Deering Rams Fall Athletes of the Year

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MALE:

STEPHEN OCHAN, Senior-Soccer

  • Western Maine Board of Officials Player Award

  • All-Western A regional team

  • SMAA Offensive Player of the Year

  • SMAA all-star, first-team

  • Captain

Ochan entered his senior season viewed as one of the state’s premier talents and he did nothing to change that impression, scoring clutch goals, absorbing the attention of opposing defenses and leading the Rams to their best season in seven years.

Ochan made his impact quickly at the high school level with his physicality, intelligence and selflessness and this fall, he was the anchor of a special team.

Ochan came to America from the South Sudan at a young age. He was already well versed in soccer and became an immediate contributor on the varsity team as a freshman, eventually starting all four seasons. Ochan made the SMAA second-team on defense as a freshman (scoring one goal), was a first-team midfielder as a sophomore (after scoring seven times and adding two assists), was named to the first-team again as a junior (after scoring four goals and producing five assists), a season which also saw him make the regional and all-state teams and be selected by his teammates as a captain.

Ochan had modest numbers (six goals, six assists) this fall, but that didn’t tell the story of his impact. He made Hany Ramadan a household name in his first year on the team and was always the focal point of the opposition.

Ochan set up Ramadan for the winning goal at eventual state champion Cheverus in the opener, then scored in a victory at Massabesic. Deering’s first home game came against rival Portland and the Rams ended a six-game losing skid to the Bulldogs with a 3-0 victory, highlighted by two epic Ochan goals, one from 40-yards out and the other from 35. Deering went 8-0-1 in its first nine contests, as Ochan also had a goal against Bonny Eagle.

Ochan scored a goal in a regular season-ending victory over Sanford. He then scored his final goal in a quarterfinal round victory over Thornton Academy.

Following the season, Ochan was named the all-conference and all-region teams, was selected as a Senior All-Star and was named the SMAA Offensive Player of the Year and was given an award by the Western Maine Soccer Officials.

If all that wasn’t enough, Ochan is in consideration for even higher honors to be announced later this week.

“I’m very competitive,” Ochan said. “It doesn’t matter what sport. I like the team environment. I like helping my teammates.”

Ochan, a longtime member of the Portland Phoenix Premier team, also plays basketball for Deering and will run track this spring to fulfill a pact he made with Ramadan after the latter came out for soccer. Ochan is his class president, belongs to Natural Helpers and the Environmental Club at Deering, leads a boys’ group and is weighing his college options. Rest assured, he’ll make a big impact somewhere.

That’s because Stephen Ochan, Deering’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, was a transcendent star, perhaps the finest player in program history, and he left an indelible mark.

Coach Joel Costigan‘s comment:Stephen was part of almost every play, every part of the field, the entire game, every game this season. He was the general on the field. All the play went through him. His leadership, soccer IQ, tenacity, competitiveness and overall skill-set gave us an immediate advantage every game. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. He’s freakishly strong. He is very quick and can change directions on a dime. He’s creative and can score from distance, mostly with his left foot. He’s a great distributor. If we kept stats like in hockey, he’d probably have about 50 second assists. What impresses me the most is his vision for the game. Not only is he a great player, he’s a tremendous kid. He’s probably one of the nicest kids I’ve ever coached. I will sorely miss him, but I’m incredibly proud of him and know he’ll do well wherever he ends up.

Prior winners:

2013: Will Barlock (Golf)

2012: Kenny Sweet (Football)

2011: Joe Walp (Golf)

2010: Jamie Ross (Football)

2009: Charlie Dupee (Soccer)

2008: Jack Heary (Football)

2007: Tony Yeboah (Soccer)

2006: John Misener (Cross country)

2005: Sean Meehan (Soccer/Football)

2004: Ryan Flaherty (Football)

FEMALE:

RYLIE TURNER, Senior-Field hockey

  • All-State

  • SMAA all-star, first-team

  • SMAA All-Academic team

  • Captain

Turner was not only a rare veteran presence on an up-and-coming team, she also scored some clutch goals as the Rams lived up billing and made it to the postseason.

Turner, who started playing field hockey in the seventh grade, has done a little of everything during her Deering tenure, playing center-mid, back and forward. Regardless of her position, Turner always knew where to be and what to do and as a junior, was named to the SMAA All-Conference second-team.

That set the stage for her triumphant senior campaign. Turner, a captain, scored seven times, assisted on 10 other goals and helped the Rams clinch a playoff spot.

Highlights include a goal in a win over Westbrook, a goal and an assist in a victory over Bonny Eagle and a goal in a victory over McAuley.

Turner ultimately accounted for more than half of her team’s 28 goals.

“I’ve always loved field hockey,” Turner said. “Playing with the girls makes me want to be the best. I set high goals. We’ve had a lot of good coaching. The program is only going to get better.”

Following the season, Turner was named to the SMAA first-team and even better, was selected to the All-State team.

Turner, who plays travel field hockey, also played basketball and softball during her time at Deering, plays the saxophone in band and is an art aficionado. She’s weighing her college options. She hopes to play in college.

If she does, look out. Rylie Turner, Deering’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year, makes any team better with her presence, poise and skill. The success of the 2014 Rams was due in large part to her influence.

Coach Liz Koharian‘s comment: “From the first day I coached Rylie, I could tell she understood the game and had an amazing sense of the field. She knows where to be and the right place to pass the ball. That’s not a skill you see in many high school players. She made playing field hockey an art. What I enjoyed most about Rylie is her passion for the game and her maturity. She will be missed not only by her teammates, but also by her coaches. She’s the kind of athlete every coach dreams of having.”

Prior winners:

2013: Alexis Elowitch (Soccer)

2012: Alexis Elowitch (Soccer)

2011: Alexis Sivovlos (Soccer)

2010: Amanda Masse (Soccer)

2009: Jami LeRoy (Field hockey)

2008: Jess Ruhlin (Field hockey)

2007: Jess Ruhlin (Field hockey)

2006: Chelsea Johnson (Soccer)

2005: Ashley Morgan (Cross country)

2004: Bronwyn Potthoff (Field hockey)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.