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Cheverus Stags Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Cheverus Stags Fall Sports Preview

Cheverus figures to once again dominate the fall sports headlines. Football has been the gold standard in Class A the past several seasons and even though the Stags weren't able to win a third successive state title a year ago, they did make history and this year's squad is bound and determined to get back to the pinnacle. Boys' soccer is coming off a disappointing playoff loss, but is primed to be one of the last teams standing in the region. The girls' team is always in the mix and once again will be a factor. Field hockey was the second best team in Western A a year ago and this fall, Cheverus feels it could be even better. Both cross country teams should make noise into November. Golf is on the short list of top contenders in Class A. The volleyball program had a strong debut season and looks to become a postseason participant this time around.

FOOTBALL
COACH: John Wolfgram (eighth year, 52-19 overall record, two state championships)
2012 Record: 10-1 (Lost, 20-13, to eventual champion Thornton Academy in Western A Final)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Patrick Ball (Senior), Sam Cross (Senior), Greg Grinnell (Senior), Will Hilton (Senior), Ethan Jordan (Senior), Cody O'Brien (Senior), Noah Stebbins (Senior), Zordan Holman (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 @ Portland, Sept. 27 @ Windham, Oct. 12 THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 18 @ Bangor, Oct. 25 @ Deering
COACH’S COMMENT: “It's a different team this year. A chance for new kids to step in. We have to grow and develop a strong personality for this team. We have high character kids.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Great accomplishments tend to truly be appreciated only after time has passed, so someday we'll look back and truly marvel at a state record 34-game win streak spanning three seasons, including two state titles. Cheverus' first loss since 2009 came suddenly and painfully when it was upset by eventual champion Thornton Academy in last year's regional final. The Stags might not have won another Gold Ball, but did they ever put their stamp on the history of high school football in this state. Now, it's time to begin anew and no coach and no program is better at turning the page and refocusing on the task at hand as John Wolfgram and his charges. Indeed, this is a new team, perhaps a more mortal team, but one that can't be discounted when discussing squads who have a legitimate chance at dancing on the Fitzpatrick Stadium turf in late November.
As was the case in the recent past when the likes of Peter Gwilym, Cam Olson, Louie DiStasio and Spencer Cooke departed, this year's team will have to replace gifted skill players like Liam Fitzpatrick, Brent Green and reigning Fitzpatrick Trophy winner (and Cheverus' 2012 Fall Male Athlete of the Year) Donald Goodrich, along with league all-stars like Ryan Casale, Parker Doyon and Jim Peabody-Harrington. And as was the case before, the cupboard isn't bare. Jordan will step in behind center. He's been the junior varsity quarterback for two seasons and saw some limited time in 2012. He'll be joined in the backfield by O'Brien (who starred at fullback late in the season a year ago) and Hilton, along with juniors Joe Fitzpatrick and Jacob Schott, who will play bigger roles this autumn. Stebbins will be the lead receiver, but Jordan can also look for Holman and junior Liam LaFountain. The line is anchored by a couple seniors, Ball and Grinnell, who have been through the battles. Seniors Riley Archer, Connor Conley and Jon Ruterbories will be called upon to help fill holes, as well as create some for the running backs.
Defensively, Holman looks to wreak havoc on the line. O'Brien leads the linebacking corps. The secondary appears solid behind Cross (best remembered for his palpitating game-sealing interception at Thornton Academy in lats year's regular season "Game of the Century"), Hilton, Stebbins and senior Jack Sutton.
Cheverus (along with Deering and Portland) is now an Eastern A school, meaning a new set of foes (some of whom the Stags once faced regularly). One thing that's sure to stay the same, however, is the team's intensity and ability to greatly improve from the start of the season to the finish. Cheverus will get a huge test in the opener at highly touted Portland and has a showdown with Thornton Academy in October, a game this team will have no trouble getting up for. Once the dust settles, the Stags should once again boast a strong record and will be primed for postseason greatness. If all goes well, Cheverus will be there at the end. Never overlook the team led by the most accomplished coach in state history. The sun hasn't yet set on the Stags' reign of excellence.  


BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Bill LeBlanc (seventh year, 51-33-9 overall record)
2012 Record: 7-7-1 (Lost, 2-1, 4-3 PKs, to Deering in Western A preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jamie Biegel (Senior), Colin Grove (Senior), Charlie Mull (Senior), Joe Smith (Senior), Isaac Yeboah (Senior), MacKenzie Hoglund (Sophomore), Andrei Vile (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 @ Deering, Sept. 26 @ Portland, Sept. 28 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 8 @ South Portland, Oct. 22 GORHAM
COACH'S COMMENT: “We have a good senior class. I really like our leadership and our chemistry. The difference maker for us is Mull. He can win playoff games by himself. He's an All-State goalie. We have a chance to be there at the end. We want to get over the hump and take that next step.”
FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus still hasn't gotten over the bad taste left from last year's playoff ouster in penalty kicks, but the Stags are primed to channel that disappointment into a competitive season.
A good goalie can take you a long way and Cheverus has a very good one in Mull, who will be the team's anchor. The offense will be led by the seasoned Biegel, Smith and Yeboah, as well as Hoglund, who is coming off a strong freshman campaign. Defensively, Grove and Vile will help protect Mull.
The Stags have a chance to avenge last year's loss in their opener Friday at Deering. Some tough challenges await, but Cheverus has the pieces in place to compete with everyone. More consistency this fall would help the cause. Last year, the Stags started 3-0, then lost four in a row before going on a 4-0-1 run, only to drop the final three games. Look for this group to improve on last year's record and be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. Once there (and since it hasn't missed out since 1993, qualifying is a safe bet), don't be surprised if Cheverus stays awhile.


GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Craig Roberts (first year)
2012 Record: 10-6 (Lost, 2-1, 3-2 PKs, to Windham in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Sadie Lyons (Senior), Madeline Richardson (Senior), Abby Goodrich (Junior), Olivia Mull (Junior), Nicole Pineau (Junior), Aly Smith (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 @ Deering, Sept. 18 WINDHAM, Sept. 27 PORTLAND, Oct. 2 @ Thornton Academy, Oct. 23 @ Gorham
COACH'S COMMENT: “We graduated nine and only return two starters, but every day we're getting better. The girls are very positive and eager to learn. We'll have to play a more indirect game to open things up and use our speed. We want to put the girls where they can have success. We hope to be a contender by October."
FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus has been as consistent a contender as any girls' program over the past decade, making the playoffs 10 years in a row, winning exactly 100 games in that span. Last year's team rode the prolific goal scoring of Abby Maker and almost sprung a quarterfinal round upset, but the season ended with a difficult loss to Windham in PKs. Maker (an all-conference and all-state player in 2012) isn't available this fall (nor is fellow all-star Darby Rawcliffe, who graduated), as she recovers from a knee injury, but there is plenty of talent for Roberts to utilize. Roberts played at Greely and Bowdoin College, served as an assistant with championship Cape Elizabeth girls' teams in the 1990s, became a college ref and also coached at the youth level. He's joined by assistants Stephanie Gilkenson (who played at the University of New Hampshire) and Kathy Little.
This year's offense figures to be paced by Lyons, Mull, Richardson, Smith and senior Katie Randall. Goodrich, Pineau (coming off a lacrosse state title in the spring) and senior M.K. LaFountain, who returns to the program after a year away, will anchor the defense in front of sophomore goalie Hannah Tyson, who was the backup a year ago.
As always, the Stags will be athletic and tenacious. Can they make up for Maker's absence on offense? That will be the question that lingers. Cheverus will be competitive regardless, but if some players can step up their offensive game and score regularly, there's every reason to believe that the Stags will be in the mix for a title come playoff time.


FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Amy McMullin (sixth year, 65-19 overall record)
2012 Record: 15-2 (Lost, 3-0, to Scarborough in Western A Final)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Laura Bither (Senior), Elyse Caiazzo (Senior), Libby DesRuisseaux (Senior), Alex Logan (Senior), MaryKate Slattery (Senior), Meredith Willard (Senior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 WESTBROOK, Sept. 18 DEERING, Sept. 24 MARSHWOOD, Sept. 26 @ Massabesic, Oct. 4 @ Portland, Oct. 10 @ Scarborough 
COACH’S COMMENT: “This season is a completely different look for us. We lost 11 seniors, 10 who played in the state game as sophomores and also played in two Western Maine finals in their three years on varsity. We still have some talented seniors, but we need to have the newcomers fill in the holes to be successful. The coaches are excited about the challenge ahead and the girls have responded well so far. I don't expect us to be the team we have been in  past years, but I do expect us to be competitive. The seniors will have a new role this year and we're relying heavily on them. We're hopeful and excited, but still have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus has established itself alongside Scarborough as Western A elite, so the bar is set high. While this team might not match the 2012 edition's win-loss mark, it will once again be very formidable and capable of a deep playoff run if all goes well. For starters, the roster is full of players who just helped the girls' lacrosse team win a first ever championship. That winning experience is critical and will help the field hockey cause. While 2012 Fall Female Athlete of the Year Staci Swallow and several other graduated players will be missed, the cupboard isn't bare.
This fall, the offense will be paced by Caiazzo, an all-state selection in 2012, along with Logan (Cheverus' Spring Female Athlete of the Year), Slattery and Willard, all familiar names. Sophomore Emily Michaud could soon make a name for herself on offense. Bither brings experience to the midfield position. New junior Kelsey Maselli is a back to watch. DesRuisseaux is another veteran who will provide the last line of defense in goal.
The Stags will get a test from perennial power Westbrook in the opener Wednesday, will face some challenges during the course of the season, then close at rival and last year's nemesis, Scarborough. Between the Westbrook and Scarborough games, expect Cheverus to grow exponentially, as these accomplished seniors will get their teammates up to speed. The Stags have played in three of the past four regional finals. A fourth trip wouldn't be a shock. Nor would an appearance on the final Saturday of the season.


CROSS COUNTRY

COACHES: Kristin Barry (fourth year with boys' team; first year with girls' team
2012 Results:
(BOYS) 9th @ Western A meet (DNQ for states)
(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class A state meet
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Paul Dube (Senior), David Philiphose (Senior), Leon Taquet (Senior), Kevin Hall (Junior), Parker Montano (Junior), Keegan Thomas (Junior), Luke Guibord (Sophomore), Michael Macaluso (Sophomore), Andrew Roberts (Sophomore), Josh Veroneau (Sophomore), Jack Whaley (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Kiera Murray (Senior), Georgia Caso (Junior), Kaitlyn Dostie (Junior)

TOP FOES: Gorham, Massabesic, Scarborough boys; Bonny Eagle, Massabesic girls

COACH’S COMMENT: “
The boys just missed a state meet berth last year after a fall and a (did not finish) at regionals from our number one runner. While heartbreaking, it drove home the message how important it is to have a tight pack of runners and that the number 6 and 7 runners have to be ready to step up. This has been in the athletes' minds all summer. While we graduated seven of our top 10 and have a young team, they're enthusiastic and dedicated to returning to the state meet.
"The girls' team is small, but extremely hardworking, talented and tenacious. Kiera once again will be a top runner in the state. Georgia had excellent indoor and outdoor track seasons. Kaitlyn rounds out a strong top three and will look to move up even more this year. Even with graduation and transfer losses, the girls will be solid for the championship meets.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus is primed to be a factor in both genders this fall.
The boys failed to qualify for states a year ago, something so rare that you have to go back to 1969, just months after the moon landing, to find the last occurrence. Don't expect a repeat. Two scorers from last year's regional meet return, Montano (19th in Western A) and Macaluso (80th). They're joined by a bevy of experienced runners who look to make a mark: seniors Dube, Philiphose and Taquet, juniors Hall and Thomas and sophomores Guibord, Roberts, Veroneau and Whaley. A strong freshmen contingent will also factor in. Look for John Cox, Taylor Grassi, Steven Larkin, Logan McCarthy and Scout Tucker to vie for spots. There are some good teams in Western Class A (including Falmouth come the postseason), but the Stags should have a very strong season, return to the state meet and make up for lost time by posting a solid finish.
On the girls' side, after three straight titles, Cheverus "slipped" to third a year ago, Valerie Guillet's last as coach (Barry takes over this program as well after spending the previous three with the boys). While the Stags were hard hit by graduation and the transfer of Shannon Conley (fourth at states) to South Portland, they'll still be heard from, thanks to some top-notch talent at the front of the pack. Murray will lead the way. She placed sixth in Class A a year ago and qualified for New Englands. She hopes to finish even higher this time around. Dostie (23rd at states) and Caso (24th) have big meet experience as well. Junior Megan Sawicki and sophomores Sarah Mount and Anne Veroneau (a member of a storied athletic family and a transfer from Waynflete) will look to step into the fourth and fifth spots. Cheverus has been a top 10 finisher seven years running. An eighth is probable. A top five spot is a distinct possibility as well.

GOLF
COACH: James Ouellette (10th year, one state championship)
2012 Results: 8-2 (3rd @ Class A state match)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Adam Batchelder (Senior), Chris Billings (Junior)
TOP FOES: Falmouth, Scarborough
COACH'S COMMENT: “We have a very young team this year. We'll have a lot of fun and get better as we go.”
FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus is coming off yet another strong season and appears primed to compete again, even though it resides in a very challenging division with the likes of perennial championship contender Falmouth and Scarborough. This fall, the Stags will rely on Billings, who shot a 74 at the Class A team match a year ago, and Batchelder, who also has experience. The loss of Kaleb Bourassa, Andrew Cloutier and Jake Doughty opens holes, but Cheverus hopes to fill them as the season goes along. This group will be competitive, win its share of matches and will be in position to qualify once again for states. The beat goes on.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Kiah Begley (first year)
2012 Results: 4-10 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS:
Alexia Fornaro (Senior), Caty Galligan (Senior), Steph McKew (Senior), Maria Nappi (Senior), Caroline Petitti (Senior), Emma Ryan (Senior), Josie Bradshaw (Junior), Elizabeth Ferreira (Junior), Natalie Waite (Junior)
PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 18 YARMOUTH, Sept. 26 @ Falmouth, Oct. 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 8 BIDDEFORD
COACH'S COMMENT: “I have many hopes for the team this year. I'm hoping they put Cheverus on the map for having a competitive program. I'd love to improve our overall record, especially against the better teams in the league. The girls have been working hard and have a lot to show for it. I'm just excited to be able to work with this group of girls.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus had a strong first season, winning four matches, although it didn't have much luck against the top teams. This year, the Stags should be able to close the gap and perhaps even make a run at the postseason. Cheverus has a new coach this year in Begley, who played Junior Olympic and high school volleyball in New Hampshire and eventually in college at St. Joseph's College as a setter. She previously coached the Portland North JO squad. She inherits a squad that's upperclassman heavy. Setters include Bradshaw and McKew. Petitti, Ryan and Waite serve as hitters. The defense features Ferreira, Fornaro, Galligan, Nappi and newcomers Abby Biegel (who will also be a hitter) and Sam Sessler. Look for this squad to continue to improve and be a force to be reckoned with by the end of the year. It won't be long until the Stags are playoff regulars.

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

Photo: File photo

Anyone trying to tackle Stags junior Zordan Holman might wish he hadn't.

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Senior Noah Stebbins is the Stags' top receiving threat.

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Senior Sam Cross has made his share of big plays on defense. He'll also be a team leader this season.

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Senior Charlie Mull is one of the top goalies in the SMAA.

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Senior Joe Smith will help anchor a potent Cheverus offense.

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Senior Sadie Lyons hopes to lead Cheverus' always strong girls' soccer team to great things.

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Senior Elyse Caiazzo is one of the top returning players in the region and hopes to follow up a lacrosse championship last spring with a field hockey title this fall.

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Senior Meredith Willard is another key returner for the Stags.

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Parker Montano returns to help pace a talented Cheverus boys' cross country team.

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Kiera Murray is one of the state's finest female runners. She looks to have a memorable senior season.

2013 schedules

FOOTBALL
Fri., Sept. 6 @ Portland
Sat., Sept. 14 H LEWISTON
Sat., Sept. 21 H OXFORD HILLS
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Windham
Sat., Oct. 5 H EL
Sat., Oct. 12 H TA
Fri., Oct. 18 @ Bangor
Fri., Oct. 25 @ Deering

BOYS' SOCCER
Fri., Sept. 6 @ Deering
Thurs., Sept. 12 H MARSHWOOD
Tues., Sept. 17 @ Windham
Thurs., Sept. 19 @ Biddeford
Tues., Sept. 24 @ Sanford
Thurs., Sept. 26 @ Portland
Sat., Sept. 28 H SCARBOROUGH
Tues., Oct. 1 H TA
Thurs., Oct. 3 H MASSABESIC
Tues., Oct. 8 @ SP
Thurs., Oct. 10 H BONNY EAGLE
Tues., Oct. 15 @ Noble
Thurs., Oct. 17 H WESTBROOK
Tues., Oct. 22 H GORHAM

GIRLS' SOCCER
Fri., Sept. 6 @ Deering
Wed., Sept. 11 H MCAULEY
Thurs., Sept. 12 @ Marshwood
Wed., Sept. 18 H WINDHAM
Fri., Sept. 20 @ Biddeford
Wed., Sept. 25 H SANFORD
Fri., Sept. 27 H PORTLAND
Wed., Oct. 2 @ TA
Fri., Oct. 4 H MASSABESIC
Wed., Oct. 9 H SP
Sat., Oct. 12 @ Bonny Eagle
Wed., Oct. 16 H NOBLE
Fri., Oct. 18 @ Westbrook
Wed., Oct. 23 @ Gorham

FIELD HOCKEY
Wed., Sept. 4 H WESTBROOK
Fri., Sept. 6 @ Biddeford
Tues., Sept. 10 H BONNY EAGLE
Thurs., Sept. 12 @ McAuley
Mon., Sept. 16 @ Windham
Wed,. Sept. 18 H DEERING
Fri., Sept. 20 @ Gorham
Tues., Sept. 24 H MARSHWOOD
Thurs., Sept. 26 @ Massabesic
Wed., Oct. 2 H NOBLE
Fri., Oct. 4 @ Portland
Tues., Oct. 8 H SANFORD
Thurs., Oct. 10 @ Scarborough

BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY
Fri., Sept. 13 H MARSH, SP, WINDHAM
Fri., Sept. 20 @ Westbrook (Sanford, Scar)
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Noble (Bidd, BE)
Sat., Oct. 5 @ Festival of Champions
Fri., Oct. 11 @ Gorham (Mass, TA)
Fri., Oct. 18 H DEERING, PORTLAND
Sat., Oct. 26 @ Western A Regionals
Sat., Nov. 2 @ Class A States

GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY
Fri., Sept. 13 H MARSH, SP, WINDHAM
Fri., Sept. 20 @ Westbrook (Sanford, Scar)
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Noble (Bidd, BE)
Sat., Oct. 5 @ Festival of Champions
Fri., Oct. 11 @ Gorham (Mass, TA)
Fri., Oct. 18 H DEERING, MCA, PORTLAND
Sat., Oct. 26 @ Western A Regionals
Sat., Nov. 2 @ Class A States

GOLF
Wed., Sept. 4 @ Scarborough
Tues., Sept. 9 H FALMOUTH
Thurs., Sept. 11 H SP
Tues., Sept. 16 H DEERING
Thurs., Sept 18 @ Portland
Tues., Sept. 23 @ Scarborough
Thurs., Sept. 25 @ Falmouth
Sat., Sept. 27 @ SP
Tues., Oct. 1 @ Deering
Thurs., Oct. 3 H PORTLAND

VOLLEYBALL
Tues., Sept. 10 H KENNEBUNK
Thurs., Sept. 12 @ NYA
Sat., Sept. 14 H YORK
Mon., Sept. 16 @ SP
Wed., Sept. 18 H YARMOUTH
Fri., Sept. 20 H LAKE REGION
Tues., Sept. 24 H WINDHAM
Thurs., Sept. 26 @ Falmouth
Tues., Oct. 1 H TA
Thurs., Oct. 3 @ Cape Elizabeth
Tues., Oct. 8 H BIDDEFORD
Sat., Oct. 12 @ MDI
@ Ellsworth
Wed,. Oct. 16 H CONY

Photo: File photo

Senior Cody O'Brien and his Cheverus teammates are used to running away from the opposition. After falling just short of a title a year ago, the Stags have their sights set on winning it all this fall.

More photos below.