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Deerng Rams 2010 Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Deerng Rams 2010 Fall Sports Preview

Optimism is in the air at Deering this fall. Football figures to rebound and be right back in the playoff hunt. Boys' soccer hopes to boast a winning record and make the playoffs. The girls' team wants to get back to the postseason and go deeper. Field hockey welcomes a new coach, one with a very impressive pedigree. Both cross country teams should be strong in the league and capable of going to states. Golf likes its chances to regain its championship form of 2008.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Greg Stilphen (14th year)

2009 Record: 2-6 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Devon Fitzgerald (Senior), J.J. Hardy (Senior), Jamie Ross (Senior), Renaldo Lowry (Junior), Trey Thomes (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 3 @ Portland, Sept. 16 (H) BONNY EAGLE, Sept. 24 (H) WINDHAM, Oct. 2 @ Thornton Academy, Oct. 8 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 23 @ Cheverus

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Don't let Deering's 2009 record deceive you. The Rams started 2-0, then lost six straight, but were almost always competitive. If a couple close games (36-34 at South Portland, 12-10 at Westbrook, to name a pair) had gone the other way, Deering likely would have been in the playoffs for the ninth year in a row. The 2010 season figures to be as wide open as any in recent memory, meaning just about any team can make a quantum leap, a perfect scenario for the Rams, who have the ammunition to compete with anyone. Leading the way is Ross, who is one of the top athletes in Western A and has a superb arm. While he'll do plenty of damage through the air, hitting the likes of Hardy and Lowry (Sam Balzano chose not to play this fall to focus on baseball after committing to play at the University of Maine), he can also run the ball and isn't easy to bring down. Fitzgerald will open holes for the running game (Thomes will miss the first part of the season after breaking his arm in a scrimmage) and is a force on defense. That side of the ball is where Deering needs improvement. During its six-game skid, the Rams gave up an average of 31 points a contest. Look for the Rams to be much improved on defense. Deering hasn't been able to fly under the radar very often in recent seasons, but this year's team isn't getting the preseason attention and respect it deserves. The Rams will have a major chip on their shoulders when they face Portland in the opener after losing to the Bulldogs in last year's Thanksgiving game. They'll have a chance to avenge every loss from 2009 as the season progresses and should be successful on several occasions. If Deering stays healthy and gets some early confidence, look out. The 2010 campaign could easily wind up looking a lot more like 2008 (8-0 regular season) than 2009.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Andy LeFebvre (fifth year)

2009 Record: 6-7-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Charlie Dupee (Senior), Isaac Wipfler (Senior), Nathan Finberg (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 7 (H) WINDHAM, Sept. 14 @ Westbrook, Sept. 17 (H) PORTLAND, Sept. 21 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 28 @ South Portland, Oct. 5 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 14 @ Cheverus

COACH’S COMMENT: “We'll be a mid-level team in the SMAA. Our goal is to return to playoff form, which has been missing the past few seasons. To do this, we're going to need some of our younger less experienced players to step up and take on bigger roles. Obviously, Charlie is a key to how well we play as he leads our offense and sets the tone and pace to our play. Isaac will anchor our defense. We hope to turn some of last year's one-goal losses into victories this season. The team's worked extremely hard through the preseason to have a high level of fitness. Our goal is to outwork other teams and apply pressure all over the pitch. I think our scoring is going to be mixed/spread around. It's going to be a true team effort to score goals.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering suffered its share of frustration in 2009, losing four games by a goal and tying another. A win in any of those contests might have sent the Rams to the playoffs. This year, Deering looks to get back on track. The Rams have one of the finest players in the league in Dupee, who was an all-conference and regional all-star a year ago. He'll anchor the offense from his center-mid position and should create plenty of scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. The defense features Wipfler (an all-conference selection in 2009) and Finberg in front of junior goalie Jamie Gullbrand. Newcomers Edgar Gonzalez (junior) and Kuba Chandler (sophomore) will also look to make an impact. Dupee figures to dominate against weaker and mid-level teams, but against top tier squads, he'll need help. If another goal scorer or two emerges, the Rams could be very good. In the back, Deering should hold its own. Some early success would go a long way for this team. The Rams host many of the league's elite teams, so that could play to their favor. Finding a way to score consistently and reverse the close losses will spell the different between frustration and a trip to the postseason. The guess here is that Deering will find a way to get it done.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Kevin Olson (fifth year)

2009 Record: 7-6-2 (Lost 1-0, 2-1 in PKs, to Sanford in Western A preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Caitlynn Brown (Senior), Jennifer Lynch (Senior), Amanda Masse (Senior), Tina Merrill (Senior), Aarika Viola (Senior), Alexis Sivovlos (Junior), Lindsey Sneider (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 3 @ Sanford, Sept. 8 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 17 @ Portland, Oct 6 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 15 @ Cheverus, Oct. 19 @ Windham

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have some good young blood. I think we'll be competitive. It's a good group of girls. They're working together and jelling. I hope we'll be playoff-bound and do better than last year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering is still smarting after last year's agonizing playoff loss to Sanford. The Rams had high hopes to reach a quarterfinal round playoff game for the first time since 2005, but penalty kicks did them in. This time around, they should be right in the mix again for not only a playoff spot, but also an opportunity to advance a little deeper. Sivovlos (an SMAA second-team all-star in 2009) returns to lead the offense. She was the team's top scorer a year ago. Brown and Merrill, along with freshman Alexis Elowitch also look to score. Viola could also be a factor. Masse and Sneider anchor the defense in front of Lynch in goal, who returns. Freshman midfielder Cole Spike and freshman defender Edie Pallozzi should make an immediate impact. Deering has been in the middle tier for several years and would like to move up in 2010. For that to happen, the Rams will need to score more consistently and find a way to beat one of the traditional powers. By playoff time, Deering should be poised to be a team that could put a scare into anyone.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Marcia Wood (first year)

2009 Record: 7-6-2 (lost 2-0 to TA in Western Class A preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jesse Cinque (Senior), Lily Hampton (Senior), Olivia Lourie (Senior), Samantha Pooler (Senior), Caley Presby (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 2 (H) CHEVERUS, Sept. 8 @ Gorham, Sept. 16 (H) PORTLAND, Sept. 17 @ Scarborough, Sept. 20 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 8 (H) SANFORD

COACH’S COMMENT: “We are very young, not many returning varsity players. Caley is our experienced goalie and also our most vocal. Lily will play a big role in our offense and I'm looking forward to seeing Sam and Jesse control our midfield play. We're just trying to get used to playing with each other and becoming consistent with our play.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Andrew Gordon's long reign as one of the state's few male field hockey coaches ended after last season and he's replaced by a coach who's enjoyed the Midas Touch over the past year. Wood, who played at Sanford and Plymouth State, was an assistant last fall for the undefeated, first-time Class A champion Scarborough Red Storm, then, in the spring, coached the Red Storm's girls' lacrosse squad to an undefeated title. She'll inherit a team that is building, but one that features promise. Presby could be one of the league's elite goalies. There isn't a lot of experience on this squad, so her efforts will be huge. Offensively, Cinque, Hampton, Lourie and Pooler will all look to rattle the opposition's cage. New junior forward Victoria Adams and new junior midfielder Sara Brink will also be in the mix. The defense features junior Regina Pardi and others looking to make a name. The Rams will be hard pressed to continue their 12-year postseason streak, but if Wood is able to instill confidence, look out, they could surprise in the weeks to come.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACHES:

(BOYS) Dick Kress (fifth year)

(GIRLS) Gerry Myatt (ninth year)

2009 Results:

(BOYS) 14th @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 13th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Joe Luka (Senior), Tom Dean (Junior), Sean Perry (Junior), Gabe Turner (Junior)

(GIRLS) Ania Chandler (Senior), Kristin Pollard (Senior), Ella Ramonas (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Gorham, Scarborough

COACH KRESS’ COMMENT: “We have a small number of participants, just 10. I'm hopeful of adding a few when school begins. Our goal is to be competitive and improve individual times, learn how to pack run and enjoy the team experience.”

COACH MYATT'S COMMENT: “We need numbers. That's always my hue and cry. We only have seven girls at the moment. Good quality. In spite of our low numbers, I feel good. We'll be competitive with the middle tier teams. We won't touch the top teams. States is always the goal.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both cross country teams qualified for states a year ago. That hadn't happened since 2005. Each squad hopes to do it again this fall.

The boys' team features Dean as its top returner. He was 39th at the Class A state meet in 2009. Perry (58th) also scored. Turner was 88th, but did not score.. Luka is also experienced. The Rams should be able to hold their own in league competition and if the pack develops as hoped, will do well at regionals. Deering has a very good shot at matching last year's performance.

On the girls' side, Ramonas is the standout returner. She was ninth at states, qualified for New Englands and was an honorable mention league all-star. After winning a state title outdoors in the spring, Ramonas has to be viewed as one of the best runners around. She's joined by Chandler (31st at states in 2009) and Pollard (71st). The rest of the team (at press time) consisted of seniors Becca Coyne and Leah Johnson, both of whom came over from soccer, sophomore Charlotte Honan and freshman Isabel Hindanos. There is promise for this team. If it's realized, Deering will once again be a factor by season's end.

GOLF

COACH: Billy Goodman (ninth year)

2009 Results: 9-1, Northern Division champion (3rd @ Class A state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYER: Cooper Nadeau (Senior), Rocco Spizuoco (Junior), Joe Walp (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland

COACH’S COMMENT: “We are in a very competitive division, but we should be able to compete for the title. Our top three players are very good and have been to states the last two years. If two others step up, we could have a good shot in getting back to states.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After winning a surprise Class A title in 2008, Deering fell short a year ago when it expected to repeat. Expect the Rams to try and channel that disappointment into a serious run at the top in 2010. Three of the top players around return and will not only lead the team to great heights, but should also be factors individually. Nadeau had the best score at the team state match a year ago, shooting a 78. Spizuoco finished with a 79 and Walp shot an 81. At the individual championships, Spizuoco finished with an 81, Walp shot an 82 and Nadeau finished at 84. All three figure to be at their best all year, especially in the postseason. Mix in new senior Matt Bevilacqua, a JV player the last three years, and you can see why opposing coaches view Deering as the team to beat. Of course, golf is a fickle sport and you never know what will happen with a state berth and the season on the line. This group appears as talented and poised as any, however. The Rams will give it a great run. Don't be surprised if they're raising the trophy at season's end.

Photo: File photo

Junior Trey Thomes hopes to make a quick return from injury this fall and pace the Rams' ground game.

Photo: File photo

Junior Tom Dean finished 39th at last year's Class A state meet.

Photo: File photo

Junior Ella Ramonas was a New England qualifier a year ago. She'll be one of the fastest girls around this autumn.

Photo: File photo

Senior Ania Chandler was 31st at states a year ago.