McAuley Lions Fall Sports Preview

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McAuley’s fall sports teams are looking to improve on last year. The girls’ soccer squad just missed out on a playoff berth in 2013, but could there this time. Field hockey welcomes a new coach and is taking steps to compete. Cross country will vie to make the Class C state meet.

SOCCER

COACH: Vince Aceto (seventh year, 19-56-10 overall record)

2013 record: 4-9-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Becca McNamara (Senior), Ayla Tartre (Senior), Ally Tillotson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 @ Windham, Sept. 9 CHEVERUS, Sept. 19 SP, Sept. 26 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 8 TA, Oct. 10 PORTLAND, Oct. 15 @ Deering

COACH’S COMMENT: “We return 95 percent of last year’s team and we’re looking to get a playoff berth this season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While McAuley returns almost everyone from a year ago, one of the great players in program history, reigning Fall Athlete of the Year Katherine Lake, did graduate, leaving a big hole in the lineup.

The Lions will turn to some names familiar to basketball fans to put the ball in the net this season. Tartre, an SMAA second-teamer, and Tillotson, a three-sport star, will pace the offense. McNamara is a talent to watch in the midfield. Chelsea Rairdon is new in goal.

While McAuley isn’t at the level of defending champion Windham or contenders like Scarborough and Thornton Academy, it should be able to hold its own against the rest of the league. If the Lions can find a way to win a couple more games, look out, they’ll be in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and they might just do some damage when they get there.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Carley Denis (first year)

2013 record: 0-14 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Sun Yool Park (Senior), Mai Mangin (Junior), Julia Bailinson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 16 @ Cheverus, Sept. 18 DEERING, Oct. 1 @ Portland, Oct. 10 SP

COACH’S COMMENT “We hope to improve each and every week. We want to score goals and win games. Having fun and enjoying the sport is something we want to achieve constantly throughout the season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: The Lions are all about baby steps this fall. The program welcomes a new coach in Denis, who played at Lewiston High School and at St. Joseph’s College. She inherits a program that has lost 33 consecutive games and hasn’t been competitive, but this year’s team shows promise and a lot of youth. It will be a process, but this year’s experience will pay off down the road.

The offense will be led by Bailinson, a member of the SMAA All-Rookie team in 2013. Freshmen Molly Barr, Gabrielle Begos, Anya Chase and Sarah Mariski could rattle the cage as well. Last fall, McAuley only scored one goal. That’s bound to improve this time around. The defense will need to tighten up as well (last season, the Lions gave up more than 10 goals a game). Mangin and Yool Park will anchor that unit in front of sophomore goalie Samantha Witkowski.

McAuley will show incremental improvement, even if that doesn’t immediately show up in the win column. Don’t be surprised if the Lions knock some teams off along the way.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Tim Donovan (12th year)

2013 results: Did not qualify for state meet (12th @ Western C regionals)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS: Anna Dube (Senior), Monica Hutcherson (Senior), Rachel Taylor (Senior), Adele Werner (Senior), Taylor Whaley (Senior), Emma Downey (Junior), Molly Lumbar (Junior), Lily Bergh (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Bonny Eagle, Cheverus, Deering, Massabesic, Scarborough, Thornton Academy

COACH’S COMMENT: “Our main goal this year is to get back to the state meet. We will again be in Class C, which might help us. We have a little more depth this year, which should also help. We will be led by a great group of seniors. There will be no standouts, but we should have a nice pack and we are going to work hard to move that pack along. I’m looking forward to this season and maybe being a little more competitive. We will see.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: McAuley last qualified for the state meet in 2010, when it competed in Class A. This year’s team could find its way to the Class C championship meet for the first time.

Several experienced runners return. Leading the way will be Dube, who was 45th at the regional meet last season. Bergh (58th), Werner (59th), Whaley (68th) and Lumbar (72nd) also scored at last year’s regionals. Downey, Hutcherson and Taylor also have experience. Several newcomers will help the cause. Seniors Keyly Martinez and Liz Possiel, junior Kimanna Nyguen and freshmen Catherine Connell, Kiera Kenneally, Madison Lagassey and Alex Witkowski hope to make a quick impact.

This is a balanced group which should only get better as the season progresses.

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

Senior Ayla Tartre will be a leader and top scorer for McAuley’s soccer team this season.

Ally Tillotson, a three-sport star, is coming off a strong freshman campaign and has been tearing it up in the preseason. Look for a big sophomore season from her.

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Adele Werner returns for her senior season, hoping to lead McAuley’s cross country team to the state meet.

File photos.

More photos below.

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