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Freeport Falcons Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Freeport Falcons Fall Sports Preview

A new era dawns this fall at Freeport High. For the first time in the school's long history, it will boast a varsity football program. The Falcons will compete in Class C and look to start a winning tradition. Boys' soccer has enjoyed plenty of triumph in recent years. This season, the Falcons are young, but will likely compete again. The girls' program welcomes a new coach in Elayna Zachko, who is well known at the school. That team hopes to make it to the postseason. After falling short last year, field hockey is looking to return to the playoffs. Both cross country teams should be competitive as they return to Class C competition. Golf hopes to make the most of its small numbers.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Joe Heathco (12th year)

2008 Record: 9-7 (lost 1-0 to Yarmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Chris Anthony (Senior), Christo Milholland (Senior), Eric Wold (Senior), Ryan Farley (Junior), Hans Pope (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 (H) GREELY, Sept. 8 @ York, Sept. 10 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 17 @ Waynflete, Oct. 3 (H) WAYNFLETE, Oct. 13 (H) FALMOUTH, Oct. 15 @ NYA, Oct. 19 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

COACH'S COMMENT: "I'm pleased so far. I'm optimistic. It's an athletic group. We're still young and we're turning the ball over. It's up to the kids how hard they want to work to come around. We'll count on our seniors for leadership and we're counting on a lot of young kids. We have a lot of sophomores and juniors. We'll depend on them to learn."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: For the second year in a row, Freeport was just a goal shy of beating the team that would go on to win the Class B championship. Unfortunately, the Falcons graduated a lot of talent and will have their work cut out this season. Farley is the top returner. He was a second-team all-Western Maine Conference selection in 2008. He, Anthony and Wold will look to produce offense. Some new faces will also be heard from on offense. Senior Tommy Dorsey (who is back from injury) and sophomores Jack Dawe and Josh Rodrick hope to make an immediate impact. Defensively, Milholland and Pope will protect senior goalie Sean Enking, who was the backup to Ben Boutin last season. Freeport's biggest challenge during the regular season will be getting over its youthful mistakes and gaining confidence. The Falcons might be outmanned against some of the league's elite teams, but there are plenty of winnable games on the schedule. Heathco is as good as anyone at developing a team over time and should have this group at its best in October. If Freeport can make it back to the playoffs for a 12th successive year, no one will look forward to taking it on.

FUN FACT: Freeport has been in the semifinals or better six years running. The program's previous best was four years in a row between 1975 and 1978.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Elayna Zachko (first year)

2008 Record: 4-10 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Molly Curry (Junior), Katee Poulin (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 @ Greely, Sept. 8 (H) YORK, Sept. 10 (H) YARMOUTH, Sept. 17 (H) WAYNFLETE, Oct. 13 @ Falmouth, Oct. 15 (H) NYA, Oct. 19 @ Cape Elizabeth

COACH'S COMMENT: "Our big goal is to continue to increase our soccer knowledge and ability. I play a very different system. We want to win the games we're supposed to win and show pride and work hard against the teams considered to be better than us. It's a building year. We lost a lot, but it's nice to see the girls have so much pride and see their improvement. The girls are ready for the challenge."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Freeport is looking to turn the corner this season behind a new coach, Elayna Zachko, who teaches science at the high school. Zachko previously coached at Greely and NYA and is optimistic about her team's chances. Curry and Poulin are top returners, who will be a handful for opposing defenses. They'll be the Falcons' lead scoring threats this fall. New senior Keagan Dyer will be a force on defense and in the midfield. Sophomore Abby Roney is new to the goalkeeping position. Freeport has a brutal opening stretch of the schedule, having to face powers Greely, York, Yarmouth and Falmouth. If they can survive that gauntlet, the Falcons' slate then gets much easier before a closing Falmouth, NYA, Cape Elizabeth stretch. Freeport has its share of winnable games and will need to take advantage to be in contention for the postseason. This will be a building year, but the Falcons figure to be vastly improved by October. If they can find a way to spring an upset somewhere along the way, they might just have a shot at ending a three-year playoff drought.

FUN FACT: Last year's four wins were a two-game improvement over the 2007 team. That marked the first time since 2004 that the Falcons won more games than they did the previous season.

FOOTBALL

FIRST YEAR VARSITY PROGRAM

COACH: Rob Grover (first year)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Miguel Beckles (Senior), Calvin Burgess (Senior), Kyle Moore (Senior), Jake Deppmeyer (Junior), Jerard Knighton (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 12 (H) SACOPEE, Sept. 19 (H) MADISON, Oct. 3 (H) OOB, Oct. 24 (H) YARMOUTH

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have 26 kids. We have some athletes. We hope to be competitive and to build the program. The attitudes are very good. Offensively, I think we can be very strong. We have a lot of skill guys. Defense will come with time and learning."

FORECASTER'S FORECAST: After enjoying great success at the junior varsity level, Freeport becomes a varsity program this fall and has its work cut out. There are some very formidable, long-established programs on the schedule, but the Falcons feel they can compete. Sophomore Jerard Knighton will be the quarterback. He'll turn to Beckels and Burgess to move the ball on the ground. Moore and junior Matt McMillan will be receiving threats. Deppmeyer and junior Joe Lowman, a transfer from Cheverus, anchor the offensive line. Sophomore Caleb Emerson-Maines will do the kicking. On defense, Burgess, Deppmeyer and Lowman will be on the line. The linebacking corps is led by Moore. The secondary features Beckels, Knighton and McMillan. Grover has experience with start-up programs. He was with Falmouth during its early days and the Yachtsmen are now one of the better teams in Western B. It will take Freeport awhile to be a contender in Class C, but the Falcons could hang tough with some of the lower level teams they face this season. There are winnable games on the schedule. Freeport would love nothing more than to end the year with a win over rival Yarmouth. Look for slow, but steady growth from this bunch.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Sara Dimick (second year)

2008 Record: 3-10-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Hannah Goodenow (Senior), Lauren Parker (Senior), Hannah Schuchert (Senior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 (H) NYA, Sept. 17 @ Sacopee, Sept. 29 @ NYA, Oct. 3 (H) SACOPEE

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have larger numbers this year and are pleased to be able to fill two teams. We're readily preparing to make bigger steps this season as a team and as individuals. The seniors have provided the team with devoted leadership. The team as a whole seems excited and eager for the season."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: After a transition season, the Falcons are hoping to return to contention this fall. The overall strength of the league is down now that St. Dom's has departed and Freeport has an easier schedule as a result. The Falcons feature one of the better goalies in the area in Schuchert, who has seen plenty of action over her career. Schuchert was a first-team all-star a year ago. The offense is led by Goodenow, a second-team all-star in 2008, and Parker. Several other players and a group of newcomers are eager to show what they can do. After facing defending state champion NYA in the opener, Freeport's schedule is largely favorable. If the seniors can establish confidence and the team can get some momentum with early victories, the Falcons should easily improve on last year's win total and be a playoff contender. This team could make quite a jump before all is said and done.

FUN FACT: Half of Freeport's 14 goals last year came in its three wins and one tie.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Brian Berkemeyer (third year)

2008 Results:
(BOYS) DNQ for state meet (7th @ regionals)
(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class B state meet (22nd @ New Englands)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Griffen Day (Junior), Spencer Egan (Junior), Charlie Lehmer (Junior), Bennett Wade (Junior), Charlie Baker (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Kiera Berkemeyer (Senior), Lindsey Merrill (Senior), Lauren Easler (Junior), Brie Roy (Junior), Ellie Soule (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: NYA, Waynflete

COACH'S COMMENT: "The boys have a solid team with a lot of depth.. Our newcomers will make an immediate impact. Going back to Class C this year will mix it up at the end of the season, but we have the benefit of running in one of the strongest conferences in the state. The girls lost our top three runners from last year. We're missing the depth we had in the past, but the girls expect a lot from each other. It should be a very interesting year. With only six runners, we'll need to be a tight-knit group. We're looking forward to a very exciting season."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Freeport has been a cross country power this decade and both teams expect to be solid in 2009.

The boys fell just short of the state meet last season and now that they're back in Class C, they plan to make it all the way to the final weekend. Several good athletes return. Day was 36th at the regional meet in 2008. Wade (60th), Egan (61st) and Lehmer (76th) could also be formidable. Senior Henry Loughlin (who didn't run as a junior), junior Max Jennings (who missed 2008 with injury) and Baker provide depth. New junior Scott Ross will make an immediate splash. Sophomore Taylor Saucier, who competed in outdoor track, will also be a welcome addition. Look for the Falcons to hold their own against tough league foes and be in a good position to make noise at the big end-of-the-season meets. States is a likely destination.

On the girls' side, last year's Class B runners-up lost their top three, but will contend in Class C. Berkemeyer (29th at last season's state meet), Merrill (32nd) and Easler (54th) are top returners. Roy and Soule, along with freshman Lia Wellen, make up the rest of what could be a solid pack. The small team will give its all and if it can stay healthy, will have a chance to continue the program's strong legacy.

GOLF

COACH: Jason Lemont (fifth year)

2008 Results: 2-8 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYER: Austin Dryer (Junior), Seth Crean (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: NYA, Yarmouth

COACH'S COMMENT: "There are a lot of tough teams to compete against. This year is a building year for us. We're looking for Seth to toe the line for us."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Freeport will make the most of its small roster this season. Dryer and Crean have experience. They're joined by freshman Nick Tardif and a group of other golfers seeking to make a name for themselves. The Falcons have a relatively favorable schedule which will help them compete. Only NYA and Yarmouth appear to be daunting foes. Freeport doesn't have any delusions of qualifying for states, but this team will be feisty and hope to earn a few match wins as it goes along.

Photo: File photo
Senior Eric Wold will be in the middle of the action for the Freeport boys' soccer team this fall.

Photo: File photo
Junior Molly Curry is one of the top returners for the Freeport girls' soccer team.

Photo: File photo
Junior Griffen Day finished 36th at last year's regional meet. He and his teammates are hoping to qualify for states this autumn.