Cony’s Riley Geyer throws a pitch against a Gardiner batter during the 2019 season in Gardiner. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

For Riley Geyer, the season was over before it began.

Expected to be one of the top hitters and pitchers for Cony this spring, Geyer saw his senior baseball season dashed due to a torn ACL that occurred during football workouts back in December.

Instead, Geyer has taken on a new role with the Rams, serving as an assistant coach while he recovers.

“I’ve talked to Coach (Don) Plourde and all my teammates, and they still want me and I still want to be part of the team,” Geyer said. “I’m pretty excited about that. Obviously I’d love to go play and be part of my senior year, but I’m excited for the rest of (the) seniors. … I’m going to be missing out, but I’m not at the same time, because I’m going to be there every game and practice.”

Geyer said he’s not sure what his responsibilities will be, but he’s ready to help out wherever he’s needed.

“I know every position like the back of my hand. I’m an all-around baseball player,” he said. “I can go out and coach the outfielders while Coach Plourde and coach Gunner (Davis) are doing the infielders, or I can help the first basemen doing scoops and working on footwork. … Hopefully, I’ll be cleared to do some swinging so I can hit pop flies, or throw a little bit with them.”

Geyer, who also starred for the Cony football team, hurt his knee on Dec. 22 while running patterns at RedZone Football Academy.

“I was running a 10-yard comeback, and as soon as I planted to turn around, my left knee buckled just right and my ACL just snapped,” he said. “It hurt as soon as I did it, and I knew I did it. I’ve never felt something like this before. … Two minutes after, it felt numb. (Like) there was nothing there, pretty much. All my pain fibers were gone, that’s what doctors were telling me after the fact.”

Geyer had an MRI on Dec. 26, then had surgery Jan. 22. He’s still planning on playing college football, and has visited Bridgewater State,  Anna Maria College, Husson and the University of Maine, with Norwich University and Western New England still in the conversation. When he hurt his knee, Geyer said he originally felt dread about the effect the injury would have on his baseball season and football prospects.

“Right when I did it, I thought everything was over,” he said. “ACL surgery and ACL injury is heartbreaking to every athlete. If you hear you tear something, especially in your knee … it’s just heart-wrenching. It’s awful.”

As he’s recovered, however, Geyer said he’s felt his optimism returning.

“I have people all around me that have told me I can do it,” he said. “As soon as I heard that people know that I can do it, it kind of just clicked for me. I can do this. I’m not going to let this defeat me.”

 

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Lawrence High School’s Cassandra Poli (18) was a star on the Bulldogs’ team in 2016. Now she is the head coach. Michael G. Seamans

 

Only three years ago, Cassandra Poli was playing for the Lawrence girls lacrosse team.

Now, she’s getting her chance to lead it.

Poli, 20, is going into her first season as the Bulldogs’ head coach, following a career that saw her stand out as the team’s top player at midfield and attack.

“I’m really grateful to have this opportunity, let alone to coach at the school I graduated from,” said Poli, who is a student at the University of Southern Maine. “I have a lot of great athletes, some girls that are really excited to learn and motivated to get better. … A lot of these girls are brand-spanking-new to the sport.”

There will be a learning curve at Lawrence, since there’s no JV program at the school and the younger players didn’t have a chance to develop with last season canceled due to the coronavirus. Even though lacrosse experience is low, Poli will have players from the successful field hockey and basketball teams on her roster, and she said element from those sports carry over into lacrosse.

“That’s half the battle. If you know how to play defense and the aggressiveness in basketball, you’re going to be successful in lacrosse (with) the body-to-body contact,” said Poli, who also played field hockey. “Ground balls, that’s kind of the equivalent to getting a rebound. Same with field hockey. If you have the I.Q. to push them to the sideline and not towards the middle, that’s half the game.

“They have very high I.Q. when it comes to intensity and gameplay. It’s more or less teaching the lacrosse skills, as far as cradling the ball and passing on the run and shooting.”

 

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After a few years of playing as a co-op, the Carrabec and Madison baseball teams are flying solo this spring.

Low numbers at both schools — particularly at Carrabec, which saw its amount of players drop as low as three — forced them to merge and form the Bridgeway Bandits, who played together from 2017-2019 and made the Class C South semifinals in 2018.

Turnout has rebounded at both schools. Carrabec is up to 13 players on its squad.

“We’re extremely excited, and the numbers show that,” said Cobras coach Erik Carey, who has five freshmen and four sophomores on his team. “Not everybody saw the players coming (in 2017), but I felt the players were definitely coming. The numbers were there. … They would have been in fifth and sixth grade originally at that co-op, so we saw them there. They just weren’t going to get there in time to keep a program going.”

Madison, meanwhile, has 23 players on its team, which is being coached again by Shawn Bean, who last led the Bulldogs in 2009 before stepping down to watch his daughter Lauren play softball.

“I really tried to boost the numbers. Being the baseball coach and the football coach, I went in and talked to a lot of the kids and tried to get them back in the baseball program,” Bean said. “(The program) is in a good spot, and it’s even down across the classes. I think my junior class is the strongest, but all the classes are kicking in five or six kids, which in a varsity program is what you want.”

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