting players around in Barrett, who has a penchant for clutch goals. Goldbas, Lavallee and Riker, along with junior Emily Donovan (who played on the JV team in 2008), will also be in the offensive mix. The defense features Armstrong and Thibeault. Freshman Maddy Riker is an intriguing player. She's expected to live up to her family's legacy and make a quick impact. The only question is where. Expect to see her all over the field. Weatherbie returns in goal. She's considered to be one of the best in the region. As always, the Capers face a daunting schedule, but this year's team is better equipped to go head-to-head with the likes of Falmouth, Greely, Yarmouth and York. Cape Elizabeth does need to get off to a better start this year. It's end-of-season slate is scary and the Capers can't hope to get into the postseason as the No. 12 seed. Such a thing won't exist this fall as only 50 percent qualify. If Barrett gets consistent support on offense, Cape Elizabeth will be difficult to beat. The Capers have a great shot to be turning heads in late-October yet again.

FUN FACT: A playoff date with Greely hasn't been a good thing this decade. Last year's quarterfinal loss was the Capers' fifth to the Rangers since 2000.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Darci Holland (third year)

2008 Record: 6-8-1 (lost 2-0 to Lake Region in Western Class B preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Gabe Donahue (Senior), Ruth Perkins (Senior), Julia Springer (Senior), Kelsey Maguire (Junior), Bella Robinson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 @ York, Sept. 11 (H) WELLS, Sept. 15 (H) LAKE REGION, Sept. 17 @ Greely, Sept. 23 @ Falmouth, Sept. 25 (H) YORK, Oct. 1 @ Wells, Oct. 3 @ Lake Region, Oct. 5 (H) GREELY, Oct. 10 (H) FALMOUTH

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're a young team with only five returners from last year's varsity squad. The five are good leaders and I hope for them to play big roles for us this season. We also have some newcomers that are promising that I am excited to watch their skills grow this year. I think this young team has a lot of potential and I'm looking forward to coming together as a team."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cape Elizabeth has qualified for the playoffs for 14 years running, but with a young and inexperienced roster, combined with the new MPA-mandated 50 percent of teams make the postseason rule, the Capers have their work cut out to make it 15. The cupboard isn't exactly bare though. Maguire was a Western Maine Conference all-star in 2008. She'll be a presence at midfield and on defense, along with Springer. Donahue, Perkins and Robinson will spark the offense. Three newcomers could make immediate impacts. Freshman Tally Perkins will be in the offensive mix. Freshman Jane Coffrin will play midfield and defense. Freshman Julianne Ayers replaces all-star Katie Mowles in goal. The Capers will take awhile to hit their stride, but there is hope for a playoff run. If Cape Elizabeth can gain some early confidence, it can compete with everyone. There isn't a powerhouse team in the region this season, making the postseason fair game. The Capers will give it their best shot.

FUN FACT: Cape Elizabeth won six games in both 2007 and 2008. The last time the Capers had the same number of wins in consecutive seasons came in 1995 and 1996 (11).

CROSS COUNTRY

BOYS COACH: David Weatherbie (eighth year)

GIRLS COACH: Mary Ann Doss (13th year)

2008 Results:
(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet (14th @ New Englands)
(GIRLS) Repeated as Class B state champions (6th @ New Englands)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS
BOYS: Peter Brigham (Senior), Bobby Yokabaskas (Senior), Reid Douty (Junior), Leo Ledman (Junior), Sean Thomas (Junior), Thomas Bottomley (Sophomore)
GIRLS: Emily Atwood (Senior), Hannah Doss (Senior), Kelsey Barton (Junior), Rachel Nichols (Junior), Catherine Tierney (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH WEATHERBIE'S COMMENT: "We return six of our top eight from last season. Many of them did a great job putting in the training over the summer to take their results to another level this season. With a healthy Reid Douty this season, we expect to chase Greely for conference, regional and state championships."

COACH DOSS' COMMENT: "Our team is just as strong and talented as last year. The top five scorers from states return and those girls placed in the top 15. We were sixth overall as a team at New Englands. We're aiming for another state championship and higher team place at the New England championships."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cape Elizabeth stands to be the best combined cross country program in the state.

The boys' team was a close second to Greely at the regional and state meets last year. This time around, the Capers (who have added Scarborough indoor and outdoor coach Derek Veilleux as an assistant) feel they can leapfrog their rival. Front-runners Matt Rand and Chris Flathers have graduated, but plenty of firepower returns. Bottomley was 12th at the state meet a year ago. Brigham (32nd), Yokabaskas (35th), Thomas (37th) and Ledman also return. Douty is the not-so-secret weapon. With him at 100 percent, Cape Elizabeth will be even stronger. New senior Graham Findlay and freshman James Yokabaskas add depth. The Capers will keep their eye on the Rangers all season and will ramp up to dethrone Greely at season's end. You have to like their chances.

On the girls' side, what can you say about the 2008 Capers other than they were sensational? Cape Elizabeth didn't just live up to the excessive hype, it exceeded it while repeating as state champions. The Capers graduated standout Marita Stressenger, but she was only sixth on the team at states last year. Attwood was brilliant at states last season, placing second. Barton (third), Nichols (ninth), Tierney (11th) and Doss (12th) also scored. All five return, hungry to do it again. If that isn't enough, five new runners will add to the embarrassment of riches. Juniors Lydia Berman and Skyler Dunfey, sophomore Tori Brigham and freshmen Ellen Best and Emma Inhorn will help the cause this year and will perpetuate the dynasty going forward. If Cape Elizabeth can stay healthy, it will once again dominate in the league, region and state. The Capers could be one of the finest teams in all of New England when all is said and done. Expect another year of brilliance from this group.

GOLF

CO-COACHES: Nick Sansone and Bill McGary (second year)

2008 Results: 5-3-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Wil LaPrade (Senior), Conor Moloney (Senior), Will Pierce (Senior)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH MCGARY'S COMMENT: "We expect to be right there. We have a very strong nucleus."

COACH SANSONE'S COMMENT: I think we're really strong this year. We only lost one top player to graduation. Will Pierce and Conor Moloney are steady and strong."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cape Elizabeth's expected title run was derailed in stunning fashion at the qualifying match last year, leaving the Capers out of the state match for the first time since the start of the decade. This season, Cape Elizabeth will look to overcome that sting and return to the top of the heap. Moloney and Pierce are both capable of playing No. 1 and will be in the hunt for a singles championship in October. LaPrade is experienced. Several players who saw limited action in 2008 are primed to become full-time contributors this autumn. Juniors Ben Berman, Brad Dickinson, Will Lablond, Ian Leonard, Rob McDonald and Ben Morse all have a shot at earning a regular spot. Freshman Brandon Nagele is a star of the future. He'll be heard from as the season progresses. Freshmen Sam Koslowski and Connor Sullivan and newcomer Vinnie Dellaquilla are also in the mix. There's a lot of talent on this roster and the Capers figure to boast another strong record. This time, however, Cape Elizabeth will aim to be at its best at qualifying so it can make another run at a state championship. The Capers have what it takes to return to the pinnacle.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Rob Thompson (second year)

2008 Record: 2-12 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Amelia Bothel (Senior), Alicen Johnson (Senior), Lily Kalikow (Senior), Morgan Pillsbury (Senior), Anya Staszko (Senior), Lena Castro (Junior), Lucy Hewitt (Junior), Catherine Powell (Junior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 14 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 25 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 1 (H) GREELY, Oct. 2 @ Falmouth, Oct. 7 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 14 @ Greely

COACH'S COMMENT: "Our five returning seniors bring an incredible amount of enthusiasm, energy and solid skills to the team. We'll be focusing on skill, hustle, sportsmanship and the value of teamwork this year as we attempt to maximize our potential."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: With its inaugural season out of the way, Cape Elizabeth hopes to climb up the standings in 2009. The Capers were more than respectable last year, winning a pair of matches. This season, there is reason for optimism. Thompson is assisted this fall by Sarah Boeckel, who played at Stony Brook University. Bothel and Johnson will play outside hitter. Pillsbury and Staszko are middle hitters. Kalikow is the defensive specialist. Castro, Hewitt and Powell are setters. Cape Elizabeth is still growing as a program, but stands to improve this year. The Capers face several teams they're capable of beating and if all goes well, they could find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot. This team will only get better with time.

Photo: File photo
Senior Tommy Foden figures to be running free with the end zone in sight on many an occasion this fall.

Photo: File photo
Senior Ben Brewster figures to soar above the competition this season.

Photo: File photo
Junior Karyn Barrett has developed into one of the premier players in the Western Maine Conference.

Photo: File photo
Senior Julia Springer will be right in the middle of the action for the Cape Elizabeth field hockey team this fall.

Photo: File photo
Junior Leo Ledman is one of several strong runners on the boys' cross country team.

Photo: File photo
Junior Rachel Nichols was ninth at last year's state meet as Cape Elizabeth ran away with the championship. The Capers are favored to do it again this fall.