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, the Cape Elizabeth boys' basketball team was successfully defending its Western B title, while Scarborough and South Portland hung tough in Western A.
On the girls' side, defending Scarborough took its place as a top Western A contender, with South Portland in the running. Cape Elizabeth enjoyed its best regular season of the decade.
On the ice, girls' hockey took centerstage as it enjoyed its first season under Maine Principals' Association auspices. Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough enjoyed success.
On the boys' side, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland worked their way toward the playoffs.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling 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, Scarborough swept the Class A titles as the boys joined the girls at the top after they made it five straight. Individually, Scarborough's Sam Chick (800), Brad Nakanishi (pole vault), Lauren Blaisdell (long jump), Whitney Chamberlain (800) and Catie Funk (shot put), along with Cape Elizabeth's Emma Hockmuth (pole vault), Rachel Nichols (800) and Marita Stressenger (mile) won championships.
In the pool, the Capers won their first girls' title in years, thanks in large part to Nora Daly (Class A champ in the 200 and 500 freestyle) and Rosie Wennberg (50 and 100 free).
On the Nordic ski trails, Cape Elizabeth standout Emily Attwood won the Class B classic and freestyle.
On the mat, Cape Elizabeth's Nate LaVallee won the Class A heavyweight championship.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, Scarborough was eliminated by Biddeford (again) in the preliminary round, while South Portland was sent packing by Portland in the quarterfinals. In Western B, however, Cape Elizabeth once again sparkled, downing Yarmouth in the quarterfinals, then beating Greely on junior Andrew Dickey's highlight-reel buzzer-beater in the semis. The Capers then defeated Falmouth in the regional final to earn a second straight trip to the state game. Despite giving favored Camden all it handle for a half, Cape Elizabeth went down to a 62-49 defeat, finishing 17-5.
The Capers girls just missed the playoffs despite winning seven games. South Portland was ousted by Scarborough in the quarterfinals, but the Red Storm's title dreams ended in the next round with a heartbreaking loss to Biddeford.
Hockey's playoffs saw South Portland's boys down Noble in a Western A prelim, then lose to Falmouth in the quarterfinals. Scarborough was able to down Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals, then lost at eventual regional champ St. Dom's in the semis. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth beat Leavitt in the semifinals. In the girls' playoffs, Cape Elizabeth fell to Scarborough in the quarterfinals of the West Region before the Red Storm were eliminated by Cheverus in the semis.
On the 4th, Cape Elizabeth shot to a 3-1 lead over Greely in the Western B Final and almost got a fourth goal (it hit the post) before the Rangers awakened and scored five unanswered goals to end the Capers' season.
April and May
The short spring regular season produced much optimism.
Scarborough's baseball team, paced by standout hurler Chris Bernard, enjoyed its best season since joining Class A. South Portland and Cape Elizabeth also produced strong teams.
Scarborough's softball squad geared up for a run at a second state title in three seasons with South Portland hot on its trail. Cape Elizabeth was once again a top Western B contender.
Lacrosse once again turned heads as perennial powers Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland all featured explosive squads.
On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland all won enough to qualify for the playoffs.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence across the board.
On the 6th, Scarborough's girls were second and the boys came in third at the Class A outdoor track state meet. Cape Elizabeth produced the lone local individual champ (Hockmuth in the pole vault).
All six local tennis teams made the playoffs. Cape Elizabeth's boys fell to Falmouth in the quarterfinals, the girls lost to Falmouth in the semis. Scarborough's boys made it to the regional final, but were eliminated by Windham. The girls fell in the semis. Both South Portland teams lost in the quarterfinals.
In boys' lacrosse, South Portland was eliminated by eventual champ Portland in the semifinals, then the Bulldogs ended Scarborough's title reign in the regional final. Cape Elizabeth made it back to the state game again, but couldn't solve Yarmouth and fell one victory shy of its first championship since 2005.
On the girls' side, South Portland was ousted in a prelim by Portland, Scarborough got a horrible draw and lost at Kennebunk in the quarterfinals and Cape Elizabeth gave powerhouse Waynflete a mighty scare before being eliminated in the regional final.
South Portland's baseball team sprung an upset against Westbrook in the quarterfinals, but was sent home by Scarborough in the semis. The Red Storm then went on to engage powerhouse Deering in a slugfest before falling short. Cape Elizabeth's Western B dreams were dashed by Greely in an extra-inning classic in the semifinals.
That left softball. After Cape Elizabeth lost to Fryeburg in the Western B semifinals, Scarborough eliminated South Portland in the Western A Final. After three postponements and a four-day delay, the Red Storm went on to defeat Skowhegan 3-1 to win their second Class A championship.
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, Cape Elizabeth pummeled all comers in the early going. South Portland struggled, then shocked the world with a stunning and exhilarating upset over two-time champion Bonny Eagle.
On the pitch, it became clear that Scarborough's boys' team was going to be a force to be reckoned with yet again. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland also featured strong squads. On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough got off to a hot start, while South Portland upset the Red Storm on the 26th.
The Scarborough field hockey team served notice that it wouldn't settle for anything short of a championship. On Opening Day, South Portland snapped a long winless streak with a 1-0 win over Noble.
Cape Elizabeth's girls' cross country team once again had no peer. The Capers boys and both Scarborough squads were also solid.
The biggest golf story was the resurgence of the long-dormant South Portland program.
Scarborough's volleyball team held its own against many of the league's bests.
Golf held its state championship on the 10th. South Portland capped its storybook season with a runner-up finish in the Class A match. Cape Elizabeth was fourth in Class B.
Cross country's regionals were held on the 31st. Cape Elizabeth easily took Western B and all six teams qualified for states.
That same afternoon, Scarborough's field hockey team fulfilled its destiny, rallying for a late tying goal, then winning its first championship on senior Ellie Morin's deflection in overtime.
The soccer playoffs began with a stunning upset as the top-ranked Scarborough girls were eliminated at home in the quarterfinals by Marshwood. On the boys' side, Cape Elizabeth fell in the quarterfinals at Windham and South Portland was eliminated by Scarborough in the semifinals.
South Portland's football team dropped two late-season heartbreakers to just miss the playoffs. Scarborough edged Kennebunk in the finale for its lone win. Cape Elizabeth drubbed rival Mountain Valley 34-0 to end the regular season 9-0 and earn the top seed for the playoffs.
The Cape Elizabeth girls' cross country team celebrated another championship on the 7th.
In Scarborough, the Red Storm boys' soccer team held off Brunswick 2-1 to finish undefeated and state champion for a second straight autumn.
That left the Cape Elizabeth football team, which on the 7th, punished Wells 35-14 in the Western B semifinals. A week later, in a heavy downpour, it appeared the Capers' title dreams would be dashed yet again by Mountain Valley, but Cape Elizabeth rallied for two late scores to win a first regional crown, 23-13. On the 21st, the Capers battled Leavitt for the Class B crown, but didn't have quite enough and fell, 35-21.
Without any break to speak of, the fall season gave way to winter and here we go again.
In boys' basketball, a new-look Cape Elizabeth squad is continuing the tradition, beating all comers to date. South Portland, despite the absence of injured standout Keegan Hyland, is also unbeaten. Scarborough should be in contention all season.
On the girls' side, an early come-from-behind win over Deering established Scarborough as the team to beat. South Portland and Cape Elizabeth also boast winning marks.
On the ice, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland's boys all have looks of playoff contenders. The Capers and Red Storm girls will also be heard from come February.
Swimming and wrestling have 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 email@example.com