Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

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After an historic fall sports campaign, Yarmouth’s winter teams figure to be pretty awesome as well. The boys’ basketball program has been a top contender in recent seasons and should be in the hunt. The girls’ team welcomes a new coach and could be in for improvement. Boys’ hockey woke up the echoes a year ago and is hoping for big things again in 2010-11. The girls’ team is improving. Track and swimming have some promising talent. Last, but certainly not least, both Alpine and Nordic skiing will be in the hunt for even more hardware.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Adam Smith (seventh year)

2009-10 Record: 11-8 (Lost, 56-41, to Lake Region in Western B preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Mike McCormack (Senior), Matt Murphy (Senior), Luke Pierce (Senior), Josh Britten (Junior), Connor Ertz (Junior), Chris Knaub (Junior), Sam Torres (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 18 @ Wells, Dec. 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 4 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 7 @ York, Jan. 15 (H) NYA, Jan. 25 @ Falmouth, Jan. 28 (H) YORK, Feb. 4 @ Greely, Feb. 8 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s a typical Yarmouth team. We’re relatively small. No one goes past 6-foot-5. We’ll be defensive-minded and rebound well for our size. We’ll be pretty well rounded. I think we’ll be better this year because we can score a little easier. We have a ways to go to jell more as a team. It’s a building process. I hope we hit our stride in the second half of the season. Our goal is to get back to the Expo.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has posted a winning record and made the playoffs four years running, the program’s best stretch since the early 1970s. A sign of how far the Clippers have come was evident after they played poorly and were eliminated in the preliminary round on their home court by Lake Region last season. Yarmouth planned to make it to the Expo and felt as if its season was a disappointment. The sting of that loss should propel the Clippers to a strong campaign this winter. Yarmouth opened with a 56-43 win at Poland, pulling away in the fourth quarter behind 15 points from McCormack, 14 from Britten and 10 from Knaub (most recently seen leading the boys’ soccer team to a state title from his goalkeeper position). Britten, the point guard, who is also a solid defender (seventh in the league with 2.3 steals a game last winter), canned a pair of 3-pointers in the victory, which was a very welcome sign seeing that last year’s weakness was an ability to hit clutch shots from behind the arc. Knaub, Murphy and Torres are also capable of playing bombs-away offense and if the Clippers are adept from long range this winter, they’ll be able to contend with anyone. Yarmouth doesn’t have a lot of size, but features great athletes, none finer than Fall Male Athlete of the Year Pierce, a soccer All-New England selection, who can play guard or forward. He had nine points in the opener and was seventh in the conference in rebounding a year ago (6.8 per game). McCormack is a streaky scorer and a solid all-around talent. Ertz doesn’t shy away from doing whatever it takes to make a team successful. The Clippers won’t be flashy. They’ll play tenacious defense, take advantage of their offensive opportunities and battle for 32 minutes. That recipe should be enough to contend with everyone in the league and produce another winning record. This group won’t be satisfied until it returns to the Expo. If Yarmouth gets there, it might not be content settling for one game.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Mandy Peaslee (first year)

2009-10 Record: 5-13 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYER: Olivia Harrison (Senior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Jan. 4 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 7 (H) YORK, Jan. 13 (H) LAKE REGION, Jan. 15 @ NYA, Jan. 25 @ Falmouth, Jan. 28 @ York, Feb. 4 @ Greely

COACH’S COMMENT: “While we’re a young team this year, we’ve already seen some success in the preseason. The girls show up in the gym each day ready to work hard and it’s exciting to see how each individual player learns a skill or new play and immediately applies the learning to her game on the floor. Our program goal is to celebrate each success and learn from every experience. If we keep working hard and peak when it counts, playoff time should be exciting for the Yarmouth Clippers..”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: There’s an early buzz around the Clippers this winter after they opened the Peaslee Era with a palpitating 48-47 home win over Poland Friday night. Peaslee played basketball at Bonny Eagle and rugby at Ithaca College. She was an assistant with the Clippers under John Martin in 2002-03 and Nick Nash last winter. She also spent a year with Mt. Ararat as an assistant. She takes over a team with little experience, but a lot of upside. Morgan Cahill, a league all-star who was fifth in scoring and second in rebounding a year ago, transferred to Cheverus and senior Devin Simsarian, a league leader in assists and steals, isn’t on the team, but there is a lot to work with. Harrison, a guard, is the lone returning starter. She can knock down shots from the perimeter and had 11 clutch points in the first game. Junior Maddy Wood is this year’s point guard. Junior Julia Harrison and sophomore Tess Merrill have also shown an ability to knock down shots. Yarmouth welcomes two other new players this winter who will have a seismic impact. The first is freshman Olivia Smith, who was a standout goalkeeper for the girls’ soccer team in the fall. She’ll control the paint at both ends of the floor and had a game-high 17 points in the opening night win. The other is senior Danielle Torres, Yarmouth’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year after being named an All-American for the second year in a row and a soccer all-star as well. Torres brings poise, leadership and a knack for strong defense to the team. Her influence can’t be understated. The Clippers haven’t had much success in recent years, missing the playoffs three of the past four winters, so establishing and growing the program will be paramount. Yarmouth has a good chance to compete with all but the league’s very elite teams and there aren’t many. If the Clippers can build on their strong start and gain confidence as they go, they could surpass last year’s win total and perhaps even flirt with a postseason berth. With some talented young pieces in place, the future is promising.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Marc Halsted (sixth year)

2009-10 Record: 10-10 (Lost, 5-4, to York in Western B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Davis Brown (Senior), Joey King (Senior), Ben Nickerson (Senior), Marshall Brunelle (Junior), Eamon Costello (Junior), Max Grimm (Junior), Alex Kurtz (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 16 @ South Portland, Dec. 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 8 (H) YORK, Jan. 13 @ Portland, Jan. 22 (H) LEAVITT, Feb. 3 @ Greely, Jan. 7 @ York, Jan. 16 @ Leavitt, Feb. 19 (H) GREELY

COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m excited by the overall talent level of our group this year. We’re small in numbers with only 19 guys and we’ve had some early season injuries, but we have three solid lines and six defensemen who should see regular ice time. Joey should have a breakout year. I’m very happy with the three juniors we play together, Kurtz, Brunelle and Costello. Defensively, Nickerson and Grimm are the backbone. Goaltending should be a strength. We had a fantastic run last year and our kids have high expectations. We’re still relatively young, but our sophomores and juniors have been playing regular shifts since they were freshmen, so the coaches will expect a lot of out of them from day one. Our goal is to get back to the playoffs and compete with Greely and the rest of the league for another championship game appearance.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth woke up the echoes last winter, making it to the regional final for the first time since its last championship year of 2002. The Clippers had to overcome a lot to get there and after getting back to within hailing distance of the mountaintop, they have no interest in slipping. Another triumphant season won’t come easily as Western B has at least three other formidable teams and Yarmouth is behind the eight ball in terms of numbers. Enough glass-half-empty talk, let’s focus a moment on what the Clippers do have and that’s a superb coach (Halsted was our Coach of the Year last winter) and an impressive roster. The offense will ride King to many wins. He had 11 points a year ago and opened with an unassisted goal in Yarmouth’s 9-1 win at Westbrook Saturday night. Kurtz (a Class B second-team all star last winter) had 37 points in 2009-10 and merely opened the new season with five assists. Brown (two goals and two assists in last year’s playoffs and a goal and an assist on Saturday night), Brunelle (24 points last winter) and Costello (seven assists in 2009-10 and a goal and two assists in the opener) also have experience. Max Watson made his presence felt with three goals and an assist in his varsity debut. He and sophomore Kevin Haley (two goals against Westbrook) provide depth. The defenders are two-way threats, able to limit opposing opportunities, while scoring on occasion. That group features Nickerson (six assists last year, one Saturday), Grimm (seven assists last winter and one in the opener), junior Bart Gallagher (two assists in the first game) and sophomore Sam Landry (who scored against Westbrook). The addition of senior Cotter Jackson (who scored a regional final-winning overtime goal in soccer last fall) makes this group even better. Junior Patrick McLoon and sophomore Red DeSmith are vying to replace Ethan Gray (Yarmouth’s 2010 Winter Male Athlete of the Year) in goal. It’s been a long time since there’s been this much optimism (or expectations) around the Clippers. They’ve shown they know how to get back into contention. Now they need to stay there. Even though Greely’s the favorite and defending regional champion York and perennial contender Cape Elizabeth will be difficult to contend with, Yarmouth has the firepower to enjoy another successful campaign and trip to the postseason, where, as the Clippers so skillfully demonstrated a year ago, anything can happen.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

COACH: David Neujahr (third year)

2009-10 Record: 3-15 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Courtney Barker (Senior), Emily Mitchell (Senior), Alicia Piccirillo (Senior), Amber Ball (Junior), Suzanne Driscoll (Junior), Caelainn Costello (Sophomore), Gage Thurston (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Jan. 7 (H) CHEVERUS, Jan. 13 @ Falmouth, Jan. 24 (H) YORK, Jan. 26 @ Portland, Feb. 4 (H) GREELY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have 17 girls this year. Much different than the past couple years. We have a very tough schedule this year. We’re a very inexperienced team, but the chemistry’s good and the leadership is great. We’ve seen huge improvement thus far and I look forward to surprising a few teams.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has struggled in the early going this winter, but the quality of its schedule is the big reason why. The Clippers have already played six games and lost to Brunswick (5-0), 2009 state champion Lewiston (8-0), Falmouth (4-3, in overtime), Edward Little/Leavitt (11-0) and this year’s favorite St. Dom’s not just once (12-4), but twice (13-2). Defending state champion Cheverus still looms on the schedule. Yarmouth features a couple reigning all-stars who have keyed the offense. Driscoll (a second-teamer last season) scored twice in the overtime loss and had a goal and two assists in the first loss to St. Dom’s. Barker (a first-team selection a year ago) had a goal against Falmouth and three assists versus the Saints. Freshman Ariel Potter made her presence felt with a hat trick in the first St. Dom’s game. She’ll only get better. Freshman Meredith Mcloon is another girl who will step right in and make an impact. Ball and Piccirillo also figure into the equation. The defense features Costello and Mitchell in front of Thurston. The Clippers will improve as the season goes on and despite the daunting slate, will have a chance to win some games. With many players returning next winter, the program stands to only get better.

INDOOR TRACK

COACHES: Hank Richards (second year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) Tie-16th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 19th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Asa Arden (Senior), Jack Watterson (Senior), Lucas Davis (Junior), Tom Robichaud (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Lindsey Purpura (Senior), Mary Sansone (Senior), Joss Richards-Daniels (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “There’s not nearly the talent we had last year. We lost a lot to graduation. The current team is trying to find its identity. Certain individuals will improve as the year goes on, but unless I am missing a diamond in the rough, it will be an interesting year. Was hoping to get some football guys but no luck outside of Asa Arden, Jack Watterson and newcomer Braden Smith.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has a small indoor track program this winter, but features some athletes to watch.

The boys’ squad returns return Arden, who came in seventh in the long jump last year. He’ll also be a threat in the sprints and high jump. He’s joined by state championship football teammate Watterson, a shot putter, Davis (sprints and high jump) and Robichaud (distance and triple jump). Smith, a junior, is a top newcomer in the sprints and relays. Freshman Wes Crawford can compete in a myriad of events. These kids have some talent and have an opportunity to score some points at the big February meets.

On the girls’ side, no state meet scorers return, but Purpura and Sansone can get the job done in the sprints and shot put. Sansone also long jumps. Richards-Daniels is the top distance runner and she may sprint and jump as well. Junior Jocelyn Davies (sprints) and sophomores Ellie Olshan (sprints), Sydney Sperber (distance) and Megan Smith (sprints and pole vault), who is the daughter of girls’ soccer coach and our Fall Coach of the Year Rich Smith, are new to the team and will make their presence felt. Don’t be surprised if a few of these girls distinguish themselves in the weeks to come and allow the Clippers to be competitive throughout the regular season and to score some points at states.

SWIMMING

COACH: Brian Townsend (second year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) 20th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 7th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SWIMMERS:

(BOYS) Dan Grover (Junior), Devon Bray (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Christina Allen (Senior), Adrian Copeland (Senior), Julie Dursema (Senior), Cathy Agro (Junior), Haley Estabrook (Sophomore), Hannah Felker (Sophomore), Emily Lunt (Sophomore), Caihlan Snyder (Sophomore), Libby Thompson (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s a rebuilding year for us. We have many underclassmen this year, but all look strong. I would like to see some team records fall this season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has a small group, especially on the boys’ side, but as always, there is quality on the roster.

The boys will be led by Grover (breaststroke) and Bray (distance freestyle). Three freshmen add depth. Ian Edgcomb, Ethan Nightingale and Luca Seid all swim the freestyle. This group should improve as the season goes on and could be in line for some scoring performances at states.

On the girls’ side, Agro is an elite talent. She was fourth in the butterfly and seventh in the IM a year ago and could move up this winter. Estabrook (10th in the 50 free and 11th in the backstroke) and Copeland (14th in the backstroke) are the other returning scorers. Allen (fly), Dursema (freestyle), Felker (breaststroke), Lunt, Snyder (freestyle) and Thompson (freestyle) all have experience. A pair of newcomers will help the cause. Freshman Abigail Belisle-Haley swims the IM and Brianna Jelly-Webber is a freestyler. Agro will carry this squad a long way. If some other swimmers emerge, Yarmouth will have a solid regular season and could be in for a seventh straight top 10 finish at states.

SKIING

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B combined state meet

(GIRLS) Class B combined state champions

ALPINE

COACH: Bob Grout (third year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) Class B state champions

(GIRLS) Class B state champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Pat Vigue (Senior), Ben Woodbury (Senior), Carter Dorsett (Junior), Drew Grout (Sophomore), Matt Highland (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Becca Bell (Senior) Smythe Eddy (Senior), Taylor Hornney (Junior), Claudia Lockwood (Junior)

TOP FOE: Falmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s going to be a challenge this year because we graduated five boys and a top girl. The boys will gun hard to keep up with Falmouth. It’s a rebuilding year for us with only one senior on the team. We have a very strong girls’ team. We’ll try to hang with Falmouth..”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth and Falmouth appear to be on a collision course on the mountain as the Clippers seek to retain their championships.

The boys return state scorers Grout (fifth in the giant slalom, ninth in the slalom) and Highland (10th in both races a year ago). Vigue and Woodbury (a skimeister), along with Dorsett, bring experience. Freshmen Rhys Eddy and Tom Lord hope to soon become household names. Grout and Highland should be able to keep Yarmouth near the top. If they get some help, the Clippers will give Falmouth fits in February.

On the girls’ side, four solid performers return. Leading the way is Bell, the 2010 Winter Female Athlete of the Year after winning the Class B skimeister crown. She was sixth in the GS and and 11th in the slalom a year ago. Lockwood had the fourth-best slalom time last winter. Hornney (seventh GS, 14th slalom) and Eddy (ninth GS) are also capable of top 10 performances. They’re joined by freshmen Chapin Dorsett and Julia Primeau to make up a very talented crew. Yarmouth won’t cede its title quietly. Look for the Clippers to be right back at the top when all is said and done.

NORDIC

COACH: Bob Morse (29th year)

2009-10 Results:

(BOYS) 4th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Andy Beckman (Senior), Andrew Dimarco (Senior), Ben Johnson (Senior), Benji Jones (Senior), Sam Kapner (Senior), Jack Walsh (Senior), Ben Woodbury (Senior)

(GIRLS) Becca Bell (Senior), Alison Totta (Senior), Leah Bevins (Junior), Caitlin Crawford (Junior), Laurel Hurd (Junior), Phoebe Walsh (Junior), Olivia Conrad (Sophomore)

TOP FOE: Falmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “The Nordic team has 40 skiers. It will be very interesting. The boys will be chasing down Falmouth in the conference and fighting for that third spot and bragging rights behind Maranacook and Caribou at states. The girls will have a three-team battle with Caribou and Maranacook. It will be very close. We’ll have fun skiing and racing.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth always has fun skiing and racing and why not? More often than not, the Clippers have no peer. This winter on the trails, Yarmouth will be very strong again.

The boys team will miss standout Cam Woodworth, but three other state scorers (all sophomores) return. Thomas Sullivan was 10th in the freestyle and 12th in the classic a year ago. Chester Jacobs (15th freestyle, 21st classic) and Jackson Hall (15th classic, 23rd freestyle) look to move up this winter. This crew has strong senior leadership in Beckman, Dimarco, Johnson, Jones, Kapner, Walsh and Woodbury, who is a skimeister, along with sophomore Drew Grout and promising freshman Jack Elder. As always, the roster is littered with untested talent itching to break through. If the Clippers are able to stay healthy, they’ll once again be in the mix and will chase Falmouth to the end.

On the girls’ side, Bell, a skimeister and Yarmouth’s Winter 2010 Female Athlete of the Year, leads the way. She was second in both the freestyle and classic races a year ago. Totta is another top 10 talent. She came in eighth in both races last season. Conrad (11th in the freestyle) and Crawford (12th in the classic) also scored last winter. Bevins, Hurd and Walsh add depth and experience and sophomore Sarah Becker is ready to shine after a strong cross country running campaign. An abundance of stellar sophomores and freshmen are also on the roster and will look to make a name for themselves. The Clippers can rely on another strong season from Bell and Totta and will take their chances from there. Yarmouth fell 10 points short of a Nordic state title last season and won’t settle for anything shy of the top spot this time around. Don’t ever bet against the Clippers when snow is involved.

Senior Luke Pierce, coming off a sensational soccer season, is hoping to produce some highlights on the hardwood.

Junior point guard Josh Britten looks to lead the boys’ basketball team back to the Expo this season.

Senior Mike McCormack hopes to flash a scoring touch for the 2010-11 Clippers.

Junior Alex Kurtz could be one of the most prolific scorers this season as the Clippers look to build on last winter’s success.

Junior Eamon Costello is another scorer to watch this season.

Senior Asa Arden scored in the long jump last year. He looks to move up the standings this winter.

Junior Cathy Agro has the potential to be a top contender in the 100 butterfly this winter.

Sidebar Elements


Senior Becca Bell is the reigning Class B skimeister champion and was Yarmouth’s 2009-10 Winter Athlete of the Year. She and her teammates look to dominate once again.

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.