Michael’s Top Five Stories
1) Yarmouth title caps terrific volleyball campaign
Every fall, the sport of volleyball produces more and more drama and the 2014 campaign was the best one yet. Several regular season matches went to breathtaking fifth sets and three locals squads turned heads. Greely, the state’s gold standard, looked like the team to beat most of the way, but the Rangers couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead against Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals and dropped a gutwrenching five-set decision. Those Capers then did the same thing to defending champion Falmouth in the Class A Final, one of the most epic in state history. The one team which didn’t stumble, Yarmouth, produced the best season in program history, 15-1, en route to a third Class B championship in four seasons. Expect the level of play to continue to rise in 2015.
2) Yarmouth boys take a beating, but win title
A year after an agonizing regional final loss, Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team got to the pinnacle this fall and there were a lot of obstacles trying to beat the Clippers back. Literally. After a superb 10-2-2 regular season, Yarmouth earned the top seed for the playoffs and after dominating Fryeburg Academy in the quarterfinals, the Clippers needed an overtime goal from senior standout Adam LaBrie to survive Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals. A LaBrie hat trick helped Yarmouth avenge last year’s setback and defeat Greely in the regional final. That sent the Clippers to the state game against Ellsworth. Junior Patrick Grant scored on a rebound of a LaBrie shot in the first half for the game’s first goal, but in the second half, Yarmouth had to fend off rough play which ultimately degenerated into a melee with just over two minutes to go. The Clippers kept their cool, however, and celebrated the program’s ninth title, earning plenty of respect along the way.
3) When is 10 greater than 11?
Answer: When you’re the North Yarmouth Academy field hockey team.
The Panthers, who have been state final regulars in recent seasons, were behind the eight ball from the get-go this fall, fielding only 10 girls, while everyone else had 11, but NYA looked at being outmanned as a point of pride and rose to the occasion. The Panthers produced a solid 10-4 campaign, highlighted by a memorable overtime win over previously undefeated crosstown rival Yarmouth, then held off Sacopee Valley in the quarterfinals. While NYA’s run finally ended with a semifinal round loss at top-ranked Oak Hill, it’s impossible to overstate just how special this team’s 11-win campaign was. The Panthers have several championship trophies in their case, but those teams couldn’t match the heart of this one.
4) Three cross country champs
Only six cross country teams got to celebrate a state championship this fall and half of them came from Forecaster Country. Freeport’s boys won Class B for the first time, saving their best for last. The Merriconeag boys had no peer in Class C. In the Class B girls’ meet, Yarmouth was seeking a first-ever title, but Greely had the last laugh, riding the individual brilliance of Katherine Leggat-Barr to the title. Falmouth fell just short in the Class A boys’ race. All in all, it was another tremendous season on the trails.
5) Falmouth football sets new benchmark
While Falmouth’s football team has been very competitive in recent seasons, this year’s squad set a new standard. Behind the unstoppable running of Connor Aube, the steady leadership of quarterback Noah Nelson and terrific play in all three phases of the game, the Yachtsmen posted a program-best 7-1 mark, which was marred only by a loss at York. Best of all, Falmouth closed the season with a decisive win over rival Greely in the “Battle of Route 9.” The Yachtsmen then won a playoff game for the first time, dominating Morse in the quarterfinals. Falmouth returned to York for the semifinals and was much more competitive, but its title hopes were dashed there. Still, an 8-2 campaign was something to hail.