Maine Girls' Academy Lions Spring Sports Preview

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Elizabeth Kennedy is a top returner for the Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth softball team. The “Sea Lions” are looking to make it to the playoffs again this spring.

File photos.

Lily LaCasse is back goal this spring for an MGA lacrosse team that has high hopes for success.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Tim Eisenhart (second year)

2017 record: 7-10 (Lost, 6-5, to Noble in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Gabby Begos (Senior), Holly Akey (Junior), Jill Joyce (Junior), Elizabeth Kennedy (Junior), Liberty Ladd (Junior), Carly Beaulieu (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 21 PORTLAND, April 23 @ South Portland, April 30 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 7 @ Cheverus, May 14 DEERING, May 25 @ Noble 

Coach’s comment: “I have some awesome kids. Our numbers are almost identical to last year. We have 18 players this year, 12 from MGA and six from Falmouth. For us, pitching will be everything. If our youngsters can throw strikes, we can stay in games with our offense. Defensively, we’re pretty solid. We’ll probably be in a lot of slugfests. Hopefully we can get back to the playoffs and go even farther than last year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Year one of the Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth co-op team was a big success, as the squad made the playoffs and Eisenhart was named Forecaster Coach of the Year. Will year two feature similar success? Signs suggest it is distinctly possible.

The Sea Lions will use pitching by committee this season, as Joyce is limited by a foot injury, allowing freshman Cameron Birks and sophomore Meghan Gray, a transfer from Gorham, to step in. Ladd (an honorable mention all-star in 2017) returns behind the plate. She also wields a potent bat. Akey (a first-team SMAA selection last spring) will spark the offense and be a top defensive player at either second base or shortstop. Beaulieu (first base/outfield), Kennedy (third base) and Begos (can also swing the bat). Senior Carly Peterson, a transfer from Portland, sophomores Liz Fortier and Grace Tourville and freshman Natalie Fortier are other players to watch this spring. 

Nothing will come easily for MGA/Falmouth this season, as the squad won’t be able to sneak up on anyone. The defense will need to be steady and the offense potent to spell consistent success as the pitching staff is a work in progress. After enjoying some success a year ago, the Sea Lions want to keep the good times rolling. Don’t be surprised if this squad puts together another strong season and sticks around the postseason for awhile.

LACROSSE

Coach: Eric Wales (second year)

2017 record: 5-7 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Olivia Smith (Senior), Sophia DiPhillippo (Junior), Livy Howard (Junior), Catherine Reid (Junior), Ruth Reischman (Junior), Alessia Toohey (Junior), Lily LaCasse (Sophomore), Zahria McLean (Sophomore), Charlotte Spies (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 3 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 11 NYA, May 15 PORTLAND, May 22 @ Biddeford, May 31 DEERING

Coach’s comment: “Last season, we graduated only two, but it was two key players, so some newcomers will need to really step up. We are very excited for the season as the nucleus of the team is returning. In fact, 10 of 12 starters are returning and we’re still young and growing as a team. These girls work incredibly hard, are committed to the program and the numbers on the team are pretty healthy for the first time in a few years. This team has the potential to be a dangerous opponent and we look to be a playoff team. The girls’ work ethic, motivation, heart and hustle will be what makes this team shine. We are fired up!”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After just missing out on a postseason berth a year ago, MGA is optimistic it has the pieces in place this spring to be competitive from start to finish and make some noise in the playoffs.

The Lions will be led by Reid, MGA’s Winter Athlete of the Year after a standout basketball campaign. Reid was a first-team all-star a year ago and in the midfield, will be a factor all over the place. Several other girls will figure into the scoring mix. Look for DiPhillippo, Howard, McLean, Smith and Spies to do their share of goal scoring. Sophomore Hope Olson is new to the team. She’ll be the draw specialist and will also tickle the twine. On defense, Reischman and Toohey have experience. The Lions are in good hands with LaCasse as the last line of defense. The second-year goalie made the All-Rookie team in 2017. 

With lacrosse growing to three classes this spring, MGA will be in Class C, along with other small schools and several newer programs. The Lions have an opportunity to not just make the playoffs for just the second time since 2005, but they could advance beyond the quarterfinal round for the first time in program history. The pieces are in place for this squad to steal headlines. 

TENNIS

Coach: Joe Kilmartin (31st year, one state championship)

2017 record: 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Sophie Catonio (Senior), Catherine Cornell (Senior), Sarah Mariski (Senior), Abby Fortier (Junior), Alison Fournier (Junior), Jackie Kucine (Junior), Abigail Fournier (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “It will be a building year. Hopefully we’ll be somewhat competitive during the season and hopefully we can get in the tournament where anything can happen.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After missing the playoffs two straight years, MGA is hoping to return to contention this spring.

At press time, Kilmartin doesn’t believe that last year’s top singles player, Sanni Hackett, will play this spring. That means Mariski is poised to move into the role. Abigail Fournier, Alison Fournier and Kucine were jockeying for the other singles spots. Catonio, Cornell and Fortier will likely have roles on the doubles teams.

The Lions will look to hold their own against some top competition and will hope to improve on last year’s win total. If that happens, a trip to the playoffs could be the reward.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@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.