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North Yarmouth Academy Spring Sports Preview

Sports

North Yarmouth Academy Spring Sports Preview

This spring could be a season of excellence at NYA. Baseball is coming off its best campaign yet at the Class C level. Boys' lacrosse is again on the short list of top contenders. The girls' team has made it to the state game two years running and only needs to solve its nemesis to win a first-ever championship. The boys' track team has been a three-time state champion juggernaut, despite small numbers, and should be very solid once again. The girls' squad will also make noise. Look for improvement from the boys' tennis team, while the defending state champion girls' squad aims to make it four in a row.

BASEBALL

Coach; Alan King (second year)

2009 Record: 12-6 (Lost 5-4 to Hall-Dale in Western Class C quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Dean Darien (Senior), Sam Hutchinson (Senior), Toey LeBlanc (Senior), Alan Brown (Junior), Harry Fast (Junior), Jordan Haskell (Junior), Eli Leavitt (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 (H) OOB, April 30 @ Waynflete, May 5 @ OOB, May 10 @ Gray-NG, May 12 (H) TRAIP, May 15 (H) TRAIP, May 20 @ Richmond, May 22 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 26 (H) OOB, May 28 @ Traip, June 2 @ Yarmouth

Coach's comment: “We lost six players to graduation, but we have a good core coming back. We should be competitive. We've hit the ball well in the preseason. I need to get innings out of my starters and we need to play good defense. We're solid 1-9 in the lineup. It's a good group of kids who expect to go far. I'm looking for us to have a good season. We want to get to the playoffs where anything can happen.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Last year, NYA posted a winning record for the first time since its moved up to Class C in 2006. This season, the Panthers have loftier goals as they seek to go deep into the playoffs. NYA appears to be loaded entering a new campaign. Darien (a second-team league all-star in 2009) is the team's ace pitcher. He'll get help from Hutchinson (a first-teamer last spring) and Brown. Haskell (another first-team all-star from a year ago) is the catcher. He wields a potent bat, as do Brown (a potential longball threat), Darien, LeBlanc and new junior Will Strabley, a transfer from Yarmouth, who will utilize his speed and hit leadoff. Leavitt returns and can play infield or outfield. Fast is another returner on the infield. Senior Sam Kurland, a transfer from Greely, the reigning Class B state champion, joins the fun and will be a utilityman. Freshman Ben Coleman will look to make an impact as well. The Panthers have the pitching and hitting to be competitive in all of their games, even against Class B foes. Look for NYA to sport a very good record by season's end and to be one of the high seeds for the Western C playoffs. If the Panthers get a few breaks, they could return to the championship form of their Class D days.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Chris Carpentier (second year)

2009 Record: 9-6 (Lost 15-4 to Yarmouth in Eastern Class B Final)

Top returning players: Brandon Barrett (Senior), Phil Champoux (Senior), Taylor Norton (Senior), Finn Hadlock (Junior), Matt Kibler (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 5 (H) FALMOUTH, May 14 @ Scarborough, May 18 (H) YARMOUTH, May 21 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 28 @ Falmouth

Coach's comment: “We have a young squad this year. A lot of freshmen who will see varsity playing time. We have a tough schedule, but it's a great schedule. I'm excited. We have a long road ahead of us, but I'd like to get back to where we were last year.”

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA is coming off its usual solid season as the Panthers reached the regional final for the fifth year in a row. Unfortunately, NYA had no answer for nemesis Yarmouth as the Clippers eliminated the Panthers for the seventh time in eight seasons. NYA will once again be in Yarmouth's shadow if this year's opener was any indication. Friday night, the Panthers trailed 7-1 at the half and went on to an 11-5 defeat at the Clippers (sophomore Forest Milburn had a pair of goals), but brighter days are ahead. NYA will miss last year's leading scorer, Gus Wellin, who transferred to Deerfield Academy, but has a balanced attack this spring. Leading the way will be Champoux, Hadlock, Kibler and freshman Isaac Lipton. Barrett was a first-team league all-star on defense a year ago and is considered to be one of the finest at his position. He'll do his best to protect Norton in goal. The Panthers will face an abundance of good teams, including rising power Falmouth twice, longtime powerhouse Cape Elizabeth twice and Yarmouth once more. For NYA to continue its streak of 14 straight playoff appearances, it will need to find a way to knock off a few of its top foes. The potential is there for the Panthers to be successful. By June, as is usually the case, NYA will be on the short list of title hopefuls.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Julia Sterling (third year)

2009 Record: 12-3 (Lost 9-5 to Waynflete in Class B Final)

Top returning players: Hayley Bright (Senior), Courtney Dumont (Senior), Kalley Hansel (Senior), Abbie McIvor (Senior), Becca McKelvy (Senior), Frances Leslie (Junior), Lily Wellenbach (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Yarmouth, April 30 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 4 (H) FALMOUTH, May 8 (H) BRUNSWICK, May 19 (H) YARMOUTH, May 22 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 25 @ Waynflete

Coach's comment: “I lost some good kids and the replacements are quite young. It's a fine group of girls. They love to learn. It's going to be a fun year. I feel we're going to be a big contender.”

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA has won regional titles in six of the past nine years, but every time, the Panthers ran into Waynflete in the state game and came up short. If NYA is ever to get over the hump, this could very well be the year. With plenty of stars returning and an infusion of new talent, the Panthers are arguably the team to beat as a new campaign commences. In the regular season opener, last week at Freeport (an 11-4 win), NYA demonstrated its athleticism, depth and balance. Everyone knows that the nonpareil Dumont (six goals versus the Falcons) will lead the way, but the reigning first-team all-star (who also is a force on draws) has plenty of help tickling the twine. The offense also features Wellenbach, a second-team all-star in 2009, who had two goals in the opener and seems to play at different level than her opponents. Then there's McKelvy, junior Rozi Smith, freshman Molly Strabley (a budding star), and sophomores Katie Cawley (two goals against Freeport), Kylie Dalbec, Kate Millett, Moira LaChance and Hannah Twombly (who also scored in the opener). On defense, Bright, Hansel and McIvor return, along with Leslie and juniors Caroline Bowne and Christina Reece. Senior Ashley Salerno replaces all-star Abigail Moss in goal and will get help from sophomore Hannah Harmatz. On balance, this is the deepest and most talented roster in the state. NYA has to navigate a very challenging schedule, which includes showdowns with top rivals Waynflete and Yarmouth right after the April break. The offense will be almost impossible to stop. If the Panthers can hold the opposition at bay, that long-desired state championship could be theirs at season's end.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (14th year)

2009 Results:

(Boys) Class C State Champions

(Girls) 3rd @ Class C State Meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Jay Garnett (Senior), Doug Goldstein (Senior), Henry Sterling (Senior), Mohamed Dahia (Junior) Nick Kolkin (Junior)

(Girls) Hannah Bewsey (Senior), Hilary Gibson (Senior), Ali O'Reilly (Senior), Maeve Stier (Senior)

Top foes: Lisbon, Sacopee, Yarmouth

Coach's comment: “It's a very enthusiastic group. Our numbers are up. We have a lot of new kids. It's just a question of experience. The boys have most of the events covered. We'll miss Sam Fear in the throws and Steven Lentine in the hurdles. There aren't a lot of points scorers back. It's a stretch for us to win the state title this year, but we hope to be competitive. The girls will be in the running like we've been the last five years. We have a lot of elite athletes in individual events.”

The Forecaster's forecast: The NYA outdoor track program has been a marvel in recent years, considering its small numbers.

Somehow, the boys' team has won four straight Class C titles. A fifth is a longshot, but never rule the Panthers out. Sterling (NYA's Winter Male Athlete of the Year) will once again lead the way. Last year, he won the 800, mile and two-mile outdoors. He projects to be one of the best distance runners this spring, regardless of class, and will be joined in those events by sophomores Alex Coffin, Cam Regan and Brian Trelegan. In the sprints, Dahia, Garnett and Kolkin lead the way. Dahia will also compete in the hurdles (he was third in the 300 hurdles in 2009). Goldstein returns as a threat in the racewalk (he was sixth in that event a year ago). Garnett is the top jumper. Sophomores Robert Field and Cam Rayder will compete in the throws. For the Panthers to win it all again, someone other than Sterling will have to excel on the first Saturday in June. While NYA will likely fall short, it should have another superb season and will continue to earn the respect and admiration of the track community.

On the girls' side, Stier is the top returner. She won the high jump a year ago and will also sprint. Bewsey (second in the high jump last year) and Gibson (fourth in the long jump last season) are other premier jumpers. Gibson will also try her luck in the pole vault. O'Reilly was runner-up in the shot put and third in the javelin in 2009 and could do even better this time around. On the track side, Bewsey came in seventh in the 300 hurdles last season. She's also a sprinting threat, as is Gibson. Sophomore Maggie Meixell will compete in the hurdles and distance races. Classmates Hillary Detert and Hadley Gibson are other distance runners to watch. The Panthers should be in line for another fine regular season and a postseason that will likely turn heads.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Charlie Hudson (32nd year)

2009 Results: 1-11 (no postseason)

Top returning players: John Finegan (Senior), Ben Morse (Senior), Chris Whiting (Senior)

Pivotal matches: April 26 @ Greely, April 28 @ Yarmouth, May 3 (H) YARMOUTH, May 5 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 7 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 14 (H) FALMOUTH, May 24 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach's comment: “Things are definitely heading in the right direction. It's likely we'll have three freshmen or sophomores starting this year. We won't be able to compete with the top teams, but we'll be more competitive. It may not show with wins. In a couple years, we'll be back.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Since winning the Class C title in 2007, the Panthers have won just one of 24 matches, but they should begin to turn the corner this spring. Whiting will likely be first singles. Freshman Burke Axton will play second singles, unless he moves into the top spot. Freshmen Dean Walters and Ryan Walters were battling for the No. 3 singles spot at press time. Whichever one doesn't make it will play doubles, along with Finegan, Morse and a pair of newcomers, senior John Powers and sophomore Nate Ward-Chene. NYA faces the best of the best in the regular season and wins will be hard to come by, but the Panthers should manage to exceed last year's total and set the stage for future success. It won't be long until NYA will be among the elite.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Lorena Coffin (fourth year)

2009 Results: 15-1 (Beat George Stevens Academy 5-0 to win Class C state championship)

Top returning players: Thu-Trang Ho (Senior), Emily Mitchell (Senior), Anna Jaeger (Junior), Sarah Jordan (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 3 @ Yarmouth, May 5 @ Waynflete, May 7 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 14 @ Falmouth

Coach's comment: “We're very fortunate to have four of our top seven players returning. Our conference is very competitive with several strong teams. Our team goals for this year include having fun, being competitive and coming away from each match feeling like each team member gave it their best effort. If we successfully accomplish these goals, it would be a great outcome to make the playoffs again.”

The Forecaster's forecast: NYA has won three straight Class C championships and seven of the past 11. There's a good chance the Panthers will be able to do it again in 2010. For starters, they return reigning league all-star and Spring Female Athlete of the Year, Ho, who can hold her own against anyone. Jaeger and Jordan will also play singles. Both have been through the battles in the past. Mitchell brings experience to doubles and is joined by junior Charlotte Briggs and sophomores Ally Morrison and Jessica Powers. NYA will be tested by a solid regular season schedule, but come playoff time, the Panthers figure to be in a familiar position, the favorite, and when all is said and done, will likely be the champion once more.

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NYA senior Brandon Barrett is viewed as a top defender in the league.

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Senior Phil Champoux will be a top scoring threat for the Panthers.

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Senior Hayley Bright leads the NYA defense this spring.

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NYA junior Lilly Wellenbach is one of the best all-around players in the state.

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All eyes will be on NYA senior distance standout Henry Sterling as he sets the pace again in 2010.

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Senior Thu-Trang Ho hopes to close her NYA career with four state titles in four seasons.

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Sophomore Sarah Jordan is another returning singles standout for the Panthers.