BELFAST, Maine — The Orono girls cross country team entered last year’s regional championship meet as one of the top contenders in Eastern Maine Class C.
But after edging Washburn for both the regional and state championships a year ago and then finishing second among 58 scoring schools at the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions earlier this month, the expectations may be even greater as the Red Riots approach Saturday’s Eastern Maine championships at the Troy Howard Middle School.
“I thought coming into the season there wasn’t really going to be a chance that we was going to be as good as last year, and I did not think it was possible for us to be even better, but we just have gotten so much better,” said Orono senior Lily Koffman. “But it’s a little bit of pressure to know that we won states last year and that people are looking at us again, and we’re a target for a lot of teams to beat.”
The Class C boys kick off the six-race Eastern Maine meet at 11 a.m., followed by the Class C girls at 11:35 a.m., the Class A boys at 12:10 p.m., Class A girls at 12:45 p.m., Class B boys at 1:20 p.m. and the Class B girls at 1:55 p.m.
The top 50 percent of the scoring teams in each race will qualify for the state meet, slated for Nov. 1 at Belfast, as will the top 30 individual runners in each race.
The Orono girls, second to Washburn at the 2012 state meet, edged the Beavers by six points at last year’s Eastern Maine meet and by two points a week later to capture the team’s first state championship since 1976.
“We knew we were capable last year, but at no point did I think it was in the bag,” said Orono sophomore Kassidy Dill. “After we won Eastern Maines, I thought we weren’t going to be able to beat Washburn two weeks in a row. I was so nervous.”
This year’s team returned four varsity runners in Koffman, Dill, sophomore Hannah Steelman and junior Olivia Fandel, and they have worked throughout the season to bring along seniors Annika Gallandt and Anna Ellis and freshman Liza Gallandt as newcomers to the varsity lineup.
“A lot of our strategy is pack running, and we knew in order to get all seven running at a high level, we’d have to run a lot of our races together, which means some people have to run a lot faster than they’re comfortable with and some people would have to run slower than they’re comfortable with,” said Koffman. “The end result is getting everyone to run as fast as they possibly can.”
Evidence of the success of that approach came at the Festival of Champions, where the Red Riots emerged from a deep field of teams from Maine and beyond second only to Class B Cape Elizabeth.
“It just gave us even more confidence and really proved to us that we’re a good team, and we work well together,” said Steelman, who finished second individually among the 693 girls who completed in the Festival of Champions race, also held in Belfast.
Orono, which last weekend won its sixth consecutive Penobscot Valley Conference small-school title, is expected to be challenged at its regional by PVC runner-up George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, while top teams from Aroostook County and the Downeast Athletic Conference also will join the field.
“There’s nothing guaranteed,” said Orono coach Lin White. “We just try to make the best of the opportunity we have.”
Class C boys: Defending Eastern Maine champion Orono is back despite having only junior Tristan Butterfield returning from among its top eight in 2013. The Red Riots have been aided by an influx of talented younger runners including sophomores Stephen Nelson, William O’Neil, Lowell Ruck and Matthew Williamson and freshmen Matt Keresey and Jonathan Spencer. Senior Matt Toussaint of Fort Kent is back to defend his individual title, though he could be challenged by Butterfield and PVC champion John Hassett of George Stevens Academy…
ORONO, Maine — It had many of the trappings of a varsity football game.
Lineups were announced, cheerleaders were on hand to support the home team, a concession booth awaited those seeking sustenance to fuel their fandom and the stadium lights brightly magnified the scene amid the cool autumn conditions.
But for nearly 40 players like Houlton High School freshman Dan McNally, Monday night’s gathering at Orono High School offered something even more cherished — the chance for some meaningful playing time.
With many small-school football programs in Eastern Maine struggling to field enough players to support subvarsity teams, younger high school players from four LTC Class D schools — Houlton, Orono, Stearns of Millinocket and Washington Academy of East Machias — met for what was billed as a “JV Jamboree.”
Players from Orono and WA with similar school uniform colors made up one team while players from Houlton and Stearns comprised the opposition.
“Kids from Millinocket and Houlton and Washington Academy and Orono, they’re all the same type of kids,” said Orono athletic administrator Mike Archer, who developed the concept and organized the game with help from Red Riots’ football coach Bob Sinclair.
“They all have the same kinds of interests, the same likes and dislikes, they all want the same things out of football and they all have the same goals. They just wear different colors and go to different schools and are from different towns. That’s one of the great things about athletics, that they can bring those kids together.”
The two squads battled through four, 10-minute quarters in a controlled scrimmage setting during the jamboree. And by the time the “Houltonocket Shiremen” secured a 14-8 victory over the ”Orono Academy Red Raiders,” the players seemed appreciative of the opportunity to be cast as the focal points of their respective programs for at least one evening.
“I feel like the JV boys needed some more practice because we’ve only had two or three games,” said McNally. “We came out strong tonight. I thought we were going to be nervous because we were coming out with Stearns and that was new for us, but we really got along well, especially for it being the first meeting each other.”
That team chemistry was so good that players matched together for the first time grew more conversational with each other as the game continued. The winners went on to share a modest postgame huddle to celebrate their unified pride for representing the state’s two northernmost high school football schools.
“We were the North team, and it was pretty good,” said McNally. “We all shook hands, met each other, got each other’s names. I’m sure we’ll see each other on Twitter and Facebook later on.”
Football’s new normal
A glimpse at the latest student enrollment statistics for Maine Principals’ Association-member public high schools merely confirms the continuation of a fairly enduring trend — that the school-age population is decreasing steadily around the state.
The reasons are myriad but largely reflect the state’s aging population and decrease in family size in the face of increasing economic challenges.
Many football-playing schools face additional challenges to filling out their rosters, such as the gradual expansion of school athletic programs to offer provide students more numerous competitive options each fall, and heightened awareness about concussions that may lead some parents to guide youngsters toward a different sport at an earlier age.
“It’s about numbers,” said Sinclair. “You’ve got several schools in Class D who are below 30 and sometimes in the mid-20s for players, and then you take an injury or something else and it’s difficult for the younger kids to get quality minutes unless you’re winning a lot or you’re getting beat a lot.”
Approximately half of the LTC’s 11 schools have enough football players in grades nine through 12 to field a subvarsity team on a regular basis, and sometimes those games are subject to cancellation based on circumstances at the varsity level for while the reserves often don’t see varsity action, they represent the primary and source of that team’s current depth and future hopes.
“We have five schools in the LTC right now that could play a JV game every week,” said Archer, “and after that it comes down to how you come out of your varsity game, depending on sickness and academics and all those kinds of things.”
Often that varsity depth consists of freshmen and sophomores who in many cases may not be physically ready to take on juniors and seniors on more than an occasional basis.
“Our JV team is really our freshman team,” said Brian Reynolds, head coach of the first-year Houlton varsity football program. “We only have one junior and two sophomores who play at that [JV] level, so for those guys to be able to come here and be involved in a competition like this is great for them because I think they feel comfortable playing at this level.”
The younger players’ opportunity to gain quality game time not only is influenced by physical concerns but also by competitive issues. If the varsity squads are locked in a close contest, coaches are less likely to clear their benches.
“In our situation this year we’ve been competitive in every game so it’s been very difficult for us to get some of those younger kids quality playing time,” said Sinclair. “I think it’s the same way for the other teams here, too.”
That leaves younger, less experienced players from schools with no or limited subvarsity schedules with few options to satisfy their competitive urges.
“It’s hard for those kids to just stand around,” said Reynolds. “It’s hard to go through all of preseason and then practice four or five times a week and then you don’t get to play.”
Such a scenario only increases the concern in the football community that younger student-athletes who don’t get enough chances to test their football skills in a competitive setting may turn to another sport, further exacerbating the issue of shrinking participation levels.
“You don’t want kids to go someplace else, you just want to give them the best possible football experience you can,” said Sinclair. “If you don’t have enough for a full subvarsity team you’ve got to do something.
“It’s no fun to go to practice week after week and never get a chance to play. When that happens and you don’t even get a chance to try out the skills you’re being taught in practice, you think, ‘What am I doing?’”
College roundup: Crocker (OHS ’11) goal in 2OT lifts UMF women’s soccer team by USM-Bangor Daily News
Last modified Oct. 21, 2014, at 9:34 p.m.
FARMINGTON, Maine – Alexandra Crocker headed in a goal in double overtime to lift the University of Maine-Farmington Beavers to a 4-3 women’s soccer victory over the University of Southern Maine Huskies Tuesday.
The win was just the second ever for UMF against USM in women’s soccer as USM leads the series 17-2-3.
Bridget Humphrey’s shot was saved by USM goalkeeper Marissa Temple, but Crocker headed in the rebound for the win.
Crocker headed in the game’s first goal off a Humphrey pass in the 11th minute and Humphrey added an unassisted goal 10 minutes later.
Kelly Burrell responded for USM with two straight goals, the second on a Becca Tounous assist.
Avalon Amador gave UMF a 3-2 lead off a Katie Clark assist at the 56th minute, but CC Pelletier equalized for USM at the 68th minute.
Sam Hatch made four saves for UMF and Temple made 14 for USM.
Central 2 at Orono 7
At Orono, Maxime Neitshke and Kam Stockley scored two goals apiece to propel the Red Riots to the win over Central.
Nathan DeSisto, Fredric Linden and Anthony Bottie added one goal each.
For Central, Joe Nawojezyk and Caleb Show each scored one goal.
Orono goalie Alik Espling made five saves on seven shots. Central’s Quanah Harrod made seven saves on 15 shots.
Orono 2 at Central 1
At Corinth, Brinsley Chasse scored the game winning goal on a penalty kick to lift Orono over Central for the win.
Sydney Allen opened the scoring in the first half to give Central a 1-0 halftime lead. Emma Campbell had the assist.
Chasse’s first goal tied the game with 26:18 left in the 2nd half. Her winning goal came at the 7:03 mark.
Central’s goalie Aly Crocker made nine saves on 19 shots. Orono’s Kaitlyn Richard had two saves on six shots.
Class of 2015 and 2016 students who learned 6th grade science with Mr. Glueck may wonder what he’s doing now. The planes and blimp hanging from the library ceiling were indications of his fascination with flight but now his interests are more down to earth.
WABI-TV featured his involvement in a new project with a steam locomotive which will be restored and become a part of the Downeast Scenic Railroad. As the president of New England Steam Corporation, Richard Glueck continues to educate us. The two-minute video will take you back to his classroom, I promise.
“She’s one of those runners who had a horrible sophomore year, barely made varsity and mentally and physically was just stuck in a spot,” said MDI coach Desiree Sirois.
But now Driscoll is a senior, and seemingly poised for a strong finish to her high school career in the sport after outlasting talented Orono sophomore Hannah Steelman to win the Penobscot Valley Conference girls’ individual championship Saturday at Bucksport High School.
Driscoll was timed in 19 minutes, 54.51 seconds over a course many competitors felt was slightly longer than the listed 3.1 miles.
That was 4.24 seconds ahead of Steelman, who earlier this month finished second overall among 693 schoolgirl finishers at the prestigious Festival of Champions in Belfast.
“Today (Driscoll) said she was feeling pretty bad, and a lot of times in cases like that athletes have a choice in any sport. They can say, ‘Oh, this is a rough patch that defines me,’ or ‘Oh, this is a rough patch that can make me feel better,’ and she chose (the latter) and I think that’s very honorable.”
Driscoll led five MDI runners who placed among the top 12 finishers overall as the Trojan girls joined the Caribou boys as winners of the conference’s large-school championships.
Orono swept the small-school titles — with the Red Riots’ girls squad winning for the sixth consecutive year while the boys team made it three in a row — and sophomore John Hassett of George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill won the boys’ individual title.
The MDI girls finished with 19 points in the separately scored large-school meet, as Waylon Henggeler (fifth), Lydia Dacorte (seventh), Sakura Sunagawa (10th) and Emma Strong (12th) helped Driscoll pace the Trojans to their fourth straight PVC large-school crown.
MDI was followed by Caribou (51), Ellsworth (96), John Bapst of Bangor (101) and Presque Isle (138) as the top five teams among the eight participating large schools
Steelman led five Orono girls among the top 13 finishers overall, with Kassidy Dill (sixth), Lily Koffman (eighth), Liza Gallandt (11th) and Olivia Fandel (13th) adding to the depth of the reigning Class C state champions.
The Red Riots finished with 21 points, followed by George Stevens (43), Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (76) and Lee Academy 95.
“We knew the competition was going to be really tough and we just wanted to come and run the best race we could, run a team race,” said Koffman, a senior. “We’re preparing for the two weeks to come (regionals and states), but every race we see as an opportunity to keep getting ready and coach (Lin) White tells us how we’re going to use each race to our advantage,”
The only non-MDI or Orono finishers among the top 10 were Tia Tardy of Mattanawcook (fourth), Haley Lawrence of Ellsworth (fifth) and Eliza Broughton of GSA (ninth).
Caribou used a strong pack-running approach to win the boys large-school crown, with the top six Vikings all finishing within 21.65 seconds of each other between eighth and 17th places overall.
Chathu Karunasiri led the Caribou contingent in eighth, followed by Elijah Verhoff (ninth) and Mitchell St. Peter, Caleb Hunter and Daniel Randolph in the Nos. 13-15 places — and teammate Lukas Lagasse was less than two seconds behind Randolph.
“We all ran as a pack. We stayed together, fed off each other and gave each other the encouragement we needed,” said St. Peter. “It wasn’t exactly a pack; it was like a straight line but we could all see each other.”
Coach Roy Alden’s club finished with 39 points, nine better than runner-up MDI in the boys large-school ranks. Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft was third with 107 points, with Old Town (118) and John Bapst (132) completing the top five.
Orono scored 26 points to edge GSA (32) for the small-school title, with Lee (77) and Central of Corinth (91) next.
Orono was paced by the 3-4 finishes of Tristan Butterfield and Matt Keresey, while Hassett took control a half-mile into the boys race to win in 17:15.07.
“I knew I just wanted to get ahead of everyone, just go out hard and then hopefully I wouldn’t see anyone,” said Hassett, whose teammate Devlin Valle turned in a seventh-place finish.
Hermon senior Josh Zapsky finished second in the boys race in 18:01.06. Others among the top 10 were fifth-place Ralph Mangani of MDI, Jason Bartley of Presque Isle (sixth) and Cooper Nelson of Foxcroft (10th).
Orono 18 at MCI 46
At Pittsfield on Friday night, Alex Bertrand, Eli Bussell, and Willie Moss all rushed for over 100 yards en route to the Huskies improving to 7-0.
Bertrand had three rushing touchdowns, Bussell had two, and Greg Vigue rushed for one and passed for one to Austin Tolman.
For the Red Riots, Keenan Collett had a rushing touchdown to open the scoring in the game followed by a Jackson Coutts to Connor McCluskey pass to put the Riots up 12-0. Coutts added a touchdown pass to Collett in the second half to round out the scoring for Orono, now 4-3.
Orono 1 at Houlton 1
On Senior Day in Houlton, the No. 1-ranked Shiretowners and the No. 2 Orono Red Riots battled to a hard fought 1-1 tie.
After a scoreless first half in which Orono outshot Houlton 12-6, the Red Riots’ Becky Lopez-Anido scored what appeared to be the winning goal off a Diana Tyutyunnyk through ball up the middle with only 3:43 left in the game. But Houlton senior, Emily Mooers scored the equalizing goal on a Claire Gilpatrick assist with just 1:07 remaining in regulation.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in overtime.
Houlton goalkeeper Katie Condon stopped 14 of 20 Orono shots. Kaitlin Richards made 11 saves on 13 Houlton shots.
Houlton wraps up the regular season at 12-0-2. Orono moves to 10-1-2.
Orono 1 at Houlton 0
At Houlton, Kam Stockley’s goal at 6:55 of the first half gave the Red Riots the winning edge.
Goalkeeper Alik Espling made 3 saves on 4 shots for Orono (11-2) and A.J. Henderson made 13 saves on 20 shots for Houlton (3-8-2).
Bucksport – PVC Championship Meet
GIRLS, Small School
1 Orono High School 21 1 3 4 6 7 16 20
Total Time: 1:45:22.75
BOYS, Small School
1 Orono High School 26 2 3 6 7 8 9 21
Total Time: 1:34:36.01