Fall sports season was special

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The fall sports season produced no shortage of drama from beginning to end as city athletes and teams created countless thrills.

All three local football squads made the playoffs, with Cheverus advancing the deepest (see story).

Boys’ soccer produced a story for the ages, Cheverus’ run from the No. 7 seed to Class A state champion. Deering, Portland and Waynflete also made it to the postseason.

On the girls’ side, all five teams qualified for the playoffs as Waynflete saw its two-year run as Class C champion come to a close, while Portland edged Deering in an epic in the preliminary round.

Field hockey saw Deering, Portland and Waynflete each fall in the preliminary round, while Cheverus overcame a late-season slump to put together a stunning run to the semifinals.

The cross country story saw strong results, while golf sent some individuals to the state match. Volleyball continues to grow in the city and next year, Deering and Portland will field varsity teams.

Here’s one last glimpse at the highlights of autumn:

Fall champions

Cheverus Stags boys’ soccer, Class A

Waynflete Flyers girls’ cross country, Western C

Michael’s Top Five Stories

1) Cinderella Cheverus and the (Gold) Ball

Once upon a time, there was a soccer team that shocked everybody. Except perhaps themselves. After a competitive, but middling 6-4-4 regular season, Cheverus went into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in Western Class A. After ousting rival Portland, the 10 seed, in the preliminary round, most expected the Stags to go home, but they were enjoying themselves way too much. First, Cheverus went to No. 2 Falmouth and beat the state’s most storied program, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. It took over 110 minutes to advance in the semifinals, as the Stags and sixth-ranked host South Portland were tied, 1-1, and had to go to penalty kicks, a round Cheverus won, 5-4, to keep its run going. Then, in the Western A Final, against Scarborough, the region’s gold standard over the past decade, the Stags were down by a goal with just over two minutes to play, but midnight refused to strike. Andrei Vile’s goal forced overtime and in the second OT, the shot of Gerry Wagner’s life won it and sent Cheverus to the Class A Final. There, another top foe, Eastern Maine champion Lewiston, awaited and again the Stags had to sweat out some anxious moments, but behind the heroics of goalkeeper Jake Tomkinson, Cheverus did it, prevailed, 2-1, and celebrated its first championship in 13 seasons. A fairy tale? Hardly.

2) Cheverus 48 TA 41 (2 OT)

The most memorable game of the football regular season came from Saco, where Cheverus was a decided underdog to a Thornton Academy squad which hadn’t been remotely tested up until that point. When the Golden Trojans jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the Stags appeared to be in trouble, but they turned to a series of big plays to stay in the game, then tied it in the second half. The contest would go to overtime and each team scored on its possession in the first OT. Then, after a Cheverus TD in the second overtime, the Stags defense got a stop and a victory. Unfortunately, we were denied a rematch in the state game.

3) Portland girls restore the pride

Portland’s girls’ soccer team produced its best record since 2009 and made the playoffs, but that wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs. On Oct. 24, Portland went to rival Deering for a preliminary round playoff game that went on and on and on. An early goal from senior Madison Bolduc gave the Bulldogs the jump, but the Rams drew even on a penalty kick in the second half. As it turned out, there would be plenty more PKs to come, as the rest of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime failed to produce a winner. Portland goalkeeper Taylor Crosby came up big in the penalty kick phase and Isabel Stehli iced it with a perfectly placed boot and the Bulldogs had a stirring victory. Portland almost earned an even bigger win five nights later, but let a 2-0 lead slip away in a 3-2 loss at defending and eventual champion Windham. Still, it was hard to classify this season as anything but a resounding success for the Bulldogs.

4) Cheverus field hockey makes unexpected run

Hot and cold. What better way to describe the 2014 season of the Cheverus field hockey team? The unheralded Stags won their first five games, but the good times didn’t last, as Cheverus closed on an 0-7-2 stretch of futility. Still, the Stags got into the playoffs and rediscovered how to win, shocking Portland in the preliminary round and Gorham in the quarterfinals before the good times finally ended with a semifinal round loss at Marshwood.

5) More hardware for Waynflete girls’ cross country

Waynflete’s girls’ cross country team is always among the best in the region and the state and the Flyers continued their success this fall. After a strong regular season, Waynflete won the Western C championship at regionals. The Flyers then comported themselves very well at the state meet, coming in second behind an Orono juggernaut. It was Waynflete’s 10th straight season with a top three finish at the state meet. Don’t expect that run of success to end anytime soon.

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

Sidebar Elements

Cheverus goalkeeper Jake Tomkinson and his teammates soared above the competition in an amazing postseason run.

Portland senior Madison Bolduc and her teammates produced the program’s best season in many years and won a memorable playoff contest at rival Deering.

Rylie Turner and the Deering field hockey team made a run to the playoffs this fall.

Gail Johnson and her Waynflete girls’ cross country teammates won a regional title and placed second at the Class C state meet.

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