Friday, April 19, 2024

Boys’ lacrosse shows potential during season-opening win over Scarborough

By Matt Pascarella

In its season opener, Windham’s varsity boys’ lacrosse team traveled to Scarborough on Thursday, April 11 to take on the Red Storm and came away a winner.

Windham senior Tobias Perkins keeps a defender away as
he looks to take a shot during the boys' lacrosse
season-opener at Scarborough High on Thursday,
A slow start led to the Eagles being down 3-0 after one quarter. However, this didn’t last long, and Windham came back to pull ahead after three quarters, held on to that lead and kept Scarborough to one goal in the fourth quarter which gave Windham their first ‘W’ of the season with an 8-6 victory.

“I trusted my defense because I knew they could get it done and help,” said Windham freshman goalie Zach Gagne who had an impressive 13 saves during the game. “The defense played amazing ... same as the offense, we all just played as a team. Our mindset as a defense was to just keep pounding, keep getting after it because it can change in an instant.”

Windham moved the ball well, and although the first quarter was scoreless, they had multiple solid shots at goal. They stayed with the ball and remained aggressive, as they worked to recover loose balls.

In the second quarter, Windham defense really intensified as they only let one goal in, while offense scored several. Sophomores Jack Henry and Garrett Winslow each scored. Then senior Tobias Perkins found the back of the net and the game was tied 3-3. Winslow fired another shot that bounced off Scarborough’s goalie post.

Scarborough managed to get one goal before the end of the first half and led, 4-3.

“We play hard as a group, no matter what,” said Henry. “Our mindset was to play as hard as we can, don’t ever give up, and hustle the whole time. Our defense really helped us stay in that game; our goalie really helped us stay in that game. We knew we could come back [after the first quarter]. Something that went really well was our defense and clearing the ball, getting the offense the ball and moving the ball. Getting better shot selections needs work.”

Windham kept up the intensity and Henry quickly tied the game 4-4 in the third quarter. Windham stayed with the ball as the Eagles and Red Storm went back and forth in a close, hard-fought game. Windham pulled ahead after senior Blake McPherson scored before the end of the third quarter.

“After we scored our first goal in the second [quarter] everyone was electric,” said McPherson. “It just woke us up. We stuck together and no one started chirping ... we got the win together, no one really singled it out by themselves. Defense went really well, our sliding when we got beat, our clears went really well. We could have done a little bit better on offense, taking a little better shot selection.”

The Eagles were going after the win, and they played like a team that wanted it more. Senior Landon Buzulchuck scored in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Perkins scored again. Defense remained powerful and Scarborough was unable to recover.

“First game of the season,” said Windham varsity boys’ lacrosse coach Peter Small. “We’ve had inclement weather, how much have people practiced; Scarborough’s a tough opponent, huge tradition ... we knew some things we thought we were doing pretty well. The question was what would happen in live action when you got on the field. You get down like that and people start to doubt themselves, they start to doubt their teammates, they start to get chippy. We didn’t see a single iota of that; [Windham] just kept playing the game. They showed that they trusted each other, and they trusted themselves to keep playing lacrosse. We moved the ball offensively really well and the defense was communicating ... the crisp passes at midfield we felt pretty good about. We can always take better shot selections, defensively moving our feet a little more.” <

WHS varsity softball posts solid win over York in preseason scrimmage

By Matt Pascarella

Before Windham opens its regular season, the 2023 Class A softball state champions took the field against the 2023 Class B softball state champions York in a scrimmage at Windham on Tuesday, April 16. The Lady Eagles got the bats going immediately and scored in every inning to shutout York, 9-0.

Windham sophomore Oakley McLeod bats on Tuesday,
April 16 during a varsity softball scrimmage against
York at Windham High School. 
“One thing I said to the girls was I don’t need perfection, I need us to focus on getting better every inning, getting better every pitch,” said Windham varsity softball coach Darcey Gardiner. “We got down 0-2 on a lot of counts and we had multiple batters battle back and end up drawing walks – I can’t ask for more than that. I think it’s really about trusting themselves ... I tell them ‘trust their arms, trust their feet.’ Bobbles and errors, those are going to happen, it’s how you react after the error. Our hitting top to bottom [went well]; we’ve got a couple freshmen and sophomores on the team that are new to us, so for them to step up and make contributions, that was awesome. Quality at-bats – when we can put the ball in play, good things happen. What needs work is our communication. I do need to see our energy a little bit higher, and making sure they stay on their toes is huge for us.”

Gardiner said that being the defending state champions means that teams will show up and play Windham better than they might play any other team. Windham needs to bring their ‘A’ game and realize it’s ok to not be perfect; the end of the season is more important than the beginning of the season – now is the time for trials and tribulations so they are ready to go later.

In the York scrimmage, Windham started out with senior pitcher Brooke Gerry who sent three batters back to the dugout.

Gerry walked in the bottom of the first inning and sophomore Addison Caiazzo singled. A double from sophomore Oakley McLeod brought Caiazzo home. Gerry then struck out three batters and left a runner on base in the second inning.

In the bottom of the second inning, sophomore Nola Bryant walked. Freshman Kaylee Napolitano singled, as did freshman Evelyn Anderson. Napolitano and Anderson stole their way around the diamond and Windham was up, 3-0.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Windham led 5-0. Following a walk, Gerry singled and Senior Stella Jarvais doubled on a line drive to center field, bringing home two runs. Jarvais would later score on a passed ball.

“We take it as getting better every inning,” said Jarvais. “We didn’t think we were going to be perfect, but going inning by inning is what we wanted to do. If we just play our game and ... not get anxious about the next team. We’ve made adjustments at the plate pretty well. York’s pitcher is really good, and we went into the box as being able to see the pitching and hitting; I think we made good adjustments, and we can always work on communication.”

In the top of the sixth inning, York hit a ground out to junior third basemen Chloe Edwards, who despite a slight fumble, had plenty of time to make a throw to first base for the out. Another York batter grounded out to sophomore pitcher Lacie Higgins who easily made the throw to first base to end the inning.

“Even though we’ve been inside with limited field time, we’ve been working so hard,” said Edwards. “It’s so enjoyable to be back after last season. We’re a good mindful team. I thought we did really well in the box, adjusting and fielding-wise. I thought we were communicating well in there.”

Edwards said she thought Windham could be louder in the dugout and communicate a little more, while Edwards said it’s great to be back.

Windham will travel to Noble for a regular season game at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 20. <

Friday, April 12, 2024

Football remains a focus for WHS graduate Ledbetter

By Matt Pascarella

Before graduating in 2022, Windham High’s Robert “Will” Ledbetter was a star prep quarterback who helped his team earn a spot in the Class B State Championship football game in 2021 and exceled in the classroom. Now a sophomore at the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford, Ledbetter is coming off one of the Nor’easters’ most successful seasons in program history as the team finished with a final record of 6-4.

Windham High graduate and University of
New England sophomore Robert 'Will'
Ledbetter looks to pass during a college
football game against Castleton State
University in Biddeford on Sept. 30, 2023.
He is majoring in applied exercise science at UNE and would like to use that knowledge for a clinical role within the healthcare and medical device sales industry after college.

Off the field, Ledbetter serves as the Presidential Ambassador on campus as well as a residential advisor for first-year-students. He is also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and has worked for the Conference Services at UNE.

“Will beat out a senior and a junior in his first year here to become the backup quarterback,” said UNE offensive coordinator Coach Tim Viall. “He is an elite listener and communicator. He works incredibly hard. He plays and competes with a great balance of emotion and poise. He is driven by personal/team goals while remaining selfless. He sees the field well and plays instinctually. He has a quick release and can make any throw. He approaches every practice, drill and repetition with purpose. Will ... is stronger, faster, and more resilient to injury. All of these pieces have been applied to his skills on the field and we have seen him steadily improve his game in his time with us. We look forward to continued hard work and development over the next two years.”

It was Ledbetter’s dad who first sparked his interest in football. His father introduced him to the game in elementary school and since then has been an invaluable teacher.

“Starting young, football did not come naturally, and it was something I could work on to get better and better,” said Ledbetter. “Nobody’s game is ever perfect, and I loved the fact that I could keep improving my game every season and off-season. The chase to become as good as I possibly could is what kept me going and keeps me playing today. What I enjoy most about football is the puzzle I must solve every play as the quarterback. The defense always gives new looks trying to confuse or trick the offense and it is part of my job to figure it out and get our playmakers the ball.”

Ledbetter’s goal is to finish his career as a Nor’easter and ensure the growth of the program while making sure he’s done his part to improve the program and athletes’ experiences as they move through their time at UNE.

Windham’s football program prepared him to play collegiately by giving him key tools. They left him with the mindset to control attitude, effort and coachability. Also, his time with the Eagles gave him the ability to play in a spread offense which helped Ledbetter schematically transition from high school to college ball. Those skills and mindsets have allowed him to be successful in college.

“There’s a lot of things that makes Will a good teammate,” said UNE sophomore Zak Ramos. “He’s a guy that you can always rely on to have your back on and off the field; knowing Will and what he juggles and the number of responsibilities he has on campus is something that definitely stands out. Will is very vocal too which is always something that as a teammate is appreciated and I think that correlates with his ability to lead on the field too. I know not only me, but a lot of the guys appreciate Will’s style of leadership. He’s not over the top in terms of harping on guys; he’s a guy in the locker room who jokes around ... but when it’s time to be serious, he hones it in and makes sure that we’re locked in.”

Ledbetter’s advice to any high school athlete who wants to play a collegiate sport is to be realistic in their goals, and to find schools that match their needs academically, athletically, socially, and financially. He also advises them to learn as much as they can about a program, the coaching staff, and the school. Lastly, and most importantly, he said it is possible, and you can do it.

Aside from Ledbetter’s many activities on and off the field, in his free time he likes to snowboard, spend time in Maine and be surrounded by friends and family. <

Windham girls’ lacrosse does not let up despite loss to Cape Elizabeth

By Matt Pascarella

Windham girls’ lacrosse team traveled to Cape Elizabeth on Monday, April 8 to play Cape Elizabeth in a preseason matchup before the regular season kicks off on Friday, April 12 when Windham takes on Kennebunk. While Cape Elizabeth had a strong start, once Windham got going, they put several goals in. However, after a hard-fought game where Windham stayed in it for 48 minutes, Cape Elizabeth won the game, 15-7.

Windham sophomore Maddy Donnelly, right, goes to stop
a Cape Elizabeth opponent on Monday, April 8 during
a girls' varsity preseason lacrosse game.
“Our team is really good at staying positive,” said Windham sophomore Olivia McPherson, who scored in the fourth quarter. “Even if we’re down, we always put in effort, and never give up. We need to work on passing in the eight, because sometimes they get intercepted or ground balls – those are something we struggle with. We did really, really well on our new plays. We’re putting new plays in, putting new people in so everybody gets a chance; always got to stay positive and play with a good mindset.”

Cape Elizabeth jumped to an early lead in the first quarter, but with 55 seconds left, Windham junior Grace Joly rocketed the ball past the goalie.

In the second quarter, Windham cranked up the intensity with junior Neve Ledbetter who scored early in the quarter. Windham defense made it a lot harder for Cape Elizabeth to get near the goal and limited their scoring opportunities.

“From this game we learned a lot about the importance of playing together as a team,” said Ledbetter. “We didn’t have that many days of practice, so we were coming out a little harsh – it was hard to get back into it. It’s good to start climbing the ladder to the actual season. The transition went really, really well; we have a ton of girls hustling on the ride. It’s important that everyone is hustling and giving their best effort. The whole team was pushing themselves to be better and that resulted in turnovers. We need more chemistry, but I feel like we are on a good track right now, we just need some more time on the practice field.”

Joly scored again. With 46 seconds left in the half, Ledbetter found the back of the net once more. Windham outscored Cape Elizabeth in the second quarter, though the Capers led, 6-4, at the half.

Windham’s intensity and hustle never faded; seconds into the third quarter, they took a shot at goal. A short time later Windham senior Emma Ammons fired another shot at the goal.

Cape Elizabeth scored several goals during this quarter, but Windham kept their heads up.

In the fourth quarter Joly scored almost immediately. McPherson scored part-way through the quarter as did sophomore Abby Trainor.

“We played 24 girls today,” said Windham girls’ lacrosse head coach Matt Perkins. “We’re still trying to give everybody reps before we tighten the belt to see who’s what and make sure everybody has enough time to prove themselves. Not practicing for four days didn’t help, but they’re a good team and we’ll continue to develop, it’s just a process. We had good hustle at times and at times executed the offense well. We got some brand-new people on defense, but it’s coming – it’s all about not getting beat up or worrying about making a mistake.”

Perkins and Windham girls’ lacrosse assistant coach Rusty Babb said before the team plays Kennebunk on Friday, throwing and catching will need work as well as knowing and being where you’re supposed to be. <

Friday, April 5, 2024

Windham graduate Sarah Talon continues excelling on and off the court

By Matt Pascarella

2022 Windham graduate Sarah Talon has always worked hard. She currently attends the University of Maine at Orono where she helped lead the team to win the America East Championship last month and earned the school its 10th appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s basketball tournament.

Windham 2022 graduate and current University of Maine 
sophomore Sarah Talon keeps her focus on the hoop
during the America East Conference championship game
in Orono on March 15. PHOTO BY SETH POPLASKI  
Talon is majoring in psychology with a minor in leadership and would like to work in the therapy department with young kids and athletes upon her graduation.

“This season has been one I will never forget,” said Talon. “Playing in the NCAA was ... a chance to play against some of the best teams in the country. It was a dream come true. I was once 10, 11, 12 years old and watching March Madness at home and was always hoping that one day that would be me. Getting the opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in basketball was something I will never forget. I knew that I needed to take in every moment and to enjoy it.”

She says that she used to watch Catherine McCauley basketball player Allie Clement, as well as Talon’s older sister Hannah. They were both role models of hers and she began to play basketball when she was 6 and was first coached by Paul Foley, whom she is still in contact with today.

Talon initially thought soccer was her strong suit but seemed to naturally gravitate toward basketball. She realized she was much better at basketball and enjoyed it a lot more. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy soccer, and isn’t really good at it, but basketball has given her so much happiness and excitement every time she picked up a ball.

Since she first started playing, Talon has played in a variety of leagues, including the Amateur Athletic Union. Her time at Windham High School helped her prepare for playing collegiately because the AA North region is very competitive and gave her the opportunity to play against other Division 1 players.

“She’s so funny to be around; she’s always in a good mood,” said University of Southern Maine at Orono graduate student and teammate Anne Simon. “She really makes the team laugh a lot, such a good friend off the court. It was great to see her improvement from freshman year to sophomore year. She got to understand her role on the team and really developed over the season; she did an amazing job improving in defense – that was a huge thing for her. Also, offensively knowing what we need from her; she stepped up this year.”

Simon is really proud of the team and Talon. They wanted to go to March Madness and they did. Although they fell to Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA, the Black Bears did a good job focusing on themselves and what each of them needed as individuals in order to be a good team which made the season a success.

“She’s embraced the challenges of a Division 1 athlete and she’s worked really hard and done a really nice job for us,” said Black Bears women’s basketball head coach Amy Vachon. “She’s a great teammate. She’s learned a lot and learned about our program and how things work, and I think she’s gotten stronger and done a lot of really good things. She earned that spot [as a starter] and brings a lot to the table and has had a really great year. Her athleticism is something we don’t see in our conference; she can do things on the court other people can’t; her athleticism is unmatched.”

Talon was one of two non-senior starters on the team. She said the coaches gave her goals to work for in the off season and she worked at them non-stop. Those coaches have confidence in her and believe in her every day. Having high standards from not just the team and coaching staff, but from Talon herself elevated this team to become a championship team.

“You get what you put in,” said Talon. “The amount of hard work you put into this game will get you far. I was told by many people when I was younger how they did not think I could play at this level. They said I was ‘too skinny’ or ‘not skilled enough.’ This only made me want to work harder. There will always be people that will doubt what you want to do. Don't listen to them and use it as motivation to prove them wrong.” <

WHS girls’ lacrosse shows preseason promise at Massabesic Play Day

By Matt Pascarella

Windham girls’ lacrosse was one of four teams competing in Massabesic’s Play Day to kick off the preseason at Massabesic High in Waterboro on Saturday, March 30. Windham played York, Massabesic and Wells in games lasting for one 25-minute half. The Lady Eagles only had a few practices leading up to this point, but beat York 5-3, tied Massabesic 3-3, and tied with Wells, 4-4 in a tight game with only seconds left to play.

Windham senior Mallory Muse looks to pass during a game 
against Massabesic on Saturday, March 30 at Massabesic's
preseason girls lacrosse Play Day at Massabesic High School.
“Hustle was great,” said Windham girls’ lacrosse coach Matt Perkins. “If you hustle and work hard, good things are going to happen. I thought we did a really good job at times pressuring the ball and causing turnovers. We’re still pretty green, and still figuring out who we are, but I’m very pleased by the effort, that’s for sure.”


Windham scored twice in the first four minutes. They moved the ball well and had control of the field. They stayed with the ball and took multiple shots on goal. Windham junior Neve Ledbetter scored, as did junior Grace Joly.

“Just coming into the season off of three outdoor practices that’s pretty impressive for us to come out here and work as hard as we did and be able to make passes and plays after only having a couple days of practice together,” said Ledbetter.

Windham’s offense and defense were strong as they made it difficult for York to score. York pressured, but Windham held them off until the buzzer.

“Defense and some of our offensive plays [went well] because we really worked with each other and were able to know where someone else was; it’s really important we find it in ourselves to push ... it’s all worth it in the end,” said Joly.


Windham sophomore Abby Trainor scored early. Windham was aggressive and passed well between each other. Defense held off the Mustangs for a little while. Windham freshman Morgan McLain scored, and Trainor scored again. Massabesic made up the difference quickly and tied the game before the end.

“We had so many improvements on our defense and offense,” said Trainor. “We have to work on some of our misses, but overall, we did such a good job working with each other for the first time this year.”


Windham moved the ball well and took shots at goal. They fought hard to be first to the ball.

“Stick work needs improvement,” said Trainor. “You can never be at the top of your stick work; you can always get better. If we continue working on wall ball and passing with each other, we’re going to have a lot of success.”

Windham tied the game at 1-1, but Wells pulled ahead. Then Trainor tied the game again. Soon after, Joly scored, and the game was tied at 3. With less than a minute remaining, Wells took the lead. With 20 seconds remaining, Joly tied the game at 4. Windham defense held off Wells until the end of the half.

“Making sure we’re not throwing away the ball after hustle plays and to make sure we’re connecting those passes into the eight-yard line needs improvement,” said Joly. “Possession is a big part of the season and if we can get control of that, that would be great.”

Joly, Trainor, and Ledbetter all agreed the day was a success.

“We’re overall a really great team,” said Ledbetter. “I think we need more work on catching and passing and we’re a team together, so we need more chemistry and then we’ll be great.” <

Friday, March 29, 2024

Strong postseason results motivate Wolfpack varsity wrestlers

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Westbrook/Gray-New Gloucester Wolfpack wrestling team finished its season with a 22-7 dual record. Wolfpack wrestlers finished second at regionals at Oxford Hills on Saturday Feb. 10; were fourth at the Class A state competition on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Cony in Augusta; and placed first at the All-State competition at Belfast High School on Friday, Feb. 23.

Windham senior Wolfpack wrestler Griffin Moreau placed
fourth in the New England competition in Providence, Rhode
Island on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2. Wolfpack
head coach John Nicolas, left, joins Moreau, and assistant
coaches Nick Buckley and Nick Vogel.
Westbrook senior Gavin Tanner won the state and all state competitions. Windham junior Ayden Cofone won all state and was second at the state competition; Windham senior Griffin Moreau came in second in both meets. Tanner was First Team Southern Maine Activities Association (SMAA).

“It meant everything to me,” said Tanner. “I’ve put in so much work and so have my coaches and my family in helping get to where I am and accomplish all my goals, I’m so grateful for them. This All-State tourney was very significant as many wrestlers begin to fade and lose their motivation as the season is almost over. This tournament showed us how bad we wanted it and how tough of a team we are.”

Moreau placed fourth in the New England meet held in Rhode Island on Friday and Saturday March 1 and 2. The Wolfpack had three state tournament finalists and three all All-State finalists. Moreau was All State and First Team SMAA.

At the girls’ state meet held at Winslow High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20, three Wolfpack female wrestlers including Windham junior Addison Leger came in fourth, while Windham freshman Amelia Brickel came in third and Westbrook sophomore Jasmine Sinclair finished second.

In the first year the SMAA provided team recognition for female wrestlers, Leger, Brickel and Sinclair all received First Team SMAA honors.

“I started the season by getting injured, and unfortunately, I was out most of the season,” said Sinclair. “I got cleared to go back to wrestling three weeks before girls' states, and I was nervous to go into a big tournament starting on a fresh slate. I ... didn't know if I wanted to go, but when it came to it, I felt like not only me but also the other girls on the team wrestled well. Throughout the season going to the tournaments, and watching my teammates wrestle I've seen so much more improvement. We had a couple of people on our team who just started this year and ended up being pretty successful, some even earning their [varsity] letter. Although I didn't participate in a majority of the meets and tournaments this year, I still feel happy about the fact that we won four different big tournaments this year in first place. I'm hoping to have an even better season next year, and I hope we just keep improving.”

The All-State tournament featured the best wrestlers from all over the state of Maine.

“The season was a culmination of kids buying into our system and coming up through youth wrestling and sticking with it,” said Wolfpack head coach John Nicholas. “Many of the kids put in a lot of time on the mats over the years and it was great to see them reach their potential. All the hard work our wrestlers and coaches have put in over the last four years. To beat all the top teams in the state and put three kids in the finals was a huge achievement for our program. It shows that everything we did and talked about could be attainable with commitment and dedication.” <