North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Fall Athletes of the Year

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Xander Kostelnik

Serena Mower

MALE:

XANDER KOSTELNIK, Senior-Soccer

  • WMC Class C/D all-star, first-team

  • Captain

Kostelnik’s versatility, skill and leadership helped NYA to its first championship in 13 seasons.

Kostelnik started playing soccer at a young age and came to NYA in the fifth grade. He’s made an impact in soccer, hockey and lacrosse in high school. On the pitch, Kostelnik made the all-conference team as a junior, but the Panthers missed the playoffs. They would enjoy a much different season this fall.

Kostelnik started the year in the midfield and scored goals in wins over Poland and St. Dom’s, but with goalkeeper the team’s one early question mark, he was moved to defense and helped make NYA one of the most stingy teams around. He also got involved in the offense at times, scoring five goals total and assisting on five others (Kostelnik’s other goals came in wins over Sacopee Valley, Buckfield and Lake Region).

The Panthers enjoyed a 12-2 regular season, earned the top seed in Class D South, then defeated Pine Tree Academy, Buckfield and Temple Academy (on penalty kicks) to advance to the Class D state final. There, NYA downed Penobscot Valley, 3-1, to capture an elusive Gold Ball.

“It was an incredible feeling,” Kostelnik said. “Very exciting. Early in the season I knew we could do it. We were the one team in Class D that could keep the ball on the ground and possess it. My role was to calm everyone down. Taking last year’s team and turning it into this year’s success brought me the most joy.”

Kostelnik, who is a goalie in hockey and a midfielder in lacrosse, also is the President of NYA’s Executive Council, tutors other students and volunteers at the lower school. He doesn’t plan to play sports in college.

Xander Kostelnik, North Yarmouth Academy’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, saved his best play and finest leadership for a magical senior season which ended with the Panthers ascending to a coveted title.

Coach Martyn Keen’s comment: “There is little doubt in my mind that Xander could have played any position except goalkeeper with great success. From day one, Xander set the tone and made the expectations for each player and the team perfectly clear to everyone. He was first to arrive and the last to leave. He was a leader at all times both on and off the field. Xander’s contributions were keys to our success. In my 17 years as a high school coach, he is one of the best all around young men I’ve had the privilege to work with and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay him.”

Prior winners:

2017 Ryan Baker (soccer)

2016 Jeremy Thelven (soccer)

2015 Thomas Pitts (soccer)

2014 D.J. Nicholas (soccer)

2013 Jackson Cohan-Smith (soccer)

2012 Matt Malcom (cross country)

2011 Cam Regan (cross country)

2010 Cam Regan (cross country)

2009 Tim Millett (golf)

2008 Henry Sterling (soccer)

2007 Taylor Gorman (soccer)

2006 James Sterling (golf)

2005 Sean Lynch (soccer)

2004 Nathaniel Bishop (soccer)

2003 Luke Welch (soccer)

2002 Sam Crocker (cross Country)

2001 Colin Minte (soccer)

FEMALE:

SERENA MOWER, Junior-Soccer

Mower endured a disappointing summer, then enjoyed a memorable autumn as her first season at NYA resulted in a state championship.

Mower spent her first two high school years at Maine Girls’ Academy in Portland, but this summer, word came that the school was closing. Like several of her classmates, Mower, an Auburn resident, found her way to NYA, but when the soccer preseason started, nerves abounded.

“It was nervewracking at first, but having a lot of other MGA girls here helped,” said Mower, who started playing soccer at a young age. “The teams merged and got to know each other. Coach (Ricky Doyon) did a good job getting us to connect. We felt we we could do something special.”

Mower would score 16 goals and add four assists for a Panthers squad which went 10-3-1 during the regular season before downing Rangeley, Greenville and Richmond to reach the Class D state final, where they defeated Central Aroostook, 4-1, to win their first championship in 11 years.

Mower was at her best in the biggest games, scoring twice in a quarterfinal round victory over Rangeley, producing the tying goal in a come-from-behind win over Greenville in the semifinals, tallying the only goal in a regional final victory at Richmond and scoring two goals and adding an assist in the state game.

“Winning was pretty cool,” said Mower. “I try to be the best I can be. Playing sports is a part of me. I enjoy the adrenaline and competition.”

Mower, who also plays basketball (which she calls her top sport) and runs track, would have been class president this year at MGA. She’s part of NYA’s Executive Council and is looking forward to one more triumphant year of high school soccer.

Serena Mower, NYA’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year, certainly made a name for herself at her new school, making the most of a challenging situation by coming up huge when it mattered most to help her team win a championship.

Coach Ricky Doyon’s comment: “Serena is the epitome of the player that every coach wants on their team. She always works hard and never gives up. She does this while always smiling. Every time this young lady hits the pitch she a threat. Serena came from MGA as a junior trying to find her place at NYA. She did more than find her place, she made her mark. When Serena got the ball, there was a good chance something good was going to happen. She is strong, fast and definitely can finish. She has an excellent shot and good field vision. Serena is a team player and will do whatever is asked her to of her. Without her, I’m not sure we would’ve been state champions. She definitely played a pivotal role this season. I’m very fortunate to have Serena one more year. I can’t wait to see what she will do next season.”

Prior winners:

2017 Jordan Ackerman (volleyball)

2016 Savannah Shaw (field hockey)

2015 Linnea Hull (field hockey)

2014 Elizabeth Coughlin (field hockey)

2013 Kayla Rose (field hockey)

2012 Jen Brown (field hockey)

2011 Katherine Millett (field hockey)

2010 Katherine Millett (field hockey)

2009 Courtney Dumont (soccer)

2008 Nicole Fuller (field hockey)

2007 Allie Tocci (field hockey)

2006 Alex Mack (soccer)

2005 Zoe Filliter (cross country)

2004 Elizabeth Werley-Prieto (field hockey)

2003 Abby Hamilton (field hockey)

2002 Rachael Blanchard (cross country)

2001 Kelsey Wilcox (soccer)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Mower

Kostelnik

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.