Falmouth Yachtsmen Spring Sports Preview

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Sophomore Meredith Kelley returns to a Falmouth girls’ tennis team which has won 10 straight state titles and 157 consecutive matches. Kelley and her teammates are looking to keep the good times rolling this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Kevin Winship (ninth year, 117-33 overall record, one state championship)

2017 record: 18-2 (Lost, 4-3, in nine innings, to Bangor in Class A state final)

Top returning players: Garret Aube (Senior), Griffin Aube (Senior), Marcus Cady (Senior), Garrett Tracy (Junior), Ike Kiely (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 1 CHEVERUS, May 5 PORTLAND, May 8 @ Thornton Academy, May 12 @ Scarborough, May 17 @ Windham, May 19 @ Deering

Coach’s comment: “It’s a lot different this year. My lineup was set the last three years. This year, there are question marks, but it’s new and exciting. I have kids competing for positions. We lost four college players and only return nine innings pitched and one win, so we’re somewhat inexperienced on the mound. I’m hoping the Aube brothers have a monster year. If they do, good things will happen. The last couple years, there was a lot of external pressure to do well. This year, there’s internal pressure to do well. We expect the same results. We want to get in the playoffs, get a top four seed, then anything can happen.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth had a spectacular season a year ago, but it’s the ending that has haunted the Yachtsmen for nearly 10 months. Leading Bangor by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, two outs from the program’s first Class A title, Falmouth couldn’t close it out. The Yachtsmen were then hard-hit by graduation, as standouts Cam Guarino, Reece Armitage, Robbie Armitage, Will Blum, Colin Coyne and Max Fortier all graduated (the Armitage brothers are playing at Marist College, Guarino is pitching at the University of New Haven and Coyne is playing at Bates College). The cupboard is never bare in Falmouth, however, and the Yachtsmen, who now play an SMAA-exclusive schedule, will certainly hold their own and could play deep into June once more.

Pitching is the biggest concern as a new season commences. Garret Aube, Griffin Aube, Tracy, juniors Jack Kidder and Jackman Webber-Granier and sophomore Brady Douglas will all get an opportunity to step into the void. Kiely, who played a big role as a freshman, replaces Garret Aube as catcher. Aube is moving to shortstop this spring. Griffin Aube, a first-team league all-star and an Underclass All-Star in 2017, will be at first base when he’s not on the mound. Cady is another key returner in the outfield. He’ll be joined by Tracy when he’s not on the hill. Junior first baseman/designated hitter Sam Manganello, sophomore infielder Connor Coffin, sophomore infielder Josh LeFevre, sophomore outfielder Nate Rogers and freshman utilityman Sam Kidder will all figure into the mix as well.

While there’s a lot of unproven talent this spring, it’s talent nonetheless and by season’s end, the Yachtsmen will likely be their usual formidable selves. What would be a rebuilding year for most programs is a season of opportunity for Falmouth. The Yachtsmen won’t boast the gaudy record they have enjoyed the past two seasons (a combined 31-1), but don’t be surprised if Falmouth crashes the party in June once again and gives some of the “favorites” fits.

SOFTBALL (Co-op team with Maine Girls’ Academy)

Coach: Tim Eisenhart (second year)

2017 record: 7-10 (Lost, 6-5, to Noble in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Gabby Begos (Senior), Holly Akey (Junior), Jill Joyce (Junior), Elizabeth Kennedy (Junior), Liberty Ladd (Junior), Carly Beaulieu (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 21 PORTLAND, April 23 @ South Portland, April 30 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 7 @ Cheverus, May 14 DEERING, May 25 @ Noble

Coach’s comment: “I have some awesome kids. Our numbers are almost identical to last year. We have 18 players this year, 12 from MGA and six from Falmouth. For us, pitching will be everything. If our youngsters can throw strikes, we can stay in games with our offense. Defensively, we’re pretty solid. We’ll probably be in a lot of slugfests. Hopefully we can get back to the playoffs and go even farther than last year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Year one of the Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth co-op team was a big success, as the squad made the playoffs and Eisenhart was named Forecaster Coach of the Year. Will year two feature similar success? Signs suggest it is distinctly possible.

The Sea Lions will use pitching by committee this season, as Joyce is limited by a foot injury, allowing freshman Cameron Birks and sophomore Meghan Gray, a transfer from Gorham, to step in. Ladd (an honorable mention all-star in 2017) returns behind the plate. She also wields a potent bat. Akey (a first-team SMAA selection last spring) will spark the offense and be a top defensive player at either second base or shortstop. Beaulieu (first base/outfield), Kennedy (third base) and Begos (can also swing the bat). Senior Carly Peterson, a transfer from Portland, sophomores Liz Fortier and Grace Tourville and freshman Natalie Fortier are other players to watch this spring.

Nothing will come easily for MGA/Falmouth this season, as the squad won’t be able to sneak up on anyone. The defense will need to be steady and the offense potent to spell consistent success as the pitching staff is a work in progress. After enjoying some success a year ago, the Sea Lions want to keep the good times rolling. Don’t be surprised if this squad puts together another strong season and sticks around the postseason for awhile.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Dave Barton (second year)

2017 record: 12-2 (Lost, 6-5, to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Marcus Dhyrberg (Senior), Henry Farnham (Senior), Nick Farnham (Senior), Brendan Hickey (Senior), Lou Mainella (Senior), Kristian Valle (Senior), Emmett Zinn (Senior), Riley Reed (Junior), Reilly Tucker (Junior), Tommy Fitzgerald (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 2 @ Cheverus, May 4 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 9 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 19 BRUNSWICK, May 22 CHEVERUS, May 29 @ Thornton Academy

Coach’s comment: “The guys and the coaches were heartbroken last year. It’s a different group this year, but different in a good way. The guys are stepping up and they’re fired up. It’s exciting. We’re focusing on the process. The senior class knows they have a great opportunity. We’re not focused on the playoff bracket. We’re focused on our tough schedule. There are no breaks. We’re psyched to be part of the SMAA. We know we’ll get every team’s best.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth was the state’s second best team a year ago, but unfortunately for the Yachtsmen, they had to get through the top squad, Cape Elizabeth, in the playoffs, and suffered a gutwrenching one-goal loss in the regional final. This spring, Falmouth (along with Cape Elizabeth) has moved up to Class A and figures to remain among the elite.

After winning a surprising championship as sophomores, then falling just short as juniors, this year’s senior class has a singular goal, going all the way and bowing out with one more celebration. The Yachtsmen have senior talent and experience all over the field, which will help them navigate their brutal schedule. Up top, Mainella will set the tone at attack, with help from Fitzgerald (who had a breakout freshman campaign) and Tucker. The midfield is overflowing with talent, featuring the likes of Henry Farnham, Nick Farnham (an honorable mention all-star last season), Valle, senior Aidan Gallup, junior Iyendae St. Louis (a faceoff specialist) and sophomore Griffin Bartholomew, who will also take faceoffs. Defensively, Falmouth will again be as formidable as anyone, behind Hickey (a first-team all-star in 2017, who is bound for Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts next year), Reed (another first-team all-star last spring), Zinn (a second-team all-star) and Dhyrberg. Replacing standout Liam Tucker in goal will be senior Ethan Chapman or junior Kai Berry.

Falmouth has not only joined the SMAA this school year, the Yachtsmen have moved up to Class A North. Falmouth will not only be tested during the regular season, but will face some unfamiliar and potentially dangerous foes in the playoffs, but this team will be tough to slow. The Yachtsmen can overwhelm the opposition with their skills and mix in the hunger to finish what last year’s squad started and it’s quite likely we’ll see Falmouth at Fitzpatrick Stadium in the Class A state final June 16. Whether or not it will wind up a Yachtsmen coronation remains to be seen.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Ashley Pullen (first year)

2017 record: 10-4 (Lost, 9-6, to Kennebunk in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Chelsey Smithwick (Senior), Natalie Birkel (Junior) Caitlyn Camelio (Junior), Kayla Sarazin (Junior), Summer Spiegel (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 @ Kennebunk, April 27 MESSALONSKEE, May 1 @ Marshwood, May 7 @ Massabesic, May 19 WAYNFLETE, May 29 THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach’s comment: “I’m enjoying getting to know the girls. It’s a new and different challenge. We’re a young team with one senior, but we’ll gain experience during the season. I have high hopes. We have a good shot at making a deep run.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth once again had a strong season a year ago, but was once again stymied by Kennebunk when it mattered most. After losing several key players to graduation, including four-year star Sydney Bell and reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year Devon Sarazin, the Yachtsmen also parted with Coach Kait Johnson. This season, Falmouth will be coached by Ashley Pullen, who played for Messalonskee, coached her alma mater for five seasons and last year, served as an assistant at Greely. Pullen inherits a team ready to contend in its first year in Class A North.

Smithwick, the team’s lone senior, is on attack. The Yachtsmen should be solid in the midfield behind Kayla Sarazin, an honorable mention all-star last season, Camelio and freshman Eva Clement, Falmouth’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year. Defensively, the squad features Birkel, Speigel and sophomores Gretchen Barney and Grace Fallon. Freshman Avi Fishman can play several different positions. Replacing Mary Budri in goal will be either junior Caitlin Bull, the field hockey goalie, or sophomore Hannah Dubinsky, last year’s backup.

The Yachtsmen will face a lot of tests during the regular season, as their schedule is as tough as anyone’s. While they’ll have their stumbles, they should be positioned for big things when the playoffs begin. After so many Class B heartbreaks, Falmouth’s first year in Class A might result in a first-ever trip to the state final.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Danny Paul (17th year, five state championships)

2017 results:

(Boys) 9th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 3rd @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Alex Kinley (Senior), Connor Lydick (Senior), Conner Piers (Senior), Ethan Ali (Junior), John Auer (Junior), Kyle Bouchard (Junior), Doug Cooke (Junior), Kade Kelley (Junior), Josh Bradford (Sophomore), Adrian Friedman (Sophomore), Ben Potter (Sophomore)

(Girls) Danielle Casavant (Senior), Ellie Michaud (Senior), Emma Harrington (Junior), Sophie Marcotte (Junior), Malaika Pasch (Junior), Sydney Williams (Junior), Maddie Marks (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The girls will be competitive, but we are very young and inexperienced. The boys have more depth and experience and we expect a strong season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth’s outdoor track teams will be a force in the SMAA and at the Class A state meet.

The boys lost a lot of last year’s points, but they do return Cooke (fifth in the 400 a year ago), Auer (sixth in the mile) and Piers (sixth in the two-mile). Cooke will be a top sprinter this year. He’s joined by Ali, Bouchard, Friedman and freshman Alvaro Fuentes. In addition to Auer and Piers, the Yachtsmen’s distance contingent features Kelley, Kinley, Potter and freshmen Ben Greene, Aidan Hoffman and Faran Igani. Lydick is a top hurdler. Cooke, Fuentes, Lydick and freshmen John Peelen and Luke Peelen are jumpers to watch. Bradford is the top thrower. John Peelen and Luke Peelen will also take part in the throws. Falmouth has a lot of youth this spring (17 freshmen out of 55 team members), but that bodes well for the future. As usual, the present is promising as well and you can expect that the Yachtsmen will be a top contender throughout.

On the girls’ side, Adelaide Cooke, a point-scoring machine, has graduated, and this squad has even more freshmen (21) than the boys’ team, but there are some top returners who will guide them along and help make up a formidable squad. Pasch was the Class A runner-up in the 800 and mile and came in third in the two-mile last spring. She’s joined in the longer races by newcomers Sofie Matson, Karley Piers and Summer Staples. Marcotte (third in the 200 a year ago) returns to pace the sprinters, a group which also features Casavant, Michaud and newcomer Abbie Ryer. Marks and Williams are hurdlers to watch. On the field side, Harrington (fourth in the discus last season) is a top thrower. Casavant and Marcotte hope to score in the jumps. This team will steadily improve over the course of the year and should be very tough by late-May and early-June.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Bob McCully (47th year, 10 state championships)

2017 record: 16-0 (Beat Lewiston, 5-0, to win Class A state title)

Top returning players: Matt Adamowicz (Senior), Alex Klemperer (Senior), Nick Forester (Junior), Calvin Spencer (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We graduated four seniors, but we’ll have a good group returning. This will be our first season in the SMAA, so we’re facing a lot of teams for the first time. Thornton Academy is likely to be our biggest challenge.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth got back to the pinnacle a year ago, winning Class A for the third time in four years. Those teams all played a Western Maine Conference schedule then took on Class A competition in the playoffs. This spring, the Yachtsmen will play an exclusively Class A schedule throughout and while the competition will be tough, this squad has what it takes to once again be the last one standing.

Forester is the top returner. He was a finalist in the state singles tournament last spring and was a first-team all-star. He’ll set the pace at first singles. Klemperer (another all-star in 2017) projects to play second singles. Adamowicz (an all-star last season), Spencer and freshman Matt Ray were vying for the No. 3 singles spot at press time. Junior Jake Leavitt, sophomore Nicky Shapiro and freshman Jack Forester and Aiden Hendry round out the squad and provide depth.

Falmouth might have a tough time navigating its schedule with a perfect record again, but this year’s squad will be in position come June to do what it seemingly always does, make a deep run. If the Yachtsmen can solve Thornton Academy when it matters most, another trophy could be the end result.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Bill Goodspeed (third year, two state championships)

2017 record: 16-0 (Defeated Brunswick, 5-0, to win fourth straight Class A title and 10th straight overall state championship)

Top returning players: Grace Dimick (Senior), Maddy Joyce (Junior), Meredith Kelley (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We lost four of our starting seven from last year’s team. Accordingly, we will have much less experience. On top of that, we’ll be in a new league. We will continue to focus on working hard and having fun.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: No program has had more fun than Falmouth over the past decade, as the Yachtsmen have won 10 straight state championships and a record 157 successive matches. While graduation has done a number on this squad, it’s likely the good times will continue, even if the margin for error is thinner.

After four all-stars graduated, this year’s team will be paced by Kelley, who also made the all-star team in 2017. She’ll likely be in the first singles position. Dimick and Joyce have also known nothing but triumph during their careers. They were second doubles a year ago, but could be in different spots this time around. Senior Alston Armstrong and juniors Emma Cohen (a transfer from NYA), Daisy Parker and Sydney Pearl will also be in the mix.

For the first time in a long time, Falmouth isn’t the slam-dunk favorite and the Yachtsmen figure to be tested in the league, especially by the likes of Kennebunk and Thornton Academy, but when all is said and done, even if it doesn’t get there in perfect fashion, don’t be surprised if Falmouth is once again celebrating a state title in June.

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

Senior Griffin Aube was an all-star a year ago. He’ll be a top hitter and will pitch and play first base for Falmouth’s baseball team, which hopes to get back to the state final.

Senior Garret Aube moves to shortstop this season. He’ll be one of the league’s top hitters as well.

Sophomore Brady Douglas will be dangerous on the basepaths.

Senior Marcus Cady makes all the plays in the outfield.

Ike Kiely had a strong freshman season for the Yachtsmen. He’ll move into the catcher position this spring.

Senior Brendan Hickey will play at Merrimack College next year, but first, he’ll remain one of the state’s elite players and looks to lead Falmouth’s boys’ lacrosse team to its first Class A championship.

Look for senior Nick Farnham to do plenty of damage on offense this season.

Senior Henry Farnham will make his presence felt as well.

Junior Riley Reed is part of a smothering Falmouth defense.

Senior Emmett Zinn is another strong returning defender.

Senior Chelsey Smithwick is back for her fourth varsity season for a Falmouth girls’ lacrosse team which is moving up to Class A this spring.

Junior Kayla Sarazin is another returning scoring threat for the Yachtsmen.

Junior John Auer looks to be a top distance runner for Falmouth’s boys’ outdoor track team this season.

Junior Doug Cooke will be a top runner for the Yachtsmen this spring.

Junior Sophie Marcotte will be a top sprinter and jumper for Falmouth’s girls’ outdoor track squad.

Junior Malaika Pasch is another standout distance runner for the Yachtsmen.

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