Spring Reviews: Bonny Eagle

Blake Morin takes a cut at the ball in a midseason matchup with Westbrook.

STANDISH – With championship season and awards season both behind us, now’s the time to recap the Scots’ spring seasons. The boys and girls track teams were perhaps the biggest newsmakers in 2017, as both outfits managed to bring home individual and relay state titles. But other programs showed progress as well, as coaches were happy to note.

Ricky Hession’s boys snuck into the 12th (and last) playoffs slot after posting a 5-11 regular season record. The team began their spring with a 4-3 triumph over Sanford (11th in A South, 5-12), and added Ws vs. Biddeford (seventh, 7-10), Marshwood (15th, 3-13), South Portland (fifth, 13-5) and Westbrook (13th, 6-10).

That victory against South Portland proved particularly critical, giving the Scots the Heal Points they needed to reach the tournament. In the very first round of the bracketing, however, Bonny Eagle met the Riots once more – and the Riots got their revenge. The Scots logged an admirable effort that afternoon, but fell 4-3 in the end.

Boys Lacrosse
Andrew Slefinger’s boys posted the same regular-season record in 2017 they did in 2016: 3-9. The Scots kicked off their schedule with a 14-5 victory over Noble (10th in A South, 1-11); they then fell to 1-1 against Gorham (fourth in A South, 10-4) before picking up win No. 2 vs. Lake Region (ninth in B South, 1-11). From there, Bonny Eagle struggled – though they did pick up one more W, an 8-7 nailbiter over Portland (10th in A North, 2-10). 

“Our climatic moment of the season was versus the Bulldogs,” said Slefinger. “Last season we pulled out a back-and-forth, 5-4 victory, the first against Portland for our program. This season, they gave us another great game, resulting in a thrilling overtime win for us. 20 seconds into OT, they took a penalty; I called the timeout and drew up a play knowing Spencer Shields wanted to be the hero. After a quick give-and-go with Tyler Williams, Spencer buried it.”

Shields, an attacker, provided the majority of the team’s offensive power this spring, leading the squad with 29 goals and 23 assists. Tanner McClure, also an attacker, added 19 goals and 30 assists – 24 of them to Shields. 

Both Shields and McClure were seniors this year. “Replacing those two won’t be easy,” Slefinger said. “Tyler (11 goals, seven assists) will be relied upon to bring his game to the next level.”

Luckily, Williams won’t be the only talent left on the Scots’ roster next year. Large contingents of underclassmen are starting to show interest in the program, a turn of events that’s already bearing fruit for Slefinger & Co.

“19 freshmen were at tryouts this year, making this the largest class Bonny Eagle Boys Lacrosse has ever had,” Slefinger said. “Four of those freshmen – Anthony Breton, Alex Dyer, Nate Ferris and Jonathan Merrill – found their way onto the varsity squad, giving a boost of young talent to the lineup. Another large class of 23 will be coming through the program next year, providing competition for all of the boys to make the varsity roster.

Slefinger took a moment to remark on Dyer in particular. “It took Alex a few games to get his confidence up,” Slefinger said, “but the back half of the season was where he became a thrill to watch. He brings great skill, vision and IQ to our team. Opposing teams will start having to put their best defensive midfielder on coverage; otherwise, Alex has the green light every time for the dodge. Finishing his first year with 16 goals and nine assists, he will be a player relied upon to elevate his game.”

“Record aside, I feel our program has made incredible gains,” Slefinger said. “I’m excited for the direction we’re heading. Hearing that handfuls of boys in this district are starting to pick up a stick in fourth and fifth grade – as opposed to entering high school and buying gear for the first time – is very promising. Surrounding programs have found success in their high school seasons when their feeder systems are full of youth players. I am confident that we will get to that level.”

11 seniors leave the team behind. 10 are headed straight to college (though none are slated to hit the lacrosse field there), while McClure intends to make his way to college after logging some time playing junior hockey (McClure is an outstanding hockey player).

Girls Lacrosse
Judy Martin’s girls finished middle-of-the-pack this spring, battling their way to 6-6 in the regular season and picking up Ws over the likes of South Portland (seventh in A South, 5-8), Edward Little (sixth in A North, 6-7) and others. The Lady Scots’ record earned them the tournament six-seed; alas, in the first round they faced No. 3 Thornton – and bounced, 7-9. That result, however, represented a significant improvement: They fell to TA 16-5 on May 8. 

Six seniors depart the team this year: Natalie Bushey, Cat Biegel, Sam Morash, Alex Farley Kaitlyn Michaud and Julia Madsen.

Jan Corliss’s girls went 5-11, finishing just outside the playoffs in 13th place. The Lady Scots earned wins against Westbrook (14th, 4-12), Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth (12th, 7-10), Sanford (15th, 2-14), Cheverus/North Yarmouth (17th, 0-16) and Deering (16th, 1-15). 

“Our biggest goal this season was to learn and execute fundamentals at all three levels,” Corliss said, “and begin to rebuild a program that had been a top performer in the SMAA.”

Corliss knew, heading into the season, that 2017 would likely be a rebuilding year for the program. She herself was returning to the helm after departing in 2010; during her seven-year absence, a revolving door of four other head coaches had held down the proverbial fort – but, obviously, without providing the stability a team needs to achieve long-term success.

“Because of a lack of consistency in staff at the varsity level,” Corliss said, “we knew that there was a challenging road ahead. So, our focus was to be better the second half of the season than we were the first. We accomplished that goal…[with] a 1-7 record the first half and a 4-4 – which could have easily been 6-2 – record the second half.”

Bonny Eagle’s big turning point came vs. TA. “[They] were ranked first at the time,” Corliss said. “A two-run, over-the-fence homer by sophomore Makala Greene put us ahead in the third inning – a lead we held until the top of the seventh with two outs, when they scored three runs and ultimately beat us by one. That was a huge – tournament-point-rich – game which held everyone, fans and players, in a frenzy from the first to the last pitch. That was the best game we played all season. Makala was a pleasant surprise as she earned the team’s Slugger Award, recognizing the highest batting average of the year with a .350, in addition to having made some incredible catches as she led the league in number of putouts.”

Corliss’s three captains – seniors Nell Spencer and Blake Morin, and Junior Sarah Champagne – led the young team, keeping them focused throughout the season. But a couple up-and-comers made their presence felt as well. “Two more leaders emerged through the year,” Corliss said, “sophomores Sydney Gillingham and Mackenzie Emery. [They] definitely impacted the attitudes and improvement of the rest of the players.”

In addition to Spencer and Morin, Maddie Corbett, Lauryn Fagan and Tara Phelan were also seniors. Fagan will be playing at Southern Maine Community College next year.

Boys Tennis
Hossein Miremadi’s boys finished 4-8 on the year, just missing the postseason. The Scots went 0-6 before grabbing back-to-back wins over Massabesic (who finished in 13th at 2-10) and South Portland (12th, 3-9). They notched another pair of Ws as the season wound down, topping Marshwood (15th, 1-11) and then Sanford (16th, 0-12).

Girls Tennis
John Pelletier’s girls battled to 6-6 and ninth in A South in the regular season. The Lady Scots picked up wins over all the teams they should have, including South Portland and Biddeford, who finished in 10th (5-8) and 11th (4-9) respectively. Bonny Eagle bounced in the first round of the postseason, however, where they faced off with eighth-ranked Windham (8-6).

“The team made great progress this season,” Pelletier said. “The girls represented Bonny Eagle well and became true competitors in the sport of tennis. They learned how to play the game properly and were respectful opponents.”

Pelletier highlighted his girl at first singles, Katie Bearor, and his girl at third singles, Nicole Sfier, as his real standouts on the season.

Six of Pelletier’s top seven players graduated this year – for his part, though, Pelletier is “looking forward to a rebuild next year.”

Boys Outdoor Track & Field
Mike Burleson’s boys turned in an exceptional season, finishing sixth at States, propelled by a long list of strong performances, including first place finishes for Ben Steeves in the 800 and Michael O’Clair in the 300 Hurdles, a second place finish for Caleb Pendleton in the 1600 and a third place finish for the 4×800 quartet (comprising Steeves, Trevor Neal, Jordan Fournier and Aiden Willey).

Girls Outdoor Track & Field
Sam Pomroy’s girls logged a great spring, taking eighth at States. Ami Beaumier won the 3200 outright, and finished third in the 1600, while Kayla Raymond finished third in the 800. Meanwhile, the 4×800 outfit (Beaumier, Steeves, Emma Abbott and Christine Toy) also won.

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

Blake Morin takes a cut at the ball in a midseason matchup with Westbrook.

Zack Klein saw good field time for the Scots this spring.