February 25, 2010

Talented, yes, but they offer much more

— When he's recruiting players for his St. Michael's College women's soccer team in Colchester, Vt., Marcel Choquette is looking as much at the person as he is at the player. And apparently he's found a good area to mine.

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Teal Bryan

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Jenn Senecal

This year's squad has three players with ties to the Greater Portland area: junior forward Jenn Senecal of Yarmouth, sophomore midfielder Teal Bryan of North Yarmouth (Greely) and freshman defender Shannon Doherty of Scarborough (Cheverus).

''They are good players, good athletes and, one of the most important things to us, good students and good people,'' said Choquette. ''Those are two very important criteria for us.''

So far, the Purple Knights have struggled to a 1-6 record (0-4 in the competitive Northeast-10), but Senecal and Bryan are doing their best to turn things around. Senecal leads the team in scoring with three goals and one assist while Bryan is right behind her with a goal and an assist. Both had six goals last year to tie for the team lead.

''We're just having trouble finishing,'' said Bryan, who followed her older sister Skylar to St. Michael's. ''Other than that, my teammates and I and my coach are all extremely happy with the way we're playing. I'm hoping sooner or later our season will start turning around.''

Having seen her play in high school while he recruited Skylar, Choquette knew what he was getting when Bryan agreed to play at St. Michael's. Even then, he said, ''As a student, with all her volunteer work that she does, she makes us a better team and this a better place.''

Senecal, he added, ''has truly exceeded our expectations since she got here.''

Senecal, a psychology major, wasn't even sure she wanted to play soccer at the Division II level.

''I knew it would be a stretch for me,'' she said. ''I went from being a pretty good high school player to one of the worst on the team. And I had to develop mentally and physically to keep up with everyone on the team. I'm glad I kept playing, I love our team.''

Bryan, who twice volunteered at an orphanage in Ghana, said she knew a little of what to expect from her sister. But, she added, ''On the field it was definitely tougher. You're playing against college-experienced players who are a lot bigger and more fit than your opponents in high school. I kind of got knocked around a little.''

Her biggest challenge this year is finding someone like her sister. The two played side by side in the midfield last year.

''There was a connection between us on the field,'' she said. ''Now I'm trying to find someone else to connect with.''

As last year's co-leading scorer, Senecal said she notices a little more pressure on the field, but that ''Everyone is aware that it can't be just one person or two (scoring). We're all working well together.''

Both players, said Choquette, are tireless workers. Bryan ''covers a tremendous amount of ground,'' he said, and Senecal ''has a tremendous engine. It's amazing the amount of ground she covers in a space of 90 minutes.''

While Doherty has appeared in only one game, Choquette sees a great upside. ''I can't begin to express how many good things I see,'' he said, ''how much technically and athletically she has improved her first month here.''

Senecal said one of the best things about playing at St. Michael's is having a couple of Mainers to talk to.

''I am a true Mainer,'' she said. ''It's cool to have someone I can talk to. We talk about all things in Maine.''

FIELD HOCKEY

Eighth-ranked Bentley University (6-2) is bolstered by a quartet of players with Maine ties. Senior midfielder Courtney Bartlett of Brunswick (St. Marks' School, Southborough, Mass.) is second on the team in scoring with five goals and two assists. Senior midfielder Allison St. Jean of Lebanon (Noble) has one goal and two assists. Sophomore forward Megan Bauer of Rockport (Camden Hills) and sophomore defender Nicole Chaloux-Pinette of Scarborough have each appeared in one game.

n Meghan McLaughlin of Cape Elizabeth is a junior goalie forSt. Michael's. McLaughlin has appeared in every game with a 3.38 goals-against average and a .671 save percentage. She has one shutout, a 3-0 decision over Assumption.

n Senior back Rachel Alfiero of Cape Elizabeth has played in every game for Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. She's joined on the roster by freshman forward Kirsten Russell of Cumberland (Greely), who has played in one game.

MEN'S SOCCER

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Matt Williams of Portland (Cheverus) has a 2-1 record for Cincinnati, which is 5-2. Williams, who played every minute last year, has a 1.67 goals-against average and has posted one shutout.

n Freshman midfielder Tyler Rand of Westbrook has appeared in three games for Gettysburg College.

WOMEN'S SOCCER

Sophomore forward Alexandra Laniewski of Scarborough is the leading goal scorer for Husson. She has eight goals, including two game-winners, and three assists. Junior defender Caitlyn Butterfield of Gorham has scored one goal on a penalty kick.

n Sophomore midfielder Alex Woodhouse (Waynflete) is playing for Wheaton. She has appeared in one game.

WOMEN'S TENNIS

Freshman Julia Parmakian of Gorham is playing No. 6 singles at Wheaton.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

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