Yarmouth Clippers Spring Athletes of the Year

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JOE OLIVA, Senior—Lacrosse

  • All-American

  • Maine Lacrosse Coaches’ Association All-State

  • WMC all-star, first-team

  • WMC All-Academic team

  • Senior All-Star

Oliva was the engine that drove Yarmouth’s offense all the way to the state final this spring. He scored goals in abundance and at critical times, etching his name into program lore in the process.

Oliva grew up in Yarmouth and started playing lacrosse at a young age. He played football as a freshman and also sprinted in indoor track, but the spring is where he made a name for himself.

Oliva scored 22 goals and had 14 assists as a sophomore, helping Yarmouth reach the Class B Final, then scored 23 goals with five assists as a junior (and was named to the All-Conference second-team), as the Clippers got back to the state game. This spring, Oliva exploded for 46 goals and added 29 assists, as he led the team in goals and assists and became one of the state’s premier scorers.

Highlights included seven goals in a season-opening win over York, five goals in a victory over Greely, three in a win over Lake Region, five goals in a loss to eventual Class A champion Brunswick, four goals and five assists in a win over North Yarmouth Academy, five goals in a victory at Falmouth and four in a win over Waynflete.

For his career, Oliva scored 91 goals and had 48 assists, He also collected 98 ground balls.

Following the season, Oliva was given an abundance of honors, capped by being named All-American.

“That was a pleasant surprise,” Oliva said. “I felt like I had a great season, but I felt like other guys on the team deserved it more. I feel like I’ve grown up in a place that affords opportunities to go as far as you want to go.”

Oliva got to play with his twin brother, Henry, a defensive standout (older brother Leo was an all-star Clipper as well). Joe Oliva credits his relationship with his twin brother for furthering his game.

“Henry was a big help,” Joe Oliva said. “It made for some great 1-on-1s. We’re brotherly, but the competitiveness is there. We made each other better.”

The brothers are also musically inclined, as Joe plays guitar and Henry the piano in a band. They both sing. Joe Oliva will attend Colby College in Waterville next year. He’s undecided on playing lacrosse, but the team is well aware of what he has to offer.

So is everyone else after a spectacular senior season. Joe Oliva, Yarmouth’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year, became the latest in a long line of Clippers legends by saving his best for his senior year.

Coach David Pearl’s comment: “Joe was relentless in practice and on the field. Nobody worked harder in practice and in games and this translated into Joe being a dominant force on offense. A prolific scorer with a real nose for the goal, Joe is fiercely competitive. He has good speed and an elite ability to change direction. He has a high lacrosse IQ. He understood that when teams tried to shut him off or slide to him early, that he could still create offense for the team.”

Previous winners:

2014 Braden Becker (tennis)

2013 Ben Decker (tennis)

2012 Bryce Snyder (baseball)

2011 Campbell Belisle-Haley (baseball)

2010 Nick Whittaker (baseball)

2009 Rob Highland (lacrosse)

2008 Robb Arndt (baseball)

2007 Jon Poole (lacrosse)

2006 Hans Tobiason (lacrosse)

2005 Chris Hichborn (lacrosse)

2004 Jon Miller (lacrosse)

2003 Jared Harriman (lacrosse)

2002 Tim Kjeldgaard (lacrosse)


MARI COOPER, Junior-Softball

  • WMC all-star, second-team

  • Junior Showcase All-Star

Cooper was downright heroic during Yarmouth’s run to a first-ever championship, pitching 24 consecutive scoreless postseason innings before overcoming an injury to help the Clippers finish the job and make history.

Cooper has been a softball aficionado since Little League, when she started pitching. Softball is the only sport she’s played in high school and it’s been very good to her. She didn’t pitch as a freshman, but returned to the mound as a sophomore, going 7-5 with a 3.22 earned run average. That season ended in agony, however, as Yarmouth let a five-run seventh inning lead slip away in a stunning semifinal round loss to Cape Elizabeth.

From the ashes of that heartbreak, a championship team was born and Cooper wound enjoy a transcendent season this spring, winning 15 of 16 decisions with a 1.93 earned run average. Cooper struck out 102 batters and walked only 27.

Cooper got the win in relief and had a pair of hits as the Clippers beat Cape Elizabeth in the opener. In her first start, against Freeport, Cooper nearly threw a perfect game (allowing just one hit) while also belting a double and three singles in a 22-0 victory. Other highlights included a win in relief with a single, double and home run at Fryeburg Academy, nine strikeouts in a win over Sacopee Valley, a win and two hits against Wells, a three-hit, 11-strikeout victory over Sacopee Valley, 10 strikeouts and no earned runs allowed in a win over Falmouth, a four-hitter in a second shutout win over Freeport and a four-hitter in a second victory over Falmouth.

Cooper was even better in the crucible of the postseason. She blanked Leavitt on three hits in the quarterfinals, threw a two-hitter and had two hits, two runs scored and two RBI in a semifinal round victory over top-ranked Greely, then gave Yarmouth its first regional title with a four-hit shutout win over Fryeburg Academy in the regional final.

That sent the Clippers to the Class B Final for the first time, where they would face defending champion Hermon. Yarmouth grabbed a 4-0 lead, but in the fourth, Hermon broke through for three runs, ending Cooper’s postseason shutout streak at 24 innings. Leading 5-3 in the fifth, Cooper was drilled by a line drive off her hand, but she managed to record the final out.

“I got adrenaline when I got hit on my finger and I got through it,” Cooper said. “I would have had so much regret if I didn’t pitch.”

Feeling anything but 100 percent, Cooper then gutted it out in the sixth and seventh innings and closed out a 7-5 victory and for the first time, the Clippers had a softball title.

One year after the worst loss of her life, Cooper had reached the pinnacle.

“Last year made it so much more important to go farther this year,” Cooper said. “The hardest thing about last year was that I didn’t feel like I stayed composed. This time, I wanted to have no regrets. That was my goal for the entire season.”

Cooper, who credited chemistry with her senior catcher, Kallie Hutchinson, for much of her success, stressed that her teammates drove her.

“I try to be the best team leader I can be,” Cooper said. “I love the team aspect of softball.”

In addition to being one of the state’s best pitchers, Cooper’s pretty imposing with the bat too. For the season, she hit .359, scoring 16 runs, driving in 17 and belting five doubles.

Cooper is also big into theater. She’s acted in the school musical and spent part of the summer working at a theater camp. She hopes to play softball in college, but before going on to the next level, she’ll have one final chance to shine in a Clippers uniform.

After her storybook run this season, Mari Cooper, Yarmouth’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year, has set the bar high, but there is no reason to believe that she won’t continue to come through like the champion she is.

Coach Amy Ashley’s comment: “Mari’s incredible. She’s a competitor and she kept coming through for us all year. We have the utmost confidence in her. She’s the complete package, mentally and physically. There’s no one I’d rather have.

Previous winners:

2014 Grace O’Donnell (lacrosse)

2013 Grace O’Donnell (lacrosse)

2012 Hannah Potter (tennis)

2011 Danielle Torres (lacrosse)

2010 Danielle Torres (lacrosse)

2009 Haley Knaub (track)

2008 Nicole Grover (lacrosse)

2007 Laurie Baker (lacrosse)

2006 Emily Johnson (lacrosse)

2005 Chrissie Attura (lacrosse)

2004 Louise Taylor (tennis)

2003 Louise Taylor (tennis)

2002 Christine Clancy (tennis)

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.