Coach: Greg Souza
Last year’s record: 1-15
Key players lost: Justin Coppetta
Key players returning: Kyle Champagne, Liam Coolidge, Lucas Knapton
Key matchups: Portland, South Portland
Outlook: The Gentlemen Blazes ought to improve drastically in 2019, given that last year they regularly started three freshmen and three sophomores. Kyle Champagne (this year’s only senior) and Caden Dow and Matt Eugley (both sophomores) will lead the pitching staff. “We’ll be expecting to continue to develop as a young team and make the playoffs and hopefully do some damage,” Souza says.
Coach: Pete Lyons
Last year’s record: 4-8, missed postseason
Key players lost: Grayson Post, Ryan Shackley
Key players returning: Christian Childs (sr., A/G); Josh Cavallaro (sr., M); Sean White (sr., LSM); Josiah Dedrick (sr., M); Shane Lowell (so., M); Gabe Martion (so., M); Cooper Mullett (sr., D)
Key newcomers: Brayden Demers (jr., M); Tristan Rost (fr., LSM/D)
Key matchups: Portland
Outlook: Saying goodbye to Post and Shackley hurt the Blazes; the duo combined for 82 goals in 2018. Still, the team hopes for balanced scoring from a longer list of contributors this year; they hope as well for strong play from their middie and defensive contingents. They’ll need all three to get back to the playoffs – especially since goalkeeping remains a hurdle for the team, which hasn’t had a regular, seasoned man in the cage for a couple of years now. Lyons likes Portland as a metric; the Blazes meet the Bulldogs twice, once at the outset of the season and once at the close, meaning those matchups will help Westbrook discover how far it’s come.
Coaches: Kevin Roy (head), Rachelle Messuri (asst.)
Last year’s record: 2-10
Key players returning: Michaela Russell, Alexis Witham, Rylee Troiano
Key matchups: Noble, Deering, Wells
Outlook: “I’m looking forward to trying out new offensive and defensive schemes that more positively impact our play on the field,” Roy says.
Coach: Eddie St. John (fourth year)
Last year’s record: 4-12
Key players lost: Camryn LaPierre (four-year starting SS, now playing for St. Joe’s)+
Key players returning: Kimmie Goddard (sr., LF, Captain); Emily Greely (sr., P); Ally LaPierre (jr., CF); Anjelica Johns (jr., SS)
Key newcomers: Aria Brunner (so., 2B/OF); Brianna Jenson (fr., P)
Key matchups: Windham, Marshwood, Gorham
Outlook: Despite Westbrook’s sub-.500 record in 2018, they “made all their opponents play them hard,” as St. John says. This year’s outfit returns eight starters – viz., Goddard, Greely, LaPierre, Jons, Libby Cole, Kiana Fuller, Ally Petry and Desiree Hodgkins – all of whom will figure prominently in improving on last year’s 4-12. Westbrook has high expectations and high hopes: “They feel they have what it takes to be a contender in the SMAA,” St. John says; moreover, the team is upbeat, despite the unknowns they face: “The Lady Blue Blazes look to have some good attitudes and great work ethic. If they get some good pitching and timely hitting they could be a team to watch.” Jons is perhaps the team’s most versatile weapon; she earned (for the second year in a row) First-Team All-Conference honors last spring as a utility player. “We’re all trying to work together as one team,” Goddard says; “we’re practicing really hard, our attitudes are positive and coach SJ has made it a real fun atmosphere.”
Coaches: Samuel Johnson (head, fourth year); Garett Sanders (assistant)
Last year’s record: 9-3, lost to TA in playoff quarterfinals
Key players returning: Jack Shibles (sr.), Nathan Tshibemba (sr.), Omar Abduljaleel (sr.), Sang Huynh (jr.), Jackson Thayer (so.)
Key matchups: Biddeford, Marshwood, Deering, Gorham, Bonny Eagle, Cheverus
Outlook: Westbrook retired six seniors last year – a major blow to the team. Still, Johnson is confident in this year’s contingent: “We have a solid core that will fill that void,” he says. “We have about 10 guys competing for four spots, which is a good problem to have.” The Gentlemen Blazes have made great strides as a program in the past few years, and in 2018 finished as the No. 4 seed. “We’ll look to carry that momentum into this season,” Johnson says. “Our team motto is ‘ubuntu.’ The word means ‘I am because we are.’ Our goal is to be playing tennis on June 8, and we’ll be working tirelessly until we reach that goal. Go Blue Blazes!”
Coach: Mike Makin
Last year’s record: 8-5, fell to Windham in playoff prelims
Key players returning: Phoebe Adame, Alex Thayer, Sadie Cross, Kaitryn Pitt
Outlook: “We’re rebuilding after last year’s unexpected success,” Makin says. “We have only two of seven starter’s back from last year’s team.” Whatever happens record-wise for the Lady Blazes this year, they’re hopeful and confident about winning their fifth consecutive MPA Sportsmanship Award. “This is impressive because tennis is a sport governed by ‘The Code’ and sportsmanship is essential. Kids call their own lines with no referees, so the integrity of the sport depends upon it.”
Boys track coach Claton Conrad and girls track coach Angie Lally couldn’t be reached.
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Westbrook’s Angelica Johns will play a central roll in the team’s efforts this spring.
Andrew Hatch competes in a game at Portland last year.