(From left) Recipients of the 2021 Ellsworth American/Mount Desert Islander fall sports girls’ postseason awards are Sophia Biggie Jennings (senior, George Stevens Academy; Volleyball Player of the Year), Ella Hosford (junior, Bucksport; Soccer Player of the Year), Thea Crowley (junior, GSA; Cross-Country Runner of the Year), Emily Carter (senior, Mount Desert Island; Golfer of the Year) and Desiree Sirois (head coach, MDI cross-country; Girls’ Coach of the Year).

Five garner EA/Islander fall girls’ sports postseason awards

BLUE HILL — After missing out on a real fall season a year ago, Hancock County’s female athletes didn’t disappoint in 2021. Between record-setting campaigns and championship runs, it was an autumn to remember for girls’ sports locally.

The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander have selected one Player of the Year for each girls’ sport and a Coach of the Year across all of Hancock County girls’ athletics. The selections represent just a few of the best from a fall season that was a breath of fresh air following the uncertainties of a year ago.

Volleyball Player of the Year: Sophia Biggie-Jennings, senior, George Stevens Academy

Hancock County produced some of the state’s top volleyball players this year with Mount Desert Island’s Addy Boyce and George Stevens Academy’s Evelyn Dagan splitting Penobscot Valley Conference Player of the Year honors. Yet our Volleyball Player of the Year honor goes to another local standout, GSA’s Sophia Biggie-Jennings.

One of the most powerful hitters in the state, Biggie-Jennings was the regular leader in kills for a GSA squad that went 13-3 and finished as the state runner-up in Class C. She averaged an impressive 9.0 kills and 8.4 digs per game, including an 18-kill match Oct. 5 against Bucksport and a 20-dig effort Oct. 19 against Washington Academy.

Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year: Ella Hosford, junior, Bucksport

George Stevens Academy’s Sophia Biggie-Jennings spikes the ball during a high school volleyball match against Ellsworth on Sept. 7 at Ellsworth High School. Biggie-Jennings, our pick for Volleyball Player of the Year, averaged 9.0 kills and 8.4 digs per match this season. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Of all the sports played in Hancock County this year, girls’ soccer might have been loaded with the most top talent. Between Ellsworth’s Addi Laslie and Paige Sawyer, Bucksport’s Ella Hosford and Mount Desert Island’s Lelia Weir, four players would have been worthy choices for our first Player of the Year award.

Hosford, who was chosen as PVC Player of the Year in Class C, gets the nod after producing the most prolific season in Maine high school soccer history. The junior set a state record for goals in a single campaign as she bagged 61 for Bucksport to break the old record of 57 set by Lee Academy’s Shelby Pickering in 2003.

Entering the year, Hosford had scored just 25 combined goals in her freshman and sophomore seasons. After a dedicated offseason, though, Bucksport’s standout forward broke out with a season in which she both eclipsed the state single-season record and smashed the all-time school scoring record of 63 goals.

“I really think the training she’s done has really helped take her to the next level,” said Bucksport head coach Mike Garcelon. “She put a lot of work in last winter and also committed herself all summer long to us. Her teammates are also better around her, which makes her game even better because [other teams] can’t completely focus on her.”

Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year: Thea Crowley, junior, George Stevens Academy

Ever since arriving at GSA as a freshman two years ago, GSA’s Thea Crowley has been one of Maine’s elite cross-country runners. This season, the junior maintained that status as she finished in the top 10 in all nine meets in which she competed.

Crowley earned wins Sept. 17 at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds and Oct. 9 at Hermon High School. She was state runner-up in the PVC, Northern Maine and state championship meets and also took sixth of 534 runners in the Oct. 2 Festival of Champions and eighth of 259 runners in the Nov. 13 New England championships.

Those times placed the Blue Hill native second across all classes in the state championship meet and fifth among Maine runners in both the Festival of Champions and the New England championships. Ending the season with those meets was a great reward for the PVC first-teamer and other Maine runners after last year’s shortened season and canceled state meet.

Bucksport’s Ella Hosford battles for the ball during the Class C championship girls’ soccer game against Maranacook on Nov. 6 at Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex in Presque Isle. Hosford enjoyed a record-breaking 2021 season as she broke both Bucksport’s all-time scoring record (63) and the state’s single-season scoring record (57). ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

“It was great to be able to have a full season and run in those meets this year because we couldn’t have them last year because of COVID,” Crowley said. “Those are some of the best runners [at those meets], and getting to run with them was a great opportunity.”

Girls’ Golfer of the Year: Emily Carter, senior, Mount Desert Island

Emily Carter ended the summer on a high note as she won Kebo Valley Golf Club’s ladies’ championship in late August. The senior rode the momentum from that club championship win into her final varsity season with a strong campaign that aided MDI to a PVC runner-up finish in Class B.

Carter was MDI’s top individual scorer Aug. 31 and Sept. 8 at Kebo, Sept. 1 at Lucerne Golf Course in Dedham and Sept. 27 at the PVC championship and state qualifying meet in Presque Isle. She was chosen Sept. 27 as the PVC Girls’ Golfer of the Year.

On Oct. 8, Carter affirmed her status as one of the state’s top female golfers as she placed fourth in the state championship meet. She then closed out the season Nov. 1 as she shot an 85 overall to finish as the best of Maine’s 10 ladies’ tournament contestants in the New England championships at Mohegan Sun Golf Course (Baltic, Conn.).

Girls’ Coach of the Year: Desiree Sirois, Mount Desert Island cross-country

Desiree Sirois has coached a number of strong teams in her 14 years as MDI’s head cross-country coach. Few, if any, of those teams can match what her girls’ team accomplished this fall.

The MDI girls achieved what Sirois called a “golden season” in 2021 as they won a stunning eight meets, including a complete sweep of championship season. The Trojans’ best performance came in the state championship meet as Sirois’ team (46 points) beat out Cape Elizabeth (102 points) to record the largest margin of victory in a Class B state meet in 12 years.

Sirois has long used a pack-running strategy as well as a physical and emotional approach to running to much success. She was chosen last month as the PVC Large-School Coach of the Year for both boys’ and girls’ cross-country.

“Our team this year was the gold standard of sportsmanship, dedication and class,” Sirois said. “We talk a lot about respect for others and running with joy, and this team took that message to heart. They’re a great bunch.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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