Maine Girls’ Academy Lions Fall Sports Preview

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Senior Sanni Hackett looks to be one of the top runners in Class C South this season and help Maine Girls’ Academy’s cross country team qualify for states.

File photos.

Senior Chloe Cott came in 46th at last year’s regional meet and looks to move up this fall.

SOCCER

Coach: Dillon Bates (second year)

2016 record: 3-10-1 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Madison Legassey (Senior), Emma Ranello (Junior), Catherine Reid (Junior), Alessia Toohey (Junior), Carly Beaulieu (Sophomore), Serena Mower (Sophomore), Hope Olson (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 1 @ Deering, Sept. 9 @ Falmouth, Sept. 16 @ Windham, Sept. 30 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 7 @ South Portland, Oct. 13 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “We hope to continue to grow and develop a small and young team, continue to improve and find success individually and as a team. Ultimately, a playoff berth would be huge for our program.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: MGA made nice strides a year ago in Bates’ first season, winning three games and finishing just out of the playoff picture. The Lions have only one senior on the roster this year, which suggests that there might be a slight learning curve, but also that the future is promising. If all goes well, the Lions’ future will be now.

MGA’s offense features several potential top scorers, a group that is led by Mower (3 goals, 2 assists in 2016), Reid (5 goals, 5 assists last season) and Toohey. Katie Blanc, who was sidelined by injury in 2016, adds depth, as do freshman Audrey Caron and Naomi Reischmann. Lagassey and Ranello are top returning defenders. They’re joined by freshmen Isabelle Galletto and Madison Storey-Smith. Beaulieu (110 saves last season) and Olson (65 saves a year ago) will both see time in goal. Mo Grant, a transfer, is also battling for minutes.

The Lions have promise, they just need to overcome youthful jitters. If this team can follow in the footsteps of the 2016 squad and take another step forward, they could reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and will be poised for even more success in the near future.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Skylar Leo (second year)

2016 record: 0-13-1 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Gabby Begos (Senior), Gabby Eng (Junior), Amelia Searfossi (Junior), Zahria McLean (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We came close a few times toward the end of the season with walking away with a tie or win. I feel if the girls take those successful moments and perfect them even more this season, they can be as successful as they want. It just comes down to mental toughness and making sure we’re in the best of shape.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: For the third straight year, the “Flying Lions” will compete together, as Maine Girls’ Academy and Waynflete join up to play in Class C South. This fall, the squad hopes to break into the win column and be competitive throughout.

This year’s offense will be led by Begos and McLean. Eng is a key cog in the midfield. Searfossi will be heard from as a midfielder and on defense in front of sophomore Charlotte Dean, who replaces all-star Kiera MacWhinnie in goal.

Look for MGA/Waynflete to show steady growth in the weeks to come and earn an elusive victory, if not more than one. That will just be a beginning as more triumph is likely in store down the road.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Tim Donovan (16th year)

2016 results: DNQ for Class C state meet (9th @ regionals)

Top returners: Catherine Cornell (Senior), Chloe Cott (Senior), Sanni Hackett (Senior), Liz McAleney (Junior), Coco Ye (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Once again, we will be working with small numbers. We will be led by three experienced seniors and hope along the way to find a diamond in the rough. There is always a closeness with our teams and this one definitely has that. Our goal is to qualify for the state meet which has not happened in a few years. We’re just going to put our best foot forward and letting the chips fall where they may.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: MGA could turn some heads in the weeks to come and could extend its season as far as the state meet for the first time since 2010.

Hackett is the top returner. She placed 37th at last year’s regional meet. Other returning scorers include Cott (46th), Ye (48th) and Cornell (52nd). McAlaney also has experience. The Lions are hopeful some other girls step up and strengthen the pack.

MGA will work hard against SMAA rivals in the regular season with an eye on running at its best in late October. If all goes well, the Lions could return to the big stage.

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.