Farewell to a triumphant year; 2009 featured memories galore
Another fantastic year of high school sports drama has come and gone.
Local athletes kept us warm last winter, enthralled in the spring and dazzled in the fall.
With a new year upon us, let's look back once more to the thrills that made up 2009.
When 2008 gave way to 2009, several local basketball teams were making a mark.
The Falmouth and Greely boys were jockeying for the top spot in Western B, while Yarmouth was hanging tough.
On the girls' side, Greely was emerging as a top threat, while Falmouth was looking to make a move.
On the ice, girls' hockey took centerstage as it enjoyed its first season under Maine Principals' Association auspices. Falmouth and Greely led the way.
On the boys' side, Greely became not only the top team in Class B, but enjoyed several wins over top Class A contenders. Falmouth was once again a threat in Class A.
Skiing, swimming and track teams were also making a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week was anything but a respite for athletes, coaches and fans.
In track, Greely won the Class B team title with Falmouth coming in second and NYA fourth. Individually, six athletes took home eight crowns. Falmouth's Tommy Winger was tops in Class B in the long jump and triple jump and NYA's Henry Sterling won the mile and two-mile. Falmouth's Kristopher Floridino (shot put), Greely's Peter Colesworthy (55 hurdles), Nate Martin (state-record in the 200) and Mark McCauley (800) also came in first.
In the pool, Falmouth won another girls' Class B crown, while both Greely teams came in second. Individually, the Yachtsmen's Kristin Jackson (butterfly, IM), Adrienne Madden (50 free) and Evelyn Perry (diving), along with NYA's Ian Nichols (50 free) won state titles.
On the slopes, Yarmouth was once again without peer, sweeping the Alpine and combined Class B state championships. Cam Woodworth won the boys' Nordic classic and freestyle, while Lauren Stackhouse took the girls' Alpine slalom. Falmouth's Chris Moody won the boys' slalom crown.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, NYA fell in the preliminary round, Yarmouth was eliminated in the quarterfinals, then, in the most dramatic moment of the tournament, Greely appeared to have defending regional champ Cape Elizabeth beat, but the Capers went the length of the court for a stunning buzzer-beater and advanced to the regional final where they eliminated another Forecaster Country squad, Falmouth.
On the girls' side, NYA lost in the preliminary round, Falmouth capped a late-season surge by reaching the semifinals where the Yachtsmen lost to York. Greely fell victim to the Wildcats as well, in the regional final.
In the girls' hockey playoffs, Falmouth was eliminated by Biddeford in the semifinals. Greely reached the first East Region Final, but had no answer for eventual champion Lewiston.
On the boys' side, Falmouth toppled South Portland in the Western A quarterfinals and Kennebunk in the semis, while in Western B, Greely passed its first playoff test with a decisive semifinal round romp over traditional rival York.
On the 3rd, Falmouth hockey's season ended with a loss to St. Dom's in the Western A Final. The next night, Greely rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Cape Elizabeth in the Western B championship game. Then, on the 6th, the Rangers finally fulfilled their destiny, capturing a state title for the first time with a one-sided romp over Presque Isle.
April and May
The short spring regular season produced much optimism.
On the diamond, Freeport won its first game in two years, while Greely, NYA and Yarmouth all won enough games to qualify for the playoffs.
Falmouth and Greely's softball teams led the way, making runs to the postseason.
Lacrosse would once again be the sport that turned heads the most. On the boys' side, a dominant Yarmouth team made it clear that it had every intention of going all the way again. Falmouth emerged as a first-rate contender, while Freeport, Greely and NYA were also playoff-caliber.
On the girls' side, NYA and Yarmouth were their usual dominant selves, while Falmouth, Freeport and Greely were all competitive.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured more brilliance from the Falmouth girls, a transcendent season by the Yarmouth boys and several other strong performances.
On the 6th, two local teams won outdoor track championships, as the Falmouth boys (behind first-place finishes from Kristopher Floridino in the shot put and Tommy Winger in the long jump and triple jump) captured Class B and NYA (thanks to wins from Henry Sterling in the 800, mile and two-mile and Sam Fear in the high jump and javelin) finished tops in Class C. Greely's Mark McCauley also had an individual win, in the Class B boys' 800. Girls' individual champs included Falmouth's Rosemary Nurse (high jump), Greely's Liza LePage (800), NYA's Maeve Stier (high jump) and Yarmouth's Haley Knaub (javelin).
On the 13th, Falmouth capped an undefeated season by winning the Class B girls' tennis title. Yarmouth won its first Class B boys' crown the same day and NYA took the girls' Class C honors.
More champions were crowned on the 20th when Greely won Class B baseball for the second time in three seasons and Yarmouth repeated as the Class B boys' lacrosse champs for the first time. NYA's girls weren't as fortunate, losing once again to nemesis Waynflete in the state final.
July and August
High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.
Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, volleyball and golf excitement.
On the gridiron, Freeport won its first varsity game. Yarmouth dropped its first two outings, then caught fire and wouldn't lose again until November.
On the pitch, Falmouth and Yarmouth's boys were their usual dominant selves and the Greely girls became a top contender with Falmouth, NYA and Yarmouth close behind.
The defending Class C state champion NYA field hockey team won every game it played in decisive fashion. Falmouth, Freeport and Greely also jockeyed for playoff positioning.
Falmouth's volleyball team made headlines by winning every match, emerging as a top threat to six-time champion Greely. Yarmouth was also competitive
Several cross country runners and teams, along with local golfers excelled.
Golf held its state championship on the 10th. Falmouth came in second in Class B and Yarmouth finished third. Greely was fifth in Class A. NYA placed third in Class C. Individually, NYA's Tim Millett won the Class C championship, while Greely's Laura Grant was the best girl golfer around.
Cross country's regionals were held on the 31st. Greely's boys won Western B, while Freeport won the boys' and girls' crowns in Western C.
NYA's field hockey team enjoyed more success in the postseason, rolling back to the Class C state game before its repeat title dreams ended with a stunning 1-0 loss to Dexter. Freeport and Greely were eliminated in the quarterfinals, while Falmouth lost to York (again) in the semifinals.
The soccer playoffs showcased once again the best of the sport in the state. Falmouth and Yarmouth's boys passed quarterfinal and semifinal round tests to set up another Western B Final showdown. In Western C, seventh-seeded NYA upset Dirigo and Georges Valley to make the regional final. In Western A, Greely, also ranked seventh, upset No. 2 Gorham in the quarterfinals, then dropped a heartbreaker at Windham in the semis.
On the girls' side, defending Class B champion Falmouth moved on to the regional final. Yarmouth passed its quarterfinal test at Leavitt. In Western A, Greely liked its title chances, but after knocking off Portland in the quarterfinals, the Rangers lost a controversial decision at eventual regional champ Thornton Academy in the semis. NYA's Western C hopes were dashed by Waynflete in the quarterfinals.
Falmouth and Greely's volleyball teams split two memorable regular season showdowns, then found themselves meeting in a third in the state final on the 31st. After the Rangers showed their championship heart and timing by eking out narrow wins in the first two games, they made it seven straight with a decisive third game triumph.
Yarmouth was the lone local football team to make the playoffs and did the Clippers ever make the most of their stay. On the 30th, in the Western C quarterfinals, Yarmouth held off Livermore Falls in a thriller, 35-28.
The month began with Yarmouth's girls' soccer team being eliminated at York in the semifinals. Falmouth made the trip for the regional final and was ousted as well. The NYA boys saw their Cinderella run end with a loss to St. Dom's in the regional final. In the highly-anticipated Western B boys' final, Falmouth erupted in the second half to beat Yarmouth, 3-0, and avenge the prior year's upset.
On the 7th, Greely's boys' cross country team won the state title. The same afternoon, Falmouth won its seventh Class B boys' soccer title of the decade with a win over Ellsworth.
That left the Yarmouth football team, which on the 6th, won another dramatic playoff tilt, rallying for a 34-28 overtime win at Old Orchard Beach. The fun ended the next week, however, when the Clippers fell 41-7 at Dirigo in the regional final.
Without any break to speak of, the fall season gave way to winter and here we go again.
In boys' basketball, preseason favorite Falmouth has beaten all comers, including Greely and Yarmouth, which figure to be in the mix all the way.
On the girls' side, Greely might be ready to leapfrog York and looks forward to two opportunities to do that very thing next month. Falmouth is capable of making noise as well.
On the ice, while Greely isn't the juggernaut of a year ago, the Rangers might still be championship-worthy by March. Falmouth is strong once again and perhaps the best early story features a resurgent Yarmouth program. Falmouth's girls have been the top local team so far.
Swimming has provided positive glimpses and track and skiing are about to get underway.
Farewell to 2009. Quite a memorable and triumphant year you were. Now we welcome 2010 and a new batch of thrills.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org