Spring Previews: Westbrook

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Expect Anjelica Johns to be a major contributor to Westbrook’s successes this spring.

Baseball
Coach: Greg Souza
Last year’s record: 6-10, narrowly missed postseason
Key players lost: Dylan Francoeur, Derek Higgins
Key players returning: Justin Coppeta, Brandt Herbert, Kyle Champagne, Liam Cooledge, Lucas Knapton, Braydon Demers
Key newcomers: Matt Eugley, Max Dobkowski, Colby Haynes, Caden Dow

Outlook: “We’ll be a very young team,” Souza says, “with five-seven freshmen and sophomores in starting roles or getting a lot of playing time.” Coppeta, a four-year starter and a Captain who’s recently signed on to play at Assumption College beginning next spring, will lead the team alongside Champagne, who garnered SMAA First Team honors as an outfielder in 2017. “There will be some growing pains along the way,” Souza says, “as the younger players adapt to the speed of the game, but I feel we will improve over the course of the season and get into the playoffs.”

Boys Lacrosse
Coach: Pete Lyons
Last year’s record: 1-11
Key players lost: Anthony Morrison, Brandon Labbe, David Redmond
Key players returning: Grayson Post (A), Ryan Shackley (A), Jared Grant (M), Josh Cavallaro (M), Isaac Noyes (D), Jay Marean (D), Hayden Phelps (D)
Key newcomers: Nathan England, Gabe Martin, Shane Lowell
Key matchups: April 25 vs. Portland, May 30 @ Portland

Outlook: “We return our starting attack, including Grayson, who had 36 goals in 2017,” Lyons says. “Our offensive prowess, faceoff strength — led by Jared Grant — and our experience at close D should offset our lack of depth in the midfield and inexperience in goal. We look to return to the playoffs this year.”

Lyons looks forward to the Blazes’ matchups with Portland as they bookend the season, and will give Westbrook a good opportunity to gauge the progress they make across the course of their schedule.

Girls Lacrosse
Coaches: Kevin Roy (head, third year); Rachelle Messuri (assistant, second year)
Last year’s record: 1-11
Key players returning: Aviana Bouphavanh, Sydney Cole, Emily Figucia
Key matchups: Deering, Noble

Outlook: “We’re loaded up on youth again this year,” Roy says, “with some good leadership in the upperclassmen. Combine that with new opponents, not faced before due to the alignment of the classes, and you have the makings of an exciting season.” 

Boys Outdoor Track
Coaches: Claton Conrad (head), Nate Green (assistant)
Last year’s results: Fourth at SMAAs, fourth at Class A States
Key athletes lost: Josh Lombardo (distance), Shammah Gahomera (hurdles/sprints)
Key athletes returning: Dominic Creenan (sr.), Mahamed Sharif (so.), Devin Cyr (so.)
Key newcomers: Devin Ezzy (sr.), Sabri Lomomi (fr.), Matt Weymouth (fr.), Jacob Thornton (fr.)
Key matchups: “Some of the larger teams in the Conference,” Conrad says.

Outlook: “The goal,” Conrad says, “is to have another top-five finish in outdoor. Also, to move the team even further with so many new athletes. It should be an interesting season.” Conrad looks forward to pitting his boys against the SMAA’s larger outfits precisely because Westbrook features so many new athletes, and thus the squad is itself larger than in recent years.

Softball
Coach: Eddie St. John
Last year’s record: 4-12
Key players lost: Lizzi Richardson (1B), Julia Symbol (3B)
Key players returning: Camryn LaPierre, Emily Talbot, Kiana Fuller, Anjelica Johns
Key newcomers: Libby Cole, Desiree Hodgkins
Key matchups: April 19 vs. Biddeford, April 21 @ Windham, April 23 vs. Cheverus, April 25 @ Bonny Eagle, April 27 vs. MGA,  April 30 @ Deering

Outlook: The Lady Blazes lost five seniors to graduation in June. Happily, though, they return seven starters this spring. Of those, LaPierre (who recently committed to St. Joe’s) earned SMAA Honorable Mention last year. Talbot (who’ll play for SMCC beginning in 2019) has been a starter her entire high school career. Those two “will play a huge role and set the team’s pace for the 2018 season,” as St. John says.

Meanwhile, Anjelica Johns, a sophomore pitcher, earned SMAA First Team laurels as a utility player last season and can be counted on again this time around to bring skill to the field. The team needs, in particular, to fill the void at the corners — at first and third — where Richardson and Symbol formerly played; that job will likely fall to Cole and Hodgkins, though Fuller may move from second to one of those positions.

“One of the team’s goals is just to get off to a good start,” St. John says —  which is precisely why he picked the six key matchups he picked: They are Westbrook’s first six, and he’s hoping to see his girls build momentum early. “We can’t afford to give teams four and five outs per inning. We are working very hard every day to tighten up the D. If we can do that and get some timely hitting throughout the year, we will compete with this very tough conference.”

Boys Tennis
Coaches: Samuel Johnson (head, third year); Ian Karby (assistant, first year)
Last year’s record: 6-7, fell to Gorham in tournament prelims
Key players returning: Garett Sanders, Dylan Ho, Landon Sjoberg, Cam Morrison, Ian Douglass, Austin Pierce
Key newcomers: Jackson Thayer
Key matchups: Portland, Deering, Cheverus, Windham, Gorham

Outlook: “Our goal is to put ourselves in position to make a deep playoff run,” Johnson says. “These seniors have been working so hard for this and they are excited about the opportunity. We feel really good about our depth; we’ve got about 14 guys who are varsity tennis players. We’ll have an opportunity to play a couple exhibition matches (TA & Scarborough) before the regular season starts. Our team motto for the year is ‘Ubuntu’ — a term borrowed from the 2008 Celtics. The word means ‘I am because we are.’”

Girls outdoor track coach Angela Lally and girls tennis coach Mike Makin couldn’t be reached.

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

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