North Yarmouth Academy Winter Sports Preview
North Yarmouth Academy has some new faces and expectations of being very competitive this winter. Boys' basketball welcomes a new coach and will show improvement in the weeks to come. The girls' team has been a playoff regular and hopes to continue that trend. Both hockey teams are primed for another prep season. Each has a new coach. Indoor track once again features several promising athletes. The Nordic ski program has a new coach and expects to be a factor in Class C once more. NYA doesn't have a swim team, but four girls, including promising freshman Sonia Lin, are competing with Greely.
COACH: Jason Knight (first year)
2011-12 Record: 3-15 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Burke Paxton (Senior), Jackson Cohan-Smith (Junior), Ryan Hemenway (Junior), Michael McIntosh (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 10 (H) OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Dec. 19 @ Waynflete, Jan. 16 (H) GRAY-NG, Jan. 18 @ OOB, Feb. 1 (H) WAYNFLETE
COACH’S COMMENT: “With the experience of seven returning players and a focus on playing strong, team-oriented defense, we're excited about the potential for improvement. Finding balance on the offensive side of the ball, as well as limiting turnovers will be additional keys to success. If we can find consistency in those areas, we believe we'll be in the hunt for a playoff spot come February.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA stands to improve this winter and aspirations of a playoff berth are realistic. The Panthers do have the daunting task of replacing 2011-12 Winter Male Athlete of the Year, Asad Dahia, who was named to the all-star team after finishing second in the league in both scoring (19.3 points per game) and steals (3.4). Knight hopes a balanced approach will fill the void. Paxton is a captain and leader. He'll look to add to his 4 points per game average from a year ago. He's solid on the boards too (5 per game last winter). McIntosh (6 rebounds per game) is another force on the boards. Hemenway should increase his offensive output. Cohan-Smith, a captain, will run the offense at point guard. Sophomore Chase Gendron saw limited varsity time last year. At 6-foot-3, he'll be a factor inside. Freshman guard Colby Bate will be a point guard and shooting guard. He's also a top defender. The pieces are in place for the Panthers to show steady improvement in the weeks to come. NYA has missed the playoffs three years running, but has a shot at ending that skid. Look for the Panthers to contend and turn some heads as the season progresses.
COACH: Liz Smith (second year,19-19)
2011-12 Record: 9-10 (Lost, 52-35 ,to Mt. Abram in Western Class C preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Mallory Ianno (Senior), Lillie Reder ( Senior), Charlotte Esancy (Junior), Chloe Leishman (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 7 (H) FREEPORT, Dec. 10 @ Old Orchard Beach, Dec. 15 @ Traip, Dec. 19 @ Waynflete, Jan. 16 @ Gray-NG, Jan. 18 (H) OOB, Feb. 1 (H) WAYNFLETE, Feb. 8 (H) TRAIP
COACH’S COMMENT: “We need to replace the offense and ballhandling we lost from Morgan Scully. Charlotte is recovering from a concussion and her return is uncertain. They were our first and second leading scorers from last year. I think we'll be more balanced than we've been in recent seasons. We have some new girls in the post, which has been an area of weakness for us in the past. We open with a tough schedule. If we can find a few girls to step up offensively, then we hope to make it into the playoffs.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA has reached the preliminary round each of the past two years and should be in the hunt for a playoff spot again this winter. The loss of Scully, last year's Winter Female Athlete of the Year, who led the Panthers in points, assists and steals, will be felt. She was seventh in the league in scoring with a 13.2 scoring average. If Esancy can return to the lineup and stay healthy, she'll be a force. A second-team all-star in 2011-12, Esancy finished third in the league in rebounds with 11.9 per game. Esancy will be joined in the frontcourt by sophomore Hannah Carr (a transfer from Lewiston, who has scoring potential) and freshman Liz McIntosh. Ianno, Leishman and Reder (a top defender) have experience and look to up their production. Sophomore Diana McLeod and freshman Julia Blackwell also figure into the equation. NYA will have some tough competition in the league, but has many winnable games. The Panthers should be right in the mix throughout and if Esancy can play, another trip to the postseason is a likely result.
COACH: Eric Graham (first year)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: T.J. Daigler (Senior), Jeremy Sylvain (Senior), Colton Ackerman (Junior), Bradley Potter (Sophomore)
COACH'S COMMENT: “We have a lot of depth at forward with T.J. leading the way offensively. Jeremy will be counted on for a strong season in net. The NEPSAC is an older, more experienced league and we'll be competing with 12 underclassmen on the varsity roster. How well they adjust to the Prep level will play a role in how successful we'll be this season. Our six seniors will be counted on for leadership and production.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: There's a lot of optimism around the NYA program this winter. For starters, Graham is the new coach. He was an assistant with the Panthers (and also served as the assistant video coach with the Portland Pirates) last winter. Graham also assisted previously at Falmouth. He played for the University of Southern Maine. He inherits a team with some very good athletes, many of whom having enjoyed success in hockey and other sports. The offense will be paced by Daigler, Potter and sophomore Mark Snyder. Ackerman and freshman Joshua Chapman will also be heard from. On defense, freshman Nick Demers will help hold the fort in front of Sylvain and new junior Jarred Davis in goal. NYA plays a formidable schedule, which features the likes of in-state foes Hebron and Kents Hill and out-of-state powers Berwick Academy, Dexter School, Groton School, New Hampton School and St. Georges School. The Panthers could become a pretty strong team as the season wears on. Look for NYA to enjoy a competitive and often triumphant campaign.
COACH: Brooks Boucher (first year)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Olivia Madore (Junior), Kayla Rose (Junior), Alexandra Barnes (Sophomore), Elizabeth Coughlin (Sophomore)
COACH'S COMMENT: “We're very young, but we're deep. We have 15 players. Only 10 last year. We have talented forwards, defenders and a good goalie. We're in the rebuilding stage. My goals are for the girls to have a good time and improve their skills so kids can play at the next level.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: After not winning a game last winter, the Panthers are poised to show great improvement this year. Boucher, an assistant a year ago, takes over the program. He coached in Ohio for many years and also spent a year with the Junior Pirates. He inherits a team with some talent. Coughlin and Madore are top returners on offense. Junior Jennifer Machin and freshman Juliana Tardif, who had a breakout field hockey season, join the attack. Defensively, Rose, along with freshman Taylor Leech and Shauna Williams, who is taking a gap year, will hold the fort in front of Barnes in goal. NYA lost its first two outings, but was competitive. The Panthers will get over the hump and win some games. More importantly, look for this group to set the stage for future success.
COACH: Chris Mazzurco (16th year)
(BOYS) Tie-14th @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) No score @ Class B state meet (10th @ WMC meet)
(BOYS) Jake Burns (Senior), Dean Walters (Senior), John LeBlanc (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Maura Anderson (Senior), Jillian Bjorn-Caron (Junior), Muriel Adams (Sophomore), Hannah Austin (Sophomore), Meaghan O'Leary (Sophomore)
COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a small boys' team this year after graduating a strong senior class. Eight boys total. We will cover a surprising amount of events with such a small team and have some exceptional quality to make up for our lack of quantity. The girls' team numbers are up this year with many new younger athletes coming on board to join a solid veteran crew. Many athletes are coming strong off their fall season and the veterans are primed and ready for improvement while the new athletes are quickly learning the various events while working towards their specialty..”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Look for steady performances from both NYA indoor teams this winter.
The boys feature Walters in the sprints, Burns in the sprints and hurdles and LeBlanc in the distance events. They're joined by newcomers senior Matt Benoit in the throws, senior Ben Claytor in the jumps and Fall Male Athlete of the Year Matt Malcom in the sprints. NYA hopes to be a factor in conference and score some points at the state meet this time around. Those goals are quite attainable.
On the girls' side, the top returners are Adams in the throws, Anderson in the hurdles, Austin in the distance, Bjorn-Caron in the hurdles and sprints and O'Leary in the high jump. Three newcomers will also be factors. Sophomore Maddie Cutten sprints and jumps. Sophomore Shelby Peavey is a thrower of note. Freshman Emily Taylor hopes to contend in the sprints and jumps. The Panthers will turn heads as the season progresses and should be heard from in February.
COACH: Kirsten Stray-Gunderson (first year)
(BOYS) Class C state champions
(GIRLS) 7th @ Class C state meet
(GIRLS) Izzy Munro (Sophomore)
COACH'S COMMENT: “This year's team is young and fresh, composed of new skiers and underclassmen. I can't wait to get them all on snow and show them how fun ski racing can be. My goal for the team this year is primarily to enhance individual technique and strength. All the skiers bring great attitudes to practice and I'm sure it will be a season of great improvement.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Stray-Gunderson takes over the small, but impressive NYA Nordic squad this winter. She raced at Colby College and previously coached Central Maine Ski Club's middle school skiers.
The boys' team has been the best in Class C the past couple years, but is starting over this time around. Still, the Panthers will produce enough talent to turn heads in the weeks to come.
The girls return Munro, who was 22nd in the classic last winter, and look to improve their standing. Four newcomers, Dagen Braun, Haley Cunningham, Patrick Jackson and Lena Rich, hope to make an immediate mark. It should be a fun year for this program.