Field hockey playoffs underway
All five local field hockey teams qualified for the postseason this fall, something which hadn't happened since 2007.
In Western B, Yarmouth made its first appearance since 2007 after finishing the regular season 6-6-2 with a 2-1 win at Freeport last Tuesday (sophomore Emma Peterson and freshman Fiona Clarke had the goals). As a result, the Clippers earned the No. 9 seed for the playoffs and went to No. 8 Lake Region Saturday in the preliminary round. Yarmouth lost, 6-0, at the Lakers back on Sept. 8 and played them to a scoreless tie at home on Oct. 5. This time around, Lake Region proved to be too much, scoring twice in each half to win, 4-0, ending the Clippers' season at 6-7-2.
"This has been a great season," said Yarmouth coach Mandy Lewis. "Unfortunately, Saturday's game did not go our way. We had three of five seniors feeling less than 100 percent. Sickness hit hard this season, but one exciting outcome was seeing what our team will be like next year. At one point during the Lake Region game, my assistant and I noticed that we had 10 underclassmen on the field and they were competing very well. I think the future looks bright. This group of seniors helped us to reach a goal that we have fallen short of for the past four seasons. Knowing that we have a strong group of returning underclassmen, including 11 dedicated current sophomores, provides much hope for the program's success."
Greely wound up with the No. 4 seed in Western B after a 10-4 regular season. The Rangers wrapped things up with a 1-0 win at Wells last Tuesday (senior Emily Curato scored the goal). Greely hosted No. 5 Leavitt (10-3-1) in the quarterfinals Wednesday (weather permitting). The teams don't typically play each other in the regular season. The last postseason meeting came in the semifinals last year, a 1-0 Rangers' win. Greely also met the Hornets in the 1997 quarterfinals (a 2-1 loss), 2003 semifinals (a 1-0 win) and the 2007 semifinals (a gut-wrenching 3-2 overtime loss).
"We've had a great season so far," said Rangers coach Kristina Lane Prescott. "Lots of individual improvement and team growth. The team has worked very hard and remains focused heading into playoffs. We finished Western Class B runners-up last season and hope that the experience can carry us through."
A Greely quarterfinal win would likely send it to nemesis top-ranked York (13-1) for the semifinals Saturday. The Rangers lost twice to the Wildcats this fall, 3-2 at home on Sept. 22 and 2-0 at York Oct. 5. Last year, in the regional final, York eliminated Greely, 3-1. The Wildcats have won five of the past six regional championships.
Falmouth entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed after finishing 9-4-1 following last Tuesday's 4-1 win at Cape Elizabeth, the Yachtsmen's fifth in a row. In that one, senior Megan Fortier had two goals, while sophomores Mikey Richards and Leika Scott each had one.
"We won four games last year and this year, it's been a total turnaround," said Falmouth coach Robin Haley. "After the loss at York in the playoffs last year, this group found out they could compete with the top teams in the league. I think we've been working on that the entire season."
Falmouth went to No. 3 Spruce Mountain (13-0-1) in Tuesday's quarterfinals. The teams did not play this year and have no postseason history as Spruce Mountain is a first-year school, combining former Western C contenders Livermore Falls and Jay.
"Hopefully we can put things together and be competitive in the playoffs," said Haley. "We're hoping for the best."
If the Yachtsmen survived, they'd either visit No. 2 Fryeburg (12-2) or host No. 7 Mountain Valley (8-4-2) in Saturday's semifinal round. Falmouth doesn't face the Falcons in the regular year. Mountain Valley beat the Yachtsmen, 1-0, in the 2007 preliminary round. Falmouth split with the Raiders this fall, falling on the road, 4-1, Sept. 22, before winning a thriller, 2-1, at home Oct. 5, on sophomore Jillian Rothweiler's goal with 53 seconds to go.Falmouth beat Fryeburg in the 2003 preliminary round (2-1, in overtime).
In Western C, defending state champion North Yarmouth Academy is the No. 2 seed this year. The Panthers finished 10-4 after a 1-0 win at Waynflete last Tuesday (senior standout Katherine Millett had the lone goal).
"In a year many thought might be a rebuilding year (five seniors graduated and seven players transferred to other schools), this year’s young team (over half the varsity team members are freshmen and sophomores) is excited to finish the season in second place," said Panthers' first-year coach Tracy Quimby. "Over the course of the season, a young team has shown that they have spirit, dedication and talent. They know that they will have to work together as a team using every player’s strengths. They also know that they need to come out strong in the first half."
NYA hosted No. 7 Telstar (6-7-1) in Tuesday's quarterfinals. The teams don't meet in the regular season, but have squared off in the playoffs three of the past four years, including a 3-2 Panthers' victory in the 2010 regional final.
"The team is looking forward to playing Telstar as a fresh challenge, a team they have not yet played this season," said Quimby.
A win in the quarterfinals would allow NYA to host a semifinals Saturday, against either No. 3 Lisbon (11-2-1) or No. 6 Waynflete (6-8). The Panthers didn't face the Greyhounds this season. The last playoff meeting between the schools was a 6-0 NYA in the 2008 quarterfinals. The Panthers not only beat the Flyers to end the regular season, they also downed them, 3-0, at home, back on Sept. 21. Last year, in the quarterfinals, NYA dominated Waynflete, 10-0.
Freeport finished fourth in Western C with an 8-6 mark after closing with a 2-1 home loss to Yarmouth last Tuesday (senior Kayla Thurlow had the goal, assisted by classmate Mia Thomas). The Falcons hosted No. 5 Traip (7-7) in Wednesday's quarterfinals (weather permitting). Freeport opened the season with a 6-2 win at the Rangers Aug. 31. On Sept. 23, the Falcons held on for a 3-2 home win over Traip. The teams met previously in the 1991 quarterfinals (a 2-1 Freeport win) and the 1992 quarters (a 1-0 Rangers' victory).
If the Falcons won, they'd move on to the semifinals for the first time since 2002 and likely visit top-ranked Sacopee Valley (11-2-1) Saturday. Freeport lost at home to the Hawks, 3-0, Sept. 13. On Oct. 5, they fell at Sacopee, 3-2. The teams' last playoff meeting resulted in a 1-0 Hawks' win in the 2005 quarterfinals.
Looking ahead, the regional finals are Tuesday of next week at Thornton Academy in Saco. The state finals are Saturday, Oct. 29 at Yarmouth High.