Spring Coaches of the Year-Southern edition

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Owens

Spark

Boys’ team:

Mike Owens, South Portland baseball

In a season without a favorite in Class A South baseball, the South Portland Red Riots took advantage and stole headlines.

While South Portland wasn’t able to parlay its regular season success into postseason glory, for a few weeks, the Red Riots had no peer and won games in a variety of memorable ways.

The 2018 team’s success didn’t come as a surprise, as it continued a trend with Mike Owens at the helm and as a result of South Portland’s stellar regular season, The Forecaster is naming Mike Owens our Southern edition Spring Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Owens was also honored in 2015.

Owens, who was a standout baseball, basketball and soccer player at Gorham High School and went on to play baseball at the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine, coached previously in Colorado and took over the Red Riots in 2011.

Owens led South Portland to a total of 23 wins in his first three seasons, but after going 15-3 in 2014, the Red Riots got to the state final in 2015 and the regional final the following spring. South Portland won 13 games in 2017 and after a 3-2 start this season, caught fire, winning its final 13 contests, including victories over eventual regional champion Gorham and at Portland, Thornton Academy and Falmouth.

The Red Riots earned the top seed for the Class A South playoffs, but in a result that was typical for the unpredictability of the region, they were upset by Falmouth in the quarterfinals.

“I’m so proud of this group,” Owens said. “We had 11 seniors who put in a lot of work and we relied on them for leadership.”

Owens, who also teaches physical education/health at South Portland, is a Portland resident. He figures to have another strong team in 2019 that could finish the job that year’s team began.

Mike Owens, our Southern edition boys’ team Spring Coach of the Year, has been a steady leader for the Red Riots. One who gets his charges’ absolute best, year after year.

Previous winners

207 Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2016 Mike D’Andrea (Scarborough baseball)

2015 Mike Owens (South Portland baseball)

2014 Tom Fiorini (South Portland lacrosse)

2013 Andy Strout (Cape Elizabeth tennis)

2012 Chris Hayward (Cape Elizabeth baseball)

2011 Craig MacDonald (Scarborough tennis)

2010 Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2009 Jim Cronin (Scarborough baseball)

2008 Joe Hezlep (Scarborough lacrosse)

2007 Craig McDonald (Scarborough tennis)

2006 Tobey Farrington (Scarborough lacrosse)

2005 Dave Weatherbie (Cape Elizabeth track)

2004 Todd Day (Cape Elizabeth baseball)

2003 Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2002 Andy Strout (Cape Elizabeth tennis)

Girls’ team:

Alex Spark, Cape Elizabeth lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ lacrosse team stole headlines in June, winning the Class B state title for the first time.

The Capers won just seven times in the regular season against a brutal schedule, but they were at their absolute best when it mattered most and as an underdog against Yarmouth in the state game, Cape Elizabeth was unfazed and wound up prevailing in an overtime thriller.

For leading her team through nailbiting moments from Opening Night right through June 16, Alex Spark deserves an abundance of credit and The Forecaster is naming her our Southern edition Spring Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Spark hails from New Jersey. She played in college for The College of New Jersey, a perennial Division III contender. Spark was a top scorer in college and prior to taking over the Capers program, assisted at Bonny Eagle program and coached with the Maineiax travel program.

Spark inherited the Capers in 2015 and led them to the playoffs her first year, but Cape Elizabeth won just three times in 2016 and fell short of the postseason. Last spring, the Capers made great strides, beat Waynflete in the playoffs and got to the Class B South semifinals.

This season, Cape Elizabeth edged York in an overtime thriller in the opener, then lost some games to top foes before saving its best for last. Despite a 7-5 record, the Capers finished second in Class B South and after surging in the second half to down York in the state quarterfinals, they held off a determined Greely squad by a goal in the semifinals to reach a state final for just the second time in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era.

As was the case in 2014, Cape Elizabeth’s other finals appearance, Yarmouth stood between the Capers and an elusive Class B championship, but unlike that other game, Cape Elizabeth rose to meet the challenge and made history.

The Capers led much of the way, fell behind in the second half and had to rally late to force overtime before senior Emily Healy scored the biggest goal in program history to give Cape Elizabeth the scintillating title.

“The girls were hungry and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Spark said. “We only focused on what task we had next. Never about wins, losses, just the next game to play.”

Cape Elizabeth stole headlines and with a solid young nucleus, could be right back on top again next season. Nothing will eclipse the excitement of this crown, however, one made possible in large part due to the effort of Alex Spark, our Southern edition girls’ team Spring Coach of the Year.

Previous winners:

2017 Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2016 Sarah Boeckel (Cape Elizabeth tennis)

2015 Leslie Dyer (South Portland lacrosse)

2014 Jeff Perkins (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2013 Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2012 Jeff Perkins (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2011 Marcia Wood (Scarborough lacrosse)

2010 Ralph Aceto (South Portland softball)

2009 Ralph Aceto (South Portland softball)

2008 Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2007 Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2006 Joe Henrikson (Cape Elizabeth softball)

2005 Jim Hartman (South Portland softball)

2004 Susan Ray (Cape Elizabeth tennis)

2003 Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2002 Jack DiBiase (South Portland softball)

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.