Yarmouth Clippers Fall Sports Preview

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Junior Cody Cook will look to follow in the footsteps of many great Yarmouth running backs as he hopes to lead the Clippers back to the playoffs.


Yarmouth looks as if it will have several potentially excellent teams this autumn. Volleyball is defending a Class B championship and hopes to repeat. Boys’ soccer is still licking its wounds from last year’s agonizing playoff ouster and hopes to finish the job this time around. The girls’ squad keeps creeping closer to the top and spearheaded by a group who just won states in lacrosse, could go all the way. Football welcomes a new coach and will be in the hunt for another trip to the postseason. Field hockey is coming off its best season in over a decade and will remain a contender in Western C. Both cross country teams show promise. Golf has been hit hard by graduation, but will again be heard from.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Mike Hagerty (18th year, 199-51-34 overall record, five state championships)

2013 record: 13-1-3 (Lost, 2-1, to eventual state champion Greely in Western B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Connor Hoehle (Senior), Adam LaBrie (Senior), Connor Lainey (Senior), Alex Lyon (Senior), Ben Vigue (Senior), Walter Conrad (Junior), Patrick Grant (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 GREELY, Sept. 12 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 27 WAYNFLETE, Sept. 30 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 4 FALMOUTH, Oct. 17 @ Greely, Oct. 21 @ Falmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “The preseason has been fun. There’s been a lot of energy. Last year, we had size and speed. This year, we’ll have to play fast. We graduated one of the best senior classes in school history, but we do have some very talented returning players. On paper, we’re not as talented as last year, but we’re deeper. We have a very strong junior class, many of whom comprised an undefeated JV team last year and have come into the preseason ready for their turn to make sure we stay among the five teams in the state, again, regardless of class, as we’ve been for many, many years. I’m pretty optimistic we’ll be right there.

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After crushing Cape Elizabeth with surprising ease in last year’s semifinals, when Yarmouth scored early against Greely in the Western B Final, it appeared a foregone conclusion that it would win it all. Then, everything changed, as the Rangers tied the score before the break, then went ahead in the second half. Despite a valiant late push, the Clippers couldn’t draw even and the first loss of one of the best seasons in program history came at the worst possible time. Part of the reason that setback hurt so much was because it spelled the end of so many memorable careers, most notably captains and standouts Ben Decker, David Murphy, Max Watson and reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year, Chandler Smith, as well as key contributors like Wes Crawford, Travis Hamre and Wyatt Jackson. Those players and their legacy won’t soon be forgotten, but it’s time for a new crop of Clippers to try to take the program the next step. It won’t be easy, but the cupboard is far from bare and Yarmouth could find the happy ending which eluded it in 2013.

Returning players like LaBrie, a goal scoring, athletic wonder who was named to the Western B all-region team last year, the underappreciated Vigue, who also made the all-region team, and Lyon, the goalie, is a great start. The Clippers have no shortage of midfield threats, a group which starts with Vigue and includes Grant, Hoehle and Lainey, juniors Andrew Beatty and Chris Pidden and sophomore Henry Coolidge. They’ll all get a chance to help score goals. Defensively, Yarmouth features Conrad, who Hagerty calls the “best 1-on-1 defender I’ve ever coached,” quite a statement considering the Clippers’ rich history. Senior Garrett Flanagan (who missed 2013 with injury), juniors Matt Beatty and Henry Becker and sophomores Matt Dostie and Conor O’Donnell will also help protect Lyon.

Yarmouth will get a chance to avenge last year’s loss when it hosts Greely Sept. 9, but that’s only one example of a very difficult slate. The Clippers know that very few games will be easy, but they welcome the challenge. On balance, this group doesn’t appear as dominant as last year’s special team, but you can’t quantify hunger and the excitement that comes with getting an opportunity. This soccer factory has another great season ahead of it (even before the playoffs, the Clippers will aim for a record fifth straight Brady Cup title). Yarmouth has reached the regional final or better in five of the past six seasons. That streak should continue. Don’t be surprised if the Clippers finish the job this time around.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Rich Smith (28th year, 229-143-55 overall record, two state championships)

2013 record: 8-4-3 (Lost, 1-0, to Freeport in Western Class B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Shannon Fallon (Senior), Lane Simsarian (Senior), Emma Torres (Senior), Lauren Bartlett (Junior), Lilly Watson (Junior), Gretchen Barbera (Sophomore), Katie Clemmer (Sophomore), Abby Condon (Sophomore), Cory Langenbach (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 GREELY, Sept. 12 CAPE ELIZABETH, Sept. 16 @ Freeport, Sept. 20 YORK, Sept. 30 @ Cape Elizabeth, Oct. 2 @ Falmouth, Oct. 8 @ York, 17 @ Greely, Oct. 20 FALMOUTH

COACH’S COMMENT: “We only graduated two seniors, so we have a lot of familiar faces and some young kids. It’s a well balanced team. We have four seniors, three juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen, who will see time. It’s a matter of having time together to come together as a group. I’m very hopeful. Our three senior captains are quality kids and leaders. They have high expectations. We were right there last year. Now, we’re a year older and stronger. We can be as good as anyone.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Last fall, Yarmouth enjoyed its best season in three years and was viewed as a squad capable of springing a playoff upset, but instead, the Clippers were shocked in the quarterfinals. While departed seniors Abby Belisle-Haley and Julia Primeau will certainly be missed, everyone else is back and Yarmouth finds itself in a position to make a serious run at a championship for the first time since 2010.

The Clippers have three tremendous senior captains, last seen leading the lacrosse team to a state title in June. Simsarian (a back) and Torres (a midfielder) were members of the Western B all-region team a year ago. They’re joined by Fallon, the goalie and three-sport standout. They’ll set the tone, which is nothing but good news for the program. Bartlett has turned heads with her defensive play, while Watson will help fill the void created by graduation (her booming leg will be used on free kicks as well). Last year’s freshmen revelations, Barbera, Clemmer, Condon and Langenbach will, along with Torres, spark the offense. Making that unit even stronger is the return of junior Eavan O’Neill, who missed 2013 with an ACL injury. This year’s freshman are biding their time and look forward to making their mark.

This group has the ingredients in place (athleticism, skill, leadership, hunger) to make a run into November. The problem is that defending champion Cape Elizabeth could be every bit as strong as it was a year ago and rivals Greely and York will be right in the hunt as well. Yarmouth’s tough schedule will pay dividends in the long run. If the Clippers can beat the top teams early and gain the confidence to believe they can win it all, they’ll be very tough to stop come late October. This is still a young group, but it looks as if its future is now.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Jason Veilleux (first year)

2013 results: 6-3 (Lost, 27-14, to Cape Elizabeth in Western C quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Caleb Moore (Senior), Ned Pennoyer (Senior), Cody Cook (Junior), Jack Snyder (Junior), Ricky Tillotson (Junior), Lucas Uhl (Junior), Jack Venden (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 12 @ Leavitt, Oct. 2 @ Wells, Oct. 10 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 17 POLAND, Oct. 25 @ Freeport

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re having a lot of fun so far. I’m lucky to have good kids here. Natural athletes. Our numbers are low, but we do have talent. We just don’t have depth. The junior class is very talented. We’re installing a new offense to open up our passing game a little more. If we can stay healthy, I believe we’ll be back in the playoffs.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has been in the playoffs five years in a row and really impressed last fall in the first year of reclassification. The Clippers weren’t able to go on a postseason run, however, and with the loss to Cape Elizabeth came the end of some memorable high school careers. Thomas Lord, Brady Neujahr and Matthew Woodbury are now playing in college and several others who played key roles on the championship teams of 2010 and 2011 also departed. Chris Pingitore then stepped down after two years as coach and has been replaced by Veilleux, who has long been a part of the program, at various levels. He played quarterback at Winslow High School and played in college at Bridgewater State in Massachusetts. He inherits a squad that has small numbers and a lot of changes on the field, but it will retain its pursuit of excellence.

The last time someone other than Neujahr played quarterback was 2009, but this year, two players, sophomore John Toma and sophomore Remi LeBlanc, will get a chance to step in under center. Cook, Pennoyer, Snyder and Uhl will handle most of the carries in the running game. A new junior, Arthur Chee, who came to Yarmouth from Arizona, could make a name for himself in the weeks to come. Through the air, look for Venden to be the main target. The line features Moore and Tillotson.

The Clippers have long been known for their defense and that unit figures to be strong this fall. On the line, Cook, Moore and Pennoyer look to wreak havoc. Tilltoson will be in the middle linebacker role and will be a force from sideline to sideline. Uhl and Venden will also play linebacker. Snyder could be one of the conference’s best defensive backs.

Promising results in the preseason (including a win over highly touted Spruce Mountain) provided optimism for what’s to come. The program doesn’t have much margin for error, however, due to its low numbers. Health will be paramount. If Yarmouth stays healthy, another winning season and trip to the postseason is likely. The beat goes on for one of the area’s top programs.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Mandy Lewis (eighth year, 34-64-6 overall record)

2013 record: 10-5-1 (Lost, 2-0, to NYA in Western C semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Meaghan Gorham (Senior), Kallie Hutchinson (Senior), Tori Messina (Junior), Bre Morrill (Junior), Nicole McDowell (Sophomore), Taylor Robison (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 11 NYA, Sept. 23 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 3 @ NYA, Oct. 15 @ Freeport

COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated eight starters, so it’s a very different team. We’re younger. We’re approaching things a little differently since we’re not as familiar with each other. We’ll look to Kallie and Bre to ignite our offense. Kallie will create a lot of chances for us. Last season was so exciting. The goal this season is to do something similar. I like to think we’ll compete.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth was last year’s feel-good team, producing its best season since 2000 and reigniting an exciting rivalry with crosstown foe NYA. Ultimately, the Clippers couldn’t solve the Panthers (very few teams have over the past half dozen seasons), but the playoff loss was quickly forgotten in the wake of so much triumph. This year, success won’t come as easily, as Yarmouth won’t be able to sneak up on anyone and the roster was depleted by graduation. There is reason to believe the Clippers will be very much in the Western C playoff picture again, however.

For starters, they boast one of the state’s premier players in Hutchinson, whose booming shot (especially off penalty corners) and field sense make her a matchup nightmare. She was a Western Maine Conference second-team all-star a year ago, but in truth, there were few players who were her equal. She’s bound to have a memorable senior campaign. Morrill and Robison are only getting better and should do their share of scoring. A couple newcomers will help bolster the offense. Senior Fiona Clark returns from a knee injury which sidelined her in 2013. Sophomore Abby McDowell has the ability to rattle the cage. Defensively, Gorham and Nicole McDowell return to help protect Messina, who was very impressive in goal a year ago.

Can Yarmouth find lighning in a bottle once more? The opportunity is there for another memorable campaign. The guess here is that the Clippers will seize their chance and make noise into the postseason for the second year in a row.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Bob Morse (34th year, two state championships)

2013 results:
(BOYS) 13th @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) 4th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Sam Gerken (Senior), Andrew Nickerson (Senior), Nick Snow (Senior), Sam Steinbock (Senior), Devin Shields-Auble (Junior)

(GIRLS) Simone Laverdiere (Senior), Caitlin Teare (Senior), Lucy Alexander (Junior), Lydia Sullivan (Junior), Abigail Hamilton (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “The boys will be trying to qualify for states after losing two great runners in Braden Becker and Ben Decker. We’ll be waiting for great results in late October. The girls will be out to move up a few slots in the state. We have a number of good runners, who will be working hard to make the regional and state team. It’s too early to make predictions, but the girls have set the bar high this season and so far, their spirit and enthusiasm is outstanding. We want to be the best Yarmouth girls’ cross country team ever.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Yarmouth cross country teams promise to excite this fall.

The boys made it to states for the second year in a row last autumn and while the departure of the talented Becker and Decker will hurt, the Clippers do return a couple scorers from that team: Gerken, who came in 64th, and Shields-Auble, who placed 88th. Nickerson, Snow and Steinbock also have experience. Jackson Clarke, Chris Guertler, Ethan Peters, Caelan Pike Meter and Thomas Spencer are also in the hunt for spots. Yarmouth also welcomes nine new runners, which will help in the depth department. If a solid pack emerges, the Clippers will likely find themselves making it to the state meet again.

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth is coming off its best state meet showing since 2002, but the loss of Ellie Teare (who is now attending Holderness) will pose a challenge. The Clippers do return four scorers from last year’s state meet. Caitlin Teare was ninth last season, Hamilton came in 29th, Alexander placed 43rd and Laverdiere finished 49th. Sullivan also has experience. The numbers are good on this squad and several other girls are seeking their opportunity. Yarmouth should hold its own in a difficult conference and that will serve it well going into regionals. The Clippers have been to Class B states four years running. A fifth trip appears likely. Another top five finish at states would be a bonus and is attainable.

GOLF

COACH: Gregg Baker (third year)

2013 record: 5-5 (11th @ Class B state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ian Guiney (Senior), Tyler Hall (Senior), Nate Dealaman (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Wells, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a very inexperienced team for the most part, but I am very impressed by the natural talent I see in some of the new players. I’m confident we’ll improve as the season progresses.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has been very successful in recent seasons, but graduation once again took its toll. Not only did Spencer Olsen (the Clippers’ high scorer at last year’s Class B state match) depart, but two of the finest girls’ players around: Monica Austin (who is now playing at Elon University in North Carolina) and Grace King also said goodbye to the program.

Dealaman (107) is the lone returning state match scorer. Hall shot a 113 that day, but his score wasn’t factored in. Guiney is a veteran. Juniors Ceilia Clarke and Tyler Veilleux are back for their second season and will look to break into the top four. New seniors Jordan Brown and David Gerken and freshmen Mac Leahy, Ilyan Pelletier and Levin Walton are looking to make a mark, although that might come further down the road.

Yarmouth was able to go toe-to-toe with teams like Cape Elizabeth and York the past few seasons. For that to continue, some untested players will have to step up. Qualifying for states remains the goal. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Clippers get there.

VOLLEYBALL

COACH: Jim Senecal (eighth year, 66-42 overall record, two state championships)

2013 results: 15-1 (Beat Washington Academy, 3-2, to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Emily Parker (Senior), Liz Clark (Junior), Morgan Hamre (Junior), Makenzie Sheehan (Junior)

PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 5 @ Greely, Sept. 11 NYA, Sept. 23 @ Biddeford, Sept. 25 @ Gorham, Sept. 27 BUCKSPORT, Sept. 27 SUMNER, Oct. 4 @ Washington Academy, Oct. 4 Machias, Oct. 16 @ NYA

COACH’S COMMENT: “We graduated nine seniors from our state championship team and only have three returning players with significant varsity experience. We only have one senior. For many programs, that combination of factors doesn’t inspire optimism for a successful season, but there’s much more to our story than what we’ve lost. Our JV team last year was strong. Several of those girls will be asked to step up and compete at a higher level this year and so far, they appear ready for the challenge. Add in two new top level players and there’s great reason for optimism. Like most young teams, I expect we’ll take our lumps early in the season and we’ll hope to improve throughout the year. We’ve strengthened our regular season schedule with more Class A games. The experience of playing top teams will help us if we’re able to make it to the postseason in Class B. If that happens, I’d give us as much of a chance as anyone.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has become the premier program in Class B, winning two of the past three titles. Last year’s was Hollywood script material, as the Clippers had to dig out of a 2-0 hole to beat Washington Academy in the final set. While several standout players (including reigning Fall Female Athlete of the Year Grace Mallett) graduated, Yarmouth has some experience to go with several new players eager to make their mark.

Sheehan played an integral role on the title team a year ago, registering 51 kills and 65 aces. She’s the lone returning starter and will be a top hitter, who can also score several points at the service line. Clark is replacing Mallett at setter. She missed most of last season with injury, but is ready to step into that critical role. Hamre will be a key defender at the net. Parker is a captain who saw time off the bench in 2013. This year, as the program’s lone senior, she’ll play outside hitter. Junior Heather Clark is new to the program, moving to Yarmouth from Florida, where she played club volleyball. Clark is a middle hitter who stands six feet. She’ll be a force at the net both on offense and defense. Sophomore Alison Clark moves up from the junior varsity squad. She’ll play outside hitter and could be a budding star. Rounding out a formidable group is sophomore Rachel Chille, who comes over from soccer. She’ll be the Clippers’ defensive specialist.

Yarmouth will get a stern test right out of the gate, when it plays at Greely, the state’s most storied program. Several tough Class A teams awaits, but most of the schedule will feature games against Class B foes, including several from Down East, who could be on the other side of the court come playoff time. Yarmouth has shown it knows what it takes to go all the way. This year’s team might take some time to hit its stride, but another title run is a distinct possibility.

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

Junior Jack Snyder could be one of the league’s better defensive backs this fall.

Junior Ricky Tillotson will be a force on the offensive line and from his middle linebacker position.

Senior Ben Vigue was recognized as one of the best players in Western B a year ago.

Junior Walter Conrad’s defensive skills are unrivaled.

Junior Patrick Grant knows no fear.

Senior Adam LaBrie has a nose for the goal and could be a prolific scorer this autumn.

Senior captain Emma Torres will be in the middle of the action all season, creating chances for her teammates.

Junior Lauren Bartlett is back to help anchor Yarmouth’s defense.

Abby Condon is one of several Clippers who saw key minutes last fall as a freshman.

Gretchen Barbera is another member of the Class of 2017 who is seasoned and talented.

Katie Clemmer is coming off a great freshman campaign.

Good luck getting the ball past Yarmouth’s senior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon.

Senior Lane Simsarian’s determination, speed and touch make her a matchup nightmare.

Junior Lilly Watson is determined, athletic and possesses a powerful shot.

Any discussion of top field hockey players in the state has to include senior Kallie Hutchinson, who hopes to lead the Clippers deep into the playoffs again.

Sophomore Nicole McDowell will play a key role for the Clippers this season.

Senior Caitlin Teare is coming off a ninth-place showing at the Class B state girls’ cross country meet.

Senior Emily Parker brings experience to the defending champs.

Sidebar Elements


Junior Makenzie Sheehan and her Yarmouth volleyball teammates hope to soar over the competition again in 2014 and repeat as Class B state champions.

File photos.

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.