Maine Girls' Academy Lions Spring Sports Preview

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Sophomore Zoe Mazur will be a top player for the Maine Girls’ Academy lacrosse team this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Tim Eisenhart (first year)

2016 record: 3-13 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Maddy Beaulieu (Senior), Lillie Donovan (Senior), Ashley Littlefield (Senior), Jill Joyce (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 21 CHEVERUS/NYA, April 28 @ Portland, May 10 @ Cheverus/NYA, May 22 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 26 DEERING

Coach’s comment: “It’s seamlessly come together. It’s an awesome group, very coachable with great spirit. The girls are ready to learn. We have some talent too. It’ll be fun. We have good senior leadership and excited youngsters with talent. We’re shooting for the playoffs. For the seniors’ sake, I’d really like to see them go deep.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Change is the theme this spring for the former McAuley softball program. For starters, the school has changed its name to Maine Girls’ Academy. The program has a new coach this season in Eisenhart, who coached baseball at Westbrook for five years and Deering for three. He’s also coached softball at the middle school level in Westbrook. He inherits a group of 13 promising MGA players, as well as 10 players from Falmouth. The Yachtsmen, after 40 years as a stand-alone varsity program, didn’t have enough players this spring, so the schools combined as a co-op squad. Between them, they’ll boast enough talent to be very competitive throughout the season and be a factor in the postseason.

Littlefield and Falmouth freshman Elizabeth Fortier will see the majority of innings on the mound. Falmouth sophomore Liberty Ladd, a second-team Western Maine Conference all-star in 2016, will catch, with Donovan seeing some time behind the plate as well. The infield will feature Beaulieu, an SMAA honorable mention all-star last year, who’s enjoyed a terrific senior athletic year, at shortstop, Joyce (a top hitter who will also pitch a few innings) at first base, Falmouth sophomore Shannon Birks at second base and Falmouth senior Megan Foster (who wields a powerful bat) at third. Donovan and Falmouth senior Annika Dyhrberg will anchor the outfield. 

MGA/Falmouth wants to win and wants to win now. This team has pitching, defense and hitting and a coach who will get the most out of his charges. Look for this group to be competitive, even against the elite teams, and to only get better between now and June when they could emerge as a real headache for playoff foes.

LACROSSE

Coach: Eric Wales (first year)

2016 record: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Claire Reid (Senior), Meredith Wheeler (Senior), Zoe Mazur (Sophomore), Catherine Reid (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 25 MARSHWOOD, May 13 NYA, May 16 GORHAM, May 18 @ Portland, May 23 @ Deering, May 31 CHEVERUS

Coach’s comment: “We were hit hard by graduation and a few transfers. We’re very young and quite inexperienced with many new girls. Our captains will be instrumental in the development of the team’s defense. On the positive side, these girls are very willing to work hard, learn new systems and play hard together. We’re hoping to continually improve in all aspects of the game and be the group to give lacrosse its identity at MGA.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: MGA welcomes a new coach this spring in Wales, who coached the Portland girls for four seasons, taking the Bulldogs to the playoffs every year. He inherits a squad which missed the playoffs last season, but has the potential to compete.

The Lions have the potential to score a lot of goals, as the offense will be led by Mazur, Catherine Reid and sophomores Grace Downey and Olivia Howard. Downey and Mazur will handle draws. If MGA can tighten up on defense, the wins will come. Last year, the Lions surrendered nearly 13 goals per game, but this time around, Claire Reed and Wheeler will anchor that unit in front of a pair of new freshmen goalies, Lilly Lacasse and Victoria Silvia. Sophomore Ruth Reischmann is a new defender to watch.

MGA will face its share of challenges during the season, but there are many winnable games on the slate. The Lions got to the playoffs in 2015 and if the pieces fall into place, this year’s squad could extend its season as well. 

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Tim Donovan (16th year)

2016 results: Tie-13th @ Class C state meet

Top returner: Sam Witkowski (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “We have a very small team, but there is some talent. I’m excited to see how well the kids do individually.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Maine Girls’ Academy didn’t field an indoor track team this winter, but the Lions do have some athletes out this spring as they hope to make some noise with a small team.

Witkowski returns. She was third in the pole vault a year ago and also will compete in the triple jump and relays. Newcomers to watch include seniors Megan Paige (throws) and Elena Woods (middle distance and distance), sophomore Emma Renello (sprints, jumps and relays) and freshmen Kelty Jennings (middle distance) and Amy Topchik (distance and racewalk).

MGA will look to score some points behind its talented individuals and steadily improve as the season progresses. By June, the Lions could turn some heads at the Class C state meet.

TENNIS

Coach: Joe Kilmartin (30th year, one state championship)

2016 record: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Annie McManus (Senior), Skyler Vaughn (Senior), Catherine Cornell (Junior), Sanni Hackett (Junior), Sarah Mariski (Junior), Alison Fournier (Sophomore), Jackie Kucine (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have relatively the same team. We should be extremely improved in doubles and we should be improved from last year. We hope to win a few more matches. Making playoffs is the goal.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Maine Girls’ Academy is looking for a more triumphant campaign in 2017 and the pieces are in place for the Lions to move up the standings.

Hackett returns at first singles. Mariski will be in the No. 2 singles spot and Kucine projects to play third singles. The first doubles team features Cornell and Vaughn. Some combination of Fournier, McManus and freshman Abigail Fournier will be on the second doubles squad.

MGA will enter the season more experienced and confident and with the SMAA devoid of a powerhouse team, should be able to compete throughout. Look for this team to show steady improvement and get to the postseason, where it could spring an upset or two. Kilmartin has never missed the playoffs in successive years during his tenure. That streak should continue.

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

Senior Ashley Littlefield will see a majority of innings for the Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth co-op softball team.

Senior Maddy Beaulieu will be a key bat in the MGA/Falmouth lineup this season.

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