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Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Previews

Sports

Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Previews

Virtually every Falmouth winter sports team will be chasing a state title in the weeks to come. After suffering its first loss in the regional final last season, the boys' basketball squad has the pieces in place to make a title run. The girls' team has the looks of a playoff squad as well. This could be the year that boys' hockey finally reaches the pinnacle. The girls' team made it to the state game a year ago and will be in contention again this season. Both track teams, as always, feature an abundance of strong athletes. Both swim teams will be among the best in Class B. Both Alpine and Nordic skiing will be teams to beat in Class A.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Dave Halligan (26th year,  408-100, four state championships)

2011-12 Record: 20-1 (Lost, 56-50, to eventual champion Yarmouth in Western Class B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Grant Burfeind (Senior), Charlie Fay (Senior), Jake Horning (Senior), Tom Wilberg (Senior), Jack Simonds (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 7 @ Cape Elizabeth, Dec. 13 (H) GREELY, Dec. 18 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 3 (H) YORK, Jan. 8 @ Gray-New Gloucester, Jan. 15 @ Greely, Jan. 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan.25 @ Wells,  Feb.1 (H) WELLS, Feb. 5 @ York, Feb. 8 (H)YARMOUTH

COACHS COMMENT: “It's a young group. We lost all five starters. We need game experience. We have good size. There's a lot of potential. We had good athletes last year. This year, we have good basketball players. I think we'll be balanced. We hope to get better. We'll make mistakes early, but we'll be a team to be reckoned with at the end of the season.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Everything went Falmouth's way last winter as it frequently found a way to win close games. The run finally ended in the regional final, but it was one of the more special seasons in Yachtsmen annals, which is saying a lot. Falmouth was hit hard by graduation, most notably by the departures of all-stars Matt Packard and 2011-12 Winter Male Athlete of the Year Jack Cooleen, but returns several players who saw a lot of playing time, along with some exciting newcomers. That combination should keep the Yachtsmen near or at the top of Western Class B. No one will match Falmouth's size. In the post, you have Horning at 6-foot-6 and senior Andrew Thornton at 6-7. Simonds (6-5), who made a mark as a freshman, Burton (6-2) and Wilberg (6-3) will play guard and forward. Even the backcourt is enormous, as Burfeind, the point guard, is 6-2, Fay stands 6-5 and juniors Justin Rogers and Matt Tseng go 6-4 and 6-2, respectively. Halligan will look to Burfiend, Fay and Simonds to pace the offense, with the others capable of stepping up at any time. Freshman guard Thomas Coyne is another player to watch, one who should take on a bigger role as the season progresses. The league is loaded this year, so an undefeated regular season is unlikely (and that goes for everyone), but Falmouth has the pieces in place to produce yet another strong record. While the Yachtsmen might struggle at times in December and even into January, if this squad jells as expected (and with Halligan and his veteran staff overseeing them, it's hard to imagine that not happening), it could be a power come February. Falmouth wasn't able to finish the job a year ago, but in what could be its final season at this level, the Yachtsmen might just wind up the finest team in Class B when all is said and done.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Mari Warner (thirdyear, 18-19)

2011-12 Record: 9-10 (Lost, 53-33, to Yarmouth in Western Class B preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Anna Hickey (Senior), Maddie Inlow (Senior), Meg Palombo (Senior),  Molly Ryan (Senior), Maddie Skop (Senior), Ally Hickey (Sophomore), Dayna Vasconcelos (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 @ Greely, Jan. 3 @ York, Jan. 5 @ Freeport, Jan. 11 @ Lake Region, Jan. 15 (H) GREELY, Jan. 25 (H) WELLS, Jan. 29 (H) LAKE REGION, Feb. 1 @ Wells, Feb. 5 (H) YORK

COACHS COMMENT: “I think this is the tightest group I've worked with in a long time. We hope to be an up-tempo team. Everyone seems to be able to handle the ball. I expect a team effort on offense. We have a lot of versatility. I think in our conference you'll see that everybody is capable of beating everybody. Homecourt will be big. It's not our intent to miss (making it to the Expo) again. Enough is enough. I'm cautiously optimistic.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Warner has reason for optimism as she has a lot of talent to work with, without having to deal with overwhelming expectations. Falmouth has what it takes to sneak up on the perceived frontrunners and could be in the mix well into February. Ally Hickey was a second-team all-star as a freshman. At nearly 6 feet, she can play any position on the floor and projects to be one of the Yachtsmen's top scorers. Anna Hickey will also play guard and forward and will score her share of points. Warner also expects Vasconcelos, coming off a solid freshman campaign, and junior Erica Pugsley, to also lead the way on offense. Inlow will run the show at point guard. Palombo, Ryan and Skop are experienced and will also help the cause. Add to the mix juniors Shannon Paige (a post player) and Emma Powers (guard), sophomores Jessica Burton (guard/forward) and Kayla Walsh (post) and freshman Julia Brogan (guard) and there are a lot of promising pieces in place. Falmouth will force the action, will create matchup nightmares with its versatility and won't lack for hunger after missing out on the festivities at the Expo two years running. Don't expect that streak to reach three. The Yachtsmen aren't being mentioned with teams like defending regional champion Lake Region, perennial powers Greely and York and this winter's “it” teams, Freeport and Wells, but as the season progresses, Falmouth will make its presence felt. The Yachtsmen are poised to post a winning record and to make some noise in the tournament. This group is in for a fun season.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Deron Barton (second year,15-5-1)

2011-12 Record: 15-5-1 (Lost, 8-4 ,to eventual champion Thornton Academy in Western Class A Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Andrew Emple (Senior), Hugh Grygiel (Senior), Billy Mullen (Senior),  Jack Pike (Senior), Kris Samaras (Senior), Andre Clement (Junior), Dane Pauls (Junior), Alden Welle r(Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 @ St. Dom's, Dec. 17 @ Scarborough, Dec. 19 @ Lewiston, Dec. 22 (H) GORHAM, Jan. 3 (H) LEWISTON, Jan. 26 @ Thornton Academy, Feb. 9 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Feb. 16 (H) ST. DOM'S, Feb. 21 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY

COACHSCOMMENT: We have deep upperclassmen experience and leadership with above average goaltending. We have a team goal of winning a championship and I'm cautiously optimistic."

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Barton's optimism is well founded as this could finally be the year that Falmouth kicks down the door. The Yachtsmen will score plenty of goals, that much is certain. Samaras is the top returning scorer. He's quick, elusive and had a penchant for producing in big spots. Grygiel is another beast with the puck. He'll light the lamp with abandon. Clement is always in the middle of the action. Senior J.P. White (the All-American soccer standout and Falmouth's Fall Male Athlete of the Year) returns to hockey after a year away and brings depth and skill. Barton calls him a gift from the Hockey Gods. Sophomores Jake Grader and Isaac Nordstrom are two other top newcomers who will leave opposing goalies shaking their heads. Defensively, Pike leads the way. He was a second-team all-star and the top Falmouth player in plus/minus a year ago and sets the tone on special teams. He's joined by Emple (a formidable obstacle), Mullen (who has a penchant for a powerful shot), Weller (another sharpshooter and an honorable mention all-star last winter) and new sophomore Brandon Peters. Pauls returns in goal. He'll be spelled at times by freshman Ryan Bonvie. The Yachtsmen are always in the mix, but in years past haven't had an answer for the likes of Biddeford, St. Dom's or Thornton Academy. This time, the brass ring is attainable. If Falmouth stays healthy and the new additions get up to speed as expected, the Yachtsmen will produce a 19th straight winning record and will get to the semifinals for the 18th season in a row. The guess here is that Falmouth won't stop there.

GIRLS' HOCKEY

COACH: Rob Carrier (fourth year, 37-18-4)

2011-12 Results: 19-2 (Lost, 7-1, to Greely in state final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jayde Bazinet (Senior), Abby Payson (Senior), Gabby St. Angelo (Senior), Alyse Bazinet (Junior), Kirsten Mazur (Junior), Lucy Meyer (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 12 @ Portland, Dec. 15 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Dec. 26 (H) YORK, Jan. 9 (H )PORTLAND, Jan. 19 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 26 @ Scarborough, Jan. 30 @ Greely

COACH'S COMMENT: “We've got some good talent top to bottom. We've got four very experienced and talented forwards and fast and disciplined defense. Three freshmen will give us added depth at forward and defense. While Mazur is out recovering from a knee injury, Nash is in net performing above expectations. We're implementing new systems and we're still adjusting and ironing out the kinks. I figure by January we should have everything squared away and ready to head into the last half of the season. Playoffs are within reach for this team.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Yachtsmen rode the brilliance of superstar Megan Fortier (Falmouth's Winter Female Athlete of the Year) to a program-best record and trip to the state final a year ago. Now that Fortier's graduated and is already making a mark at Colby College, the Yachtsmen have some work to do to return to the postseason. That is an attainable goal. Falmouth lost to Leavitt/Edward Little (9-1) and Lewiston (7-2), but enjoyed a 13-1 win over Cheverus in early play. The offense this winter figures to come from returning forwards Meyer (10 goals, 10 assists during a West Region second-team all-star season last year), Payson (10 goals, 12 assists, first-team regional all-star), St. Angelo (10 goals, nine assists, honorable mention) and Jayde Bazinet (two goals, 12 assists). Freshmen Camden Carrier and Martina St. Angelo will also be heard from as will, Alyse Bazinet (three goals, eight assists, second-team, all-region), a defenseman. She's joined on defense by freshman Martina St. Angelo. Mazur was the goalie a year ago and was a second-team all-star, but is recovering from a knee injury. She's expected back in the next couple weeks. Junior Hillary Nash is ably filling in between the pipes. The Yachtsmen might not feature a star like Fortier this winter, but on balance, Falmouth will only get better. Look for another exciting season from the Yachtsmen and expect plenty of improvement between now and the end of the regular season. Falmouth will a team no one wants to meet in the playoffs.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Jorma Kurry (14th year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 15th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Jacob Buhelt (Senior), Azad Jalali (Senior), Shreyas Joshi (Senior), Andrew Roukey (Senior), Tristan Tucker (Senior), Mike Wulbrecht (Junior), Spencer Brown (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Cassie Darrow (Senior), Hayley Simmons (Senior), Sarah Sparks (Senior), Charlotte Cutshall (Junior), Caroline McKeon (Junior), Madeline Roberts (Junior), Jillian Rothweiler (Junior), Maggie Seitz (Junior), Olivia Baranowski (Sophomore)

COACHS COMMENT: “The boys will be led by Jacob and some strong relay teams. While we graduated a lot, we have a very large team and should have some pleasant surprises by season's end. We'll work to develop more state meet scorers from a solid core of distance runners and sprinters. Our boys have a tradition of stepping up and we expect to be competitive at the championship meets. The girls have several state qualifiers back and should also have good relays. We have a deep sprint group. There are many new girls and like the boys, we expect that some surprises will develop. We'll cover all the events well in league competition. If a few girls step up to the next level, we'll do well at states as well.

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Falmouth's indoor track program is loaded for bear once more as a new season begins.

After winning five of six state titles, the boys dipped to third a year ago, but the Yachtsmen could be primed to retake top honors this time around. Buhelt is a top returner. He was runner-up in the 200, fourth in the 55 and was a member of a first-place 800 relay squad a year ago. He's joined in the sprints by Joshi, Wulbrecht, sophomore Andy Clement and freshmen Noah Martin, Nick Sanzari and Tony St. Angelo. Jalali and Tucker were part of a second-place 3,200 relay team last year and return to pace the distance contingent. Brown, sophomore Bryce Murdick and freshmen Josh Simensky and Sean Soucy provide depth. Clement is the lead threat in the hurdles. On the field side, Roukey and Wulbrecht return in the jumps and are joined by St. Angelo. Senior Max Pacetti is a top thrower. Falmouth will have its hands full contending with the likes of Greely and York during the season and at the conference championships, but should be right there. If some newcomers develop as hoped, the Yachtsmen will have a legitimate shot at another title come February.

On the girls' side, look for a solid regular season and a better state meet finish. Roberts is the lone returning individual scorer (sixth in the mile). She has plenty of help in the distance races from Fall Female Athlete of the Year Darrow, Simmons and freshman Vishva Nalamalapu, who is coming off a strong cross country season. In the sprints, keep an eye on Baranowski, Cutshall, McKeon, Rothweiler, Seitz, Sparks and junior Riley Burfeind. Baranowski is the lead hurdler. Baranowski, Cutshall, Rothweiler and Seitz are the best bets to score in the jumps. This team will start out strong and will only get better. Likely much better before all is said and done.

SWIMMING

COACH:Dave Cox (third year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 6th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 6th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Elijah Dewey (Senior), Shaun Lamoureux (Senior), Josh McGovern (Senior), Jake Perron (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Melissa Keene (Senior), Emma Perron (Senior), Laura Bauer (Junior), Stephanie Sands (Junior), Alana Braley (Sophomore), Kate Lannon (Sophomore)

COACHS COMMENT: “The girls are looking to build on their strong finish last year. We have a ton of depth again in all events and are expecting breakout years from many of the underclassmen. The boys' team has grown in numbers and is led by a strong, enthusiastic senior core. They, along with Jake, will lead the team to an improved dual meet season along with Southwesterns and states.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Falmouth is accustomed to being one of the top swim programs in Class B and that should be the case again this year.

The boys are coming off their best state finish in five seasons and with a bigger group, hope to do even better this time around. Perron is the top returner. He won the Class B title in the 500 free and placed fifth in the 200 free last winter. Lamoureux (a captain) was third in the 200 free and fifth in the 100 free a year ago. Both swimmers hope to excel again. Dewey (breaststroke, individual medley, distance freestyle) and captain McGovern (sprint freestyle) also have experience. Two new freshmen, Winslow Robinson (freestyle, butterfly) and Nathan Ryer (sprint freestyle and fly) add depth. This squad should continue to swim its way toward the top of the heap and will be heard from in dual meets and in the big meets in February.

On the girls' side, the loss of state champion diver Nicola Mancini will be felt, but there are several swimmers ready to make a mark. Keene (distance freestyle) and captain Perron (breaststroke and distance freestyle) have experience. Bauer (backstroke, sprint freestyle) and Sands (backstroke, fly, IM) hope to play big roles. Braley (backstroke, freestyle) and Lannon (freestyle, fly) look to make a mark. Three newcomers, Charlotte Janelle (diving), Keujoo Kim (backstroke, fly, IM) and Madi Winkeler (distance free, backstroke), make this squad that much more formidable. While Falmouth isn't quite at the championship level it enjoyed from 2004-09 and while the likes of Greely and Waynflete will be difficult to overcome, expect the Yachtsmen to have a very competitive campaign and to be at their best when the postseason rolls around.

SKIING

2011-12 Combined Results:

(BOYS) Class A combined state champions

(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class A state meet

ALPINE

COACH: Tip Kimball (10th year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Luke Andrews (Senior), Alex Gowen (Senior), Sam Hamilton (Senior), Ben Hilfrank (Senior), Charlie Lalumiere (Senior), Cooper Lycan (Senior), Austin Couch (Junior), Joe Lesniak (Junior)

(GIRLS) Katie Carew (Senior), Leika Scott (Junior), Maggie Coster (Sophomore)

COACHS COMMENT: “The boys' team is training hard and returning strong this year, heavy with seniors. They're on a mission of redemption after last year's disappointing slalom result, which cost them the Class A championship, as well as their string of undefeated seasons. The girls' numbers are a bit thin this year due to graduation, but they still have their secret weapon in Leika Scott, as well as couple of experienced freshmen to fill the void. This small team, while being under pressure to perform with very little room for error, is up for the challenge of contending for the Class A title.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Falmouth's first season in Class A was an excellent one last winter and this season, both the boys and girls are seeking a first-place Alpine finish.

The boys' hopes are keyed by returners Gowen (second in the giant slalom and 23rd in the slalom last year at states), Lesniak (fourth GS, 17th slalom), Andrews (ninth GS), Couch (15th GS) and Hamilton (22nd slalom).Hilfrank, Lalumiere and Lycan add senior leadership. A superb freshman core, which includes Jack Bernier, Thomas Lesniak, Cameron Lonkoski, Jesse Melchiskey, Zach Muller and Dev Thomas, makes the Yachtsmen arguably the deepest team around. Falmouth has been as strong an Alpine team as anyone in the conference in recent years (no small feat) and is primed for more glory this winter.

On the girls' side, Scott has no peer. She won the Class A slalom title and was runner-up in the GS last winter. She'll be aided by the presence of Carew and Coster. New senior Caroline Lucas and freshmen Krysia Lesniak and Alex Shapiro bolster the squad with their presence. The Yachtsmen have some holes to fill, but will be strong when it matters the most, in February. Another memorable season is in store.

NORDIC

CO-COACHES: James Demer and Jeff Walker (fourth year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) Class A state champions

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Jay Lesser (Senior), Sam Pratico (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Dana Bloch (Senior)

COACH DEMERS COMMENT: “We're looking fierce this year. I was asked by a colleague if this was a building season for us and I responded, 'No. It's a winning season.' I have never seen a team so focused on dry-land training. They're itching to race. I wouldn't want to be on the Falmouth bull when it gets let out of the gate.”

COACH WALKER'S COMMENT: “Both teams bring back one very experienced senior. Both teams bring back a second-year skier who was a state team member as a freshman. After that, there are eight to 10 skiers on each team, mostly freshman and sophomores, who will battle for varsity. We really are looking forward to the year, but really have no prediction at this point in the season who our other scorers will be. It can't get much more exciting than that.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Falmouth's Nordic program is quite healthy as well and aims for more triumph this season.

The boys are led by Lesser, who came in second in the freestyle and fourth in the classic last winter. Pratico was 18th in the freestyle. Those are the known quantities. As always, the Yachtsmen have others waiting in the wings, waiting to make their mark. If a few other boys step up, Falmouth can make another run at the top spot.

On the girls' side, Bloch is coming off a season which saw her place 16th in the freestyle. Junior Jessica Abramson, who missed last year with injury, returns to action this winter and will help the cause. Look for this group to get better and faster in the weeks to come and to not just hold its own in the regular season, but to be a force at the state level once more.

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Dane Pauls returns in goal for a talented Falmouth boys' hockey squad.

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Andre Clement is a top returner for the Falmouth attack.

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Senior Jack Pike is an anchor for the Yachtsmen.

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Kris Samaras could be one of the state's most prolific scorers this year.

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Junior Kirsten Mazur is eager to return to action and backstop the Yachtsmen to another strong season.

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Lucy Meyer is another top returner for the Falmouth girls this season.

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Jacob Buhelt will be one of the state's top sprinters this season.

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Andrew Roukey will be in contention as one of the better jumpers this winter.

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Falmouth's Fall Female Athlete of the Year Cassie Darrow projects to be a top runner this season.

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Madeline Roberts was sixth in Class B in the mile last year and looks to move up this season.

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Maggie Seitz is a threat to score in the sprints and jumps this winter.