One win away from the state final, three city lacrosse teams remain.
Deering’s second-ranked boys’ team is in the regional championship game for the first time after edging No. 3 Messalonskee, 8-6, in Saturday’s Eastern A semifinals. The Rams will battle top-seed Lewiston in the regional championship game Wednesday night.
Portland and Waynflete weren’t as fortunate. The Bulldogs’ two-year reign as regional champion ended Saturday night with a 15-6 semifinal round setback at Lewiston. The Flyers were ousted, 17-1, in the Western B semis by powerhouse Falmouth.
On the girls’ side, Waynflete once again reached the regional final game. The No. 1 Flyers barely survived No. 4 Greely’s upset bid, 12-11, in Saturday’s semifinals and will host third-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final Wednesday.
Cheverus continued its improbable run. The Stags, who were 1-9 at one point in the regular season before earning the sixth and final playoff seed, upset both Messalonskee (10-8) and Cony (11-9) to make it to Wednesday’s Eastern A Final at top-ranked perennial power Brunswick.
Fifth-seeded Portland’s run ended in the Eastern A quarterfinals with a 12-9 loss at No. 4 Mt. Ararat.
Deering enjoyed its best regular season to date, winning 11 of 12 games, losing only at Kennebunk. The Rams earned the No. 2 seed and hosted dangerous No. 3 Messalonskee Saturday afternoon in the Eastern A semifinals. Deering had no history with the Eagles and had its hands full.
The Rams were down 2-0 early, which had to bring up memories of last year’s 3-0 quarterfinal round loss to Lewiston, but Deering, playing without suspended senior Zach Poulin, finally hit its stride. Trailing 5-4 at the start of the second half, the Rams scored thrice in the third quarter and went on to an 8-6 win. Senior standout Carleton Allen had three goals. Senior Noah Whittenburg added a pair and junior Anthony Verville scored to put Deering ahead to stay as the Rams improved to 12-1.
“We had possessed more and our defense was all over them, but they were ahead,” said Deering coach Bob Rothbart. “In the second half, our defense was swarming on people. (Senior Karl) Rickett was unbelievable. I said at halftime, ‘Look guys, we’ve outplayed them.’ I told them to keep shooting. We’re a second-half team.”
The Rams are at 12-1 Lewiston Wednesday at 7 p.m. The teams didn’t meet last year, but squared off in the aforementioned quarterfinal a year ago.
“I expect it will be a good game,” said Rothbart. “It’s a brave new world for us. Lewiston’s good. They have great athletes, good defense and a great goalie. I think defensively right now, we’re playing as well as anyone. Winning Saturday, without Zach, they guys are starting to believe in themselves.”
The Deering-Lewiston winner will meet either defending champion Scarborough or Thornton Academy in the Class A state final, Saturday at 10 a.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Portland, seeded fourth after a 9-3 regular season, pulled away to beat No. 5 Brunswick, 15-6, in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs only led, 6-5, after three periods, then pulled away behind seven goals from senior All-American Caleb Kenney and three from senior Charlie Marr.
Saturday night, however, at No. 1 Lewiston, Portland’s season came to a close.
The Bulldogs beat the Blue Devils in last year’s semifinals and 9-8, in overtime, back on May 3, but this time, despite grabbing an early 2-0 lead, Portland was no match for hungry Lewiston, which went on an 8-1 run in the second and third periods and cruised, 15-6, ending the Bulldogs’ season at 10-4. Junior Seamus Kilbride led the way with two goals.
“It’s kind of the story of our year,” lamented Portland coach Eric Begonia. “I don’t know if it’s anything we did wrong. It’s a lot of what they did right, to be honest. They’re just a talented team, top to bottom.”
The Bulldogs once again lose several key players to graduation and will have their hands full remaining a top contender in 2012.
“Since 2005, I’ve always said, ‘What am I going to do without those seniors?'” Begonia said. “We’ve always found guys to fill the void. These seniors accomplished a lot in their four years. Obviously, we hoped to go farther than we did. We just happened to run into a team playing good lacrosse right now. Next year, we’ll build from the goalie out and we have a lot of great defenders. We have a JV team that was undefeated this year. We’re optimistic. We have a lot of growing to do between now and then.”
Waynflete enjoyed its best season since 2005, winning nine times to earn the No. 4 seed, but the Flyers’ “reward” was a trip to powerhouse No.1 Falmouth, a team which beat Waynflete, 17-5, on April 27. The postseason matchup was similar. The Yachtsmen shot to a 6-0 lead after one quarter and never looked back, winning, 17-1, to end the Flyers’ season at 9-4.
On May 23, the Cheverus girls lost, 14-3, at Thornton Academy to fall to 1-9. The playoffs were a pipe dream. Anything more was sheer folly.
Wednesday at 4 p.m., the Stags will play at Brunswick in the regional final.
By virtue of regular season ending wins over visiting Windham (12-10) and Gorham (a 15-14 stunner), Cheverus snuck into the Eastern A playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Last week, the Stags ousted host No. 3 Messalonskee (10-8) and No. 2 Cony (11-9) to advance.
Against the Eagles, Cheverus shot to a 6-0 lead and never looked back behind freshman Elyse Caiazzo’s four goals. Saturday, at the Rams, the Stags had to come from behind, but scored the game’s final four goals to win. Junior Paige Lucas had three goals and six others came from the team’s group of fabulous freshmen.
“It’s fun playing in June, especially when you don’t expect to,” said Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain. “It doesn’t seem like anything phases us. We weren’t as sharp in the Cony game as we were against Messalonskee. We weren’t moving around on offense. They scored with five seconds left in the half. Earlier in the year, we wouldn’t have recovered. This time, we scored off the second half draw. We held them scoreless the last 12 minutes, 40 seconds. Our defense bent, but didn’t break. (Junior) Sarah LaQuerre made some big plays. Everyone now has confidence in the flow of the game.”
The Stags didn’t meet No. 1 Brunswick (10-3) in the regular season. The teams have no playoff history. Cheverus will travel north knowing it’s again the underdog with nothing to lose.
“We feel we can still play better,” said Chamberlain. “Athletically, I think we match up well even though Brunswick has balance and works well together. They’re fundamentally sound and take care of the ball. We’ll go out and play hard for 50 minutes. Since Gorham, we’ve been the unwelcome houseguest. We’ll just go and play our game. We have athletes. Anything’s possible.”
Portland was the No. 5 seed in Eastern A after a 6-6 campaign. Last Tuesday, at No. 4 Mt. Ararat, the Bulldogs were eliminated, 12-9, despite five goals from sophomore Drew Barry, and wound up 6-7.
In Western B, perennial powerhouse Waynflete had another strong season, winning 10 of 12 games to earn the top seed in the region and a bye into the semifinals.
Saturday afternoon, hosting No. 4 Greely, the Flyers got pushed the limit, but survived, 12-11, behind four goals from sophomore Sadie Cole, three from senior Mica Thompson and solid defense with the game on the line. The Rangers had a look to tie in the waning seconds, but the shot went wide and Waynflete advanced.
“This was a really fun game,” said Flyers coach Cathie Connors. “(Greely’s) very well coached and I wasn’t going to underestimate them at all. I knew it would be really, really tight. They played beautiful lacrosse.”
Waynflete is now 8-1 all-time versus the Rangers in the playoffs, but like so many previous battles, this one came down to the wire.
“It was really scary at the end, but we pulled through,” Cole said. “Playoffs changes everything. Greely has really good players. They’re a really good team and I could tell they were really pumped. We didn’t know what to expect in playoffs, but we were ready for anything.”
The Flyers host No. 3 Cape Elizabeth (10-3) in the regional final Wednesday at 4 p.m. On May 17, Waynflete won at the Capers, 13-6. The Flyers have won the prior five playoff meetings, including a 9-5 regional final triumph two years ago.
“It’ll be really tough,” Cole said. “Cape’s a really good team. In the playoffs, everyone brings their best. It should be a really good game.”
Looking ahead, the Class A girls’ state championship is Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The Class B girls’ state final is at the same location at 5:30 p.m., Saturday.
Waynflete sophomore Martha Veroneau battles Greely’s Paige Tuller for a loose ball during the Flyers’ 12-11 Western B semifinal round win Saturday.
Waynflete sophomore Jack Cutler soars for a shot, but Falmouth junior Cam Bell holds his ground during the teams’ Western B semifinal Saturday. The Flyers’ season came to an end with a 17-1 loss to the powerhouse Yachtsmen.