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Cheverus Stags Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Cheverus Stags Winter Sports Preview

Cheverus is always in the middle of the title hunt in several winter sports. This year should be no different. The boys' basketball team has been as successful as any in recent years and is loaded for bear once again. The girls' squad continues to inch its way up the ladder and hopes to finally make the leap to the postseason. Girls' hockey has already proved to be one of the finest teams in the state. The boys' squad welcomes a new coach and hopes to return to prominence. Both track teams feature strong athletes and should be factors in the league and state-wide. Both swim squads show great promise. Nordic skiing and wrestling welcome new coaches and hope to make a mark. Alpine skiing also has a new coach this winter, but no information on that team was available at press time.

BOYS BASKETBALL

COACH: Bob Brown (ninth year)

2008-09 Record: 19-1 (Lost 47-41 to Thornton Academy in Western A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Indiana Faithfull (Senior), Kyle Randall (Senior), Peter Gwilym (Junior), Louie DiStasio (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 (H) WESTBROOK, Dec. 15 (H) PORTLAND, Dec. 18 (H) WINDHAM, Jan. 5 (H) TA, Jan. 12 @ Deering, Jan. 15 @ Portland, Jan. 22 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Feb. 2 (H) DEERING, Feb. 5 @ South Portland

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're good, but I don't know if we're good enough or strong enough. We have some nice players. We're very long, but not very bulky. We'll have to be aggressive and agile. Indy will have to score more than he has in the past. There are a lot of good teams in the league this year."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: If they awarded championships on regular season performance, Cheverus would have won it going away in 2008-09, but unfortunately for the Stags, they weren't able to play their best in the tournament and were unceremoniously sent packing by eventual champ Thornton Academy in a shocking semifinal result. Weep not for Cheverus, however, as it has the goods to win a second Class A crown in three seasons. While standout Mick DiStasio (the league's second-leading scorer and Most Valuable Player last winter) has moved on, several other quality players return. Leading the way is the sensational Faithfull, a reigning first-team all-star, now in his third season at point guard. Widely recognized as the best point guard in the state (he led the league in assists and was fourth in steals last winter), he'll be called on to shoot more and he's capable of lighting it up on a nightly basis. He averaged 12.2 points per game a year ago and opened with 15 in an 80-35 home win over Noble Friday night. Sophomore Louie DiStasio (10 points versus Noble) and senior Kyle Randall are also dangerous from the perimeter. Gwilym (Cheverus' Fall Male Athlete of the Year after leading the football team to the regional final) will also be a force. A trio of newcomers will also be heard from. The biggest addition is Alex Furness, a junior transfer from Wells, who has the potential to be a star. He had 12 points in his first game in a Stags' uniform. Junior center Griffin Brady (who played JV last year) and 6-foot-7 freshman Matt Cimino will also step right in and contribute. Coach Brown always preaches strong defense, which often goes overlooked (Cheverus was first in the league on defense last year) and that should be a strong point again. The Stags are always in the mix, but this year, they'll be playing with a chip on their shoulder, looking to avenge last season's early ouster. If Cheverus can stay healthy, there's a very good chance this is still the gold standard in the Southern Maine Activities Association and possibly all of Class A. While the Stags likely won't go undefeated again, they will be in great position come February to make a legitimate run at another championship.

FUN FACT: Last year, for the second time in five seasons, Cheverus finished the regular season undefeated, but lost in the tournament. The last time the Stags went undefeated and won a state title was 1980-81.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Richie Ashley (third year)

2008-09 Record: 8-11 (Lost 33-27 to McAuley in Western A preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Theresa Hendrix (Senior), Hanna Lyons, (Senior), Anna Snook (Senior), Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 12 (H) PORTLAND, Dec. 15 @ McAuley, Dec. 18 @ Windham, Dec. 30 @ Biddeford, Jan. 5 @ TA, Jan. 9 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 12 @ Deering, Jan. 22 @ South Portland, Feb. 2 (H) MCAULEY, Feb. 5 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND

COACH'S COMMENT: "We only have four seniors and one junior. We have five freshmen on varsity. We're on the verge. We have to win games we're supposed to win, then knock off one of the top teams. We're quick and more athletic and fast than last year. We have a little more height. Theresa and the other seniors will be key. Making the tournament's the goal. We want to be in the top seven and avoid a prelim on the road."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Stags have been oh-so-close to a first ever trip to the Expo for the quarterfinals the past two years, but have dropped heartbreaking preliminary round decisions at Marshwood and McAuley. This year's team will likely be very tough by February, but might struggle a bit in the early going, due to its youth. While the 2008-09 squad had an abundance of seniors, this year's team only has a handful, but they are quality players. Hendrix, a guard, is a standout three-sport athlete and will be in the middle of things from start to finish. She had a dozen points in Cheverus' season-opening 51-30 victory over Noble Friday. Palazzi-Leahy (an SMAA All-Rookie team selection last winter, after finishing fourth in the league in foul shooting percentage) showed promise as a freshman and could emerge as one of the team's top scorers (as evidenced by her 15 points versus Noble). Lyons and Snook bring experience, then there are three new players who will immediately make a mark. Freshman center Brooke Flaherty, a 6-footer, will help Cheverus in the paint and figures to be a starter from the get-go. Fellow freshmen Mikayla Mayberry and Victoria Nappi also look to make an impact. While two-time defending state champion Deering, Scarborough, McAuley and Biddeford figure to be in the top tier (at least on paper), there are an abundance of teams in the running for the other playoff spots. The Stags are certainly one of them. It will be important for Cheverus to get off to a good start. The Stags have some early, winnable games and any positive results will be huge for confidence. Rest assured, this group will come together in the weeks to come, but the question remains can they win enough games to make it to the tournament? A good start will go a long way toward making the answer affirmative. This program will continue to play exciting basketball as it nears its goal of being one of the top teams in the region.

FUN FACT: Last season's eight victories were a program high. Cheverus is still seeking its first .500 or better campaign.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Dan Lucas (first year)

2008-09 Record: 3-14-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Matt Cartmell (Senior), John McDonald (Senior), Kyle Sangillo (Senior), Josh Courtois (Junior), Harry Ridge (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 12 @ Scarborough, Dec. 19 @ Kennebunk, Dec. 23 @ Deering, Jan. 7 (H) PORTLAND, Jan. 16 @ South Portland, Jan. 30 (H) FALMOUTH, Feb. 6 (H) GORHAM, Feb. 13 @ Portland

COACH'S COMMENT: "It's a young team. A nice mix of returning and younger players. Our scoring will be spread out. A sense of urgency and a willingness to work as a team is the expectation. We're trying to get everyone to learn and to get excited about playing hockey. We're trying to create a winning atmosphere."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: After the departure of Jack Lowry, the most successful coach in program history, the Stags welcome an impressive new head man in Lucas, who played professionally for the Maine Mariners and Philadelphia Flyers. He's assisted by Guy Delparte, another former pro player, and two members of the 2005 Class A state champions, Bryan Lavoie and Tim Webber. This is Lucas' first high school job and while he knows his work is cut out, he's optimistic about the team's future. This winter, Cheverus has plenty of holes to fill, but has ample promise. Defense could be the strength as Courtois, McDonald and Ridge all return. Sophomore Max Boucher steps in as the goalie (he made 15 saves in Saturday's season-opening 1-0 loss to Massabesic/OOB). On offense, look for Cartmell and Sangillo to lead a balanced attack. Sophomore Tommy Sullivan will also be in the mix. Cheverus has its share of challenging games, but early on, the Stags have a chance to earn some wins and get out of the gate on a positive note. There are plenty of question marks on the team, but look for the new coaches to mold this squad into a formidable unit by year's end. A playoff trip might still be a year or two away, but as 2009-10 progresses, no contender will want to line up across the ice from this team.

FUN FACT: Cheverus has managed 12 combined wins the past three seasons. From 1999 through 2006, the Stags won at least 12 games each year.

GIRLS' HOCKEY

COACH: J.P. Lavoie (third year)

2008-09 Record: 16-3-1 (Lost 2-1 to Biddeford in West Region Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Alyssa Audet (Senior), Grace Fitzpatrick (Senior), Saundrine Lanouette (Senior), Caitlin Pleau (Senior), Sage Witham (Senior), Emily Sawchuck (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 @ Falmouth, Dec. 15 @ Scarborough, Dec. 22 (H) BIDDEFORD, Jan. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 14 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 28 (H) ST. DOM'S

COACH'S COMMENT: "We will be competitive. We should be in the mix when the playoffs arrive. We feel we're one of several teams in the west who have a chance to make it to the state championship game."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Based on what the Stags have done so far, lofty goals are realistic. After falling just short of the state final in 2008-09, this winter, Cheverus has dominated, winning its first four games in one-sided fashion (8-0 over Cape Elizabeth, 7-0 over Greely, 7-2 over Deering and 7-0 over defending champion Lewiston) to make an emphatic, early statement. Then, Saturday, Cheverus avenged last year;s playoff loss with an 8-0 drubbing of host Biddeford. The Stags' offense has come from many different sources. Audet (an SMAA and all-regional first-team forward last year) has been close to unstoppable at times, scoring four times in the opener. Fitzpatrick (first team league and regional all-star in 2008-09), Pleau (reigning first-team conference and regional all-star), Sawchuck (second-team league and regional all-star last winter), Witham (another reigning SMAA second-teamer and honorable mention all-region player), junior Anna McDonough, sophomore Sarah LaQuerre (who turned heads in field hockey this fall) and freshman Katie Roy have all made their mark as well. When they're not busy filling the net, Fitzpatrick, LaQuerre, Pleau and Roy are also forces on defense in front of Lanouette (a first-team all-regional and second-team league all-star in 2008-09), who is one of the best goalies around (and has yet to surrender a goal). If this team can stay healthy, it could be the team to beat come February. Cross country just won Cheverus' first-ever girls' state championship. There's a good chance this squad could be the second.

INDOOR TRACK

BOYS COACH: Bruce Bickford (third year)

GIRLS COACH: Valerie Guillet (10th year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) 5th @ Southwesterns (6th @ Class A state meet)

(GIRLS) 5th @ Southwesterns (8th @ Class A state meet)

TOP RETURNNG ATHLETES:

(BOYS) Taylor Dundas (Senior), Beau Michaud (Senior), James Rutter (Senior), Andrew Snyder (Senior), John White (Senior), Jack Terwilliger (Junior)

(GIRLS) Emily Ford (Senior), Ashley Giddinge (Senior), Abby Norbert (Senior), Liana Rubinoff (Senior), Alex Dion (Junior), Caroline Summa (Junior), Fiona Hendry (Sophomore), Katie Shapiro (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Bonny Eagle, Gorham, Scarborough, Thornton Academy

COACH BICKFORD'S COMMENT: "We have good numbers. I'm very excited about that. We're strong in the distance and the throws. We're thin everywhere else. We hope to find a few other guys for those events. It should be interesting this year. We've been rebuilding indoors since I've been here. I feel like we'll be a lot more competitive this year."

COACH GUILLET'S COMMENT: "The team remains small, but we have doubled our numbers compared to last year. We have quite a few freshmen which is a great thing, even though it won't immediately pay off. Our returning athletes have the experience and talent to do well at states while focusing throughout the season on getting strong and building confidence for the outdoor season. If everyone performs as expected, we'll do very well."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Cheverus indoor track program, as always, stands to do plenty of damage this winter.

The boys' team is led by its nonpareil distance contingent. A year ago, Dundas, Terwilliger and Snyder were three-quarters of a Class A champion 3,200 relay team. Snyder finished runner-up in the 800, Terwilliger was second in the two-mile and Dundas was fifth in the mile last season. All three standouts expect to be just as strong (if not even better) this time around. Nearly as solid as the distance runners are the Stags' throwers. Last winter, White was fourth in the shot put. Michaud and Rutter both will look to score this season. Senior Matt Place, known for his football skills, joins the throwing roster as well. Junior Jack Bushey is the top threat in the shorter races. While Cheverus doesn't have the depth to be a serious threat at the state level, it should be one of the best teams in the league and could easily improve upon last year's February showings.

On the girls' side, the Stags should be very strong in several events. Hendry is the reigning state champion in the mile and the two-mile. Norbert and Rubinoff also provide distance depth. Summa was runner-up in the high jump last year. She'll look to take home the championship this time around. Ford could also be a factor in the jumps, as well as the shot put and sprints. Other throwers to watch include Giddinge, Shapiro and new senior Audrey Grinnell, who just signed a softball letter of intent to the University of Connecticut. In addition to Ford, Dion, Summa and new sophomore Samantha Shannon will also be formidable in the sprints. The potential exists for plenty of points to be scored this winter. Cheverus isn't on the short list of favorites, but will make its presence felt in the weeks to come.

SWIMMING

COACH: Kevin Haley (21st year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) 3rd @ Southwesterns (2nd @ Class A state meet)

(GIRLS) 8th @ Southwesterns (15th @ Class A state meet)

TOP RETURNING SWIMMERS:

(BOYS) Mark Dumond (Senior), Cameron Lindsley (Senior), Cal Rohde (Sophomore), Lukas Temple (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Kayla Binford (Senior), Janna Libby (Senior), Miriam Nielsen (Senior), Katherine Moreshead (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Deering, Scarborough

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have some nice additions to both teams to give us depth. We are very young, but experienced. We're looking to qualify as many kids as possible for the state championships. Cheverus will have a very strong boys' and girls' team and will be competitive again this year."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both Cheverus swim teams will be a factor this winter.

The boys have been state runner-ups 12 times (including each of the past two seasons) since their last Class A title in 1979. This year's squad should be in the hunt again. Rohde was runner-up in the 200 and the 500 freestyle last winter. Lindsley was fourth in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 free in 2008-09. Dumond could be in the hunt for the top spot in the breaststroke. Temple is a top sprinter. Freshman Trebor Lawton joins the fun and could become a premier swimmer in several different disciplines. Senior Chris Giordano (a transfer from Massabesic), a breaststroker, and freshman Reed Fernandez (breaststroke and freestyle) provide depth. This will be a team that will be tough to beat in the regular season and one the will turn heads at the postseason meets.

On the girls' side, look for Cheverus to move up the ladder. Binford (freestyle), Libby (sprint freestyle) and Nielsen (freestyle) all have experience. Moreshead will swim everything from the breaststroke to the individual medley to the butterfly to distance freestyle. New sophomore Maria Cianchette (the team's top diver) and freshmen (Clara Boscoe (sprint freestyle), Nichole Chambers (everything), Tessa Lindsley (sprint freestyle and breaststroke) and Samantha Savaun (everything) are stars in the making. The Stags should be able to compete with all comers in the regular year and in February.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Craig Whiton (first year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) No score @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) No score @ Class A state meet

SKIERS TO WATCH

(BOYS) Tim Woods (Senior)

(GIRLS) Deirdre Lambert (Senior)

FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus has joined Deering, Portland and Casco Bay High Schools under the Portland Nordic Ski Club umbrella this winter. Both Lambert and Woods (a running standout) look to make an impact. The Stags don't have enough skiers to score as a team, but these two individuals will be worth keeping an eye on. Look for this program to grow in the years to come.

WRESTLING

COACH: Ben McCrillis (first year)

2008-09 Results: Did not qualify for state meet

TOP RETURNERS: Kane Molleo (Junior), Mike Dedian (Sophomore)

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have really good numbers. I'm looking to build off what I have now. We don't have a tradition to build on. We're trying to create one. We want to finish a full year of dual meets and be competitive and healthy. We'd like to win a dual meet."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Cheverus wrestling program is essentially starting from scratch this winter under McCrillis, who wrestled at Westbrook, American International and with the U.S. World team. He's optimistic about the future, but knows this year's team is raw. Three wrestlers could make a quick impact. Molleo (140 pounds) and Dedian (189) return. Freshman Ian Whitis (103 pounds) looks to make his mark. The Stags should meet their goal of winning in the regular season and look to send at least one wrestler to the state meet.

Photo:

Senior point guard extraordinaire Indiana Faithfull looks to lead the Stags to a state title this winter.

MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Photo:
Senior John McDonald will be right in the middle of the action this winter for a Cheverus team looking to contend.

Photo:
Senior Caitlin Pleau is one of several Stags who have gotten off to a stellar start this winter.