Cheverus Stags Winter Sports Previews
Cheverus has some new faces at the helm this winter, but is poised for another season of success. Storied boys' basketball coach Bob Brown has retired, but his longtime assistant is filling his shoes and figures to lead the Stags to another strong campaign. The girls' hoops team could be one of the very best around. Boys' hockey has been a playoff regular the past few seasons and hopes to go further this winter. The girls' squad will contend for a postseason berth as well. Both track teams are being led by one coach this year and each squad features several top athletes. Both swim teams will be among the finest in Class A. Alpine skiing also has a new coach and some strong individuals. Cheverus isn't fielding a wrestling team, but a few individuals, most notably reigning 120-pound Class A state champion Iain Whitis, are participating with Deering.
COACH: Dan Costigan (first year)
2011-12 Record: 14-6 (Lost, 52-49, to eventual champion Deering in Western A semifinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Drew Ferrick (Senior), Michael Flaherty (Senior), Zordan Holman (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 14 (H) PORTLAND, Jan. 2 (H) BONNY EAGLE, Jan. 8 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 11 @ Deering, Jan. 16 (H) PORTLAND, Jan. 25 @ South Portland, Feb. 1 @ Thornton Academy, Feb. 5 (H) DEERING, Feb. 8 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND
COACH’S COMMENT: “We lost about 90 percent of our stats from a year ago. Rarely at Cheverus are we in a predicament where we just don't know. We have a lot of kids who haven't played, so we're trying to figure things out. We're playing hard. We have size, but we don't play big. We're going to fly around. We'll press and trap. The guys have an opportunity to improve and earn playing time. We'll get a lot better.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: The Stags have a new look this winter, but anyone writing them off will grow to regret it. For starters, after 11 years, over 200 wins and two state titles (one which was vacated) at Cheverus, Bob Brown finally called his sensational coaching career quits at the age of 75. His replacement is well known at the school. Costigan led the Stags to the 1981 and 1982 Class A state titles as a player and after playing football and basketball at the University of Maine and coaching at Scarborough High and the University of Southern Maine before serving as Brown's assistant for eight years, he's returned to his alma mater, where he also teaches English. Costigan will have his work cut out in regards to molding a team out of a group which is largely inexperienced. Holman made the All-Rookie team as a freshman (he was 15th in the SMAA with 5.5 rebounds per contest) and could be a star in the making. At 6-foot-5, Holman is a beast on the boards and will look to score some points as the season progresses. Ferrick is the most seasoned returner. At 6-4, the forward has a nice stroke from the perimeter (17 made 3-pointers in 2011-12) and is also solid on the glass (5.1 rebounds last winter). Flaherty will run the point. He averaged 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals and drained a dozen 3's last season. After that, there are a lot of question marks, but also many potential answers. Senior guard Spencer Noel could score his share of points. Juniors Brad Carney and Noah Stebbins will also be a force in the backcourt, while junior Manny Ismail will support Flaherty at the point guard spot. Cheverus has additional size in the form of 6-7 junior Mike Sinclair and senior Andrew Cloutier. The Stags will take some lumps early in the season and after losing just 15 games over the past 10 regular seasons, the opposition will be eager to deliver some payback, but look for this group to improve dramatically as the winter progresses. Costigan is optimistic about what he has to work with. Cheverus just needs game experience. The Stags will get it and should be formidable by February. It's safe to say Cheverus will be a team no one wants to meet in the tournament. The squad's development will be enjoyable to watch over the next couple months.
COACH: Richie Ashley (sixth year, 54-42)
2011-12 Record: 12-8 (Lost, 39-35, to Scarborough in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Brooke Flaherty (Senior), Danielle Kane (Senior), Kylie Libby (Senior), Mikayla Mayberry (Senior), Victoria Nappi (Senior), Georgia Ford (Junior), Sadie Lyons (Junior), Jill Libby (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 11 (H) GORHAM, Jan. 4 (H) SANFORD, Jan. 8 @ Scarborough, Jan. 11 (H) DEERING, Jan. 15 (H) MCAULEY, Feb. 1 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Feb. 6 @ Deering, Feb. 8 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND
COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a lot back, so it's been pretty smooth. We're a seasoned team. Our biggest strength will be our numbers. We'll have balanced scoring. Our goal this year is to work hard every day and be our best and be healthy in February.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After graduating just three players, the Stags are as stable and loaded as anyone as a new season dawns. A solid combinations of returners combined with an infusion of promising newcomers suggests Cheverus could do great things in the weeks to come. Kylie Libby, who recently committed to playing college ball at Binghamton University, will step into the point guard role. Libby, at nearly 6-feet, will be difficult to stop (she tied for seventh in the SMAA with 8 rebounds per contest a year ago). Ford (a 75 percent foul shooter) will be the shooting guard, hoping to help fill the void left by graduated league all-star Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy (who averaged 11.6 points per contest and made 25 3-pointers last winter). Mayberry and Nappi return as forwards and are joined by four-year starter Flaherty (10 points and a third-in-the-league 9.8 boards per game in 2011-12), who possesses one of the sweetest shots around. Lyons can play guard and forward and is a matchup nightmare. Guards Kane and Jill Libby also saw time in 2011-12. The most recognizable newcomer is junior Alisha Starbird, one of the region's top players, who came to Cheverus from Scarborough. Junior Cassidy Grover has height, as does a freshman to watch, Jess Willerson. While in years past, the Stags geared up to knock off city rivals Deering and McAuley, teams they've never beaten, this winter, they'll look to steadily improve and be at their best in February. No one in Western A goes deeper and you can make the argument that this roster is every bit as good as two-time defending champion and preseason favorite McAuley. If Cheverus stays healthy, look out. Every season it seems the Stags take another step. There's a good chance this is the year Cheverus vanquishes one or both of its city nemeses and makes a first ever appearance at the Civic Center for the semifinals. If all goes well, the Stags won't stop there.
COACH: Dan Lucas (fourth year, 32-23-1)
2011-12 Record: 13-6 (Lost, 5-3, to Marshwood/Traip in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Liam Fitzpatrick (Senior), Cam McLain (Senior), Alex Grant-Roy (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 (H) GORHAM, Dec. 15 @ Marshwood, Dec. 22 (H) PORTLAND, Jan. 5 @ Thornton Academy, Jan. 26 (H) KENNEBUNK, Jan. 31 (H) ST. DOM'S, Feb. 2 @ Scarborough, Feb. 7 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Feb. 14 (H) FALMOUTH, Feb. 16 (H) MARSHWOOD, Feb. 21 (H) SCARBOROUGH
COACH’S COMMENT: “We only have three seniors back from last year's team with a competitive group of freshman through juniors. They can skate and will only improve as the season progresses.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus has enjoyed a winning record in each of Lucas' prior three years, is coming off its best season in six years and could be primed for another very competitive campaign. This year, the Stags' offense will be paced by Fitzpatrick, the football quarterback, who was a second-team all-star a year ago, and McLain, who was an honorable mention. Grant-Roy will anchor the defense in front of a pair of goalies, junior Jason Blier and sophomore Kyle Severance, who look to replace Mike Haas-Zanghi between the pipes. There will be several other players seeking to make a mark in the week to come. Cheverus, as always, faces a challenging schedule, but in a year where Western A appears wide open, has a chance to really be a factor. Look for another winning campaign and if all goes well, the Stags might just make a deep playoff run.
COACH: Amy McNally (first year)
2011-12 Record: 7-12 (Lost, 6-2, to Portland in West Region quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Katie Roy (Senior), Paige Severance (Senior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 @ Scarborough, Dec. 22 (H) PORTLAND, Jan. 3 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 5 @ Greely, Feb. 2 (H) SCARBOROUGH
COACH'S COMMENT: “We've played some close, competitive games. We're a young team. I'm hopeful to encourage growth as a team and particularly for the freshman class in order to provide a solid base for Cheverus girls' hockey in the years to come.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: After leading the Stags to a state title in 2010 and several other strong seasons, J.P. Lavoie has stepped down as coach and has been replaced by McNally, who played at the University of Southern Maine and spent the past four seasons coaching the Casco Bay girls' travel team. She inherits a team that will be heard from in the weeks to come. After averaging 16 wins per seasons over the prior three years, last year's Stags managed just seven, but again got to the playoffs. This year, Cheverus expects to be back in the hunt. In the opener, a come-from-behind 8-8 tie against Portland, Jill Hannigan and Roy (an All-West region first-team all-star in 2011-12) both had three goals, while Taylor Coutois and Sophia Giancotti each had one, suggesting the Stags will have nice balance on offense. New junior goalie Cat Binford made 13 saves. She'll be aided by the presence of Severance (a second-team all-West Region selection last winter) on defense. After the Portland tie, a 13-1 loss to defending regional champion Falmouth followed, but the Stags expect to bounce back. Another playoff trip is a realistic goal for this squad, which has the pieces in place to turn heads as the season progresses.
BOYS' COACH: Steve Virgilio (third year)
GIRLS' COACH: Steve Virgilio (first year)
(BOYS) 7th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) tie-4th@ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Jimmy Campbell (Senior), Matt Cushing (Senior), Brady Foshay (Senior), Brad Kritzer (Senior), Jackson McMann (Senior), Mike Orne (Senior), Andrew Rose (Senior), Zeb Tarasevich (Senior), David Terwilliger (Senior), Colin Grove (Junior), Elijah Yeboah (Junior), Jake Dixon (Sophomore), Parker Montano (Sophomore), Jacob Schott (Sophomore), Gerry Wagner (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Anne Slattery (Senior), Kiera Murray (Junior), Georgia Caso (Sophomore), Milena Opielowski (Sophomore)
COACH'S COMMENT: “The boys want to lead by example and set a high standard of preparation, competition and performance. They want to do something special this year, make a difference and leave a mark. There are a lot of senior leaders, but there is also good depth and youth across the board. The team will be strong and deep. We can cover a lot of events and will have athletes who will be competing for top spots in some of those events. The girls have a lot of newcomers who will contribute on and off the track. There are some veteran leaders returning as well. There is a good mix of experience, talent and potential. We have strength in the distance events and depth in sprinting, jumping, hurdling and relays. We're young and excited to compete and improve each week.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Cheverus teams are coming off another strong season and both will be led this winter by Virgilio, a Cheverus graduate who spent the past two years guiding the boys. He has a lot of talent to work with.
The boys' team returns several scorers from last year's state meet and adds some intriguing new names. McMann was runner-up in the 200 and fourth in the 55, while Campbell finished fourth in the 55 and sixth in the 400, suggesting that sprints will be a strength this time around. Dixon, Orne, Rose, Yeboah, new senior Donald Goodrich (the football standout and Cheverus' Fall Male Athlete of the Year), new sophomore Joe Fitzpatrick (another football player) and freshmen Dan Baker, Hunter Griffiths and Jacob Lufkin add depth. The middle and long distance contingent features Foshay (third in the 800 last year), Grove, Montano, Tarasevich, Wagner, sophomore Kevin Hall and senior Mike Lyons. In the hurdles, look for Griffiths, Schott, Terwilliger, Yeboah and sophomore Blaze Engelman to contend. On the field side, Orne is a returning scorer in the high jump (seventh) and also pole vaults. Baker, Dixon, Goodrich, Griffiths, McMann, Schott, Terwilliger and Wagner are other jumpers of note. Cushing, Kritzer and White are top throwers. They're joined in the junior division by Fitzpatrick, sophomore Anthony Ciampi and freshman Kyle Dill. The Stags will more than hold their own in league competition and should be one of the top teams at states once again.
The girls are coming off a best-to-date state finish and will be heard from again. Murray is the top returner. She was part of a first-place 3,200 relay team, placed fifth in the two-mile and sixth in the mile last season. Caso and new senior Eden Monsen are other distance runners to watch. In the sprints, Opielowski and Slattery will lead the way. Several newcomers, including big names from other sports, add sprint depth. Field hockey standout junior Elyse Caiazzo and junior lacrosse star Meredith Willard lead that list. Other new sprinters to watch include junior Maddie Richardson, sophomores Abigail Goodrich and Hannah Robbins and freshmen Andrea Dumont, Sarah Mount and Hannah Tyson. Slattery is the top returning hurdler. Goodrich and Mount will also look to score in that event. Opielowski and Slattery hope to score in the jumps. Goodrich, Mount, Robbins and Willard are also in contention. Junior field hockey and lacrosse standout Alex Logan joins the team and will be a top thrower. Look for steady improvement from Cheverus as the season progresses and for the Stags to once again enjoy a top 10 state meet finish.
COACH: Kevin Haley(24th year)
(BOYS) 2nd @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) tie-9th @ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Reed Fernandez (Senior), Michael Gordon (Senior), Trebor Lawton (Senior), Connor Pothier (Senior), John Devine (Junior), Spencer Lindsley (Sophomore), Tony Penk (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Nicole Chambers (Senior), Tessa Lindsley (Senior), Sam Savaun (Senior), Sarah Nappo (Junior), Courtney Kane (Sophomore)
COACH'S COMMENT: “I expect the boys to be a strong competitor at Southwesterns and states. We have a solid group in the water and on the board. We should be one of the top teams in the state. I expect the girls will be a strong competitor in dual meets. We have a strong balance between swimming and diving and could be one of the top teams in the SMAA. We have a very solid group that is very talented. We're working on getting our athletes qualified for states.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: As usual, Cheverus has plenty of reason for optimism as a new season is underway.
The boys return last year's Class A Performer of the State Meet Lawton, who won the 200 individual medley and backstroke. Lawton, who has several colleges interested in his services, could be even better as a senior. Fernandez and Pothier joined Lawton on a first-place medley relay team at states. Fernandez will contend in the 100 freestyle and IM, while Pothier will score points in the sprint freestyle races. Gordon is the top diver. Devine swims the breaststroke and butterfly. Penk is a distance freestyler and Lindsley (who scored in the 200 free relay last year) is another sprinter to watch. Three newcomers will add depth. Jacob Griffin swims the fly, IM and sprints. Kevin Kane is a freestyler, who also competes in the fly and Michael O'Donovan will look to be a force in the sprints. The boys have been in the top five at states five years running and haven't been out of the top 10 since the Carter Administration (77-78). On the flip side, the Stags haven't been able to ascend to the top spot since 1979 and they'd love nothing more than to finish the job this time around. Cheverus certainly has a chance.
On the girls' side, Nappo (fourth in the backstroke last year), Savaun (seventh in the breaststroke) and Kane (seventh in diving) are top returners. They'll be the nucleus for a team which should be very competitive in the weeks to come. Other swimmers to watch include Lindsley (sprint freestyle), Chambers (distance freestyle), senior Elise Coleman (a sprinter who returns to the Stags after taking last year off) and new junior Jess Soucy (a transfer from Lewiston who swims the distance freestyle). This group will hold its own in league competition and should be a team to watch at the big February meets.
COACH: Rob Tole (first year)
(BOYS) 12th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) 13th @ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Josh Boynton, Payne Ciampi
(GIRLS) Lizzie Fossett, Margaret Kathryn LaFountain, Hanna Sonesson
COACH'S COMMENT: “We don't have enough skiers to score as a team this season. We hope to improve significantly as individuals in order to attract more racers for next season, specifically in or slalom finishes. We'll aim to be a competitive group of racers at the conference and state levels.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus has a new coach this year in Tole, who raced USSA, won a state title for Gorham as a sophomore and skied for two years at the Junior Olympics, qualifying first for Maine a decade ago. He's joined by his older brother, Will Tole, who helped start the Cheverus ski team. Will qualified for the USSA J3 finals in 1995-96 and worked for the race department and as a ski instructor at Copper Mountain in Colorado before taking a job as the Northeast Competition Rep for Technica/Blizzard. The Stags have small numbers this year, but do have some individuals to watch.
The top female skier will be LaFountain, who hopes to place in the top 15 this year. She's been a giant slalom standout, but looks to be equally strong in the slalom this season. Fossett and Sonesson are new to the team, but bring promise.
Ciampi leads the boys' team and hopes to be one of the best in the league this winter. Boynton is a sophomore who will only get better. Look for solid individual performances as the season progresses and for this program to continue to grow.