Portland edition Spring Coaches of the Year

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(Ed. Note: This story will appear in our July 18 Portland print edition)

Spring 2012 Portland edition Coach of the Year-Boys’ Team

DEKE ANDREW—Cheverus Lacrosse

No one has done more to promote the sport of boys’ lacrosse in Maine than Deke Andrew and this spring, finally, Andrew got to bask in the glow of coaching a team in a state championship game.

After the Stags fell short of the postseason in 2011, Andrew guided them through a difficult regular season slate and a challenging postseason crucible.

Andrew has been a part of Maine boys’ lacrosse since the sport was in its infancy. Andrew discovered the sport at North Yarmouth Academy. Andrew also played at Yarmouth High and Waynflete and was an honorable mention all-star his senior year.

Andrew got into coaching out of high school, helping with the Yarmouth Middle School program. In 1999, Cheverus began its varsity program and Andrew became the coach. The only coach the program has had to date.

The Stags were often competitive, but hadn’t been able to take the final step until this spring.

Cheverus lost its opener to Deering, 4-2 (remember that team and score), then won six straight. The Stags wound up 8-4 and were primed to make a playoff run. After dominating Messalonskee in the quarterfinals, Cheverus upset unbeaten Brunswick in overtime in the semis, then avenged their earlier loss with a 4-2 victory over Deering in the Eastern A Final. The Stags weren’t able to cap their magical season with a championship, however, falling to three-time champion Scarborough, 9-4, in the state game.

“I thought we’d be more competitive than anyone expected,” said Andrew. “We had an experienced defense, good athletes like (Cam) Olson and (Brent) Green at the midfield and youth on attack. The guys didn’t care who or where they played. The Marshwood game (a 10-9 overtime loss in the regular season finale) gave me the feeling we’d be able to push deep into the playoffs. Brunswick was a big game emotionally. They’re a great program with a great tradition, bu the kids weren’t fazed. I’m most proud of our preparation for states. Every single player came to (Fitzpatrick Stadium) planning to and expecting to win.”

Andrew has been fortunate to have Jason Hurley. the former Falmouth High and St. Mary’s College of Maryland coach, as his assistant.

“Jason brings an incredible depth of knowledge about the game. I give him free reign to do whatever he thinks is best.”

Andrew runs 207 Lacrosse, which runs leagues and clinics for players from kindergarten age through adults. He hopes to continue coaching indefinitely.

Cheverus and the sport on a local level are in great hands as long as our Coach of the Year, Deke Andrew, is leading the way.

2011 winner: Mac McKew (Cheverus baseball)

2010 winner; Steve Kautz (Waynflete baseball)

2009 winner: Eric Begonia (Portland lacrosse)

2008 winner: Mike D’Andrea (Deering baseball)

2007 winner: Mike D’Andrea (Deering baseball)

2006 winner: Stephane Pejic (Waynflete tennis)

2005 winner: Eric Begonia (Portland lacrosse)

2004 winner: Mike D’Andrea (Deering baseball)

Spring 2012 Portland edition Coach of the Year–Girls’ team

CATHIE CONNORS, Waynflete Lacrosse

Nobody breaks hearts like Cathie Connors.

For years, her Waynflete girls’ lacrosse team has dashed the championship hopes of the likes of Greely, Kennebunk, North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth. This spring, Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth learned how difficult Connors and her team are to beat on the big stage as in the regional playoffs, Waynflete somehow rallied against all odds to shock the Yachtsmen on a goal in the final minute of the semifinals and the Capers in overtime in an epic regional final.

No one wins games like Cathie Connors.

In her 20 years at the helm of the juggernaut Flyers, she’s won 236 contests and 11 state championships (including nine in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era). Under sunny skies or in the rain, against the best competition or those teams filling out Waynflete’s schedule, this coach has no peer.

No one is more synonymous with girls’ lacrosse in the state of Maine than Cathie Connors.

Connors, who grew up in the lacrosse hotbed of Long Island and played at Castleton State (Vermont) College, took the Flyers’ job as a 22-year-old, fresh out of college.

“Taking this job changed my whole life,” Connors said. “When you really love what you do, you’re lucky.”

She’s coached days after giving birth to her now 15-year-old son Joe and guided Waynflete the 2003 state title just a few months shy of giving birth to her almost nine-year-old daughter Jessica. While opposing coaches have come and gone and new programs have been added every year, she’s the one who’s seen it all.

And done it all.

Without peer.

This year was special. The Flyers had lost in the state final in 2010 to NYA and 2011 to Yarmouth and most “experts” didn’t think they were title-worth this spring, but Waynflete went 11-1 in the regular season (falling at home to Falmouth in its one blemish).

The Flyers then faced a pair of playoff challenges unprecedented in the storied program’s history. A rematch with Falmouth came first and Waynflete trailed late, but rallied to tie and won the game on Sadie Cole’s goal with 26.1 seconds to go. That was a mere appetizer for what was to come at undefeated Cape Elizabeth in the regional final. There, the Flyers were down 8-4 in the second half and appeared doomed, but again, they found a way, tied the score and forced overtime. After six minutes of overtime failed to settle matters, Waynflete won it in “sudden victory” OT on a goal from Walker Foehl. The Flyers then dominated Freeport in the state final to end (by their standards) a title drought.

Through it all, Connors got her charges to believe in their abilities and their teammates with her nonpareil part-coach, part-mother style. It worked like a charm and Waynflete is champion once more.

“This team was unique,” said Connors. “The way they pulled together was tremendous. Those two playoff wins were so incredible.”

Connors, who lives in Scarborough and works at Waynflete as the Assistant to the Upper School Director, credits middle school Drew Dubuque for much of the varsity team’s success.

Connors hopes to be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.

“I cannot imagine not coaching,” she said.

We can’t imagine her not coaching either. Our Coach of the Year has set the standard for excellence and this spring was her crown jewel performance.

2011 winner: Linda Cohen (Waynflete tennis)

2010 winner: Robby Ferrante (McAuley softball)

2009 winner: Bonnie Moran (Portland tennis)

2008 winner: Cathie Connors (Waynflete lacrosse)

2007 winner: Jamie Chamberlain (Cheverus lacrosse)

2006 winner: Jamie Chamberlain (Cheverus lacrosse)

2005 winner: Rick Supinski (Cheverus softball)

2004 winner: Cathie Connors (Waynflete lacrosse)

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.