Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Preview

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Falmouth has several winter sports teams capable of doing great things. Boys’ basketball is the defending Class B champion and despite being hit hard by graduation, will be heard from in the weeks to come. The girls’ program welcomes a new coach who has created a buzz with her pedigree. Boys’ hockey also features a new coach in 2010-11. That team has long been a top contender and hopes to continue its success. The girls’ squad was a regional finalist a year ago and is playoff-caliber again. Track always has an abundance of stellar athletes. Swimming has a new coach and plenty of talent. Both ski teams have legitimate championship aspirations.

BOYS BASKETBALL

COACH: David Halligan (24th year)

2009-10 Record: 21-1 (Beat Camden, 72-65, in overtime, to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Michael Lafond (Senior), Brendan McDonnell (Senior), Jack Cooleen (Junior), Matt Kingry (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 18 @ Greely, Jan. 4 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 11 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 17 @ Wells, Jan. 21 @ York, Jan. 25 (H) YARMOUTH, Jan. 28 (H) GREELY, Feb. 8 (H) YORK, Feb. 11 @ Cape Elizabeth

COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s a little different this year. More teaching. I hope the kids work hard. We have a strong junior class. I expect we’ll be competitive. We need to have balanced scoring. It’ll have to be a team effort. Our strength is our athleticism. We have no big studs, but we have a cast of good athletes who work hard.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After many close calls, the 2009-10 Yachtsmen finally broke through and brought home a Class B state championship. The memories of last season, most notably the palpitating win over Camden Hills in the finale, will live on. Falmouth graduated the vast majority of its firepower, including four league all-stars, but anyone sleeping on the Yachtsmen this year will wind up disappointed and defeated. Falmouth proved it’s still a force to be reckoned with when it downed visiting Gray-New Gloucester, 48-30, in the opener Friday night. Kingry, who saw limited minutes a year ago, scored 11 points, while new junior Alex Cattell led the way with a dozen. While this team lacks a sharpshooter like Stefano Mancini, its balance will make the difference. Down low, Cooleen (who saw ample time in 2009-10) figures to be a handful. Lafond, junior Jeremy Lydick and Cattell have diverse skills. McDonnell, Kingry and junior Matt Packard (nine points in the opener) handle the guard position. Falmouth is a work in progress and won’t be rattling off any 17-game win streaks to start the season like last year’s squad did. With that said, the Yachtsmen, under the guidance of one of the legendary coaches, Dave Halligan, and his staff, will relish their underdog role, let rivals Cape Elizabeth and Greely feel the pressure and improve by the day. Falmouth hasn’t missed the playoffs or failed to post a winning record since 1983-84. Don’t expect either of those streaks to end. By year’s end, the Yachtsmen will be the squad that no one wants to face in the Expo or the Civic Center.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Mari Warner (first year)

2009-10 Record: 11-9 (Lost, 40-20, to York in Western Class B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Caitlin Costello (Senior), Jess DiPhillippo (Senior), Jackie Doyle (Junior), Laney Evers (Junior), Jenna Serunian (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 16 @ Waynflete, Dec. 18 @ Greely, Dec. 22 (H) LAKE REGION, Jan. 21 (H) YORK, Jan. 28 (H) GREELY, Feb. 4 @ Lake Region, Feb. 8 @ York

COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m very proud of our players. They’ve made a huge adjustment. They’re like sponges. We’ll blend a lot of people in and make it one unit. I’m looking for us to get stronger week to week and cut back on mistakes. If we can do that, we hope to do well. It’s going to take awhile to jell as a unit.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth could be your Western B sleeper when all is said and done. The Yachtsmen are very excited about the addition of their new coach, who played at Thornton Academy and the University of Southern Maine and coached the University of Albany for two decades. She inherits a team that has been a playoff regular. Despite a few losses to graduation and the departure of Kylie Libby to Cheverus, Falmouth has the pieces in place to once again be very good. The Yachtsmen got their new era off to a great start Friday with a 41-28 win at Gray-New Gloucester. In that one, Serunian erupted for 15 points and Doyle added 10. Serunian (10th in the league in rebounds last winter, 9.2 per game) projects to be one of the most dangerous inside players in the league. Junior Nicole Rogers and DiPhillippo, along with sophomore Anna Hickey, also have size. Evers runs the show at the point guard position and is joined by Costello and juniors Ashley Burton and Morgan Larrabee at guard. Falmouth has the ability to beat you inside or out. The Yachtsmen will be strong defensively and fundamentally. The players are still learning Warner’s system and will have a tough time matching up with the likes of defending state champion York, but there’s no reason this squad won’t be able to go toe-to-toe with everyone else. Look for Falmouth to improve steadily as the season progresses, eclipse last year’s win total, boast a winning mark for the seventh year in a row and if all goes well, enjoy a longer postseason stay.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Adam Nicholas (first year)

2009-10 Record: 13-5-2 (Lost, 4-1, to Thornton Academy in Western Class A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Tim Hanley (Senior), Jay Hurdman (Senior), Matt MacDowell (Senior), Cam Bell (Junior), Mitch Tapley (Junior), Brandon Tuttle (Junior), Jack Pike (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 18 (H) BREWER, Dec. 22 @ Biddeford, Jan. 6 (H) ST. DOM’S, Jan. 13 (H) BIDDEFORD, Jan. 15 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 26 @ St. Dom’s, Feb. 3 @ Scarborough, Feb. 5 (H) LEWISTON, Feb. 9 @ TA, Feb. 19 (H) TA, Feb. 21 @ Greely

COACH’S COMMENT: “I really believe in the team. We’ll be very physically fit. The most physically fit top tier team will win.. I’m hoping to mold the players into my system. If they believe, the sky’s the limit. I think we’re capable of doing tremendous things this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: The long and successful Scott Rousseau Era is over at Falmouth and the Yachtsmen welcome Adam Nicholas as the new coach this winter. Nicholas played for the Portland Junior Pirates and at Elmira College and has worked with the Lewiston Maineacs. He inherits a program that once again has plenty of talent, but is facing an incredibly daunting schedule. While vague on specifics, Nicholas is very high on this team. He feels that by year’s end, the Yachtsmen will be as physically fit as anyone and there is certainly enough talent on the roster to suggest they’ll be in the thick of things into March. Hurdman returns in goal. He was a first-team all-star a year ago and has plenty of big game experience. Keep an eye also on freshman Dan Pauls, who will see some time between the pipes. Defensively, three all-stars, MacDowell, Hanley and Pike, return. They figure to make up a stingy unit. The offense will be led by Bell, Tapley and Tuttle. Senior Nick Samaras, sophomore Kris Samaras and freshman Ben Freeman will also be heard from. Falmouth opened with a hard-fought 5-3 victory over South Portland as Freeman scored twice and Tuttle delivered the game winner with just under five minutes to go. With three freshmen and nine sophomores on the roster, it will take time for this team to fully hit its stride. If Falmouth can hang tough against its difficult slate, it will find itself in promising position late in the season. If they can get there, the Yachtsmen would make for a very difficult out in the playoffs.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Rob Carrier (second year)

2009-10 RESULTS: 10-6-4 (Lost, 3-0, to Cheverus in West Region Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jen Greene (Senior), Monica Aaskov (Junior), Jayde Bazinet (Sophomore), Abby Payson (Sophomore), Gabby St. Angelo (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 16 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Dec. 23 @ Greely, Jan. 17 (H) GREELY, Jan. 22 @ Winslow, Jan. 29 @ Cheverus

COACH’S COMMENT: “Only six girls return and with six freshmen new to the team, there will be a period of adjustment. The first third of the season will be challenging, but with the girls’ willingness to learn and adapt, we should remain in a lot of games. The tough early schedule will pay dividends as we head deeper into the season”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth has gotten off to a slow start this winter, but should turn things around soon. The Yachtsmen are 1-4 to date. They fell, 6-0, to preseason favorite St. Dom’s to start the year, edged Yarmouth, 4-3, in overtime, then lost to York (2-1), Portland (3-2) and Biddeford (4-3, in overtime). So far, the offense has been balanced as Payson, St. Angelo, Mary Woolsey, Maddy McDonnell and freshman Lucy Meyer (who had the OT winner against the Clippers) have scored. Bazinet is another scorer to watch. On defense, Asakov and freshman Alyse Bazinet protect Greene, an All-West all-star a year ago, who has plenty of experience. Falmouth’s schedule eases up a bit going forward and as the team gains confidence, the wins will start to come. When all is said and done, it’s quite possible the Yachtsmen will once again boast an above .500 record and be a force in the playoffs.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Jorma Kurry (12th year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) Class B state champions

(GIRLS) Tie-14th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING ATHLETES:

(BOYS) Johnny Goodrich (Senior), Justin Hovey (Senior), Brian Prescott (Senior), Will Wegener (Senior), Henry Briggs (Junior), Jimmy Polewaczyk (Junior), Reid Pryzant (Junior), Jacob Buhelt (Sophomore), Azad Jalali (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Adrienne Michalakis (Senior), Kate Sparks (Senior), Amy Webster (Senior), Jena Mannette (Junior), Emily Rand (Junior), Summer Greenwood (Sophomore), Sarah Sparks (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Greely, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “It should be a strong year for us. Our numbers are very good, with many new faces. The boys graduated many strong athletes and the WMC and state titles will be tough to defend, but the team is ready to shoot for those lofty goals. Adding several strong distance and throwing athletes to our returning sprinters and jumpers should put us in a position to challenge Greely and Waterville. Will’s one of the top athletes in Class B and if our younger athletes develop around him, we’ll be very strong. The team has a tall challenge in front of it and the season will be a test of their determination. The girls return nearly all the points we scored at the state meet and several showed significant improvement in cross country season. If we stay healthy, we should be much improved at the state meet. Our depth will be good, but we need to develop some top line scorers.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth is once again loaded for bear this winter as the boys’ team seeks to win another championship and the girls look to move up.

The boys’ squad is led by the dynamic Wegener, who won the Class B championship a year ago in the 400, was third in the 55 and fourth in the 200. He projects to be one of the state’s top sprinters. The only other returning scorer is Buhelt (800 relay). He’ll join Wegener and Polewaczyk in the sprints. Pryzant is the top hurdler. Jalali will compete in the middle distance and the top distance threat is Briggs. Jumpers to watch include Goodrich, Hovey and Pryzant. Hovey also competes in the pole vault. While graduation took its toll on the program, the Yachtsmen will reload and by season’s end many of these kids will join Wegener near the top of the event standings. Falmouth will be a top team at USM during the regular season and come February, even if it doesn’t repeat, will play a major role in determining who its successor will be. The Yachtsmen should have no trouble finishing in the top 10 for the 10th year in a row.

On the girls’ side, Webster is the top returner. She came in third in the pole vault a year ago and also sprints. Kate Sparks (Falmouth’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year after a dominant volleyball campaign) was fifth in the shot put last winter. She’ll look to move up and score points in the sprints this season. Joining Sparks as sprinters are Michalakis and Sarah Sparks. The middle distance contingent features Greenwood, Mannette and Rand. Mannette and Rand also look to make noise in the jumps. Look for steady growth from this squad, strong regular season showings and a top 10 finish at states.

SWIMMING

COACH: Dave Cox (first year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) Tie-11th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING:

(BOYS) Sean Lannon (Senior), Sam Bruni (Junior), Ryan Conley (Junior), Jack Kilbride (Junior), Elijah Dewey (Sophomore), Shaun Lamoreux (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Courtney Greenwood (Senior), Marley Dewey (Junior), Nicola Mancini (Junior), Evie Perry (Junior), Alison Rand (Junior), Victoria Sabol (Junior), Emma Perron (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Greely, McAuley

COACH’S COMMENT: “This year’s girls’ team will rely heavily on the leadership and state meet experience of senior captain Courtney Greenwood, juniors Alison Rand and Marley Dewey and sophomore Emma Perron, who join forces with the top Class B diving group in the state. The competitive schedule will challenge the large group of talented new and returning underclassmen. The boys’ team is looking to improve on last year’s finish. The team will count on senior captain Sean Lannon and Andy Bruni, junior Josh Wotten and sophomore Josh McGovern to score throughout the season..”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A dazzling era has come to a close for Falmouth swimming as coach John Keyes retired after leading the girls’ team to five Class B titles while producing 51 state champions in his eight years. Dave Cox, joined by Steve Cox and Dan Edwards, attempt to fill his big shoes. The trio co-coached North Yarmouth Academy the past two seasons and do have a lot to work with.

The boys hope to move up this winter and have some promise. The team’s top returner is Conley, who tallied 235.75 points to win the Class B diving crown a year ago. He’s joined by Lamoreux (sixth in both the 100 and 200 free last season) and Kilbride (14th in the backstroke) as returning scorers. Lannon, the team captain, swims the sprint freestyle and breaststroke. Bruni will compete in the backstroke and breaststroke. He scored in the medley relay a year ago. Dewey swims the backstroke, 500 free and individual medley. Senior Andy Bruni, junior Josh Wotten and sophomore Josh McGovern look to make an impact as well. The Yachtsmen should be steady throughout and have the potential for a top 10 state finish.

On the girls’ side, coming off a rare season without a title, Falmouth hopes to be top four or better at states for the ninth year in a row. The Yachtsmen have as solid a diving contingent as you’ll find as Mancini is the defending state champion and Perry was third. Greenwood came in 10th in the 500 free and 15th in the 200 free a year ago. She also swims the IM. Dewey is another distance threat who also swims the backstroke. Rand is a sprint freestyler and competes in the fly. Sabol swims the fly, freestyle and backstroke. Perron hopes to contend in the breaststroke and 200 free. Four new girls will make an immediate mark. Junior Haley Mucci (sprint freestyle), sophomore Caroline Lucas (sprint freestyle) and freshmen Elena Cerjanec (IM, backstroke) and Stephanie Sands (500 free, fly and backstroke) provide plenty of depth. Falmouth will be as competitive as anyone during the season and by February, will be primed to make another run at a top state finish.

SKIING

2009-10 Combined Results:

(BOYS) Class B combined state champions

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

ALPINE SKIING

COACH: Tip Kimball (ninth year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Matt Beliveau (Senior), Weston Scott (Junior), Luke Andrews (Sophomore), Alex Gowen (Sophomore), Ben Hilfrank (Sophomore), Cooper Lycan (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Elizabeth Carew (Senior), Allie Lycan (Senior), Sarah Jacobson (Junior), McKenzie Myers (Junior), Katie Carew (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Greely, Yarmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have high expectations for this group this year although we did lose our top skiers on both girls’ and boys’ teams to graduation. The girls have a nice core of solid, experienced upperclassmen and (freshman) Leika Scott should pick up where she left off after a very successful middle school career. On the boys’ side, we expect to challenge for the state title with several really solid ski racers anchored by Alex Gowen.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth’s Alpine program is positioned to steal headlines this February.

The boys helped combine with Nordic to upset Yarmouth for state honors a year ago and even after losing Ben Weigel to graduation, are poised to excel again. Gowen won the Class B giant slalom a year ago and placed seventh in the slalom. Lycan finished 13th in the slalom. Hilfrank was 14th in the GS and 16th in the slalom. Andrews, Beliveau and Scott will all be heard from as the season goes on. Senior Francesco Montanari and newcomers Austin Couch, Joe Lesniak and Riley Engleberger look to crack the top four. The Yachtsmen will have to deal with being the favorite, but they’re up for the task. If this team stays healthy and hungry, look out. A run at a championship is quite realistic.

On the girls’ side, top skier Sarah Weigel isn’t able to ski this winter due to injury. That means Lycan is the top returner. She was 17th in the GS and 18th in the slalom a year ago. Elizabeth Carew was 19th in both races. Myers placed 26th in both. Jacobson and Katie Carew will also make their presence felt. Freshman Leika Scott will soon be a household name. Junior Sierra Baker is another newcomer to watch. Falmouth is chasing Yarmouth, but should wind up one of the top teams in Class B once again.

NORDIC SKIING

CO-COACHES: James Demer and Jeff Walker (second year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Jackson Bloch (Senior), Matt Goldstein (Senior), Tim Follo (Junior), Ryan Tartre (Junior), Jay Lesser (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Sarah Abramson (Senior), Catherine Hebson (Junior), Olivia Hoch (Junior), Dana Bloch (Sophomore), Sarah Hemphill (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “The boys lost two all-conference skiers, but we have great depth and a half dozen boys could move up and potentially compete at the top level in the conference and state. The girls return all scorers and add two strong freshmen. We also have many freshmen and sophomores with untapped potential.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth’s Nordic teams are also on the brink of greatness as a new season dawns.

The boys are led by Bloch (eighth in the freestyle, 13th in the classic last year) and Follo (Falmouth’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year from cross country running, who was eighth in the classic and ninth in the freestyle last winter). Goldstein, Lesser and Tartre, along with freshman Noah Beliveau, give this squad a solid foundation. The Yachtsmen will be in the mix all season and should be a top five finisher in the state.

On the girls’ side, reigning Winter Athlete of the Year Abramson leads the way. She placed third in the freestyle and fifth in the classic a year ago. Hebson (15th freestyle, 16th classic), Hemphill (19th freestyle), Hoch (19th classic, 32nd freestyle) and Bloch (22nd classic) also scored last season. They’re joined by freshman Jessica Abramson and freshman skimeister Leika Scott to make up a pretty formidable unit. Falmouth has the potential to take top honors when all is said and done.

Senior Michael Lafond is primed to play a key role for this year’s Yachtsmen.

Junior Jenna Serunian will be a factor for a girls’ basketball team which could surprise in the weeks to come.

Senior goalie Jay Hurdman has the flair for the dramatic save.

Junior Mitch Tapley will be the focal point of opposing defenses this winter season.

Junior Brandon Tuttle will look to key an offense that could tickle the twine with regularity.

Senior Will Wegener has stolen many headlines during his indoor track career. He hopes to lead Falmouth to another Class B championship as a senior.

Senior Kate Sparks is one of the premier shot putters in the conference and the state.

Sidebar Elements


The Falmouth boys’ basketball team was on top the Class B world last winter after a stirring overtime win over Camden Hills. The Yachtsmen have a new look in 2010-11, but should remain competitive.

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.