Deering Rams Fall Sports Preview

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There’s a lot of optimism around the Deering fall sports program. Football begins a new era and could be a pleasant surprise. The boys’ soccer team is on the short list of Western Class A favorites. The girls’ squad graduated a program stalwart, but will still be in the mix. Field hockey fell short of the playoffs last fall, but could find its way back this time around. Both cross country teams feature talent. Golf hopes to shock the world again and make it to the state match against all odds. Volleyball is being introduced to the school this autumn. While it will play a junior varsity schedule in 2014, the program, headed by Larry Nichols, will join the varsity fray next year.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Matt Riddell (first year)

2013 record: 1-7 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nick Belliveau (Senior), Jacob Coon (Senior), Pat Flaherty (Senior), Camille Kirongonzi (Senior), Matt Krusiec (Senior), Ryan Rarn (Senior), Jonah Rogers (Senior), Scott Bresette (Junior), Dominick Bernard (Junior), Max Chabot (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 WINDHAM, Sept. 12 @ Portland, Sept. 19 BANGOR, Oct. 25 @ Cheverus

COACH’S COMMENT: “I think we’re on the rebound. The program is heading in the right direction. We ended last year with 22 kids and now there are 40 on varsity. I was lucky to be here for the second half of last year and I think the kids built some trust in me. I think physically we can keep up with anybody. There’s a renewed sense of enthusiasm. The coaching staff wants to remake the culture. We talk all the time about commitment and what it means. The East is more balanced than last year. We want to be at least .500 and host a playoff game. We want to be the group to bring the pride back.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While Riddell’s goals appear lofty considering how difficult last year proved to be (one victory, diminished numbers and the departure of coach Scott Parsons midway through the season), they’re actually realistic. There is a different vibe around the program and after some encouraging results in the preseason, teams would be wise to take Deering seriously.

The Rams will put the offense in the hands of Chabot, who received trial by fire in 2013, but still managed to complete 49 passes for 550 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll look to move the ball through the air by throwing to Bernard (12 receptions, 198 yards and three TDs last fall), whose size (6 feet, 5 inches) makes him a quarterback’s favorite target, and Coon. On the ground, Deering will turn to Bresette, Kirongonzi and Rogers, a college prospect. The all-important line features Krusiec, a captain, Belliveau, Flaherty and Rarn.

Defensively, Flaherty, Krusiec and Rogers hold the fort up front. Bernard (an all-star last fall) and Belliveau are part of the linebacking corps. Coon is the top defensive back.

This is a proud program that has suffered through its share of upheaval in recent seasons. While the numbers are trending upwards, competing in Class A will be challenging. There are games where Deering will be outmanned, but the Rams should be able to compete with most of the teams on their schedule. Some early success against the likes of Windham and Portland, even if it doesn’t result in victories, would be huge for confidence. Deering will be in the hunt for a playoff berth, but more importantly, the program should find some much-needed stability in the process. There’s still a long way to go, but the Rams are on their way back and will be fun to watch in the weeks to come.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Joel Costigan (fourth year, 26-15-5 overall record)

2013 record: 11-3-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Gorham in Western A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ahmed Adnan (Senior), Frankie Alvarez (Senior), Stephen Ochan (Senior), Anthony Russo (Senior), Jonathan Bujambi (Junior), Christian Castaneda (Junior), Jonata Mbongo (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 @ Cheverus, Sept. 12 PORTLAND, Sept. 16 GORHAM, Sept. 18 @ Noble, Sept. 26 @ SP, Oct. 7 @ Scarborough

COACH’S COMMENT: “The guys are working hard. They’re very excited about the season. We hope to continue to build the program. We hope it all comes together this year. I see us doing better than we did last year. We hope to go deep into the playoffs.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering is coming off its best season since 2007 and could be even stronger this fall.

The Rams will be led by Ochan, who didn’t just make the SMAA first-team, but was also named to the regional and all-state teams. He’ll pace the offense, with help from Alvarez and a new sophomore Josue Samuel Madrid-Brenis. Bujambi, an SMAA all-star last autumn, will team with Ochan in the midfield, creating a nightmare for the opposition. Senior Hany Ramadan, a track standout, is new to the team and brings athleticism and depth. Defensively, Adnan, who is often seen creating offense as well, Castaneda, an honorable mention all-star in 2013, and Mbongo hold down the fort in front of another returning all-star, Russo, in goal.

Deering is on the cusp of greatness and turned heads by winning the preseason Casco Bay Cup. The Rams need a signature win or two early in the regular season to really gain confidence, but they belong in the conversation. Last year’s success was legitimate and can be built upon. These Rams are ready to live up to billing.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Kevin Olson (ninth year, 56-52-13 overall record)

2013 record: 11-4-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Thornton Academy in Western A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Courtney Brett (Senior), Erin Mathews (Senior), Emily Mooney (Senior), Meaghan Wells (Senior), Simone Lauture (Junior), Cora Melcher (Junior), Sinead Scott (Junior), Megan Violette (Junior), Abby Elowitch (Sophomore), Sophie Silva (Sophomore), Ewa Varney (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 @ Cheverus, Sept. 12 PORTLAND, Sept. 17 @ Gorham, Sept. 22 SP, Oct. 8 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 10 @ TA, Oct. 15 MCAULEY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We hope to be very competitive. We are hoping to make it to the playoffs again and hopefully make a good run.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering had its best season since 2002 a year ago and looks to remain near the top of the standings this fall, although there are some holes to fill. Replacing two-time Fall Female Athlete of the Year Alexis Elowitch (now playing at Saint Anselm) will be the tallest task. She scored her share of key goals and last year, anchored the defense.

This fall, the offense will be paced by Lauture (an SMAA honorable mention a year ago), Melcher, Scott, Varney, Violette and Wells. New juniors Siobhan Densmore and MiCary Verville and freshman Darrah Scott will also be heard from. On defense, Brett, Abby Elowitch, Mathews, Silva and new senior Katie Farrell will help make life easier for Mooney, who replaces LeeAnn Downs in goal.

Deering plays a tough schedule and will have its hands full matching last year’s success. These Rams hope to post a winning record and get back to the playoffs. They’re capable of doing so and perhaps more.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Liz Koharian (third year, 10-18-1 overall record)

2013 record: 4-9-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Rylie Turner (Senior), Katy Cyr (Junior), Kaytlin DiBiase (Junior), Emily Krabbe (Junior), Sadie Rhinehardt (Junior), Mia Thurston (Junior), Kerry Wells (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 WESTBROOK, Sept. 22 CHEVERUS, Sept. 29 MARSHWOOD, Oct. 2 @ Massabesic, Oct. 8 @ Portland, Oct. 14 @ Scarborough

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re still growing, but the majority of the team has played before, so we’re stronger than last year. We have more experience on the field. We always strive to build a stronger program. I’m pleased with how hard the girls are working and their enthusiasm. We hope to make the playoffs this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After making the playoffs in 2012, Deering took a step back last fall. This time around, the Rams are looking to get to the postseason and make some noise.

Turner, a captain and SMAA honorable mention last season, will pace the offense. Thurston figures to do her share of scoring as well. DiBiase, Krabbe and Wells also have experience and will help the cause. On defense, Cyr, a captain and a member of the SMAA All-Rookie team in 2013, is joined by new juniors Lili Kien and Kayla Thoits. Rhinehardt will be in goal for the second straight season.

Deering is better equipped to compete this season. Some early success would go a long way for the Rams’ playoff hopes. This is a squad which could be a dark horse.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACHES:
(BOYS) Frank Myatt (third year)

(GIRLS) Gerry Myatt (12th year)

2013 results:
(BOYS) 12th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) no score @ Class A state meet (13th @ regionals)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Matt Bernier (Senior), David Doering (Senior), Yahya Hussein (Senior), Iid Sheikh-Yusef (Senior)
(GIRLS) Liz Fowler (Senior), Maddie Bennett (Junior), Phoebe Bell (Sophomore), Lucy Tabb (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Gorham, Massabesic, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Windham boys; Bonny Eagle, Cheverus, Scarborough girls

COACH FRANK MYATT ‘S COMMENT: “I think I have the best 1-2 punch in the state in Yahya and Iid. We’ll hone in on doing well at the city meet and taking it to Cheverus and Portland. I think we’re going to be alright. We’ll be on the edge of qualifying again and hope we can get in.”

COACH GERRY MYATT’S COMMENT: “Our numbers are about the same as usual. I like to think we’ll be competitive. We could make it through regionals. That goal is attainable if we run together.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Deering cross country teams are eyeing the state meet this fall.

The boys have some terrific talent out front. Hussein (the two-mile outdoor track state champion) finished ninth at states last fall and qualified for New Englands, while Sheikh-Yusef came in 16th at the state meet. Also scoring last year was Bernier (66th). Doering brings experience and the pack is rounded out by junior Abdi Hassan, a transfer from Portland High, and sophomore Roman Anderson. The Rams will be very competitive during the regular season and if Hussein and Sheikh-Yusef get pack support at regionals, Deering will get back to the state meet where it could improve on last year’s finish.

On the girls’ side, after falling short of states a year ago, the Rams’ quest to make it this year will be compromised by the loss of one of last year’s top runners, Mel McClure-Chute, who isn’t competing this autumn. Top returners include Fowler (33rd last year at regionals), Bennett (62nd) and Tabb (87th). Bell will also be in the mix. Deering’s hopes are bolstered by three promising freshmen: Julia Lancia, Lucy Tumavicus and Nicole Whipkey. Deering will get stronger as the season progresses and if all goes well at the regionals could qualify for states for the first time since 2011.

GOLF

COACH: Billy Goodman (13th year, two state championships)

2013 results: 4-6 (tie-9th @ Class A state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Andrew Burr (Junior), Nathan Loranger (Junior), Ian Westphal (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Falmouth, Scarborough

COACH’S COMMENT: “I have great kids. I just hope they listen and get better like last year’s kids did. We have a lot of beginners in the program. I’m just trying to teach the kids golf. We want to compete every match. Hopefully, we’ll be better at the end of the year than at the beginning.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering was last year’s feel-good story, not only for winning four regular season matches (which was four more than Goodman expected going in), but by also becoming the most unlikely state match qualifier, where it comported itself very well. The loss of reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year Will Barlock, who shot a 77 at the SMAA qualifier, an 80 at the team state match and a 77 (good for a third-place tie) at the Class A individual match, and Tyler Butler (90 at the individual Class A match) will be tough to overcome, but the Rams will carry on.

Westphal scored at states a year ago (shooting a 90). He’ll look to carry this group. Burr could be vastly improved and Loranger is familiar with varsity play. Freshman Alex McGonagle is a player to watch.

After last season’s stunning success, the Rams won’t be able to sneak up on anyone. They’re in a tough division, but if, like last year, Deering can save its best for qualifying day, it might just turn some heads again.

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


Junior Dom Bernard was an SMAA all-star on defense last season and will play a key role on both sides of the ball this fall for the Deering football team.

Junior Max Chabot is another key returner for the playoff-hopeful Rams.

Senior Stephen Ochan is one of the state’s premier players and will do big things for the Deering boys’ soccer team in the weeks to come.

Junior Jonathan Bujambi will continue to emerge as a star this season.

Junior Christian Castaneda will be in the middle of the action this autumn.

Deering senior Anthony Russo is one of the SMAA’s top goalkeepers.

Senior Courtney Brett is a veteran presence for the Deering girls’ soccer team.

Junior Simone Lauture remains a top threat for the Rams.

Junior Cora Melcher figures to be around the ball a lot this season.

Ewa Varney is coming off a strong freshman season and will play an even bigger role this fall.

Senior Meaghan Wells is another Ram to watch this fall.

Junior Kerry Wells (and the rest of the Deering field hockey team) is shooting for a playoff berth.

Senior Yahya Hussein is one of the area’s premier runners. He’ll look to lead Deering’s boys’ cross country team back to the state meet.

Senior Liz Fowler is a top returner for the Deering girls’ cross country team.

Sidebar Elements


Junior Sinead Scott and the rest of the Deering girls’ soccer team will look to remain a top contender in Western Class A this fall.

File photos.

More photos below.

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