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North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Spring Sports Preview

Sports

North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Spring Sports Preview

This spring brings a mix of old and new to North Yarmouth Academy's athletic scene. Baseball returns as a varsity program for the first time since 2010. Boys' lacrosse was one goal away from playing for a championship last spring. This year's team is hoping to get to the final Saturday. The girls' squad welcomes a new coach. One who knows the program well. Look for the Panthers to return to form. Outdoor track always makes the most of its numbers and will field a pair of very strong teams. The boys' tennis squad returns strong talent, while the girls are poised to end Waynflete's reign as champion.

BASEBALL

Coach: Brett Kapteina (first year)

2013 record (no varsity program)

Players to watch: Josh Chapman (Sophomore), Haize Fassett (Sophomore), Brad Rockey (Sophomore), Haven Cutko (Freshman), Andrew Keith (Freshman)

Pivotal games: May 5 @ OOB, May 10 WAYNFLETE, May 15 @ OOB, May 17 @ Waynflete, May 27 @ OOB, May 28 @ Waynflete

Coach's comment: “Baseball is back at NYA for the first time in three years. We're a young team that will have to rely on solid defense. We do not have an ace or much experience on the mound. Throwing strikes and solid defense will be key to winning.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After two seasons of baseball at the junior varsity level only, the varsity team returns this spring under Kapteina, who played ball in high school. While NYA was once an annual contender, making the playoffs every season from 1999 through 2011 and winning a dozen games each in 2009, 2010 and 2011, this year's team has a lot of youth and a big learning curve. The key players to watch are all underclassmen, suggesting there will be some tough lessons over the next several weeks. Regardless, the Panthers have athletes who are eager to get better. This group should show steady improvement and will look to win some games and set the stage for future success. It won't be long until NYA is once again a power on the diamond.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Peter Gerrity (second year, 9-5 overall record)

2013 record: 9-5 (Lost, 8-7, to Yarmouth in Eastern B semifinals)

Top returning players: Colton Ackerman (Senior), Wes Bright (Senior), Forrest Chicoine (Senior), Jackson Cohan-Smith (Senior), Ben Ambrose (Junior), Haley Cunningham (Junior), D.J. Nicholas (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 26 MARANACOOK, April 30 GREELY, May 2 FALMOUTH, May 6 @ Waynflete, May 13 YARMOUTH, May 16 @ Gardiner, May 21 KENNEBUNK, May 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 31 GREELY, June 6 @ Yarmouth

Coach's comment: “We're super-deep and talented on defense, probably better than last year, and we have D.J. back in goal, but we're brand new on offense. We'll have to be balanced. We don't have the guns we had last year. We have to figure out how to put balls in the net. If we can keep getting better, we could make a pretty serious run in the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA's bid for a third straight regional title fell one agonizing goal shy a year ago and although the program was hit hard by graduation, the Panthers appear once again to be the squad best equipped to battle Yarmouth for top honors. Defensively, NYA will be strong and will frustrate the opposition. Nicholas was a revelation in goal last season and made the all-conference team. He might be the best goalie in the conference period this spring and will keep the Panthers in every game. In front of him, Nicholas can depend on the seasoned Bright, Chicoine and Cohan-Smith, junior longstick middie Danny Mahoney, freshman longstick middie Patrick Mallett and new sophomore Jonny Snell to stymie opposing attackmen. NYA's fortunes will rise or fall on how much offense it can generate. Sophomore Nick Demers and freshman Jeremy Thelven will try to gain possession as the lead faceoff men. Ackerman, Ambrose and Cunningham are also in the midfield. They all loom as scoring threats. New senior Mitch Rand brings depth. On attack, look for senior Travis Lee and sophomores Trevor Lachance and Jake Rasch to quickly get up to speed. Unfortunately for the Panthers, there are few breathers on the slate. This team will have to come of age on offense and quickly. NYA won't win many games, 10-9. They'll have to grind out the 4-3, 5-4 type victories to be successful. While the Panthers might not boast a glowing record come June, they'll be in position to not only make life miserable for Yarmouth, but also anyone else who might be unfortunate enough to stand in their way.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Lucy Gerrity (first year)

2013 record: 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Jen Machin (Senior), Olivia Madore (Senior), Abby McKelvy (Senior), Scout Fischman (Junior), Mary Noyes (Junior), Alex Wahlstrom (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 WAYNFLETE, May 1 FREEPORT, May 6 @ Kennebunk, May 22 @ Yarmouth, June 4 @ Freeport

Coach's comment: “The girls are so excited to learn. They've been so great. From day one to now, there's been so much improvement. Our energy is the strongest thing we have going for us. I'd really like to make the playoffs and do better than last year. We always hope to improve. The girls are so ready. I'm really excited.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, NYA has an infusion of new blood at the helm and is optimistic about what awaits. Gerrity graduated from NYA in 2009 after playing field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse. She was a member of a girls' lacrosse team which lost in the state final in 2008 and 2009, then played field hockey and lacrosse at Colby College. She coached previously with the Maineiax premier program and was an assistant with Cape Elizabeth last season. Gerrity also works at NYA, as an assistant for marketing and communications. She takes over a team that could become one of the feel-good stories in the state if the pieces fall into place. Madore is the top returner. The three-sport standout was a first-team league all-star in 2013. She'll likely be one of the Panthers' top scorers. Machin, McKelvy, Noyes and Wahlstrom are other top talents. Fischman returns in goal. Sophomore Keeley Bartolini will also see time between the pipes. NYA has a more favorable schedule this year and should win its share of games, which will help confidence. Once this group hits its stride, it will be very difficult to contend with. Yarmouth appears to be the team to beat in Eastern B, but the Clippers road might meet a speed bump in the form of their crosstown rival come June. The future is bright for the Panthers and their resurgence begins now.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (18th year, four state championships)

2013 results:
(Boys) 4th @ Class C state meet
(Girls) Tie-11th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:
(Boys) El Tayeb Dahia (Senior), Michael McIntosh (Senior), Chase Gendron (Junior), John LeBlanc (Junior), Matt Malcom (Junior)

(Girls) Jillian Bjorn-Caron (Senior), Kayla Rose (Senior), Muriel Adams (Junior), Hannah Austin (Junior), Emily Baker (Sophomore), Linnea Hull (Sophomore), Sonia Lin (Sophomore)

Top foes: Falmouth, Greely, Sacopee

Coach's comment: “The boys' team is still down in numbers, but returns a strong core of the top performers from last year. While it will be challenging to be competitive in the regular season with small numbers, the postseason should be a different story entirely. The relays and several key events on the track and in the field will hopefully help the boys finish near the top of the pack come championship season.. The girls' team is much larger this year with the addition of many younger athletes. While many are new to the sport, they are already showing significant potential. The girls have a diverse group who will be able to cover, with depth, the majority of the events on the track. We are looking forward to a strong regular season which will hopefully culminate in a successful postseason.”

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA is all about quality over quantity this spring, something the rest of the state will learn by the end of the season.

The boys feature Winter Male Athlete of the Year McIntosh, who was fifth in both the 100 and 200 and was a member of a first-place 400 relay team at last year's outdoor state meet. He's due to move up and could make a run at the top of the podium. Dahia (another member of the champion relay) is an excellent sprinter as well. Malcom (fifth in the mile last year) is top distance runner. He's joined by LeBlanc. Gendron could be a top thrower. Senior Austin Kidder is a newcomer to watch in the sprints or distance races. Freshman Xander Bartone could quickly become a household name in the sprints as well. The Panthers won Class C every year from 2006 -09. This group has the potential to be the best edition since.

On the girls' side, NYA could place in the top 10 at states for the first time since 2010. Adams, NYA's reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year, is the defending Class C champion in the discus. She'll team with Fall Female Athlete of the Year Rose (sixth in the discus last year) to make up a formidable throwing group. Bjorn-Caron, Hull and Winter Female Athlete of the Year Lin are jumpers to watch. Austin (third in the two-mile last year) leads the distance contingent. Top sprinters include Baker, Bjorn-Caron (a hurdler to boot) and Lin, yet another hurdler. Senior Lizzie Lewis brings depth to the sprints and hurdles and sophomore Claure Maurer is a new distance threat. This group will be very impressive from start to finish.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Charlie Hudson (36th year, 184-176 overall record since 1987, two state championships)

2013 record: 10-5 (Lost, 4-1, to eventual champion Waynflete in Western Class C Final)

Top returning players: Max Maurer (Senior), Bryce Tetreault (Senior), Brad Potter (Junior), Hunter Mahoney (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 30 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 7 @ Waynflete, May 8 YARMOUTH, May 13 @ Yarmouth, May 15 WAYNFLETE, May 20 @ Falmouth

Coach's comment: “The team returns three out of last year's top four players. Tetreault and Potter return at singles and with Maurer, will give this year's team a strong singles lineup. Mahoney started in doubles last year as a freshman. Developing competitive doubles will be a challenge with limited tennis experience amongst the newcomers.

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA's resurgence culminated last year with its first regional final appearance since 2007. Now, the Panthers have to figure out a way to solve six-time champion Waynflete. Despite the graduation of all-stars Burke Paxton and Ryan Walters, this year's team will be very good and might be the one best equipped to make a run at the Flyers. Tetreault will be in the number one singles spot. Potter and Maurer are the other singles players. Mahoney has experience at doubles and should be even stronger this time around. Also in the mix will be senior Ira Li and juniors Griff Cady and Kris Ding. NYA will be very competitive in the league and has what it takes to go on a postseason run. The Panthers might even get another shot at Waynflete with hardware on the line.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Lorena Coffin (eighth year, 84-22 overall record, four state championships)

2013 record: 10-6 (Lost, 4-1, to eventual champion Waynflete in Western Class C Final)

Top returning players: Emma Randall (Senior), Hannah Hungerford (Junior), Mina Stam (Junior), Olivia Stam (Junior), Hannah Chapman (Sophomore), Corinne Poitras (Sophomore), Lena Rich (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 30 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 7 WAYNFLETE, May 8 @ Yarmouth, May 13 YARMOUTH, May 15 @ Waynflete, May 20 FALMOUTH, May 22 Greely

Coach's comment: “We have our full team returning from last year with a couple of new players. I think we'll be very competitive again this year, especially in the Class C playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA bounced back from a rare season of failing to qualify for the playoffs by making a run to the regional final a year ago. This year, the Panthers hope to take the final step and win the program's first championship since 2010. While ladder positions weren't certain at press time, what is known is that much experience returns. Rich was a singles all-star, first-team in 2013. Mina Stam made the second team. They'll certainly be in the mix for top singles spots. Chapman, Poitras, Randall, Hungerford and Olivia Stam are seasoned. Joining this group are senior Maggie Bertocci and junior Nina Babbitt. NYA is deep and talented and could be the team to dethrone Waynflete. If that happens, the Panthers might just win it all.

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

Photo: Brian Beard

Senior Wes Bright is a key returning defender for an NYA boys' lacrosse team which will be among the top contenders again this season.

Photo: Brian Beard

Senior Colton Ackerman was a top defender last year and will be looked upon to score more this season.

Photo:

Senior Jackson Cohan-Smith will play a key role this season.

Photo: Michael Strout

Abby McKelvy is back for her senior season and will help lead the NYA girls' lacrosse team in its quest for the playoffs.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Jen Machin will be a force all over the field for NYA.

Photo: Creative Images

Senior Olivia Madore is a returning all-star and will be one of the state's best players.

Photo: Brian Beard

Junior Mary Noyes is a player to watch for the Panthers this season.

Photo: Michael Strout

Alex Wahlstrom is coming off a strong freshman campaign.

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Senior Jillian Bjorn-Caron will be a top contender in the sprints, hurdles and jumps.

Photo: Brian Beard

Senior Bryce Tetreault will play number one singles for the Panthers this spring.