Drama, surprise abound as playoffs heat up

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(For the complete Waynflete-Freeport girls’ lacrosse game story, with photos and a box score, see theforecaster.net)

The tennis playoffs are coming to a close, just as baseball, softball and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse begin.

City teams are in the thick of the hunt in each of those sports and between now and June 20, thrills will be plentiful.

Here’s a glimpse:


If the month is June, then Waynflete’s tennis teams must be closing in on more hardware.

The Flyers boys, the seven-time Class C champion, earned the No. 2 seed in Western C after an 11-1 campaign and made quick work of No. 7 Madison (5-0) in the quarterfinals and third-ranked Boothbay Region (5-0) in the semifinals to earn a date with top-ranked Hall-Dale (14-0) in the regional final Thursday at Bates College in Lewiston. The winner goes to Lewiston High School Saturday for the state final against George Stevens Avenue, Mattanawcook or Piscataquis.

Waynflete’s girls, four-time Class C champions, had the daunting task of being seeded seventh following a 5-7 campaign, but the Flyers have been up to the challenge in the playoffs, eliminating second-ranked Winthrop (4-1) in the quarterfinals and No. 3 St. Dom’s (3-2) in the semis. Waynflete squared off with ancient rival North Yarmouth Academy (11-3) in the regional final. If victorious, the Flyers will meet Mattanawcook or Van Buren in Saturday’s state match.

The two Waynflete teams were the only ones left standing.

Portland’s boys, ranked fifth, upset No. 4 Cheverus, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, ending the Stags’ season at 9-4, then dropped a tough 3-2 decision to No. 1 Thornton Academy in the semifinals to wind up 9-5. Deering, the No. 2 seed, was stunned by No. 7 Windham in its quarterfinal, 3-2, and ended 10-3.

Portland’s girls, seeded third, beat No. 6 Gorham, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then ran into the unbeatable Falmouth in the semifinals and became the second-seeded Yachtsmen’s 123rd straight victim, 5-0, as the Bulldogs wound up 12-2.

“The only real disappointment was losing our very first regular season match to Windham which put us in Falmouth’s bracket,” said Portland coach Bonnie Moran, who reached the 100-win plateau with the victory against Gorham. “It was a great season. We weren’t as deep as last year, but we did almost as well. I wanted everybody to play hard every single point and they did. The girls have a lot of pride. I’m really proud.”

The Bulldogs, who will lose standout senior Margot Andreasen, a state singles quarterfinalist, among others, will have a new look in 2016.

“Margot made great progress,’ said Moran. “She had an amazing year. She was the only singles player to go undefeated in the SMAA.

“We’re losing a lot of senior players, so we’ll definitely be building next year. I’ve had building years before, but next year will be different. Several of the other top teams are young.”

Deering, the No. 10 seed, upset No. 7 Cheverus, 3-2, in the preliminary round, ending the Stags’ season at 8-5, then lost to Falmouth, 5-0, in the quarterfinals to finish 5-9. McAuley, ranked ninth, lost to No. 8 Marshwood, 3-2, in the preliminary round and wound up 6-7.


Portland’s baseball team entered the 2015 campaign full of promise, but almost completely untested. The Bulldogs expected to compete in a balanced region, but no one, not even coach Mike Rutherford, could have dreamed they’d wind up first in the Western Class A Heal Points standings after the conclusion of the regular season. Yet that’s exactly where Portland found itself after beating visiting Bonny Eagle (5-3) and host Sanford (5-4) last week to wind up 12-4.

Against the Scots, the Bulldogs rallied for the umpteenth time this spring, erasing a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Dan Marzilli earned his fourth win, Ryan Ruhlin had a key two-run hit and Nick Archambault had a pair of hits. Portland held on for dear life to beat the Spartans, almost letting a 5-0 lead slip away. Charles Barnard earned the victory, while Ruhlin, Jake Knop, Patrick Sheils and John Williams all had multiple hits.

“It was definitely unexpected,” Rutherford said, of finishing first. “I felt that we’d be pretty good, but I couldn’t predict we’d be the top teams in the Heal Points. It’s been fun, but it was challenging. (Senior) Ryan Ruhlin was really the only player with experience. On paper, an 8-8 season would have been successful. To go 12-4 is great. The kids worked hard.”

The Bulldogs earned their first No. 1 ranking since 2006 and will host either No. 8 Cheverus (9-7) or No. 9 Deering (10-6) in Thursday’s quarterfinals (7 p.m., at Hadlock Field).

“We’re playing good baseball and we’re starting to hit,” Rutherford said. “We had good pitching and defense all year. There’s more parity in the league this year than any year since I started coaching. Last year, an 11 seed went to states. This year, anybody can beat anybody. Both Cheverus and Deering are very good.”

The Stags closed the regular season on a four-game skid, capped by a gutwrenching 5-4 eight-inning loss at Marshwood. Jack Casale’s two-run single helped produce a 4-0 first inning lead, but Cheverus couldn’t hold it.

The Rams capped their best regular season since 2011 with a 4-1 win at Windham. Colby Dame went the distance, allowing just five hits, and Dominick Bernard had three hits to pace the offense.

Cheverus beat visiting Deering, 10-5, back on May 21. The teams have played five previous times in the playoffs with the Rams capturing all five. The most recent was a 4-1 Deering victory in the 2010 quarterfinals.

Portland beat both potential playoffs foes at Hadlock Field this season. On May 26, the Bulldogs rallied from six runs down to shock Cheverus, 7-6. Three days later, Portland handled Deering, 12-4.

The Bulldogs are 2-1 all-time against the Stags in the playoffs. The most recent meeting came in the 2000 quarterfinals (a 12-2 Portland win in six innings).

The Bulldogs and Rams have played eight previous times in the postseason with Deering taking five of those meetings, including the most recent (10-0 in six innings in the 2009 quarterfinals).

The playoffs continue with the semifinal round Saturday, on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Western A Final is Wednesday of next week at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. The Class A state game is Saturday, June 20 in Augusta.

Waynflete failed to qualify for the Western C playoffs, finishing 4-12 and 15th in a region where only 12 teams made the cut.


McAuley’s softball team earned the 11th seed in Western A (12 teams qualified) after finishing the regular season 7-9. The Lions went to No. 6 Noble (10-6) for the preliminary round Tuesday. McAuley lost at home to the Knights, 6-5, May 20. Noble won both prior playoff meetings, 7-6 in the 2000 preliminary round and 10-7, in eight innings, in the 2004 preliminary round. If the Lions sprung an upset, they’d go to No. 3 Sanford (14-2) for the quarterfinals Wednesday. McAuley almost beat the Spartans in Sanford May 22, but let a seventh inning lead slip away and lost, 5-4, in eight innings.

Portland finished 4-12 and 15th after losing at undefeated, top-ranked Scarborough, 12-0, in five innings last Wednesday.

Deering finished 2-14 and 17th.

Cheverus wound up 1-15 and 18th after closing with an 11-4 loss at Massabesic.

Boys’ lacrosse

All four city boys’ lacrosse teams qualified for the playoffs.

Waynflete wound up third in Western B after going 9-3. The Flyers closed with an 11-9 win over Freeport, in a game played on the turf at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Harry Baker-Connick scored four times. Waynflete hosts No. 6 Fryeburg Academy (6-6) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The Flyers beat the visiting Raiders, 13-4, back on May 1. The teams have no playoff history. If Waynflete advances, it will go to No. 2 Falmouth (9-3) Saturday for the semifinals. The teams didn’t play this year. The Flyers have won two of three prior postseason encounters. The most recent was a 17-1 Yachtsmen romp in the 2011 semifinals.

In Eastern A, Cheverus closed strong, winding up 7-5 and fourth after holding off visiting Thornton Academy, 8-7, last Wednesday for its fifth win in succession. James Kane led the way with three goals. The Stags host No. 5 Windham (8-4) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams didn’t play this year and have no playoff history. A win would send Cheverus to No. 1 Brunswick (12-0), arguably the state’s best team this spring, for the semifinals. Last year, the Dragons eliminated the Stags, 9-8, in the regional final.

Portland finished 6-6 and sixth following an 11-9 triumph at Marshwood in its finale. Brady Green and Robert Nolan both had three goals. The Bulldogs went to No. 3 Lewiston (10-2) for the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams didn’t play in the regular season and split two prior playoff encounters (Portland won, 9-5, in the 2010 semifinals and the Blue Devils prevailed, 15-6, in the 2011 semis).

Deering earned the seventh seed with a 4-8 mark after closing with a 16-12 loss at Westbrook. Andrew Johnson and Nate Richards both had five goals in defeat. The Rams are at No. 2 Messalonskee (8-4) Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Deering lost at the Eagles, 11-4, May 8. The Rams won the only previous playoff meeting, 8-6, in the 2011 quarterfinals.

Girls’ lacrosse

Waynflete’s perennial powerhouse girls’ lacrosse team finished 8-4 with a 14-6 win at Freeport Thursday. The Flyers got four goals from former Falcon Nina Moore and three apiece from Lydia Giguere and Christian Rowe.

“It was key to get ahead,” Moore said. “We had to start working on our playoff performance level. We came out strong.”

“I think we played amazing as a team,” Giguere said. “The last couple games, we’ve really put it together. Toward the end of the season, we really improved.”

“It was a really good way to end,” added Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. “The girls are stepping up every game. Everybody contributed today. Girls who hadn’t gotten in there got time and they dug deep.”

The Flyers earned the No. 4 seed (their lowest ranking since the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning the sport in 1998) and will host No. 5 Cape Elizabeth (7-5) in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. Waynflete won, 10-4, at the Capers May 18. The Flyers have won eight of nine all-time playoff meetings between the schools, but last June, Cape Elizabeth snapped a 24-game losing streak to Waynflete by stunning the host Flyers, 9-8, in the semifinals.

“We’re ready for playoffs,” Giguere said. “We’re excited. Cape will be ready for us. I think we’ll have to come just as strong as we did when we beat them at home. We’ll have to play very well.”

The Flyers don’t face their usual expectations this time around and just might be a darkhorse.

“We’re looking forward right now and trying to improve every step of the way,” said Moore. “We still have a  lot to work on. As long as we really focus and play hard and want it, we can compete against the top teams. I look forward to it. If we do our best, we can play great.”

“I’m excited,” Connors said. “I just hope we can play like we played today. We’ll go out and have fun with no pressure.”

In Eastern A, Portland capped a 7-5 season with its third straight victory, 17-6, at Deering. The Bulldogs finished third and will host No. 6 Cheverus (5-7) in the quarterfinals. The Stags closed with a 16-7 victory at McAuley. Abby Biegel had four goals to lead the way.

Cheverus edged host Portland, 10-9, back on May 12. The teams only met one time previously in the playoffs, a 9-6 Stags victory in the 2010 quarterfinals.

The winner will likely go to No. 2 Mt. Ararat (11-1) for the semifinals Saturday. Neither team played Mt. Ararat this spring. The Stags lost to the Eagles, 12-9, in the 2010 semifinals and beat Mt. Ararat, 15-2, in the 2013 quarterfinals. The Bulldogs lost to the Eagles, 12-9, in the 2011 quarterfinals.

McAuley finished the year with losses to visiting Cheverus (16-7) and at Windham (23-6), but its 5-7 mark was good for the eighth and final spot in Eastern A, as the Lions qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

“Our program is extremely excited to make the playoffs this season,” said McAuley’s first-year coach Jackie Dubois. “Our coaching staff has worked hard all season to not only challenge our players to improve upon their skill set, but to also prepare our team for a competitive schedule. The end result has been incredible. Our players have responded really well and our five seniors have been extraordinary leaders for our underclassmen. We are especially proud of the success considering the many challenges we have faced this season, including season-ending injuries and a short bench. Our team has been energetic, enthusiastic, and displayed a tireless work ethic all season. The future of Catherine McAuley lacrosse is certainly bright.”

McAuley goes to No. 1 Messalonskee (11-1) for the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams have no history.

Deering went 2-10, finished 11th and missed the playoffs.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements

Waynflete sophomore Beata Vest gets possession of the ball during the Flyers’ 14-6 regular season-ending win at Freeport last week. Waynflete earned the No. 4 seed in Western Class B.

Ace pitcher Dan Marzilli and his Portland teammates shocked the local baseball world by earning the No. 1 seed in Western Class A. The Bulldogs will face either rival Cheverus or Deering in the quarterfinals Thursday.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.