Portland boys' lacrosse opens title quest; Cheverus, Waynflete also qualify for playoffs
After a dominant regular season, the Portland boys' lacrosse team has a single focus and a single goal.
The Bulldogs have been among the best teams in the state for five years now, but have never won a state championship.
This year's senior-laden squad won't settle for anything less.
Portland went 11-1 this spring, only losing by two goals in an epic at unbeaten, defending Class B state champion Yarmouth, and easily garnered the top seed for the Western Class A playoffs. The Bulldogs will host either No. 8 Biddeford (6-6) or No. 9 Massabesic (6-6) in the quarterfinals Thursday at 6 p.m., and won't have to leave their homefield, Fitzpatrick Stadium, at any point through the state final.
Cheverus and Waynflete also made the postseason.
The Stags, 4-8 and the No. 7 seed in Western A, hosted No. 10 Noble (5-7) in the preliminary round Tuesday (too late for print).
In Western B, the Flyers enjoyed a 7-5 regular year and earned the No. 4 seed. Waynflete hosts No. 5 York (5-7) in the quarterfinals Thursday, with the winner scheduled to visit top-ranked Cape Elizabeth (10-2) Saturday.
Deering went 3-9 this year and failed to reach the playoffs.
After last year's second half fade and a stunning and heartwrenching overtime loss to Cheverus in the quarterfinals, the Bulldogs entered 2009 bound and determined to go all the way.
With the exception of two outings – the loss at Yarmouth and a closer-than-expected 8-7 home win over up-and-coming Falmouth May 22 – Portland was simply untouchable, scoring nearly 15 goals a game to just 3.4 for the opposition.
"We're playing really good ball right now," said Bulldogs coach Eric Begonia. "We're locked in. We're happy with how we're playing."
Portland did not face Biddeford or Massabesic this year. The Bulldogs have never faced the Mustangs in the postseason, but downed the Tigers 19-3 in the 2006 quarterfinals.
Cheverus coach Deke Andrew didn't think his team would make the playoffs this year and was surprised when the Stags earned the No. 7 seed. Cheverus hosted a Noble team Tuesday it downed 13-4 on the road May 15. The Stags and Knights have no prior playoff history.
If the Stags took care of their homefield advantage, they would visit No. 2 Scarborough (8-4) in the quarterfinals Thursday. On May 20, Cheverus lost 12-4 at home to the Red Storm. The teams have never met in the postseason.
In Western B, Waynflete hadn't posted a winning record since 2005, but won its final two games to wind up 7-5. The Flyers earned a home date with a York squad it beat 11-10 at home May 30. Waynflete has never faced the Wildcats in the playoffs.
The semifinal round of the Western A and B playoffs is Saturday. The regional finals are Wednesday of next week. Both rounds will be contested on the field of the higher remaining seed. The Class A and B state finals are Saturday, June 20 at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The Class A game starts at 10 a.m. The Class B Final begins at 3 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.