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Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Falmouth Yachtsmen Winter Sports Preview

Falmouth was the Town of Champions last winter and there's every reason to believe that more hardware is in store this time around. Boys' basketball projects to be a juggernaut again and could become the first team in state history to win a Class B championship one year and the Class A crown the next. The girls' team won't be happy just making the playoffs this winter. The Yachtsmen could advance deep into the tournament. Boys' hockey finally got over the hump last season and celebrated a long-awaited championship. A repeat performance is quite possible. The girls' squad should also be in the title mix. Both track teams, as always, boast an abundance of stellar athletes. Swimming features ample talent and last, but certainly not least, Falmouth will be loaded on the slopes and trails as it seeks to continue its recent skiing dominance.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: David Halligan (27th year, 429-101 overall record, five state championships)

2012-13 record: 21-1 (Beat Medomak Valley, 62-39, to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nick Burton (Senior), Justin Rogers (Senior), Matt Tseng (Senior), Jack Simonds (Junior), Thomas Coyne (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 6 @ York, Dec. 10 YARMOUTH, Dec. 21 @ Greely, Jan. 3 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 7 YORK, Jan. 11 GREELY, Jan. 14 @ Yarmouth, Feb. 4 @ Cape Elizabeth

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a good group of returning players and young players coming in. We have bigs and guards. It's a good mix. Everyone can shoot the ball. We're plugging in people to replace (Charlie) Fay, (Tom) Wilberg and (Grant) Burfeind. We had more size last year, but we have good overall size this year. There's more balance in the league this year. We'll just work as hard as we can to try to be the best team we can be regardless of class.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A new era begins for the powerhouse Falmouth program. After running roughshod over Class B last season and making a strong claim that they were the best team in the state, regardless of class, the Yachtsmen will play their traditional Western Maine Conference schedule this winter, then move up to Class A for the postseason. While that appears daunting, this group is up to the task and if all goes well, Falmouth could be every bit as good as last year's juggernaut. Yes, the losses of reigning Winter Athlete of the Year, Tom Wilberg, Mr. Clutch, Grant Burfeind, and highlight-reel dunker, Charlie Fay (along with Sam Holland, Jacob LaPlante, Jake Horning and Andrew Thornton), poses some challenges, but there is plenty of talent in reserve. For starters, the sweet shooting Simonds, a forward and first-team WMC all-star last season after placing sixth in the league in rebounds per game (7.9) and hitting clutch shot after clutch shot, will be a matchup nightmare. Rogers, a guard/forward who stands 6-foot-4, has a sweet stroke as well and can get it done inside and out. Coyne, the 5-9 point guard, had a breakthrough freshman season, played well beyond his years on the big stage, placed 10th in the league in made 3-pointers (28) and was a third-team league all-star. He'll only get better, which is a frightening thought for the opposition. Burton (who stands 6-3) is also back in the mix. He'll play a bigger role this year (in the post), as will the 6-2 Tseng, who will spell Coyne at point guard at times. Seniors Addison Foltmer (a forward) and I.V. Stucker (a guard), better known for their prowess in the spring, will see more playing time than a year ago and will provide leadership. A couple of freshmen with familiar last names will also be heard from. Colin Coyne, Thomas' brother, will play guard, while Ben Simonds, Jack's younger brother, will be in the mix at forward. While this year's team isn't starting at a championship level like last year's, it will quickly get up to speed. The overall strength of the league this winter suggests the Yachtsmen might not match their record of the past two seasons (41-2 combined), but they'll be dominant nonetheless. This particular squad is most concerned with how it matches up with its eventual Class A playoff foes and if the preseason is any indication, there's reason for confidence (Falmouth beat preseason favorite Bonny Eagle by seven points and drubbed perennial contenders Cheverus and South Portland by 22 and 44, respectively). By February, the Yachtsmen will be a team no one wants to face, regardless of class. This group could very easily find itself hoisting another Gold Ball to the heavens.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Mari Warner (fourth year, 27-29 overall record)

2012-13 record: 9-10 (Lost, 42-40, to Greely in Western B preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Shannon Page (Senior), Emma Powers (Senior), Ally Hickey (Junior), Dayna Vasconcelos (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 6 YORK, Dec. 10 @ Yarmouth, Dec. 13 WELLS, Dec. 19 @ Lake Region, Dec. 21 GREELY, Jan. 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 7 @ York, Jan. 11 @ Greely, Jan. 14 YARMOUTH, Jan. 16 LAKE REGION, Jan. 28 GRAY-NG, Jan. 31 @ Freeport, Feb. 4 CAPE ELIZABETH

COACH’S COMMENT: “The kids are working hard. That's all I can ask at this point. We're healthy and ahead of where we've been in the past. We're trying to develop some depth. We have to play strong and get some good Heal Point wins. Every year we get closer. Our game is geared to being tough. We're long and linear in many positions. We hope to get turnovers and run.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth just might run deep into the playoffs if all goes well, although it will be challenged by playing a Western Maine Conference regular season schedule, which will preclude it from getting a lot of Heal Points when looking ahead to the Class A tournament, where the school will be relegated this winter due to enrollment numbers. The Yachtsmen know they can play with anybody in the conference. Now, they just have to turn close losses of past years into wins to complete their turnaround. Powers will run the offense. She backed up Maddie Inlow at point last year and is capable of making Falmouth go. Hickey (a second-team WMC all-star last winter) and Vasconcelos are key returners, who will help pace the offense. The return of senior Erica Pugsley, who missed last season, provides depth. Page and juniors Jess Burton and Kayla Walsh will make life tough for the opposition down low. Several new players will help the cause. Seniors Maeve Larrabee (guard), Liina Paavonpera (forward) and Maya Spiegel (center) are up from the junior varsity team. Three freshman are also on the varsity: point guard Alaina Brickel, guard/forward Adelaide Cooke and guard Abby Ryan. The Yachtsmen cover all the positions and have great athletes. They'll be tested every night by a strong league, but the guess here is that Falmouth takes the next step, posts a winning record, then proves to be a tough out in Western A tournament. Don't be surprised if this ride continues all the way to the Cumberland County Civic Center.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Deron Barton (third year, 33-8-2 overall record, one state championship)

2012-13 record: 18-3-1 (Beat Lewiston, 4-0, to win first ever Class A state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS:  Andre Clement (Senior), Tyler Jordan (Senior), Dane Pauls (Senior), Jake Grade (Junior), Isaac Nordstrom (Junior), Brandon Peters (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 9 @ Scarborough, Dec. 12 ST. DOM'S, Dec. 19 TA, Dec. 21 BANGOR, Dec. 26 BIDDEFORD, Jan. 1 @ Greely, Jan. 6 @ Bangor, Jan. 8 @ Lewiston, Jan. 29 @ St. Dom's, Feb. 5 @ Biddeford, Feb. 8 @ TA, Feb. 15 LEWISTON, Feb. 20 SCARBOROUGH

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have strong leadership from a solid core of upperclassmen who have playoff experience. The execution of disciplined team defense combined with consistent goaltending will determine our season's success.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth enjoyed unrivaled success last winter, finally shattering the stereotype of not being able to win the big one after knocking off favored Scarborough in the regional final, then blanking Lewiston to win a first championship. Several key players from that squad have graduated, but the Yachtsmen have plenty in reserve and are ready to make another run. The offense will be paced this winter by Clement, Jordan, Nordstrom and Peters. Junior Matt Edmonds and freshmen Rob Armitage, Chris Camelio and Henry Norris will also help the offensive cause. Clement and Grade anchor the defense in front of Pauls (who dazzled during last year's playoff run) and sophomore Ryan Bonnevie, who will also see time between the pipes. Juniors Hunter Low and Connor MacDowell and freshman Reese Armitage will also factor into the defensive rotation. Now that the Yachtsmen have reached the pinnacle, where do they go from here? If the hunger remains, they'll be on the short list of title hopefuls. Falmouth faces a daunting schedule and it's likely it won't post the same glowing record as a year ago, but come March, the Yachtsmen will be in a position to celebrate on the Colisee ice once again. Don't be surprised if title number two follows hot on the heels of the first one.

GIRLS' HOCKEY

COACH: Rob Carrier (fifth year, 48-26-4 overall record)

2012-13 record: 11-8 (Lost, 3-2, to York in West Region semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Alyse Bazinet (Senior), Maddy McDonnell (Senior), Lucy Meyer (Senior), Hillary Nash (Senior), Camden Carrier (Sophomore), Sarah Hutcheon (Sophomore), Martina St. Angelo (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 21 @ York, Jan. 1 @ Greely, Jan. 8 @ Lewiston, Jan. 18 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 30 YORK

COACH'S COMMENT: “This is one of the more talented teams I've coached, but we lack experience. I see us being a top team come playoffs, but it will be a bumpy road to February as we gain experience. Like in years past, defense and goaltending will be our strength. The forward position is where we have a lot of turnover. We have to replace three of our top four scorers from a season ago. Our forwards will get better going against our defense and goalies and will really be hitting their stride in January.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: A year after falling in the state final, Falmouth remained extremely competitive last winter. This year, the Yachtsmen will once again contend and by season's end could be in line to really turn heads. While there are some holes to fill on offense, Falmouth does return some firepower in the likes of Hutcheon (13 goals, six assists last winter), Meyer (11 goals, 7 assists) and St. Angelo (11 goals, 1 assist). McDonnell is a seasoned leader, who should increase her production. Carrier had a great freshman season (5 goals, 11 assists) and Bazinet can put the puck in the net as well (2 goals, 5 assists). Mix in a trio of talented freshmen, Evie Clement, Caroline Proctor and Devin Sarazin, and the goals will come. Defensively Bazinet and St. Angelo make up as talented as tandem as you'll find. Juniors Alta Farrell and Meg Pierce have also seen time and provide depth at that position. Nash (7 wins a year ago), coming off a tremendous field hockey season, will see the majority of time in goal. She'll be one of the best in the state. Freshman Ally Hurdman is the goalie of the future and will get an opportunity to show what she can do. Falmouth dropped its opener, 4-1, to powerhouse Scarborough, but that's no reason to be discouraged. This group will only get better in the weeks to come and by February will be very formidable. Perhaps good enough to finally kick down that championship door.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Jorma Kurry (15th year, five state championships)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) 4th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 8th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING ATHLETES:

(BOYS) Sage Tanner (Senior), Brian Taylor (Senior), Mike Wulbrecht (Senior), Spencer Brown (Junior), Andy Clement (Junior), Christian Ford (Junior), Matt Simmons (Junior), Joey Cyr (Sophomore), Alec Dunn (Sophomore), Josh Simensky (Sophomore), Sean Soucy (Sophomore), Tony St. Angelo (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Charlotte Cutshall (Senior), Caroline McKeon (Senior), Madeline Roberts (Senior), Jillian Rothweiler (Senior), Maggie Seitz (Senior), Olivia Baranowski (Junior), Kiersten Dyhrberg (Junior), Alexa Hoffman (Sophomore), Vishva Nalamalapu (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Greely, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We're heading into our first year in Class A. That's going to be a new challenge. The boys are in a rebuilding year. While the numbers are good, we'll need to work hard to compete with the top teams. Our relays should be competitive and we'll rely on some younger athletes to step forward at big meets. The boys have had excellent role models over the past few years and it's time for a new group to assert itself as leaders. We have several who should be up to that challenge. The girls are strong in both relays and have returning qualifiers in nearly every event. We have the potential to make our mark. The key is developing some of our returning qualifiers into state scorers. We cover the running events well. This team should be very strong in the conference meets.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Like so many teams at Falmouth this school year, indoor track is going to be competing in the Western Maine Conference during the regular season, then will move up to Class A for the postseason. While that will be daunting, this program is up to the challenge.

The boys lost a lot to graduation a year ago and only Clement returns as a state meet scorer (he was part of a champion 3,200 relay squad and also won the junior 55 hurdles at last year's Western Maine Conference championship meet). He'll be one of the top hurdlers in the conference and state. Dunn and Ford join him. In the sprints, keep an eye on Cyr and Wulbrecht, along with freshman Matt Polewaczyk. Middle distance contenders include Soucy and Taylor, while Brown, Simensky, Simmons and Tanner run the longer races, along with new junior Peter Henning and freshmen Ayden Henson and Ben Wyman. On the field side, Ford, St. Angelo and Wulbrecht jump. While it will take Falmouth some time to hit its stride, it should remain very competitive against conference foes and will find itself near the top at the WMC meet. When it comes to states, a top 10, perhaps even a top five finish in Class A isn't out of the question.

On the girls' side, the team is starting from a better position as state meet scorers Cutshall (third in the long jump, fourth in the 55) and relay team members Hoffman, McKeon, Nalamalapu, Roberts and Seitz all return. Roberts (runner-up in the two-mile at the WMC meet last year) is a top distance threat. Nalamalapu and freshmen Paige Chamberlain and Meg Dye join her looking to score. In the middle distance, Hoffman, sophomore Gina Pardi and freshman Mira Wyman all vie for greatness. Custhall (second in the senior 55 at last year's WMC meet) leads the sprinting contingent. She's joined by McKeon, Rothweiler and freshman Elizabeth Cyr. Baranowski is the top hurdler. On the field side, Baranowski, Cutshall and Seitz all jump, along with new sophomore Lydia Farmer. Dyhrberg is the best scoring bet in the shot put. Falmouth covers the events nicely and will be heard from all season. The Yachtsmen could make an immediate impact in Class A.

SWIMMING

COACH: Dave Cox (fourth year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) 5th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 9th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Eric Anton (Junior), Jake Perron (Junior)

(GIRLS) Laura Bauer (Senior), Stephanie Sands (Senior), Emily Alexander (Junior), Alana Braley (Junior), Kate Lannon (Junior), Charlotte Janelle (Sophomore), Keunjoo Kim (Sophomore), Madi Winkeler (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus, Deering, Greely, Waynflete

COACH’S COMMENT: “It's going to be another great year for Maine high school swimming and diving. Participation is at an all-time high and last year was arguably the fastest overall in state history. This year looks to be the same. The boys have the challenge of moving to the competitive Class A division. We have a fun, committed group looking to continue the tradition set by last year's graduated class. The girls return all but one state meet scorer from last year. We took to place higher as we move up to Class A.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth's swimming program is up to the challenge of moving up in class this winter, as Cox (who's assisted by Steve Cox, Dan Edwards, Katy Janelle and Betsy Perron) has a lot of talent to work with.

The boys' team is led by Jake Perron, who is the two-time defending Class B state champion in the 500 freestyle. He'll contend in all freestyle races this winter. Anton is another freestyler of note. Sophomores Dexter Desroisiers (freestyle, butterfly), Logan Herodes (backstroke, freestyle), Winslow Robinson (freestyle, fly, individual medley) and Nathan Ryer (fly, freestyle) look to make names for themselves, as will freshman Connor Perron, who covers all the strokes. The Yachtsmen face several tough foes in the regular season, which will prepare them nicely for the postseason. There, look for Falmouth, which is coming off its best state meet showing in 23 years, to be among the best at Southwesterns and states.

On the girls' side, Charlotte Janelle is the top returner. She's the reigning Class B state diving champion and was Falmouth's Winter Female Athlete of the Year. She hopes to repeat and continue the program's amazing run of success on the board. Bauer (backstroke, freestyle) and Sands (IM, freestyle, fly) are the veteran captains. Alexander (sprint freestyle), Braley (sprint freestyle), Kim (backstroke), Lannon (freestyle) and Winkeler (freestyle) add depth and will contend for top finishes. Freshman Piper Alexander could quickly become a household name in the distance freestyle. The Yachtsmen will only get better as the season progresses and should be near the top of the standings come February.

SKIING

2012-13 combined results:

(BOYS) Class A champion

(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class A state meet

ALPINE

COACH: Tip Kimball (11th year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) Class A state champions

(GIRLS) 5th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Joe Lesniak (Senior), Matt Klemperer (Senior), Tom Lesniak (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Maggie Coster (Junior), Krysia Lesniak (Sophomore), Alex Shapiro (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Greely, Yarmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a razor thin team this year with a current roster of five boys and four girls. We graduated a good number and year-round sports commitments have made a dent in some of our returners. We also lost two more top boys to CVA. I'd consider this a building year considering our numbers. We may not have the depth that we're accustomed to, but we'll still have some fast skiers on both teams who are capable of podium finishes. We're prepared to make some adjustments in our team strategy, however, considering the margin for error is zero.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: The Falmouth Alpine program has been consistently excellent in recent seasons, but the Yachtsmen certainly have their work cut out in the weeks to come.

The boys are led by Joe Lesniak, the schools' Fall Male Athlete of the Year, who was third in the giant slalom and fourth in the slalom at last year's state meet. Tom Lesniak (12th in the slalom, 18th in the GS last winter) is the other returning scorer. Klemperer brings experience to the slopes as well. This group will make the most of what it has, but a return to the top spot might be too much of a hill to climb this time around.

On the girls' side, Lesniak and Shapiro are top returners. Last winter, Lesniak placed fifth in the GS and eighth in the slalom, while Shapiro came in ninth in the slalom and 12th in the GS. Coster is seasoned as well. Falmouth will be competitive throughout and will make some noise in the postseason.

NORDIC

COACH: Jennifer Harris (first year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) Class A state champions

(GIRLS) Class A state champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Noah Beliveau (Senior), Ethan Cantlin (Junior), Iain Kurry (Junior), Scott Lambert (Junior), Gabe Mahoney (Junior), Adam Meyer (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Ava Demer (Junior), Anna Morin (Junior), Emily Rioux (Junior), London Bernier (Sophomore), Devin Ventura (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Freeport, Merriconeag, Yarmouth

COACH'S COMMENT: “We have high hopes this year. We want the kids to do their best and we'll do everything we can to get them prepared for a great season. They all have positive attitudes and I've never seen so much enthusiasm in a team that knows they'll be doing a lot of dry land training. The kids have heart and it shows at practice, whether there's snow or not.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Falmouth features some new faces at the top this winter, but on the trails, the Yachtsmen figure to be a juggernaut once again. Harris, who raced in high school in Wyoming and later competed at the University of Wyoming, takes over the program, with help from assistants Sarah Beliveau and Karin Kurry. They have a lot of talent to work with.

The boys' team returns state meet scorers Mahoney (ninth in the classic, 12th in the freestyle), Lambert (16th in the classic) and Kurry (16th in the freestyle). Beliveau, Cantlin and Meyer look to move up the standings and erstwhile indoor track standout Bryce Murdick, a junior, joins the fun. He did ski as a freshman. Falmouth will be a powerhouse in the regular season and should make another run at more hardware come February.

The girls' squad is equally promising. Leading the way will be Morin (seventh in the freestyle last year) and Bernier (ninth in the freestyle, 12th in the classic). Demer, Rioux and Ventura also have experience. Three freshmen, Gabby Farrell, Antoinette Lambert and Lucy Mahoney, provide depth and promise going forward. The Yachtsmen will only get better as the season progresses and should have several girls vying for top spots by February. That will likely add up to yet another top team finish and perhaps another championship.

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

Photo:

Thomas Coyne was a revelation as a freshman on a championship team. He'll play an even bigger role as a sophomore.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Justin Rogers will look to soar over the competition.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Jack Simonds has one of the sweetest shots around. He'll score plenty of points in the weeks to come.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Junior Ally Hickey will play a key role for the Yachtsmen this winter.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Junior Dayna Vasconcelos has turned heads with her play on the floor and will once again be one of the Yachtsmen to watch.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Andre Clement is a top defender for the reigning Class A champion Yachtsmen.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Isaac Nordstrom will score his share of goals this winter.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Dane Pauls is back in goal for Falmouth as it goes for a repeat title.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Alyse Bazinet is a top returner for a dangerous Falmouth girls' hockey team.

Photo: Michael Strout

Camden Carrier had a strong freshman season and will look to tickle the twine on multiple occasions this winter.

Photo: Michael Strout

Sarah Hutcheon also had a breakout freshman campaign a year ago.

Photo: Michael Strout

Maddy McDonnell is back as a senior leader this winter.

Photo:

Junior Andy Clement is a hurdler to watch for the Falmouth boys' indoor track team.

Photo:

Junior Olivia Baranowski will score her share of points this winter.

Photo:

Madeline Roberts is a veteran distance standout for the Yachtsmen.