Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Preview

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Sophomore Nicco Pitre was a revelation as a freshman for an injury-plagued Falmouth boys’ basketball team last winter. This season, Pitre hopes to help the Yachtsmen make another run at a Class A title.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: David Halligan (32nd year, 507-127 overall record, six state championships)

2017-18 record: 10-10 (Lost, 49-47, to eventual champion Greely in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Doug Cooke (Senior), Nik Hester (Senior), Sam Manganello (Senior), Brady Douglas (Junior), Nicco Pitre (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 11 @ Scarborough, Dec. 21 @ Greely, Dec. 27 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 2 KENNEBUNK, Jan. 15 THORNTON ACADEMY, Jan. 25 @ South Portland, Feb. 7 @ Kennebunk

Coach’s comment: “We’re still experimenting a little bit. We’re much healthier than we were at this time last year. Our formula has been successful for us. We’ll build and develop as the season goes along. We have depth. Greely and Kennebunk are the favorites. There’s plenty of parity after that. I think we’ll be in the mix at the end. We have the kids to get us there. We should be fun to watch.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth was decimated by injuries last winter, but still took eventual repeat champion Greely to the wire in the regional semifinals. This season, the Yachtsmen are starting from a much stronger place and if all goes well, they might just be the last team standing.

Junior Michael Simonds missed all of last season with a knee injury, but is back healthy and will be a top scoring guard. Pitre, who was last season’s revelation, will run the point and can get to the hoop with regularity. Junior Josh LeFevre and sophomore Sean Dilworth are other guards who will see time. Douglas will be first off the bench and can play multiple roles. Ultimately, what will set Falmouth apart is its size. Manganello (6-foot-2), Cooke (6-5), Hester (6-7) and junior Emmett Hamilton (6-4) will make life miserable for the opposition, scoring down low, rebounding and getting in passing lanes defensively.

While Greely is again viewed as a favorite and Kennebunk is getting a lot of preseason attention, the Yachtsmen have to like their chances. Falmouth is due some good health and good luck and if it gets it, a run all the way to the championship could be the end result.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Larry Nichols (first year)

2017-18 record: 6-14 (Lost, 74-25, to Brunswick in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Maddy Joyce (Senior), Brooke Douglas (Junior), Allie Cunningham (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 7 MARSHWOOD, Dec. 11 SCARBOROUGH, Dec. 14 @ Brunswick, Dec. 21 GREELY, Dec. 29 @ York, Jan. 25 SOUTH PORTLAND, Jan. 29 @ Marshwood

Coach’s comment: “The kids have been great to work with. A realistic goal is to come out of the season feeling like we got better. The girls are excited to play hard and hope they’ll be a team to pay attention to.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Falmouth program has low numbers this winter, with just 13 players. The Yachtsmen are coached this season by Nichols, who just led the school’s volleyball team to a state title in October. He spent many years as an assistant with the Deering boys’ program and replaces Dawn Armandi, who is taking the year off. Falmouth will have its hands full with a tough schedule, but should show steady improvement.

The Yachtsmen are led by Joyce, the captain, who will be an impact player in the post. Douglas is another seasoned frontcourt player. Senior Natalie Birkel returns to the program and gives Falmouth another option down low. Junior Gretchen Barney, who was sidelined in the preseason with mono, and promising freshmen Chelsea Gravier and Olivia Rogers, add depth. Cunningham saw some key minutes a year ago. She’ll play point guard and is a tough matchup. Sophomore Karley Piers is another point guard who can put the ball in the basket. Sophomores Cameron Birks and Lauren Welch project do some scoring as well.

The Yachtsmen hope to gain confidence and win some games as the season goes along. There will be some growing pains, but this group has what it takes to get the program back on track and set the stage for future success.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Deron Barton (eighth year, 108-34-4 overall record, two state championships)

2017-18 record: 12-6-1 (Lost, 5-4, in overtime, to Biddeford in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Garrett Tracy (Senior), Tyler Baker (Junior), Owen Drummey (Junior), Sam Kidder (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 15 SCARBOROUGH, Dec. 21 @ Bangor, Jan. 1 GREELY, Jan. 8 LEWISTON, Jan. 10 BIDDEFORD, Jan. 15 THORNTON ACADEMY, Jan. 19 @ Portland/Deering, Jan. 26 @ Thornton Academy, Jan. 29 CHEVERUS, Feb. 2 BANGOR, Feb. 6 @ St. Dom’s, Feb. 9 @ Biddeford, Feb. 16 @ Cheverus, Feb. 20 @ Lewiston

Coach’s comment: “It’s unlike any other year I’ve had here. Our numbers are down. I have got a good group of coaches who will get the kids ready. Sam gives us a chance in every game. It’s a wide-open region down here. We’ll play to win every night.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth suffered a disappointing and abrupt end to its season a year ago and while the roster isn’t as robust as it normally is, this year’s team still has enough talent to compete against a brutally tough schedule.

Tracy was an All-State selection a year ago and will be a top defenseman. Juniors Shane Allen and Carter Hawkes, along with freshman Dominic Tracy, help lock down that side of the ice in front of Kidder, who came up huge as a freshman. He’ll be one of the state’s top goalies this winter. The offense will be sparked by Baker and Drummey, along with freshman Charlie Adams. Adding depth will be senior Coleman Allen, new senior Joseph Cyr-Brophy and freshman Nick Fischetto.

There are almost no breathers on the Yachtsmen’s slate, so it might take some time for this team to hit its stride. The product you see in December will be vastly different than in February and it’s likely that Barton and his staff will mold yet another title contender. If a few bounces go Falmouth’s way, another trip to the regional, or even state final, could ensue.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Rob Carrier (10th year, 115-57-7 overall record)

2017-18 record: 6-12-1 (Lost, 4-3, to Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP in South Region quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Reade Carmichael (Senior),  Kayla Sarazin (Senior), Samantha Means (Junior)

Pivotal games: Jan. 1 GREELY, Jan. 21 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 31 CAPE/WAYNFLETE/SP

Coach’s comment: “I think we’re a pretty good team. We’ve got good numbers and depth and we have girls that can float between playing forward or defense. I see us being stronger on defense and in goal. The forwards are inconsistent right now and that’s to be expected with the girls we’ve graduated over the last two years. As the team begins to jell, I see us stringing some wins together and hopefully that’ll put us back in the playoffs once again.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth has been a postseason regular, but after falling in the 2017 state final, the Yachtsmen took a step back last winter, failing to post a winning record for the first time. That will prove to be an aberration as the 2018-19 squad is already out to a 2-1 start, beating Portland/Deering (7-6) and York (2-0) and falling to defending regional champion Cheverus (3-0).

This year’s offense features Carmichael, who had a hat trick in the season-opening win, Sarazin, an offensive-minded defender, who has scored twice in early action, Means and junior Sarah Wentworth, who had two goals, including the late game-winner against Portland-Deering on Opening Night. Freshmen Eliza Chace and Vivianna Griffin will quickly become household names as well. Senior Julia Bonnvie has been the goalie in early action, but junior Hannah Dubinsky will also see some time between the pipes.

While Cheverus appears to be the regional favorite again and Scarborough has been red-hot early, Falmouth has what it takes to not only return to its winning ways, but to finish with a high playoff seed and made a postseason run. This team will be fun to watch in the weeks to come.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Jorma Kurry (20th year, six state championships)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 10th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) tie-9th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Ethan Ali (Senior), John Auer (Senior), Kyle Bouchard (Senior), Owen Mahoney (Senior), Seamus O’Brien (Senior), Josh Bradford (Junior), Adrian Friedman (Junior), Ben Potter (Junior), Michael Smoluk (Junior), Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillana (Sophomore), Ben Greene (Sophomore), Faran Igani (Sophomore)

(Girls) Caitlyn Camelio (Senior), Sophie Marcotte (Senior), Malaika Pasch (Senior), Sydney Williams (Senior), Maddie Marks (Junior), Abbie Ryer (Junior), Avi Fishman (Sophomore), Maria Neuhauser (Sophomore), Summer Staples (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment “The girls have some strong state-caliber runners. We need to replace some field event points. We should be competitive again in the regular season and if we’re healthy, we’ll place well at the state meet. The boys return a lot of state qualifiers. We should be a very strong regular season team. With the right breaks and development of more field points, we can be one of the top teams in the state. Sprint and distance depth is a major strength.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Falmouth teams have the pieces in place to improve on last year’s results.

Auer is a top returner who will pace the distance contingent. He was fifth in the mile and sixth in the 800 last winter and could move up. Greene was seventh in the mile as a freshman and is another distance runner to watch. Igani, Mahoney, Potter and Smoluk, along with freshman Logan Ross, will run the longer races as well. Fuentes-Cantillana (fifth in the 200 as a freshman) returns in the sprints and is joined by Ali, Bouchard, Friedman, O’Brien, sophomore Connor Quiet and freshman Ignacio Fuentes-Cantillana. The field events are where the Yachtsmen hope to improve this winter. Friedman, Fuentes-Cantillana and freshmen Luke Ford and Miles Spelman will jump. Bradford and junior Shane Allen are throwers of note. Look for Falmouth to be competitive all season and really be at its best in February, where it should move up the ladder at the state meet.

On the girls’ side, Pasch (third in the mile and fifth in the two-mile a year ago) is a top returner in the distance races. She’s joined by Staples. Marcotte (fourth in the 200 last winter) will lead the sprinters. Camelio will also be a force in the sprints. Fishman, Neuhauser, Ryer and sophomore Maggie O’Brien provide depth. In the hurdles, keep an eye on Marks and Williams. Marcotte also takes part in the jumps. She’s joined by Ryer and sophomore Natalie Fortier. Sophomore Shannon Dye will throw the shot put. Look for Marcotte and Pasch to score a lot of points and if some other athletes step up, the Yachtsmen will be a threat to move into the top five at states.

SWIMMING

Coach: Betsy Perron (second year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 19th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 3rd @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Gunter Haug-Pavlak (Senior), Matt Hogenauer (Senior), Spencer McKee (Senior)

(Girls) Sarah Baumann (Senior), Keller Gardner (Senior), Daisy Parker (Senior), Grace Perron (Senior), Mae Causey (Junior), Quinn Chicoine (Sophomore), Adeline Ziobro (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our team continues to grow. The boys’ team has doubled in size this year. With added depth and some potentially strong freshmen, we expect to have a very competitive dual meet season and improve our performance at Southwesterns and states. The boys expect to see some major contributions from our freshmen. The girls team has most of last year’s team back and we’re looking forward to more strong performances during the dual and championship seasons.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth is looking forward to another competitive season in the pool.

The girls’ team is coming off its best state meet performance since 2010. Ham, the runner-up diver in Class A last winter, looks to finish in the top spot this winter. Causey (third in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 50 free last season) is another top returner. She’s joined by distance standout Perron (fifth in the 500 free and eighth in the 200 free). Chicoine (seventh in the fly) looks to move up, while Baumann (freestyle, backstroke), Gardner (freestyle, backstroke) and Ziobro (multiple events) add depth. Another season of triumph appears in store.

On the boys’ side, Haug-Pavlak, Hogenauer and McKee are the top returners. Several newcomers will have a chance to step up and make a mark as well. If that happens, the Yachtsmen could improve on last year’s state meet showing.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Tip Kimball (16th year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) Class A state champions

(Girls) 3rd @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Gibson Scott (Senior), Nick Shapiro (Junior), Ben Adey (Sophomore), Ben Keller (Sophomore), A.J. Noyes (Sophomore)

(Girls) Olivia Dewolf (Senior), Alexa Dargie (Junior), Lucy Holland (Junior), Ella Holland (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The boys will be defending their championship and I expect them to remain strong, if not get stronger, particularly with the addition of a couple middle school standouts. I expect the girls to have a good chance to end up on the podium. With a team of five, there will be little room for error.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth, which is again a co-op team with Waynflete, will be in the running for Class A glory this winter.

The boys return several standouts. Noyes is the reigning Class A champion in the slalom and also was third in the giant slalom last year. He’ll set the tone again. Keller (fifth in the slalom, eighth in the GS), Shapiro (fifth in the GS), Adey (sixth in the GS) and Scott (ninth in the slalom) will all be among the state’s best. Freshmen Andrew Christie and Caleb Labbe will step right in and made an immediate impact. If all goes well, another title is a distinct possibility.

On the girls’ side, Ella Holland is the top returner. She placed 20th in the slalom and 24th in the GS last winter. Lucy Holland (23rd in the GS, 26th in the slalom) and DeWolf (33rd in the GS) also return. Dargie has experience and freshman Alex Dowling arrives to provide depth. The Yachtsmen will need consistency from everyone on the team and if they get it, they’ll also be knocking on the championship door.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Kaitlyn Bernard (fourth year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 6th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Ethan Livingood (Senior), Jake Mitchell (Senior), Joe Dye (Junior), Vance Boyd (Sophomore)

(Girls) Kaitlyn Dowling (Junior), Kelly Yoon (Junior), Eva Clement (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have a really strong boys’ team this year. We’ve also got a few new girls, so I’m eager to see how we fare with enough girls to score. I’m hoping we can work hard throughout the season and continue to build our strength and skills. A lot of our skiers have their sights set on top 10 performances at states.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Falmouth will again make a run at a championship this winter.

The boys’ squad is led by Livingood, who won the freestyle last winter and placed eighth in the classical. He’ll look to repeat. The other returning scorers are Boyd (22nd in the freestyle) and Dye (26th in the classical). Mitchell also has experience. Two freshmen, Ryan Gray and Nate Livingood, are new to the squad and will make an immediate mark. Don’t be surprised if the Yachtsmen move up a spot and take home the title this season.

On the girls’ side, Clement, Falmouth’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year last year, looks to build on her stellar freshman season when she was runner-up in the freestyle and sixth in the classical. Dowling (19th in the classical and 21st in the freestyle) also returns. Yoon is another key veteran. Freshman Katie Bruce looks to make the most of her opportunity. Look for that team to show steady improvement and move up the standings at states.

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

Senior Nik Hester is part of a formidable frontcourt for Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team.

Junior Brady Douglas will do whatever it takes to help Falmouth win .

Senior Sam Manganello is another key returning contributor.

Sophomore Karley Piers will play a key role for the up-and-coming Falmouth girls’ basketball team.

Sophomore Owen Drummey could be a top scorer for a Falmouth boys’ hockey team which should be among the last squads standing in Class A this winter.

Sophomore Sam Kidder is back in goal for the Yachtsmen.

Senior Garrett Tracy is another key returning player for the Yachtsmen.

Senior Kayla Sarazin will be in the middle of the action for a potentially strong Falmouth girls’ hockey team.

Senior John Auer will be a top scorer for a Falmouth boys’ indoor track team that should again be one of the best around.

Malaika Pasch will be a top distance runner for Falmouth’s girls’ indoor track team.

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