North Yarmouth Academy Winter Sports Preview

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North Yarmouth Academy will feature a plethora of standout athletes this winter. The boys’ basketball team is led by a special senior in its quest for the playoffs. The girls’ team should be improved. Both hockey teams are well equipped to make noise. Each track team has athletes you’ll be hearing plenty about. Swimming has a new coach and the type of talent that will impress. Nordic skiing hopes to be strong throughout.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Mike Dutton (third year)

2009-10 Record: 4-12 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Mohamed Dahia (Senior), Andrew Esancy (Senior), Michael Ianno (Senior), Eli Leavitt (Senior), Asad Dahia (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 16 (H) TRAIP, Jan. 7 (H) OOB, Jan. 13 (H) GRAY-NG, Jan. 15 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 19 (H) HYDE, Jan. 25 (H) FREEPORT, Jan. 28 (H) WAYNFLETE, Feb. 1 @ OOB, Feb. 8 @ Traip

COACH’S COMMENT: “Hopefully we’ll be improved this year. It depends how far Andrew can take us. He’s a college-level player. I want us to play hard and improve on last year’s record. If we all get on the same page, who knows how far we’ll go. I’m optimistic. We have a difficult schedule. I hope our experience pays off for us.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997, NYA should be much more competitive this winter. This team has varsity experience and is hungry to prove itself. The Panthers suffered a difficult Opening Night loss, failing to hold an early 11-point lead and wasting 22 points from Esancy in a 41-40 setback at rival Waynflete. The wins will come as the season progresses, if for no other reason than Esancy is the real deal. He can dominate down low or step back and drain perimeter shots. He averaged 12.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 2009-10 and made the all-conference squad. He could be even better as a senior. Asad Dahia and Mohamed Dahia can both make shots. Leavitt and Ianno are co-captains. Junior Ryan Rousseau will see key minutes as well. NYA sees challenging opponents from Class B, C and D, but will benefit from its tough slate. If the Panthers can find a way to win enough games to make it to the playoffs, they’ll be a very difficult squad to contend with. Esancy will take this team far. If the supporting cast improves as the season goes along, NYA will be right back in the thick of things.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Liz Smith (second year)

2009-10 Record: 6-11 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Eliza Gendron (Senior), Blair Haggett (Senior), Emily Harrison (Senior), Katie Cawley (Junior), Morgan Scully (Junior), Mallory Ianno (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 18 @ Lake Region, Jan. 7 @ OOB, Jan. 15 (H) YARMOUTH, Jan. 19 @ Hyde, Jan. 28 @ Waynflete, Feb. 1 (H) OOB

COACH’S COMMENT: “With a small team, we struggled last year to be able to keep up with teams for a full four quarters, so conditioning and staying healthy is definitely an area of focus for us. We only graduated one senior and have more depth and are playing with better confidence this year. Ultimately, we would like to improve upon our record from last year and get a playoff spot.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA will battle hard all winter. The Panthers have a season with Smith under their belts and with a lot of players back, hope to build on last year’s mark and make it to the playoffs after falling short five of the past six seasons. This team is led by its standout, Haggett, a a first-team all-star a year ago after placing third in the conference in steals (4.6 per game) and sixth in scoring (15.1 ppg). She’ll spend time at point guard as well as off guard and is dangerous wherever she might be on the court. Haggett had 13 points in a season-opening 65-49 loss to Waynflete Friday, but had 12 as NYA answered with a 43-38 home win over Hebron Saturday. Scully will also serve as a point guard. She can score as well. Gendron had 12 points in the opener and 11 in the victory. She’s a guard/forward. Cawley and Harrison look to make a mark inside. Ianno is an up-and-coming guard. Freshman forward Charlotte Esancy could soon see major minutes (she had nine points in the win over Hebron). The Panthers are limited by their size and will live and die behind their perimeter shooting and their ability to get out in transition. NYA will battle every night and should improve on last year’s win total. This could be a very dangerous squad by February.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Ed Harding (first year)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Alan Brown (Senior), Finn Hadlock (Senior), Jordan Haskell (Senior), Sebastian LeBlanc (Senior), Tim Millett (Senior), Niklas Narvanmaa (Senior), Tommy McGuckin (Junior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s a work in progress. The guys are starting to catch on. We have a long way to go. We want to get better every day. I expect to be competitive every game and win some games. Our schedule is stronger this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA continues to compete in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference and has a new coach this year in Harding, who spent six years coaching with the Lewiston Maineiacs. He inherits a team with a lot of youth. The Panthers started 2-1 this winter, downing Academie St. Louis, 5-4 and 5-3 before losing to Proctor, 4-1. The offense will be led this season by Hadlock, Haskell, Millett and Narvanmaa. Brown paces the defense. LeBlanc and McGuckin will both see time in goal. NYA is still learning a new system and with a lot of younger players on the ice, might struggle against some of its top competition, but this team should be dramatically improved by year’s end, hopes to make the postseason and will be even stronger going forward.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Ellissa Popoff (second year)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kylie Dalbec (Junior), Mariah Farrell (Junior), Molly Strabley (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We return a solid core of players this season. Although we only graduated three seniors, one was the lead scorer in the league. The team is now looking for a number of the younger players to step up into the scoring role. We have more depth this year and are able to roll lines more consistently. Even after three games, the improvement in the team is noticeable and it looks to be a very positive season. Our schedule this year is slightly more challenging. The team is very excited to get into the bulk of our games and we should have quite a bit of success this season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA had a winning mark in Popoff’s first campaign and despite losing reigning Winter Female Athlete of the Year and Division II Player of the Year Courtney Dumont to graduation, should be very competitive in 2010-11. The Panthers dropped their first two outings to two-time defending champion Governor’s and Tilton, but bounced back to down Kents Hill, 3-0, behind goals from Dalbec, Strabley and junior Megan Fortier, who transferred to NYA from Falmouth after an all-star campaign a year ago. Junior Ally Hebert is another player to watch. She’s a forward who transferred in from St. Dom’s. Farrell is solid in net. The Panthers will go toe-to-toe with everyone in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference and have a great chance to post a winning record again.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Chris Mazzurco (13th year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) Tie-11th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) Tie-14th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING ATHLETES:

(BOYS) Nick Kolkin (Senior), Alex Coffin (Junior), Cam Rayder (Junior), Brian Trelegan (Junior), Jake Burns (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Renee Lamoreau (Senior), Sarah Jordan (Junior), Moira Lachance (Junior) Hannah Twombly (Junior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “Our numbers are good. Nineteen girls and 14 boys. It’s the second biggest girls’ team ever. We have a good core of younger kids. Losing Henry (Sterling) was huge for the boys. For the first time in a long time, we don’t have any top jumpers. The girls’ have capable athletes. The relays will be very strong. We should be toward the top of the conference. We cover events well with our numbers and depth. It’s a pleasure to coach this group of kids. We should be more competitive than in the past .”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA’s track program has plenty to get excited about.

The boys will have a very different look this winter after graduating the nonpareil Sterling, who won the Class B two-mile and was runner-up in the mile a year ago. That means no state scorers return, but the Panthers have athletes who will soon be heard from. Kolkin is a top sprinter. Coffin runs the middle distance, Trelegan the longer races. Burns looks to score in the hurdles. Rayder is a top thrower. NYA will find some points as the season progresses and should hold its own at USM. If a couple kids can find a way to score at states, it would be a most successful season indeed.

On the girls’ side, the Panthers return state meet scorer Twombly (fifth in the mile last year). She is a top distance threat and will be joined by junior Hillary Detert and sophomore Hannah Hearn. Jordan runs the middle distance and will get help from junior Sasha McLean. Lachance and Lamoreau are top sprinters and jumpers. Lamoreau also hurdles. Freshman Adela McVicar could step right in and make noise as a hurdler and high jumper. NYA will impress in the weeks to come and could move into the top 10 at states if all goes well.

SWIMMING

COACH: Kyle Johnson (first year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) Tie-16th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 5th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SWIMMERS:

(BOYS) Nico Kaminow (Senior), Ted Elliott (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Alicia Hoffman (Senior), Alison Znamierowski (Senior), Emma Laprise (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We are a small team with a lot of motivation. We work together as a cohesive unit and strive to become the best student-athletes possible.

I’m looking forward to seeing what great things we can do with the talent on our team. We have a great core of returning swimmers, bringing knowledge and leadership to our team, while we have two fresh faces eager to swim, learn, and be the best they can be. Our team has a great dynamic and a great outlook on an awesome season ahead of us..”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA traditionally makes the most of its small numbers and this winter should be no different. The Panthers welcome an accomplished new coach in Johnson, who dominated for Deering High and went on to swim at the University of Findlay where he served as an assistant coach last year. He was part of a three-time state champion with the Rams and was Deering’s 2005 Winter Male Athlete of the Year. He takes over a small crew that has potential.

The boys’ team’s top returner is Kaminow, who was eighth in the 50 free and eighth in the backstroke a year ago. He’ll also compete in the breaststroke. Elliott competes in the backstroke and distance freestyle. That tandem will do its best as the season progresses.

On the girls’ side, reigning Winter Female Athlete of the Year Emily McKinnon transferred to Exeter, leaving Znamierowski as the top returner. She was 12th in both the 50 free and the butterfly a year ago. Hoffman (15th in the fly last winter) will be a force in that event, as well as the backstroke and freestyle. Laprise competes in the freestyle and backstroke. Adding depth are freshmen Abby McKelvy (backstroke and freestyle) and Emma Randall (breaststroke and freestyle). This group will make the most of its limited numbers and should hang tough in the regular season and produce some memorable performances in the postseason.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Kalie Dunn (second year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) 3rd @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) no score @ Class C state meet

TOP SKIERS:

(BOYS) Robert Field (Junior), Cam Regan (Junior), Jake Susla (Junior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We are looking to have a very strong boys’ team, with the loss of only one senior and the addition of three new skiers. We will continue to be a strong force in the conference as well as Class C. We hope to improve on last year’s results. We have strong class of junior boys who are sure to lead the team to another great season. Unfortunately, we lost a very strong senior on the girls’ side, Abbie McIvor, who graduated. This year, our team consists of freshman Maddy Fenderson, who is sure to represent the team well. I’m confident we can improve upon our results from last season and are hoping to be in the top two at states in February.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA’s Nordic ski program is small, but proud and will be heard from in the weeks to come.

The boys are led by returners Regan (10th in the freestyle and 11th in the classic at last year’s state meet), Field (15th classic, 18th freestyle) and Susla (18th classic, 22nd freestyle). Freshman Ian Moore, the middle school champion a year ago, joins the squad, adds depth and gives the Panthers reason to believe they can make a run at the top spot. Don’t bet against them.

On the girls’ side, there’s only Fenderson, but she’ll make the most of her opportunity. Look for that team to grow going forward.

Sidebar Elements


Senior Blair Haggett could be one of the top scorers in the conference this season.

Senior Eliza Gendron also returns to a Panthers squad looking to make it to the playoffs.

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