Yarmouth Clippers 2011 Fall Sports Preview

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Yarmouth made history in the fall of 2010, winning state titles in boys’ soccer and football, becoming the first school in Maine to accomplish that feat. Both teams will be right back in the title hunt in 2011. Soccer lost some key contributors to graduation, but Mike Hagerty’s team simply reloads and will battle longtime rival Falmouth once again for top honors. Football has plenty of firepower back and if the hunger remains, the Clippers have a great shot at repeating. Girls’ soccer said farewell to five special seniors and might take awhile to hit its stride, but by late October, look out. Field hockey stands to show dramatic improvement. Both cross country teams are looking to make it to the state meet again and make some noise when they get there. Golf looks to build on its excellent season from a year ago. Volleyball moves to Class B and could be one of the last teams standing.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Mike Hagerty (15th year)

2010 Record: 17-0-1 (Beat Ellsworth 5-0 to win Class B state title)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Eamon Costello (Senior), Chris Knaub (Senior), Ryan Maguire (Senior), Sam Torres (Senior), Peter Zeitz (Senior), Ben Decker (Sophomore), David Murphy (Sophomore), Chandler Smith (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 2 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 6 @ York, Sept. 8 (H) GREELY, Sept. 22 @ Greely, Sept. 24 (H) FALMOUTH, Sept. 26 (H) GRAY-NG, Oct. 4 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 11 (H) NYA, Oct. 14 @ Falmouth, Oct. 17 (H) YORK

COACH’S COMMENT: “I might have to coach for the first time in a long time, but I’m quite excited. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We may start five or six sophomores, but they’re soccer players. We have five freshmen who will swing up from JV. This might be my best freshman class. The more the young kids let the ball do the work, we’ll be fine. I think we’ll sneak under a lot of people’s radar. A realistic goal is to finish in the top four and to get a home playoff game.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Last year’s juggernaut might have been the finest team in program history and was arguably the best in the state. Yarmouth rose to every occasion and its only blemish was a tie at Cape Elizabeth. The Clippers then saved their best for last, leaving no doubt in their state game romp, capturing Class B for the fourth time in seven years. The road will be much tougher in 2011. For starters, nine seniors have departed. Included in that group was the sensational Luke Pierce (all-New England, Class B Player of the Year and Yarmouth’s Fall 2010 Male Athlete of the Year), team heart-and-soul Campbell Belisle-Haley, captain Kyle Groves and Cotter Jackson, who was the hero of the overtime win over Falmouth in the regional final. The Clippers have been further weakened by injury as senior Josh Britten, a superb athlete, will miss the season with a right shoulder injury, projected starter sophomore Max Watson is sidelined with a stress fracture in his back and projected starter sophomore Wyatt Jackson is also hurt, but is expected to return. Very few programs could suffer such losses and even hope to have a winning record, not to mention compete for yet another title, but Yarmouth isn’t just any program. The talent and pride run deep, meaning that the Clippers have every intention of the being in the hunt this autumn. The preseason has gone well and there is reason for optimism. For starters, Yarmouth has what is likely the best goalie around in Knaub, a great starting point. He was an all-conference, all-region and all-state selection a year ago. Defensively, Costello, Smith and Zeitz lead the way. Decker and Murphy saw time as freshmen and will be in the midfield. The departed offense will be tough to replace, but the Clippers have some players who will get the job done. Maguire has a left foot that Hagerty compares to former star Johnny Murphy. Torres might be the best star-cailber player that a lot of people don’t know about. He’s coming off a year which saw him honored at the conference, region and state level. Freshman Adam LaBrie shows promise and could immediately contribute. Yarmouth will have its hands full with a challenging schedule. The Clippers don’t have to worry only about Falmouth this year. York could crash the party and Gray-New Gloucester is on the rise. Yarmouth also plays traditional rivals and Class A contenders Cape Elizabeth and Greely, as well as NYA, a Class C finalist in 2010. This team projects to grow and improve mightily in the weeks to come and by late October, the Clippers will be well equipped to go all the way once more. It won’t be easy, but this team remains a power and no one will want to see Yarmouth standing in their way come the postseason.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Rich Smith (25th year)

2010 Record: 12-3-1 (Lost 1-0 to Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Claudia Lockwood (Senior), Jeanna Lowery (Senior), Mo McNaboe (Senior), Ricki Pierce (Senior), Megan Decker (Junior), Claire King (Junior), Ali Merrill (Junior), Tess Merrill (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 6 (H) YORK, Sept. 8 (H) GREELY, Sept. 22 @ Greely, Sept. 24 (H) FALMOUTH, Oct. 11 (H) NYA, Oct. 14 @ Falmouth, Oct. 18 @ York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a few holes to fill. We lost a lot. We’re going to be young. We have good players, I just have to figure out positions for them. The girls have good attitudes and work ethics. I think we’ll be competitive. By the middle of the year, we should be up to speed.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth stole headlines a year ago with a sizzling 11-0 start, but the season ended in heartache with a loss to rival and eventual champion Falmouth in the semifinals. Normally losing just five seniors wouldn’t have that big an impact, but last year’s senior core was once in a generation and will be missed big-time. While Courtney Barker, Becca Bell, 2010 Fall Female Athlete of the Year Natalie Salmon, Devin Simsarian and Danielle Torres have departed, Smith hopes that their leadership skills have rubbed off on those left behind. The cupboard isn’t bare and if all goes well, the Clippers will once again battle Falmouth and York for Western B supremacy. This year’s offense will be spearheaded by Lowery, McNaboe and Tess Merrill. Lockwood, a captain, who’s coming off a state title in lacrosse in the spring, is one of the certainties at midfield entering the year (at press time, Smith was in the process of deciding who would best fit in the midfield). Defensively, Yarmouth should be very good as Pierce (a captain), Decker and Ali Merrill all have experience. They’ll have to carry a heavy load as the team breaks in a new goalie after last year’s freshman sensation, Olivia Smith, transferred to McAuley. King will see some time in the cage and could also play everywhere else on the field. Freshman Shannon Fallon is also in the goalkeeping mix. Once the Clippers resolve who belongs where, they’re going to be dangerous. An 11-0 start isn’t likely, but this team will get better as it goes along and might finish stronger than last year’s celebrated group.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Jim Hartman (fifth year)

2010 Results: 12-0 (Beat Stearns 34-6 to win Class C state title)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Eric Deerwester (Senior), Carter Dorsett (Senior), Bart Gallagher (Senior), Keith McDonald (Senior), Anders Overhaug (Senior), Bryce Snyder (Senior), Ben Weinrich (Senior), Nick Pelletier (Junior), Caleb Uhl (Junior), Brady Neujahr (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 (H) OAK HILL, Sept. 30 (H) LISBON, Oct. 7 @ Boothbay, Oct. 22 @ Freeport

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re still putting some pieces to the puzzle. We have kids to replace. We do have a ton of skill people. Injuries will affect us at the beginning of the season. We’re bigger than last year, we have as much speed and we have better skill. I don’t think we’ll be as dominant. Replacing the heart that last year’s seniors brought will be tough. Until we step it up, I don’t know about our heart.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth completed its fairy tale run from start-up program to champion a year ago and did so in resounding fashion behind an explosive offense and opportunistic defense. The Clippers left no doubt in the state game and even though several key players graduated (most notably reigning league all-stars Billy Clabby, Nate Pingitore, Jack Watterson and Class C Player of the Year and Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist Nick Proscia), this team is poised to do it again. Neujahr was steady under center his freshman year. Look for him to be even better in 2011 and for Hartman to take the reins off him a little and let the offense open up. Yarmouth’s strength will remain running the ball as Overhaug could be one of the finest backs in the state. Uhl will also get his share of carries. Deerwester and Pelletier will guide their way from their fullback spot. On the line, McDonald and Weinrich, along with new senior Max Grimm, will open holes. Through the air, Neujahr will look for Gallagher, Dorsett and new sophomore Nate Shields-Auble. The team also benefits from having one of the best kickers around in Snyder. The Clippers erupted for 521 points in 12 games in 2010 (an average of 43 per contest). This year’s group could be just as prolific. That would certainly make life easier on the defense, but that unit will be able to hold its own. Up front, McDonald and Weinrich will be difficult to run on. The linebacking corps includes Dorsett (an all-star a year ago), Gallagher, Grimm, Pelletier and Shields-Auble. In the secondary, Deerwester and Uhl can wreak havoc. Yarmouth will wear a bulls-eye all season and staying healthy will be paramount, but the Clippers are again the consensus pick to make it to Fitzpatrick Stadium. If the hunger remains, this group will be hard to stop. A repeat run is a distinct possibility.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Mandy Lewis (fifth year)

2010 Record: 2-11-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Susannah Daggett (Senior), Jocelyn Davies (Senior), Sarah Gorman (Senior), Rachel Nixon (Senior), Catie O’Toole (Senior), Emma Peterson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 13 @ Falmouth, Sept. 17 @ Wells, Oct. 1 (H) GREELY, Oct. 7 (H) YORK, Oct. 11 @ Freeport

COACH’S COMMENT:.”We’re having a really good preseason. This should be one of our better teams. A big goal for us this year is to get to the playoffs. With our motivation and determination to keep improving every day, I think it’s a doable goal.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth appears primed to make a run at a winning mark and a playoff invitation this fall. There’s plenty of optimism around the program and a strong group of seniors hopes to reach the postseason for the first time. The offense features Gorman, Peterson (who has great stick skills) and O’Toole. Daggett is a top defender, but doesn’t hesitate to get involved offensively. Nixon and freshman Kallie Hutchinson will also be involved in trying to put the ball in the cage. Defensively, Daggett and Davies protect a pair of new goalkeepers, junior Nicole Hickey (who played for the JV team in 2010) and freshman Meaghan Gorman. The recipe for success this year is simple. The Clippers need to continue to play good defense and get more offense. They only scored 10 goals in 2010 and were blanked on six occasions. More goals will spell more wins and that should be the case this season. Yarmouth’s hopes of moving up the ladder and being in the playoff hunt are realistic. This could be a vastly improved squad.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Bob Morse (31st year)

2010 Results:

(BOYS) 9th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 5th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Thomas Robichaud (Junior), Braden Becker (Sophomore), James Erwin (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Laurel Hurd (Senior), Hannah Potter (Senior), Phoebe Walsh (Senior), Sarah Becker (Junior), Brittany Elvidge (Junior), Sydney Sperber (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely York

COACH’S COMMENT: “The boys’ team is facing a major challenge. First, we lost two starters to graduation. Second, two of last year’s state meet runners are not returning to the team, in order to participate on other activities. Third, we only have three veterans from last year’s team. So, with one junior and eight freshman boys joining the team, we are building. So, let’s watch these newcomers and see if they can close the gap. The girls’ team is also facing a major challenge. First, we lost two starters to graduation. Second, two starters who ran in states last year are not running this fall. Third, two other runners who ran in states last year have serious injuries and their return to running is questionable at this time. So, that leaves the team with only one runner returning from last years state team. So, what will the team look like? Time will tell. The good news is that we will have some new faces on our varsity team this fall and have three hard working captains and a half dozen other girls who will be working very hard to fill those empty slots. Our annual goal is to put in an honest effort each race, have personal records in the WMC meet and qualify for states.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has held its own in Class B and should do so again in 2011. Longtime coach Morse welcomes former YHS standout athlete Kalie Dunn as an assistant this fall and also has the services of longtime volunteer Chuck Thorp and new volunteers Susan Elias and John Rogers. They’ll have plenty to work with.

The boys lost their two top runners, Ben Nickerson and Ben Woodbury (who were in the top 20 at last year’s state meet), but do return state meet scorers Robichaud (48th) and Becker (74th). Erwin looks to move up in the pack while several newcomers will help the cause. Junior Jackson Hall could make an immediate impact, while freshmen Sam Gerken, Andrew Nickerson, Serik Nixon, Timothy Pazar, Daniel Pineau, Barrett Saint-Amour, Nicholas Snow and Benjamin Waterman provide depth. The Clippers have their work cut out for them, but if some new runners step up, they’ll have a shot at qualifying for states for the fifth straight autumn.

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth is coming off its best finish since 2002 and will be among the top Western B squads. Top returners include Becker (eighth at Class B states and a first-team WMC all-star a year ago), Sperber (31st) and Elvidge (47th). Hurd, Potter and Walsh are captains and will lead the team. Juniors Caroline Macleod, Eliana Olshan and Emma Pidden also have experience. Sophomores Madison Hynes, Brianna Jelly-Weber and Ihilia Lesnikova return and are joined by new junior Anne O’Neill, sophomore Katrine Laukli and freshmen Gabrielle Beaulieu, Madiline Christie, McKenzie Rogers and Molly Walsh to round out an impressive roster. The Clippers will make a run at the traditional powers in the region and could be one of the best teams in all of Class B when all said and done.

GOLF

COACH: Tom McDowell (third year)

2010 Record: 4-6 (3rd @ Class B state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ethan Andrews (Senior), Cal Cooper (Junior), Red DeSmith (Junior), Nick Lainey (Junior), Monica Austin (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “I look for us to be competitive this year in regular season matches. Given their experience at the varsity level, we will look for Red, Cal, and Ethan to lead the team in terms of their play, their positive attitude, and their sportsmanship. We will probably have a number of different players compete for the number six spot on our roster, which will give us the opportunity to see how many of our players perform under a bit more pressure. Come early October, I think we’ll be in position to compete again for a spot at the state team championships.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth turned heads at the state meet in 2010 (finishing third for the second year in a row) and hopes to make a run at the Class B title this fall, a quest that was made easier when defending champion Falmouth moved to Class A. DeSmith was very impressive last postseason, shooting a 79 at the team state meet and 82 at the individual championships, which tied him for 12th place. Andrews (90) also scored in the state match and Cooper (94) took part. Austin shot an 89 to place as the fourth-best female a year ago. Lainey also returns. This team has enough experience in place to post a very good regular season mark, qualify again for the state match and perhaps move up and fulfill its dream of winning a championship.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Jim Senecal (fifth year)

2010 Results: 7-8 (Lost 3-1 to Greely in Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Suzanne Driscoll (Senior), Lydia Ruetty (Senior), Bailey Sheehan (Senior), Gina Robertson (Junior), Caroline Petitti (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 1 @ Biddeford, Sept. 6 @ Greely, Sept. 13 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 20 @ Falmouth, Sept. 23 @ Jonesport-Beals, Sept. 24 @ Machias, Sept. 24 @ Sumner, Oct. 11 (H) SCARBOROUGH

COACH’S COMMENT: “We move to Class B as volleyball continues to add new teams every year. We’ll play a predominately Class A schedule due to travel restrictions. That move certainly puts a target on our backs and makes us one of the favorites. Our program has moved forward every year and this year is no exception. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play the top Class A schools and traditional rivals in our regular season as we always have, but we’re also excited for the new challenges and opportunities that competing in Class B provides. Since we don’t play many of the B schools in the regular season, one of the challenges for us will be to accumulate enough Heal Points to have the opportunity to compete in the playoffs. I will say, however, that we’re confident that we have the kids in place who can make that happen.

This could be a very special year for us. Our girls have set their goals higher than they ever have before. If we can stay together, support each other and play as one, I honestly believe that they can achieve that goal.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth’s volleyball program, which has been a steady contender in recent seasons, might be on the verge of a memorable campaign. As the sport of volleyball grows, the Maine Principals’ Association was forced to balance the two classes, so it took the smallest Class A school, which happened to be Yarmouth, and shuffled it to Class B. The good news is that come playoff time, the Clippers won’t have to battle traditional powers like defending state champion Biddeford, Falmouth and Greely. On the flip side, they won’t see much of their potential playoff foes in the regular season (most Class B teams are in Washington County), but Yarmouth has a lot to be excited about this autumn. The team has a group of solid returners and welcomes back to the program an athlete who could put it over the top. Driscoll and Sheehan are co-captains. Driscoll (5 foot-6 inches) plays setter and opposite hitter and is in her fourth varsity year. She has a unique feel for the game. Sheehan (at 5′-7) plays opposite (moving from the outside hitter position she played in 2010) and is another instinctive leader. Petitti (5′-8) will be a force in the middle. She has great timing and a powerful shot. Robertson (5′-6) will be an outside hitter and defensive specialist. Her passion is contagious and she’s primed for big season. Ruetty will play outside hitter. She’s been injury stricken (and is bouncing back from a leg injury this autumn), but is ready to play a key role with her hitting and passing ability. Then there’s senior Morgan Cahill, who was with the program as a freshman and sophomore. She went to Cheverus for her junior year, but has returned and at 6′-1 will be a force. She’ll be a middle hitter and will intimidate at the net. The stage is set for Yarmouth to have its best volleyball season to date. The Clippers need to hold their own in the regular season to get into the Class B playoffs. Once there, they have a legitimate shot at dethroning Washington Academy and winning it all.

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

Senior Chris Knaub is one of the state’s premier goalies and will help keep Yarmouth’s repeat hopes alive.

Senior Eamon Costello came on strong at the end of the 2010 season and will be a key cog on this year’s team.

Senior Ryan Maguire looks to become a top scorer this autumn.

Senior captain Claudia Lockwood has her eye on leading Yarmouth to greatness in 2011.

Senior Jeanna Lowery should emerge as one of Yarmouth’s leading scorers this season.

Junior Tess Merrill could be due for a breakout season.

Brady Neujahr was a revelation as a freshman quarterback, guiding Yarmouth to the Class C championship. He could be even more potent this season.

The sight of senior Anders Overhaug running free will give opposing coaches migraines this fall.

The Clippers can turn to senior Bryce Snyder for field goals and extra points.

Junior Sarah Becker is the top returner for the talented Yarmouth girls’ cross country team.

Junior Red DeSmith is vying to become one of the best golfers in Class B and to help his team to another strong finish at the state match.

Junior Gina Robertson is one of several key returners for a Yarmouth volleyball team which has designs on winning a Class B championship.

Sidebar Elements


2011 schedules

FOOTBALL

Fri., Sept. 2 @ OOB

Fri., Sept. 9 H OAK HILL

Sat,. Sept. 17 @ Traip

Fri., Sept. 23 H SACOPEE

Fri., Sept. 30 H LISBON

Fri., Oct. 7 @ BBR

Fri., Oct. 14 H TELSTAR

Sat., Oct. 22 @ Freeport

BOYS’ SOCCER

Fri., Sept. 2 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Tues., Sept. 6 @ York

Thurs., Sept. 8 H GREELY

Wed., Sept. 14 H FRYEBURG

Fri., Sept. 16 H FREEPORT

Tues., Sept. 20 @ Lake Region

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Greely

Sat., Sept. 24 H FALMOUTH

Mon., Sept. 26 H GNG

Sat., Oct. 1 @ Poland

Tues., Oct. 4 @ Cape Elizabeth

Tues., Oct. 11 H NYA

Fri., Oct. 14 @ Falmouth

Mon., Oct. 17 H YORK

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Fri., Sept. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Tues., Sept. 6 H YORK

Thurs., Sept. 8 H GREELY

Wed., Sept. 14 @ Fryeburg

Tues., Sept. 20 H LAKE REGION

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Greely

Sat., Sept. 24 H FALMOUTH

Mon., Sept. 26 H GNG

Thurs., Sept. 29 @ Wells

Tues., Oct. 4 H POLAND

Tues., Oct. 11 H NYA

Fri., Oct. 14 @ Falmouth

Mon., Oct. 17 @ York

FIELD HOCKEY

Thurs., Sept. 1 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Sat., Sept. 3 H TRAIP

Wed., Sept. 7 @ Lake Region

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Poland

Tues., Sept. 13 @ Falmouth

Thurs., Sept. 15 H GNG

Sat., Sept. 17 @ Wells

Mon., Sept. 19 H WAYNFLETE

Tues., Sept. 27 @ Fryeburg

Sat., Oct. 1 H GREELY

Mon., Oct. 3 @ GNG

Wed., Oct. 5 H LAKE REGION

Fri., Oct. 7 H YORK

Tues., Oct. 11 @ Freeport

CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 2 @ Poland (Freeport, Wayn)

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Fryeburg (Sacopee, York)

Fri., Sept. 16 @ GNG (Lake Region, Merric)

Fri., Sept. 23 H GNG, LAKE REGION, MERRIC

Sat., Oct. 1 @ Belfast Invitational

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Greely (Cape, Falmouth)

Fri., Oct. 14 @ WMC Championships

Sat., Oct. 22 Western B Regionals

Sat., Oct. 29 Class B States

GOLF

Thurs., Sept. 1 H POLAND

Thurs., Sept. 8 @ York

Mon., Sept. 12 @ Freeport

Wed., Sept. 14 H LAKE REGIONA

Fri., Sept. 16 H YORK

Mon., Sept. 19 @ Wells

Wed., Sept. 21 @ Falmouth

Mon., Sept. 26 H WELLS

Thurs., Sept. 29 @ York

VOLLEYBALL

Thurs., Sept. 1 @ Biddeford

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Greely

Thurs., Sept. 8 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Tues., Sept. 13 H GORHAM

Tues., Sept. 20 @ Falmouth

Thurs., Sept. 22 H KENNEBUNK

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Jonesport-Beals

Sat., Sept. 24 @ Machias

Sat., Sept. 24 @ Sumner

Tues., Sept. 27 @ NYA

Fri., Sept. 30 @ Lake Region

Tues., Oct. 4 H CONY

Tues., Oct. 11 H SCARBOROUGH

Fri., Oct. 14 H NYA

The 2010 season was almost perfect for the state champion Yarmouth boys’ soccer team, which enjoyed celebration after celebration (with a Spanish flair). The Clippers hope to win Class B again this fall.

More photos below.

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