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Falmouth Yachtsmen Fall Athletes of the Year

Sports

Falmouth Yachtsmen Fall Athletes of the Year

MALE:

JOE LESNIAK, Golf-Soccer

  • SMAA all-star, first-team

  • SMAA All-Academic team

  • Captain

The best golfer on the state's best team, Lesniak overcame adversity and punctuated his high school career in fine style this fall.

Lesniak grew up in Falmouth and has played golf beginning at a young age. He was more of a skier prior to high school, then really turned his attention to the links. He was the No. 3 man on a Class B state champion as a freshman, shot an 83 at the state match as the top guy his sophomore year, helping Falmouth win a Class A championship, then shot a 75 at states as a junior.

This fall, Lesniak defeated every league foe, including all-stars like Will Barlock of Deering and Chris Billings of Cheverus (who wound up sharing the Class A individual title), after losing to each of them earlier in the year, and Zack Luce of Portland. Lesniak finished the year with a nine-hole stroke average of 38.6. At the team state match, as Falmouth took home a third championship in four seasons, Lesniak shot a 78. He lowered that by a stroke the following week at the individual state match, where he tied for fifth in Class A.

What most didn't know was that Lesniak wasn't at his best much of the year, but he certainly closed strong.

“I struggled early and had to work my way back during the season,” Lesniak said. “I had bad swing habits. I had to work hard on that.”

Lesniak paid tribute to coach Spike Herrick for his role in making him better.

“Coach helped me improve as both a player and a person throughout my high school career,” Lesniak said. “He kept me focused when I experienced both positive and negative extremes of emotions and was like a second father to me.”

Lesniak, who also downhill skis and plays tennis, hopes to play golf in college and is still deciding on a school.

He'll certainly make a mark at the next level and his high school legacy has been assured. Joe Lesniak, Falmouth's Fall Male Athlete of the Year, was good as a freshman, only got better and finished as a champion.

Coach Spike Herrick's comment: "Joe has been a key member of our team. He led us to three state titles. He's a tireless worker and is always striving to improve. He's very hard on himself and is a young man who leads by example. He will be sorely missed. He's an excellent student and is one of my all-time favorites."

Prior winners:

2012: J.P. White (Soccer)

2011: Andrew Murry (Soccer)

2010: Tim Follo (Cross country)

2009: Gabe Hoffman-Johnson (Soccer)

2008: Gabe Hoffman-Johnson (Soccer)

2007: Jack Wyman (Golf)

2006: Nick Ford (Football)

2005: Adam Packard (Golf)

2004: Connor Hollowell (Soccer)

2003: Jimmy Velas (Soccer)

2002: Brandon Bonsey (Cross country)

2001: Brian Giggey (Golf)

FEMALE:

RILEY BURFEIND, Senior-Volleyball

  • All-State, first-team

  • Captain

For someone who never took up the game until high school, Burfeind sure closed her career with a flourish, playing an integral role on the first championship team in school history.

Burfeind came of age learning tough sports lessons from her brothers, whom she calls “great role models” and while she was new to volleyball in high school, it didn't take long for her to get up to speed.

Burfeind saw limited varsity playing time as a sophomore and only played in the front row as a junior, coming off the court after her serve. This fall, she did everything, morphed into a star and came up huge time after time.

"Before this season, I spoke to Riley and said we would need her to play all the way around," said Falmouth coach Gary Powers. "She worked hard on her defense and really improved her overall game. Keeping her in across the back row also gave us the option to do some back row hits, where she was very successful."

Burfeind's kills were almost unstoppable. She galvanized the team and made those around her better. In the biggest matches, she always produced in the clutch.

Burfeind had 12 kills, four aces and three blocks in a win over Greely and 10 kills and five aces in a loss to Scarborough.

For the regular season, she had 138 digs, 92 kills and 35 blocks. She had 214 service points and 52 aces, producing a powerful serve which was measured at up to 44 miles per hour, helping her deliver at an 87.4 percent clip.

In the playoffs, she was even better, registering 16 kills, two aces and a block in a quarterfinal round victory over Biddeford and 10 kills, two aces and nine service points in the state match win over Scarborough.

“We had high hopes,” Burfeind said. “We were so happy it ended that way.”

Burfeind honed her game in the offseason, playing with the Junior Olympic program. She also plays tennis doubles, is the co-president of the Falmouth Service Club, is a member of the school chorus and National Honor Society.

Burfeind hopes to go to college somewhere in New England and plans to play club volleyball. She's undecided on a major.

She and her history making teammates won't soon be forgotten. Riley Burfeind, Falmouth's Fall Female Athlete of the Year soared above the competition and saved her best for last.

Coach Gary Powers' comment:Riley has been a great kid to work with. She was inspirational to the team and kept things light when things got rough. She was a very hard hitter that could jump, which made it difficult for other teams to defend. Riley was a huge asset to the team, not only because of her playing skills, but also because of her personality. She has a sense of humor, is considerate of the other players, and has a great personality. We had six great players on the court, but it was Riley's personality and demeanor that brought the players together as a team. It has been an honor to work and coach Riley for the last four years."

Prior winners:

2012: Cassie Darrow (Soccer)

2011: Caitlin Bucksbaum (Soccer)

2010: Kate Sparks (Volleyball)

2009: Emma Wilberg (Volleyball)

2008: Nicole Foley (Field hockey)

2007: Maddie Grygiel (Cross country)

2006: Emily Bowden (Field hockey)

2005: Riley Haddock (Field hockey)

2004: Riley Haddock (Field hockey)

2003: Hannah Millick (Field hockey)

2002: Ali Hollowell (Field hockey)

2001: Whitney Huse (Soccer)

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