The fall 2010 sports season didn’t come to a close until Saturday, but let’s face it, we didn’t want it to end.
For the most part, the weather was good and the action on the field, pitch, trails and courses was nothing short of superlative.
Football featured drama galore from start to finish, highlighted by a regional final for the ages between two city teams and of course, Cheverus’ trip to the state final and its first championship in a quarter-century.
On the pitch, Portland’s boys’ soccer team won a regional final for the first time since the first Clinton Administration. Several other boys’ and girls’ squads also excelled.
Cheverus’ field hockey team stole headlines, reaching a first state final.
Cross country produced another state champion.
Golf saw two local teams make it to the state match.
Before we bundle up for the long, cold winter ahead, here’s a look back at the highlights from the autumn that was.
Michael’s Top Five Fall stories:
5) McAuley soccer makes postseason
Prior to this fall, McAuley’s girls’ soccer team hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2002 or a playoff berth since 2003. The Lions won their first three games, started 4-1-2 and even after cooling down after being decimated by injuries, managed to earn the final postseason spot at 6-5-3. McAuley was ousted by Windham in the Western A preliminary round, but produced three league all-stars and set the stage for future success.
4) Waynflete field hockey becomes “That 70s Show”
Waynflete has long been a soccer school in the fall, but this year, field hockey made its presence felt. Under coach Noelle Surette, the Flyers, who just missed the playoffs in 2009, posted a winning record for the first time since 1977 and made the postseason for the first time in a non-open tournament year for the first time since 1978 after posting an 8-5-1 mark. Waynflete earned a difficult draw and had to play eventual state champion North Yarmouth Academy in the quarterfinals. The Flyers were ousted, but could take solace in the fact they’d returned the program to respectability and beyond. The years to come could be even better.
3) Cheverus field hockey makes stunning run to states
Cheverus’ field hockey team was a regional finalist in 2009, but after some big-time graduation hits, few expected the Stags to be one of the last two teams standing this fall. Cheverus got off to a great start and even though it stumbled at times during a 10-4 campaign, saved its best for last. As the No. 4 Western A playoff seed, the Stags held off No. 5 Kennebunk in the quarterfinals, then avenged not only last year’s playoff loss, but also a 6-1 rout earlier in the 2010 season with a 2-1 upset victory over defending state champion Scarborough in the semis. Senior standout Emily Sawchuck erupted for four goals in a regional final win over Bonny Eagle and just like that, Cheverus was in the state game for the first time. The dream would end with a 3-0 loss to perennial champion Skowhegan, but the Stags had enjoyed a ride of a lifetime.
2) Portland boys’ soccer falls one goal shy of glory
Coming into the 2010 season, word was the Portland boys’ soccer team had the capability to be as good as anyone. Three games in, however, the Bulldogs were just 1-1-1. Then, everything changed. Led by dynamic senior Fazal Nabi and a supporting cast that rose to the occasion time and again, Portland ripped off 11 straight wins to close the regular season. As the No. 2 playoff seed, the Bulldogs eliminated Cheverus with ease in the quarterfinals, rallied for a stirring semifinal round overtime victory over Cape Elizabeth, then held off Gorham in the regional final to make it to the state game for the first time since 1994 and just the second time ever. Unfortunately, Portland’s dream of a first-ever championship wasn’t to be. The Bulldogs did grab a 2-1 lead, but Bangor rallied and went ahead on a controversial goal. Despite ample chances, Portland couldn’t get the equalizer and had to settle for runner-up. With a strong core of returning players, the Bulldogs will be hungry to take that final step in 2011.
1) 35-34. Say no more
It was the football game of this and perhaps any other season. The top-ranked Cheverus Stags, the preseason favorite, hosted No. 3 Deering, a major surprise in the eyes of many, in the regional final, Nov. 13. The Stags had pummeled the Rams by 30 points three weeks prior and appeared primed to do it again when they raced to a 29-6 lead, but Deering improbably rallied and took a 34-29 fourth quarter lead. Cheverus, which had been tested on several previous occasions and responded each time, did so once again, getting a short TD run from senior Evan Jendrasko with 30 seconds to go. Of course, that left plenty of time for Rams’ standout senior quarterback Jamie Ross to answer. Ross drove his team into field goal range, then tried to win it with his foot, but his 36-yard attempt barely missed and Cheverus advanced to play in the Class A Final (where it beat Bangor, 46-8). On this day, however, everyone, most of all the legion of fans who swarmed the hill at Boulos Stadium, was a winner.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com
Fall 2010 State Champions
Cheverus Stags football, Class A
Cheverus Stags girls’ cross country, Class A
Fall 2010 Regional Champions
Cheverus Stags field hockey, Western A
Portland Bulldogs boys’ soccer, Western A
Waynflete Flyers girls’ cross country, Western C
The Cheverus girls’ cross country team, behind standout Emily Durgin, repeated as Class A state champions this fall.
Ralph Houanche and the Portland boys’ soccer team kept its head on the ball all autumn and were rewarded with a trip to the Class A state final.
Jo Moore and the Waynflete field hockey team had their best season in three decades this fall, posting a winning record and making the playoffs.