Farewell to a memorable 2011 sports year

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Another year of high school sports action is in the rearview mirror, but the memories figure to linger for a long time.

Local athletes turned heads last winter winter, dazzled in the spring and enthralled in the autumn.

With a new year nearing, here’s one more look back to the thrills that made up 2011.

January

When 2010 gave way to 2011, the Greely boys’ basketball team was leading the way locally, with Yarmouth not far behind.

On the girls’ side, Greely and North Yarmouth Academy were making playoff pushes.

On the ice, the Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth boys and the Falmouth and Greely girls were turning heads.

Skiing, swimming and track teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.

February

February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.

In track, Falmouth was the Class B boys’ team champion. Reid Pryzant took the 55 hurdles and the long jump. Will Wegener was tops in the 200 and the 400. Greely’s Michael Burgess was champion of the shot put. On the girls’ side, Falmouth’s Kate Sparks won the shot put and Greely was second to Waterville in the team standings.

In the pool, Greely’s boys repeated as Class B champions, thanks in large part to individual titles from Ian Mecray in the 50 freestyle and Dan Spencer in the 100 free. Falmouth’s Ryan Conley was the top diver in Class B. On the girls’ side, Greely was runner-up, but had a pair of individuals steal the show. Sarah Easterling set a meet record in winning the backstroke and also took first in the 200 individual medley. Sara Schad was champion of both the 100 and 200 free.  Falmouth’s Nicola Mancini was the best diver in Class B.

Skiing brought even more hardware. Greely’s girls’ Alpine squad was the best in Class A. Maddie Whittier was first in the giant slalom. Elyse Dinan won skimeister honors. The Falmouth boys won Alpine and overall Class B championships. On the girls’ side, Falmouth’s Sarah Abramson won the Nordic freestyle, but Yarmouth wound up taking not only the Nordic team title, but also Alpine and combined as Becca Bell finished first in the skimeister standings. Wait, there’s more. In Class C, Freeport’s boys won the overall crown, while NYA took Nordic for the first time ever, thanks to wins from Ian Moore (freestyle) and Cam Regan (classic). Freeport’s girls were Alpine champs, while Merriconeag won the Nordic crown. Zoe Chace-Donahue won both the freestyle and classic.

Attention then turned to the basketball championships.

On the boys’ side, in Western B, Greely was the top seed and dominated Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals. Yarmouth also rolled in its quarterfinal, over Mountain Valley. The Clippers then upset the Rangers in the semifinals and made it to the regional final for the first time since 1974. The dream ended there, however, with a loss to Cape Elizabeth.

On the girls’ side, Greely was the only Western B team from Forecaster country to make it to the tournament. The Rangers held off Mountain Valley in the quarterfinals, then ran into nemesis York in the semis and were eliminated by the Wildcats once again. In Western C, NYA earned a preliminary round date at St. Dom’s, but was ousted there.

Hockey saw the Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth boys qualify for the postseason. On the girls’ side, Greely reached the East Region Final before dropping a one-goal heartbreaker to St. Dom’s.

March

Falmouth’s boys’ hockey team got to the regional semifinals of Western A before being eliminated by Biddeford. In Western B, top-ranked Greely ousted Yarmouth in the semifinals, but was upset by York in the regional final.

April and May

The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.

Greely and Yarmouth’s baseball teams emerged as squads to beat in Western Class B, but Falmouth wasn’t far behind. NYA was in the Western C hunt.

Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth’s softball teams all angled for playoff berths.

Boys’ lacrosse featured Falmouth staking its claim as the best team in the state. Freeport, Greely, NYA and Yarmouth were all very competitive.

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth, with its senior-laden roster, looked to unseat NYA as the best squad in Eastern B. Greely enjoyed a big turnaround, while Falmouth made history with its first-ever win over NYA.

Area track stars geared up for the postseason.

The tennis story featured excellence from both Falmouth teams once again.

June

On the 4th, several local track stars won individual state titles. At the boys’ Class B state meet, Falmouth’s Wegener (400) and Andrew Kowalsky (javelin) came in first. Greely’s Burgess took top honors in both the discus and shot put, while teammate Tanner Storey won the high jump. In Class C, NYA’s Mohamed Dahia took first in the 110 hurdles. On the girls’ side, Greely’s Katherine Harrington (Class B discus) also won a title.

On the 12th, the Falmouth girls’ tennis team capped another unbeaten season by winning the Class B title and this year, the boys were right there with them, winning a crown of their own.

On the diamond, Falmouth sprung a quarterfinal round upset at Cape Elizabeth before losing at Greely in the semifinals. The Rangers were joined in the regional final by Yarmouth and the teams produced a memorable game before Greely held on to advance. In the state final, however, despite a strong effort from pitcher Mike Leeman, the Rangers lost, 1-0.

Greely’s softball team upset Falmouth in the preliminary round then dropped a heartbreaker at Fryeburg in the quarterfinals. Also in that round, Yarmouth was stunned by Wells.

The top local boys’ lacrosse story was Falmouth, which held off Cape Elizabeth in the regional final to avenge an agonizing loss from the year before. Awaiting the Yachtsmen in the state game wasn’t perennial power Yarmouth, but instead NYA. It didn’t matter as nothing was going to derail the Falmouth express and the Yachtsmen easily cruised to its first championship.

On the girls’ side, Greely gave Waynflete a mighty scare in the Western B semifinals, but fell a goal short. Falmouth was upset by Cape Elizabeth. In Eastern B, for the eighth year in a row, the regional final pitted NYA versus Yarmouth and after three straight losses to the Panthers in that round, the Clippers turned the tables, rallying in the second half for a palpitating one-goal victory. That was a mere appetizer for what came next. Facing Waynflete in the Class B Final, Yarmouth shot to an early lead, then fell behind in the second half before rallying. With just under seven minutes to go, Danielle Torres scored to put the Clippers ahead and they held on for a 9-8 triumph and their first title since 2007.

July and August

High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.

September

Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, volleyball and golf excitement.

On the gridiron, Yarmouth picked up where it left off. The defending Class C state champions left little doubt that they had what it took for a repeat run. Falmouth, Freeport and Greely were competitive as well.

On the pitch, the usual suspects, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth led the pack. Both Freeport teams and the NYA boys were also in the hunt.

The NYA field hockey team once again turned heads as it chased another championship. Falmouth, Freeport, Greely and even Yarmouth were also impressing.

Greely’s volleyball team returned to championship form, while Falmouth and Yarmouth proved formidable.

Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.

October

Golf held its state championship on the 10th. In its first year at the Class A level, defending Class B champion Falmouth won it all. Yarmouth finished runner-up in Class B.

Falmouth (Class B) and NYA (Class C) won boys’ cross country championships on the 29th. Greely’s girls were runners-up.

Field hockey also produced a champion that day. After Yarmouth fell in the preliminary round in its first postseason appearance in four seasons, Falmouth and Freeport lost in the quarterfinals and Greely dropped a gutwrenching semifinal round decision at nemesis York, only NYA was left standing. The Panthers barely survived Telstar (in overtime), Lisbon (in penalty corners) and Sacopee Valley (in a one-goal affair) to win the regional crown. Then, NYA and Winthrop went to penalty corners in the Class C state final before junior Olivia Madore finally scored to give the Panthers their third championship in four seasons.

The soccer playoffs saw defending Class B champion Yarmouth upset by Fryeburg in the quarterfinals. Freeport won a preliminary round game before falling at top-ranked York in the quarterfinals. Greely was an overtime winner over Marshwood in the preliminary round, but lost at Scarborough in the quarterfinals. That left Falmouth and NYA. The Panthers, the last team in the Western C field, upset host Mt. Abram, St. Dom’s and Lisbon to make it to the regional final. The Yachtsmen, who peaked late, had no trouble with Lincoln Academy in the quarterfinals, but appeared to be Fryeburg’s next upset victim in the semifinals before scoring twice late to pull out a dramatic victory.

On the girls’ side, Freeport won its first postseason game of the century before losing at York in the quarterfinals. Yarmouth was a preliminary round winner, then lost to Falmouth in the quarters. The Yachtsmen then went to York and beat the Wildcats in penalty kicks. Greely was a quarterfinal round winner over Kennebunk, but for the third straight autumn, the Rangers were eliminated at Thornton Academy in the semis.

Yarmouth football went undefeated once again and had no trouble with Oak Hill in the quarterfinals on the 28th. That same evening, Falmouth dropped a heartbreaker to Westbrook and Greely was ousted at Cape Elizabeth. Freeport made its first postseason appearance where it was ousted by Maranacook.

November

Soccer held its regional finals on the 2nd. The NYA boys hoped to ruin Waynflete’s season for a second straight year, but this time, the Flyers had the last laugh, 3-1. Falmouth’s boys won another thriller, when junior Grant Burfeind scored in the final minute to beat York, a team which handed the Yachtsmen their worst loss of the century just three weeks prior. Falmouth’s girls overcame an early deficit to win at Morse and earn a chance to defend its crown.

Three days later, the Yachtsmen traveled to Hampden Academy to face Presque Isle. The girls got an early goal from junior Alex Bernier and it stood up for a repeat crown. The boys also got a stern test, from Camden Hills, but another late Burfeind goal was the difference and Falmouth had its eighth crown since 2000.

Football then had center stage all to itself. In the semifinals, Yarmouth ousted Lisbon with ease (38-0). The regional final versus Traip was a stern test, but the Clippers advanced 14-0. On the 19th, versus Bucksport, Yarmouth took control early and went on to a 41-14 victory to repeat as Class C champions.

December

Winter has returned and the fun begins again.

In boys’ basketball, Falmouth has returned to form in Western B, where Greely and Yarmouth also look to seriously contend.

The Yachtsmen have won their first six games, including victories last week over visiting Yarmouth (46-42, see theforecaster.net for the game story) and Traip (75-26). Falmouth is back in action Jan. 4 at preseason favorite York.

The Clippers suffered their first loss at Falmouth, but bounced back to improve to 5-1 with a 65-35 home triumph over Fryeburg. Yarmouth goes to Freeport Jan. 4.

The Rangers go into the break 3-3 after splitting a pair last week. First, Greely had its way with visiting Cape Elizabeth, 59-47, but Thursday, the Rangers lost at Poland, 63-40. Greely will host Lake Region Jan. 4.

Freeport fell to 1-4 after losses last week to visiting Wells (76-64) and York (68-25). The Falcons host Yarmouth Jan. 4.

In Western C, NYA fell to 1-4 last Wednesday with a 57-18 loss at Waynflete (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Panthers are back in action Jan. 4 at home against Hyde.

On the girls’ side, Falmouth is impressing early with a 5-1 mark which included recent victories over host Yarmouth (33-27) and Traip (47-39). The Yachtsmen have a big home test when they return to action Jan. 4 against York.

Greely is also 5-1 after downing host Cape Elizabeth (49-23) and visiting Poland (47-31). The Rangers return to action Jan. 4 at highly touted Lake Region.

Freeport started 2-0, but after falling at Lake Region, let a big lead slip away in a 45-44 loss at Wells. The Falcons then fell to 2-3 Thursday after losing at York, 55-49. Freeport is back in action Jan. 4 when it hosts Yarmouth.

Speaking of the vastly improved Clippers, they bounced back from a 33-27 home loss to Falmouth with a 32-28 win at Fryeburg Thursday to improve to 2-4. They’re at Freeport Jan. 4.

In Western C, NYA dropped to 2-4 with a 45-28 home loss to Waynflete last Wednesday. The Panthers next play Jan. 4 at Hyde.

On the ice, Falmouth’s boys made a huge statement Thursday, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit to upset visiting defending Class A champion Thornton Academy, 5-3. The Yachtsmen improved to 2-1 and return to action Jan. 4 at Lewiston.

Greely improved to 3-0-1 with a 7-0 home win over Gardiner. The Rangers next play Jan. 5 when they host Camden Hills.

Yarmouth got in the win column Wednesday, 10-2, at Noble, to improve to 1-2-1. The Clippers are at Portland Monday.

On the girls’ side, Falmouth continues to set the pace. Recent wins over visiting Cheverus (6-1) and host Biddeford (7-1) gave the Yachtsmen an 8-0 start. After going to Scarborough Friday, Falmouth hosts Cape Elizabeth Jan. 5.

Greely improved to 6-1 last Wednesday after blanking Cape Elizabeth, 9-0. The Rangers were at Leavitt Wednesday. After hosting Winslow Saturday, Greely welcomes St. Dom’s Jan. 4.

Yarmouth took a 2-4 mark into Wednesday’s home game with Biddeford. The Clippers host Lewiston Friday and play at Brunswick Monday.

Swim teams have provided positive glimpses and track and skiing are about to get underway.

Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2012 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.

Happy New Year everyone!

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

Sidebar Elements


Reid Pryzant and the Falmouth boys’ indoor track team won the Class B state championship back in February.

The Yarmouth girls’ lacrosse team got to celebrate a Class B state title after edging Waynflete in a thriller June 18.

Katherine Millett led NYA’s field hockey team to its third Class C title in four seasons in late October.

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