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Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Winter is always a time of triumph at Yarmouth. That's largely because of the superb skiing program, which always dominates, in Alpine and Nordic competition. The Clippers are ready to do it again. On the hardcourt, each team is young and isn't facing high expectations, but both should surprise in the weeks to come. Boys' and girls' hockey look to improve. The track and swim programs both welcome new coaches.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Adam Smith (sixth year)

2008-09 Record: 14-5 (Lost 66-58 to Cape Elizabeth in Western B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Evan Henry (Senior), Jeff Kuklewicz (Senior), Mike McCormack (Junior), Matt Murphy (Junior), Luke Pierce (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 @ Greely, Dec. 17 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Dec. 19 @ Falmouth, Dec. 22 (H) YORK, Jan. 5 @ Gray-NG, Jan. 8 (H) LAKE REGION, Jan. 12 @ NYA, Jan. 14 (H) FREEPORT, Jan. 20 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 23 @ York, Jan. 26 @ Freeport, Jan. 29 (H) GREELY, Feb. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 5 (H) GRAY-NG

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have expectations in our locker room. I like that the kids think that they belong in the top group. That goes a long way with a young team. They won't back down or be intimidated. There's been high energy and intensity in practice. It's a close-knit team. Most people think we're rebuilding, but the guys think we're reloading."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth's goal since returning to prominence three years ago was to remain a contender year-in, year-out. After losing big-time scorer Johnny Murphy to graduation, some might think the Clippers will fade this winter, but don't count on it. Smith is quietly confident and his team got off to a good start over the weekend with a 53-37 home victory over Poland. Henry had 14 points and McCormack pitched in with 13 and four others scored, suggesting that this year's team will feature a balanced offense and that opposing defenses won't be able to key on stopping just one player. Yarmouth should really be formidable when sophomore Josh Britten, the point guard, is back to full health. He's playing with a broken wrist, suffered during soccer season. Kuklewicz and Pierce will add depth at the guard position. Both are gamers, who live for the big moments. Matt Murphy had nine points in the opener and hopes to uphold his family's legacy while creating his own niche at forward. Keep an eye on junior Dustin McCrossin and sophomore Sam Torres as well. Falmouth, Greely and Cape Elizabeth are considered the favorites in the Western Maine Conference, for good reason. After that, several teams will be in the hunt for playoff spots and the Clippers have to be considered one of those squads that could be playing in mid-February. Yarmouth won't be rebuilding this winter. The Clippers' reloading process promises to deliver another exciting and competitive team. If they stay healthy and play with confidence, this squad will be right in the middle of things by season's end.

FUN FACT: Yarmouth has won 30 games over the past two years. That's the best two-season stretch since the 1973 and 1974 teams managed 33 victories.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Nick Nash (third year)

2008-09 Record: 7-11 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Emily Clark (Junior), Olivia Harrison (Junior), Devin Simsarian (Junior), Morgan Cahill (Sophomore), Jeanna Lowery (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 @ Greely, Dec. 17 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Dec. 19 @ Falmouth, Dec. 22 @ York, Jan. 5 (H) GRAY-NG, Jan. 9 @ Lake Region, Jan. 12 (H) NYA, Jan. 14 (H) FREEPORT, Jan. 20 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 23 (H) YORK, Jan. 26 @ Freeport, Jan. 29 (H) GREELY, Feb. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 5 @ Gray-NG

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're a lot younger than we've been. The bulk of the team is sophomores and juniors. We have great chemistry. It's a close group that works hard. I think we're very athletic. I think we're a little quicker in the backcourt. We have more offensive weapons, but it'll be trial by fire without varsity experience. We hope to be one of those teams battling for one of the final playoff spots. I'm excited to see what the season holds."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth hoped to make it to the Portland Expo a year ago and appeared en route after an early win over Falmouth, but the Clippers dropped five of six from mid-January into February and wound up falling short of the postseason. After losing several experienced players, including point guard Michelle Moylan, Yarmouth regroups this season with a young, but promising roster. The Clippers got off to a great start Saturday with a 48-23 victory at Poland. Cahill, who had a solid freshman season (leading the team in points and rebounds), hinted at an even stronger sophomore campaign, as she opened with 19 points. Simsarian, the point guard and a third-year starter, looks to score more this season. She had 12 points at Poland. Harrison, a wing player, adds a scoring touch. Clark and Lowery will also be heard from. A trio of newcomers add depth and promise. Senior center Beth White will be a factor in the post. Senior Maddie Mahoney is another threat at guard. Junior forward Laura Klepinger is one of the team's best rebounders. Yarmouth is one of several teams that will be battling for one of the final Western B playoff spots. The Clippers have their destiny in their hands as they go head-to-head with many of those squads throughout the season. While Greely and York are at another level, Yarmouth thinks it can compete with everyone else. If the Clippers can earn enough positive results in what figures to be a lot of close games, they have a shot at a winning record and a postseason berth.

FUN FACT: Yarmouth's last winning season was 2005, when the Clippers went to their lone state final.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Marc Halsted (fifth year)

2008-09 Record: 4-12-2 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Conor Costello (Senior), Ethan Gray (Senior), Ian McGilp (Senior), Steven Petrovek (Senior), Joey King (Junior), Ben Nickerson (Junior), Marshall Brunelle (Sophomore), Max Grimm (Sophomore), Alex Kurtz (Sophomore), Patrick McLoon (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 12 @ Greely, Dec. 16 (H) LEAVITT, Dec. 19 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Jan. 8 (H) YORK, Jan. 23 (H) GREELY, Jan. 27 (H) PORTLAND, Feb. 1 @ York, Feb. 4 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 13 @ Leavitt, Feb. 15 (H) GARDINER

COACH'S COMMENT: "Our goal is to make the playoffs. We have a great group of kids who are excellent students and good people. It's been a lot of fun so far this year. If our work ethic continues to develop and we get production from our sophomore forwards, we could be a very competitive team throughout the year."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth got off to a promising start Saturday night with a 3-2 (overtime) victory at Camden. Kurtz played the hero, scoring twice, including the winner. Petrovek also scored. King had a pair of assists and Grimm and Petrovek each had one. Gray (an all-WMC honorable mention selection last winter) stopped 26 shots. That result will help build confidence for a team that has the potential to be in the running. The Clippers will feature a dynamic, balanced offensive attack behind Brunelle, Grimm (all-Rookie team in 2008-09), King, Kurtz, McGilp, Petrovek and freshman Mark Brown. On defense, look for Costello, Nickerson (an honorable mention all-star last year) and freshman Sam Landry to lead the way, protecting Gray and McLoon. Western Class B could be more balanced and deep than it's been in years. Defending state champion Greely and perennial contenders Cape Elizabeth and York are still at the top, but several other squads are in the running to make the postseason. Yarmouth has to be considered in that discussion. Once the gold standard in the region, the Clippers can continue their climb back toward the top with a solid effort over the next couple months. Based on the Opening Night result and the general attitude around the team, lofty goals are realistic.

FUN FACT: The last time the Clippers failed to qualify for the playoffs in back-to-back years (1982 and 1983), they advanced to the state final the following season.

GIRLS' ICE HOCKEY

COACH: David Neujahr (second year)

2008-09 Record: 6-11-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Alyssa Brown (Senior), Caitlinn Cyr (Senior), Brittni Neujahr (Senior), Hannah Schuchert (Senior), Courtney Barker (Junior), Suzanne Driscoll (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 9 (H) FALMOUTH, Dec. 11 @ Lewiston, Dec. 19 (H) ST. DOM'S, Jan. 14 @ Falmouth, Jan. 20 @ St. Dom's, Jan. 23 (H) GREELY, Jan. 30 (H) LEWISTON

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're moving in the right direction. Last year, nine girls had never played. We're teaching the game of hockey now. We're still in a tough region. I'm confident in our team. Our goal is to go .500 and make the playoffs. We missed by three Heal Points last year. It'll be tougher this year with our schedule. We have a much better skating team than we did last year."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth's tough schedule has led to a slow start this winter, but there's still time to right the ship. The Clippers have gotten offense so far from junior Alicia Piccirillo, Barker and Driscoll. Schuchert, an all-star defender last winter, is not only a lockdown player on that end of the ice, but is capable of scoring as well. Brown, Neujahr and freshman Gage Thurston should also see their share of production on offense. Defensively, along with Schuchert, Yarmouth will rely on Driscoll and freshman Caitlin Costello to protect Cyr, who is new to the position, but has already stepped up. The schedule eases somewhat over the next few weeks, so the Clippers will have a shot at earning some wins and gaining confidence. This program continues to head on an upward curve and will build on whatever success it can garner this year with even better seasons down the road.

INDOOR TRACK

COACHES: Hank Richards (first year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) 10th @ WMC meet (Tie-25th @ Class B state meet)

(GIRLS) No score @ WMC meet (no score @ Class B state meet)

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS)), Larson Andrews (Senior), David Dietz (Senior), Ebrahim Fazeli (Senior), Mike Johnson (Senior), Tim Wright (Senior), Asa Arden (Junior)

(GIRLS) Lizzie Fischman (Senior)

COACH'S COMMENT: "We have a really strong core of athletes. We hope our team of 25 can compete against teams of 80. The sprint core is our boys' strength. We'd like to get a handful of our girls to qualify for states. We would make an impact."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Richards takes over as coach this winter. He's the brother-in-law of longtime boys' soccer coach Mike Hagerty, competed at Deering High and is a substitute teacher at the high school. He inherits a program that could be primed to make a move.

The boys' have a lot of talent, including athletes who have made marks in other sports. Fazeli, one of the state's premier soccer players in the fall, is the lone returning scorer. He was seventh in the 55 last year. Fazeli will sprint and jump. Dietz, coming off a strong football season, will also sprint and jump. Arden, another football player, sprints, jumps and will run relays. Johnson's top event is the 400. Andrews and Wright are middle-distance runners. Senior Colby Shields will jump and throw. Junior Campbell Belisle-Haley is a sprinter, hurdler and thrower. New senior Travis Merrill, another soccer standout, will sprint, jump and throw. Freshman Thomas Robischaud is a top distance threat. Several other kids will fill the events and look to make a mark. Yarmouth should be able to hold its own against most Western Maine Conference foes and will be in position to move up the ladder at the state meet.

On the girls' side, a very small team figures to be more about quality than quantity. Leading the way is Fischman (sprints and hurdles). Freshman Joss Richards-Daniels is a distance runner to watch. She'll also compete in field events. The team is rounded out by senior Maria Hagerty (sprints, shot put), juniors Ivyanna Kitchen (sprints, shot put), Lindsay Purpura (sprints, shot put) and Anne Ryan (distance). This group will only get stronger going forward and will be in position to score some points at both the Western Maine Conference and state meets.

SWIMMING

COACH: Brian Townsend (first year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) 10th @ Southwesterns (11th @ Class B state meet)

(GIRLS) 4th @ Southwesterns (6th @ Class B state meet)

TOP RETURNING SWIMMERS:

(BOYS) Dan Grover (Junior)

(GIRLS) Melissa Agro (Senior), Cathy Agro (Sophomore)

COACH'S COMMENT: "It's a relatively young squad. A lot of freshmen and sophomores. We only have three boys. It's a rebuilding year. We're growing the team. We're not focusing on wins as much as the team."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Townsend, who served with Libby McConnell last year, takes over as head coach this season. He's from Bath and has coached in high school and with the YMCA in Massachusetts. He takes over a program with small numbers.

The boys only have three. Grover specializes in the breaststroke and will look to hold his own. Individual growth will be paramount for the team, which hopes to qualify Grover and perhaps the others for the state meet.

On the girls' side, Cathy Agro was fourth in the butterfly and eighth in the 50 free at last year's state meet. She'll contend again. Melissa Agro looks to build on her finish from last season (eighth in the IM, 11th in the breaststroke). Other younger swimmers have a chance to make a mark as well. Yarmouth should be able to score at Southwesterns and at states.

SKIING

COACH: Bob Morse (28th year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) Class B combined state champions

(GIRLS) Class B combined state champions

ALPINE

COACH: Bob Grout (2nd year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) Class B state champions

(GIRLS) Class B state champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Billy Asbell (Senior), Spencer Dorsett (Senior), Matt Gross (Senior), Adam Sampson (Senior), Reed Wommack (Senior), Ben Johnson (Junior), Patrick Vigue (Junior), Ben Woodbury (Junior)

(GIRLS) Natalie Aiken (Senior), Isabel Casselman (Senior), Becca Bell (Junior) Kate Dilworth (Junior), Smythe Eddy (Junior), Taylor Hornney (Sophomore), Claudia Lockwood (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Fryeburg, Lake Region

COACH MORSE'S COMMENT: "The boys lost 50 percent of their scoring punch to graduation. The team will be led by Reed, followed by Adam and Matt. The newcomers will keep the veterans honest. The girls' team lost a state champion in Lauren Stackhouse. They do have a solid core of veteran skiers. The team's success will depend on the development of the 6 through 8 skiers. We'll have a big challenge at states."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both Alpine teams are capable of doing it again in 2009-10.

The boys' feature several top returners. Leading the way is Wommack, who was fifth in the giant slalom and 12th in the slalom a year ago at states. Sampson came in 15th in the GS. Gross should be a factor this winter. Asbell, Dorsett, Johnson (a skimeister), Vigue and Woodbury (skimeister) add depth. Sophomores Ryan Cody, Carter Dorsett, Sam Keegan, Jake Smith and Lucas Taggart and last year's middle school standouts Matt Highland, Ethan Masse, Max Murray and Drew Grout (a top skimeister) will all be heard from this year and in the future. The Clippers are loaded for bear and should be a top team in the conference and in the state. Once again.

On the girls' side, Stackhouse, Yarmouth's reigning Winter Athlete of the Year, will be missed, but plenty of firepower remains. Aiken was fourth in the GS and eighth in the slalom a year ago. Hornney (eighth, GS), Lockwood (11th GS and 15th slalom) and Bell (14th slalom) also return. Casselman, Dilworth and Eddy bring experience. Sophomore Elizabeth Asbell, as well as the incoming freshmen, Carolyn Adams, Caroline MacLeod. Kate Myers and Abby Vogel could all soon be household names. Yarmouth appears championship-worthy again. If the Clippers stay hungry and healthy, more glory likely awaits.

NORDIC

COACH: Bob Morse (28th year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Sam Peterson (Senior), Sam Woodbury (Senior), Cam Woodworth (Senior), Andy Beckmann (Junior), Sam Kapner (Junior) , Ben Woodbury (Junior)

(GIRLS) Christina DeFusco (Senior), Rachel Moser (Senior), Becca Bell (Junior), Alison Totta (Junior), Caitlin Crawford (Sophomore), Phoebe Walsh (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Freeport, Fryeburg, Greely

COACH'S COMMENT: "The boys' team lost five seniors from last year's state meet. The challenges this year will be who is going to make the team and how are the freshmen going to adapt? The girls' team has veteran skiers. The newcomers will have to step up the pace to make us competitive in the conference and at states."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth has its challenges on the Nordic side, but should once again be very strong by year's end.

The boys' team returns Woodworth (the school's Winter Male Athlete of the Year in 2008-09), who won the classic and freestyle at last year's Class B state meet, but after that are question marks. Look for Ben and Sam Woodbury to step up, along with Peterson. Beckmann and Kapner are capable as well. New-to-the-team Graeme Gengras, Jackson Hall, Chester Jacobs, Mike Smith and Thomas Sullivan provide depth. This team needs to find some help for Woodworth and if it does, will be right in the hunt for a high state meet finish.

On the girls' side, Bell (a skimeister) is the top returner. She was third in the freestyle and fourth in the classic a year ago. Totta (16th in the classic), Crawford (17th in the classic) and DeFusco (17th in the freestyle) also scored a year ago. Moser and Walsh will be very competitive. Several new skiers look to make a mark of their own. That group includes Olivia Conrad, Brittany Elvidge, Tara Humphries, Laura Kapner, Alex Lucas and Emma Pidden. Bell leads the list of skimeisters and is joined by Carrie Adams and Caroline Mcleod. There's a lot of talent on this roster, perhaps enough to get the Clippers back to the top. They'll be fun to watch as they enjoy the ride.

Photo:

Junior Becca Bell had a pair of top-five finishes at last year's Class B Nordic state meet. She and her teammates look to dominate again in 2009-10.

MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Photo:
Senior Evan Henry will be one of the top scoring threats for the Yarmouth boys' basketball team as it seeks to keep its playoff streak alive.

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Junior Luke Pierce is a standout athlete and will be right in the middle of the action for the Clippers this winter.

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Morgan Cahill is coming off a strong freshman campaign and should be one of the top scorers in Western Class B this year.

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Sophomore Alex Kurtz will make life difficult for opposing goaltenders this season.

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Senior Cam Woodworth is the reigning Class B Nordic state champion in the classic and freestyle.