Defending champs look sharp in opener
Coach Stephanie Smith’s field hockey team, which bested North Yarmouth Academy 1-0 in November to win the Class C state championship, is on a mission to repeat last year’s magical run. The Ponies return seven starters–seniors Julia Annis (21 goals and 13 assists in 2013), Fern Morrison (10 goals), Abigail Simmons (lockdown defender who scored the winning goal in the double-overtime Eastern Maine semifinal), Jenny Boyer (3 goals), and Aliviah King (defensive force) and juniors Avery Carroll (defensive force) and Madison Fadley (11 goals, including the game winners in the Eastern Maine final and state title game)–from the 2013 squad, which outscored opponents 67-1 en route to their school’s 21st state title. Emma Tetlow ’15, Deseray Lablanc ’15, and Becca Anderson ’17 have secured the starting jobs vacated by captains Mackenzie Coiley (playing field hockey at St. Joseph’s), Amber Anderson (playing at Husson), and Emily Higgins (attending Unity College), a trio that accounted for 18 goals and 19 assists in 2013. Promising newcomer Emily Curtis ’18, sophomore Lexi Raymond, and twin sisters Abbi and Alli Bourget ’17 (who Coach Smith called “the fastest players I have seen in the league”) will also contribute on the offensive and defensive end. Madison Chadbourne ’16 and Abigail Simpson ’15 are battling for the right to replace dominant goalkeeper Brianna Skolfield, who now attends Central High School.
“We should be very competitive this year,” said Smith, a Foxcroft Academy Hall of Fame inductee who stepped in for legendary coach Gene Philpot in 2012 before leading the Ponies to their third field hockey state title in her first full year on the bench. “Our goal is to defend our state championship title in early November. We certainly have the talent; our biggest hurdle (ironically) will be leadership on the field. Even though we have seven returning starters and seven seniors in the lineup, all of them are silent leaders on the field. Communication, team unity, and positive reinforcement are crucial for success!”
The Ponies’ title defense is off to a great start, as they earned a convincing 5-0 win at Old Town to open the season on Wednesday. They have quite a busy week ahead, with games at John Bapst (6 pm on Monday), at PCHS (4 pm on Wednesday), and vs rival Dexter in the home opener Saturday at 1 pm.
Ponies look to build on promising 2013 campaign
Coach Luis Ayala’s soccer team fought its way to a 6-7-1 mark in 2013, earning the #11 seed in Class B East. The Ponies sprung a thrilling 2-1 upset at sixth-seeded Oceanside in the preliminary round of postseason play before falling 2-1 to #3 Winslow in quarterfinal action.
Coach Ayala’s up-and-coming squad, which opens up at John Bapst September 10 at 4 pm and plays its home opener vs Caribou September 13 at 3 pm, has high expectations for the 2014 campaign after an impressive preseason that saw the team go 6-0-1 while conceding just one goal. The program has swelled to 40 players, with the varsity team returning seven starters: seniors Justin Diamond (tied for team lead with 9 goals in 2013), Matt Baiamonte, Julian Zepeda, and Eli Olson; juniors Antonio Ayala (team-high 13 assists) and Nate Church; and sophomore goalkeeper Logan Butera (four shutouts as a freshman). Coach Ayala will look for Nick Boyd ’15, Dylan Harmon-Weeks ’16, Blake Arno ’16, Cooper Nelson ’16, and Ryan Cary ’17 to add depth and help offset the loss of injured sophomore Chandler Rockwell and departed seniors Sam Keane, Evan Hong, and Ethan Kelly, among others.
Coach Ayala, who believes that strong turnouts at summer league games and camps have given his team a leg up, likes what he has seen from his team so far. “The excitement for this season is a result of how we finished last year,” he said. “Making the playoffs and beating a quality team has left a hunger in us to do it again. We knew we had to put the work in this offseason if we wanted to make the playoffs again and go even further. Our captains (Eli Olson, Matt Baiamonte, Julian Zepeda, and Antonio Ayala) have made a commitment to themselves and to the team to not settle for mediocrity this year. They want to make this year a year to remember and to be proud of.”
Ponies poised to bounce back under new coach Wesley
The girls soccer team has struggled to find the win column in a very competitive Class B East in recent years, but brighter days appear to be ahead under new head coach Chris Wesley, who has guided the team to three wins and a tie this preseason. Captains Joanna Panciera and Shayla Bickmore headline a senior class of nine and have, according to Wesley, “done a fantastic job showing the underclassmen how to lead by example.”
The Pony program lost five players to graduation but has seen its ranks swell to 32, highlighted by a huge sophomore class that includes the talented Grace Bickford, who returns after missing all of last year with a knee injury. “We’ve got a number of players who weren’t here last year that are definitely going to help turn the tide for our program this year,” noted Wesley, who cited incoming freshmen Jenna Clukey, Avery Nelson, and Kiara Prescott (starting goalie) as other newcomers who will be called upon to contribute right away.
The Ponies’ first regular season test will be at John Bapst Thursday at 4:00, and they’ll host Caribou in the home opener Saturday at 1:00. Aspiring journalist Brooks Law ’15 is working on a team profile, so we hope to bring you more on Coach Wesley and his team later this week.
Ponies fall at Waterville in season opener, vow to come back strong
Coach Danny White’s football team fell 36-14 on Saturday to a very good and very physical Waterville club that is coming off a run to the Class C Eastern Maine title game. “It wasn’t our best effort,” said Coach White, “but I expect this loss to motivate our kids to get back on track next week in our home opener [Friday night vs Camden Hills]. I don’t feel that Saturday’s performance was indicative of what this team can do. We came into this season with high expectations, and we continue to believe that we have a team capable of competing with the top programs in our class.”
The Ponies graduated five starters–Hunter Law (QB/S), Corey Bjornson (HB/LB), Kolby Kendall (DE/TE), Craig Chambers (C/DT), and Corbyn Bruce (G/DT)–from a team that finished 5-3 in the newly-created Class C Big Ten Conference before falling to Belfast in the opening round of postseason play. Junior Chris Storer has won the quarterback job and will team with senior tailback Pete Boyer (973 rushing yards and 11 TD in 2013) and junior wide receiver Hunter Smith (512 receiving yards and 7 TD ) to lead an offense capable of piling up points in a hurry. Wide receivers Abe Simpson ’16 and Caleb Edgerly ’15 and halfbacks Billy Brock ’17 and Gaige Pleninger ’15 will be additional weapons for a unit that operates behind sophomore Matt Storer (C), junior James Smith (RG), and senior captains Clay Carroll (LG), Kaleb Faloon (LT), and Sean Cody (RT). Junior Nate Church will handle placekicking duties for the Ponies while Smith will be the punter. Linebackers Boyer (78 tackles in 2013), Carroll (49), and Brock (48), safety Smith (47), and defensive end Brandon Brock ’16 (38) are the leading tacklers from a season ago.
Golf team off to fast start
Coach Peter Caruso’s golf team already has three matches under its belt, compiling an overall record of 3-2. The Ponies finished second to John Bapst in a three-team meet at Hermon Meadows on August 29, defeated both Penobscot Valley and Penquis in a three-team meet at Foxcroft Golf Club on September 2, and dropped a close one to Old Town back at Foxcroft on Friday.
Senior Emily Turner fired a 46 to earn Medalist honors at the first home meet and followed up nicely with another 46 on Friday. Nick Decker ’15 shot a 43 to lead the Ponies in his season debut on Friday while fellow seniors Bram Dennis (45) and Freddy Libby (46) contributed to the Ponies’ team score of 173, the best of the season by 20 strokes. Sophomore Henry Chase and junior Racquel Bozzelli have also been key contributors for the Ponies, who lost 2013 PVC champion Colby Snell to graduation.
Coach Caruso–who returns to the sidelines after previous stints as the FA golf coach, varsity boys basketball coach, and varsity softball coach–is very pleased with the progress his team is making. “We’ve lowered our scores in each of the three matches we have played,” he said. “We have nine team members, and they have all shown improvement. The Ponies are looking forward to our upcoming matches and the PVC tournament at the end of the season.”
The Ponies will be back in action vs Dexter at Foxcroft Golf Club this afternoon at 4:00. Click here to see photos from Friday’s meet.
Cross country team has best opening meet in six years
Coach Brett Almasi’s cross country team opened it season by competing in the 12-team Ellsworth Invitational Cross Country Meet on Saturday. Junior Gabe Piquette (pictured above) paced the Pony boys with a time of 19:38.07, good for 21st out of a field of 90. Noah Simpson ’15 (20:36.87) and Kohei Kotani ’16 (20:38.13) finished 38th and 39th while sophomore Liam Casey (21:17.08) placed 51st. Nathnael Feleke ’15 (21:22.64), Hunter Giacomuzzi ’16 (24:04.68), Peter Xue ’17 (24:06.64), and Ethan Poland ’17 (26:45.81–shaved more than five minutes from his debut last season) also contributed for the boys’ side. Jen Clawson ’16 paced the girls’ side with a time of 25:32.72, finishing 41st out of 75 runners. Anna Sedlackova ’15 (29:29.41) and Virginia Macomber ’18 (34:46.06) also showed great improvement for the Ponies, who did not have a male or female runner finish higher than 60th at last year’s Ellsworth Invitational.
“With the top five male runners finishing with the best average time at a season-opening meet in six years, there is much room for a successful season and many potential personal bests,” said Coach Almasi, whose team will next compete in Caribou on Saturday. “The Pony running squad has been working hard and consistently over the last three weeks, and it is already paying off. We lost talented graduates Clara Stephens and Eliza Grigoryeva, but we return many of our top runners, and with the addition of freshman Virginia Macomber, sophomore Maria Cedeno, junior Hunter Giacomuzzi, sophomore Liam Casey, junior Kohei Kotani, and sophomore Peter Xue, we hope to build our team into contenders.”
Click here to see additional photos from Saturday’s meet, courtesy of assistant coach Graham Pearsall.