Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Preview

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Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team has made a habit out of title celebrations. Last season, the Clippers won their fourth straight Class B state championship. This fall, Yarmouth seeks something no big school has ever done, winning five in a row.

File photos.

More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: Jason Veilleux (fifth year, 22-18 overall record)

2017 results: 2-7 (Lost, 48-7, to Leavitt in Class C South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Noah Eckersley-Ray (Senior), Andrew Jacques (Senior), Adam Levinson (Senior), Caden Middleton (Senior), Jack Ricciardi (Senior), Connor Senger (Senior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 7 LEAVITT, Sept. 21 FRYEBURG, Oct. 12 @ Gray-New Gloucester, Oct. 19 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “We’re low in numbers, but we’ve had a good preseason. We have more experience than the past couple years. We’re taking baby steps right now. We’re putting in a new offense and we’re still learning it. I’m confident we’ll be a playoff team. If we can stay healthy, I think we can surprise some teams.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth managed to extend its streak of postseason appearances to nine last fall and this season, the Clippers hope to not just make the playoffs, but improve their win total and be one of the last teams standing in the region. While Yarmouth doesn’t have big numbers, they do have several players who have experience and are hungry to finish their high school career in style.

Eckersley-Ray was a Campbell Conference all-star in 2017. He’s back as a captain and he’ll play quarterback and pace the offense. Ricciardi, another captain, senior Harry Steinharter, who was sidelined by injury last year, and sophomore Sam Mason will handle the ball. Through the air, Eckersley-Ray will look Middleton, a captain, and Senger. The line is anchored by the team’s fourth captain, Jacques, as well as Levinson and junior Jack Buthy. Mason will be the place-kicker.

On defense, Buthy, Jacques and Levinson will try to hold the fort up front. The linebacking corps features Eckersley-Ray, Ricciardi, Senger and Steinharter. Middleton is the top defensive back.

Yarmouth isn’t viewed as a top echelon team as the season dawns, but if the Clippers can stay healthy, they’ll compete every week and improve on last year’s win total. Don’t be surprised if when the playoffs roll around, Yarmouth is present and accounted for and primed to spring an upset.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Mike Hagerty (22nd year, 262-56-38 overall record, nine state championships)

2017 results: 18-0 (Beat Winslow, 2-1, to win fourth straight Class B state title)

Top returning players: Michael Guertler (Senior), Jack Jones (Senior), Eric LaBrie (Senior), Jack Romano (Senior), John D’Appolonia (Junior), Aidan Hickey (Junior), Liam Ireland (Junior), Jason Lainey (Junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 4 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 8 @ Greely, Sept. 11 FREEPORT, Sept. 29 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 2 GREELY, Oct. 5 @ Freeport, Oct. 11 WAYNFLETE

Coach’s comment: “I’ve been so pleasantly surprised with this group. I’m so excited about we have. Our sophomores have come out of nowhere. Our youth is fabulous. We’re deep in goal and deeper than I expected in the field. One of our goals this year is to have more fun. I like to think we’re still the favorite, but it’s not as clear-cut as last year. We have to play our best and let the winning take care of itself.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Yarmouth program continues to set itself apart and last year, the Clippers became the first Maine high school to win 12 boys’ soccer state titles. They did so in 18-0 fashion for the first time and have now won four consecutive crowns, matching Scarborough (1973-76) and Falmouth (2000-03) as big schools to do so. Yarmouth, which has won 23 straight games and boasts a 30-game unbeaten streak, has a great chance to stand alone by winning another championship, but the Clippers will be pushed by some familiar foes, as well as by a neighboring school on the rise.

Graduation certainly took its toll on the program, as All-American Luke Groothoff departed, along with several other top talents, but Yarmouth still boasts some of the state’s finest players, as well as younger kids who are the brink of becoming household names. LaBrie has been wreaking havoc on opposing defenses since his freshman year. As a senior, LaBrie, with his unmatched burst and finishing ability, looks to match or better last year’s 26 goals and 10 assists. LaBrie, an all-state selection last year, won’t just be playing up top, he’ll handle the ball in the midfield as well, which will allow him to generate an even bigger head of steam. Jones had seven goals and five assists a year ago and his final goal was the biggest of all, the winner late in regulation in the state final. He’ll see time in the midfield and at forward. Lainey and Romano will be in the scoring mix and Ireland, sophomores Ian LaBrie and Cam Merrill and junior John Clinton, who returns to the program, provide additional offensive depth.

Defensively, Yarmouth is always strong and this year will be no exception. The Clippers will rely on D’Appolonia, Guertler, Hickey, junior Will Nicholas and sophomores Will Dickinson, Will Hunter, Baden McLaughlin and Evan Van Lonkhuyzen to hold the opposition at bay. Standout goalkeeper Cal Owen has graduated, but this year’s squad has three players ready to fill the void. Senior Aaron Belesca, junior Spencer King and junior Isaac Owen are all athletic and capable and all could see time between the pipes.

Going undefeated again might be a stretch, as ancient rivals Cape Elizabeth and Greely, Class C South powerhouse Waynflete, as well as resurgent Freeport, all stand in the way, but Yarmouth figures to be primed for greatness when late October and early November roll around. It won’t come easily, but if it can avoid major injuries, a record fifth straight crown appears to be this team’s destiny.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Chris Coleman (second year)

2017 results: 18-0 (Beat Presque Isle, 9-0, to win second consecutive Class B state title)

Top returning players: Olivia Feeley (Senior), Ella Caruso (Junior), Ashlyn Feeley (Junior), Ehryn Groothoff (Junior), Parker Harnett (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Aug. 31 YORK, Sept. 4 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 8 @ Greely, Sept. 25 @ Greely, Sept. 29 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 2 GREELY,

Coach’s comment: “We want to continue to play fluent soccer throughout the year and compete strongly against the other teams. We’ll look to attack each game as it comes and achieve our desired outcome of playing the ‘Clipper Way.’”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth had no peer a year ago, winning all 18 of its games, capping the finest season in program history with the most decisive state championship game victory in Maine annals. Graduation took a serious toll, however, as all-everything standout Sara D’Appolonia (now at the University of Delaware), along with several other key contributors, departed. The Clippers still have the pieces in place to go on a deep run, but it won’t come easily.

Olivia Feeley, a league all-star a year ago, and Groothoff, a hero of the state final with three goals, are top returners. Feeley anchors the defense and uses her booming leg to bury free kicks from all over the field. Groothoff dazzles in the midfield and can finish with the best of them. Ashlyn Feeley is another top midfielder. Harnett will be a matchup nightmare up top. Junior Hannah Dwyer will also make a mark on offense. Caruso is another defender to watch, as is freshman Katelyn D’Appolonia. Junior Hope Olson, a transfer from Maine Girls’ Academy, and senior Caitlin Hewitt will each see time in goal.

While Cape Elizabeth is viewed as this year’s favorite and Greely and York remain strong, Yarmouth, with its talent and championship pedigree, can’t be overlooked. The Clippers will need to stay healthy and have some unheralded players step up in the weeks to come, but anyone writing off the champions will come to regret it.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Tracy Quimby (first year)

2017 results: 11-4-1 (Lost, 2-1, to Poland in Class B South semifinal)

Top returning players: Kyaira Grondin (Senior), Lydia Guay (Senior), Cayte Tillotson (Senior), Lily McDowell (Junior), Claudia Coolidge (Sophomore), Lizzie Guertler (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Aug. 30 @ Poland, Sept. 4 YORK, Sept. 12 GREELY, Sept. 20 NYA, Sept. 22 FREEPORT, Sept. 28 @ York, Oct. 10 POLAND

Coach’s comment: “We’re young but eager to learn. The girls have got to believe that they’ll do well. We’re still trying to find who fits where. I’d love to see us finish in the top four. We know that there’s stiff competition in the league.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth enjoyed yet another strong season a year ago, but the Clippers were disappointed to fall short of the regional final. This fall, the program welcomes Quimby as coach. Quimby previously won 53 games, two regional crowns and the 2011 Class C championship as NYA’s coach during a four-year stint and she takes over a squad that should be one of the best in Class B South.

Tillotson returns in goal. She was a second-team league all-star a year ago and is fearless in the cage. She’ll give Yarmouth a chance to win every game. Defensively, Coolidge, Guertler and McDowell will all play a role. Coolidge and Guertler will also see time in the midfield, as will Grondin. Grondin and Guay are top scoring threats. Freshman Ari Rustad will also look to rattle the cage.

With York possibly coming back to the pack a bit this fall, the Clippers are in prime position to fill the void. Yarmouth will be tested often this fall, but Quimby knows how to get the most out of her team and has demonstrated that she can produce a winner right away. This promises to be another memorable campaign in Clipper-land.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Jim Senecal (12th year, 118-55 overall record, three state championships)

2017 results: 14-2 (Lost, 3-2, to Falmouth in Class B state semifinal)

Top returning players: Skylar Bennett (Senior), Marie Leblanc (Senior), Ceanne Lyon (Senior), Alex Manthorne (Senior), Dominique Moran (Senior), Kaitlyn Bennett (Sophomore), Evelyn Lukis (Sophomore), Maggie Murray (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: Aug. 31 @ York, Sept. 6 @ South Portland, Sept. 13 GREELY, Sept. 14 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 20 @ Falmouth, Oct. 15 YORK

Coach’s comment: “With four freshman starters last year, few people, including us, expected us to go 13-1 and finish second in the regular season to Cape. This year, we return our entire starting lineup, so I don’t think we’ll be sneaking up on anybody. The talent is there for us to go far. I hope we’re competing for a chance at a Gold Ball at the end of the season. To do that, we’ll need to match the energy, passion and defensive intensity of our top opponents. If we can get there, then I believe we have a great chance.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth had a magical season last fall, until its season ended in agony in the semifinals, when the Clippers let a two-set lead slip away against Falmouth. With several top players returning, Yarmouth now finds itself in a favorite’s role and the pieces are there for the Clippers to make it to the final match of the season.

Kaitlyn Bennett (122 kills a year ago) and Leblanc (76 kills, 48 aces in 2017) were first-team league all-stars in 2017 and return as forces on the front line. Lukis, who was hindered by injury last fall, and Murray (75 kills, 30 blocks) are also formidable at the net. Moran, a second-team all-star last season, is the setter. She had 271 assists a a year ago and also has a dangerous serve (51 aces). Lyon (35 kills, 23 blocks) is another veteran of note. Skylar Bennett (an honorable mention all-star a year ago) and Manthorne are top defenders. In addition, Yarmouth welcomes sophomore hitter Margaret McNeil and freshman setter Sophie Dickson.

The sky is the limit for this group. While the Clippers won’t sneak up on anyone, they won’t have to. If this group stays healthy and hungry, it could be the team to beat in Class B.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Sarah Carrigan (first year)

2017 results:
(Boys) 3rd @ Class B state meet
(Girls) Class B state champions

Top returners:
(Boys) Ben Cox-Faxon (Senior), Justin Pietropaoli (Senior), Sean Whynot (Senior)
(Girls) Abi Thornton (Senior), Sadie Cowles (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Thus far, the team is bonding nicely and is having a really strong start to the season. Our goal is to work together to push ourselves farther and faster and to work our way back to where we were last year despite losing some frontrunners to graduation.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has enjoyed great success in recent seasons and the 2018 campaign should be more of the same under new coach Carrigan, who ran at Colby College and served as a Clippers assistant last year. She’s excited about the talent she’s inheriting.

The girls have to replace state meet scorers Sophia Laukli, Anneka Murrin and Greta Elder. Cowles (18th at last year’s state meet) and Thornton (24th) are the top returners. Sophomores Maddie Martson and Natalie Teare will step in and help the cause. Look for this group to remain among the best teams in the conference and state.

On the boys’ side, the loss of reigning individual champion Luke Laverdiere will be felt, but Cox-Faxon (15th a year ago) looks to step into a lead role. Also returning are Pietropaoli and Whynot. Junior Anders Corey is a top newcomer. This group has the pieces in place to enjoy another strong state meet finish.

GOLF

Coach: Bradley Youngs (second year)

2017 results: 5-6 (7th @ Class B state match)

Top returners: Ethan Haag, Trevor Ingalls, Carson Libby, Shepard Shutkin, Joe Wilson

Coach’s comment: “We hope to return to states as a team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth made it to the state match again a year ago and should be one of the top teams in Class B again this fall.

Shutkin (91), Wilson (95) and Libby (111) all scored at states a year ago. Ingalls also competed in the final match. Haag is the other veteran on the squad. He was a league all-star in 2017. Sam O’Donnell and Max Then are new to the team and provide depth.

The Clippers will be tested by a tough schedule, but hope to be at their best at the end of the season, which they usually are.

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

Senior Noah Eckersley-Ray is going to make Yarmouth’s football team go this fall. The Clippers look to keep their playoff streak alive.

Senior Eric LaBrie will likely be the most dynamic scoring force in Class B this season. He’s known nothing but state titles during his time with the Clippers boys’ soccer team and would love to bow out with one more.

Senior Jack Jones, the hero of Yarmouth’s state game victory, is back as another top offensive weapon this season.

Look for junior Aidan Hickey to be in the middle of the action all season.

Junior John D’Appolonia will be a top defender for the Clippers.

Senior Olivia Feeley will be a star on a Yarmouth girls’ soccer team seeking a third consecutive Class B state crown.

Junior Ehryn Groothoff had a state final to remember last year, scoring three first half goals. She’ll be a force again this season.

Sophomore Parker Harnett is coming off a strong freshman season and will make life difficult for the opposition.

Junior Ashlyn Feeley is an up-and-coming star in the midfield.

Senior Kyaira Grondin is a top returner for a Yarmouth field hockey team which is accustomed to deep playoff runs.

Look for sophomore Lizzie Guertler to play a big role on this year’s Yarmouth squad.

Senior Cayte Tillotson is one of the top goalies in the league.

Kaitlyn Bennett had 122 kills as a freshman for Yarmouth’s volleyball team, which got to the Class B semifinals. The Clippers aim to go all the way this fall.

Senior Marie Lablanc has no fear at the net.

Senior Dominique Moran is one of the state’s best setters.

Senior Skylar Bennett is a reigning league all-star and a top defender.

Senior Ben Cox-Faxon is a top returner for Yarmouth’s boys’ cross country squad.

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