Falmouth Yachtsmen Spring Athletes of the Year

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Male:

GEORGE GILBERT, Senior-Lacrosse

* WMC all-star, second team

* WMC Senior All-Star

* Captain

Gilbert lived up to the legacy of the number on his back and his leadership down the stretch helped Falmouth right the ship and win an unexpected state championship.

Gilbert started playing lacrosse at a young age, following in the footsteps of his brothers, T.J. and Brad. He joined the Falmouth varsity as a freshman and for three years was a key part of a team that got to the regional final, but had no answers for Cape Elizabeth.

Gilbert, who also played three seasons of running back and cornerback for the football team, stepped into the captain’s role this spring and inherited the number 4, which has special significance in Falmouth lore, having been worn previously by All-Americans Mike Ryan and IV Stucker.

“Wearing the number meant a lot to me,” Gilbert said. “I hope I did it proud.”

Gilbert, a midfielder, started slowly this spring, but wound up scoring 30 goals and adding eight assists in the regular season. Highlights included five goals in a crossover win over two-time defending regional champion South Portland, three goals in a victory over North Yarmouth Academy, four in a win over Yarmouth, five in a victory over Fryeburg Academy, three apiece in wins over Wells, Messalonskee and Greely and three more in a loss at Kennebunk.

In the playoffs, Gilbert and his teammates found another gear. He scored once in a come-from-behind win over Kennebunk in the semifinals, which turned the team around and set the stage for the most memorable week in program history. Falmouth had to go to Cape Elizabeth for the regional final for the fourth straight season and for the fourth year in a row, was expected by most to fall short, but this time, the Yachtsmen pulled off a stunning 7-5 upset. Then, in the state final, Gilbert scored three times as Falmouth jumped to an early lead over Yarmouth and never looked back as it won the title for the first time since 2012.

After the championship game, Falmouth coach Mike LeBel stressed how much Gilbert’s leadership meant to the title run.

“A huge reason we (won the championship) was George,” LeBel said. “He just wanted it.”

“Being a captain is a big responsibility,” said Gilbert, who shared that honor with Austin Wheeler, who missed almost the whole season with injury. “I just told everyone to play as a unit and to not get frustrated.”

Gilbert got to cap his high school career in the style every player dreams.

“Losing motivates me, so falling short of the state championship the other years got me to work harder to get better,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert plans to attend and play lacrosse at Bates College next year, where he’ll study Economics.

You couldn’t ask for a better final act that the one produced this season by George Gilbert, Falmouth’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year. He got his team to believe it could do special things and led the Yachtsmen to the mountaintop.

Coach Mike LeBel’s comment: “George wanted to be the guy I go to and tell him we have to get something done and he made it happen. He scored goals, cleared the ball, played shutdown defense. I’ve been so impressed with that kid. He’s been an amazing leader.”

Previous winners:

2015 Bryce Kuhn (lacrosse)

2014 Brendan McCarthy (tennis)

2013 Thomas Fortier (baseball)

2012 Thomas Fortier (baseball)

2011 Matt MacDowell (baseball)

2010 Dan Hanley (lacrosse)

2009 Tommy Winger (track)

2008 Ethan Shaw (track)

2007 Ethan Shaw (track)

2006 Chris Morrison (tennis)

2005 Antonio Floridino (track)

2004 Aaron Paradis (baseball)

2003 Antonio Floridino (track)

2002 Matt Dissell (track)

Female:

JULIA BROGAN- Senior-Tennis

* State singles champion

* WMC all-star, singles first team

* WMC All-Academic team

* Captain

Brogan continued Falmouth’s tradition of monopolizing state girls’ singles titles, following up Olivia Leavitt’s three straight with one of her own and she was also a superb first singles player on another state championship team.

Brogan first started tennis at the age of four and said she began taking it seriously at the age of 10.

By the time she joined the unbeatable Falmouth varsity team as a freshman, Brogan, who also played a couple years of basketball in high school, was good enough to play second singles behind Leavitt and she excelled in helping the Yachtsmen win state titles her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.

This spring, with Leavitt having moved on to college, Brogan moved into the number one spot and won every match but one, a loss to Yarmouth’s Lana Mavor.

“It was a big transition,” Brogan said. “There were a lot of tough matches. I was very fortunate to have had Olivia as a teammate. She made me better.”

Brogan’s biggest triumph came at the state singles tournament. She reached the semifinals as a junior, but lost to Leavitt. This spring, she got back to the final four, then dispatched St. Dom’s’ Bethany Hammond in straight sets in the semifinals and Wells’ Rosemary Campanella in the final, again in straight sets.

“I was very determined to win the singles title this year,” Brogan said. “It was frustrating to get so close before. I was very ready to do it. It was both a relief and exhilarating.”

Brogan then excelled as Falmouth made another perfect run through the team playoffs, winning its ninth successive state championship, extending its mindboggling match win streak to 141.

“It was an amazing end to my senior year,” Brogan said. “I really enjoy the competition. I love that I’m the only one out there and it comes down to what I’m capable of on a given day.”

Brogan, a member of National Honor Society, credits her “amazing coaches,” Ben Cox and Paul Gastonguay, trainer Shelby Turcotte and first-year Falmouth varsity coach Bill Goodspeed for her success.

“Bill kept me calm this year,” Brogan said. “He’s an amazing coach.”

Brogan, who is training and playing in select tournaments this summer (she reached the final of the Betty Blakeman Memorial Sunday, where she lost to Leavitt), will attend and play tennis at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut next year. She plans to study Economics.

The program’s legacy of singles and team dominance remains intact and that’s due in large part to the brilliance this season of Julia Brogan, Falmouth’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year.

Coach Bill Goodspeed’s comment: “I would say that Julia showed nothing short of raw determination to improve her game and fitness. What really impressed me as the season progressed was her intelligence and maturity in tailoring strategy for different opponents, which made her even better. She was a steady influence throughout the year, someone we had confidence in for every match. I expect Julia to have a great college career and to continue improving.”

Previous winners:

2015 Olivia Leavitt (tennis)

2014 Olivia Leavitt (tennis)

2013 Olivia Leavitt (tennis)

2012 Jenna Serunian (track)

2011 Kelsey Freedman (softball)

2010 Analise Kump (tennis)

2009 Annie Criscione (tennis)

2008 Hallsey Leighton (tennis)

2007 Carly Applebaum (track)

2006 Kristen Meahl (tennis)

2005 Eileen Brandes (softball)

2004 Kristen Meahl (tennis)

2003 Beth Rubenstein (track)

2002 Beth Rubenstein (track)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached atmhoffer@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.