School is back and so too are the fall athletes for Windham High School sports teams. Here is the fall sports preview for WHS.
Starting with the defending State Champion Girls soccer program, coach Deb Lebel is back for her fourth season.
First game: The Lady Eagles will kick off the season Sept. 9, home against Catherine McAuley.
Season outlook: "We hope to be very competitive again this season, as we are returning 12 varsity players. Our toughest opponents will be Scarborough, Gorham, Thornton Academy and Marshwood," said Lebel.
Key players: Senior leaders this year will be: Alana Dube, Hannah Haskell, Melissa Norton, Elizabeth Mycock, Jordan Sargent, Jenna Soucy, Cassie Symonds and Shannon Valente.
Last year: 17-1-0, Class A State Champions.
Switching to the volleyball courts, Windham welcomes first-year coach Chris Cloutier. Cloutier, who is President of the Maine State Volleyball Association, has coached for 4 years, and has played for 20, so he brings a wealth of experience to the program.
First game: The Eagles get started Sept. 9 home against Greely.
Season outlook: "I'm really excited with all the youth on this team, with only five seniors we are looking to build a foundation for the future. My goal is to set up a base of fundamentals and knowledge of the game to be successful in the coming years," said Cloutier. Falmouth and Biddeford will be tough teams on the schedule for Windham.
Key players: Senior captains Bailey Card, Crystal Frappier and Brianne Fullarton will provide the much needed leadership younger players will look to. Melanie Aldrich, junior, and Jamie Jannarone, sophomore, are heading a talented group behind these seniors.
Last year: 5-10.
On to the gridiron, coach Matt Perkins is back for his 13th season at Windham.
First game: The Eagles open the schedule Sept. 5 at Deering.
Season outlook: "We have a challenging schedule this year, with some key games against some good opponents," said Perkins. Some of those key games for Windham will be: The opener against Deering, the week four matchup versus Cheverus, week five they travel to face a tough Bangor team, homecoming will be against Portland, and in week eight the Eagles will square off against defending champion Bonny Eagle. "We're excited, we have a very talented group that are very coachable and work hard," added Perkins.
Key players: Windham will be led by their five captains, all seniors, Zach Davis, Matt Roy, Tanner Laberge, Hunter Bowen and Derek Howard.
Last year: 5-5, lost in second round of the playoffs.
In field hockey, coach Melissa Dubois has found her way back to Windham. She's coached the sport for 15 years, four of which were previously at WHS, from '99 to '03. When last year's coach Christina Dillon resigned, Dubois jumped at the chance to come back, and plans to be here for “a much longer time," she said.
First game: The Lady Eagles open up Sept. 4, at home against powerhouse Bonny Eagle.
Season outlook: "We are looking forward to playing everyone on the schedule, this is the toughest conference in the state," added Dubois.
Key players: Windham is deep in leadership this season, those that will be counted on are: Seniors Matti Marcello, Erin Malloy, Madison Millette-Gagnon, Alex Lewis, Maura Gallagher and Olivia Gilvey, along with junior Katie Hunter.
Last year: 5-9, 12th in the conference.
Heading out to the golf course, coach Adam Manzo comes back for his seventh year overall, with the last six as head coach.
First match: The Eagles get going on Sept. 2, at Point Sebago, against a tough Greely team.
Season outlook: Windham returns 10 players from last year's team, six of whom were participants in matches. "We play in arguably the most difficult division, against teams such as Gorham, Greely, Thornton Academy - who are some of the best in the state. Building on a solid campaign last year, we should be highly competitive in all our matches," said Manzo. "Our goal is to qualify for Team States, as well as send at least two to the individual state championship," he added.
Key players: The team will be led by senior captain Eli Williams. He will be ably backed by a strong junior class, led by Alex Spiller.
Last year: 4-6, fourth in the division.
Heading back to the soccer pitch, coach Wally Leblanc is back for his 22nd season overall, second at Windham with the boys.
First game: The Eagles kick off the season Sept. 9 at home against Sanford.
Season outlook: "This year we are very young with only eight returning varsity players, four of which were starters a year ago. We will rely on senior leadership, while looking to grow as the season moves along, and hope to gain a spot in post-season play. We respect all of our opponents and see each game as an opportunity to challenge ourselves and grow as a team," said LeBlanc.
Key players: Windham will look to Jeff Pollard and Robert Inis to hold down the defensive end, while Josh Dugas, Ian Donnelly, Austin Farwell, Brendan Arsenault, Dom Cancelarich and Ryan Gorman will provide the leadership needed to continue to develop.
Last year: 3-8-3, 12th in the conference, lost to Gorham in the quarterfinals.
Finally, we run over to the trails and catch up with cross country, (XC) coach Jeff Riddle. He is back for his 15th year, the first nine of which he coached track and field for Windham. He has a new assistant this season, please welcome Emily Bland to the program.
First meet: The Eagles hit the ground running on Sept. 4, at the Lakes Region Invitational. Windham will follow that up with the Thornton XC Relays against all the teams in their conference. The regular season will start after these meets.
Season outlook: "We are excited to help each athlete improve weekly, so they can become team contributors, reach PRs, (personal records), and be competitive," said Riddle. "We will be counting on all of our athletes this season to progress and represent us in the Second 7 JVXC Championship meet, and in our Varsity Regional Championship race, with the hope of again earning a team starting box for both our girls and boys teams in the state championship meet," he added.
Key runners: On the girls side, senior Julia Rand will lead a talented group. She will be backed by Joelle Bockus, Ali Wintle, Amanda Turner, McKenzie Pepin, Sierra Yost and Eliza Bennett. For the boys, senior John Bland will set the tone for Ben Breton, Jeremy Bennett, senior Steven Lailer and Reese Preston. Julia Rand and John Bennett will lead the Captains Council as team captains.
Last year: The Girls finished the regular season at 13-2. They were the Lakes Region Invitational team champions. They also finished second at the Second 7 JVXC championships, seventh at Regionals, and 10th out of 51 teams at the Belfast Festival of Champions. The girls did well at states, placing eighth in class A, and 17th out of 37 teams overall. The Boys finished at 13-1, and also were the Lakes Region Invitational team champions. They placed 13th out of 57 teams at the Belfast Festival, and fourth at Regionals. They also showed well at states, sixth in Class A, seventh out of the 41 teams competing, and took home the All-conference sportsmanship banner given by the Maine Principals Association.
Get out to cheer on your teams, classmates, friends and family! Let's go Eagles!