Andrew Burke of the Deering boys’ lacrosse team scored the tying and winning goals in a 8-7 victory over Portland in the season opener. Burke then had five goals and two assists in an 11-5 win over Traip Academy. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The last four seasons have been frustrating for the Deering High boys’ lacrosse team.

It took one game for those frustrations to melt away.

The Rams opened their season in emphatic fashion, rallying to beat Portland 8-7 on April 15 for their first win over their rival since 2017. That was also the last year Deering had a winning record. The Rams had gone 11-37 since then, and while Coach Geoff Arris thought his team had the talent to win this year, he knew it needed a statement victory.

And in their first game, the Rams got it.

“It was huge. Winning a game was kind of new to us, that feeling alone was something special, but winning against Portland is gigantic to us,” Arris said. “It was really exciting from top to bottom, the excitement on the kids’ faces when we were counting down those last 10 seconds of the game and everyone was losing their minds.”

Deering stretched its record to 2-0 with an 11-5 win over Traip Academy on April 20, and in so doing has already doubled its win total from a dreadful 1-11 season in which it was outscored 177-32, including a 15-1 loss to Portland.


The Rams appeared on their way to a loss to the Bulldogs in the season opener, trailing 6-3 in the fourth quarter, but two Joey Foley goals after a Corbin Burke score tied the game. Portland jumped ahead again, 7-6, but Andrew Burke got consecutive tallies to put Deering in front.

Moments later, the celebration was on.

“The scoreboard (last year) never reflected our effort. I’m sure a lot of coaches say things like that, but we always fought until the very last whistle, regardless of the score,” said Arris, who has 29 players after finishing last year with 12. “I think now, we’re finally able to capitalize on that grittiness that I saw. We just didn’t have the personnel to pull it off.”

CHATS ABOUT THE softball season are a little unusual in the McLeod household.

Jason McLeod is the head coach for Portland High. His daughter, Oakley, is a freshman for Windham. Both teams are hoping to be in the Class A South playoff picture.

And both the coach and the player admitted that it can feel a little strange.


“Sitting at the dinner table, my daughter will kind of poke at me and say ‘Hey, we’re going to play Portland in three weeks,’ it’s kind of interesting,” Jason McLeod said. “I would call it healthy family banter. … It’s something I haven’t really been exposed to in 25 years of coaching high school sports.”

The teams will meet May 17. Both are familiar with the other side – Jason has coached many of the Windham players, and Oakley spent time around the Portland team as a middle schooler.

“(It’s) not really weird going up against the players, just because I’ve played against a lot of my friends before,” Oakley McLeod said. “But maybe (it’ll be weird against) my dad. I’ve never played against him before. I think it’ll be fun.”

If Windham and Portland are tied late and Oakley is up, will Jason tell his pitcher how to pitch to her, a la Geena Davis’ character in “A League of Their Own?”

“Yeah. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he said, laughing.

Oakley has an idea what would be coming.


“He’s going to throw me junk, or changeups or something,” she said. “And I’m really good friends with the pitcher (Sadie Armstrong). She’ll probably know what to throw me already.”

THE WINDHAM BASEBALL team was tied for the worst record in Class A South last year at 2-14, but the team’s new coach, Chris Doughty, has reason to believe the Eagles will sneak up on people this season.

Windham has eight returning starters, including center fielder Erik Bowen (.324 average last year), infielder Bob Wing (.320) and middle infielder Login Desrochers (.300).

“It’s a super talented, deep league. … But we’ve got a lot of talented, great players on our team, too,” Doughty said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t put together a deep run.”

To achieve that goal, Doughty, a former St. Joseph’s College outfielder, has assembled a coaching staff of former college players. Cody Dube, the head coach last year who pitched at Keene State and in the Orioles organization, coaches pitchers. University of Southern Maine alum Anthony D’Alfonso coaches hitters, and Mike Eaton (USM) and Rob Hamilton (Keene State) are also on the staff.

“We can use that knowledge and say ‘Hey, I think this is what they’re going to try to do to you.’ Or when you were fielding that ground ball, ‘We noticed you did this. Try to work on this footwork instead,'” Doughty said. “I just think there are so many sets of eyes with experience.”


Windham is 0-1 after a 3-2 loss to Sanford. The Spartans beat Windham 14-4 last season.

AFTER A DORMANT stretch, a softball culture is beginning to grow at North Yarmouth Academy.

NYA is fielding a varsity team after sitting out last season because of low turnout. The school went eight seasons from 2012-19 as a co-op partner with Cheverus before finishing 7-8 in 2021 as a standalone team.

NYA is off to a 2-0 start following 16-0 and 11-8 wins over Mt. View.

“We’re going to get better. … It’s just getting them prepared, and we’re working on the basics. Put the bat on the ball, don’t give them extra outs,” Coach Rick Doyon said. “The next couple of years, I’m hoping we can start building the team even more.”

NYA had eight players initially, then got Ella Giguere, Brooklyn Goodman, Kailyn McIntyre and Toree St. Hilaire to come over from the soccer team, which Doyon also coaches. With enough players around a core of pitchers Lily Rawnsley and Jordan Nash and freshman Cami Casserly, the Panthers have been able to embark on what they hope will be a competitive season.

“You want to get that mindset, ‘Hey, we can compete. Let’s have some fun,'” said Doyon, whose team has two players in Hayden Wienckowski and Michala Wallace from the 2021 team. “That’s what we’re trying to build up again.”

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