Fall Previews: Gray-New Gloucester

Cam Usher returns to the field for the Patriots this autumn.

Cross Country
Coach: Adam Zukowski (10th year)
Last year’s results: Boys 10th at Regionals, Girls 13th
Key runners lost: Melissa Hebert
Key runners returning: Ethan Ray (sr.), Seth Levier (sr.), Kylie Trawick (sr.), Parker Morse (jr.), Christian Ducharme (jr.), Abbey Chandler (jr.), Lillian Watson (jr.), Michael Twohig (so.), Alison MacDonald (so.), Alyssa Finn (so.), Madison Garcia (so.)
Key newcomers: Raymond Woodworth (so.), Isaac Haskins (so.), Natalie Getchell (fr.), Maya Hutchings (fr.), Ruby Pfeifle (fr.), Autumn Ouelette (fr.)
Outlook: “If everything breaks our way, the boys can sneak into the State Meet this season,” Zukowski says. “We have a good mix of veterans and newcomers and will be looking to peak at the right time on the hilly Twinbrook course.” Meanwhile, the addition of four impact freshmen should immediately bolster the girls’ squad. “The team has been working hard all summer,” Zukowski says. “Top returners Alison MacDonald and Abbey Chandler will look to lead the girls to the State Meet in October.”

Field Hockey
Coach: Christa Roddy (third year)
Last year’s record: 0-14
Key players lost: Cara Waltz, Skye Conley
Key players returning: Bo Shampine (sr., M); Alicia Credit (jr., G); Maddie Post (jr., F); Madelyn Cote (so., M)
Key newcomers: Laura Dumas (sr., M); Alex Shaw (jr., B); Jasmine French (so., F)
Outlook: “This year promises a lot of new faces on the field,” says Roddy of the Lady Patriots’ lineup. “With that comes the opportunity for new strategies.” To that end, the team will focus on fitting each girl to the right role and fitting all the girls together as a unit in pursuit of a common goal – namely, improving on last year’s rough record. G-NG will also concentrate on refining their transition, as well as generating and taking swift advantage of scoring opportunities in the circle. “We’re looking to refine our game over the course of the season and become more efficient and effective,” Roddy says.

Coach: Duane Greaton (first year)
Last year’s record: 0-8
Key players lost: Brandon Laflamme, Cam Blais
Key players returning: Boomer Simmons, Eric Thompson, Jaykob Sanborn
Key newcomers: Scott Lynch, Hunter Brown, Gabe Gendreau
Key matchups: “All of them,” Greaton says.
Outlook: “We’re predominantly a young squad led by our three senior Captains,” Greaton says. “We have a nice mix of guys with some experience from last year and new talent for the coming season. Our focus will be to continue to improve numbers and have success this upcoming season.”

Coach: Kyle Bennett (second year)
Last year’s results: 7-5 regular season, fifth of 11 at WMC team qualifier
Key players returning: Cooper Chamberland (sr.), Adam Dubail (sr.), Josh Magno (jr.), Campbell Macomber (jr.)
Key newcomers: Abe Sawyer (jr.), Al Doughty (fr.)
Key matchups: @ Yarmouth, @ Cape Elizabeth, Wells, @ Fryeburg
Outlook: The Patriots will field an experienced group this autumn. “We return our entire roster from last, including eight players who saw significant time in varsity matches,” says Bennett. “The toughest part of our schedule comes early, so we’ll have to be ready for the start of September.” G-NG fell just one stroke short of qualifying for States last year, meaning they’ll be eager to have another go at the standings. This time around, they’re likely to battle admirably with the best in the conference.

Boys Soccer
Coach: Andy Higgins (seventh year)
Last year’s record: 8-7-1, fell to Yarmouth 2-0 in quarterfinals
Key players lost: John Henry Villanueva, Bryce Hayman
Key players returning: Sam Farrington (sr.), Matt Gurney (sr.), Cam Usher (sr.), Ollie Grant (sr.), Nick McCann (jr.)
Key newcomers: Brannon Gilbert (jr.), Drew LaCerda (so.), Austin LaLiberty (so.), Keegan Brooks (fr.), Alec Brooks (fr.)
Key matchups: Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Greely, York
Outlook: “The Patriots graduated a strong and talented senior class,” Higgins says, nodding to Villanueva and Hayman, both All-State players who departed G-NG in June. “This year’s version of the Patriots looks to use a strong work ethic in combination with great speed and athleticism to duplicate the success of their predecessors.” The Patriots will rely on a strong defensive core to lead them in their efforts. Of particular interest, an unknown: Gilbert, who’ll assume goalkeeping duties, has got some big cleats to fill, as Villanueva previously occupied the post to justified acclaim. Moreover, Gilbert will face some serious trials by fire; the Western Maine Conference is, in Higgins’s words, “tire-iron tough,” and G-NG’s drawn an especially rugged schedule this season, one dotted with two bouts apiece against the imposing likes of Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Greely and York.

Girls Soccer
Coaches: Kiaran McCormack (head), Dana Giggey, Mike Foley
Last year’s record: 7-8-0
Key players lost: Izzy Detroy, Haley True, Hannah Dixon
Key players returning: Emma Woods (sr., A); Jaley Martin (sr., A); Emma Dyer (sr., D); Kelsey Randall (sr., D); Alexa Thayer (jr., A)
Key newcomers: Sam Fortin (so., D); Nicole Cobb (fr., A); Liza Sturgis (fr., M)
Key matchups: Freeport, Poland, Lake Region
Outlook: The Lady Patriots have reliably battled into the postseason in recent years. “Look for [us] to make a push to go deep into the playoffs once more this season,” McCormack says. McCormack lauds Emma Woods – and rightly so – as “one of the top attacking players in the State since her freshman year”; fans can expect good firepower out of Woods again this autumn. The team eagerly anticipates rivalry bouts with Freeport, Poland and Lake Region. As McCormack puts it, “Regardless of the standings, these games are always action-packed.”

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Cam Usher returns to the field for the Patriots this autumn.

Madie Post takes to the field again for the Lady Patriots this fall, a critical piece of their puzzle.