Falmouth Yachtsmen Fall Sports Preview

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Senior John Auer and his Falmouth teammates look to win another Class A boys’ cross country state championship this fall.

File photos.

More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: John Fitzsimmons (12th year, 63-42 overall record)

2017 record: 8-3 (Lost, 31-28, to Marshwood in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Coleman Allen (Senior), Chase Kelley (Senior), Evan Lovley (Senior), Riley Reed (Senior), Jake Ricker (Senior), Brady Douglas (Junior), Sam Kidder (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Aug. 31 @ Brunswick, Sept. 21 BIDDEFORD, Sept. 28 MARSHWOOD, Oct. 12 @ Kennebunk, Oct. 19 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “The kids are working hard. Graduation has presented some challenges, but we have some good players who have waited their turn. We return four on offense and six on defense. This may be the fastest team I’ve ever had. I think we’ll be in the middle tier. We’ll know who we are after the first three weeks. We just have to come together as a unit. The potential is there.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth is coming off the best season in program history, one which ended a few yards and a controversial fumble shy of a possible upset of Marshwood in the regional final. While Campbell Conference Player of the Year and reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year Jack Bryant has taken his skills to Bates College and several other standouts have also departed, the Yachtsmen have some work to do, but it’s certainly possible for them to wind up one of the last teams standing yet again.

After six years of either Noah Nelson or Bryant under center, Falmouth plans to use either junior Nick Mancini or Bruno Sato, a Brazilian transfer student, at quarterback this fall, while grooming freshman Cooper Bush, who already stands 6-foot-2, for the role beginning next year. The speedy Kidder and ultra-athletic Reed will see most of the carries. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 57 attempts and scored four times a year ago. Allen could be one of the most devastating fullbacks in the state. Douglas (13 catches, 262 yards, five TDs in 2017) will be a top receiver, as well as a “Wildcat” quarterback. Lovley will play running back and wide receiver. Senior Jackman Gravier-Webber is another option at receiver. On the line, Ricker, a captain and three-year starter, Kelley and sophomore Matt Probert will open holes. Junior Sam Pausman will be the place-kicker.

On defense, the Yachtsmen will turn to Kelley, Probert and Ricker (82 tackles in 2017) to be stout on the line. The linebacking corps is led by Allen, who led the team in tackles last fall with 102. In the secondary, look for Douglas, Gravier-Webber and Reed (57 tackles last season) to limit the opposition’s passing attack.

Many expect Falmouth to take a step back this year, but not so fast. While the Yachtsmen might not boast the household names of recent seasons, they have the pieces in place to become a very dangerous team by late October. No one will want to face this squad in the playoffs with their season on the line.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Dave Halligan (32nd year, 370-98-44 overall record, 11 state championships)

2017 record: 13-3 (Lost, 1-0, to Gorham in Class A South semifinal) 

Top returning players: Kyle Bouchard (Senior), Nik Hester (Senior), Seamus O’Brien (Senior), Tom Fitzgerald (Junior), Gus Ford (Sophomore), Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillana (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 4 @ Portland, Sept. 11 @ Cheverus, Sept. 25 @ Deering, Sept. 29 SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 4 TA, Oct. 9 @ Gorham

Coach’s comment: “We’ve had a good preseason. We graduated 14, so we have a lot of new players. Only four starters return, mostly on defense. Our defense will keep us in games while our offense develops. We’ll find some scorers. Every day is going to be a battle. If we can stay in games, we’ll build confidence and compete. We need a lot of things to go right, but hopefully, we’ll be there at the end.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last fall, Falmouth was ousted in the semifinals for the third year in a row and graduation took a toll on the program, but as one of the state’s premier powers, the Yachtsmen will reload again. It might take awhile, but this squad will hit its stride and by the end of the year, could be one of the best in Class A South.

Fitzgerald, an SMAA second-team all-star in 2017, will be a top scorer along with Ford. Hester, a second-team all-star last year, is an imposing midfielder, one who can get involved with the offense or use his size to deny opposing attacks. Bouchard and O’Brien return on defense in front of Fuentes-Cantillanta, who was a second-team all-star last year after giving up a half-goal per game and posting nine shutouts. Several other players are looking forward to their opportunity to earning minutes and making a contribution.

While teams like Cheverus, Deering, Gorham, Portland and Scarborough have more experience and depth, Falmouth has enough talent to play with them. The Yachtsmen will stumble at times during the regular season, but no one will want to see them in the playoffs. Look for another deep run out of this squad.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Andrew Pelletier (sixth year, 44-28-6 overall record)

2017 record: 6-8-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Windham in Class A South prelim) 

Top returning players: Madison Wolf (Senior), Aimee Muscadin (Junior), Sydney Williams (Junior), Kelly Yoon (Junior), Lexi Bugbee (Sophomore), Allie Cunningham (Sophomore), Izzy Dyer (Sophomore), Devin Quinn (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 1 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 15 CHEVERUS, Sept. 22 GORHAM, Sept. 24 BONNY EAGLE, Oct. 5 @ Windham, Oct. 13 TA

Coach’s comment: “Last year was a good step and we only graduated a couple. We’re still young with three seniors and five juniors, but we have a good freshman class. Every game will be competitive this year. It’ll be an interesting season. I think we’ll be in the mix. The goal is to win some playoff games.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth got the hang of Southwestern Maine Activities Association play last fall and this season, the Yachtsmen are hopeful of playing deeper into the Class A South postseason.

Falmouth’s offense will be led by the veteran Wolf, with help from Bugbee, Cunningham, Muscadin and freshman Chelsea Graver. Defensively, Dyer, Quinn, Williams and Yoon all have experience. Junior Gabi Esmond and sophomores Abby Blakeman and CC Cohen will also play key roles. Freshman Jordan Wolf projects to be the goalkeeper.

With a young roster and a tough schedule, it stands to reason that the Yachtsmen will stumble occasionally in the weeks to come, but there is plenty of talent here and the squad will come together and be battle tested for the playoffs. No one will want to have to go through Falmouth to keep their season alive in late October.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Robin Haley (24th year, 205-134-18 overall record)

2017 record: 7-9 (Lost, 1-0, to Scarborough in Class A South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Caitlyn Bull (Senior), Emma Cohen (Senior), Keller Gardner (Senior), Caitlyn Hanley (Senior), Liberty Ladd (Senior), Juliana LaPorta (Senior), Mary Kate Bayer (Junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 1 WESTBROOK, Sept. 5 @ Scarborough, Sept. 17 CHEVERUS, Sept. 22 MASSABESIC

Coach’s comment: “I’m pleased with the energy and leadership of the seniors. We have a nice balance. We hope to finish in the upper part of the standings in a very competitive league. We want to go a little further in the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth navigated a challenging first season in the SMAA a year ago and extended its postseason streak to 21 years. This fall, the Yachtsmen are primed to post a winning record and to go on a playoff run.

Ladd is the top returner. She was named to the all-conference and all-state teams in 2017. She’ll control play in the midfield and can also rattle the cage. Bayer, Cohen (a second-team all-star last year) and Gardner are other likely top scorers. Juniors Veronica Grobe, Sammy Means and Izzy Roy and freshmen Chloe Bush and Mia Wrisley will also be involved on offense. Defensively, LaPorta (the team’s Rookie of the Year last fall), Hanley, seniors Madison Fairfield and Grace Perron and juniors Parker Spence and Sarah Wentworth will look to stymie the opposition. Bull, an honorable mention all-star last year, returns in goal. She’s one of the conference’s best.

It might take awhile for Haley to figure out who will play best where, but Falmouth has talent and depth galore. In a season devoid of a heavy favorite in Class A South, the Yachtsmen have an opportunity to really make their presence felt in the conference by going on a deep postseason run, perhaps all the way to the state final.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Larry Nichols (first year)

2017 results: 12-5 (Lost, 3-0, to Cape Elizabeth, in Class B state final

Top returning players: Alex Burton (Senior), Summer Spiegel (Senior), Annika Hester (Sophomore), Katie Phillips (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: Aug. 31 GREELY, Sept. 11 @ South Portland, Sept. 13 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 18 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 20 YARMOUTH, Sept. 27 BIDDEFORD, Oct. 4 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 15 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “We graduated seven seniors and we don’t have much experience, but it’s a great group to work with. It’ll be an interesting year. We have two sophomores who have played a lot and some seniors who need to become leaders. We won’t be the same team a month from now. I look forward to our journey. I like to think we’ll be in the top four. I’d like to be the team that no one looks forward to playing.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After falling in the Class B state final, Falmouth moves back into Class A this autumn and welcomes a new coach in Nichols, who established the Deering program and led the Rams to the top seed in Class A a year ago. He inherits a team full of promise.

Hester and Philips were both SMAA first-team all-stars as freshmen and will be the backbone of this year’s squad. Phillips is a top setter and Hester is a hitter that will give opposing coaches nightmares. Burton (an outside hitter) and Spiegel (a setter) also have experience. Senior Kiera O’Brien and junior Rose Riversmith will be blockers. Junior Holly Barney and sophomore Hillary Bouchard can each hit and play strong defense. Junior Gretchen Barney is the libero.

The Yachtsmen have a very challenging schedule this season and will face a learning curve, but expect to see a dramatically improved product between Opening Night and the end of the regular season. When the playoffs begin, Falmouth might not have a top seed, but it will be tough to beat. The program’s present and future are very bright.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coaches: Jorma Kurry and Danny Paul (15th year, three state championships)

2017 results:
(Boys) Repeated as Class A state champions
(Girls) 3rd @ Class A state meet 

Top returners:
(Boys) John Auer (Senior), Doug Cooke (Senior), Kade Kelley (Senior), Nolan Anderson (Junior), Ben Potter (Junior), Michael Smoluk (Junior), Faran Igani (Sophomore)
(Girls) Annie DeCastro (Senior), Malaika Pasch (Senior), Kayla Sarazin (Senior), Molly McDermott (Junior), Shruti Joshi (Sophomore), Sofie Matson (Sophomore), Karley Piers (Sophomore), Lauren Welch (Sophomore)

Coach Kurry’s comment: “The boys graduated a lot, but return some strong veterans. We’ll be competitive throughout our league schedule and against the top teams in the state. We’ll rely on some new varsity runners, but they have shown promise. The girls return a strong group and with the addition of Eva (Clement), we should be among the very best in the state. We have some good experience and a lot of positive attitudes and hard workers.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth remains the program that others measure themselves by and the 2018 campaign should feature both genders making a run at championship hardware.

The boys have won consecutive Class A titles and while graduation cost the Yachtsmen state meet scorers Conner Piers, Alex Kinley and Charlie Henning, there’s plenty of talent in reserve. Auer is coming off a season which saw him place seventh at the Class A state meet. He’ll be one of the top runners again. Cooke was 27th at states a year ago and looks to move up. Kelley also has state meet experience. The seniors are the proven commodities, but there’s optimism that Anderson, Igani, Potter and Smoluk will also make their presence felt. New sophomore Ethan McKee and freshmen Luke Ford, Boden Retherford and Logan Ross provide depth. Falmouth will be pushed by Scarborough in the league and Hampden Academy and ancient rival Greely could stand in the way at the state level, but the Yachtsmen will be up for the challenge. Look for this group to once again be at their best on the biggest stage and make a run at three-peating for the first time in program history.

On the girls’ side, after coming in second and third the past two seasons, Falmouth looks to win its first state title since taking Class C in 2000. Matson has set a high bar, winning the individual crown as a freshman. She was named the school’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year and will again be the girl everyone else is chasing this autumn. Pasch (fifth) and Piers (seventh) had top 10 showings in 2017 and will be among the best again. Sarazin (51st) and Welch (67th) look to move up from last year. DeCastro, Joshi and McDermott also have experience. Sophomore Eva Clement, who dazzled as a skier and lacrosse player a year ago, is new to the team and figures to become a threat to join the front of the pack and freshman Lila Findlay is another key newcomer. The Yachtsmen will get their biggest regular season challenge from Bonny Eagle and then Camden Hills and Greely loom at states. If this group stays healthy, however, it could make history and take a Class A crown for the first time.

GOLF

Coach: John Mullen (fifth year)

2017 results: 8-2 (4th @ Class A state match)

Top returning players: Spencer McKee (Senior), Garrett Tracy (Senior), Reilly Tucker (Senior), Tyler Baker (Junior), Brady Pierson (Junior), Charlie Pochepan (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Our team goal is to qualify for the state tournament. We will need to gain experience and show steady growth through the regular season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth produced yet another very successful campaign a year ago and this fall, the Yachtsmen are on the short list of Class A title hopefuls.

Baker, a second-team league all-star a year ago, is a top returner. He shot a round of 83 at the state match and even though his score wasn’t factored in, it was impressive. Pierson and Pochepan will also see regular time. Freshman Jack Stowell will make an immediate impact. Tucker, a co-captain, McKee and Tracy will also look to make their mark.

Falmouth has the pieces in place to have another successful regular season and to be at its best when it matters most in October. Don’t be surprised if the Yachtsmen move up at states and make a run at a title.

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

Senior Riley Reed will play a key role for a Falmouth football team hoping to make another deep playoff run.

Good luck catching senior Evan Lovley when he gets in the open field.

Junior Tom Fitzgerald will make life miserable for opposing defenses as he and his Falmouth boys’ soccer teammates look to be a top team in Class A South again.

Senior Kyle Bouchard is a veteran presence for the Yachtsmen.

Senior Madison Wolf will be a top scorer for a Falmouth girls’ soccer team which will be in contention all season.

Lexi Bugbee had a strong freshman campaign and will be one of the Yachtsmen’s top players this fall as a sophomore.

Junior Kelly Yoon is another key returner for Falmouth.

Senior Liberty Ladd is coming off an all-state season for Falmouth’s field hockey team, which should be among the top contenders in Class A South this fall.

Junior Mary Kate Bayer is another top scoring threat for Falmouth.

Senior Caitlyn Bull is back in goal, where she excels, for the Yachtsmen.

Senior Juliana LaPorta was Falmouth’s Rookie of the Year in 2017.

Sophomore Katie Phillips is a top setter for a Falmouth volleyball team which moves up to Class A this season.

Sophomore Annika Hester will one of Falmouth’s top hitters.

Junior Holly Barney looks to play a key role for the Yachtsmen this season.

Sofie Matson had a memorable freshman season for Falmouth’s girls’ cross country team, winning the Class A individual title. She and her teammates figure to excel again this fall.

Sophomore Karley Piers is another top, young runner for Falmouth.

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