North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Fall Sports Preview

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Senior Dana Nichols was a WMC all-star in 2015. He and his NYA golf teammates hope to make it to the Class C state match again.

More photos below.

(Ed. Note: NYA isn’t fielding a varsity girls’ soccer team this fall)

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Stuart Thorley (first year)

2015 record: 10-5 (Lost, 3-2, in 2OT, to Monmouth in Class C South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Xander Bartone (Senior), Jeremy Thelven (Senior), Ryan Baker (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Freeport, Sept. 10 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 15 ST. DOM’S, Sept. 22 @ Waynflete, Oct. 6 WAYNFLETE, Oct. 13 @ St. Dom’s, Oct. 15 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “There are a number of freshmen from last season who I can envision playing a key part this season. We hope to concede very few goals and go as far as we can.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: North Yarmouth Academy is coming off his 20th straight playoff appearance has a new look this fall as Thorley takes over as coach. Thorley played and coached in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. While several key players have departed, the Panthers’ cupboard isn’t bare and they should be in the title hunt once again.

Bartone and Thelven were both league all-stars last season. This fall, Bartone and Thelven will play center back or central midfield. Baker could be the top scorer. Freshman Owen O’Connell will also be in the scoring mix. Sophomore Lody Lauthrop anchors the defense in front of new senior goalie Connor Clock.

NYA has an abundance of challenging games on the schedule, including the renewal its rivalry with St. Dom’s, so wins won’t be easy to come by. The Panthers are hoping for a deeper playoff run this time around and have what it takes to make a lot of noise in the postseason.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Wendy Polstein (first year)

2015 record: 11-5 (Lost, 2-1, in 2OT, to Lisbon in Class C South semifinals)

Top returning players: Kiersten Marr (Senior), Savannah Shaw (Senior), Hannah Gagne (Sophomore), Amber Rose (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 6 SACOPEE, Sept. 8 ST. DOM’S, Sept. 10 FREEPORT, Sept. 16 WELLS, Sept. 20 @ Falmouth, Sept. 24 @ Sacopee, Sept. 26 @ St. Dom’s, Oct. 6 @ Wells

Coach’s comment: “Our outlook is bright and growing. We’re a young team returning only five players. We have only three upperclassman and we’ve welcomed four eighth graders that are part of the varsity roster. This is a growing and building year, but we have passion, drive and a positive attitude. We’re looking to have fun and build for a strong future.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA has battled limited numbers the past few seasons, but still has managed to make the playoffs and make noise once it gets there. This fall, the Panthers welcome their third coach in as many seasons as Polstein takes over. Polstein played at Yarmouth High School and previously coached for a decade at Stearns High School. She takes over a team that will make the most of its talent.

Marr (a Western Maine Conference all-star in 2015) will pace the offense along with Rose, who has shown an ability to score key goals. Shaw (who also made the all-star team last season) and Gagne are top defenders in front of new goalie, freshman Eliza Todd.

NYA will be young and will learn on the fly in the weeks to come, but this program always saves its best for October. The Panthers are hoping to continue a streak of postseason berths that dates back to 1989. This year’s experience will only help future editions.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Nora Krainis (11th year)

2015 results: 8-7 (Lost, 3-0, to Washington Academy in Class B quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Suzanna Butterfield (Senior), Zelda Clegg (Senior), Amelia Demetropoulis (Senior), Jordan Ackerman (Junior), Tessa Quattrucci (Junior), Maggie Larson (Sophomore), Sydney Plummer (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: Oct. 1 BUCKSPORT, Oct. 1 SUMNER, Oct. 7 @ Jonesport-Beals, Oct. 8 @ Machias, Oct. 8 @ Washington Academy

Coach’s comment: “Our starters are all returning, so we should see some improvement in court movement and play execution. We’re becoming more competitive each year and hope to see that continue. Our goal this year is to host a playoff match”

The Forecaster’s forecast: North Yarmouth Academy earned another playoff trip in 2015 and this autumn, the Panthers view themselves as a legitimate Class B contender, one that could advance in the playoffs, especially if they can avoid the long trip Down East.

NYA returns a lot of talent. Ackerman (88 assists) and Larson (69 assists) are both top-notch setters who aren’t afraid to dive to the floor (Ackerman had 167 digs in 2015, Larson 104). Butterfield (101 aces, 82 kills, 126 digs, 38 assists) and Clegg (118 kills, 74 aces, 86 digs, 22 assists) are dominant at the net and serving line. Plummer (52 aces), Quattrucci (37 aces, 73 digs) and Demetropoulis (31 aces) are specialists who help put the team over the top. Mix in freshmen hitters Sydney Billings and Afton Morton and it’s possible this could be the best team the Panthers have yet fielded.

NYA will have five matches toward the end of the regular season against Down East foes (two at home and three away). How the Panthers do in those pivotal contests will go a long way toward determining where and who they’ll meet in the postseason. Don’t be surprised if NYA makes a little history before the season is over.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coaches:
(Boys) Peter Sillin (10th year, two state championships)
(Girls) Chris Mazzurco (17th year, one state championship)

2015 results:
(Boys) DNQ for Class C state meet (10th @ regional meet)
(Girls) 6th @ Class C state meet

Top returners:
(Boys) Jack Kostelnik (Senior), Brennan Flatt (Junior), Rick Hilscher (Junior), Kieran Rowe (Junior), Jack Sillin (Junior)
(Girls) Sarah Austin (Senior), Megan Alberding (Junior)

Coach Sillin’s comment: “Last year was the first time in seven years we didn’t make the state meet. Although several of our runners aren’t very experienced, I hope that if we work hard in training and stay free of injury, we’ll have a shot at making it through to states this year.”

Coach Mazzurco’s comment: “With only three girls on the team, our goals are going to be focused on individuals. Last year, Sarah and Megan both performed exceptionally well at regionals and hope to improve on their finishes.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA’s cross country teams once again show promise this fall.

The boys missed states last year for the first time since 2008, ending a run of six straight top 10 finishes on the big stage. This time around, the Panthers have the pieces in place to return and make a mark. Flatt qualified for states as an individual last season, posting the 50th-fastest time in Class C. He’ll be strong again. Kostelinik (29th at regionals in 2015), Hilscher (42nd), Sillin (43rd) and Rowe (54th) also return. The Panthers look to develop as the season rolls along and be at their best in late October. A return to top 10 state meet form appears likely.

On the girls’ side, at press time, the Panthers didn’t have enough runners to qualify as a team, but they do feature some standout individuals. Alberding came in 11th at last year’s Class C state meet, while Austin placed 24th. Both girls hope to move up this autumn. Junior Charlotte Collins is new and hopes to make a mark as well. Keep an eye on this triumvirate. They’ll post some impressive results in the weeks to come.

GOLF

Coach: Charlie Hudson (fifth year)

2015 results: 6-3-1 (6th @ Class C state match)

Top returners: Haven Cutko (Senior), Jake Malcom (Senior), Dana Nichols (Senior), Connor Millett (Sophomore), Reed Silvers (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We didn’t have any seniors last year, so we return the entire team. It’s a motivated crew. Our goal is to go to states, especially with the veterans we have, but it will be a challenging year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA had a solid season in 2015 and while it could be even better this fall, the near-guaranteed state match berth of recent years is anything but a sure thing.

Nichols is the top returner. He shot a 93 at the team state match and made the WMC all-star team. Malcom (103) and Millett (105) also scored at the state match a year ago and return. Cutko also has experience. Sophomore Reed Silvers looks to be a factor. That’s a solid core that should lead the Panthers to many victories this season.

NYA’s state match uncertainty stems from the return to the Western Maine Conference of St. Dom’s, last year’s Class C runner-up. The current rules allow for one state match qualifier for every three Class C teams in the league. At present, there are only three (Old Orchard Beach is the other and Waynflete doesn’t appear to have enough players for a team this fall), so the Panthers and Saints will be vying for the one berth. That means NYA will have to be at its best at the end of the season. This group is up for the challenge.

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

Senior Xander Bartone will be a key returner for an NYA boys’ soccer team which is always in the Class C South mix.

Senior Kiersten Marr is back for NYA’s field hockey team, which welcomes a new coach and looks to remain a top contender.

Amber Rose had a strong freshman season for the Panthers and should score some big goals this autumn.

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