North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Fall Athletes of the Year

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MALE:

DJ NICHOLAS, Senior-Soccer

  • Western C all-regional team

  • Senior all-star

  • WMC Class C all-star, first-team

  • Captain

Nicholas had a dynamic senior season and will graduate as the most prolific scorer in the history of the storied Panthers program.

Nicholas, a Portland resident, started playing soccer in middle school when he came to NYA. He’s also played basketball and lacrosse, but his finest athletic moments have come on the pitch.

Nicholas scored 17 goals as a freshman, then was named to the all-conference and all-region teams as a sophomore (after scoring 20 goals) and a junior (after tickling the twine a whopping 32 times).

Despite no longer playing with the graduated Jackson Cohan-Smith, NYA’s 2013 Fall Male Athlete of the Year, who set him up for so many goals, Nicholas still produced more excellence as a senior, scoring 24 goals (and assisting on 11 more), giving him 93 for his career.

“I’ve always had a drive to play sports,” said Nicholas. “I always want to win.”

Nicholas also plays Premier soccer with Seacoast United, has some acting roles to his credit and plans to play soccer in college.

He certainly left his mark on a storied soccer program. DJ Nicholas, NYA’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, was a prolific goal scorer and a terrific teammate whose impact can’t be replaced.

Coach Raiff Gwinett’s comment: “DJ was a big part of our team. He was a leader on and off the field and a fine young athlete. He is very talented and is a prolific goal scorer. He is very fast, has a great eye for goal and is very determined. He’s a natural leader and a winner and helps the younger players feel relaxed and confident.”

Prior winners:

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:

ELIZABETH COUGHLIN, Senior-Field hockey

  • All-State

  • WMC Class C Player of the Year

  • WMC Division II all-star, first-team

  • Team MVP

  • Captain

“Coffee” was the straw that stirred the drink, the goalie who was always at her best in the biggest moments and when all was said and done, a unique talent whose like we won’t see again anytime soon.

Coughlin, a Falmouth resident, came to NYA in middle school and started playing field hockey in the seventh grade. Her freshman season, the Panthers needed a goalie and in a fortuitous twist of fate, Coughlin gave it a try.

“I was willing to try out and I became the varsity goalie and I grew to love it,” Coughlin said.

As much as she loved the sport, it loved her back even more. As a freshman, Coughlin made 103 saves and had eight shutouts as she helped NYA to its second straight Class C state championship. Coughlin had 10 shutouts and made 77 saves as a sophomore and helped the Panthers reach the regional final, earning all-conference second-team honors. After making 118 saves and shutting out 10 foes, she was named all-conference first-team as a junior as NYA returned to the state final.

This fall, the Panthers faced a unique challenge, as they were short-handed for every game. That meant Coughlin saw more shots, but she was up to the task, making 87 saves on 98 shots faced for a save percentage of 89. She stood tallest against the best players she faced, most memorably denying Yarmouth standout Kallie Hutchinson on penalty corners with a game on the line which NYA went on to win in overtime.

She had nine shutouts this season and even in defeat, stood on her head, best exemplified by a 21-save effort in a close loss to eventual Class B champion York.

“It was one of my best seasons,” Coughlin said. “We always brought a positive attitude no matter what. I didn’t think we could do it, but we had the right players. That’s what mattered.”

Coughlin finished with a program record 385 saves and 37 shutouts.

Throughout her career, Coughlin deflected praise to others.

“(Senior defender) Alex Barnes helped me out a lot,” Coughlin said. “She blocked a lot of shots. My coaches motivated me. They’ve really been supportive. Previous captains taught me how to be a good leader.”

Coughlin, who plays Premier with Maine Majestix and Katahdin, has long played ice hockey as well, but will play basketball this winter. She plays lacrosse in the spring. She’s a member of NYA’s yearbook and Make A Wish.

Coughlin hopes to play at the next level, so it’s quite likely she still has many highlights still to come.

Elizabeth Coughlin, NYA’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year, was an accidental goalie, but was she ever the perfect girl for the job. Her career was simply unmatched.

Coach Tracy Quimby‘s comment: “Elizabeth had another stellar year in the cage. She was amazing. As a freshman, when she volunteered to play goalie, it didn’t take too many shots before the assistant coach and I glanced at each other. She was simply fabulous. She’s a natural who worked very hard over the past four years, both in-season and especially during the offseason. She had the weight of the world on her shoulders and she handled the pressure well. The more action she saw, the happier she was. She is an exceptional athlete whose talents, character and leadership will be greatly missed. The coaches throughout our league are thrilled to see her leave for college!”

Prior winners:

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.

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