Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Preview

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Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team celebrated a Class A title for the first time last February. The Yachtsmen have what it takes to repeat this winter.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: David Halligan (30th year, 482-111 overall record, six state championships)

2015-16 record: 18-4 (Beat Oceanside, 59-28, to win Class A state title)

Top returning players: Colin Coyne (Senior), Ben Simonds (Senior), Sean Walsh (Senior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 13 CAPE ELIZABETH, Dec. 20 BRUNSWICK, Dec. 27 WESTBROOK, Jan. 3 GREELY, Jan. 14 MARSHWOOD, Jan. 20 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 24 @ South Portland, Feb. 3 @ Yarmouth, Feb. 7 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 9 @ Greely

Coac’s comment: “”We graduated our whole front court, but we’ve got some young players learning the ropes and some veterans stepping up. We play a very tough schedule. Hopefully that will work to our favor at the end of the season. We hope to improve as the year goes on and we hope to go deep into the tournament and be one of the last teams standing.

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth is almost always one of the last team standing and last winter, for the sixth time in Halligan’s triumphant tenure, the Yachtsmen were indeed the final squad standing, on a ladder no less, cutting down the nets. Falmouth now has won titles in Classes C, B and A and a repeat championship isn’t out of the question. Reigning Winter Male Athlete of the Year Thomas Coyne and some talented teammates have departed, but the cupboard is never bare.

The Yachtsmen still have the services of a Coyne, Colin Coyne, who has been every bit his brother’s equal when it comes to making big plays in big moments. This winter, Coyne will have the ball in his hand much of the time and will likely be the go-to guy with the game on the line. Last winter, Coyne was 12th in Class A South in scoring (12.4 points per contest), seventh in assists (3.4) and tied for 10th in steals (1.7) as he was named a second-team all-star. Walsh can also light it up. He’ll play guard and forward. Simonds, a guard, will play a bigger role this season and could score an abundance of points as well. Junior guard/forward Jack Bryant, the football quarterback, will see more minutes than in the past. He’ll contribute, as will senior forward Brock Welch, freshman point guard Michael Simonds and 6-foot-5 junior center Nikko DePatsy.

Falmouth has what it takes to enjoy a special season, it just might take awhile until it rounds into championship form. The schedule is perhaps tougher than ever, as the Yachtsmen not only face traditional rivals Cape Elizabeth, Greely and Yarmouth, but will also have to battle the likes of regional final foe Brunswick and longtime Southwestern Maine Activities Association contenders Marshwood, South Portland and Westbrook. Give Halligan time. He’ll make this team championship caliber. The beat goes on and on.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Dawn Armandi (first year)

2015-16 record: 5-13 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Alaina Birkel (Senior), Adelaide Cooke (Senior), Abby Ryan (Senior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 17 YORK, Dec. 20 @ Brunswick, Jan. 3 GREELY, Jan. 5 LAKE REGION, Jan. 12 @ York, Jan. 14 @ Marshwood, Jan. 24 SOUTH PORTLAND, Feb. 3 YARMOUTH, Feb. 9 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “It’s a good group with a lot of potential. We need to be disciplined. We’re getting better executing our offense. We have a lot of height, so I’m trying to get the girls to crash the boards and take care of the ball. We still need to get tougher. We hope to get better every day and make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth’s four-year streak of postseason appearances was snapped last winter and now, the Yachtsmen begin a new era under a new coach, Dawn Armandi, who was a standout player at Gray-New Gloucester High School and the University of Southern Maine, then served as an assistant under the dynastic McAuley teams of recent vintage. She inherits a team that could be in the playoff picture.

Birkel was fifth in the league in assists (3.1 per game) last season. She’ll serve as a leader this year from her guard position. Falmouth is strong in the backcourt, as it also features the sharpshooting Ryan and junior Grace Soucy, who transfers into the program from Cheverus. In the post, look for the superbly athletic Cooke to score her share of points. Junior Grace Dimick, who stands 6-foot-1, will be a matchup nightmare as well. Sophomore Natalie Birkel can get the job done inside and out.

The biggest need for this team is confidence. There’s no shortage of athleticism and many of the girls have enjoyed success in other sports. If Falmouth can win some games early, look out, it will be in the mix the whole way. With a highly touted eighth grade class looming, a new winning tradition could soon be implemented. The 2016-17 season will be the start.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Deron Barton (sixth year, 80-24-2 overall record, two state championships)

2015-16 record: 16-5 (Lost, 1-0, to Scarborough in Class A South Final)

Top returning players: Reece Armitage (Senior), Robbie Armitage (Senior), Alex Grade (Junior), Theo Hembre (Junior), Brendan Hickey (Junior), Spencer Pierce (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 10 @ Biddeford, Dec. 13 SCARBOROUGH, Dec. 17 @ Lewiston, Dec. 20 @ Yarmouth, Dec. 23 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 2 GREELY, Jan. 14 BIDDEFORD, Jan. 18 @ St. Dom’s, Jan. 21 LEWISTON, Jan. 24 ST. DOM’S, Feb. 1 @ Scarborough, Feb. 4 @ TA, Feb. 14 CHEVERUS, Feb. 18 TA, Feb. 23 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “We’re young again, but we have good talent. We lost a lot of our scoring from last year, but we have kids who are capable. Our goalie is one of our biggest strengths. Reece and Robbie are our heart and soul on and off the ice. We’re looking at playing strong team defense and having possession more than the other team. We want to stay healthy and be in the mix at the end when it counts.””

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth enjoyed another deep playoff run a year ago, but couldn’t tickle the twine in a frustrating regional final loss to Scarborough. Graduation then took its toll and compounding matters, the Yachtsmen lost Chris Camelio and Henry Norris to prep schools. On the flip side, Falmouth remains loaded and has to be viewed as one of the favorites yet again.

Reece and Robbie Armitage will lead the team this year. Both were first-team all-stars a season ago. Robbie Armitage paces the offense with help from Hembre and Hickey, who missed part of last season with injury. They’re bolstered by juniors David Hawkes and Lou Mainella and sophomore Garrett Tracy, who could be in for a breakout year. Reece Armitage anchors the defense, although he’ll score some goals too. Grade and junior Parker Wyatt are also in the mix on that end of the ice in front of Pierce, the highly touted returning goalie.

The Yachtsmen have the necessary ingredients in place for greatness, but nothing will come easily. Falmouth has a schedule with almost no easy games, so every time out, it will be in for a struggle. The Yachtsmen ultimately want to wind up with a good playoff seed and then play their best hockey. Biddeford, Cheverus, Scarborough and Thornton Academy all have a lot going for them, but in the end, it might be Falmouth that has no peer.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Rob Carrier (eighth year, 93-40-6 overall record)

2015-16 record: 15-3-2 (Lost, 5-2, to Scarborough in South Region Final)

Top returning players: Evie Clement (Senior), Ally Hurdman (Senior), Caroline Proctor (Senior), Devon Sarazin (Senior), Stone Carmichael (Junior), Abi Lebel (Junior), Reade Carmichael (Sophomore), Sarah Noyes (Sophomore), Kayla Sarazin (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 20 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 2 GREELY, Jan. 4 EL/LEAVITT, Jan. 10 YORK, Jan. 16 @ St. Dom’s, Jan. 25 SCARBOROUGH, Feb. 1 @ Scarborough, Feb. 4 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “I think we’re a playoff team, but I’m not sure what kind of playoff team we’ll be. We have a lot of potential, but that’s the word most used by coaches this time of year. We graduated a lot of goals and I don’t think we have the same scoring touch. I do think we could have four or five girls score 10-plus goals, so we should be more of a balanced attack. Our defense and goaltending will be the driving force and I think we’ll be among the most stingy defenses. It will be very exciting to see this team grow over the course of the season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last year, Falmouth continued its recent trend of strong seasons followed by playoff heartbreak. The Yachtsmen hope to finally get over the hump this winter and while they were hard-hit by graduation, plenty of reinforcements remain. Falmouth opened with wins over Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (4-0), Cheverus (6-5, in overtime), York (4-0) and Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland again (6-1).

Clement was a first-team South Region all-star in 2015-16 and returns to pace the offense. She had 12 goals and 14 assists last season and has already scored multiple times (including the winner versus Cheverus) this winter. The goals figure to keep on coming behind the likes of Stone Carmichael (4 goals, 8 assists last season), Devon Sarazin (10 goals and 12 assists during a second-team all-star season in 2015-16), Lebel (8 and 13 a season ago), Noyes (1 goal, 2 assists this season) and Proctor (1 and 2 this season). Reade Carmichael (6 and 6 last year) and Kayla Sarazin (2 and 5 in 2015-16) will do their share of scoring as well. Freshman Sammy Means is new to the front line and will battle for playing time. Defensively, Noyes, Proctor (a second-team all-star last winter) and Kayla Sarazin are joined by freshman Grace Fallon in front of Hurdman, a second-team all-star last winter, in goal. Hurdman has started since freshman year and will be spelled at times by sophomore Julia Bonnvie and freshman Hannah Dubinsky, both of whom have promising upsides. There is no shortage of talent on this roster.

Falmouth could very well leapfrog Scarborough and be the best team in the South Region this season. The Yachtsmen have an offense that will be tough to stop and a defense and goalie who will frustrate the opposition. Falmouth has lost in the state final twice and would love to find out if the third time’s the charm. If this group stays healthy and hungry, it just might be.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Jorma Kurry (18th year, six state championships)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 3rd @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Cole Anderson (Senior), Noah Gull (Senior), Charlie Henning (Senior), Conner Lydick (Senior), Ted Pierson (Senior), Matt Polewaczyk (Senior), Ben Rudnick (Senior), Jeremiah Sands (Senior), Aaron Thomas (Senior), Ben Wyman (Senior), David Horner (Junior), Quinn Minnehan (Junior), Conner Piers (Junior), John Auer (Sophomore)

(Girls) Hannah Berzinis (Senior), Elizabeth Cyr (Senior), Sara Topalovic (Senior), Amanda Watson (Senior), Mira Wyman (Senior), Danielle Casavant (Junior), Andrea Coyne (Junior), Chelsea Zhao (Junior), Caitlyn Camelio (Sophomore), Delaney Goodell (Sophomore), Malaika Pasch (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment “The boys are poised for another strong season. We’ll need to develop some strong field event points, but we’re deep in the distance and have strong leaders in the sprints and pole vault. We’ll need to develop more depth, but a strong incoming class and a very large team give us the potential to do that. We should be a competitive team throughout the regular season and the championship meets. The girls graduated a great deal from last year, but significantly increased numbers and a lot of new faces should help us have another strong season. We’ll do very well in the regular season, covering the events well in both divisions. We’ll need to develop some field event points-scorers. If we stay healthy and focused, we can be a competitive team at the state meet.”

The Forecaster’s forecast:  Falmouth’s juggernaut track program fell just short of the top spot a year ago, but this winter, the Yachtsmen are poised to finish the job.

The boys have been top four or better at states in 10 of the past 11 seasons and will be banging on the championship door again. Polewacyzk is the top returner. He won the Class A 200 title, was third in the 55 and sparked a record-setting 4×200 relay champion last season. He’ll be a premier sprinter again. Joining Polewacyzk in the sprints will be Gull, Horner, Lydick, Minnehan, Rudnick, new senior Vladimir Polak, sophomore Kyle Bouchard and freshmen Andrew Arnoldo, Matt Arnoldo, Griffin Bartholomew and Quaid Guarino. After a cross country state title, it’s safe to surmise that Falmouth will be strong in the distance events as well behind Fall Male Athlete of the Year Sands, Auer, Henning, Piers, Wyman, juniors Alex Kinley and Jared Troubh and freshman Ben Potter. Gull and Lydick look to score in the hurdles. The Yachtsmen are led on the field side by Thomas, who was third in the pole vault a year ago. He’s joined this year by Rudnick. Throwers to watch include Anderson, Pierson and freshman Josh Bradford. In the jumps, look for Bouchard and Horner to shine. The pieces are place for more regular season dominance and a run at a championship is a distinct possibility.

On the girls’ side, graduation has taken a toll, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Wyman and Pasch, Falmouth’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year, who was runner-up in the 800 last year, return from a state champion 4×800 relay team and will pace a distance contingent that also includes Berzinis (seventh in the two-mile last winter), Watson and new seniors Maddy Adams, Riley Finley and Antoinette Lambert. Camelio (who is currently sidelined with an injury suffered during soccer season), Cyr, Goodell and Topalovic are experienced sprinters. They’re joined by sophomore Sophie Marcotte and freshman Kelly Yoon. Freshman Xantia Kansil is a hurdler to watch. On the field side, Casavant, Goodell and Marcotte will be top jumpers and Coyne and Zhao look to score in the pole vault. The Yachtsmen have the necessary ingredients to be one of the best teams in the regular season and a serious contender at the championship meets.

SWIMMING

Coach: Dave Cox (seventh year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 5th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 8th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Eddie Derhak (Senior), Hyun Lee (Senior), Connor Perron (Senior), Griffin Conley (Junior), Caleb Robinson (Junior)

(Girls) Daisy Caxton-Smith (Senior), Emma Robinson (Senior), Ally Schimelman (Senior), Ada Causey (Junior), Ellie Sharp (Junior), Sarah Baumann (Sophomore), Hannah Fishman (Sophomore), Keller Gardner (Sophomore), Grace Perron (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Connor and Griffin are two of the strongest competitors in the state, frontrunners on a team that will be counting on the development of returning and new swimmers. The girls have a deep, enthusiastic team that looks to have a strong dual meet season and place in the top 10 in Class A. It’s bound to be an interesting and exciting season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Falmouth swim teams appear bound for another 10 top finish.

The boys are led by Perron, who was runner-up in both the 200 and 500 freestyle at last year’s Class A state meet. Perron hopes to move up a spot this winter. Conley is a premier diver (fourth in Class A a year ago) and also promises to deliver a lot of points. Lee (freestyle and backstroke) joins Perron as a captain. Derhak (freestyle) and Robinson (backstroke and individual medley) also have experience. The Yachtsmen are seeking a fifth straight top five finish at states. Don’t bet against them.

The Falmouth girls will miss diving standout Charlotte Janelle, but return a state meet scorer in Perron (fourth in the 500 free). Perron will be a force in the distance races again. Robinson and Schimelman are captains. Bauman (freestyle and backstroke), Fishman (backstroke, breaststroke and sprint freestyle) and Gardner (freestyle, backstroke) are other promising sophomores. Causey (freestyle and butterfly), Caxton-Smith (backstroke and fly) and Sharp (freestyle and backstroke) also have experience. Freshman Mae Causey (fly and freestyle) is a top newcomer to watch. The Yachtsmen have been in the top 10 at states every year since 2003 and have what it takes to do it again.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Tip Kimball (14th year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 5th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) Class A state champions

Top returners:

(Boys) Peter Alexander (Junior), John Mugueta (Junior), Parker Seeley (Junior), Owen White (Junior), Jake Leavitt (Sophomore), Jake Marks (Sophomore), Gibson Scott (Sophomore)

(Girls) Audrey Morin (Senior), Caroline Keller (Junior), Olivia Dewolf (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our numbers are up slightly this year. Both teams are very young and are currently working hard each day. The boys’ team is looking strong despite its youth. The girls are committed to defending their state title despite losing a couple heavy hitters to graduation.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth is always on the short list of championship contenders and this winter will be no different thanks to a roster which features 10 boys and seven girls.

The girls’ squad lost its two top scorers, Krysia Lesniak and Alex Shapiro, to graduation, but Morin (13th in the giant slalom and 17th in the slalom a year ago) returns. She’s joined by the experienced Dewolf and Keller, new juniors Ella Boyd and Payten Vincent and freshmen Alexa Dargie and Lucy Holland. The Yachtsmen will make the most of their talent to again be one of the best teams in the state.

On the boys’ side, three state meet scorers return. Scott was 19th in the GS and 23rd in the slalom a year ago, while White placed 23rd in the GS and Seeley finished 51st in the slalom and 53rd in the GS. Alexander, Leavitt, Marks and Mugueta also have experience. Sophomore Zach Dubinsky and freshmen Angus Christie (a former middle school champion) and Nicky Shapiro are newcomers of note. Falmouth will be a top team in the conference and could move up at states.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Sarah Beliveau (fourth year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 3rd @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 2nd @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Simon Pratico (Junior), Ethan Livingood (Sophomore)

(Girls) Julianna Baranowski (Senior), Gabby Farrell (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “The girls team is small with only five. I’m sure Gabby will do well this year. We have 12 boys total. Simon will be a strong competitor.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth’s Nordic team should once again be among the best in Class A.

Pratico was 15th in the classical and 18th in the skate a year ago. He looks to move up. Livingood was 22nd in the skate last year and also looks to be a factor. Junior Graham Bernier is a skier on the rise. Seniors Aidan Henson and Bryce Henson also look to make a mark. The Yachtsmen hope to be competitive throughout the season.

On the girls’ side, Farrell leads the way. She’s the defending Class A champion in the skate and also placed third in the classic a year ago. She’ll hope to win both races this winter. Baranowski finished 23rd in the classic and 25th in the skate last season. Look for her to move up. Sophomore Meghan Cantlin and a pair of freshmen round out the team. What the Yachtsmen lack in quantity, they have in quality. They should have another strong campaign.

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

Senior Colin Coyne is the leader of Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team this winter.

Senior Sean Walsh will play a key role at guard and forward.

Senior Adelaide Cooke will be a force in the paint for Falmouth’s girls’ basketball team which welcomes a new coach this winter.

Senior Robbie Armitage will pace a powerful offense this winter as Falmouth’s boys’ hockey team seeks to get back to the state game.

Senior Reece Armitage, Robbie’s twin, anchors the defense and can score his share of goals as well.

Junior Spencer Pierce returns in goal. He’s one of the best in the state.

Junior Brendan Hickey is going to be tough to stop.

Senior Evie Clement and her high-flying girls’ hockey teammates are seeking a state title this winter.

Senior Ted Pierson will score his share of points in the shot put. He and his Falmouth boys’ indoor track teammates are chasing a Class A state championship.

Senior Jeremiah Sands won a state title in cross country and looks to do the same in indoor track.

Sophomore Caitlyn Camelio will be a top sprinter for the Falmouth’s girls’ indoor track squad.

Sophomore Malaika Pasch is coming off a superb cross country season and will contend for state titles in the distance events.

Junior Chelsea Zhao is a top threat in the pole vault.

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