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Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Previews

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Previews

Yarmouth won a pair of state titles in the fall of 2011 and could be just as prolific this autumn. Football has actually gone back to back in Class C and has won 24 straight games. Even after some key graduation losses and a coaching change, the Clippers are viewed as the favorite this time around. Volleyball won Class B last season and should be a top contender again. Then, there’s boys’ soccer, which has owned recent even numbered years. Yarmouth will give defending champion Falmouth a run for its money not just in Class B, but as the state’s premier program. The girls’ team expects to be a top contender. Field hockey got back to the postseason a year ago and hopes for a winning record and a longer playoff run. Both cross country teams will make the most of their numbers. Golf has quietly put together several stellar seasons and looks to continue that excellence in the weeks to come.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Mike Hagerty (16th year, 174-48-28 overall record, five state championships)

2011 Record: 9-5-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Fryeburg in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Andrew Fochler (Senior), Drew Hughes (Senior), Thomas Sullivan (Senior), Wes Crawford (Junior), Ben Decker (Junior), David Murphy (Junior), Chandler Smith (Junior), Brendan Dioli (Sophomore), Adam LaBrie (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 13 @ York, Sept. 15 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 22 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 26 @ Greely, Sept. 29 @ Falmouth, Oct. 11 (H) GREELY, Oct. 13 (H) YORK

COACH’S COMMENT: “The kids are coming along. We’ll be young, but strong in the middle. I think we’ll be solid all around. I think we’re a year away from being really good, but we have the potential to be as good as anybody if the young kids come along. They’re coming along quicker than I hoped. I think we’ll fly under the radar a little bit.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth’s title defense ended in shock and disappointment last fall with the Clippers’ first quarterfinal round loss since 2001. This autumn, Yarmouth is ready to return to form. The road won’t be an easy one, especially after losing eight seniors, including Fall Male Athlete of the Year goalkeeper Chris Knaub and fellow league all-stars Ryan Maguire and Sam Torres, but as one of the state’s elite programs, the Clippers will be able to overcome those losses and make a run at the top spot. This squad has several players who will score goals, creating a balance that will be difficult for even the best of the opposition to defend. Dioli could emerge as a breakout player this fall. Murphy has already scored a big goal against Yarmouth’s top rival, Falmouth. Decker, LaBrie, Sullivan, senior Michael Smith and junior Wyatt Jackson, who was injured last year, will also help pace the offense. Fochler, who saw limited time in 2011, will replace Knaub in goal. Thanks in large part to longtime goalie coach Dale Wing, the Clippers are as good as anyone in replacing keepers and not missing a beat. Don’t be surprised if that happens again. Defensively, Crawford, Hughes, Chandler Smith and junior Max Watson, who was hurt last fall, will help steer danger away from the goal. Defending champion Falmouth is deserving of the favorite role entering the season. York should still be formidable and teams like Gray-New Gloucester and Freeport can’t be overlooked. In the end, it’s Yarmouth that has the best shot at dethroning the Yachtsmen. This group will take some lumps as they find their way, but expect the Clippers to hit their stride by October. Staying healthy will be critical. If that happens, Yarmouth will be a force. The ancient rivals didn’t meet in the playoffs last year. The Clippers aim to make that happen this time around and if it does, they’ll have a great shot at not just winning, but also going on to capture a fifth state title in nine seasons.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Rich Smith (26th year, 216-132-48 overall record, two state championships)

2011 Record: 7-9 (Lost, 4-0, to Falmouth in Western Class B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Olivia Conrad (Senior), Megan Decker (Senior), Julie Kameisha (Senior), Claire King (Senior), Ali Merrill (Senior), Tess Merrill (Senior), Shannon Fallon (Sophomore), Lane Simsarian (Sophomore), Emma Torres (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 7 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 13 @ York, Sept. 15 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 22 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 26 @ Greely, Sept. 29 @ Falmouth, Oct. 11 (H) GREELY, Oct. 13 (H) YORK

COACH’S COMMENT: “The girls have great attitudes and work ethics. I think we have athleticism and senior leadership. We have experience in goal. A lot of the kids saw a lot of time last year. We’ll get better as the year goes on. I expect to be in the mix and to give everyone a run for their money.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth was a dangerous team a year ago, better than its final record indicated. This year’s squad could fly under the radar and be very good by season’s end. Decker was an all-conference and all-regional selection in 2011. She’ll be a force in the midfield along with Conrad, Kameisha Torres and junior Ariel Potter. Top scoring threats include Kameisha, King and Tess Merrill. Ali Merrill (an all-star last fall) and Simsarian are top defenders. Fallon got thrown into the fire in goal last year and responded brilliantly. She’s a last line of defense who will keep the Clippers’ hopes alive. Yarmouth always plays hard and gets the most from its talent. Many of these seniors have played on varsity for multiple seasons and are hoping to go out in style, leading the program to the postseason for the 21st year in a row. The younger players show great promise as well. While two-time defending champion Falmouth is rightly the favorite and while York is very good as well, the Clippers welcome the challenge of being the best in Western B. It’s not getting the preseason buzz, but as this season evolves, look for Yarmouth to turn plenty of heads, spring a few upsets and be a very difficult out by the time the playoffs arrive.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Chris Pingitore (first year)

2011 Results: 12-0 (Beat Bucksport, 41-14, to win second straight Class C state title)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Matt Klepinger (Junior), Tom Lord (Junior), Brady Neujahr (Junior), Nate Shields-Auble (Junior), Matt Woodbury (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 @ Oak Hill, Sept. 21 (H) TRAIP, Sept. 29 @ Winslow, Oct. 5 (H) LISBON, Oct. 20 @ Freeport

COACH'S COMMENT: “It’s been a good transition. It’s a special group of guys. Talented and committed. I think we have the talent to play with anybody. I’ve added a few things to the offense we haven’t had before. In typical Yarmouth fashion, we have great athletes to fill holes. We won’t have the breakaway runner we’ve had before, but we’ll grind it out. The junior class hasn’t lost a game since the sixth grade. It should be more exciting this year with our schedule. Our present is bright and our future is bright.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Just when you think the Yarmouth football program can’t raise the bar any higher, it goes undefeated again and repeats as Class C state champion. That’s 24 straight wins and back-to-back Class C titles if you’re keeping track and there’s every reason to believe the good times will continue. Jim Hartman, who guided the Clippers to greatness, is now coaching at Portland High, but the program remains in good hands with Pingitore, who helped create the program and has been on the coaching staff since the beginning. While graduation has taken its toll (standout runner Anders Overhaug, along with league all-stars Dennis Erving, Jacob French, Bart Gallagher and Ben Weirich have departed) and promising running back Caleb Uhl is unavailable, there is plenty of firepower in reserve that should make the rest of the state very, very nervous. Neujahr is in his third season as starting quarterback. The reigning league all-star, serving under the tutelage of longtime Forecaster photographer and new quarterback coach Jason Veilleux this fall, figures to throw more under Pingitore’s offense. He’s still very dangerous as a runner as well. Klepinger and Woodbury will do much of the ballhandling, running behind the bruising blocking of Lord, who moves to fullback from center. Through the air, Neujahr will look for junior Rhys Eddy and Shields-Auble. Yarmouth’s line has been as good as anyone’s the past three seasons and will once again open holes and protect the quarterback with aplomb. That group includes senior Brandon Moody, juniors Jackson Bartlett and Ethan Gage and freshmen Will Landry, Paul McNeill and Joe Thornton. Freshman Ryan Nason will do the placekicking. Defensively, the Clippers never get enough credit, but this unit has created a ton of turnovers as part of the team’s success. The defensive line includes Bartlett, Gage, McNeill and Thornton. The linebacking corps of Klepinger, Lord, Moody, Shields-Auble and Woodbury could be dominant. Eddy, Nason and Neujahr will be in the secondary. The league may have closed the gap and Yarmouth may see its win streak end at some point, but despite the relative youth of the line and the graduation losses, the Clippers still have be viewed as the favorite. This program is far from satisfied. Two titles were great, but a third is this year’s goal. Yarmouth has what it takes to win it again.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Mandy Lewis (sixth year, 16-52-4 overall record)

2011 Record: 6-7-2 (Lost, 4-0, to Lake Region in Western Class B preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nicole Hickey (Senior), Carlene Shaw (Senior), Lily Daggett (Junior), Taylor Morrison (Junior), Sarah Oberink (Junior), Katie Overhaug (Junior), Emma Peterson (Junior), Kallie Hutchinson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Aug. 29 (H) LAKE REGION, Sept. 4 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 22 @ Greely, Sept. 27 @ Lake Region, Oct. 2 @ York

COACH’S COMMENT: "Our goal last year was to make playoffs and we accomplished that goal. This season, we're striving to make it farther in the playoffs and our players have shown up to preseason in great physical condition and ready to play. With only two seniors, we are a young team, but our core group of juniors have played together for several years and are very comfortable together. Our strengths are definitely the small ball passing game and solid tackling skills in the back line. I am very excited to see what this group of athletes will accomplish this season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2011, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Now, the Clippers are seeking their first postseason victory since 2004 and their first winning season since 2000. This year’s offense will be paced by Hutchinson, who made the league all-star team last fall. Daggett, Peterson and Shaw will also do their share of scoring. On defense, Morrison, Oberink and Overhaug all have experience in front of Hickey in goal. Three newcomers, junior Olivia Shay and freshmen Tory Messina and Cara Ricciardi, could turn heads. Yarmouth enters the season optimistic it can compete and win. While perennial powerhouse York and rivals Falmouth and Greely are getting much of the preseason buzz, the Clippers are content to wait their turn and prove what they’re capable of on the field. This is a squad that can make some noise and some history in the weeks to come. Don’t be surprised if Yarmouth improves on last season’s success.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Bob Morse (32nd year, two state championships)

2011 Results:
(BOYS) No score @ Class B state meet (10th @ regionals)
(GIRLS) 10th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Ian Grover (Senior), Jackson Hall (Senior), Max Murray (Senior), Thomas Robichaud (Senior), Braden Becker (Junior), Sam Gerkin (Sophomore), Andrew Nickerson (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Sarah Becker (Senior), Brittany Elvidge (Senior), Emma Pidden (Senior), Sydney Sperber (Senior), Madison Hynes (Junior), Ihila Lesnikova (Junior), Gabrielle Beaulieu (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Freeport, Greely, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have our largest girls' team in many years. We have our good No. 1 and 2 runners returning from last season. The big question is how will our next group of 6-10 girls respond to the rigors of running 5Ks? We'll have to wait and see how hard the girls work and eliminate the injuries have bothered some of our top runners the past few years. We want to qualify for states and run fast at the state meet. The boys have our No. 1 and 2 runners returning from last year. The big question is numbers. We need to find a few more runners to make our season competitive. We could be that spoiler team when it comes to regionals. We want to improve on last season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Yarmouth cross country teams have the pieces in place for a memorable season.
The boys missed out on states last season, but return all-star Becker, who was 23rd as an individual at last year’s state meet, and Robichaud, who came in 54th. Gerkin (61st at last year’s regional meet), Grover (84th at regionals) and Nickerson (91st at regionals) also return, as do the seasoned Hall and Murray. Senior Chase Hughes and freshmen Ian Murrin and Colin Prato are new to the team. The Clippers aren’t a big team, but they have two top runners at the front and enough promising talent to make up a solid pack. This squad can’t be overlooked as one that could make it to states and turn some heads once there.
On the girls’ side, Beaulieu and Becker were both all-stars in 2011. At states, Becker came in 19th, Beaulieu 32nd. Hynes (41st) and Pidden (55th) also scored last year. Elvidge and Sperber have experience. Lesnikova looks to move up the pack. Sophomores Madeline Christie, Simone Laverdiere, Caitlin Teare and Ellie Teare and freshmen Lucy Alexander, Mary Coyne, Emma Egan and Meredith Hawkins are new and hope to contribute. Yarmouth has a big team and some firepower at the top. A return trip to the state meet and a higher finish there are realistic goals.

GOLF

COACH: Gregg Baker (first year)

2011 Record: 9-4 (2nd @ Class B state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Cal Cooper (Senior), Red DeSmith (Senior), Matt Highland (Senior) Nick Lainey (Senior), Emily Lunt (Senior), Monica Austin (Junior), Jordan Brown (Junior), Grace King (Junior), Spencer Olsen (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s a good group of kids. They're so driven and focused. They’ve already enlightened me. I look forward to working with them. We’ll have a lot of fun. The kids have had enough of silver. They want gold.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has produced some terrific teams in recent years, but hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves. This fall, the Clippers might just force the local golf world to take notice by fighting their way to the top of the individual and team heap. Yarmouth has a new coach this fall in Baker, who played for the Clippers (Class of 1972) and has long worked in the golf business. He works at Martindale Golf Course in Auburn and formerly coached at the college level at BYU-Hawaii. Brad Leighton remains the JV coach. Baker inherits a solid group of boys and girls. Cooper, DeSmith and Lainey were all on the all-star team in 2011. Last year at team states, DeSmith shot 81, Cooper 82, Lainey 86 and Austin 96. Austin was a hit individually as well, tying for second in the girls’ state match with an 87. Brown shot a 98, Lunt 109 and King also qualified. In the Class B boys’ individual match, DeSmith and Lainey each registered an 83, while Cooper shot a 90. Highland and Olsen, along with sophomores Ian Guinea, Tyler Hall and Ethan Perrier, add depth. Yarmouth expects to accomplish great things this autumn and with the talent on the roster, the sky’s the limit. If the Clippers are at their best in October, silver will turn to gold.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Jim Senecal (sixth year, 41-36 overall record, one state championship)

2011 Results: 13-4 (Beat Bucksport, 3-0, to win first-ever Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kate Myers (Senior), Gina Robertson (Senior), Megan Smith (Senior), Lindsay Tyler (Senior), Grace Mallet (Junior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Aug. 31 (H) NYA, Sept. 8 @ Jonesport-Beals, Oct. 1 @ Falmouth, Oct. 4 (H) GREELY, Oct. 10 @ NYA

COACH’S COMMENT: “I would describe our team as being much deeper in talent than last year, but without any real standout players. Our defense appears to be our strength. We’ll score more points off serve and force other teams into mistakes simply by keeping the ball off our floor. I don’t see us having the dominating middle play like last year. Our offensive attack will definitely be more balanced. We’ve lost eight talented players, including two all-state players. That’s a lot to replace. We have great senior leadership and a strong class of incoming juniors who have dedicated themselves to the game and appear to be ready to step up to a higher level of play. Our girls have a strong desire to defend our title, but they know it won’t be easy. I kind of think we snuck up on some teams last year being our first season in Class B.  This year, every team that we play will be bringing their best. We have a lot of respect for our opponents and can’t take any of them for granted if we’re going to be successful. If our girls can stay healthy and continue to learn to play together, I believe we have a chance to get there once again.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth stole headlines a year ago as it won it’s first championship, leading to a Coach of the Year nod for Senecal and Fall Female Athlete of the Year honors for Suzanne Driscoll, Driscoll, along with Morgan Cahill, was also named all-state, and both standouts have graduated. The Clippers do return plenty of talent, however. Robertson, a captain and outside hitter, led the team in service aces and was tops among returning players in service points in 2011. Tyler, another captain and defensive specialist, was the team leader in digs last fall with 117. Mallett was the primary setter as a sophomore and led the team with 209 assists, while also delivering 31 service aces. She’ll be a critical part of the squad again. Myers (middle hitter) is another top server. Smith, a captain and opposite hitter, is new to the starting lineup and brings blocking skills and leadership. A number of new juniors will help the cause. Madeleine Anderson (opposite hitter), LiLi Beatty (outside hitter), Kristina Borderia (middle hitter), Hannah Elrick (libero), Abby Latham (outside hitter), twins Emma Mairhofer (setter) and Maddy Mairhofer (libero) and Katie Reynolds (opposite hitter) give this team as much depth as anyone. The road won’t be as easy for Yarmouth as several Class B teams have improved and the Clippers will also be facing Class A powers like Falmouth and Greely. Yarmouth might find itself the team to beat by the time to the postseason rolls around, however. If this team develops as hoped and stays healthy and hungry, the Clippers could find themselves celebrating again on the final Saturday in October.

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

Photo: File photo

Junior David Murphy will be a key player for a Yarmouth boys' soccer team eager to get back to the top.

Photo: File photo

Adam LaBrie had a memorable freshman year and should be a key cog this fall.

Photo: File photo

Junior Wes Crawford will help anchor Yarmouth's defense this autumn.

Photo: File photo

Senior Ali Merrill will help steady the Yarmouth defense this season.

Photo: File photo

Junior Brady Neujahr is back for a third season under center for the two-time Class C champions.

Photo: File photo

Junior running back Matt Woodbury came up big on several occasions last season and will be a regular ballcarrier in 2012.

Photo: File photo

Junior Nate Shields-Auble will be a force on both sides of the ball this autumn.

Photo: File photo

Junior Sarah Oberink returns on defense for a Yarmouth field hockey team which made it to the postseason in 2011.

Photo: File photo

Junior captain Braden Becker is one of several key returners for the boys' cross country team.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Sam Gerkin will be among the Clippers best this season.

Photo: File photo

Senior Ian Grover is an experienced returner for the Clippers.

Photo: File photo

Sarah Becker was Yarmouth's top runner a year ago. She projects to be one of the best in the conference this season.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Gabrielle Beaulieu had a strong freshman campaign. She's looking to move up the standings and help the Clippers to another solid finish this fall.

Fall schedules

FOOTBALL

Sat., Sept. 1 @ Oak Hill

Fri., Sept. 7 H POLAND

Fri., Sept. 14 @ Maranacook

Fri., Sept. 21 H TRAIP

Sat., Sept. 29 @ Winslow

Fri., Oct. 5 H LISBON

Fri., Oct. 12 H DIRIGO

Sat., Oct. 20 @ Freeport

BOYS' SOCCER

Fri., Aug. 31 @ NYA

Wed., Sept. 5 H LAKE REGION

Sat., Sept. 8 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Thurs., Sept. 13 @ York

Sat., Sept. 15 @ Cape Elizabeth

Tues., Sept. 18 H POLAND

Sat., Sept. 22 H FALMOUTH

Wed., Sept. 26 @ Greely

Sat., Sept. 29 @ Falmouth

Tues., Oct. 2 H FREEPORT

Thurs., Oct. 4 @ Gray-NG

Tues., Oct. 9 @ Fryeburg

Thurs. Oct. 11 H GREELY

Sat., Oct. 13 H YORK

GIRLS' SOCCER

Fri., Aug. 31 H NYA

Tues., Sept. 4 @ Lake Region

Fri., Sept. 7 @ Cape Elizabeth

Thurs., Sept. 13 @ York

Sat., Sept. 15 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Sat., Sept. 22 H FALMOUTH

Mon., Sept. 24 @ Wells

Wed., Sept. 26 @ Greely

Sat., Sept. 29 @ Falmouth

Tues., Oct. 2 @ Freeport

Sat., Oct. 6 H GRAY-NG

Tues., Oct. 9 H FRYEBURG

Thurs., Oct. 11 H GREELY

Sat., Oct. 13 H YORK

FIELD HOCKEY

Wed., Aug. 29 H LAKE REGION

Fri., Aug. 31 @ Gray-NG

Tues., Sept. 4 H FALMOUTH

Fri., Sept. 7 @ Traip

Mon., Sept. 10 H WELLS

Wed., Sept. 12 @ Waynflete

Thurs., Sept. 20 H FRYEBURG

Sat., Sept. 22 @ Greely

Mon., Sept. 24 H GRAY-NG

Thurs., Sept. 27 @ Lake Region

Tues., Oct. 2 @ York

Thurs., Oct. 4 H FREEPORT

Sat., Oct. 6 H POLAND

Wed., Oct. 10 @ Cape Elizabeth

CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Aug. 31 @ Poland (Free, Wayn)

Fri., Sept. 7 @ Fryeburg (Sacopee)

Fri., Sept. 14 H GNG, LR, NYA

Fri., Sept. 21 @ GNG (Cape, LR)

Sat., Sept. 29 @ Belfast Inv.

Fri., Oct. 5 @ Greely (Cape, Falm, Wells)

Fri., Oct. 12 WMC Championships

Sat., Oct. 20 Western B Regionals

Sat., Oct. 27 Class B States

GOLF

Wed., Aug. 29 @ NYA

Thurs., Aug. 30 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Tues., Sept. 4 H WELLS

Thurs., Sept. 6 H YORK

Tues., Sept. 11 @ Freeport

Thurs., Sept. 13 H WAYNFLETE

Wed., Sept. 19 @ Wells

Thurs., Sept. 20 @ Cape Elizabeth

Tues., Sept. 25 H FREEPORT

Thurs., Sept. 27 @ York

VOLLEYBALL

Fri., Aug. 31 H NYA

Thurs., Sept. 6 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Sat., Sept. 8 @ Bucksport

Sat., Sept. 8 @ Jonesport-Beals

Wed., Sept. 12 H GORHAM

Fri., Sept. 14 @ Lake Region

Fri., Sept. 21 @ Cheverus

Mon., Sept. 24 @ Cony

Thurs., Sept. 27 H WINDHAM

Mon., Oct. 1 @ Falmouth

Thurs., Oct. 4 H GREELY

Sat., Oct. 6 @ Sumner (Narraguagus)

Wed., Oct. 10 @ NYA

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