Friday, March 31, 2023

Windham Youth Soccer players form an unstoppable pair

By Matt Pascarella

Windham seventh graders Jennifer Schwarz and Emily Wardwell began playing together for the Windham Youth Soccer Association when they were both 4 and from that point on, the two formed a bond that has made them very strong players on the field.

Windham seventh graders Jennifer Schwarz, left, and Emily
Wardwell discuss where to deliver the ball after a save
during The Development Player League's The Summit
Tournament on Sunday, March 19 at the Tournament
Sportsplex at Tampa Bay, Florida.
They recently competed in The Summit Tournament, hosted by the Development Player League (DPL) from March 18 to March 19 in Tampa Bay, Florida. Over 60 teams from coast to coast participated in this tournament. Their team, Seacoast United did a great job as they won two games and tied one.

“They are a very competitive group of kids,” said Seacoast United coach, Branden Noltkamper. “They want to go out there and win every game.”

Both Schwarz and Wardwell joined the DPL in 2021. The DPL League travels all over New England against some of the best teams in the bracket.

One of the goals of Seacoast United is to play in the Nationals tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio in June. The Summit tournament earned them some points toward qualifying for Nationals, though they won’t know officially if they’ve qualified until the spring season is finished. Noltkamper is confident they’ll qualify for Nationals.

Schwarz was inspired to play soccer by her older siblings. She would watch them from the sidelines, and it looked like fun. As soon as Schwarz began playing, she said that she fell in love with the game.

The same was true for Wardwell.

“I was young when I started to play soccer but loved the game and wanted to play at a higher level,” said Wardwell.

According to Wardwell, her communication with Schwarz has improved each season, which is important to defense.

Schwarz said it’s been great working alongside Wardwell. Both their communication and support of one another have improved.

Schwarz is a goalie and Wardwell is a center back.

Noltkamper says both are very strong players on the team.

“Jen’s a leader ... really communicates well; Emily ... plays right in front of Jen and it’s a good relationship for two Windham kids who know each other well.”

It’s Noltkamper’s second year coaching Schwarz and he said she has grown exponentially – her confidence in the game and decision-making skills. She plays through the pressure – this is a huge testament to her success.

It’s Noltkamper’s third year coaching Wardwell and describes her as a silent assassin. She doesn’t have a lot to say, but when she does have something to say it’s important.

Noltkamper said she’s seen a lot of growth in Wardwell. She’s as brave as anyone else and keeps her composure under pressure. She plays a really good style of soccer and plays like her life depends on it.

“It takes a lot of practice and hard work to get to the level I am,” said Schwarz. “It also takes a lot of motivation and self-confidence. I keep going because I really want to play professionally and hopefully be one of the best goalkeepers.”

Wardwell said to get to this level, it takes constant training and a love of the game. Wardwell said she loves playing with her teammates.

“The future of Windham soccer is very bright, especially with these two players coming up,” said Noltkamper. <


Wolfpack middle school wrestling team defeats two opponents

By Matt Pascarella

As the Windham/Gray New-Gloucester/Gorham Wolfpack wrestling team approaches the end of the season, they hit the mat against Kennebunk and Oxford Hills in a dual meet at Windham on Friday, March 24 and showed they’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.

Windham seventh grader Jake Burke prevents his opponent 
from getting up as he gets the pin in the third round on
Friday, March 24 in a middle school meet against
Kennebunk and Oxford Hills at Windham Middle School.
The Wolfpack beat Kennebunk, 42-27, and downed Oxford Hills, 33-18.

“We took advantage of the opportunity and wrestled two strong teams and capitalized,” said Windham Middle School Wolfpack coach Nick Buckley. “The kids have been working hard all year. We’ve had a good couple weeks of practice and preparation; the kids are dialed in and want to get better. It makes all the difference in the world.”

Buckley said the team was looking for that moment during matches when they could get the upper hand on their opponent, a more concentrated, skilled way to get the take down, which shows improvement from the start of the season.


The Wolfpack began the meet with Gorham Wolfpack sixth grader Joel House who avoided a takedown in the first period and pinned his opponent in the second period.

Next to take on Kennebunk was Gray New-Gloucester eighth grader Lexi Hoot who earned a very fast pin within seconds of the match beginning. This was her second win of the season. This was an emotional win for her.

“I just started this year and tried my best; winning is a big thing to me,” said Hoot. My aunt passed away a few weeks ago and she always came to my meets, so it’s really strong.

Hoot said her team worked hard, pinned well and worked as a team.

Gorham Wolfpack sixth-grader Lucien Roy grabbed his opponent’s leg and took him to the mat to get the pin and the win.

After a hard-fought match, Windham Wolfpack seventh grader Gavin Cataldi was pinned.

Gorham Wolfpack sixth grader Braden Nicely took down his opponent very quickly.

Gray New-Gloucester Wolfpack seventh grader Liam Joyce took his opponent to the mat and held him there to get the win.

Windham Wolfpack eighth grader and captain Emmett Hutchinson worked hard and pinned his opponent in just one period.

Oxford Hills

Gorham Wolfpack sixth grader James Swan outlasted his opponent to win the match 6-1 after three periods.

Gorham Wolfpack sixth grader Deven Paradis fought hard and avoided being pinned in the first period but got pinned in the second period.

Windham Wolfpack sixth grader Nathan Somma took down his challenger in less than a minute.

Windham Wolfpack seventh grader Jake Burke had a good stance going into the match. He fought hard for two periods and got the takedown in the final seconds of the third period.

Burke said that match was tough because the guy he fought was same strength and same aggressiveness. It was hard for Burke to pull him down because his opponent had a strong base. This was one of the tougher matches he’s fought in his two years of wrestling. He felt accomplished after he got the win.

Windham Wolfpack eighth-grader Jake Watson pinned his opponent with their feet in the air and body at a 90-degree angle.

“We pulled through and put all our hearts out there,” said Burke.

Burke said things that went well were positivity – he said the team was very encouraging and supportive – that’s a good attribute for a wrestling team. <

Friday, March 24, 2023

Windham Youth Basketball proves to be serious competition at New England Basketball Championship

By Matt Pascarella

Five Windham Youth Basketball Association teams earned the right to compete in the 2023 New England Basketball Championships held in Providence, Rhode Island from March 17 to 19.

Windham's Fourth-grade girls basketball team finished 
second in the New England Basketball Championships
in Providence, Rhode Island, going 3-1 in the tournament.
Each of Windham’s teams, eighth-grade girls, fifth-grade girls, fifth-grade boys, fourth-grade girls and fourth-grade boys earned a bid to participate in this tournament because they won a previous tournament.

The New England Basketball Championships consisted of travel, community and school teams from grades 3 through 8. Each team was guaranteed to play a minimum of four games. Awards went to teams who placed in the first and second divisions.

Windham’s Eighth-grade girls went 1-3 and beat West Hartford Magic in a buzzer beater, 24-23.

“I felt ... unreal,” said Mackenzie Delewski. “We had 2.3 seconds on the clock and we’re down by two [in their game against West Hartford Magic], I fake short and go long as Kiley screens for me and Bella throws it. I jump and grab the ball from the plodding team and take one dribble and shoot. I banked in the three and won the game; all the excitement and cheering was unreal; we just got our first win in Rhode Island!”

Lilly Gallagher said the team has been successful because they’ve grown and are determined to be good players.

Coach Ben Delewski said this season was the perfect blend of happy and sad. He was proud of them for how they competed, but sad that these were the last games as a team.

Windham’s Fifth-grade girls went 1-3 and beat Suncook Spartans, 20-17.

Raegan Magee was confident in her team going in. They are stronger this year than last year. This year has been successful because they have each other and win or lose they still practice together.

“Throughout the season the girls have improved tremendously as far as their skills and the things that they do on the court,” said Coach Lily Cooper. “The biggest thing they’ve improved on is their confidence. It doesn’t matter scores of games; it’s building girl’s confidence more than anything – and my favorite part is them seeing the results of the work they’ve put in.”

Windham’s Fifth-grade boys went 2-2, finished in the top 4 and won their final game against East Hampton, 45-40.

“This year was very different; we had a lot of injuries,” said Coach Steve Depaolo II. “It was a full team effort to continue our success. We’ve been battle-tested all year and the team atmosphere is to have fun and play hard.”

Robbie Sanicola said you can’t do anything with one person; it’s the whole team that has to be together. Everyone played a big part to get this far.

Windham’s Fourth-grade girls finished in second place and went 3-1. They made it all the way to the championship game. Their only loss was to St. Theresa, 23-11, after a hard-fought game.

“The season has been successful because of the growth of the girls,” said Coach Chris Sargent. “In a short time, I’ve seen leaps and bounds. They are all playing their roles very well, a great group of girls and a lot of friendships and memories that’ll last forever. I have a feeling these girls are going to be really something special in the future in Windham.”

Ella Higgins said offense and defense have enabled this team to get this far. She said they had more experience this year compared to last year.

Windham’s Fourth-grade boys went 2-2 over the weekend. In their first game against North Providence they took a big lead in the first half. With roughly 10 minutes left in the second half, Joel Delewski hit five consecutive three-pointers and extended the lead to 20 points. Windham won, 42-27.

“Every player on our roster contributed to our games throughout the weekend,” said coach Joe McLean. “It was a full team effort and the community support down there was amazing; as Windham always had the biggest crowd at each of the games.”

According to Joel Delewski, it felt great to know he was a part of the winning game. He said it also felt good to see and hear the Windham fan’s reactions as well as his coach’s reaction. <

New Windham High varsity softball coach aims to bring dedication, fun to team

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham High varsity softball team will welcome new coach Darcey Gardiner this spring. Gardiner, a 2006 Windham graduate, brings a world of experience to the field as she was a three-sport athlete in high school and a two-sport athlete in college. She began coaching in 2007 in Windham with varsity and middle school softball and middle school basketball.

Darcey Gardiner will lead the Windham
High School varsity softball team as its
coach this season. Growing up in
Windham , she played Little League
softball here and went on to play in
college before becoming a coach.
Gardiner has also coached youth basketball and junior varsity softball for South Portland. She was the assistant women’s softball coach at Bates College in Lewiston, and she’s been an assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach for Edward Little in Auburn. In 2020, she took over the Gray New Gloucester High School softball program, before deciding to come back to Windham.

“I can remember right from the beginning I thought she was legit,” said Gray New-Gloucester junior Maisie Lerette. “She was dedicated to making softball a bigger deal here at GNG. Not only was Darcey a great coach but we all could go to her about anything. She made time for us no matter how busy her day was. I know she will bring more than a great softball coach to the Windham team; she will bring an amazing friend and role model for each and every player. Darcey will be great for Windham, and I can't wait to see what she puts together this year.”

The Gardiner family is a big baseball family. Gardiner’s grandfather and father were both baseball coaches and her father coached Gardiner through Little league.

Sports are a huge part of her life. Gardiner loves sports because of how creative they allow you to be while still giving you a competitive, family-like atmosphere.

“I always knew I wanted to coach sports in my hometown someday,” said Gardiner. “I grew up playing Windham Little League, going to varsity games on the old field and was lucky enough to be the first to play on the new field. Windham sports are home to me.”

Her parents drove Gardiner’s passion for sports. She played soccer, basketball and softball in high school and basketball and softball in college. To this day, she continues to play those sports.

“Between loving sports, my desire to be a positive female leader, and my passion for working with the youth has driven me to a love of coaching. Wanting to be back in Windham is a no-brainer for me,” said Gardiner. “To be able to gain the trust of your athletes and their families is something special that creates life-long bonds and that is something I really cherish when it comes to coaching.”

For Gardiner, her favorite part of being a coach are the relationships. The coaches, players and families she’s met along the way is something she treasures.

It doesn’t go unnoticed that a parent will hand their child over to a coach for a season of hard work and life lessons. This is something Gardiner learned very quickly to not take for granted.

"Having coached the fourth-grade boys basketball team with Darcey, I can say she is firm but approachable and fun,” said Windham Youth Basketball coach Ben Delewski. “Her passion for coaching is obvious and the boys can’t help but listen to her because she has a strong presence and voice.”

Gardiner has worked in recreation for 16 years. She began in South Portland and now works in Auburn as a Recreation Coordinator. She lives in Windham on her family’s dairy farm with her husband and 1 ½-year-old daughter. The animals keep her busy, traveling around New England fairs in the summer and fall with their sheep and coaching basketball in the winter.<

Child receives youth lifetime fishing license

Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association President Bob Chapin recently presented a Youth Lifetime Fishing License to 3-year old Marcus McKeon at the Sebago Lake Scenic Overlook in front of his father, Sean, and his great grandparents, David and Phylis Kent.

Sebago Lake Anglers' Association President Bob Chapin
presents a Maine Youth Lifetime Fishing License to
3-year-old Marcus McKeon, left, at Sebago Lake Scenic\
Overlook. At right is his brother, August McKeon, also
a Youth Lifetime Fishing License recipient.
Marcus’s brother, August McKeon, also a Lifetime License holder and the boys are now sporting new fishing rods courtesy of their great grandfather. Both boys have been fishing on Grandpa’s fishing boat on Sebago Lake and word has it they have both caught fish.

The Sebago Lake Angler’s Association presents Youth Lifetime Fishing Licenses to many children during the year to help get them up and off their couches and devices and outdoors to learn a hobby that will serve them well throughout their lives. The funds that the association uses to buy the licenses ($150 for 5 years of age and under and $300 for ages 6 to 15) comes primarily from the Togue Derby that the association stages every September.

This year, the Togue Derby will be conducted Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 and will be based at the Sebago Lake State Park primary boat ramp. Look for announcements in future editions of The Windham Eagle and posters around town over the summer about the event.

Chapin said that when the Sebago Lake Angler’s Association started awarding Youth Lifetime Fishing Licenses, it only submitted kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces of current association members.

“It was so successful that we expanded it to neighborhood kids and then to those vendors who supported our T-shirt ad program who would spend $200 to get their name on the back of the shirt,” Chapin said. “And that is where the eligibility stands today. Kids have been nominated more than one year and sometimes members who have run out of kids, nominate someone else’s nominee giving the child more chances to win.”

He said that depending on how well the association does in its September Togue Derby, association members set a budget of how much they can spend on youth lifetime licenses and usually award between six and 10 licenses a year.

“The licenses cost us either $150 or $300 depending on the ages of the kids, 0 to 5-years-old or 6 to 15,” Chapin said. “Kids off the street cannot win unless their parents or grandparents join the association or buy a t-shirt ad. We budget in September and pick in October.” <

Friday, March 17, 2023

WMS indoor track and field team shows a lot of promise

By Matt Pascarella

In the first meet of the season, the Windham Middle School indoor track and field team went up against Westbrook and King Middle Schools at the Portland Expo on Saturday, March 11.

Windham seventh grader Renner Gerrity soars over the
hurdles during Windham Middle School's indoor track
and field meet against King and Westbrook on Saturday,
March 11 at the Portland Expo.
Windham showed they have what it takes to compete as the boys and girls both finished second. The boys had a score of 80 and the girls had a score of 81.


“I think things went really well; we’re working well together as a team,” said Windham eighth grader Caroline Cunningham. I think we all did a good job working on our form today.”

Cunningham finished first in the 300-yard dash with a time of 49.5 seconds.

Seventh grader Morgan Clark finished first in the open 1 mile run with a 6:34.4-minute time. Eighth grader Megan Little finished fourth with a 7:27.2 time.

Little said she kept a steady pace. She has a positive outlook for the season and thinks the team will be better than last season because they have a lot of strong runners.

In the junior 40-yard dash, sixth grader Cadence Penley finished second with a time of 6.6. She finished fourth in the 440 with a 1:31.3 time.

Seventh grader Jennifer Schwarz finished first in the intermediate shot put with a distance of 22 feet.

In the senior shot put, eighth grader Shailyn Farwell finished second with a 26-foot distance.

Windham came in first in the intermediate 560-yard relay with a 1:24.7 time.

“All I expect is the athletes do the best they can,” said WMS girls’ indoor track and field coach Jason Lanoie. “As long as they try, that’s all that we care about. The sportsmanship was awesome they all cheered for everybody, and I love it when that happens.”


Seventh grader Liam Jorgensen finished first in the intermediate 40-yard dash with a time of 6.2.

Seventh grader Adam Slomcynski fished first in the intermediate 440 with a time of 1:17.8.

Sixth grader Liam Sanborn finished first in the junior shot put with a distance of 19-06.00.

In the senior 240-dash, eighth grader Zach Downs finished second with a 39.7 time.

Sixth grader Landyn Crossman finished second in the junior 40 dash with a time of 6.2. He also finished second in the senior 440 and junior 150 with 23.1 times in both events.

Crossman said the team did really good. Their form has improved, and they did a great job staying focused.

In the open 1 mile run, eighth grader Mason Bragdon finished third with a 6:20.5 time.

Seventh grader Renner Gerrity finished third in the 45-yard hurdles with an 8.1 time.

Gerrity said it went well with hurdles and relay. He liked the atmosphere and said he is looking forward to doing more relays and getting better at high jump.

“They did a lot better than I was expecting performance-wise,” said WMS boys’ indoor track and field coach Dan Flaherty. “There’s a lot of potential on this team. My main concern is that they are steadily progressing throughout the season and if they win, that’s an added bonus, my thing is they are working hard and competing.” <

Middle School swimmers triumph in meet against Westbrook

By Matt Pascarella

In just their second meet of the season, the Windham Middle School swim team showed immense skill and sportsmanship against Westbrook at St. Joseph’s College on Friday, March 10.

Windham seventh grader Rocco DiDonato shows his skill
during the 50-year freestyle event in Windham Middle
School's swim meet against Westbrook on Friday, March 10
at St. Joseph's College. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
Windham was victorious over the Blue Blazes. The girls won, 47-44, and the boys won, 64-34.

“After our first meet we really discussed positive sportsmanship and stepping up our game with that,” said Windham Middle School swim coach Anne Fougere. “I think they really wanted to work hard at that. As coaches, we’ve been pushing that more than the swimming; so, we were happy to see improvement there too.”

Windham began with two first-place finishes in both medley relays. The girls finished with a time of 3:04.72 minutes and the boys finished with a time of 2:27.67.


Seventh grader Peter Funk finished first in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 34.11 seconds. He also finished first in the 100-yard backstroke with a 1:11.90 time.

Eighth grader Sullivan Scharf finished first in the 50-yard backstroke with a 29.72 time. He also finished first in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:16.84.

“I think we got some great swims in today, not just myself, I would say the whole team did great,” said Scharf. “Sportsmanship went up a whole bunch. We’re more bonded than before. Now, we’re here for everyone.”

With a time of 48.84, seventh grader Timothy Slabbinck-Unser finished second in the 50 breaststroke.

In the 50 freestyle, eighth grader Jacob Leavitt finished second with a time of 32.81, eighth grader William Blyther finished third with a time of 36.23 and seventh grader Rocco DiDonato finished fourth with a time of 45.50.

Eighth graders Mason Butterfield and Brock York both put in great efforts in the 50 freestyle. Butterfield finished with a 44.59 time and York finished with a 46.93 time.


In the 50-yard backstroke, seventh grader Mareina Lavalle finished first with a time of 46.01. Behind her was eighth-grader Allison Shardlow who finished second with a time of 49.59. Shardlow also finished fourth in the 100-breaststroke with a time of 1:51.18.

In the 50 freestyle, seventh grader Stephanie Roghelia finished first with a time of 29.46. She also finished first in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:24.28 time.

Roghelia said the team did amazing with sportsmanship and their times. She underestimated her strength, but feels she did awesome. She also received a ducky award from Coach Fougere for being an overall team player. It was unexpected to receive this and Roghelia said it felt awesome.

Sixth grader Lucy Stretch finished second in the 50 freestyle with a 48.83 time and third in the 50 breaststroke with a 1:06.36 time.

Sixth graders Zoe Varney and Bevie Yekeh both had excellent times in the 50 freestyle; Varney finished with a 52.43 time and Yekeh finished with a 1:58.85 time.

“They’ve put everything to use today that we’ve worked on during practice this week and that’s really exciting to see,” said Fougere. <

Friday, March 10, 2023

JV Trail Blazers battle hard, come up short in hockey championship

By Matt Pascarella

After reining victorious in the semifinal playoff round with a 5-2 win over Cape Elizabeth, the junior varsity Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle/Sacopee Valley Trail Blazers stepped onto the ice on Thursday, March 2 at the Casco Bay Ice Arena in Falmouth ready to go head-to-head against the Mount Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Hyde Eagles in the Wakelin Cup Championship game. Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers weren’t able to catch up in time and lost, 3-1 at the final buzzer.

Windham JV junior Trail Blazer John Ulmer goes after the 
puck at the Casco Bay Ice Arena in Falmouth in the Wakelin
Cup Championship game on Thursday, March 2 against
Mount Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Hyde.
“We wanted to win; I think we had a good group of kids that could win,” said JV Trail Blazer assistant coach Mike Fothergill. “What killed us was the penalties, too many penalties – and now we’re wasting energy on penalties and trying to recoup from all that. When you’re in the box that much, it’s going to hurt you.”

Fothergill said aside from penalties, the team played great. They battled, skated hard and were right on top of pucks.

After both teams went scoreless in the first period, Mount Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Hyde scored two goals on power plays and then one more goal with roughly four minutes left in the second period. After two periods, they led 3-0.

The game was not over though; less than two minutes into the third period, Windham junior Tobias Perkins fired a shot that found the back of the net.

He said he was forechecking hard, went to get a shot, got the rebound and then his shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and went right into the net.

According to Perkins, the Trail Blazers hustled, forechecked, backchecked and went after rebounds, but didn’t come out as hard as they could. He said one thing that might have turned the tables was more shots on net and better passing. All in all, he said it was a good season and the boys played well.

Goalie and Windham junior Jake Marston said he felt good going into this game. While the Trail Blazers had a lot of shots on net, they were pretty high – if they had hit the net more, the game may have been different.

Marston said morale dipped a little for him after that second goal; he said he should have been able to block that one. He fought hard until the end.

“We had some really good movement throughout the game, a lot of good defensive work in front, we just let some plays get by us,” said Windham junior John Ulmer.

The Trail Blazer coaching staff is proud of everyone. The entire team worked hard for them. They did everything asked of them and put in a great effort. <

Windham’s unified basketball closes season with strong performance

By Matt Pascarella

Surrounded by packed stands and cheering fans, Windham’s unified basketball team played their final game of the regular season against Scarborough at home on Tuesday, March 7. It was also senior night where Dani Iaconeta, Kayla Fillinger, Austin Rice and Alexandra Tetrault were each presented with a small gift to thank them and their parents for their years of dedication to Windham sports.

Windham Unified freshman Zachary O'Brion could not be
stopped as he sinks a three-pointer early in Windham's
final regular season basketball game at home against
Scarborough on Tuesday, Match 7.
Right from the very start Windham’s energy was way up and their teamwork and offensive skills were excellent. Windham kept it close with the Red Storm for the entire game, but after two halves Scarborough inched ahead, 43-40.

“We did really great,” said Iaconeta. “I’ve been passing the ball to my friends, and we’ve done really good.”

Iaconeta said she was bummed that this was her last game of her high school career. It’s been really great and exciting for Iaconeta to be on the team throughout high school.

She said passing and advice from coaches both went well during the game. She had a lot of fun.

Rice stole the ball and headed down the court and got Windham on the scoreboard.

He said the team played well and it was exciting. He’s had a lot of fun playing over the season.

Windham defense was strong. Sophomore Colby Schmid sank a layup after he grabbed a rebound and made it down the court. Freshman Zachary O’Brion sunk a three-pointer to tie the game at 9.

This game remained close. Windham junior Jacob Smith’s basket put Windham in the lead for the first time in the half.

Windham kept up their solid defense. Freshman Jack Shirley had a nice steal as Windham was neck-and-neck with Scarborough.

At the half, the game was tied at 20.

Windham freshman Katie Plummer sunk a basket early in the second half as Windham continued to work hard. Windham defense and intensity were both forceful.

Freshman Mary-Elizabeth Jean’s basket helped the Eagles stay in the lead.

Fillinger said the game was good; Windham was fast and shot big hoops. She had fun and is pleased with how the season went. It’s been really fun for her to play on the team these past four years.

“The game was tremendous; the whole team came to play,” said coach Anne Blake. “It was a great finale to a great season. The atmosphere of the game was the biggest thing. It was a very inclusive game, everyone played together as a team. The season was a challenge at times ... but we made great strides and look forward to next year.” <

Friday, March 3, 2023

JV Trail Blazers advance to hockey championship game

By Matt Pascarella

After a first round bye, the Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle/Sacopee Valley junior varsity Trail Blazers hit the ice against Cape Elizabeth in the semifinal round of the playoffs at the Casco Bay Ice Arena in Falmouth on Saturday, Feb. 25. The Trail Blazers left it all on the ice and advanced to the Wakelin Cup Championship by beating Cape Elizabeth, 5-2.

Windham junior varsity sophomore Caleb McNulty works
the puck around a defender during a semifinal playoff game 
for the Trail Blazers against Cape Elizabeth at the Casco Bay
Ice Arena in Falmouth on Saturday, Feb. 25.
“I thought we were ready to play,” said JV Trail Blazer coach Ben Haskell. “I think they knew they were going to have a battle ahead of them. That’s what was mentioned in the locker room beforehand; they are a good, decent team, and this isn’t going to be a cakewalk. We were prepared.”

Haskell said the Trail Blazers kept their composure, kept working hard, had a lot of shots and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. Once the Trail Blazers settled down and looked to other areas to make plays, that’s when it started clicking. It all came down to the last two minutes.

Haskell is looking forward to the championship game and can’t remember the last time the Trail Blazers made it this far. He said the kids deserve it and have worked hard all year.

Both teams hit the ice with intensity and their defenses kept the first period scoreless. The JV Trail Blazer offense worked hard and gave Cape Elizabeth’s goalie a workout with several shots at the goal, even one shot that nicked the goal post.

“I think we worked hard the whole game, we kept it physical; we didn’t retaliate to them,” said Sacopee Valley sophomore James Ritter. “We kept our head in the game and it worked out for us. It feels great to be going to the championship.”

There was a little over a minute left in the second half when Windham sophomore Caleb McNulty scored.

The Trail Blazers had seen Cape Elizabeth earlier in the season in a close game that the Trail Blazers won.

Cape Elizabeth was quick to answer and tied the game 1-1 by the end of the second period.

The Trail Blazers stayed aggressive as the third period began. They were giving 100 percent and continued to play like they wanted to win. With 4:55 left in the game, McNulty scored again. With two minutes left Cape answered and the game was tied at 2.

As the clock wound down, McNulty got a hat trick. Then Ritter scored. Then McNulty again on an empty net.

“I think we come into every game expecting the best team,” said McNulty. “We go out there and try our best; get up one and play like it’s 0-0. We worked our systems really well, our forecheck was amazing, it was getting chippy out there and we didn’t take any stupid penalties.”

The Wakelin Cup will be played at the Casco Bay Ice Arena in Falmouth at 6:40 p.m. on Thursday, March 2. <

Trail Blazer varsity hockey wraps up season

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle Trail Blazer varsity hockey team ended their season with amazing efforts competing until the final seconds in their final regular season game at the University of Southern Maine against Edward Little on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Trail Blazers senior and captain Wyatt Carpenter of Windham
keeps possession of the puck during a varsity ice hockey
game against Edward Little at the University of Southern
The Trail Blazers left it all on the ice and fought hard, but Edward Little won 5-0 and unfortunately, the Trail Blazers did not make post-season playoffs.

“We have a lot of things to work on,” said Windham sophomore Sam Foley. “Being man-to-man in the neutral zone and taking away passing lanes. They moved the puck quickly and every time we get caught watching the puck and there’s a good chance they’ll score.”

Edward Little took more shots at goal than the Trail Blazers in the first period that soon put them on the scoreboard. The Trail Blazers had trouble turning the puck over and after one period Edward Little led, 3-0.

The Trail Blazers came out immediately aggressive in the second period and attacked Edward Little’s net, but nothing got in. Trail Blazer defense slowed Edward Little’s offense as Westbrook senior goalie Isaac White notched almost 40 saves over the course of three periods. Edward Little led 5-0 after two periods.

“They gave me everything they had, every practice, every game, they never quit,” said Trail Blazer head coach Bobby Fothergill. “We had good leadership, and it was the right way.”

Fothergill said the Trail Blazers competed to the very last buzzer and never gave up. Even though they were outmatched by a bigger, older team, the Trail Blazers tried to make plays, doing what is asked of them. The record wasn’t there, but Fothergill is very proud of his team; he said next year will be their year.

The Trail Blazers defense held off Edward Little for a scoreless third period.

Windham senior and captain Wyatt Carpenter said they need to get to the puck faster with more energy on the bench, a lot more movement, passing on the ice and a lot more shots at goal.

It was the last game of the season, and Carpenter said that the team wanted to go out, play hard and have some fun.

White said it was tiring and he thought the Trail Blazers picked it up and got more confident toward the end. He felt like they ended the season with solid effort. He said they were able to get opportunities in the third period, but Edward Little’s defense shut them down. Team confidence in general went up toward the end of the season. <