Ponies down MDI, advance to Eastern Maine semifinals
The Foxcroft Academy football team defeated Mount Desert Island 35-20 in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal matchup at Oakes Field Saturday night. The Ponies improved to 7-2 with the win and will travel to Waterville to battle the 7-1 Purple Panthers on Saturday at 1:00.
As was the case when these teams met a week ago in MDI, the game was played in cold, wet, and windy conditions. Foxcroft quarterback Hunter Smith, who rushed for 167 yards in the 43-6 win a week ago, again seemed unfazed by the weather. The junior ran for 109 yards and two scores on just 11 carries while also enjoying his finest day as a passer, completing 6-10 passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns. His 37-yard scamper got the Ponies on the board in the first quarter, and he was able to connect with Chris Storer from 10 yards out and Billy Brock from 16 yards out to extend the lead to 21-6 before the break.
Brock finished with two catches for 33 yards, picked up 31 yards on the ground, and capped the Ponies’ scoring with a 69-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter, the team’s first special teams touchdown of the season. Pete Boyer, who entered the game with 1262 rushing yards, was held to 33 yards on six carries after being nicked up early in the game. (He is expected to be fine for this weekend.) Clay Carroll caught two passes for 23 yards, and Isaiah Kennell hauled in a 12-yard reception. Nate Church was a perfect 5-5 on extra point attempts.
“I was pleased with our offensive efficiency and the diversity of our attack,” said Coach Danny White. “We were able to get the ball into four different guys’ hands through the air and pick up some key first downs that way.”
The Pony defense forced four fumbles (recovering three) and limited the Trojans to 30 yards passing. Carroll led the way with 13 tackles, Connor Holmes had nine, Smith had eight tackles to go with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, Brock forced a fumble and had seven tackles, and Kennell notched seven tackles. Brandon Dyer forced a fumble while both Abe Simpson and Kaleb Faloon had recoveries.
Jalique Keane returned from a shoulder injury and ran impressively for the Trojans, netting 167 yards on 23 carries. Sandy Henggeler added 40 yards on 13 carries and scored all three touchdowns for the Trojans, who fell to 3-6.
The Ponies are now set for a rematch with the Purple Panthers, who defeated them 36-14 in Waterville in the season opener. “That game feels like an eternity ago,” said Coach White. “We’re not the same team we were in week one, and we look forward to the challenge of proving that on Saturday.”
Photo taken by Holly Ly ’15. Click here to see more of her excellent work in tough conditions on Friday, click here to see some great additional photos taken by Cathy Cody, and click here to watch the game film (courtesy of Daniil Grishko ’16).
A dazzling career comes to an end for seven Ponies
Anyone who’s ever played or coached a high school sport knows how painful it is to end a season. Of the 80 varsity field hockey teams in Maine, all but three will walk off the field in their final game feeling the bitter sting of disappointment. Such is life, and so it goes for the Foxcroft Academy Ponies, who gave Dexter everything they had in the Eastern Maine Class C semifinal last Tuesday but simply could not find the back of the net.
The pain of playing one’s final game as a senior is worst of all, but Foxcroft’s seven seniors can walk away knowing that they won games at a prolific rate, carried themselves in a manner that made their community proud, and inspired the next generation of Ponies to work just a little bit harder in hope of someday emulating the success they witnessed over the past four years. The Ponies are 56-9-1 since Julia Annis, Jenny Boyer, Aliviah King, Deseray Lablanc, Fern Morrison, Abby Simmons, and Emma Tetlow set foot on campus in 2011, and all seven were starters for Coach Stephanie Smith this year. “It will be very difficult to fill their shoes,” said Coach Smith. “There was nothing more I wanted for these ladies than to hold the gold ball at the end of their high school career. They certainly had the ability, made a valiant effort, and created lots of opportunities–we just could not put the ball in the cage. All I can say is, it just was not in the cards for us this year.”
Coach Smith, who took over the team in 2012 and has gone 45-5-1, offered the following remarks on her departing seniors.
Julia Annis: “Julia is one of the best athletes coming out of Foxcroft Academy. She is blessed with so much natural ability and has more determination than anyone I know. Her physician told her a week before the season started, ‘This type of ankle injury will not heal unless you rest it for months.’ Rest was not an option for Julia. Even though she dealt with an injury all season long, no one will ever know how much it impacted her play because she would never display or admit the pain she endured throughout the season. That said, she still was one of the top players in our league this year. She led and created so many offensive attacks, leading the team with shots on goal, assists, and career goals. “
Jenny Boyer: “Jenny matured into an all-around player on the field this year. She grew into her role and stepped up this year as a leader on the field and as a strong force in both our defense and our offensive attack. She has always had tremendous stick skills, but really learned to utilize her strengths to distribute and push the ball up the field.”
Aliviah King: “Aliviah is a tough competitor and a pure delight to coach. She always gives her best on the field with a great big smile, and no one has any doubt of her love of this sport!”
Deseray Leblanc: “Deseray came into this season determined to be on the field. She played offense in years past but realized there was an opening in defense and made it clear to all in the preseason that she deserved to and would be playing defense. As she progressed through the season, she made it more difficult for our opponents to get the ball in our defensive end of the field.”
Fern Morrison: “Fern played multiple roles for us this year, with her speed and agility. She carried the ball the whole distance up the field countless times, made a great deal of beautiful shots on goal (hence our top scorer this year), marked our opponents’ top players, and was our fly on defensive corners. She definitely came into this season mentally and physically prepared.”
Abby Simmons: “Abby was our rock on defense. It became clear after our first matchup with Dexter, when she tweaked her knee in the first half and had to seek treatment from the trainer, that we had to have her on the field. Her quickness, tough play, and pure determination is top-notch. She plays with a lot of heart and is well-respected and loved by all her teammates. She raised the level of play in our defense and certainly had the ability to elevate everyone else’s play around her.”
Emma Tetlow: “Emma worked so hard this year to earn a position on the field. She never lacked in stick skills and knowledge of the game. Her struggle was strength (hard to imagine with such a petite frame), but her love of the game, hard work, dedication, and great attitude made it impossible to take her off the field. By the end of the season, she contributed a great deal to our success!”
Coach Smith knows it will be impossible to replace such an incredible class and that her program’s younger players will need to step up in a big way in 2015. “In order for us to be as competitive next year, we must have a young group of ladies rise to the occasion, be even more prepared physically, and work tremendously hard in the offseason, which we as coaches are finding very difficult in this day and age with the young student-athletes being pulled from all directions.”
Photo taken by Daniil Grishko ’16. Click here to see more of his great work.
Ponies fall at Ellsworth, bid farewell to 11 seniors
An outstanding season came to an end in Ellsworth on Tuesday for the Foxcroft Academy boys’ soccer team, which fell 5-2 to the top-seeded Eagles. The 2014 campaign, which featured nine wins and a return trip to the Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinals, represented a big step forward for Coach Luis Ayala’s program.
“This has been a special season for sure,” said Coach Ayala. “Especially the way we started with a 5-0 record, beat teams that we have not beaten in the past, and made the playoffs again in a tough Class B group. The difference, I believe, was the extra work we did in the offseason. The kids came in shape–not only physically, but in soccer shape.”
Coach Ayala feels great about the direction the program is moving in but knows it won’t be easy to replace his 11 seniors. “This is one of the largest senior classes that I have had at FA since I started coaching,” he said. “This group has improved every year and had their hard work rewarded by making the playoffs their last two years. What they have brought to this program is the kind of closeness that a family has. They have made everybody come together and care for one another, and when you do that, you play harder as team for each other. I want to thank them for making this an enjoyable year–one that I will remember for a long time to come.”
On Eli Olson: “Mr. Consistency. He always comes ready to give his best. Voted a team captain this year, he was a great leader. Always leading by example.”
On Matt Baiamonte: “He stepped up as a leader this year. One of four captains this year, he was a big part of our team’s success.”
On Julian Zepeda: “What I love about him is his passion for the game. He gives his all in practice and games. He does so much on the field it will be hard to replace him. As a captain this year, his leadership will be missed on the field and off.”
On Justin Diamond: “He has been our top scoring threat the last couple of years. There are some things you just can’t teach, and one of them is speed. He also has a sense of being at the right place at the right time to score goals.”
On Nick Boyd: “He has been the most improved kid from this senior class. The big difference has been his mindset and toughness. It has given him a lot of confidence and helped him have a great senior year.”
On Kelly Erickson: “He worked hard this offseason, and it showed when the season started. He was a big part of our defense, our team’s strength.”
On Dylan Richards: “He was having a great year until an injury cut his season short. He still was a big part of the team by being on the sidelines and cheering the team on.”
On Woojun Kim: “Another player whose season was cut short due to an injury, but he was always there on the sidelines encouraging the team.”
On Dexter Canning: “What I will miss the most about Dexter is his positive attitude.”
On Michael Fagan: “Coming from another school for your senior year is always tough, but Michael made it a smooth transition because of his great personality.”
On AJ Nugyen: “He started the season strong, but injuries made it hard for him to make it the whole season. This never derailed AJ from being involved with the team. He always encouraged the team from the sidelines with his great smile.”
Despite the heavy losses, Coach Ayala feels good about his team’s chances in 2015. “The guys coming back worked hard to improve their individual skills and team skills, and hopefully this will carry over into next season. My expectations for 2015 are high. We have a core group of kids that gained a lot of experience this year and now know what it takes to succeed: commitment and dedication. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for FA Soccer.”
Piquette runs with the state’s best
Foxcroft Academy junior Gabe Piquette ran 19:07.39 to finish 74th out of 114 Class B runners at the Maine State Cross Country Championship at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast on Saturday. Mitch Morris of Cape Elizabeth paced Piquette’s group with a time of 16:13.61 and was one of six Class B runners to compete the 5000 meter course in under 17 minutes. Freeport High School was crowned the Class B champion, with its top five runners averaging 17:11.60.
Piquette approached his personal record despite temperatures in the 30s, steady rain, and a very muddy course. “The weather was challenging to say the least,” said Coach Brett Almasi. “But Gabe stepped up and managed to pass multiple runners in the last half of the race.”
In all, Coach Almasi was very pleased with his team’s effort over the course of the 2014 campaign, and he is sorry to bid farewell to his three seniors: Noah Simpson, Nate Feleke, and Anna Sedlackova.
On Noah: “Noah went back and forth between the 2-4 spot all season, but he remained consistent. He ran his personal best this season as well, running in the 19-minute range on a weekly basis. His presence will surely be missed.”
On Nate: “This was Nate’s first full season as a member of the team. Though he began the season on the junior varsity team, he quickly became a varsity runner after the first meet in Ellsworth. He stayed in that position all season, remaining in the top five for the team in almost every race. His quickness will definitely be a lost asset going into next season.”
On Anna: “Anna ran her personal best this season and spent most of the season as our number two female runner. Being one of the leaders of our team, Anna’s leadership improved in the last two seasons, as did her average race times and running form.”