Falmouth Yachtsmen 2010 Fall Sports Preview

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With new facilities set to open any day, Falmouth’s sports teams look to keep their old habit of dominating in 2010. Boys’ soccer is defending yet another championship and there’s no reason to believe the Yachtsmen can’t do it again. The girls’ program fell one step short of the state game in 2009 and hopes to take the next step this time around. Field hockey has some question marks to answer, but should once again be a strong contender. Cross country continues to pump out massive numbers and talent and both teams should be in the title hunt. Golf is always on the brink of greatness and could steal headlines in October. Volleyball was last year’s show-stealer. This time around, it hopes to finish the job. Last and certainly not least, football might boast the best team in program history.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Dave Halligan (24th year)

2009 Record: 16-0-2 (Beat Ellsworth 3-0 to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nick Bachman (Senior), Joe Barns (Senior), Michael Bloom (Senior), Ben Goffin (Senior), Johnny Goodrich (Senior), Brendan McDonnell (Senior), Sam White (Senior), Andy Murry (Junior), Brandon Tuttle (Junior), J.P. White (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 11 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 22 @ Greely, Oct. 2 (H) GREELY, Oct. 7 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 12 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 19 @ Waynflete

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a lot of strength down the middle. We have good younger players. Now, it’s a matter of figuring out who’s playing where. We’re a different team. We lost a lot. I think balance will be one of our assets. It should be a good season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A year ago, Falmouth avenged a regional final loss from the year before by beating Yarmouth, then went on to win its eighth Class B title in 11 seasons. This year’s squad might not be quite as explosive, but is title-worthy yet again. The Yachtsmen graduated three first-team Western Maine Conference all-stars, Gabe Hoffman-Johnson (the school’s 2008 and 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year), Alec Dunn and Kyle Lucas, but as always, have an abundance of riches in reserve. This year, the offense features a heavy dose of Bloom and Sam White, both of whom were second-team all-stars a year ago. They’ll get help scoring from Barns, Murry, Tuttle and J.P. White. Falmouth’s defense tends to be overrated, although it is often the backbone of championship teams. This year, Bachman, Goodrich and McDonnell hold down the fort in front of Goffin, who returns in goal. As always, the Yachtsmen will be tested in the regular season, but figure to fill the net with regularity and win just about every time out. As has been the case the last couple years, Western B honors (and likely the state title) will be decided between Falmouth and fierce rival Yarmouth. While the are some question marks this fall, by late-October/November, the Yachtsmen figure to be in position to answer them. If the team develops as hoped, yet another Gold Ball will be looking for space in the overcrowded Falmouth trophy case.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Jon Shardlow (second year)

2009 Record: 11-2-4 (Lost 2-0 to York in Western B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Rachel Bauer (Senior), Elizabeth Carew (Senior), Abby Cavalero (Senior), Caitlin Costello (Senior), Jess DiPhillippo (Senior), Elizabeth Estabrook (Senior), Jessie L’Heureux (Senior), Allie Lycan (Senior), Jamie Sabo (Senior),

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 11 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 22 @ Greely, Sept. 28 @ York, Oct. 1 (H) GREELY, Oct. 5 (H) YORK, Oct. 7 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 12 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 19 (H) WAYNFLETE

COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated quite a few. We’re just putting the pieces together. Hopefully we’ll have some momentum going into the season. We have to put a lineup together that’s able to play together consistently. It’s about teamwork. It should be a productive season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A year ago, despite a veritable all-star roster, Falmouth wasn’t able to click as hoped and wound up falling short of defending its title. This time, the Yachtsmen are primed to get back to the top. Once again, there is an abundance of talent on the roster. The five-time state champion Maine Coast United premier team is well-represented. Bauer, Carew, Cavalero, DiPhillippo, Estabrook and Lycan have all taken part and would like to win a state championship trophy this November. Falmouth has plenty of offensive firepower, led by DiPhillippo and Lycan. Bauer and L’Heureux, along with new sophomore Cassie Darrow, with be difficult to contend with. The Yachtsmen will be solid defensively as Carew, Cavalero , Costello and Sabo (who will also see time at midfield), along with new juniors Cassidy Gaudette and Olivia Hoch make life miserable for the opposition in front of Estabrook (nine shutouts and a 0.59 goals against average in 2009), who is as steady a goalie as they come. Falmouth will get its share of challenges in the regular season and will seek to earn some revenge against York. It’s hard to imagine this squad not excelling from start to finish. Traditionally, the year after failing to win a title, the Yachtsmen get the job done. There’s a good chance that history will repeat in 2010.

FOOTBALL

COACH: John Fitzsimmons (fourth year)

2009 Record: 5-4 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Zach Alexander (Senior), Caleb Bowden (Senior), Andrew Edwards (Senior), David Goodrich (Senior), Jack Horton (Senior), Storm McGovern (Senior), Greg Oulton (Senior), Sam Bruni (Junior), Jack Cooleen (Junior), Matt Kingry (Junior), Ryan MacDonald (Junior), Aaron Rogers (Junior), Will Ryan (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 3 @ York, Sept. 24 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 2 (H) WELLS, Oct. 15 (H) MOUNTAIN VALLEY, Oct. 29 @ Greely

COACH’S COMMENT: “Our line could be our strength and we have athletes. We’re off to a terrific start. There’s wonderful chemistry to this team. The work ethic could not be better. We have a lot of returning players who worked hard in the offseason. It’s the most athletic team we’ve ever put on the field. We’re balanced running and passing. Collectively, we’re very focused. The kids want a Gold Ball.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth’s aspirations are not far-fetched. The past couple of seasons have seen the Yachtsmen become very competitive. They made the playoffs for the first time in 2008 and fell just short a year ago. This time around, look out. Alexander returns for a second season under center and should be much more comfortable calling the signals. He’s capable of throwing and running with equal effectiveness. Kingry will also see some time at QB and is a runner worth watching. Bowden was a Campbell Conference all-star in 2009. He’ll see a lot of carries. New sophomore Jacob Buhelt, a speedster, will also handle the ball. Through the air, Cooleen, an honorable mention all-star last year, Goodrich, MacDonald, Oulton and Rogers will make life challenging for opposing secondaries. There are plenty of strong players on the line, a group which includes Bruni, Edwards, Horton (an honorable mention all-star last year), McGovern, Ryan and new junior Scott Jensen, a 6-foot-4 talent. The Yachtsmen project to be just as formidable on the defensive side. On the line, Edwards, Horton, Jensen, Oulton and Ryan will hold down the fort. The linebacking corps includes Alexander, Bowden, Bruni, MacDonald and McGovern. The secondary features Buhelt, Cooleen, Goodrich, Kingry and Rogers. After Cape Elizabeth was hard hit by graduation and with Mountain Valley not in a vintage period, Falmouth has to like its chances to match up with those traditional powers, as well as York and Wells. If the Yachtsmen can stay healthy and hungry, they could set a new standard for the program. This team will be a lot of fun to follow in its quest for greatness.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Robin Haley (16th year)

2009 Record: 10-5-1 (Lost 2-1 to York in Western Class B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kelsey Freedman (Senior), Stephanie Gramse (Senior), Courtney Proctor (Senior), Catherine Hebson (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 (H) WELLS, Sept. 4 (H) GREELY, Sept. 15 @ York, Sept. 23 @ Greely, Sept. 27 (H) YORK, Sept. 29 @ Wells, Oct. 5 (H) NYA

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a very new team this year. We only have four starters back and only have three seniors. We’re inexperienced at the varsity level, but we’ll run with it. The playoffs are always a goal. That would be awesome. We need to build our experience and confidence.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth has advanced to the semifinals or beyond in four of the past six seasons, but was hard hit by graduation, losing all-stars Amber Aaskov, Jacki Aaskov, Nicole Foley and Emma Sipperly. The cupboard is far from bare, however, and the Yachtsmen should remain a factor. Gramse and Proctor will be relied upon the lead the offense until others emerge. Hebson will be heard from all over the field from her midfield position. Freedman returns in goal, which gives Falmouth a big edge over most of its foes. Freshman Hayley Winslow could be an impact player at midfield or defense. While Falmouth doesn’t boast the household names of the past few seasons, it can’t be overlooked. There are several Western B playoff spots to be had and there’s no reason to think the Yachtsmen won’t extend their postseason streak to 15 years. If some newcomers develop as hoped, Falmouth won’t only make the playoffs, it will be in the hunt for a regional crown.

CROSS COUNTRY

CO-COACHES: Jorma Kurry and Danny Paul (seventh year)

2009 Results:

(BOYS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 8th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Johnny Lake (Senior), Henry Briggs (Junior), Tom Edmonds (Junior), Tim Follo (Junior), Sean Hodgdon (Junior), Conor McGrory (Junior), Azad Jalali (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Sarah Abramson (Senior), Maggie Parrish (Senior), Shaina Sirois (Senior), Jena Mannette (Junior), Emily Rand (Junior), Meg Palombo (Sophomore), Abby Payson (Sophomore), Molly Ryan (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Greely, York

COACH KURRY’S COMMENT: “The boys should be very strong. We’re as deep as we’ve ever been. With most of our varsity back and training well this summer, we expect to challenge for the win at every meet we run. If we stay healthy and perform well at the big meets, we’ll be hard to beat. The girls graduated a lot, but should be very strong. They return far ahead of last year. Hopefully a strong base will help us stay healthy and we can race with the top teams. We’re strong enough to do that and expect to finish well this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: As always, the Falmouth program is among the very best in Class B.

The boys are seeking their first title since 2002. They have plenty of firepower returning and several newcomers who will be household names in no time. Follo was sixth at last year’s state meet. Lake (14th), McGrory (24th), and Edmonds (39th) also scored a year ago. Briggs (41st) also took part. All will seek to move up. Hodgdon and Jalali also return. Senior Jackson Bloch, juniors Toby Aicher and Will Robinson and sophomores Sam Kane and Tristan Tucker also look to make a mark. Follo and Lake make up one of the most formidable 1-2 punches around. The pack should be solid as well. While Cape Elizabeth, Greely, York and even Fryeburg could provide opposition, Falmouth is in great shape to not only be the best team in the ultra-competitive Western Maine Conference, but if all goes well, steal the thunder in late October.

On the girls’ side, the Yachtsmen are poised to do very well. After five straight top 10 finishes, Falmouth is looking for its first championship since winning Class C in 2000. Returners include Palombo (20th a year ago at states), Payson (28th), Rand (38th), Parrish (61st) and Ryan (77th)..Abramson, Mannette and Sirois provide experience. As is the case with the boys’ team, the girls also have newcomers to watch. Juniors Callan Donovan and Michaela Franco, sophomores Maggie Sullivan and Libby Voccolla and freshman Jessica Abramson will look to make an immediate impression. The stage is set for the Yachtsmen to excel. Don’t be surprised if this is the best team the program has produced since moving up to Class B.

GOLF

COACH: Spike Herrick (20th year)

2009 Results: 4-5 (2nd @ Class B state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Connor Burfeind (Senior), Taylor Dimick (Senior), Alex Groat (Senior), Will Bucklin (Junior), Nick Franco (Junior), Matt Packard (Junior), Nick Spencer (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Yarmouth, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re in the most competitive bracket in Maine. Cape, Yarmouth and York all have solid teams. Last year we came in second to York, edging Yarmouth by one shot. Our entire team is returning, so expectations are high, but anything can happen. We hope to be at states and give it our best shot.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: It seems like every other year, Falmouth wins the state title, so in that light, the Yachtsmen could be due for greatness in October. They were runner up a year ago and are among the finest teams around in 2010. Top scorers from last year include Burfeind (77 at the team state meet, 79 at the individual championships and a league all-star), Bucklin (82 at team states, 83 at individuals), Franco (84 at states) and Dimick (85 at states). Groat, Packard and Spencer also boast experience. As always, there will newcomers fighting to get into the rotation, but this squad will go as far as its veterans take it. It’s quite likely that Falmouth will tread water in the regular season, like last year, but as is usually the case, the Yachtsmen should peak for October. If this squad is at its best when the stakes are highest, Falmouth will have a great shot to bring home some more hardware.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Gary Powers (fourth year)

2009 Results: 14-2 (lost 3-0 to Greely in Class A Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Alana Becker (Senior), Sarah Collmus (Senior), Laura Fay (Senior), Jackie Keroack (Senior), Lexi Pauls (Senior), Kate Sparks (Senior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 7 @ Scarborough, Sept. 10 (H) BIDDEFORD, Sept. 20 (H) YARMOUTH, Sept. 23 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 24 @ Greely, Oct. 6 @ Biddeford, Oct. 9 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 15 (H) GREELY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated two All-State players and one All-Conference player, as well as our defensive specialist. Our numbers are good this year. We have 43 girls in the program, with some very talented sophomores and freshmen coming up and picking up the game quickly. I ‘m looking for the underclassmen to step up and fill the voids left by the graduating seniors. I think we will get stronger as the season goes on and hope to position ourselves to make a run in the state tournament. If we can fill some spots, we should be competitive and surprise some teams. I think it will be an interesting year and hopefully as exciting as last year..”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: In 2009, Falmouth did everything but win a first state title, handing Greely a rare regular season loss and stealing headlines from start to finish. While a strong core of seniors departed (including Fall Female Athlete of the Year Emma Wilberg, along with Carolyn Smith and Alyssa Yeung), there is still plenty of talent in reserve. Becker (outside hitter) and Sparks (opposite) were all-stars last autumn and will pace this year’s team. They’re joined by veterans Collmus (setter), Fay (middle), Keroack (middle) and Pauls (outside hitter). That’s just the beginning. Eight new juniors bring promise and depth. Laney Evers (setter), Maria Guerra (outside hitter), Morgan Larrabee (opposite), Shannon Meserve (outside hitter), Mickey Rogers (middle), Emily Seaver (setter), Jenna Serunian (opposite) and Grace Sparks (opposite) will all make their presence felt. Then there’s sophomores Marian Bergkamp (hitter), Dana Block (setter), Natalie Kuhn (libero) and Danielle Li (middle) and freshman Katrina Meserve (hitter0, suggesting the Yachtsmen won’t fall out of contention anytime soon. Falmouth should only improve as the year progresses. There are several strong teams in Class A, but the Yachtsmen will continue to measure themselves by how they fare against seven-time champ Greely. Don’t think for a minute this program isn’t still stinging over the state match loss, where the first two sets could have gone either way. There’s a very good chance Falmouth could make it back to the big stage. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if the Yachtsmen finish the job. They’re among the elite now.

Senior Nick Bachman is a standout defender for the Yachtsmen

Senior goalkeeper Ben Goffin has a flair for the dramatic.

Senior quarterback Zach Alexander is a year older and more confident and figure to lead the Yachtsmen to great things in 2010.

Senior Caleb Bowden is a returning league all-star and should run wild for Falmouth this autumn.

Senior Jess DiPhillippo and her girls’ soccer teammates have their sights set on a Class B crown this year.

Senior Stephanie Gramse is a key returner for a Falmouth field hockey team looking to once again advance deep into the playoffs.

Johnny Lake (left) and Conor McGrory are two standout runners for a Falmouth boys’ cross country team that will make a run at the top spot in October.

Sophomore Meg Palombo was 20th at last year’s state meet. She’ll look to move up in 2010.

Senior Alana Becker and her volleyball teammates stole headlines in 2009 and hope to finish the job this fall.

Senior Kate Sparks joins Becker as returning all-stars.

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Falmouth senior Sam White celebrated a goal during last fall’s 3-0 victory over Ellsworth in the state final. White and his teammates will seek to do it again this autumn.

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.