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Yarmouth Clippers 2010 Fall Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers 2010 Fall Sports Preview

After an exhilarating fall season a year ago, Yarmouth High's fall sports teams are primed to bring home some hardware in 2010. Football stole headlines last autumn and despite graduation losses, will be one of the better teams in Western C again. Boys' soccer saw its title reign come to an end with a loss to its bitter rival in the regional final. This season, the Clippers will look to turn the tide. The girls' squad could be one of the best in the region. Field hockey should be vastly improved. Cross country features two strong teams who can realistically make a run at qualifying for the state meet. Golf has enjoyed success the past few seasons and will once again be formidable. Volleyball made great strides in 2009 and should be a factor again.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Mike Hagerty (14th year)

2009 Record: 13-1-3 (Lost 3-0 to Falmouth in Western B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Campbell Belisle-Haley (Senior), Kyle Groves (Senior), Luke Pierce (Senior), Josh Britton (Junior), Chris Knaub (Junior), Ryan Maguire (Junior), Sam Torres (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 8 (H) GRAY-NG, Sept. 11 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 20 @ Greely, Sept. 23 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 28 (H) NYA, Sept. 30 @ York, Oct. 9 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 12 @ Falmouth, Oct. 14 (H) YORK Oct. 18 (H) GREELY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We've had a solid preseason and played some good teams. We have a solid returning group that has varsity experience. With Knaub solidifying the goal and our early Christmas present (Spanish exchange student Pau Melero), our starting group should be every bit as good as last year when we went undefeated in the regular season. The big question this year is our bench. Last year the main reason for our success was our depth. We do not have that depth this year yet, but I am optimistic that we can find the right pieces before long. When we play our best, we can compete with anyone in state, but like all high school teams, we'll strive for consistency. We hope to be in the top four for playoff seedings at the end of the season and then make a run in the playoffs. A run that takes us into November.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After tying Falmouth twice in the regular season a year ago, the Clippers weren't able to beat their rival/nemesis when it counted most, in the regional final, and as a result, their reign as Class B champion came to an end. If all goes well in 2010, Yarmouth will be right back on top. Hagerty has plenty of reasons for optimism after his team tied Western A powers Portland and Scarborough and beat Cheverus, Deering, Lewiston and Westbrook in the preseason. This year's edition, like always, will be fundamentally solid, poised and potent all over the field. Offensively, Pierce leads the way. He returns for his fourth varsity season and already has several clutch goals to his credit. Last year, he scored 17 times and figures to be in the mix on many tallies this autumn. Torres will move up top and figures to be heard from. Maguire, who was hurt much of 2009, has the type of left foot that is compared to former standout Johnny Murphy. Belisle-Haley will move from forward to midfield, but can't be overlooked. He's a physical specimen that opponents will be wise to avoid. Melero, the Spanish exchange student, a junior, is compared to last year's standouts Ebrahim Fazeli and Travis Merrill. As expected from a European player, he's technically very strong. Britton and Groves will bring strength and tenacity to the defense in front of Knaub in goal, who was a field player in 2009, but has already emerged as one of the finest keepers around. Yarmouth will be a work in progress during the early part of the regular season as it fits new faces into new places. The Clippers might be a hair behind Falmouth on paper as the season begins and will have to contend with the likes of traditional rivals Cape Elizabeth and Greely, along with potential Western B dark horses Freeport, Gray-New Gloucester and York as the year progresses, but by October, Yarmouth should be clicking on all cylinders. As has been the case now for a decade, ultimate honors will come down to the Clippers and Yachtsmen. If Yarmouth shows steady improvement, stays healthy and channels last year's disappointment into hunger this time around, it could find itself back on top in November.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Rich Smith (24th year)

2009 Record: 8-6-2 (Lost 4-1 to York in Western Class B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Courtney Barker (Senior), Becca Bell (Senior), Samantha Fochler (Senior), Natalie Salmon (Senior), Devin Simsarian (Senior), Danielle Torres (Senior), Jeanna Lowery (Junior), Megan Decker (Sophomore), Tess Merrill (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 11 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 20 (H) GREELY, Sept. 23 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 28 @ NYA, Sept. 30 (H) YORK, Oct. 9 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 12 @ Falmouth, Oct. 14 @ York, Oct. 19 @ Greely

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a lot of varsity returners. More than I've had the last few years. We've very balanced. We're working hard. We could be quite good. We'll be as strong as we've been in awhile.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has been eliminated by York three years running, but might have its best shot at going all the way in several years. The Clippers have a solid core of successful, athletic seniors who would love nothing more than to lead to the program to its first championship since 2003. Simsarian projects as the offensive leader. She's fast, tenacious and doesn't shy away from big spots. Lowery and Merrill will also do their share of scoring. The midfield features two of the best athletes around in Bell (a first-team all-star last year) and Torres (Yarmouth's Spring Athlete of the Year from lacrosse), along with Barker. On defense, Decker and Salmon (a first-team all-star in 2009) will give no quarter in front of Fochler, who returns between the pipes. Freshman Olivia Smith will also see some time in goal. This is team is strong on offense and defense and will hold its own against everyone. The schedule is full of formidable foes, as usual, but the Clippers, presuming they can stay healthy, will up for the challenge. By year's end, Yarmouth should be right there with defending state champion York and 2008 title winner Falmouth, battling for the top spot. Perhaps, this will be the year the Clippers get some bounces and are able to vanquish their recent nemeses.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Jim Hartman (fourth year)

2009 Results: 8-3 (Lost 41-7 to Dirigo in Western C Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS:, Asa Arden (Senior), Tommy O'Toole (Senior), Nate Pingitore (Senior), Nick Proscia (Senior), Jack Watterson (Senior), Jon Held (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 3 (H) OOB, Sept. 11 @ Oak Hill, Oct. 1 @ Lisbon

COACH'S COMMENT: “We can throw the ball. We have a lot of running backs. I think we'll be much better and faster on defense. We worked hard in the offseason on defensive back coverages. I think the kids have responded. We're more mature. It will come down to heart. Replacing Eric Estabrook is enormous. We have players who want to step up. We'll have some pleasant surprises. Our system's better.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth became Destiny's Darling last fall, winning its final six regular season games before holding off established contenders Livermore Falls and Old Orchard Beach in a pair of scintillating playoff wins. The fun ended with a loss at Dirigo in the regional final, but it's clear this program arrived faster than expected. After graduating several key contributors, including 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year Eric Estabrook, Yarmouth has to prove that it can quickly rebuild and not be a one-year wonder. In reality, the Clippers should be right back in the title hunt. Replacing Estabrook under center will be freshman Brady Neujahr. He is highly touted, although he lacks his predecessor's experience and leadership. That will come. Neujahr can rely on established backs Arden and Pingitore (the backup QB), as well as new junior Anders Overhaug and sophomore Caleb Uhl to move the chains. Proscia (a reigning Campbell Conference all-star) will open holes from his fullback spot. Yarmouth probably won't throw much, but when it does, O'Toole will be a weapon. On the line, Held and Watterson will set the tone. Defensively, if the Clippers can lower the amount of points they surrendered in 2009 (32 per contest in the playoffs), the team will be that much stronger. The defensive line boasts Watterson. The linebacking corps features Held, Pingitore and Proscia. In the secondary, Arden, O'Toole, Overhaug and Uhl will all see time. Last year, Yarmouth was able to overcome an 0-2 start, but this year's team would like to avoid it, making the opener at Old Orchard Beach paramount. The second game is at consensus favorite Oak Hill. The Clippers have the personnel to once again do great things. If this year's squad can match the urgency of 2009, a return to the postseason is a distinct possibility.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Mandy Peaslee (fourth year)

2009 Record: 0-14 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Cassidy Cleaves (Senior), Sarabeth Gabrielson (Senior), Katie O'Donnell (Senior), Lindsey Purpura (Senior), Carly Westerfield (Senior), Catie O'Toole (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 11 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 15 (H) WELLS, Sept. 23 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 25 @ Greely, Oct. 7 (H) FREEPORT

COACH’S COMMENT:.”I'm excited for the season because we have a strong group of seniors who have been playing together for some time. While our goalie is new to the position, Cassidy played sweep for the past two seasons and has significant knowledge of defensive tactics. Our forward line will be supported by solid midfielders and Lindsey, our center mid, is going to create a lot for us offensively. Many of the returning varsity players and a handful of newcomers played during the offseason to keep developing their skills and as a collective group, they bring great energy to the turf every day.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While the Clippers were winless in 2009, the record is a bit deceiving. What did the team in was its lack of offense, just six goals in 14 games. As a result, Yarmouth lost by one or two goals in half of its outings, meaning with a little more scoring punch, some wins would have occurred. This year, the Clippers look to improve. Perhaps dramatically. O'Toole and Purpura lead the offense, which should be much more productive in 2010. Gabrielson, O'Donnell and Westerfield provide back line defense in front of Cleaves in goal. Cleaves was a sweeper the past two years, but has moved into the hot spot in front of the cage. Yarmouth has devoted the offseason to working hard and improving and that should be evident in the weeks to come. The Clippers will get into the win column and if all goes well, could make a run at a .500 mark and maybe even a playoff berth. This program is on the rise.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Bob Morse (30th year)

2009 Results:

(BOYS) 8th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) DNQ for Class B state meet (7th @ regional meet)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Sam Kapner (Senior), Ben Nickerson (Senior), Ben Woodbury (Senior), Thomas Robichaud (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Anne Ryan (Senior), Chloe Sarapas (Senior), Emma Pidden (Sophomore), Carolyn MacLeod (Sophomore), Joss Richards-Daniels (Sophomore), Sydney Sperber (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely

COACH’S COMMENT: “The boys' team has a major regrouping challenge. The seniors will have to rule and the underclassmen will have to run like juniors for us to go to states. The boys are coming off a great preseason training camp. Senior leadership will be the key to our success. The seniors have set the bar and are there to help the underclassmen run fast. The girls have a good core of runners returning. They missed states the last two seasons and would really like to stay healthy, improve and make the trip to states as a complete team. The big question is will the underclassmen and rookies provide the energy to produce a team that makes it to (states)?”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Yarmouth cross country teams have their usual clear cut goal, making it to the state meet. Morse is assisted this year by Chuck Thorp and newcomer Erin Lane.

The boys were able to do so in 2009 and have a strong shot at getting back this autumn. The two Bens will battle for the No. 1 spot. Last year at states, Nickerson came in 19th, while Woodbury was 22nd. Robichaud (56th) is another returning scorer. Kapner and senior Nester Garcia add depth, while sophomore Chase Hughes and five freshmen, Sam Alexander, Braden Becker, Jack Elder, James Erwin and Cameron McLean also seek to make an impact. The Clippers will be in the mix against all but the elite conference foes and if healthy and running well the day of regionals, should be able to return to states for the fourth year in a row.

On the girls' side, 17 runners look to end a two-year state drought. Sarapas is the top returner. She was 13th at last year's regional meet and qualified for states as an individual (where she came in 40th). Four sophomores who scored at regionals last year return to provide promise. Pidden was 35th a year ago, Richards-Daniels finished 41st, Sperber 43rd and MacLeod 55th. Ryan also took part at the regional meet and brings experience, along with senior Lauren Wroblesk. Juniors Laurel Hurd, Hannah Potter and Phoebe Walsh all seek to move up. Seven rookies, Sara Becker, Brittany Elvidge, Madison Hynes, Ihila Lesnikova, Ellie Olshan, Hope Saulter and Brianna Webber round out the team. Yarmouth should develop nicely in the weeks to come and certainly has the potential to make it to Belfast as a team.

GOLF

COACH: Tom McDowell (second year)

2009 Record: 5-4 (3rd @ Class B state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Joe King (Senior), Ian Marr (Junior), Red DeSmith (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We look to have a solid foundation to build on with our top four golfers, who will give us a chance to win every time we play. I've been impressed with the number of golfers who have shown improvement since last year. Our goal is to be competitive in every match this season to prepare us for the state tournament qualifier. From a coaching perspective, this is an excellent group of kids to work with. Solid golf skills, excellent sportsmanship and they have fun.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has enjoyed a golf resurgence of late, capped by last year's stirring finish at states. This year's squad returns Marr (85 at states and a WMC all-star) and King (87). DeSmith and new junior Ethan Andrews round out a solid top four. Davis Brown, Cal Cooper, Matt Guiney, Matt Murphy and Dylan Town are also seeking to be in the mix. The Clippers face some of the best teams in the state in the regular season, but they're not concerned with boasting a gaudy record. All eyes will be on the qualifier where Yarmouth hopes to make it to states once again. If King and Marr show the way and get some help from some of the newer players, the Clippers could have a very happy ending once again.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Jim Senecal (fourth year)

2009 Results: 11-4 (Lost 3-1 to Biddeford in Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Emily Clark (Senior), Abbie Hutchinson (Senior), Mary Sansone (Senior), Suzanne Driscoll (Junior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 7 (H) GREELY, Sept. 11 @ Scarborough, Sept. 14 @ Biddeford, Sept. 20 @ Falmouth, Sept. 28 (H) BIDDEFORD, Oct. 6 @ Greely, Oct. 9 (H) FALMOUTH, Oct. 12 (H) SCARBOROUGH

COACH’S COMMENT: “With only four returning players from last year, we'll be a very young team. We're going to have to rely on the very quick development of some of our underclassmen to compete with the top teams again this year. Because of our success in 2009, our schedule has been strengthened, which makes this year even more of a challenge. We're much smaller than last year and our style of play will reflect that. All that said, I'm still very optimistic about our chances to return to the playoffs. We've got a very talented core group of girls and our newcomers are improving every day. We may run into some bumps early, but as the season goes along, we hope to be the lower seeded team that nobody really wants to play come playoff time.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth enjoyed a nice rise to prominence in 2009, but remained overshadowed by neighboring seven-time champion Greely and last year's “it” team, Falmouth. This time around, the Clippers should once again be competitive and in the hunt for a playoff spot. While the loss of defensive standout and 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year Kate Darrell will hurt, Sansone is primed to take over that spot and make an impact. Senecal praises her willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful. Hutchinson is a returning league all-star at the setter position. She's a four-year starter and could be one of the premier players in the area. She led Yarmouth in assists, aces and points off serve a year ago. Clark, at 5-foot-10, is the team's tallest player. She's at middle hitter and was the Clippers' best blocker a year ago. She'll have to be at her best this autumn, often going up against taller players. Driscoll is the other top returner, at setter. Senecal suggests she might be the team's best overall athlete. A pair of new outside hitters will make an immediate impact. Junior Sarah Crommett and sophomore Gina Robertson will play key roles. Once Yarmouth figures out how best to counter its size disadvantage, it will be very tough to beat. While Greely, Falmouth and Biddeford are likely the elite teams in Class A, Yarmouth will give all of them a battle. Look for the Clippers to post another winning record and make it back to the playoffs.

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Senior Asa Arden figures to find plenty of daylight when he has the ball in his hands.

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Senior Luke Pierce, a four-year starter, has stood above the rest during his time in a Clippers uniform. He hopes to bow out as a state champion.

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Senior Campbell Belisle-Haley is a physical force for the Clippers.

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Senior Kyle Groves is another top returner for Yarmouth's boys' soccer team this fall.

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Senior Becca Bell is always in the middle of the action for a Yarmouth girls' soccer team that should be very good in 2010.

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Sophomore Tess Merrill is already a cornerstone for the Clippers and is hoping for big things this autumn.

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Senior Samantha Fochler returns in goal for the Clippers.

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Senior Lindsey Purpura will look to jump-start the Clippers' offense this autumn.

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Senior Ben Nickerson came in 19th at last year's Class B state meet. He hopes to lead the Clippers back to states in 2010.

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Senior Chloe Sarapas is the top returner for the girls' cross country team. She qualified for states as an individual in 2009 and hopes to lead her team to the state meet this season.

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Two Yarmouth runners to watch are sophomores (from left) Joss Richards-Daniels (who was 41st at last year's regional championships) and Sydney Sperber (43rd).