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Northern edition Spring Coaches of the Year

Sports

Northern edition Spring Coaches of the Year

Boys' team:

Geoff Arris, Freeport lacrosse

Arris admits now that he expected little from the 2014 season, but when the dust settled, he and the Freeport boys' lacrosse team had enjoyed the best season on record.

The Falcons defied the odds, made history and such a transcendent campaign earns Arris selection as our Northern edition Spring Coach of the Year of a boys' team.

Arris is a Falcon through and through. He played in the early days of the program, graduating in 1998 after playing attack (and playing soccer as well). Arris went on to play at Plymouth (N.H.) State, where he played attack and longpole middie.

Based on his family history, it's not surprising that Arris gravitated to coaching following college. His mother coached softball, field hockey and lacrosse at Freeport and Arris started as a middle school lacrosse coach in Freeport, before becoming a JV assistant. After spending a season with the Greely varsity in 2008, Arris returned home in 2009 and took over the Falcons program.

While Freeport made it to the Eastern B semifinals his first two seasons, it fell short of the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 and in 2013, only won three times, while making it to the quarterfinals.

Little was expected of the Falcons this spring, but the team's young core convinced Arris that it could do something special, then went out and accomplished it.

Freeport went 7-5 in the regular season, its best mark since 2010, earned the No. 2 seed in Eastern B, then held off Oak Hill and Camden Hills to reach the Eastern B Final for the first time.

Even better, the Falcons got to host one of the state's elite programs, Yarmouth.

While Freeport went down to defeat, the whole experience was memorable.

It was amazing,” Arris said. “So exciting. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year with just one senior who saw limited time. On the first day of practice, my four captains, Ramsey Dodge, Jake Perry, Sam Wogan and Zac Wogan told me they wanted to make the playoffs and they pushed the team. We got used to winning and kept it going. It was great to host playoff games. The community was really excited. There were so many proud moments and dramatic wins.”

Arris, who lives in Portland and works as a carpenter, also coaches the 207Lacrosse 8th grade travel team. He hopes to remain at Freeport for the foreseeable future.

That future looks bright as the Falcons have learned how to win and hope to build on this year's success. With Geoff Arris, our Northern edition boys' team Spring Coach of the Year at the helm, look for the good times to keep rolling.

Previous winners:

2013 David Pearl (Yarmouth lacrosse)

2012 Kevin Winship (Falmouth baseball)

2011 Bob McCully (Falmouth track)

2010 Marc Halsted (Yarmouth baseball)

2009 Mike LeBel (Falmouth lacrosse)

2008 Casey Abbott (Greely lacrosse)

2007 Derek Soule (Greely baseball)

2006 Chris Carpentier (Freeport lacrosse)

2005 Chris Mazzurco (NYA track)

2004 Craig Curry (Yarmouth lacrosse)

2003 Bruce Poliquin (NYA baseball)

2002 Hank Ogilby (Freeport baseball)

Girls' team:

Ben Caswell, Greely tennis

Greely's girls' tennis team came into the 2014 season having never won a regional or a state championship. Now, the Rangers have both.

The leadership of coach Ben Caswell and his ability to mix and match under challenging circumstances are a big reason why.

For leading Greely to its greatest heights, Ben Caswell is The Forecaster's choice for our Northern edition Spring Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Caswell grew up in Vermont playing soccer, tennis and hockey. After graduating from Lyndon State (Vt.) College, he spent some time assisting the Windham boys' tennis program, then took over the Greely girls in 2013.

Caswell led the Rangers to a 10-4 mark his first season and got them to the regional semifinals, which they lost to Cape Elizabeth.

With perennial champion Falmouth out of the mix this spring (the Yachtsmen moved up and won Class A due to increased enrollment), Greely knew it had an opportunity to make history and produced a terrific 11-1 regular season (losing only to Falmouth), good for the top seed in Western B.

Enter the challenging circumstance.

I found out heading into the playoffs that we were going to lose our number one singles player (Allie Eaton, who had a pre-planned family trip), so I had some hard decisions to make,” Caswell said.

Caswell rearranged his ladder and let his players know that the pressure was on the other team, not them.

Greely blanked Yarmouth in the quarterfinals, but was tested by Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, before surviving, 3-2. The Rangers then blanked Spruce Mountain in the regional final to clear the program's first historic hurdle and capture the regional crown.

All that was left was a Waterville squad which had been a regular in the state match, but the Purple Panthers were no match for Greely, which prevailed, 4-1, to add a long awaited championship banner to the school's gymnasium.

No one had making it to states as a goal my first year, but this year, some of the girls said they wanted to get to states and some said regional final," Caswell said. "It was a roller-coaster, but it was a great time. Especially the (traditional) fire truck ride (after we won). The whole fleet was out. It was really cool.”

Caswell, who is also a physical education teacher at Greely, takes a unique approach to coaching.

I've been through a lot, so I like sharing my experiences with the kids,” he said. “I try to help with what I see they can exploit. It gives them a different point of view.”

Caswell, who lives in Windham and also coaches JV girls' soccer at Greely, isn't finished yet.

The competitor in me wants another (championship),” he said.

That's good news for the Rangers. Now that they've scaled the mountain, they're ready to do it again. With Ben Caswell, our Northern edition girls' team Spring Coach of the Year leading the way, don't be surprised if championships become a regular occurrence.

Previous winners:

2013 Sandra Stone (Falmouth tennis)

2012 Karin Kurry (Freeport lacrosse)

2011 Sara Dimick (Greely)

2010 Julia Sterling (NYA lacrosse)

2009 Sandra Stone (Falmouth tennis)

2008 Julia Littlefield (NYA lacrosse)

2007 Robin Haley (Falmouth lacrosse)

2006 Dorothy Holt (Yarmouth lacrosse)

2005 Sandra Stone (Falmouth tennis)

2004 Ann Harradon (Yarmouth tennis)

2003 Julia Seely (NYA tennis)

2002 Julia Littlefield (Yarmouth lacrosse)

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