Falmouth Yachtsmen Fall Sports Preview
A new era dawns at Falmouth as a school that was classified as Class C as recently as the late 1990s now moves up to Class A for the postseason in several sports. Don't expect the Yachtsmen's Class B foes to shed many tears over that little bit of news. Both soccer teams repeated a year ago (the girls actually three-peated). Even with the new classification, the state's most accomplished soccer town should continue to enjoy success this time around. Football looks to bounce back and make the playoffs. Field hockey will once again be formidable. Both cross country teams (which have no shortage of strong athletes) will be among the best in the state regardless of class. Golf has long held a similar designation and after falling short of a title a year ago, could be primed to win it all. Last, but not least, volleyball is again on the short list of top contenders and might finally get over that championship hump.
COACH: Dave Halligan (27th year, 314-81-38 overall record, 11 state championships)
2012 Record: 13-3-2 (Beat Camden Hills, 2-1, to win second consecutive Class B state championship)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nick Burton (Senior), Will D'Agostino (Senior), Luke Velas (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 10 KENNEBUNK, Sept. 12 @ Greely, Sept. 18 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 20 @ York, Sept. 27 GREELY, Sept. 30 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 8 YARMOUTH, Oct. 10 YORK, Oct. 16 @ Kennebunk, Oct. 21 WAYNFLETE
COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated a lot, so this might not be the best year to jump to Class A (for the playoffs), but I'm excited. We're looking forward to it. We have some good players coming back and some good younger players. It might take us awhile, but we'll be a lot better by the end of the year. We have a very difficult regular season schedule, but it will get us ready for the postseason, if we can make it. We'll have a bunch of guys score four or five goals, instead of one or two guys score in bunches like in years past. Will will keep us in games.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth only spent 14 years in Class B, but managed to win nine state championships, including the past two. The Yachtsmen almost went down to defeat in the semifinal round, but erased unpleasant past memories by outlasting Maranacook in penalty kicks, then avenged two regular season losses to its fiercest rival with a surprisingly easy regional final win at Yarmouth. The state game was a battle, but Falmouth outlasted Camden Hills on standout J.P. White's penalty kick. Now, the Yachtsmen move up to Class A for the playoffs (but still play traditional Western Maine Conference rivals in the regular season). After being decimated by graduation (a grand total of 15 players departed, including league all-stars White, Luke Andrews, Grant "Mr. Clutch" Burfeind and Cooper Lycan), Falmouth starts a new era behind the eight ball, but rest assured the Yachtsmen will be at their best when it matters most.
Velas is the top returning offensive player. He'll get help from juniors Jake Grade, Ben Lydick and Gabe Mahoney and freshmen Johnny Mullin, Schuyler Parkinson and Jonah Spiegal. Burton leads the defense, with help from new senior Sean Sanderson and junior Dane Pauls, who returns from injury. Falmouth does have a leg up on many of its foes as it does return an all-star and all-regional goalie in D'Agostino, who will likely carry the team early in the season.
The regular season doesn't feature many breathers, with two games apiece against Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Yarmouth and York, a pair with Kennebunk and one each versus Freeport and Waynflete. The Yachtsmen have their work cut out to qualify for the Class A playoffs. If it gets there, even without its usual glowing record, Falmouth could make life miserable for Class A squads who haven't seen the likes of the Yachtsmen before. A third straight title might be a bit of a reach, but Falmouth thrives on a challenge and is always formidable in October and November. It will be a roller coaster ride, but the Yachtsmen will make an immediate mark on their new classification.
COACH: Andrew Pelletier (first year)
2012 Record: 14-2-2 (Beat Hermon, 2-1, to win third consecutive Class B state championship)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Laura Bauer (Senior), Mary Catherine Kowalsky (Senior), Megan Miller (Senior), Tyler Spence (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 12 GREELY, Sept. 18 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 21 YORK, Sept. 27 @ Greely, Sept. 30 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 2 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 8 YARMOUTH, Oct. 10 @ York, Oct. 18 FREEPORT, Oct. 21 @ Waynflete
COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated a lot, but we have 10 seniors and very good freshman and sophomore classes. We're relying on our seniors to bring leadership. We have nine new starters. We do have some depth. Our goal at Falmouth is always a state championship. We also want to grow as a team and improve as the season goes on.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Like the boys' team, the Falmouth girls made Class B their personal playground, winning eight of the past 12 state titles, including each of the past three. Now, the Yachtsmen will measure themselves against Class A's best in late October and November and there's every reason to believe this squad will hold its own. This is a season of change on the field as well, as Falmouth has a lot of new faces, as well as a new coach in Pelletier, who played at Mt. Ararat and Thomas College, coached the Freeport JV team and Seacoast United before leading the Poland girls' squad a year ago (for what it's worth, the Knights upset the Yachtsmen, 1-0, last October).
Pelletier has some holes to fill, most notably two-time Gatorade Player of the Year Caitlin Bucksbaum and last year's Fall Female Athlete of the Year Cassie Darrow, but there are some key players returning. On offense, Kowalsky, Miller and Spence (a revelation as a freshman) will set the tone. Bauer is the most experienced defender. Sophomores Hannah Donovan, Emma England and Marcy Kittredge also will look to hold the opposition at bay. Replacing dynamic all-state goalie Caroline Lucas is a tall task, but Pelletier feels the combination of senior Maggie Seitz and freshman Adelaide Cooke will be up to it. As always, this roster is bursting with talent eager for a chance to shine. There might not be a lot of household names at the start of the season, but that figures to change by the end.
Falmouth will be tested by a tough regular season slate, but even if it doesn't have a top seed, the Yachtsmen will be primed to do damage when the playoffs start. Gorham, Thornton Academy and Windham are top Western A contenders and Scarborough has been the gold standard in that class the past three seasons, but no one has the pedigree that Falmouth will bring into October. It won't come easily, but a fourth straight title is within reach. Watching the Yachtsmen chase greatness at a new level will be one of the most compelling stories of the season.
COACH: John Fitzsimmons (seventh year, 27-28 overall record)
2012 Record: 1-7 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nate Boehm (Senior), Storm Covens (Senior), Joe Goodrich (Senior), Justin Rogers (Senior), Tyler Rolfe (Senior), Matt Edmonds (Junior), Storm McGovern (Junior), Aidan Murphy (Junior), Noah Nelson (Junior), Connor Aube (Sophomore), Drew Chamberlain (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 GORHAM, Sept. 20 YORK, Oct. 5 @ Westbrook. Oct. 25 GREELY
COACH’S COMMENT: “Every game will be tough. We can't take anyone lightly. I feel good going into the season. We have 12 returning starters. I think we'll match up nicely. It's a very cohesive team, working very hard. The line's made a quantum leap forward. We're still young, but several sophomores started as freshmen. I think we're a playoff team.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth is ready to shake off last year's difficulties and with eight of 10 Western B teams making the playoffs and with a favorable schedule, the Yachtsmen have every reason to believe they can qualify for the postseason.
While there is still a lot of youth on the roster, much of it saw valuable varsity time a year ago. Nelson started as a sophomore and could be in line for a breakout season at quarterback. He's a dual threat with his arm and legs. On the ground, Falmouth will rely on Aube, Covens, Murphy, Rolfe and a pair of promising newcomers, sophomore George Gilbert and senior I.V. Stucker, the lacrosse standout. Through the air, Nelson will look for the likes of Edmonds, Goodrich, Rogers and sophomore Austin Wheeler. Boehm, Chamberlain and McGovern are top linemen. Goodrich is one of the state's premier kickers.
On defense, Boehm, Chamberlain, McGovern and Rolfe will be in the trenches. The linebacking corps features Covens, Edmonds, Goodrich and Murphy. Gilbert, Stucker and Wheeler anchor the secondary.
There isn't much preseason buzz around this team, but that could work to the Yachtsmen's favor. Falmouth will be able to contend with most of its foes and a .500 or better record is a likely result. The Yachtsmen have what it takes to play a postseason game. Perhaps more.
COACH: Robin Haley (19th year, 151-108-18 overall record)
2012 Record: 9-5-2 (Lost, 1-0, to Leavitt in Western Class B quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Hillary Nash (Senior), Mikey Richards (Senior), Jillian Rothweiler (Senior), Leika Scott (Senior), Hayley Winslow (Senior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 11 GREELY, Sept. 17 @ York, Sept. 23 FREEPORT, Sept. 25 NYA, Sept. 28 YORK, Oct. 3 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 7 @ Greely
COACH’S COMMENT: “The girls have come in very focused. We have the opportunity to be very competitive. The young girls have come in and made their mark. We hope to evolve and become stronger. Playoffs are the goal. We hope to go farther this year. I wish that for this group. They just have maintain their work ethic."
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth was the model of consistency during its time in Class B, making the playoffs every year. The Yachtsmen should be able to hold their own in the Class A postseason this year, but first they'll have to navigate a difficult regular season slate.
Falmouth has something that most teams can't boast, a three-year starting goalie in Nash. She'll keep the Yachtsmen competitive in every game. Junior Caroline Dyhrberg will also see some time in the cage. Winslow, an all-star a year ago, is a top returning defender. She'll get help from junior Kate Lannon. The offense features Richards, Rothweiler and all-star Scott. Junior Dayna Vasconcelos will play a bigger role and could be involved in the scoring.
Falmouth is hoping for more consistency than last year (it started 3-0, then suffered through an 0-3-2 stretch before going 5-1 to end the season). This team knows how to win. The victories should keep on coming. The Yachtsmen hope to finish as high as they can in the standings, then will look to match up with the best of Class A. Another triumphant campaign is in store.
CO-COACHES: Jorma Kurry and Danny Paul (10th year, one state championship)
(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) 5th @ Class B state meet (regional champions)
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Andrew Ostrow (Senior), Sage Tanner (Senior), Brian Taylor (Senior), Spencer Brown (Junior), Ethan Cantlin (Junior), Iain Kurry (Junior), Scott Lambert (Junior), Bryce Murdick (Junior), Matt Simmons (Junior), Josh Simensky (Sophomore), Sean Soucy (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Madeline Roberts (Senior), Rachel Simonds (Senior), Abby Whitmore (Senior), Lizzie Cattell (Junior), Alta Farrell (Junior), Maggie Lento (Junior), Olivia Ring (Junior), Emily Rioux (Junior), Vishva Nalamalapu (Sophomore), Kaileigh Wimert (Sophomore)
TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Yarmouth, York
COACH KURRY'S COMMENT: “Things are a little less clear for us this year as we compete in Class A for the postseason. We're excited for new rivalries. We return a large team. We had over 80 kids sign up and our summer runs were well attended. We expect to be very competitive.
"The girls return a strong top three. With a large group of freshmen and competition among returnees, we should fill out a deep squad.
"The boys have a deep team returning and also have a number of other runners who put in good summers and will challenge for top seven spots.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth once again has huge numbers and the kind of talent that will keep it among the best in the conference and the state, regardless of class.
The boys' squad returns four runners from a team which qualified for New Englands. Murdick (10th at the Class B state meet a year ago), Brown (17th), Soucy (24th) and Simensky (25th) all made a mark last season. Brown and Murdick were first-team league all-stars, Simensky a second-teamer. Kurry (27th at the regional meet) and Lambert will also be heard from. Cantlin, Ostrow, Simmons, Tanner and Taylor also have experience. As always, Falmouth has a bevy of newcomers to help the cause. Junior Andy Clement (a familiar name from track) and freshmen Ayden Henson, Bryce Henson, Girish Tiwari, Liam Tucker and Ben Wyman provide depth. The Yachtsmen will be pushed by their traditional conference foes, which will only make them that much stronger for the regional and state meets. Falmouth won a state title in its first year at the Class B level (2002). History might just repeat as the Yachtsmen strut their stuff against the best that Class A has to offer.
On the girls' side, Falmouth turned heads a year ago with a regional crown, but couldn't quite rise to the same level at states. This fall, the Yachtsmen again boast an abundance of talent. Falmouth has three state meet scorers returning in Nalamalapu (14th), Roberts (28th) and Farrell (56th). Nalamalapu and Roberts qualified for the all-star first team, while Farrell was a second teamer. Then there's the experienced core of Cattell, Lento, Ring, Rioux, Simonds, Whitmore and Wimert. Two new sophomores, Alexa Hoffman and Gina Pardi, and five freshmen, Paige Chamberlain, Gabby Farrell, Antoinette Lambert, Ally Schmmelman and Mira Wyman, make the program that much deeper. The Yachtsmen will be tested by the likes of Cape Elizabeth, Greely and Yarmouth, then will have to get used to Class A competition, but Falmouth is up for the challenge. When all is said and done, Falmouth will be one of the best teams in the conference and in Class A.
COACH: Spike Herrick (23rd year, six state championships)
2012 Results: 8-2 (4th @ Class A state match)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Russell Barnard (Senior), Brad Gilbert (Senior), Matt Hutcheon (Senior), Joe Lesniak (Senior)
TOP FOES: Cheverus, Scarborough
COACH’S COMMENT: “Joe is one of our all-time best and we have new players who did very well in the summer. I have very high hopes for the season. This group has the potential to be one of our best-ever teams.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Falmouth's bid for yet another championship fell short at the state match, but this year's team could finish what last year's started. The Yachtsmen return some first rate talent, led by Lesniak, a first team all-star who shot a 75 at the team state match and played for Maine at the Junior New England Tourney. He's joined by Gilbert (79) and Hutcheon (83). Barnard also has experience. Juniors Chris DeWolf and Craig Smith will be part of the fun as well. Falmouth will be tested during the year by Cheverus and Scarborough, but should once again win the vast majority of its matches. September isn't when the Yachtsmen are judged, however. They tend to work their magic at the state match. Last year was likely an aberration. Falmouth is primed to make a run at another title and Lesniak might just add an individual crown to the cause. More glory awaits this program in the weeks to come.
COACH: Gary Powers (seventh year, 65-30 overall record)
2012 Results: 9-6 (Lost, 3-1, to Greely in Class A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Riley Burfeind (Senior), Katrina Meserve (Senior), Ally Hickey (Junior), Megan Tammaro (Junior)
PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 10 @ Gorham, Sept. 16 BIDDEFORD, Sept. 18 GREELY, Oct. 8 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 10 GORHAM, Oct. 15 @ Greely, Oct. 17 @ Biddeford, Oct. 21 @ Scarborough
COACH'S COMMENT: “We only have five players back. We hope to fill the holes left by injuries and graduation and get to the tournament and see what we can do. We hope to continue our success. We should be in the mix.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Falmouth has been in the mix five years running, always proving to be a factor deep into the playoffs. Last year, the Yachtsmen gave longtime nemesis Greely a scare, but ultimately fell in four sets and the Rangers went on to win another championship. This time around, Falmouth might get the better of its tormentor and could handle everyone else in its path as well. There are holes to fill, however, as graduation claimed seven players. This year's team will be led by veteran outside hitters Burfeind, Meserve and Tammaro and middle hitter Hickey. Several others provide depth, including senior setter Kate Walker, junior outside hitter Sophie Emple, sophomore opposite hitter Lydia Farmer and sophomore middle hitter Julia Treadwell. The Yachtsmen have to contend with several tough foes as the season progresses, but this team will likely come together in time for October, when the matches matter most. After so many years knocking at the door, this could be the Falmouth team that finishes the job.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Fri., Sept. 6 H GORHAM
Fri., Sept. 13 @ Morse
Fri., Sept. 20 H YORK
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Oceanside
Sat., Oct. 5 @ Westbrook
Fri., Oct. 11 H FRYEBURG
Fri., Oct. 18 @ Mt. Ararat
Fri., Oct. 25 H GREELY
Fri., Sept. 6 @ Gray-NG
Tues., Sept. 10 H KENNEBUNK
Thurs., Sept. 12 @ Greely
Wed., Sept. 18 H CAPE ELIZABETH
Fri., Sept. 20 @ York
Tues., Sept. 24 H POLAND
Fri., Sept. 27 H GREELY
Mon., Sept. 30 @ Yarmouth
Wed., Oct. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth
Tues., Oct. 8 H YARMOUTH
Thurs., Oct. 10 H YORK
Wed., Oct. 16 @ Kennebunk
Fri., Oct. 18 @ Freeport
Mon., Oct. 21 H WAYNFLETE
Sat., Sept. 7 H GRAY-NG
Tues., Sept. 10 @ Kennebunk
Thurs., Sept. 12 H GREELY
Wed., Sept. 18 @ Cape Elizabeth
Sat., Sept. 21 H YORK
Tues., Sept. 24 @ Poland
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Greely
Mon., Sept. 30 @ Yarmouth
Wed., Oct. 2 H CAPE ELIZABETH
Tues., Oct. 8 H YARMOUTH
Thurs., Oct. 10 @ York
Wed., Oct. 16 H KENNEBUNK
Fri., Oct. 18 H FREEPORT
Mon., Oct. 21 @ Waynflete
Thurs., Sept. 5 H FRYEBURG
Mon., Sept. 9 @ Cape Elizabeth
Wed., Sept. 11 H GREELY
Fri., Sept. 13 @ Kennebunk
Tues., Sept. 17 @ York
Fri., Sept. 20 @ Lake Region
Mon., Sept. 23 H FREEPORT
Wed., Sept. 25 H NYA
Sat., Sept. 28 H YORK
Tues., Oct. 1 @ Fryeburg
Thurs., Oct. 3 H CAPE ELIZABETH
Mon., Oct. 7 @ Greely
Fri., Oct. 11 @ Poland
Tues., Oct. 15 H GRAY-NG
Wed., Sept. 4 @ Cape (Free, Sacopee)
Fri., Sept. 13 @ Fryeburg (Kbunk)
Fri., Sept. 20 H POLAND, TRAIP, WELLS, YARM
Fri., Sept. 27 @ York (LR, Traip, Wells)
Sat., Oct. 5 @ Belfast Invitational
Thurs., Oct. 10 @ Greely (GNG, WAYN)
Fri., Oct. 18 @ WMC Championships
Sat., Oct. 26 @ Western B Regionals
Sat., Nov. 2 @ Class B State Meet
Wed., Sept. 4 @ Deering
Mon., Sept. 9 @ Cheverus
Wed., Sept. 11 H PORTLAND
Mon., Sept. 16 @ SP
Wed., Sept. 18 @ Scarborough
Mon., Sept. 23 H DEERING
Wed., Sept. 25 H CHEVERUS
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Portland
Tues., Oct. 1 H SP
Thurs., Oct. 3 H SCARBOROUGH
Tues., Sept. 10 @ Gorham
Thurs., Sept. 12 H TA
Mon., Sept. 16 H BIDDEFORD
Wed., Sept. 18 H GREELY
Fri., Sept. 20 @ Cape Elizabeth
Mon., Sept. 23 @ Kennebunk
Thurs., Sept. 26 H CHEVERUS
Tues., Oct. 1 @ SP
Fri., Oct. 4 H LAKE REGION
Tues., Oct. 8 H SCARBOROUGH
Thurs., Oct. 10 H GORHAM
Tues., Oct. 15 @ Greely
Thurs., Oct. 17 @ Biddeford
Mon., Oct. 21 @ Scarborough