A year ago, the Falmouth girls’ soccer team dropped a late regular season game at York, fell to the second seed for the Western Class B playoffs, then made a return visit to the Wildcats in the regional final and won en route to a state championship.
The 2009 Yachtsmen hope that history will repeat itself.
Falmouth, ranked second after a 9-1-4 regular season, got off to a great postseason start Tuesday, cruising past No. 7 Jay/Livermore Falls 8-0, in its first playoff test. The Yachtsmen will be home against No. 3 Maranacook in the semifinal round.
Three other local teams also took to the pitch Tuesday with their seasons on the line.
Falmouth’s rival Yarmouth, ranked fifth, went to No. 4 Leavitt, and eked out a 1-0 victory to set up a semifinal round showdown at recent nemesis York Saturday.
In Western A, Greely completed its best regular season since 2003 (11-1-2), earned the No. 3 seed, then edged No. 6 Portland 1-0 in the quarterfinals, punching its semifinal round ticket. The Rangers are at No. 2 Thornton Academy Friday.
In Western C, North Yarmouth Academy, which won state titles every year between 2003 and 2007 before ceding the crown to Waynflete last fall, went 11-2-1 this season and instead of seeing the Flyers in the regional final, met them in the quarterfinals, in Portland. The Panthers’ season came to a quick end with a 2-1 loss.
Freeport finished 2-11-1 and fell short of the postseason.
Falmouth’s pedigree needs no introduction. The Yachtsmen won Class B titles in 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008. This year, Falmouth was viewed as a heavy favorite, but it hasn’t come easily for the Yachtsmen in their first season under coach Jon Shardlow. Falmouth tied Greely twice (1-1 and 0-0) and Cape Elizabeth (2-2) and Yarmouth (1-1) once in addition to its loss at York to wind up 9-4-1.
The Yachtsmen did not face Jay/Livermore Falls in the regular season and the schools have no playoff history. Tuesday, Falmouth got three goals from senior Nancy Cooper. Senior Jill Alvarez added a pair as the Yachtsmen were never tested.
“We know we only have control over the way we play,” Falmouth coach Jon
Shardlow said. “We don’t go into a game thinking about another team
negatively or give them too much credit. We go out and play the game
we’re capable of playing, and if we’re at the end of a favorable result
by the end of the day, we’re happy.”
Falmouth didn’t play Maranacook this year, but the Yachtsmen have made the Black Bears’ acquaintance before (winning 2-1 in the 2001 semifinals).
“Looking forward at the playoff picture, we feel very battle tested after playing eight matches versus teams with roughly a 75 percent winning percentage,” Falmouth coach Jon Shardlow said. “The downside to playing such a competitive schedule is that both York and Yarmouth are just as prepared. In the end, it will come down to performing well, and with consistency over the next couple of weeks.”
Yarmouth battled injury much of the year, but still wound up 7-5-2 and fifth in Western B.
The Clippers went to No. 5 Leavitt (8-3-3), a team they don’t see in the regular season, for the quarterfinals. Yarmouth has never faced the Hornets in the playoffs. The Clippers got the game’s lone goal from senior Lizzie Fischman and advanced with a 1-0 victory.
We needed to play hard,” said Fischman. “There had been plenty of
chances to score, but our team has had trouble capitalizing and we
needed to stay composed.”
“Leavitt played hard,” Yarmouth coach Rich Smith added. “In the second half, we finally were able to put one in.
Yarmouth lost 5-2 at York Sept. 30 and 1-0 at home Oct 13. The Clippers faced the Wildcats in the playoffs in 1989 (a 6-1 quarterfinal round loss), 2003 (a 1-0 overtime triumph in the regional final), 2004 (a 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals), 2007 (a 2-1 setback in the regional final) and last year (a penalty kick loss in the semis).
Greely quietly put together one of the most impressive seasons in the state this fall. The Rangers stumbled just once, 3-2 at York Oct. 6, and played Falmouth to a pair of ties. Otherwise, Greely’s offensive acumen and staunch defense led to 11 wins by a composite 42-4 margin.
“We are playing well,” Rangers coach Michael Kennedy said. “We have a strong team, we play the way that I like and are playing well right now. We took every game one at a time. Its an old cliche, but we really do. We show up, we work hard, then we go home. We look forward to any of our matchups. We just have to show up. It’s just soccer. If you play the right way, hopefully things will go your way. That’s all we can do.”
Read the Greely-Portland game story here: http://theforecaster.net/node/31403/
North Yarmouth Academy eliminated Waynflete from the playoffs in 2005 (3-1 in the semifinals), 2006 (1-0 in the regional final) and 2007 (1-0, in overtime, in the regional final). Last year, the Flyers finally got over the hump with a 2-0 win over the Panthers in the regional final.
This time around, the rivals met in the quarterfinals, two rounds earlier than most expected.
NYA entered the game confident, thanks to an 11-2-1 regular season mark. The Panthers won their last five games, spearheaded by a 4-0 home win over the Flyers on Oct. 3 (they lost 1-0, in overtime, at Waynflete back on Sept. 22).
“With regard to the season as a whole, the team has worked hard and made significant progress over the course of the season,” said first-year Panthers coach Charles Fischman. “I have enjoyed becoming part of the NYA athletics program very much, and I have especially enjoyed getting to know and coach this group of players.”
Read the NYA-Waynflete game story here: http://theforecaster.net/node/31397/
Looking ahead, the regional final round will be played Wednesday, Nov. 4, on the field of the highest remaining seed. The state championship games are Saturday, Nov. 7, at either Scarborough High School or Hampden Academy.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org