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- The Forecaster
Coach: Mike Owens (fifth year, 38-32 overall record)
2014 record: 15-3 (Lost, 3-1, in 11 innings, to Marshwood in Western A semifinals)
Top returning players: Matt Beecher (Senior), Jacob Brown (Senior), Henry Curran (Senior), Anthony Degifico (Senior), Hayden Owen (Senior), Brad Sowerby (Senior), Nick Troiano (Junior), Sam Troiano (Sophomore)
Pivotal games: April 24 TA, May 5 @ Deering, May 9 CHEVERUS, May 12 @ Marshwood, May 16 @ TA, May 21 PORTLAND, May 26 @ Biddeford, May 28 @ Scarborough
Coach’s comment: “We have a good veteran team and a lot of depth. I’m really excited. We have nice balance back from last year’s successful team. We have experienced pitchers, but we have to replace the entire infield. The league is deep, but we’ll be right in the mix. We have that hungry taste in our mouths after last year. The kids want to take it to the next level. We look to have a successful season and hopefully make another run at it.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland enjoyed its best season in a decade a year ago, but its offense went into hibernation at the worst possible time and title dreams were dashed. After graduating nine seniors, including all-stars Robert Graff, Zac Marles and Jon Vickers, there are some spots to fill, but this roster remains strong and the Red Riots figure to once again be one of the final teams standing in Western A.
South Portland boasts one of the state’s elite pitchers in Curran, a lefthanded standout who went 5-1 with a minuscule 0.21 earned run average a year ago during a first-team all-star campaign. Curran struck out 47 batters and walked just 14. If he pitches like that again, look out. Sowerby (another lefty) is coming off a 3-0 campaign which saw him produce a 1.68 ERA. He’ll be the designated hitter when not pitching. Sam Troiano and junior Griffin Kelley will also see time on the hill. The Red Riots have a pitching staff the rest of the league will envy. Nick Troiano is back behind the plate. He hit .318 in 2014 and will help pace the offense. The infield will consist of some combination of Beecher, Degifico, junior Drew Abramson and sophomore Matt Crockett, a promising transfer from Brewer. Sam Troiano (a first-team all-star as a freshman) is coming off a season which saw him lead the team in average (.400), runs (18) and hits (22). He also drove in 11. He’s in centerfield when he doesn’t pitch. Brown (seven RBI last year), Owen and Curran (when he’s not pitching) will also play in the outfield.
South Portland appears to have all aspects, pitching, defense, offense, covered. This group just needs some seasoning. The Red Riots will get in that in the weeks to come and should be quite formidable in June. Perhaps this time, the offense will awaken. If so, this group could finish what last year’s team started.
Coach: Alexis Garrison (first year)
2014 record: 12-5 (Lost, 11-7, to Bonny Eagle in Western Class A quarterfinals)
Top returning players: Laurine German (Senior), Kiley Kennedy (Senior), Abby Young (Senior), Miranda Gleason (Junior)
Pivotal games: April 24 SCARBOROUGH, April 27 @ TA, May 1 @ Sanford, May 8 MCAULEY, May 13 @ Cheverus, May 20 BIDDEFORD, May 23 @ Scarborough, June 1 @ Bonny Eagle
Coach’s comment: “I have a great group of girls who work hard. We have a core group of returners. As long as we put our talent to good use, we’ll turn heads and be a contender. I’m excited to play the top teams first. People aren’t expecting much from us this year, but I think we’ll surprise.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Last season, South Portland won its fewest games in a decade and there isn’t the typical buzz around the program, but don’t be surprised if this squad winds up turning heads in the weeks to come. Garrison replaces the very successful Ralph Aceto as coach. Garrison played at Cheverus and later at Susquehena University. She’s spent the past three years coaching the Southern Maine Flame travel team and takes over a Red Riots squad that boasts some very good players.
Leading the list is German, a first-team league all-star last year, who has been a top talent since she first took the field as a freshman. German, the shortstop and sparkplug, batted .465 last year with a team high seven doubles, three home runs and 25 runs scored. She also drove in 22. Look for her to make quite a splash in her final season in red and white. Young was an honorable mention all-star last spring after hitting .282 and scoring 15 times. She’ll play second and team with German to make up a solid middle infield. Kennedy returns behind the plate. Sophomore Stephanie Aceto, who saw limited action in 2014, will replace Olivia Indorf on the hill and look to keep South Portland in every game. The outfield is strong behind Gleason (.301, 14 runs, 18 RBI in 2014), senior Paige Carter and junior Madison Houlette.
While Scarborough, Thornton Academy and Biddeford are getting all the buzz, teams would be wise to keep an eye on the Red Riots, who over the past decade have averaged nearly 16 wins per season. Don’t be surprised if South Portland makes a run deep into the playoffs, just like so many times before.
Coach: Tom Fiorini (eighth year, 59-35 overall record, one state championship)
2014 record: 14-1 (Beat Brunswick, 10-8, to win first Class A state title)
Top returning players: T-Moe Hellier (Senior), Trent Lloyd-Rees (Senior), Chris Mitchell (Senior), Andrew Whipple (Senior), Jack Fiorini (Junior), Nick Mezzanotte (Junior),
Pivotal games: April 28 @ Cheverus, May 6 WESTBROOK, May 8 @ Kennebunk, May 13 @ TA, May 15 YARMOUTH, June 2 SCARBOROUGH
Coach’s comment: “I think the guys know what they have to do to win. They’re anxious. We have to plug holes. We have kids in different positions, but at the end of the day, I think we’re a solid team. We don’t want to be a one-trick pony. We want to build something here and continue to compete every year. Our goal is to get back to the state game. I think we have the pieces in place. We might be a little sloppy to start, but at the end of the season, I think we’ll jell. I’m so lucky to have these kids. We work hard, but we have so much fun.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: It’s hard to imagine a team having more fun than the Red Riots did in 2014. South Portland scored in double figures in 14 of 15 outings, won 14 times and averaged over 16 goals a game as it made history, rallying to stun Thornton Academy in a regional final comeback for the ages before holding off Brunswick to win the Class A championship for the first time. As is usually the case with a championship team, graduation took a bite out of the roster, as the program lost two-time Spring Male Athlete of the Year, All-American and emotional and spiritual leader, Duncan Preston, along with high scorer Thomas Leddy, captain Josh Allen and faceoff specialist Joey DiBiase. Even in light of the departures, the cupboard is still stocked with talent and the Red Riots are eager to make a run at a second crown.
If you have a great goalie, you’re always in good shape and South Portland has the best in Hellier, a four-year starter and reigning first-team league all-star, who will be playing at Goucher College in Baltimore this time next year. He has a strong defense in front of him, featuring Lloyd-Rees, Mezzanotte, junior Brian Elsemore and sophomore Bennedito Nappi. The offense begins with Fiorini, a second-team all-star who had 50 goals and 36 assists in 2014. Whipple, another second-team all-star, is an assist machine and seniors Kyle Halvorsen and Chris Mitchell will pay much larger roles. Keep an eye also on senior Lucas Michaud, who played for South Portland in middle school, left for prep school and is now back for one season.
The Red Riots have all the pieces in place, elite goaltending, strong defense and potent offense. If they can stay hungry, they’ll be right there at the end with a chance to claim the top spot. Again.
Coach: Leslie Dyer (first year)
2014 record: 6-7 (Lost, 15-4, to Scarborough in Western A quarterfinals)
Top returning players: Marty Bushey (Senior), Aimee LaPlante (Senior), Abby Letourneau (Senior), Lily SanGiovanni (Senior), Mary Cronin (Junior), Maddie Hasson (Junior)
Pivotal games: April 30 @ Scarborough, May 4 MARSHWOOD, May 8 BRUNSWICK, May 14 PORTLAND, May 19 @ Deering, May 26 WINDHAM, May 28 @ Massabesic
Coach’s comment: “We have good strength in the midfield and on defense. I think we’ll come out strong. We have to learn to play together. I think we can surprise if we play 50 minutes. We have good athletes and that’s a nice thing. I’ve been part of this program for six years on and off and we’ve always lost in the first round of the playoffs. We’d love to make it to the second round.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland welcomes a familiar face as its new coach. Dyer has been the field hockey coach for four seasons and spent five years with the Red Riots girls’ lacrosse junior varsity squad (she also coached at Scarborough one season). She inherits a team that boasts some talented athletes. One which could move up the ladder in the weeks to come.
This year’s team is anchored by All-American honorable mention goalie SanGiovanni, who will play at Wesleyan this time next year. SanGiovanni, who was also a first-team league all-star, will keep South Portland competitive throughout. The defense features Bushey and senior Holly Black. Hasson will take draws and spark the offense along with Cronin (a member of the SMAA All-Rookie team last season), LaPlante and Letourneau.
For years, the Red Riots have handled the teams they were supposed to beat, but have struggled against the top tier foes. Eventually, the program needs to take the next step (the Red Riots have never reached the semifinals) and Dyer believes the time has come. South Portland’s athleticism can match up with just about everyone. The Red Riots just need a big confidence building win and then the sky will be the limit.
(Boys) Dave Kahill (eighth year)
(Girls) Karen Reardon (fourth year)
(Boys) 6th @ Class A State Meet
(Girls) 4th @ Class A State Meet
Top returning athletes:
(Boys) Michael Cuesta (Senior), James Falconer (Senior), Darien McMahan (Senior), Remi Sedjro (Senior), Noah Blake (Junior), Danny Guiliani (Junior), Gary Maietta (Junior), Jake Maloney (Junior), Xander Keiter (Sophomore), Steven Smith (Sophomore)
(Girls) Janey Blackwell-Orr (Senior), Lauren Magnuson (Senior), Michelle Medici (Senior), Brittney Upton (Senior), Edita Isakovic (Junior), Meagan Johnson (Junior), Casey Loring (Junior), Callie O’Brien (Sophomore)
Top foes: Deering, Scarborough, Thornton Academy boys; Cheverus, Scarborough, Thornton Academy, Westbrook girls
Coach Kahill’s comment: “We have a relatively young team, so strong upperclass leadership will be instrumental for overall growth and success. We’re very strong in the field events and we have growing potential on the track. We should again be competitive in the regular season and championship meets.”
Coach Reardon’s comment: “We did well indoors and hope to continue this spring. I think we have some athletes who can score at the league and state levels. Our goal is to use the meets throughout the season to make progress individually and as a team toward being competitive in our conference. If we do that, we’ll be a team to watch.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland’s track program is primed to be among the best in the SMAA and state.
The boys return reigning shot put champion Guiliani. He’ll also be a force in the discus (he was sixth in 2014) and javelin. McMahan is another thrower of note. Sophomore Xavier Mills looks to make a name for himself in the throws. Cuesta came in second in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump in 2014. He’s the indoor state champion in both and could add two more titles in June. He’ll also pole vault. Blake, Maietta, Sedjro and sophomore Isaiah Anderson will also jump. On the track side, Maloney returns from a 3,200 relay team which scored last year. He’ll be a distance threat, along with Keiter and Smith. Falconer and Smith are top racewalkers. In the sprints, keep an eye on Blake, Maietta and senior Diego Ramirez, a transfer from Westbrook, who will also be a top hurdler. South Portland will score most of its points in the jumps and throws, but if the runners can produce, the Red Riots will be strong all season and could stay in the top 10 at the state meet.
On the girls’ side, the loss of Shannon Conley will hurt, but plenty of scoring returns. Leading the way is Magnuson, who was runner-up in the 100 a year ago and third in the 200. Isakovic, Johnson, O’Brien, sophomores Toia Francis and Erica Magnuson and freshmen Juliana Selser (who had a solid indoor season) and Jackie Tanguay also will compete in the sprints. O’Brien (sixth in the 100 hurdles in 2014) is the top hurdler. In the longer races, Blackwell-Orr and Loring return from a runner-up 3,200 relay squad. They’re joined by Upton, sophomore Serena McKenzie and freshman Jenny DiPhilippo. Sophomore Abby Donahue hopes to score in the racewalk. On the field side, Medici is coming off a fourth-place showing in the javelin last year and will lead the throwers, a contingent which also includes sophomores Cree Hoyte and Erica Magnuson. Isakovic, Johnson, O’Brien, sophomores Sophia Cummings and Phoebe Letourneau and freshmen Lingdong Bol (who scored indoors) and Tanguay are jumpers of note. The Red Riots are excited to be able to host a meet for the first time since 2012 after school renovations were completed. They’ll be in the mix throughout and and could make it back-to-back top five finishes at states.
Coach: Tom Hyland (eighth year)
2014 results: 3-9 (no postseason)
Top returning players: Taylor Miller (Senior), Eli Canfield (Junior), Alex Hewitt (Junior), Thomas Hodgkins (Junior) Ian Mitchell (Junior)
Pivotal matches: April 29 @ Thornton Academy, May 6 @ Deering, May 11 @ Cheverus, May 13 SCARBOROUGH, May 20 PORTLAND
Coach’s comment: “We look for positive contributions from returners. Despite our record last year, we played inspired tennis and gained some very valuable experience. We hope to capitalize on that during the season. With continued hard work and disciplined practice, we look for a successful season and a playoff berth.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: After missing the playoffs last season, South Portland hopes for a few more victories this spring.
Mitchell was pegged for the first singles spot, but is recovering from a knee injury, meaning he probably won’t be at full strength until the middle of the season. Hewitt, Miller and possibly freshman Andy LeBlanc project to be the other singles players. Canfield and Hodgkins won six times at doubles last year and hope to anchor a strong doubles crew. Seniors Pat Conroy and Dehan Draskoic will also be in the hunt for regular playing time.
This could be a squad that springs a few surprises in the weeks to come.
Coach: Elizabeth Scifres (16th year)
2014 results: 4-9 (Lost, 3-2, to Sanford in Western A preliminary round)
Top returning players: Christine Ekholm (Senior), Dima Karakitukova (Senior), Leah Barry-Sandelin (Junior)
Pivotal matches: May 6 DEERING, May 11 CHEVERUS, May 13 @ Scarborough, May 18 @ McAuley, May 20 @ Portland
Coach’s comment: “We have a large, fun-loving team. The girls have been working hard on fitness and strength training, as well as team building. I think we’ll be a competitive team, although it’s likely to be a building year.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland extended its playoff streak to 15 seasons last spring and with a little luck, could get there once again.
This year’s team returns captains Ekholm and Karakitukova, along with Berry-Sandelin. Newcomers include junior Maggie Koukos and sophomores Ellen Stanton and Julia Stanton.
The Red Riots shuld be able to hold their own against just about everyone in the league. They’ll look to match or exceed last year’s win total and that would be enough to earn a trip to the postseason.
It seems like just yesterday that Laurine German was a promising freshman. She’s fulfilled that promise and then some and now as a senior, she looks to go out with a bang and lead South Portland’s softball team to a strong season.
Miranda Gleason has shown the ability to make big plays.
Kiley Kennedy figures to have her share of key hits this spring.
Abby Young is another key returning senior.
T-Moe Hellier is arguably the state’s finest goalie. Before he takes his act to Goucher College, Hellier hopes to lead the Red Riots to another championship.
Trenton Lloyd-Rees is a top returning defenseman for the Red Riots.
Chris Mitchell will play a bigger role in the South Portland offense this spring.
Andrew Whipple is an assist machine for the Red Riots.
Michael Cuesta is an elite jumper for a South Portland boys’ outdoor track squad which should be among the best in the league.
Danny Guiliani won the shot put last spring and could be the best thrower in Class A again this season.
Lauren Magnuson was runner-up in the 100 at last year’s state meet and came in third in the 200. She’s hoping to reach the top podium this time around.
South Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team whooped it up, for good reason, after winning its first state title a year ago. The Red Riots have what it takes to go back-to-back.
More photos below.