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McAuley Lions Winter Sports Preview

Sports

McAuley Lions Winter Sports Preview

McAuley has mastered the art of dominating the winter sports season. Basketball has left the rest of the state in its wake three years running and the Lions have to like their chances of cutting down the nets again. Indoor track has several strong athletes. Swimming will also be in contention.

BASKETBALL

COACH: Billy Goodman (third year, 44-0 overall record, two state championships)

2012-13 record: 22-0 (Beat Bangor, 60-45, to win third straight Class A state title)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Allie Clement (Senior), Olivia Smith (Senior), Jackie Welch (Senior), Olivia Dalphonse (Junior), Victoria Lux (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 6 TA, Dec. 13 @ Gorham, Dec. 17 DEERING, Dec. 23 CHEVERUS, Jan. 7 @ TA, Jan. 10 SP, Jan. 24 @ Portland, Feb. 4 @ Deering, Feb. 7 @ Cheverus

COACH’S COMMENT: “We're a different team this year. Shorter and faster than we've been. We'll have to adjust our style. Every team has injuries. We'll figure out what makes this year's team successful. Quickness and defense will be our strengths. Vic has taken it to another level. Jackie had a great playoffs. Allie, if she's healthy, is the real deal. I'm looking for Dalphonse to step up. What happened before doesn't matter. This team hasn't won a single game yet.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: McAuley, circa 2013-14, might not be the slam dunk favorite of last year or the unbeatable juggernaut that many expected it to be before the Lions were hampered by injury, but rest assured, this group is still remarkably talented and will be the favorite to once again cut down the nets. McAuley graduated just one starter, but Molly Mack's impact couldn't be quantified and she'll certainly be missed. Compounding her departure is the transfer of junior Laura Holman to Cheverus and several injuries, most notably the loss for the season of sophomore Sarah Clement to a knee injury. Clement sparkled as a freshman (making the Southwestern Maine Activities Association third-team and All-Rookie team after averaging 10.8 points per game) and was poised to play an even bigger role, but she'll be forced to sit until next season. Smith, the Darmouth College-bound post standout, who had a transcendent state final, is also battling back from a knee injury and is scheduled to be back on the floor around the first of January. She's a reigning first-team all-star (she averaged 10.2 points and 6 rebounds per game last year) and will be a matchup nightmare when she returns to action. Allie Clement (another first-team all-star after leading the SMAA in points per game, 18.9, and finishing second in steals, 4.0) isn't 100 percent either, but the reigning Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and this winter's Miss Maine Basketball favorite played through all of 2012-13 with a lingering foot injury and was terrific. She's been a star since first putting on a Lions uniform and can do anything from racing up the court to shooting from the perimeter to playing shutdown defense. Clement, who has committed to attend and play at Marist College next year, has a chance to join such luminaries as Lisa Blais and Cindy Blodgett as players who won championships in each of their four high school seasons. She's joined in the backcourt by Welch, who has played in many big games and seems to be at her best when the stakes are the highest, and Dalphonse, who is a defensive standout and a dangerous outside shooter. Look for her to have a strong season. The most dominant player of all could be Lux, a second-team all-star in 2012-13 (after finishing fourth in the league with 9 rebounds per contest, 16th in scoring with 9.8 points per game and second in blocks with 2 per game), who is almost unstoppable in the post. Already a standout as a sophomore, word is she's elevated her game tremendously and is poised to steal many headlines. Sophomore Margaret Hatch, a transfer from Greely, will also look to make an impact down low, especially while Smith is out. Senior Lauren Coulombe (a guard/forward) and junior Ayla Tartre (guard) will be heard from as well. The league poses many challenges this year, especially early when the Lions won't be at full strength. McAuley enters with a 48-game win streak, but there's no guarantee it will reach 70. The Lions' biggest concern is what happens in late February and March. This program has been the state's gold standard for four years running. It's hard to imagine the elite players on the squad settling for anything shy of gold this time around. It won't come easily and it might not come perfectly, but until further notice, McAuley is the team to beat once more.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Tim Donovan (11th year)

2012-13 results: tie-24th @ Class B state meet

TOPRETURNINGATHLETES: Elsa Curran (Senior), Sam Libby (Senior), Katherine Possiel (Senior), Megan Bailey (Junior), Emily Rogan (Junior), Rachel Taylor(Junior), Kim Fisher (Sophomore), Elizabeth Poulin (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Bonny Eagle, Cheverus, Deering, Scarborough, Thornton Academy

COACHSCOMMENT: “We have the smallest team I've had since coaching here. I have some kids who have some talent, but it's going to be very hard to be competitive with a team this small. The kids always give 100 percent, so it's always a joy to work with them. I look forward to the season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While McAuley has a small roster this winter, there is some talent and the Lions will cover the events well. The lone returning scorer from last year's state meet is Curran, who was sixth in the shot put. She's joined on the field side by Fisher (jumps and pole vault), Possiel, Poulin and Rogan (jumps) and Taylor (pole vault). The top sprinters project to be Libby and Poulin. Bailey and Curran are top hurdlers. In the distance events, look for Possiel, Rogan and Taylor to threaten to score. While the team is small, McAuley might just score more points at the big meets than it did last winter. A surprisingly good season could be in store for the Lions.

SWIMMING

COACH: Laura Lazenby (second year)

2012-13 results: 5th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SWIMMER: Natalie Carter (Senior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “After sending off eight talented seniors last year, this will be a building year. As always, we're lucky to have enthusiastic, hard-working and spirited young ladies ready to do their best. With a solid freshmen group coming in, we anticipate strong improvement.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: McAuley will be a work in progress over the next several months, but by February, look for a few Lions to make their presence felt. Carter is the top returner. She'll look to score in the sprint freestyle races. Olivia Juris and Maria Ramsay are the other seniors on the roster. Freshman Ana Neff-Jendrasko could become a star in the individual medley. Several other girls will look to hopefully make an impact. A top team finish isn't likely this winter, but McAuley will set the stage for future success.

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

Photo: Jason Veilleux

A star since her freshman year, a deadly shooter and a transcendent all-around player, senior Allie Clement is Marist College-bound, but first she's hoping to lead the Lions to a fourth straight championship.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Dartmouth College-bound senior Olivia Smith will miss the early season due to injury, but count on her playing a huge role in what figures to be another great Lions' campaign.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Jackie Welch is the Lions' secret weapon, a great defender who can be deadly from the perimeter.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Victoria Lux figures to be unstoppable in the post this season.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Olivia Dalphonse is another top-notch defender, who will likely play a bigger offensive role this year.

Photo: Michael Strout

Sophomore Margaret Hatch comes to McAuley from Greely and hopes to make an impact.

Photo:

Senior Elsa Curran will threaten to score in the hurdles and throws this winter.

Photo:

Senior Sam Libby is a sprinter to watch.