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Spring Preview: Waynflete Flyers

Sports

Spring Preview: Waynflete Flyers

Waynflete won a pair of state championships last spring and hopes to equal or better that total this season. As always, girls' lacrosse figures to be a power. After returning to the pinnacle last year, the Flyers have all the necessary ingredients for a repeat. Boys' tennis is also hoping to go back-to-back and has to like its chances. Girls' tennis could be title-worthy. The second-year track program has some solid athletes, while baseball continues to grow into a contender.

BASEBALL

Coach: Steve Kautz (third year)

2008 Record: 3-9 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Zohar Azoulay (Senior), Tom Godsoe (Senior), Sam Fillinger (Junior), David Gorski (Junior), Noah Aronson (Sophomore), Sam Murphy (Sophomore), Tom Ryan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 6 @ NYA, May 8 (H) ST. DOM'S, May 20 (H) NYA, May 29 @ St. Dom's

Coach's comments: "We're excited as this is our strongest squad in many years. We have depth at pitching and catching positions and a strong core of juniors and seniors as anchors. If we can cut down on walks and improve on defense, we'll compete the best we have in years. That's our focus. We expect to make a run at a playoff position this year."

The Forecaster's forecast: After several seasons of low numbers and little hope, Waynflete baseball has reason for optimism. The pitching staff is led by Azoulay. He was a first-team all-star last season after hitting .330. He'll also play the outfield. Fillinger, Godsoe, senior Nick Bessette and junior Max Ritchie will also see time on the hill. Gorski hit .320 last spring and was a second-team all-star. He does a little of everything and will spell Ryan at catcher. Aronson can also play several positions. Sophomore Alex Hadiaras is at first base. Junior John Sherman wields a dangerous bat. Senior Steve Pardy brings leadership. Freshmen Taylor Briggs (catcher), Peter Stein (infield) and Abdulaziz Yousaf provide depth. The Flyers will be more competitive than ever in Class C. They haven't enjoyed a winning season since 1994, but if all goes well, that could change. The playoffs are a distinct possibility as well.

Fun fact: The last time Waynflete won more than three games in a season was 2003, when the Flyers were victorious seven times.

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Bob Johnson (21st year)

2008 Record: 4-9 (Lost 15-3 to Cape Elizabeth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Otis Wortley (Senior), Miles Beavin (Junior), Jay Witte

(Junior), Will Hallett (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 1 (H) PORTLAND, May 9 @ Freeport, May 18 @ NYA, May 22 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach's comment: "We lost a bunch of kids. We're definitely restocking. We have a lot of youth. Our most experienced player is a junior. We do have some kids with potential. We want the kids to work hard and have fun. Our schedule's a little more favorable."

The Forecaster's forecast: An inexperienced group will have a challenge this season, but there is reason to believe the Flyers can contend. For starters, the schedule isn't as daunting as it was a year ago. Waynflete has several winnable games, the Flyers just have to go out and take care of business. While graduation did a number on the program, there are some talented players on the roster. Beavin leads the attack. Johnson expects him to lead the team in scoring. Witte is another potential goal scorer, while Wortley can do it all. Now in his third year on varsity, he's a solid two-way player. Hallett received trial by fire in goal as a freshman and should be that much more confident this time around. He'll be difficult to score on. The biggest questions for the team are how quickly can the younger kids develop and how well will players in new positions respond? If the answers are positive, Waynflete will win its share of games and make another trip to the playoffs.

Fun fact: Waynflete's had just one winning season in the past five years, but before that, in the program's Golden Era, it had seven straight winning years and averaged nine victories per season.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Cathie Connors (17th year)

2008 Results: 14-1 (Defeated NYA 12-8 to win Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Maddie Berrang (Senior), Ellie Cole (Senior), Anna Libby (Senior), Greer Millard (Senior), Mariah Monks (Senior), Amy Allen (Junior), Morgan Woodhouse (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 11 (H) GREELY, May 12 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 14 (H) KENNEBUNK, May 26 @ Cheverus, May 29 (H) NYA, June 1 @ Yarmouth

Coach's comment: "We're very young. I feel challenged and I love that. I feel confident in how hard they're willing to work. I'm excited about the possibilities. I hope for a big year. I would love for this group of seniors, who are really nice kids, to go out and win it."

The Forecaster's forecast: The state's flagship program returned to the pinnacle last season after two years long away. Despite graduation losses and some new faces in new places, the Flyers have a great chance to do it again. Not many teams can boast a returning All-American, but Waynflete can in Monks, who had 38 goals and 24 assists last year. She'll play a critical role, taking draws, playing defensive midfield and transitioning to offense where she finishes frequently. The Hamilton College-bound standout, who was also a first-team all-star last season, is just one of many potential goal scorers. Allen (a second-team all-star in 2008) and Woodhouse (a first-teamer, who will also handle draws at times) can fill the net. Cole and Libby bring experience and sophomore Liz Chap, who features blazing speed, is another potential source for goals. While scoring goals is great, the Flyers have built their dynasty on an impenetrable zone defense. Last year's anchor, Laura Armstrong (Waynflete's 2008 Spring Female Athlete of the Year) is now playing at Bowdoin. She'll be replaced by sophomore Izzer Berrang, who joins older sister Maddie Berrang, Millard, and sophomore Scout Haffenreffer, who saw limited time in 2008, to key a unit that figures to be very stingy. For the third time in recent years, Waynflete will turn to an untested goalie to get the job done. Lily Hoffman and Margaret Veroneau were able to win titles and there's every reason junior Sasha Timpson (a soccer and hockey standout who previously played tennis in the spring) will be able to do the same. The Flyers face arguably their toughest schedule ever, but are used to getting every opponent's 'A' game. While this edition might not be quite as star-studded or prolific as last year's, Waynflete has the pieces in the place to repeat. Connors is unrivaled at molding a team into a champion as a season progresses. As a result, come June 20, that movie that everyone's seen so many times could have a very familiar ending.

Fun fact: Since the start of the 1997 season, Waynflete has won exactly 150 games and eight state titles.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Ziggy Gillespie (second year)

2008 Results

(Boys) no score @ Class C state meet
(Girls) 13th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:
(Boys) Eli Sobel (Senior), Max Sobel (Senior)
(Girls) Zoe Sobel (Senior), Adrienne Pizzo (Sophomore), Annie Vogt (Sophomore)

Top foe: NYA

Coach's comment: "We have great numbers this spring, 24 kids, with only one senior."

The Forecaster's forecast: Waynflete did very well in first spring as a formal team. This year's squad could be even better.

The boys' squad didn't score at the state meet last year, but features some athletes this time around. Middle-distance will be the strength as co-captains Eli and Max Sobel, freshmen Eric Nathanson and Mitch Newlin and Xander Nelson all look to impress. Soccer star Josh Bloom, basketball standouts Cecil Gardner and Bill Ngoal, and promising freshman Abshir Horor could also turn some heads.

On the girls' side, team captain Sobel and Vogt return from a 1,600 relay team that came in sixth at last year's Class C state meet. Sobel will be a threat in the 400 and 800. Vogt could be a top sprinter. Pizzo, and a pair of newcomers, sophomore Emily Bessette and freshman Emily Trafton, will help the distance effort. The Flyers will look to hold their own during the regular season meets and produce some solid efforts at the Western Maine Conference and state meets. With this type of talent, success is likely.

BOYS TENNIS

Coach: Jeff Madore (third year)

2008 Record: 15-1 (Defeated George Stevens Academy 4-1 to win Class C state championship)

Top returning players: Sam Cleaves (Junior), Ross Cummings (Junior), Chris Gillespie (Junior), Nate Niles (Junior), Devin Van Dyke (Junior), Eric Ordway (Sophomore), Brandon Thompson (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 1 @ Falmouth, May 4 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 6 @ NYA, May 11 @ Greely, May 15 @ Yarmouth, May 20 (H) NYA

Coach's comment: "I don't set goals involving numbers of wins or success in tournaments, the players do and that is yet to be established. My goals are to create an atmosphere where players can improve their skills, attain individual and team goals and have fun at the same time."

The Forecaster's forecast: Waynflete's coming off its third Class C title in four seasons and is well-equipped to win another. Thompson played first singles last year and along with No. 2 singles Van Dyke was a first-team all-star. Ordway played No. 3 last season. Cleaves and Niles were first doubles. Cummings and Gillespie were No. 2. There might be some fine tuning of that order, but it's fair to say the Flyers are as loaded as any team in Class C and can compete with most in Class B. They'll get a chance to measure themselves against the best from that class during the regular year. If Waynflete can stay healthy, hungry and improve as the year progresses, it will be in great shape to continue its run. It's hard to see anyone from Western C being able to measure up.

GIRLS TENNIS

Coach: Linda Cohen (second year)

2008 Record: 12-2 (Lost 3-2 to NYA in Western Class C semifinals)

Top returning players: Liza Hall (Senior), Anisa Khadraoui (Senior), Christina Ordway (Senior), Mariam Qazi (Senior), Caitlin Britos (Junior), Grace High (Junior), Maddie High (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 1 (H) FALMOUTH, May 4 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 11 (H) GREELY, May 20 @ NYA

Coach's comment: "I have the pleasure of returning seven players to the roster from last year. Christine will be our anchor. We have a small but solid roster. We're looking to put together another solid season."

The Forecaster's forecast: After a narrow loss to nemesis North Yarmouth Academy in last year's semifinals, Waynflete returns a formidable and hungry squad. Leading the way is Ordway, who won the state singles championship in 2006 and 2007 before losing to Camille Jania of Scarborough in the final last spring. She'll look to cap her high school career with another singles title and a second Class C state crown to bookend the one she won freshman year. Qazi is a stellar athlete who also hopes to close her career in style. Britos, Hall, High and Khadraoui all bring experience and will figure into the mix (ladder positions were up in the air at press time). Throw in senior Ellie Hallett and freshman Lucy Blatt, and it's clear the Flyers have an answer at every spot. Waynflete should have a solid regular season, but in the end, it will come down to the Flyers and NYA. A win over the Panthers during the regular season could propel Waynflete into a higher playoff seed, which might prove crucial in June. If all goes according to plan, that playoff meeting would likely be for the de facto state crown. The Flyers feel they're capable of winning it.

Photo:
The Flyers were the standard-bearers in girls' lacrosse once again last season. Waynflete will go after another championship this spring. (File photo)

Photo:
Senior Mariah Monks is a returning All-American for the Flyers. She and her classmates would love to win another title before they graduate. (File photo)

Photo:
Junior Amy Allen is always in the middle of the action for the Flyers and is one of many top scoring threats for the defending champs. (File photo)

Photo:
Junior Morgan Woodhouse is a force anywhere on the field and figures to provide many highlight moments this spring. (File photo)