Deering Rams Spring Athletes of the Year

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(Ed. Note: This story will appear in the July 11 Portland print edition)

2012 Spring Male Athlete of the Year:

KARL RICKETT, Senior-Lacrosse

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CITATIONS

* All-American

* SMAA All-Conference, first-team

* SMAA All-Academic team

* Captain

Rickett isn’t just Deering’s first All-American, he’s also one of the state’s special players, one who affects play at all ends of the field.

This spring, Rickett won faceoffs at a dazzling rate, intimidated the opposition when it had the ball and even showed an impressive finishing touch as he led the Rams back to the regional final.

Rickett grew up in Portland in a very athletic family (his mother, Liz, created the McAuley basketball dynasty and his older brother, Matt, is a swimmer at Boston University). Rickett took up lacrosse with the Back Bay program in fourth grade. By middle school he was a regular in the faceoff circle. He played four years with the Deering varsity, while also competing in middle distance races in indoor track.

After the Rams made their first regional final in 2011, they followed suit this spring with Rickett doing it all, despite missing four games with an injury.

Rickett had four goals, eight ground balls and won 14 of 18 faceoffs in a 9-5 home victory over Portland, scored twice against Westbrook, three times versus Bonny Eagle and had a goal, seven ground balls and won 11 of 15 faceoffs in a one-goal loss against three-time Class A champion Scarborough. Rickett had two goals and nine ground balls in a win over Windham, but was hurt in the game and wouldn’t return until the very end of the regular season and Deering, which started 5-2, won just two of its final five outings.

Rickett was just fine for the playoffs, however, and the Rams went on a run. He had eight ground balls and won a dazzling 15 of 17 faceoffs, including the one to start overtime, as Deering rallied to shock Portland in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Rickett assisted on two goals, grabbed six ground balls and won seven of 10 faceoffs as the Rams beat Lewiston. Deering’s title hopes were dashed by Cheverus in the regional final, but Rickett was a force from end to end one final time.

For the season, Rickett had 12 goals, three assists, 70 ground balls and won 75 percent of his faceoffs. For his career, he had 323 ground balls and won 75 percent of the time in the faceoff circle.

Rickett, who also belonged to Deering’s Student Senate and Key Club, will attend and play lacrosse at Bates College next year. He plans to study economics.

It might be a long time before we see a player of his caliber, leadership and myriad talents come our way again.

Coach Jon Dubois’ comment: “Karl’s one of the few kids in the state who can dominate both ends of the field, He has the lacrosse IQ to run the defensive slide packages/man-down rotations and run the man-up schemes as well. Teams would have to plan for him on both ends of the field. He kept us in a lot of close games. He constantly controlled the middle of the field. He was able to score a goal for us and take a goal away from other team’s top scorers. He was a kid who exemplified what a captain should be. First to show, last to leave. Constantly working to improve his play and his team. I can’t say enough about him. He’s the best all-around player I’ve coached. I loved having him on my team.”

2011 winner: Carleton Allen (lacrosse)

2010 winner: Sam Balzano (baseball)

2009 winner: Regan Flaherty (baseball)

2008 winner: Taylor Candage (baseball)

2007 winner: Matt Watson (baseball)

2006 winner: Adam Rothbart (lacrosse)

2005 winner: Neall Oliver (tennis)

2004 winner: Ryan Reid (baseball)

2012 Spring Female Athlete of the Year:

VERONICA MITCHELL, Senior-Lacrosse & Outdoor track

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CITATIONS

* SMAA lacrosse All-Conference, second-team

* Lacrosse Senior All-Star

There aren’t many athletes who can compete in two sports in the same season, not to mention excel, but Mitchell did just that this spring, turning heads on the lacrosse field while also contributing to the outdoor track team.

Mitchell grew up in Portland and took up lacrosse in the seventh grade. She was a midfielder for the Rams for four seasons. This spring, Mitchell’s highlights included four goals in a victory over Windham, four more against McAuley, three in a win over Biddeford, five versus Noble, a season-high seven against South Portland and four more in the finale, a loss to Marshwood.

In all, Mitchell scored 40 times, added 18 assists and collected 28 ground balls. She was named to the SMAA All-Conference second team as a result.

Then there was track, which was equally impressive.

Mitchell, who focused primarily on lacrosse, but practiced track when she could, came in third in the 300 hurdles at Southwesterns, a result Mitchell called “shocking.” At states, Mitchell was a solid fifth in the 300 hurdles. She also ran the 100, 100 hurdles, 200, 400 and 800, showing a rare dexterity and stamina.

Mitchell also played soccer and ran indoor track at Deering. She was a member of Key Club, Student Senate and the Handbell choir. She’ll attend Colby College in the fall where she plans to run the 400 hurdles.

She certainly crammed a lot of activity and triumph into her final high school season.

Lacrosse coach Andrew Gordon’s comment: “Veronica is a spectacular athlete who was probably my best offensive and defensive player. She could outrun anyone up the field in transition and improved her shooting greatly this year. She’s a very humble young woman who leads by example. We’ll miss her.”

Outdoor track coach Kevin Olson’s comment: “Veronica brought leadership and a competitive drive to our team. She is a phenomenal athlete with a tremendous work ethic. Veronica had success because she worked extremely hard on the events she was involved in. She was very focused on her form and technique. I have never seen an athlete who could be successful in the 100, 100 hurdles, 200, 300 hurdles, 400, and the 800. She is a very special student-athlete with a bright future. It was an honor to have coached her. Just an incredible athlete and individual.”

2011 winner: Jen Lynch (softball)

2010 winner: Julie Pallozzi (lacrosse)

2009 winner: Melissa Bell (softball)

2008 winner: Lesley Warn (softball)

2007 winner: Chelsea Johnson (lacrosse)

2006 winner: Kate Bustin (softball)

2005 winner: Lesley Warn (softball)

2004 winner: Gina Axelson (softball)

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.