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Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Preview

The fall teams at Yarmouth High will once again be fun to watch. Boys' soccer is coming off an inspirational state title and has the potential to do it again. The girls' soccer squad is young, but very dangerous. Football earned its first varsity win a year ago and now hopes to become a contender in Class C. Field hockey expects to be a playoff threat. Both cross country teams have some intriguing talent and could enjoy success. Golf welcomes a new coach and expects to build on last year's success. Volleyball has been a playoff regular the past couple seasons and looks to become even more formidable this time around.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Mike Hagerty (13th year)

2008 Record: 13-3-2 (Beat Presque Isle 1-0 to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ebrahim Fazeli (Senior), Jeff Kuklewicz (Senior), Ryan Melvin (Senior), Travis Merrill (Senior), A.J. Oliver (Senior), Colby Shields (Senior), Matt Waldroup (Senior), Kyle Groves (Junior), Luke Pierce (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 10 @ Freeport, Sept. 17 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 28 (H) GREELY, Oct. 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 8 @ Falmouth, Oct. 19 @ Greely

COACH'S COMMENT: "We'll have a different team this year. We don't have anyone as good as Johnny Murphy, but we have the potential to have a better 10. We're starting seven or eight seniors. Our bench will be our strength. We can go 16 to 18 deep. We need to find our scoring touch. We're a little behind Falmouth in talent, but hopefully we'll close the gap with hard work. I think that we're technically not where we want to be yet, but at this point, I feel as good as I've ever felt about being really good in October. I'm very excited."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The stirring memories of last November still resonate in Yarmouth. After years of playing second fiddle to Falmouth, the Clippers rose up and got the best of the Yachtsmen at the most optimal time, rallying behind Johnny Murphy and Luke Pierce in the second half to stun Falmouth in the regional final. Then, in an almost anticlimactic state game, Yarmouth finally found a way to push a goal across when in a case of lightning striking twice, Matt Morrill repeated his brother Justin's feat from four years earlier, finding the net in the second half to beat Presque Isle. While the Clippers lost several key seniors (none bigger than the standout Murphy, now at Bates), this team has the potential to be special as well. Pierce is a star-in-the-making, a player who seems to be at his best in the spotlight, scoring only the biggest goals. Fazeli (a reigning league and regional all-star) has great speed and is a threat to tickle the twine. Merrill (another league and regional all-star in 2008) will also have to be accounted for. Waldroup brings energy to the midfield and attack. A couple newcomers could also help the offense. Sophomore Ryan Maguire (a lefty like Murphy) who is currently out with mono, will be difficult to contain when he returns. Sophomore Sam Torres also shows promise. On defense, Groves, Melvin and Shields lead the way. Kuklewicz will pitch in, as will new sophomore Josh Britten, who saw limited team on varsity in 2008 and is eager to prove himself. In goal, Oliver (a second-team WMC all-star last season) was right in the middle of Yarmouth's rise to the top a year ago, has faced several key situations and should be dominant as a senior. It's quite possible that the two best teams in the state reside in Class B this year. The Clippers are happy to let Falmouth handle the pressure. Yarmouth can't look ahead to October or beyond. The team is still coming together and there are many tough tests on the slate. Hagerty always gets his crew to be at their best by season's end and if that trend continues this year, the Clippers will be tough to beat. Two Yarmouth-Falmouth games are guaranteed (and rest assured, the Clippers desperately want to end their home losing streak against the Yachtsmen, they get their chance on Sept. 17) and if local soccer fans get their wish, a third showdown will occur in the playoffs, hopefully in the regional final again. Buckle up, this promises to be another very exciting and likely successful campaign for Yarmouth.

FUN FACT: Yarmouth has had at least one tie in every season since 1975.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Rich Smith (23rd year)

2008 Record: 10-5-1 (Lost 2-1, 4-2 in PKs, to York in Western Class B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Lizzie Fischman (Senior), Becca Bell (Junior), Natalie Salmon (Junior), Devin Simsarian (Junior), Danielle Torres (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 17 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 28 (H) GREELY, Sept. 30 @ York, Oct. 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 8 @ Falmouth, Oct. 13 (H) YORK, Oct. 19 @ Greely

COACH'S COMMENT: "I've got a lot of young kids this year. We'll battle and be in the mix. I think we have some tough hard-nosed girls who need to play and practice together to figure it out. We're getting there. We'll be all right."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Yarmouth girls have been loudly knocking on the door the past few seasons and have suffered a string of agonizing playoff defeats to Falmouth and York. This year's young team can let Falmouth feel the pressure of expectations and come of age in time for the playoffs. While the Clippers are inexperienced, don't mistake that for a lack of talent. Some of the younger players are on the verge of becoming household names. On offense, Fischman (who was hurt near the end of last season), senior Annie Clabby (who was away in 2008) and Torres lead the attack. Midfielders Bell and the speedy Simsarian will also be hard to contain. Salmon anchors the defense. After the graduation of Courtney Penny, Yarmouth needs a new goalie. Sophomore Mary McGrail, a backup last fall, and junior Samantha Folcher are vying for the position. The Clippers have a favorable early schedule and if all goes well, could be 4-0 entering their first showdown with Falmouth on Sept. 17. Yarmouth might struggle at times this fall, but should still post another winning record and will be position to be a factor in the postseason. If the younger players continue their development, no one will want to see the Clippers with the season on the line.

FUN FACT: Yarmouth has enjoyed 10 wins or more in four straight seasons, a program record, eclipsing the three straight set by the 1994-96 teams.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Jim Hartman (third year)

2008 Results: 1-8 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: David Dietz (Senior), Spencer Dorsett (Senior), Eric Estabrook (Senior), Andrew Gabrielson (Senior), Brodie Woodson (Senior), Nate Pingitore (Junior), Nick Proscia (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 @ OOB, Sept. 11 (H) OAK HILL, Oct. 2 (H) LISBON, Oct. 9 @ Boothbay, Oct. 24 @ Freeport

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're hoping to improve. We're experienced, finally. We have nine seniors and 13 juniors. Now, we have to learn to win and to be mentally tough. The kids need to learn how to play 48 minutes and be focused. I think we have good running backs. We're bigger and better on both sides of the line. We need to stay healthy. I hope for three or four wins. Maybe more."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Yarmouth program finally arrived last Oct. 3 with its first-ever varsity win, 22-14 over visiting Madison. Overall, the Clippers were much more competitive in their second season and stand to improve even more this year. No longer is Yarmouth inexperienced and undersized. If all goes well, the Clippers could triple or quadruple last year's win total. Estabrook is back under center. He'll look to throw to Gabrielson, but most of the offense will focus on the ground game. Dietz, senior Andrew King (back from injury), Pingitore and Woodson will all look to do damage behind linemen Dorsett, Proscia and newcomers senior Phil Lowe, junior Kyler Morton and sophomore Jon Held. Dietz will handle the placekicking. The offense averaged nearly 20 points per game last season and could be even more prolific this year. If so, Yarmouth will be in virtually every contest. The defense hopes to step it up. That unit surrendered an average of 28 points a game in 2008. This year, the line features Gabrielson, Held, Lowe and Morton. Dorsett, King and Proscia are at linebacker. The secondary includes Dietz, Estabrook, Pingitore and Woodson, who is also Yarmouth's punter. With a pair of new teams (Freeport and Sacopee) on the schedule, the Clippers should be a lock to win more games than they did last season. If Yarmouth is able to remain an offensive force and play stronger defense, some close losses from a year ago could turn into wins, putting the Clippers in the middle of the playoff hunt. This program has come a long way from its first varsity season of 2007 and will be fun to watch as the 2009 campaign unfolds.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Mandy Peaslee (third year)

2008 Record: 2-11-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Samantha Hall (Senior), Caitlin McGrail (Senior), Emily Parker (Senior), Maddy Pizey (Senior), Cassidy Cleaves (Junior), Lindsey Purpura (Junior), Catie O'Toole (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 11 @ Lake Region, Sept. 17 @ York, Sept. 22 @ Greely, Sept. 25 @ Falmouth, Oct. 1 (H) LAKE REGION, Oct. 5 (H) YORK, Oct. 9 (H) GREELY

COACH'S COMMENT: "As we continue to build a strong program, we hope to be competitive against the top teams. Playoffs are a definite goal and if we work hard as a team and play as one unit, we will achieve that goal. It will depend upon how well we play together rather than as individuals."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Clippers look to return to their 2007 playoff form this fall. Yarmouth has a chance to get back in the playoff mix in a season in which Western Class B doesn't appear to have a dominant team. The Clippers simply have to produce more offense in 2009. They scored only seven goals in 14 outings last year and never had more than two goals in any single contest. This year, Yarmouth will turn to McGrail, O'Toole, Pizey and Purpura to rattle the cage. New sophomore Sarah Gorman could also make an impact. Cleaves and Parker lead the defense. Sophomore Susannah Daggett should also be a factor. Hall will be in goal. The Clippers have some tough tests right out of the gate and will quickly learn where they stand. An improved offense will take this team a long way. Look for Yarmouth to be more competitive this season and for it to really be a factor down the stretch. If all goes well, the Clippers will be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

FUN FACT: In games in which the Clippers scored a goal a year ago, they were 2-3-1. Yarmouth was shutout on eight occasions.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Bob Morse (29th year)

2008 Results:
(BOYS) 5th @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) DNQ for Class B state meet (9th @ regional meet)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Larsen Andrews (Senior), Lucas Hamilton (Senior), Jackson Lee (Senior), Sam Peterson (Senior), Elias Pitegoff (Senior), Sam Woodbury (Senior), Tim Wright (Senior), Andrew George (Junior), Sam Kapner (Junior), Ben Nickerson (Junior), Ben Woodbury (Junior)
(GIRLS) Ellie Hurd (Senior), Samantha Post (Senior), Madison Rankin (Junior), Anne Ryan (Junior), Chloe Sarapas (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH'S COMMENT: "The boys' team is strong up front and is looking to fill the 5, 6 and 7 spots. We'll be in the hunt for qualifying for states. The big issue facing the team is who is going to be our strong No. 5 runner? The girls have a good mix of veterans and newcomers. We have the same goal of making it to states. We're excited to have five freshmen joining the team. I hope this is a new trend. The veteran runners will have to work hard and encourage the newcomers to work hard. There are some untested runners, but the spirit is the highest it's been in a couple years. We're still the baby Class B team with the smallest enrollment."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth typically makes the most of small numbers and this year's teams should continue that trend.

The boys made it to the state meet in 2008, enjoyed their best showing since 1998, and are primed to make it back. Nickerson is the top returner. He was an all-star last year and placed 16th at the state meet. George (24th at states), Ben Woodbury (26th), Sam Woodbury (43rd) and Peterson (55th) are also back. Wright, Andrews, Hamilton, Kapner, Lee and Pitegoff add depth. If that's not enough, talented senior athletes Evan Henry and Cam Woodworth are also out this fall. They're joined by freshmen Chase Hughes, Thomas Robichaud and Ty Romo. Yarmouth should be able to compete with the elite teams in the Western Maine Conference and has an opportunity to repeat last year's stellar showing at the big meets.

On the girls' side, it won't take much to improve a couple spots and make it to the state meet this year. The top returner is Sarapas, who came in 25th at the regional meet. Rankin finished 55th and Post was 57th. Hurd and Ryan bring experience. Sophomores Laurel Hurd, Hannah Potter and Phoebe Walsh have a year under their belts. Several newcomers will look to be factors as well. That group includes sophomores Leah Bevins and Lindsay Wheaton and freshman Carolyn Adams, Caroline Macleod, Emma Pidden, Joss Richard-Daniels and Sydney Sperber. Yarmouth has the potential to enjoy a solid season and earn a trip to Twin Brook for the state meet.

GOLF

COACH: Tom McDowell (first year)

2008 Record: 3-6 (5th @ Class B state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Tanner Johnson (Senior), Brian Lavarriere (Senior), Nick McMenamin (Senior), Joe King (Junior), Ian Marr (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH'S COMMENT: "We look to build off of a strong finish to last year's season. We have a veteran team with senior leadership and plenty of experience. Our top six will match up well with other teams in our league."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth won just three matches in the regular season in 2008, but certainly came to life at the right time, finishing a surprising third at the qualifying meet to deny favorite Cape Elizabeth a state match berth, then, at states, placed fifth to cap a stirring run. This year, the Clippers welcome a new coach in McDowell, a longtime player who has worked at golf courses for years and coached previously in Connecticut. He works as a special educator at the high school. The team he inherits is talented and determined to make a return trip to the state match. Johnson, King and Marr all fired an 86 at last year's state championship. McMenamin shot an 89 and Lavarriere had a 90. All five stand to be even more impressive this time around. Freshman Red Desmith joins the fun and adds depth. Yarmouth will run the gauntlet of top contenders in the regular season and probably won't have a sparkling won-loss record, but the Clippers proved last year that the most important rounds are the qualifying rounds. This team's talent and experience should allow them to be right there again in October. Don't be surprised if Yarmouth makes a return trip to Natanis.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Jim Senecal (third year)

2008 Results: 6-9 (Lost 3-0 to Falmouth in West Region quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kate Darrell (Senior), Rachel Moser (Senior), Morgan Ruetty (Senior), Abbie Hutchinson (Junior), Morgan Cahill (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 4 (H) GORHAM, Sept. (8) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 11 (H) BIDDEFORD, Sept. 21 @ Falmouth, Sept. 29 @ Greely, Oct. 16 @ Scarborough

COACH'S COMMENT: "Yarmouth will continue its upswing toward the top of the league this year. There are lots of good signs that point to what could be a very successful season for us. Our program has tripled its numbers in the last three years and we're getting more top athletes than we have in the past. Our summer program was extremely well attended and the kids are more enthusiastic than ever. With only 50 percent of teams making the playoffs, it will be tougher for us to make a third straight appearance. We'll have to bypass a couple teams in our league that have finished ahead of us in the past. I'm confident, however, that we can do that with the team we have this year."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth overcame an 0-3 start a year ago to return to the playoffs. Now, the Clippers are looking to post a winning record and make another postseason trip. The senior tri-captains have a lot of experience and bring diverse skills to the team. Darrell, a libero, will set up her teammates and will break the hearts of opposing hitters with her ability to deny spikes. Moser, an outside hitter, is one of the team's best and fastest players. She can play in the front or back row and has an impressive spike. Ruetty, is an outside hitter as well. She has worked hard on her game and moves into the starting rotation. Hutchinson, a setter, has a year under her belt. She's a leader on the court. Cahill plays middle hitter. At 6-1, she'll be dominant at the net. Sophomore Suzanne Driscoll joins the team. Driscoll is never shy about hitting the floor to save a shot and will bring great energy. Yarmouth has plenty of reason for excitement. More and more good athletes have joined the program and several girls are playing year round. The Clippers appear better prepared to go up against traditional power Greely and rivals like Biddeford, Falmouth, Gorham and Scarborough. Yarmouth will need to post a winning record to make the playoffs this season. This team is certainly capable of doing so. The Clippers could also be a dangerous foe in the postseason. Look for good things from this squad this autumn.

Photo: File photo
Junior Luke Pierce has a penchant for being right in the middle of the action and for scoring clutch goals.

Photo: File photo
Junior Danielle Torres is one of the most exciting players in the Western Maine Conference.

Photo: File photo
Senior Andrew Gabrielson can be a nightmare for opposing defenders.

Photo: File photo
Junior Nate Pingitore will see plenty of carries this season.

Photo: File photo
Junior Andrew George finished 24th at the state meet a year ago. He's part of what could be a very strong Clippers' team this season.

Photo: File photo
Junior Chloe Sarapas is the girls' cross country team's top returning runner.