July 10, 2011

Maine Sunday Telegram All-state Lacrosse
She demands attention, and with very good reason

Gorham's Mia Rapolla's physical presence has made her the focus of each opponent's defense.

When she was in elementary school, the phone rang at Mia Rapolla's house, then in a suburb of New Haven, Conn.

click image to enlarge

Mia Rapolla faced double- and triple-team defense throughout her lacrosse career at Gorham High, yet still managed to score 88 goals as a senior ... an MVP performance.

John Ewing


Becca Bell, Yarmouth, senior, midfielder: Gritty and competitive, Bell had a real presence on the field for the Clippers. She scored 46 goals, picked up 39 ground balls and won 56 draws. She was named an All-American.

Alex Bernier, Falmouth, sophomore, attack: A skilled stickhandler with a very strong shot, Bernier was Falmouth's leading scorer with 36 goals. She assisted on 22, picked up 20 ground balls and helped the Yachtsmen to the Western Class B semifinals.

Taylor Crowley, Kennebunk, senior, attack: The whole package, Crowley is the kind of player who brings it every day. An honorable mention All-American selection.

Dakota Foster, Brunswick, sophomore, midfielder: A workhorse all season, Foster led the Dragons in goals (57), total points (80), draw controls (52) and ground balls (47). She capped the year with a standout performance in the state final against Scarborough that nearly forced overtime with three goals in the waning minutes.

Molly Herman, Brunswick, junior, goalie: Arguably the state's best goaltender this year, Herman has very good technique and takes risks to make big plays. Had a 7.50 goals-against average, .588 save percentage and caused six turnovers for the Class A runner-up Dragons.

Kelsey Howard, Scarborough, senior, midfieler: A dynamic playmaker, Howard always seems to come out of a crowd cradling the ball. She scored 33 goals, won 42 draws, picked up 43 ground balls and caused 18 turnovers for the champion Red Storm. Named an All-American.

Mia Rapolla, Gorham, senior, midfielder: Rapolla is a rare hybrid of skill and toughness on the field. She scored 88 goals her senior year, capping a teriffic career with the Rams. An honorable mention All-American.

Maggie Smith, Scarborough, junior, midfielder: A game breaker, Smith could change the speed of the game when the ball was on her stick. Scored 37 goals for the state-champion Red Storm with 31 ground balls and 20 draw controls. Named an honorable-mention All-American.

Molly Strabley, NYA, sophomore, attack: Fast and skilled, Strabley became the leader of this team late in the season and finished with 22 goals, seven assists and at one point made 10 saves in goal. Plays bigger and older than she is.

Danielle Torres, Yarmouth, senior, midfielder: Fast and skilled, Torres was a game breaker for the Class B state champion Clippers. She scored 45 goals, picked up 33 ground balls and won 34 draw controls on her way to an honorable-mention All-American season.

Martha Veroneau, Waynflete, sophomore, midfielder: An end-to-end threat with explosive ability in the offensive third, Veroneau scored 45 goals and assisted on 30 this year for the Flyers. Brings a level of intensity rare for a sophomore.

Coach of the year

Dorothy Holt, Yarmouth: Holt guided a veteran team to a 14-1 season and the Class B state championship, its first since 2007. The Clippers suffered a one-goal loss early in the season against Waynflete, then won the rematch in the regular-season finale and beat the Flyers again in the state final, 9-8.

The conversation went something like this:

"Mrs. Rapolla? Um, Mia's a little too rough for the girls. I think we're going to have to put her in the boys' league."

That was basketball.

Some 10 years later, not much has changed. Even on the lacrosse field.

Perhaps the most rugged of every skilled lacrosse player in Maine this spring, Gorham's gifted midfielder scored 88 goals through intense traffic, earning her the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram girls' lacrosse MVP.

Double- and even triple-teamed in some games, Rapolla almost always found a way to power her way through and send a shot into the net.

She was also named the newspaper's Athlete of the Year, for her combined prowess in basketball, cross country and lacrosse.

"I try to be rugged. I always hear the other coaches yell "(No.) 24, 24!" They always just yell my name when I'm going into the eight," said Rapolla. "I just think 'turn and explode.'

"When I'm going in and three people close in, I know two others are open. Then I might retreat. Or if I see a weakness in their triple, I try and go through it."

Rapolla, who will play lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts next year, said she appreciated the struggle this spring.

"It's good because I feel like I'm going to be a lot more prepared next year," said Rapolla. "There, I won't be the one triple-teamed."

Rapolla finally was shut down in the Western Class A semifinals by a dogged defender from Kennebunk who stuck close to Rapolla for the duration of the game.

"I think we made some progress this year, but I think we let the pressure get to us," said Rapolla. "I am definitely most proud of our season last year when we made it to Western (regional).

"We took a team that shouldn't have made it that far and did. We went through a lot of tough games, beating Thornton Academy in double overtime to get in. It was just so exciting.

"Even after we lost (to Scarborough) we were crying but were so proud of one another."

Rapolla was the focal point for every team that played Gorham, particularly that regional semifinal.

"We brought our hearts and we knew (Mia) was our main competition and had to take her out of the game," Kennebunk defender Emily Kessel said after the game.

Rapolla said she is about a month into the summer workouts assigned by the UMass coaching staff and is loving every minute of it.

"I really like it. I feel like I'm getting stronger already," she said.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:


Twitter: JennMenendez


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