Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Preview

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Annika Murrin and her teammates won the Class B girls’ cross country state title a year ago for the first time. Murrin and Company are back for a repeat bid this fall.

Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team won its second consecutive Class B championship last fall and could be just as good this season.

More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: Jason Veilleux (third year, 17-5 overall record)

2015 results: 11-1 (Lost, 24-10, to Winslow in Class C state final

Top returning players: Remi Leblanc (Senior), John Thoma (Senior), Jack True (Junior), Henry Venden (Junior), Noah Eckersley-Ray (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 30 @ Wells, Oct. 7 SPRUCE MTN., Oct. 14 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We lost some special kids from last year. We’re definitely a young team this year. We have a lot of sophomores. We’re very green on the line. We’ll spread the ball around as much as we can. I hope to make the playoffs and be in the thick of things.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth had everything fall its way last autumn until the final game, when it fell just short of its ultimate goal. The Clippers then had to say farewell to some standouts, including Cody Cook, who suffered a knee injury in the regional final, reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year Jack Snyder and all-stars Ricky Tillotson and Jack Venden. Yarmouth still boasts talent this autumn, but the Clippers have to overcome inexperience in order to be a top-notch contender again in Class C South.

Thoma returns at quarterback and punter. He guided Yarmouth to the big stage a year ago and now, in his third season as starter, will direct an offense that hopes to move the ball both through the air and on the ground. He’ll be backed up by Eckersley-Ray, who will also see time at running back, along with Leblanc and Henry Venden. Junior Ilyan Pelletier and sophomore Caden Middleton are the top receiving options with True playing tight end. Senior Michael Hagerty, who also plays soccer, will be the placekicker when there aren’t scheduling conflicts between the two sports. 

On defense, True will anchor the line. Eckersley-Ray is the leader of the linebacking corps and Leblanc and Venden will be in the secondary. The Clippers hope some additional players step up in the weeks to come.

While Wells and Cape Elizabeth are viewed as the favorites in the region this time around, Yarmouth believes that if it steadily improves and stays healthy, it could steal some headlines in the postseason. This is a program that won’t settle for anything short of getting the absolute most out of its talent. Write the Clippers off at your peril.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Mike Hagerty (20th year, 229-54-37 overall record, seven state championships) 

2015 results: 16-1-1 (Beat Erskine Academy, 3-0, to win second consecutive Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Henry Coolidge (Senior), Matt Dostie (Senior), Bill Jacobs (Senior), John Lane (Senior), Max Coury (Junior), Tahj Garvey (Junior), Luke Groothoff (Junior), Cal Owen (Junior), Eric LaBrie (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 16 @ Falmouth, Sept. 20 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 24 FALMOUTH, Sept. 27 @ Waynflete, Oct. 1 @ Greely, Oct. 18 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “We’re looking good. We’ve had kids come in who are in good shape. We’ll be very strong up the middle and we have two good goalkeepers. We have to figure out the outside and our bench. I’d put my top three players up against any top three in the state. We want to win the Brady Cup and we’d like to get homefield advantage all the way through. We have a pretty tough schedule.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth can stake its claim as the best team of this decade so far, winning 81 games and three Class B championships, including each of the past two, since the start of the 2010 season. As good as the last two Clippers’ editions have been, this fall’s squad is ready and able to uphold the tradition and be just as dominant. Graduation took away some special players, including Class B Player of the Year Patrick Grant and team heart-and-soul Walter Conrad, but as always, this program is ready to move on and continue at a high level.

Coolidge (a regional all-star in 2015 after scoring 5 goals, assisting on 5 others and playing with unrivaled poise), Dostie (15 goals, 5 assists) and Groothoff (another member of the all-region team who had 6 goals and 2 assists last season) all play at an extremely high level. Coolidge and Groothoff will make life miserable for the opposition in the midfield, while Dostie is a top finisher. LaBrie, who scored the biggest goal of Yarmouth’s season a year ago as a freshman (the winner in double overtime at Maranacook in the regional final), will be difficult to contain as well (Hagerty feels that he’s farther along in his development than his brother, former standout Adam LaBrie, was at this point). Coury and Garvey, along with junior Luke Waeldner give the midfield depth and speed. Very few teams will have much of a chance to match to slow this offense. Defensively, the Clippers could also be superb, as Lane (the fourth captain, along with Coolidge, Dostie and Groothoff) is joined by Jacobs and juniors Silas Chappell and Eric Loomis. Owen saw most of the time in goal last season. Senior Michael Hagerty, the coach’s son, has the perfect goalkeeper’s physique and he’ll also see a lot of time between the pipes (as well as kick for the football team). 

Yarmouth will have to navigate its typical challenging schedule, featuring two games apiece against rivals Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Greely and a battle with defending Class C South champion Waynflete. A possible showdown with Maranacook in the playoffs also looms. While it’s unlikely the Clippers will get through the schedule unscathed, they should again post a very good record and enjoy a high seed for the playoffs. Yarmouth knows how to win in late October and November. If this group stays healthy and focuses on the prize, a first for the program three-peat could be the end result.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Josh Thornton (first year)

2015 results: 7-6-3 (Lost, 2-1, to eventual champion Greely in Class B South semifinal)

Top returning players: Ella Antolini (Senior), Gretchen Barbera (Senior), Katie Clemmer (Senior), Abby Condon (Senior), Cory Langenbach (Senior), Hannah Corey (Junior), Sara D’Appolonia (Junior), Meredith Lane (Junior), Liv Feeley (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 10 YORK, Sept. 15 @ Falmouth, Sept. 20 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 24 FALMOUTH, Oct. 1 @ Greely, Oct. 15 @ York, Oct. 18 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “I’m excited. The kids are great. It’s been a fun time so far. Rich (Smith) created a phenomenal program and left it in a great position. I think we’ll do well. We move the ball well. We’re quite deep. We have a very tough schedule. We’re taking it one step at a time. The girls want to go further than last year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: A new era dawns this fall with the Yarmouth girls’ soccer program as for the first time in three decades, someone other than Rich Smith will serve as coach. Thornton, a Southampton, England native who spent the past three years coaching the NYA girls, steps in and inherits a squad which could be primed to make a run at a championship. Last year’s team had some close losses and played eventual champion Greely tighter than anyone in the postseason. This season, the Clippers look to take the next step.

Yarmouth’s offense begins on the dynamic feet of D’Appolonia, an all-conference, all-region and all-state selection in 2015. D’Appolonia has great vision, is selfless and is more than capable of finishing her opportunities, even if they come from long range. Clemmer is the striker, who is deadly in close and has a flair for the dramatic. She was named to the All-Conference team a year ago. Langenbach is a clutch athlete, regardless of the sport, and she’ll be right in the middle of the Clippers’ success. Barbera has done some big things already this preseason and will be heard from. Feeley had a strong freshman season and is only getting better. Freshman Abby Hincks is another offensive player to watch. Defensively, Antolini, Condon and Corey boast plenty of experience and athleticism. Lane returns in goal. She’s demonstrated the ability to come up big in big spots. Many other talented players will be heard from as well.

Yarmouth last reached (and won) a state final in 2003. The Clippers have been playoff regulars, but haven’t been able to get past the semifinals since 2007. While Greely remains strong and Cape Elizabeth and York are difficult foes as well, Yarmouth should be the equal of anyone it encounters. The Clippers are hungry to give Thornton a championship in his first season. Wouldn’t that make for a storybook ending.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Amy Ashley (first year) 

2015 results: 11-3-1 (Lost, 2-1, in 2OT, to Spruce Mountain in Class B South quarterfinal

Top returning players: Eliza Lunt (Senior), Ally MacLeod (Senior), Abby McDowell (Senior), Nicole McDowell (Senior), Taylor Robison (Senior), Molly Wilson (Senior), Emilie Martin (Junior), Sophie McGrath (Junior)

Pivotal games: Aug. 31 @ Falmouth, Sept. 12 YORK, Sept. 24 FALMOUTH, Sept. 30 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “We have really pushed these girls all summer and they have adjusted beautifully. We are hoping to have a new look in 2016, even though the team returns most of last year’s players. We have a strong core group who is eager to learn and take this team to the next level. We will be small, but will have depth in almost every position. As a coaching staff, we couldn’t have asked for the girls to respond any better and we are thrilled with their progress so far. Hopefully we can work out the kinks early and gel quickly so we can be playing our best field hockey in October.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has won 35 games over the past three seasons, its best three-season stretch this century. While last year’s playoff quest ended in heartbreak and the Clippers had to say goodbye to some key contributors, most notably all-star Bre Morrill and all-state goalie and Fall Female Athlete of the Year Tori Messina, they are viewed as the team with the best chance to end York’s longstanding stranglehold on the region. After restoring the program to prominence, Mandy Lewis left to become the athletic director at Wiscasset and Ashley is stepping in as coach. Ashley has quite the resume, already leading Yarmouth’s softball team to a state title and creating a perennial contender at Cheverus, winning 97 games and a regional title in her eight autumns there. She has a lot of talent to work with.

Abby McDowell was a second-team league all-star in 2015 and she returns to pace the offense, with help from MacLeod. Midfielders Lunt, Martin, Nicole McDowell, McGrath and Wilson have all scored big goals in the past and will also rattle the cage. Defensively, the Clippers have to break in a new goalie and junior Cate Ralph, the softball standout, appears up to the task. Ralph will be protected by a steady defender in Robison and new junior Anna Weibus. 

Yarmouth will face an early test at Falmouth, then hosts York Sept. 12 in a game which could have huge Heal Points and playoff implications. Ashley knows how to mold a team into a champion. While the Clippers will have to overcome some speed bumps as they reload in some positions, they’ll be very good by season’s end. Look for Yarmouth to get back to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year and this time, enjoy a deeper run.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Jim Senecal (10th year, 92-48 overall record, three state championships)

2015 results: 11-5 (Lost, 3-0, to Cape Elizabeth in Class A quarterfinal) 

Top returning players: Rachel Chillé (Senior), Alison Clark (Senior), Andrea St. Pierre (Senior), Sydney St. Pierre (Senior)

Pivotal matches: Sept. 20 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 22 GORHAM, Sept. 27 @ Greely, Oct. 6 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 11 FALMOUTH, Oct. 18 @ Biddeford

Coach’s comment: “Our story is one of good news/bad news. The bad news is that we graduated nine seniors. That’s a big hit when you consider the talent that we lost. Since we’re already one of, if not the smallest, schools in Class A, that will be a tough hurdle for us. Our team won’t have the size and depth that we’ve had these past few years, which will force us to change our offensive and defensive strategies. The good news is that we are returning four starters and our new players all seem ready to compete at this level. Overall, I love the way our team has come together this year. Despite the challenges, I do see us as a playoff team. As we grow together as a team, I expect us to be able to overcome those challenges and we hope once again to be able to contend with the big schools at the end.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth moved up to Class A a year ago and held its own against a daunting schedule before bowing out against the defending champions in the quarterfinals. While graduation took a big toll on the program, the Clippers have the pieces in place to contend once again.

Chillé and Clark will be dominant hitters. Clark is coming off a season which saw her produce 139 kills, 68 digs and 40 aces. Chillé finished with 108 kills, 94 digs and 44 aces. They’ll be joined at the net by senior Breanna Taylor and sophomores Marie Leblanc and Ceanne Lyon. Sophomore Skyler Bennett looks to be a top setter. She played that role at the junior varsity level a year ago. Andrea St. Pierre led Yarmouth in digs a year ago (132) and also had 32 aces. She’ll be the team’s libero and will also produce a lot of points with her serve. Twin sister Sydney St. Pierre had 86 digs last season and is acclaimed for her leadership. That core is a great start and other players will look to make their mark as well.

Yarmouth will continue to have its hands full in the ever-growing Class A and the schedule doesn’t allow for many easy matches. While most will focus on teams like defending champion Scarborough, perennial power Greely and contenders like Biddeford and Falmouth, don’t write the Clippers off. Yarmouth should post a winning mark for the sixth straight season. If this team comes together as hoped, it will be a very dangerous postseason foe.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Bob Morse (35th year, three state championships)

2015 results:
(Boys) 5th @ Class B state meet
(Girls) Class B state champions

Top returners:
(Boys) Chris Guertier (Senior), Patrick Mallett (Senior), Ravi Patel (Senior), Ben Van Lonkhuyzen (Senior), Luke Laverdiere (Junior), Sammy Potter (Junior), Ben Cox-Faxon (Sophomore), Zachary Rapone (Sophomore), 
(Girls) Grace Cowles (Senior), Georgia Giese (Senior), Abigail Hamilton (Senior), Carolyn Snow (Senior), Anneka Murrin (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “The boys’ team returns six veterans. Our numbers are very good this year. Our goals are to make it to states, stay healthy and be competitive. Class B is wide open this year with five teams vying for the number one slot. Graduation took a major toll on the girls’ team. We return four runners from last year’s championship team. It will be critical that all of the runners stay healthy, work hard, and enjoy the challenge.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth’s cross country program excelled a year ago and the Clippers should be among the best teams in the conference and state once again.

Last fall, the girls’ team got over the hump and captured an elusive Class B state championship. Graduation took its toll, but the cupboard isn’t bare, there just isn’t the depth of last autumn. Returning are elite talents Murrin (fourth at last year’s state meet), Hamilton (sixth), Cowles (14th) and Giese (16th). Giese and Hamilton are joined as captains by Snow. Junior Eliza Crowley also returns and looks to join the pack. Senior Lillian Kuhn and Katie Waeldner, junior Greta Elder and freshmen Auger Alexander and Sadie Cowles are hopeful of making an impact as well. While Greely is the favorite in the region and state and York will also be heard from, Yarmouth should again be strong and could be in the hunt for a fourth successive top four finish at states. Don’t be surprised if a few individuals make a run at the top spot as well.

On the boys’ side, returning state meet scorers include Potter (ninth), Laverdiere (11th), Cox-Faxon (34th) and Rapone (37th). Mallett didn’t score last fall, but will likely do so this time around. Mallett is joined as captain by Guertier, Patel and Van Lonkhuyzen. Sophomores Ashanti Haywood and Lazarre Merchi-Rossini also return. Newcomers of note include senior Will Saint-Amour, juniors John Decker and Keiran Lorentzeb, sophomore Andy Garrett and freshman Odeh Rizkallah. Yarmouth’s fifth place finish a year ago equaled its best this century. The Clippers could be even stronger this season, but Falmouth, Freeport, Greely and York will be standing in the way during the conference season and the competition will be just as staunch in late October. If this group can stay healthy and hungry, great things await.

GOLF

Coach: Brad Leighton (second year)

2015 results: 6-4 (DNQ for Class B state match)

Top returners: Joe Coyne (Senior), Nate Dealaman (Senior), Tom Fallon (Senior), Mac Leahy (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “We missed qualifying for states by two strokes last year and we hope to be in contention to qualify this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has been very competitive in recent seasons and 2015 was more of the same. This fall, the Clippers hope to take the next step, get back to the state match and produce a strong finish there.

Yarmouth will be led by Leahy and Dealaman, who both shot an 89 at the Western Maine Conference qualifier last season. Coyne and Fallon look to play a bigger role this autumn. Freshman Ethan Haag could quickly make a name for himself.

The Clippers, like everyone else in Class B, are chasing juggernaut Cape Elizabeth and believe they could be the second-best team in the Class B division in the conference. If the core players develop consistently, Yarmouth will be in position to turn some heads in October.

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

Senior John Thoma is a three-year starter at quarterback for Yarmouth’s football team, which fell one win shy of a championship a year ago.

Senior Remi Leblanc is primed to take on a big role at running back.

Sophomore Noah Eckersley-Ray will play running back, linebacker and serve as the backup quarterback this season.

Junior Henry Venden will play multiple positions for the Clippers this fall.

Senior Michael Hagerty has shown the ability to be a first-rate placekicker. He’ll play football and soccer this fall.

Senior Henry Coolidge is cool under pressure and will be one of many key contributors for the Clippers as they look to three-peat.

Senior captain Matt Dostie is a top offensive threat for the Clippers.

Senior Luke Groothoff made a huge impression his first season with the program. 

Sophomore Eric LaBrie came up huge last postseason.

Junior Tahj Garvey brings speed and skill to the wing position.

Senior John Lane is a top returning defender.

Junior goalkeeper Cal Owen made some huge saves a year ago during Yarmouth’s title run.

Junior Sara D’Appolonia is the engine that makes Yarmouth’s offense go. The top prospect will once again be a matchup nightmare as she looks to lead the Clippers to their first state title in 13 seasons.

If there’s a big goal to be scored, it’s likely that senior Katie Clemmer is producing it.

Senior Ella Antolini will pace the Yarmouth defense.

Junior Hannah Corey keeps playing a bigger role each season.

No matter the sport, senior Cory Langenbach always stands out.

Senior Abby McDowell enjoyed an all-star season a year ago. She and her Yarmouth field hockey teammates are expecting big things again this fall.

Senior Eliza Lunt can be unstoppable when the ball’s on her stick and the goal’s in sight.

Senior Nicole McDowell is a key returning midfielder.

Senior Taylor Robison is back to anchor the Clippers’ defense.

Senior Molly Wilson has scored some big goals for the Clippers the past few seasons.

Senior Alison Clark will be a dominant hitter for a Yarmouth volleyball team which more than held its own in Class A a year ago.

Senior Rachel Chillé does it all for the Clippers.

Senior Andrea St. Pierre led the Clippers in digs a year ago and also has a formidable serve.

Senior Sydney St. Pierre is a leader and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the ball alive.

Junior Sammy Potter was a top 10 finisher at last year’s Class B boys’ cross country state meet.

Junior Luke Laverdiere is looking to move up from his 11th place finish at last year’s Class B state meet.

Senior Abigail Hamilton’s sixth-place showing at last year’s Class B state meet helped Yarmouth to the championship.

Senior Grace Cowles is another key returner. She was 14th at the Class B state meet last year.

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