Maine Girls’ Academy Lions Fall Sports Preview

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Claire Reid is back for her senior season, hoping to help Maine Girls’ Academy’s soccer team be competitive in a tough league.

(Note: Catherine McAuley High School changed its name to Maine Girls’ Academy this school year)

SOCCER

Coach: Dillon Bates (first year)

2015 record: 0-14 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Maddy Beaulieu (Senior), Claire Reid (Senior), Zoe Mazur (Sophomore), Emma Ranello (Sophomore), Catherine Reid (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 9 DEERING, Sept. 23 SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 18 CHEVERUS

Coach’s comment: “This is certainly a rebuilding year, and we’re extremely young. All but three players on the roster are underclassmen. That bodes very well for the future, but in addition to developing, we’re looking to maximize our team strengths to be competitive this season as well. We are by far the state’s smallest Class A school, so competing against large schools with deeper benches is a challenge, but we will be looking to our effort and energy in order to remain competitive this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: A new era begins this fall as the Lions welcome a new coach in Bates, who previously coached at Lincoln Middle School. Burns replaces Vince Aceto (now coaching the boys’ squad at Westbrook) and inherits a squad which didn’t win a game last season, but could be competitive this year thanks some promising talent.

Beaulieu and Claire Reid provide experience in the midfield. They’ll look to score some goals, as will Mazur and Catherine Reid, after making their impact as freshmen. Speaking of freshmen, Serena Mower could be an offensive presence as well in her first year. The defense is anchored by Ranello. Junior Madison Legassey will be called upon to do a little of everything. Replacing reigning Fall Athlete of the Year Chelsea Rairdon in goal will be either sophomore Jacqueline Kucine or freshmen Carly Beaulieu or Hope Olson.

The Lions hope to compete with most of the teams on their schedule and some early success could go a long way to providing confidence. This is a team with quite an upside. Don’t be surprised if Maine Girls’ Academy becomes one of the feel-good stories of the season.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Skylar Leo (first year)

2015 record: 1-13 (no postseason)

Top returning player: Emma Spies (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “I think with some hard work, the team can and will be more successful than last year. We have a strong young team, with some girls who never played before, so we’ve gone back to the basics, which can be helpful for the whole team. I fell that in the next few weeks, if we can accomplish getting our foundation built, there may be some possible playoff contention.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: For the second straight year, the “Flying Lions” will compete together, as Maine Girls’ Academy and Waynflete join up to play in Class B South. This fall, the team will be led by Leo, who was an all-star player at Windham High School and previously coached at middle school in Windham and as an assistant at Cheverus. She inherits a squad that will improve in the weeks to come.

Spies returns on defense. Freshman forward Zahria McClean has shown promise in the preseason. The majority of the team is made up of Waynflete players, but the Maine Girls’ Academy participants will make a difference.

Overall, look for the Flying Lions to improve their win-loss record and steadily improve. If all goes well, a playoff berth could be the end result.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Tim Donovan (14th year)

2015 results: Did not qualify for state meet (10th @ regionals)

Top returners: Batoul Berro (Senior), Boya Yang (Senior), Catherine Cornell (Junior), Chloe Cott (Junior), Sanni Hackett (Junior), Grace Downey (Sophomore), Liz McAleney (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have a bit of a transition going from one school name that everyone knows with a very deep tradition to another. We hope to build on that, but it may take a little time. Once again, our numbers are small and that makes it tough to be super competitive. We do have eight kids back from last year with some talent. We like our chances qualifying for states this year. The kids are excited for the season and it’s always enjoyable for me.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Maine Girls’ Academy has a small but promising team this fall and hopes to qualify for the state meet for the first time since 2010.

Top returners include Cott (42nd at last year’s Class C South regional meet), Hackett (43rd), Downey (50th) and Cornell (66th). Berro and Yang have experience and McAleney will be in position to move up the ranks. Senior Sam Witkowski and junior Jacquelyn Pisano are new to the team and add depth.

The Lions have the potential to steadily improve as the season progresses and when the championship meets roll around, they hope to turn some heads. Don’t be surprised if the state meet drought comes to a close this October.

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.