Abundance of highlights for North area teams
(Ed. Note: We recapped the basketball season in last week's edition)
Winter sports fans had plenty of options the past few months. There was ample drama on the ice, slopes, trails, track and in the pool.
Three local boys' hockey teams made it to the playoffs and one advanced to the regional final. Two girls' squads took part in the postseason, with one going to the West Region final. As always, there was plenty of glory to go around on the conference and state level in track, swimming and skiing.
Here's one final look at the 2009-10 winter sports season.
Michael's Top Five stories:
5) Falmouth girls' hockey reaches regional final
The Falmouth girls' hockey team staggered into the playoffs after going 2-4-2 down the stretch to finish 9-5-4. The Yachtsmen saved their best for last, however. In the semifinals at Scarborough, Falmouth trailed 2-0 in the third period and appeared finished, but rose to the occasion, getting one goal, then another to tie the score. Later in the period, the Yachtsmen struck again for an improbable 3-2 lead, then held on for the thrilling triumph. Falmouth advanced to meet top-ranked Cheverus in the regional final and once again hung tough, trailing just 1-0 in the third period before the eventual state champion Stags pulled away to win, 3-0, ending the Yachtsmen's season at 10-6-4.
4) Another state crown for Falmouth boys' track
On Feb. 15, the Falmouth boys' indoor track team won the Class B state championship for the fourth time in five seasons and got to back to the pinnacle after being runner-up the year before. Kellen MacDonald and Will Wegener won individual crowns and the Yachtsmen captured the 800 relay, while producing tons of points elsewhere to hold off runner-up Greely by 11 points. Greely's quest for a 14th girls' state title since 1991 didn't pan out as the Rangers came in third behind York and Waterville. Don't be surprised if results for local teams are even better next winter.
3) Yarmouth boys' hockey returns to prominence
The Yarmouth boys' hockey team wasn't expected to be anything special this winter. The Clippers had suffered through back-to-back down seasons and appeared to be a longshot for even contending for the playoffs, but did this proud program ever surprise. Yarmouth got off to a 4-1 start and created some confidence, but stumbled at the start of its 2010 schedule, losing eight of nine games. The lone win in that stretch was a rare victory over rival and defending state champion Greely. Then, with the season on the line, playing short-handed, the Clippers earned a surprise win at Noble, downed Westbrook, Leavitt and Gardiner and wound up 9-9 to earn the No. 3 seed for the playoffs. There, Yarmouth shocked No. 2 Camden, 3-1, in the semifinals. In the regional final, against powerhouse York, the Clippers trailed 5-1 in the second period, but in their final and perhaps finest character statement, erupted for three goals and made the Wildcats sweat until the very end. The 5-4 loss left Yarmouth 10-10 and reminded everyone how good it is for high school hockey to have a relevant Clippers program. With most of this year's group returning, Yarmouth figures to build on this year's resurgence.
2) Falmouth edges Yarmouth for ski title
If there appeared to be one given this winter, it was that Yarmouth's boys' ski team was going to win the combined Class B championship. Well, one team, Falmouth, disagreed and went on to prove everyone wrong. The Clippers held an 11-point lead entering the Nordic classic, the final race of the championships, but the Yachtsmen stole the show, scoring 38 points to 51 to Yarmouth, giving Falmouth an improbable two-point victory. Yarmouth did manage to win the Alpine crown. On the girls' side, the Clippers won Alpine and combined, while Becca Bell took skimeister honors. Freeport, Greely and NYA also impressed at the state meets.
1) Greely swimmers sweep Class B
Entering the Class B state swim meets last month, the Greely Rangers were bound and determined to end a recent, frequent trend of finishing second. After a superb regular season and a solid showing at the Southwestern meet, the Rangers truly saved their best for last. The boys, after placing second to Mt. Desert Island three years in a row, rode the brilliance of Patrick Bowden, John Madeira, Ian Mecray and Dan Spencer to a suprisingly easy win over MDI. The girls were led by record-setters Sarah Easterling and Sara Schad, ending a five-year stretch of runner-up finishes. Beloved coach Rob Hale had his eagerly awaited titles and Greely, for the first time in a long time, was truly No. 1.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org