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McAuley Lions Spring Sports Preview

Sports

McAuley Lions Spring Sports Preview

A new spring season at McAuley brings optimism. Softball welcomes an old friend as its new coach. The Lions could be a team on the rise. Lacrosse should improve on its win total of a year ago. Track always has its share of good athletes. Tennis is on the short list of top contenders and could advance deep into the playoffs.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Robbie Ferrante (first year)

2009 Record: 4-12 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Allina Verrillo (Senior), Kayla Daigle (Junior), Jen Field (Junior), Sara Mercier (Junior), Shelby Bryant (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 24 (H) CHEVERUS, April 26 @ Bonny Eagle, May 3 @ Kennebunk, May 5 (H) DEERING, May 21 @ Thornton Academy, May 24 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 26 @ Biddeford, May 28 (H) PORTLAND, June 1 @ South Portland

Coach's comment: “Our goal is to win more than last year. If we could go .500, I'd be ecstatic. A lot of younger kids will get thrown into the fire. We might start three freshmen. I'll have most of these kids for two years at least. The kids don't realize that they're good. We have some talent.”

The Forecaster's forecast: McAuley hasn't managed a winning season or a playoff berth since 2005, but the program could be primed for a turnaround behind new coach Robbie Ferrante, who skippered Portland to the 2004 Class A championship. Ferrante coached the Lions back in the 1980s. McAuley returns its pitcher, Field, and will also mix in freshman Gabby Townsend on the hill. All-conference catcher Jasmyn Welch has transferred to Cheverus, necessitating Ferrante to go with a freshman, Sam Schildruth, in that spot as well. The experience that battery gets this year will bode well for future success. Offensively, the Lions will look to first baseman Bryant (the leadoff hitter), second baseman Daigle, shortstop Mercier and third baseman/designated hitter Verrillo (an honorable mention SMAA all-star in 2009) to lead the way. McAuley has some holes to fill and will take some lumps along the way, but look for steady improvement from this group. If the Lions take advantage of winnable games early on in the schedule, an improvement on last year's win total is likely. If a few breaks go their way, they could be in contention for the postseason by the end of the year. Regardless, McAuley's future is bright.

LACROSSE

Coach: Jo-Ellen Rand (eighth year)

2009 Record: 2-10 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Sam Dedian (Senior), Olivia Locke (Senior), Natalie Stone (Senior), Michele Girard (Junior), Olivia Porch (Junior), Tori Tenenbaum (Junior), Taxia Arabatsis (Sophomore), Sadie DiPierro (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 (H) GORHAM, April 30 @ Cheverus, May 4 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, May 18 @ South Portland, May 28 @ Bonny Eagle

Coach's comment: “We have a very young team, but our junior and sophomore players are very athletic and talented, so I'm expecting positive results. The schedule we have will be very competitive and I feel we'll be evenly matched. One goal I have is to win more games than last year and develop as a team. I feel we'll surprise some teams because we have shown great improvement in the scrimmages we've had so far.”

The Forecaster's forecast: McAuley hasn't been to the playoffs since 2005 and is still seeking its first winning season. This year's team could be primed to turn things around. The big concern this spring will be tightening up the defense. Last season began with a pair of 16-15 setbacks. The Lions also gave up 12, 12, 13, 15, 15, 20 and 22 goals in subsequent losses. Half of McAuley's losses were by one goal last year, suggesting the Lions are close to turning the corner. In 2010, McAuley features Porch in goal. The defense includes Dedian, Girard and Stone. DiPierro and Locke will handle draws and look to help jump-start the offense, which is spearheaded by Tenenbaum (an All-Rookie team selection last year) and Arabatsis. Several newcomers will step right in and have a chance to make an impact. That group includes senior Lib Rand, sophomores Katie Dubois, Mary Leasure and Clare McLaughlin and freshmen Sam Paglia and Samantha Sivovlos. The athleticism is there. McAuley has a lot of winnable games on the slate. If the Lions can improve on defense and score goals consistently, the season could feature several more victories and a run at a playoff spot.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Tim Donovan (eighth year)

2009 Results: 11th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes: Lauren Fecteau (Senior), Becca Tanous (Senior), Victoria Hugo-Vidal (Senior), Autumn Becker (Junior), Allison Bonner (Junior), Maura Esten (Junior), Emma Kenney (Junior), Sarah Muse (Junior), Alyssa Austin (Sophomore), LuLu Hawkes (Sophomore), Christine Leake (Sophomore)

Top foes: Cheverus, Deering, Scarborough

The Forecaster's forecast: After top 10 state finishes in 2007 and 2008, the Lions slipped to 11th last year. This season, however, McAuley has enough promising athletes on its roster to suggest improvement. As always, the Lions figure to be strong in the distance races behind Fecteau and Hugo-Vidal and the middle-distance, thanks to Bonner and Kenney. Hawkes, Leake, Muse and Tanous lead the sprinting contingent. Becker and Esten will contend in the hurdles. On the field side, top jumpers include Becker, Kenney, Leake, Muse, new junior Olivia Crozier and freshman Liz Houston. Austin, Bonner, Crozier, Esten, Houston and Kenney will all pole vault. Crozier and Esten will look to score in the javelin. Hawkes throws the shot put and discus. McAuley should be competitive in the regular season and has enough potential points scorers to move up the ranks at the state meet.

TENNIS

Coach: Joe Kilmartin (21st year)

2009 Results: 10-4 (Lost 4-1 to Portland in Western Class A semifinals)

Top returning players: Julia Haverty (Senior), Danielle LaCasse (Senior), Mary Scully (Senior), Priya Ahluwalia (Junior), Nicole Connolly (Junior), Paige Hickey (Junior), Addie Devine (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 28 @ Cheverus, May 10 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 12 (H) DEERING, May 17 @ Gorham, May 25 (H) PORTLAND

Coach's comment: “Things are looking up. Hopefully we'll find some depth. We're a pretty veteran team, but it's always tough to replace a No. 1. We should be in the mix. It depends on our doubles. We need that third point.”

The Forecaster's forecast: The Lions have been to the playoffs each of the past 22 seasons and was arguably the second best team in Western A and perhaps the third strongest in the state a year ago. McAuley has a lot of talent back this spring, but will miss Erin Woodbury, who graduated after a SMAA first-team senior campaign at first singles. Her spot will be filled this year by Devine, a second teamer last spring. Haverty will be in the No. 2 spot. The third singles position will be filled by either Connolly (an SMAA all-star at doubles last year), Hickey or LaCasse. Ahluwalia and Scully will play doubles. The Lions will use their experience as a strength. They project to be one of the top teams in the league and would love another crack at Portland in the playoffs. By year's end, McAuley should be poised to make a run at a regional title.