Falmouth Yachtsmen 2011 Fall Sports Preview

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Falmouth’s fall sports teams are loaded for bear and likely for glory in 2011. Girls’ soccer is coming off yet another state championship and once again features a new coach. The boys’ program is as steady as they come and the Yachtsmen will look to avenge last year’s regional final overtime loss to Yarmouth en route to what they hope is another title. Football should be in the mix for a playoff berth. Field hockey projects to be improved, perhaps to the point where it’s one of the final teams standing. Both cross country teams will make a legitimate run at a championship. Speaking of titles, golf is the defending Class B champion, but Falmouth is competing in Class A this year and should immediately make an impact. Volleyball has been to the state final two years running and looks to finish the job this time around.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Dave Halligan (25th year)

2010 Record: 11-5-1 (Lost 1-0, in OT, to Yarmouth in Western Class B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Cam Bell (Senior), Andy Murry (Senior), Brandon Tuttle (Senior), Luke Andrews (Junior), Graham Burfeind (Junior), J.P. White (Junior), Will D’Agostino (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 14 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 16 (H) YORK, Sept. 24 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 26 (H) GREELY, Oct. 4 @ Greely, Oct. 6 (H) GRAY-NG, Oct. 12 @ York, Oct. 14 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

COACH’S COMMENT: “Our big time players have moved on. It’s time for someone else. We graduated most of our offense. We look to be more balanced scoring this year. Instead of having one or two guys score 20 goals, we should have four or five with 10. We’re very talented, but we’re young. There aren’t many seniors. They’ll have to lead and allow the younger players to develop. We think we can be there at the end. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Even in a “down” year, the powerhouse Falmouth program won 11 games in 2010 and took eventual champion Yarmouth into overtime of the regional final before bowing out. The Yachtsmen lost three regional and all-state talents, Nick Bachman, Michael Bloom and Sam White, to graduation and while the program may lack a superstar, high-scoring type for the first time in many years, on balance, this squad has all the pieces in place for greatness. This season, the offense will be led by Burfeind, Murry, Tuttle and J.P. White (a second-team Western Maine Conference all-star in 2010), with support from Andrews and perhaps promising freshman Luke Velas, the younger brother of former Falmouth star Jimmy. Bell (coming off a state championship in lacrosse) will anchor the defense. Two players will vie for time in goal, D’Agostino and junior Charlie Fay. Western Class B has a different look this year as it won’t just be the Falmouth and Yarmouth Show (the powers have combined to win the last 11 state championships). York is very formidable and Gray-New Gloucester (which gave the Yachtsmen fits in last year’s quarterfinals) is on the rise. Mix in the specter of the two annual games against Cape Elizabeth and Greely (who play in Class A come playoff time) and Falmouth faces a very difficult schedule. The team is up for the challenge. While the Yachtsmen might not tickle the twine quite as often as in past years, their always-tough defense will ensure positive results. It’s not often that Falmouth goes back-to-back seasons without adding to its trophy case. It won’t come easily, but by November, the Yachtsmen could very well find themselves in a familiar place at the pinnacle.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Wally LeBlanc (first year)

2010 Record: 12-5-1 (Beat Caribou 1-0 to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Olivia Hoch (Senior), Sarah Hogan (Senior), McKenzie Meyers (Senior), Alex Bernier (Junior), Cassie Darrow (Junior), Mary Catherine Kowalski (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 14 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 16 (H) YORK, Sept. 24 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 26 @ Greely, Sept. 30 (H) GREELY, Oct. 11 @ York, Oct. 14 (H) YARMOUTH, Oct. 18 @ Cape Elizabeth

COACH’S COMMENT: “Our senior core will be critical to this year’s success. Due to the fact that we have so many athletes with little varsity experience, every game has great importance. We will focus on one game at a time and hope to grow and improve as the season progresses. We are a very young team due to the graduation of 10 fantastic seniors. We also lost another three returning varsity players for the season due to injuries: Despite the youth and turnover, there is a nice core of dedicated athletes stepping up. It will be important to develop as a team as well as have key players assume a leadership role.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth went through the gamut of emotions in 2010. The season started slowly, coach Jon Shardlow departed amid controversy and it appeared the Yachtsmen were doomed, but they peaked at the right time, upset Yarmouth and York in the regional playoffs, then edged Caribou to win yet another championship. This time around, Falmouth has a lot of new faces in new places, but the talent is again undeniable. LeBlanc becomes the program’s eighth coach in a little more than a decade. He’s coached varsity girls’ soccer in Maine for 18 years, including the past six at Windham. He’s excited about what he has to work with even after the big graduation hit (the most notable departures were regional all-stars Abbey Cavalero, state game hero Jess DiPhillippo and goalie Elizabeth Estabrook) and the loss to injury of Jackie Doyle, Cassidy Gaudette and Sarah Weigel. Top returners include Bernier, Darrow, Hogan and Kowalski, who all scored critical goals in 2010. The offense will be bolstered by Maddie Inlow, Angie Mallis, Megan Miller and junior Caitlin Bucksbaum, a transfer from North Carolina. The senior core of Hogan, Hoch, Caroline Bauer, Ashleigh Burton, Annie Criscione, Sarah Hemphill and McKenzie Meyers will provide leadership and fill key roles. Bri DiPhilippo will help rebuild the defense in front of Caroline Lucas, who replaces Estabrook in goal. As was the case last year, although for different reasons, it might take the Yachtsmen a little while to hit their stride, but by the postseason, they’ll be as dangerous as ever. If the new players step up as hoped, Falmouth will be as good as any team in the region and state and could easily raise another trophy to the heavens the first Saturday in November.

FOOTBALL

COACH: John Fitzsimmons (fifth year)

2010 Record: 6-4 (Lost 43-6 to Mountain Valley in Western Class B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jack Cooleen (Senior), Scott Jensen (Senior), Matt Kingry (Senior), Ryan MacDonald (Senior), Aaron Rogers (Senior), Will Ryan (Senior), Mike Caswell (Junior), Jack Collins (Junior), Alex Derhagopian (Junior), Will Sipperly (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 @ Spruce Mountain, Sept. 17 (H) MARSHWOOD, Sept. 23 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 14 @ Westbrook, Oct. 21 (H) GREELY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We feel like we have to prove something here. We want to be considered one of the top teams in the league. We’re fortunate to have some players return to the program who are terrific skill players. They’ll give us a chance at a great season. It’s a good squad. The athleticism is very strong. Our line averages 245 pounds. Our chemistry and camaraderie is one of the best of any team I’ve ever coached.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth made the playoffs the hard way in 2010, rallying to beat Greely in the season finale, then getting a fortunate flip of a coin after finishing tied with the Rangers and Cape Elizabeth. While the Yachtsmen were quickly sent packing by eventual champion Mountain Valley, it was their second playoff berth as they continue to be one of the more competitive teams in the region. Now, Falmouth wants to not just make the postseason, but to win a game or two. There’s certainly reason for optimism as several talented players return and are joined by some accomplished athletes who are new to the team. Kingry moves into the quarterback spot this autumn, replacing Zach Alexander. Kingry was a running back in 2010 (and an honorable mention conference all-star), but Fitzsimmons feels his athleticism and intelligence will make for an easy transition behind center. Through the air, Kingry has one of the premier receivers to throw to in Cooleen, a first-team all-star a year ago. Rogers will also be a target. On the ground, MacDonald (another first-teamer last autumn), Derhagopian and Sipperly (who missed much of last year with injury), along with new seniors Chris Leete and Mike Ryan (of lacrosse acclaim), will look to do damage. Clearing holes for those backs will be Collins, Jensen, Will Ryan and new junior John Walker. Caswell is as talented a kicker as you’ll find in Maine. He’s the two-time New England Punt, Pass and Kick champion. There’s plenty of promise on defense as well. Up front, good luck running on Collins, Jensen, Mike Ryan, Will Ryan and Walker. Leete, MacDonald and Sipperly will wreak havoc at linebacker and the secondary corps, led by Derhagopian and Kingry, figures to disrupt opposing passing games. With the addition of former Class A teams Marshwood and Westbrook to the region, there’s no fear of a coin toss as eight teams will qualify for the postseason. Falmouth should be in that mix and has a very good chance of hosting a first round game. This team will put up its share of points. If the defense can match up against the premier teams in the region, the Yachtsmen will be able to hold their own with everyone. This could be a memorable campaign.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Robin Haley (17th year)

2010 Record: 4-11 (Lost 2-1 to York in Western Class B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Catherine Hebson (Senior), Steffi Rothweiler (Senior), Katie Cooleen (Junior), Sarah Sparks (Junior), Geneva Waite (Junior), Leika Scott (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 @ Wells, Sept. 5 @ Lake Region, Sept. 7 (H) GREELY, Sept. 9 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 17 (H) YORK, Sept. 23 @ Greely, Sept. 27 @York, Oct. 3 (H) WELLS, Oct. 7 @ NYA, Oct. 11 @ Cape Elizabeth

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have more experience this year at the varsity level. We had a hard time last year putting the ball in the cage. I’m hoping that will turn around. I hope to use our playoff loss to York as a catalyst. The girls got a confidence-boost to carry us into this year. I’m hoping we’re in the the top half someplace.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While Falmouth struggled to score and win last year, it still made the playoffs and almost upset eventual regional champion York before going down to a narrow defeat. This year’s team starts out with more experience and confidence and it probably won’t be long before the Yachtsmen are back among the top squads in the region. The best news could be the return of senior Megan Fortier, who spent her junior year at NYA (where she won a Class C title and was a second-team all-star). Her scoring and playmaking ability will improve the team exponentially. Hebson, Scott, Sparks, Waite and sophomore Jillian Rothweiler also project to rattle the cage. On defense, Falmouth will rely on Cooleen (a second-team all-star last autumn) and Steffi Rothweiler to hold the fort in front of sophomore Hillary Nash, who replaces standout goalie Kelsey Freedman (the Class B Player of the Year in 2010) in goal. The league is balanced this year, but the Yachtsmen should be able to compete with everyone. A stronger offense will turn close losses of last season into victories, so it’s unlikely Falmouth will be the last team in the postseason. This squad will be improved and could be dramatically better. If you’re looking for a darkhorse in the region, the Yachtsmen might be it.

CROSS COUNTRY

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

2010 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Henry Briggs (Senior), Thomas Edmonds (Senior), Tim Follo (Senior), Colby Howland (Senior), Conor McGrory (Senior), Will Robinson (Senior), Azad Jalali (Junior), Jay Lesser (Junior), Tristan Tucker (Junior)

(GIRLS) Grace Dancoes (Senior), Jena Mannette (Senior), Emily Rand (Senior), Summer Greenwood (Junior), Cam Harrod-Clark (Junior), Charlotte Kirk (Junior), Meg Palombo (Junior), Abby Payson (Junior), Molly Ryan (Junior), Hayley Simmons (Junior), Madeline Roberts (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Greely, York boys; Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Yarmouth, York girls

COACH PAUL’S COMMENT: “We have great numbers. About 50 boys. We have 36 girls out. We have many new kids from all four years and an impressive 13 freshmen. I think our boys can go all the way if healthy and the girls have a shot. Going in, we are behind three or four schools, but close, we’ll see.”

COACH KURRY’S COMMENT: “The boys are definitely strong and deep. If they train smart and stay healthy, the sky is the limit. There will be healthy competition for spots on varsity. We have good leadership and they are putting in good work so far. The girls have come back in good shape. The potential is there, as Danny says, for a very competitive team if they can continue to train well consistently. Staying healthy will be a key for this team, but we have good depth as well.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: As always, Falmouth’s depth and talent will be difficult to counter.

The boys look to get back to the pinnacle and return some top-notch talent. Follo was the runner-up in Class B a year ago and was a first-team WMC all-star. He’s joined by McGrory (18th), Briggs (21st), Edmonds (24th) and Jalali (35th) as scorers from last year’s state meet. Briggs and McGrory were second -team all-stars in 2010. Howland and Robinson have experience, while Lesser and Tucker look to make their mark. Freshmen Spencer Brown, Scott Lambert and Sam Pratico lead a strong freshman contingent. If the Yachtsmen can stay healthy, they’ll lead the pack in the conference and will be at or near the top at the regional and state meets. This could be a championship squad.

On the girls’ side, the story is promising as well. As is the case with the boys, several state meet scorers return, led by Palombo (26th). Mannette (27th), Greenwood (28th) and Payson (35th) also scored. Greenwood, Palombo and Payson were all-stars last season. Dancoes and Rand will help lead this crew. Harrod-Clark, Kirk, Ryan and Simmons as juniors, sophomore Roberts and newcomers Molly Paris (senior), Denali Nalamalapu (junior) and Lizzie Cattell (freshman) will look to make a mark. Look for this team to improve as the season progresses and to be at its best in the biggest meets. The Yachtsmen should be on the short list of title favorites.

GOLF

COACH: Spike Herrick (21st year)

2010 Results: 9-1 (Class B state champions)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Will Bucklin (Senior), Nick Franco (Senior), Joe Ionta (Senior), Matt Packard (Senior), Drew Proctor (Senior), T.J. Gilbert (Junior), Russell Barnard (Sophomore), Joe Lesniak (Sophomore), Aiden Weller (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Deering

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a lot of players returning from a most successful team last year.. We were Class B state champions and had the lowest score of all classes, so we are optimistic, but first year in Class A gives us some uncertainties. We are hoping to return to the states.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: This team is in a unique position. Falmouth is the defending Class B state champion and it has a great shot to win it all in its first year in Class A. Bucklin (77 at the team state meet, 82 at the individual meet) and Packard (83 at team states, 79 as an individual) both were key cogs on last year’s squad and along with Franco, made the all-star team. They’ll lead the way in 2011. Ionta and Proctor also have experience. Barnard, Gilbert, Lesniak and Weller look to make a mark. Instead of doing battle with teams like Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth and York, the Yachtsmen will have to adjust to playing the likes of Cheverus, Deering, Scarborough and South Portland. Falmouth seems to rise to the occasion year after year. This team is highly touted entering its new opportunity and rest assured that the SMAA teams are well aware of just how dangerous the Yachtsmen stand to be. This should be another successful season and if all goes well, it will be historic.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Gary Powers (fifth year)

2010 Results: 14-3 (lost 3-0 to Biddeford in Class A Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Laney Evers (Senior), Maria Guerra (Senior), Morgan Larrabee (Senior), Shannon Meserve (Senior), Nicole Rogers (Senior), Emily Seaver (Senior), Jenna Serunian (Senior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 9 (H) BIDDEFORD, Sept. 13 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 20 (H )YARMOUTH, Sept. 22 @ Scarborough, Sept. 24 @ Greely, Oct. 1 @ Biddeford, Oct. 3 (H) GORHAM, Oct. 14 (H) GREELY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have to fill some big holes left by last year’s seniors. We lost four of our big hitters and we are trying to see who will step up to replace them. The team is coming together as the players feel each other out. This year, seven teams will go to the state tournament, and we are hoping to grab one of those spots. We are passing the ball well, but still have some issues to work out. Several of the underclassmen are really stepping up and I am pleased with their progress. The top five teams seem to be evenly matched and I think each match will be a battle. In the end, I feel it will come down to which team makes the fewer mistakes.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth has arrived as a volleyball power with a bullet, reaching the state match each of the past two years, but falling in three sets to Greely in 2009 and Biddeford a year ago. The program has been hit pretty hard by graduation the past two Junes, but there’s plenty of talent in reserve as the Yachtsmen look to make another run this autumn and finish the job. Seven experienced seniors will anchor this year’s team. Evers is the setter. Serunian brings her size and athleticism to the middle. Outside hitters include Guerra, Meserve and Rogers. Larrabee and Seaver play opposite, but will also see time as outside hitters. Seaver will also serve as the defensive specialist. A solid list of newcomers bolsters the team. Juniors Marian Berkamp (outside hitter/opposite), Dana Block (setter), Natalie Kuhn (libero) and Danielle Li (middle), along with sophomores Riley Burfeind (middle) and Katerina Meserve (opposite/outside hitter), fill out an impressive roster. Gone are the days when it was Greely and everyone else. The Rangers were finally dethroned a year ago and this autumn, it appears as if parity will reign supreme as Biddeford, Falmouth and Greely will be chased by teams like Gorham, Mt. Desert Island and Scarborough. As a result, the Yachtsmen won’t have many easy regular season matches. They might not be as dominant as the past two editions, but this team has the ingredients to finish strong. If Falmouth can get back to the ultimate match, the third time could be the charm.

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

Junior J.P. White is one of several top returners for a hungry and talented Falmouth boys’ soccer team.

Junior Alex Bernier will be in the middle of the action for the Falmouth girls’ soccer team.

One of the state’s premier wide receivers, senior Jack Cooleen will run roughsod on the opposition this fall.

Senior Ryan MacDonald will spearhead Falmouth’s rushing attack.

Senior Tim Follo is one of the state’s finest runners and will look to lead Falmouth back to the top of Class B.

Junior Abby Payson was a state meet scorer a year ago and is part of a talented girls’ cross country squad.

Senior Nicole Rogers is one of several key returners to a Falmouth volleyball team which has played in the state final match two years running.

Things rarely end up well for the opposition when senior Jenna Serunian gets position at the net.

Sidebar Elements


2011 schedules

FOOTBALL

Fri., Sept. 2 H GNG

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Spruce Mtn.

Sat., Sept. 17 H MARSHWOOD

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Cape Elizabeth

Fri., Sept. 30 @ Lake Region

Fri., Oct. 7 H FRYEBURG

Fri., Oct. 14 @ Westbrook

Fri., Oct. 21 H GREELY

BOYS’ SOCCER

Sat., Sept. 3 H POLAND

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Lake Region

Wed., Sept. 14 @ Cape Elizabeth

Fri., Sept. 16 H YORK

Sat., Sept. 24 @ Yarmouth

Mon., Sept. 26 H GREELY

Wed., Sept. 28 @ Fryeburg

Sat., Oct. 1 @ Freeport

Tues., Oct. 4 @ Greely

Thurs., Oct. 6 H GNG

Mon., Oct. 10 H FREEPORT

Wed., Oct. 12 @ York

Fri., Oct. 14 H YARMOUTH

Tues., Oct. 18 H CAPE ELIZABETH

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Fri., Sept. 2 @ Poland

Tues., Sept. 6 H LAKE REGION

Thurs., Sept. 8 @ Wells

Wed., Sept. 14 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Fri., Sept. 16 H YORK

Sat., Sept. 24 @ Yarmouth

Mon., Sept. 26 @ Greely

Wed., Sept. 28 H FRYEBURG

Fri., Sept. 30 H GREELY

Tues., Oct. 4 @ Freeport

Thurs., Oct. 6 H GNG

Tues., Oct. 11 @ York

Fri., Oct. 14 H YARMOUTH

Tues., Oct. 18 @ Cape Elizabeth

FIELD HOCKEY

Thurs., Sept. 1 @ Wells

Mon., Sept. 5 @ Lake Region

Wed., Sept. 7 H GREELY

Fri., Sept. 9 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Tues., Sept. 13 H YARMOUTH

Sat., Sept. 17 H YORK

Wed., Sept. 21 @ Fryeburg

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Greely

Tues., Sept. 27 @ York

Thurs., Sept. 29 H GNG

Mon., Oct. 3 H WELLS

Wed., Oct. 5 H FRYEBURG

Fri., Oct. 7 @ NYA

Tues., Oct. 11 @ Cape Elizabeth

CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 2 H LR, NYA, YORK

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Merriconeag (GNG)

Fri., Sept. 16 @ Freeport (Fryeburg)

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Wells (Poland, Sacopee, Traip)

Sat., Oct. 1 @ Belfast Invitational

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Greely (Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth)

Fri., Oct. 14 @ WMC Championships

Sat., Oct. 22 Western B Regionals

Sat., Oct. 29 Class B States

GOLF

Thurs., Sept. 1 H SP

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Portland

Thurs., Sept. 8 H CHEVERUS

Mon., Sept. 12 @ Deering

Wed., Sept. 14 @ Scarborough

Mon., Sept. 19 @ SP

Wed., Sept. 21 H PORTLAND

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Cheverus

Tues., Sept. 27 H DEERING

Wed., Sept. 28 H SCARBOROUGH

VOLLEYBALL

Fri., Sept. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Lake Region

Fri., Sept. 9 H BIDDEFORD

Tues., Sept. 13 H SCARBOROUGH

Thurs., Sept. 15 @ Kennebunk

Tues., Sept. 20 H YARMOUTH

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Scarborough

Sat., Sept. 24 @ Greely

Tues., Sept. 27 H NYA

Sat., Oct. 1 @ Biddeford

Mon., Oct. 3 H GORHAM

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Cony

Tues., Oct. 11 H LAKE REGION

Fri., Oct. 14 H GREELY

It was party time once again for the Falmouth girls’ soccer team in 2010. The Yachtsmen have a great shot at celebrating all over again in November.

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.