AARON HOEKSTRA, Senior-Lacrosse

* SMAA all-star, first-team

* SMAA All-Academic

* Senior All-Star

Finally healthy, Hoekstra was imposing in the cage this spring for a Bulldogs team that awakened the echoes.

Hoekstra started playing lacrosse in middle school and following in the footsteps of his older brother, Andrew Hoekstra, became a goalie in the seventh grade.

“Lacrosse is so fast-paced,” Hoekstra said. “There’s action 100 percent of the time. I like playing defense. Playing goalie is the most primitive way of playing defense in lacrosse. I got better and better and learned how to forget giving up goals.”

Hoekstra played with his brother as a freshman, then became the starting goalie as a sophomore (becoming an honorable mention all-star). Hoekstra missed half of his junior senior with a collarbone injury, but he was healthy this spring and he and his teammates had a year to remember.

Hoekstra saved 123 shots, denied 68 percent of the shots he faced and had a 4.75 goals against average as Portland surprised everyone outside of its locker room, winning 11 of 12 regular season games.

The Bulldogs then downed Windham in a Class A North semifinal (Hoekstra made nine key saves) to reach the regional final for the first time in eight years. While Portland lost to Falmouth, it was a year to remember.

“We were the only ones who weren’t surprised,” Hoekstra said. “I knew the talent we had. We had to just put it together. Everyone bought in.”

Hoekstra, who has also played with the Dirigo travel team, capped his high school career by saving 10 of the 14 shots he saved in the Senior All-Star Game, a game where defense isn’t generally a top priority.

Hoekstra also played soccer at Portland and was a member of the Math team, Executive Board, Environmental Club and National Honor Society. He will matriculate at the University of Colorado next year, where he plans to study civil engineering and play club lacrosse.

The best is still to come for Aaron Hoekstra, Portland’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year, who was absolutely brilliant during his team’s season to remember.

Coach Mike DiFusco’s comment: “If I could, I’d have a roster full of Aaron Hoekstras in a heartbeat. His maturity, leadership, skill-set and knowledge gave us an advantage going into every game. He constantly worked on his game the right way and his personality, talent and leadership made everyone around him better. For most of his career and this year especially, he was hands down, the best player on the field. It’s been a privilege to coach him for four years.”

Previous winners:

2017 Jake Knop (baseball)

2016 Dan Marzilli (baseball)

2015 Ryan Ruhlin (baseball)

2014 Jonathan Bobe (track)

2013 Caleb Fraser (baseball)

2012 Ryan Jurgelevich (lacrosse)

2011 Ryan Jurgelevich (lacrosse)

2010 Caleb Kenney (lacrosse)

2009 K.R. Jurgelevich (lacrosse)

2008 Brian Furey (baseball)

2007 Sam McAdam (lacrosse)

2006 Joe Fessenden (baseball)

2005 Peter Sengelmann (lacrosse)

2004 Jake Schuit (lacrosse)



  • SMAA all-star, first-team, singles

Paradise excelled in her number one singles role, leading the Bulldogs on an unexpected run to the regional final.

Paradise started playing tennis seriously in middle school and it quickly became her top sport.

“I like that tennis is individualized,” Paradise said. “It’s fun, a great workout, a life-long sport. I’m pretty calm when I compete.”

Paradise played third singles as a freshman (winning 11 matches) and moved into the number one singles spot as a sophomore (and was named a league all-star). 

This spring, Paradise beat every regular season foe except Cheverus’ Anastasia Kapothanasis, Meredith Kelley of Falmouth and Gorham’s Jocelyn Bolt. The Bulldogs went just 6-6 in the regular season and weren’t expected to do much when the playoffs began, but after ousting South Portland in the preliminary round, Portland upset Cheverus, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, as Paradise avenged her regular season loss to Kapothanasis. After a 3-2 victory over Thornton Academy in the semifinals (where Paradise won in straight sets), the Bulldogs finally were vanquished, 4-1, by eventual champion Falmouth, but Paradise produced her team’s lone point by avenging her earlier loss to Kelley.

“I was very happy with the season,” Paradise said. “I knew we had it in us. We got the results we wanted.”

Paradise is also a black belt in karate and belongs to Portland’s Key Club and Executive Board. She’s hoping to make a deep run in the state singles tournament as a senior.

The Bulldogs are very happy to have her back for one final season. Lauren Paradise, Portland’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year, has been a shining star for the program and she’ll be a top player and team captain in 2019.

Coach Bonnie Moran’s comment: “Lauren has played singles her entire high school career so far. She’s the kind of player any coach would want and rarely gets the chance to have and not primarily for her tennis skills. She’s noted for her quiet, confident presence and unwavering sportsmanship. You’d never know if she’s winning or losing by observing her behavior on the court, which is a rare quality in a young player. She never gives up and has nerves of steel in tight circumstances. her work ethic and positive attitude are characteristics I hope the rest of our team can emulate. We’re so happy to have her one final year so she can continue to work her magic as player and captain.”

Previous winners:

2017 Jess Brown (softball)

2016 Jess Brown (softball)

2015 Margot Andreasen (tennis)

2014 Annette Denekas (tennis)

2013 Annette Denekas (tennis)

2012 Drew Barry (lacrosse)

2011 Drew Barry (lacrosse)

2010 Mary Moran (tennis)

2009 Maggie Swann (tennis)

2008 Liz Mosley (lacrosse)

2007 Jasmine Powell (track)

2006 Katie Hutchins (softball)

2005 Kelly Flaherty (lacrosse)

2004 Lily Anderson (lacrosse)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Lauren Paradise