North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Spring Sports Preview

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The North Yarmouth Academy girls’ lacrosse team will feature the talents of senior Lauren Tufts, who is battling her way back from injury.

File photos.

More photos below.

(Ed. Note: Softball has joined Cheverus as a co-op team. For more on that sport, see the Stags preview)

BASEBALL

Coach: Tyler Walsh (first year)

2016 record: 7-10 (Lost, 3-2, to Richmond in Class D South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Galen Arnold (Senior), Haven Cutko (Senior), Joey Hogan (Senior), Dana Nichols (Senior), Nate Sinibaldi (Senior), Jackson Lindscott (Sophomore), Joe Strabley (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 20 RICHMOND, April 29 ST. DOM’S, May 5 @ Richmond, May 18 @ St. Dom’s

Coach’s comment: “The year’s team returns most of our players from last year. With nine seniors, we’re looking to make a run in the playoffs. With veteran leadership and new talent, our infield will be strong. We hope to accomplish what we haven’t done since 2004, win a state championship. We have the veteran leadership and fresh talent to do just that.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA snapped a two-year postseason drought a year ago and this spring, the Panthers feel that the sky is the limit and it’s easy to understand why. The program will be led this season by Walsh, NYA’s boys’ hockey coach. He’ll be assisted by Alex Kloza. They inherit a team that has no shortage of top athletes.

Arnold and Cutko were league all-stars in 2016. Arnold will play first base and Cutko anchors the outfield in centerfield. On the mound, the Panthers have a lot of depth, as Arnold, Hogan, Lindscott, Nichols, Sinibaldi and Strabley, along with junior Connor Dilon, will all see time on the hill. Lindscott and Xander Kostelnik will be behind the plate. The infield will feature Nichols and Strabley. In the outfield, Wallace Jackson and freshman Thomas DuPont will join Cutko.

This is a senior-laden, talented squad, one that is hungry to win now. The Panthers will have a chance to avenge last year’s ouster in the opener when they battle Richmond. NYA won four Class D titles in a five-year span between 2000 and 2004. The Panthers haven’t been to a regional final since 2005. This could be the year NYA returns to its glorious past.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: John Hooper (first year)

2016 record: 3-10 (Lost, 19-4, to Yarmouth in Class B North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Mike Adams (Senior), Ryan Baker (Senior), Sam Johnson (Senior), Cris Paradis (Senior), Jeremy Thelven (Senior), Connor Clock (Junior), Cooper Hogan (Junior), Connor Millett (Junior), Brent Rickett (Junior), Joe Bernhardt (Sophomore), Nick Hemenway (Sophomore), Kurt Heywood (Sophomore), Lloyd Lathrop (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 25 @ Yarmouth, May 10 @ Kennebunk, May 26 @ Waynflete

Coach’s comment: “We’re a young team with several new players. The kids are hardworking and dedicated to the game. We’re looking to build off last year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA extended its postseason streak to 21 years last spring and features a nice balance of experience and new players this season as the program welcomes a new coach in Hooper. Hooper was the Panthers’ assistant last year and previously coached at the high school, post-graduate and collegiate levels. He’ll be assisted by Glenn Gorden, who formerly coached in college at Brown and Denver. The new coaches have some talent to work with.

This year’s attack contingent includes Heywood, Hogan, Johnson, Rickett and Thelven. Adams and Clock will take faceoffs. They’re joined in the midfield by Baker, Bernhardt, Hemenway, Millett and new junior Jack Labbe, sophomores Carlos Pena and Alasdair Swett and freshmen Reese Farrell and Eddie Newell. Lathrop and Paradis are back to anchor the defense with help from new junior Evan Larson. Freshman William Tatge will be in goal. The Panthers held off Freeport, 11-10, in a thrilling regular season opener Thursday, behind four goals from Rickett.

NYA will need some time to get used to the new coaching staff and hit its stride, but the Panthers should improve dramatically from start to finish and if all goes well, the postseason will be the destination again. Perhaps this time, NYA will enjoy a longer stay.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Molly Climo (second year)

2016 record: 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Zelda Clegg (Senior), Kiersten Marr (Senior), Lauren Tufts (Senior), Lindsay Tufts (Senior), Charlotte Collins (Junior), Amber Rose (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 3 YARMOUTH, May 10 GREELY, May 23 @ York, May 25 FREEPORT

Coach’s comment: “More than half of our team is new, so that presents some challenges. Transitioning the freshmen to the high school level and improving the skills and knowledge of the game throughout the team are some of the more important tasks we face. Every year presents new challenges and while we have a lot of athleticism on our team, if we can learn how to refine that into lacrosse strategy and skill, we will do pretty well.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA was done in by a brutal schedule a year ago and fell short of the playoffs for the second straight season. This spring, the Panthers are young, but they do return some talent and are hopeful of climbing the standings.

This year, the offense will be paced by Clegg, Collins, Rose and Lauren Tufts, who begins the season recovering from injury. A trio of newcomers, sophomore Helen Hamblett and freshmen Maggie Larson and Hannah Twombly, will make a mark in the midfield. Defensively, Marr will lead the way. Lindsay Tufts, a defender last year, and freshman Maya Davis will step in in goal. Several younger players will have a chance to make a mark as well.

NYA again has a very challenging schedule, which started with a 16-2 home loss to Waynflete Thursday (Larson and Twombly had the goals), but the Panthers have enough talented athletes to suggest they’ll show steady improvement, perhaps enough to make the playoffs, where anything would be possible.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (21st year, four state championships)

2016 results:
(Boys) 24th @ Class C state meet

(Girls) Tie-13th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:
(Boys) Xander Bartone (Senior), Jake Malcom (Senior), Henry Quesada (Senior), Jack Sillin (Junior)

(Girls) Isabelle See (Senior), Megan Alberding (Junior), Alex Braunfels (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The boys’ team is returning many members who scored at states last year. As a whole, we’ll be competitive in the regular season and between several strong individuals and the depth on the team to fill out the relays, the team has strong potential at the big meets at the end of the season.
“The girls’ team is smaller than normal, but it’s packed with athletes who will be able to strongly cover all of the events. We should be competitive in most of our regular season competitions and have several individuals who will shine in the postseason.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA features a lot of quality athletes this season.

The boys are led by Bartone, who came in fourth in both the 200 and 400 a year ago. He’ll also run distance races this spring. Quesada is a top returning distance runner. Malcom, NYA’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year, will compete in the hurdles. Sillin is a top thrower. Junior Brennan Flatt (sprints and distance) and sophomore Jack Lent (hurdles and sprints) are newcomers of note. The Panthers have the pieces in place to hold their own against bigger conference foes and they’ll score some points in the postseason.

On the girls’ side, See is the top returning scorer, placing sixth in the high jump last season. NYA’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year will look to move up in that event this spring. Alberding will be heard from in the distance and Baunfels will contend in both the sprints and jumps. The Panthers have the potential to show steady improvement in the weeks to come.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Charlie Hudson (39th year, two state championships)

2016 record: 5-8 (Lost, 4-1, to St. Dom’s in Class C South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Henry Briggs (Senior), Parker Elkins (Junior), Marcus Russell (Sophomore), Abram Buehner (Sophomore), Josh Soucy (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have a young, enthusiastic team. We have several players in the program who are tennis players first. We have a slew of sophomores. I think we’ll be a little better than we were last year. We want to be at least .500.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA made it four playoff trips in five years last spring and should be in contention again this season.

Russell, Soucy and sophomore Reed Silvers project to be in the singles spots. Briggs, Buehner and Elkins are returning doubles players. Sophomore Miles Chapman and freshman Linus Mauer will also be in the mix for spots.

With just one senior and one junior in the starting rotation, the Panthers have a very bright future. The present should be promising too as NYA hopes to be the team making a charge at nine-time defending champion Waynflete when all is said and done.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Kate Chapman (first year)

2016 record: 9-5 (Lost, 3-2, to eventual champion St. Dom’s in Class C South semifinals)

Top returning players: Manna Zhao (Senior), Carson Fassett (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We’re a young team with many newcomers, so it will be a growing year. The girls are a great group of hard-working athletes and we hope to improve our game overall.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After a long, successful run which included five state titles, Lorena Coffin is being succeeded as coach this spring by Chapman. She inherits a squad that has some holes to fill, but one that should again contend.

Zhao and Fassett have experience. They’re joined by freshman Afton Morton, who looks to make an immediate impact. Several other players will have a chance to make a mark as well as the season progresses.

If the Panthers can hit their stride, they’ll get to the playoffs for a fifth year in a row. NYA just might steal some headlines before all is said and done.

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

Junior Connor Clock returns at midfield for the NYA boys’ lacrosse team.

Junior Charlotte Collins will be a top scoring threat for the Panthers this spring.

Marcus Russell had a strong freshman season and is back to help NYA’s boys’ tennis team to the playoffs.

Josh Soucy is another key returner for the Panthers.

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