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- The Forecaster
(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-South Portland and Yarmouth-Freeport game stories, see theforecaster.net)
The field hockey postseason is underway and there is plenty of excitement around local teams.
Falmouth and Greely kicked things off Saturday with preliminary round games.
The Yachtsmen, ranked fifth in Western Class A, handled No. 12 South Portland, 4-0, and advanced to face No. 4 Thornton Academy in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.
The Rangers, meanwhile, who only made the playoffs after a late surge, took the No. 9 seed to eighth-ranked Fryeburg Academy and lost, 2-0.
In Western C, Yarmouth, coming off its best season this century, is the No. 2 seed and opened against No. 7 Telstar in the quarterfinals Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story).
Defending regional champion North Yarmouth Academy, despite being undermanned all season, earned the No. 4 spot and opened against No. 5 Sacopee Valley in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
In Western B, Freeport, ranked seventh, opened at No. 2 Leavitt Tuesday.
Falmouth beat every team but two this fall (losing twice apiece to Cape Elizabeth and defending Western B champion York) and earned the No. 5 seed in Western A (the Yachtsmen play up for the playoffs due to their enrollment). Saturday, Falmouth welcomed No. 12 South Portland, a squad which didn’t punch its playoff ticket until the final day of the season, for a preliminary round tilt.
The teams had no history and the Yachtsmen quickly seized control, as Kate Kelley and Keunjoo Kim scored for a 2-0 halftime lead. Kelley scored again (assisted by Sydney Bell, on a penalty corner) and Elle Fitzgerald added another goal to give Falmouth a 4-0 victory.
“It was really nervewracking coming in, but we knew we were in a good position,” Kelley said. “We were playing well and wanted to keep doing it. It’s really unfamiliar going against teams we don’t play against (in the regular season), but doing it last year helped us.”
“We played very, very well today,” said Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley. “We did a nice job passing and we got in the flow early. We had some tough challenges this season, but we’ve become a stronger team. We capitalized on our strengths.”
Falmouth and Thornton Academy (11-3) didn’t play in the regular season and had never met in the playoffs.
“I think it will be a tough game,” Haley said. “They have some fast players with good stick skills. We have to try and slow it down a little bit. We need to come and play.”
If the Yachtsmen were able to spring the mild upset, they will go to top-ranked Scarborough (15-0), the two-time defending Western A champion for the semifinals.
Greely was chasing a playoff spot all season and a win in the regular season finale, 2-1, over visiting Fryeburg Academy (on goals from Gina Richard and Hogan Reed) last Wednesday in the finale gave the Rangers the ninth and final spot in Western B.
As a reward, Greely had to go to eighth-seeded Fryeburg Academy Saturday for the preliminary round and this time, the Rangers weren’t as fortunate, losing, 2-0, to finish 5-9-1.
Yarmouth enjoyed a resurgence in 2013, reaching the semifinals for the first time in 13 years. The 2014 Clippers have been even better.
Last Wednesday, Yarmouth went to Freeport for the regular season finale and closed in style with a 2-0 victory. Standout Kallie Hutchinson scored on a penalty stroke, Cara Ricciardi added a second goal just before halftime and Samantha Middleton sparked a strong defensive effort as the Clippers finished 13-1.
“It got really tough at the end,” Middleton said. “We were really tired, but we kept our sticks down and stayed positive.”
“I’m really surprised because we have a really young team,” Ricciardi said. “We’re working really well together and we’ve achieved so many good things together.”
“I’m very impressed,” said Hutchinson. “Yeah, we’re young, but we have confidence, which is something most teams don’t have. We have a lot of charisma and we play well. Going into the season, I never thought we’d come this far.”
“It’s an exciting way to end,” Yarmouth coach Mandy Lewis added. “We knew Freeport would give us a tough game today. We created opportunities and we were able to finish. It’s been a very good season. We’ve come a long way.”
The Clippers earned the No. 2 seed in Western C and hosted No. 7 Telstar (7-8) in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The teams didn’t play this year. They do have plenty of playoff history, however. The first meeting came in the 1978 Western C quarterfinals, which the Rebels won, 1-0, after five rounds of penalty strokes. Overall, Telstar held a 5-3 advantage, winning the most recent encounter, 3-2 (in penalty corners) in the 1996 regional final.
“We have to come out intense from the first whistle,” Hutchinson said.
“I’m ready and I’m really excited,” Middleton said. “We’re going to go for it.”
“Being home is important,” Ricciardi said. “It gives us motivation. It gives us the mindset that we can do it. It’s so much fun. I love the team. We’re like one big family.”
“Homefield is helpful, but it’s not something we can rely on,” Lewis added. “I think we’ve really progressed. To make it further each year is exciting. We hope that continues.”
If Yarmouth was able to advance, it will host No. 3 Lisbon (12-2) or sixth-ranked Dirigo (6-6-2) in the semifinals. The Clippers didn’t play either squad this year. Yarmouth beat the Greyhounds, 2-1, in the 1999 quarterfinals. The Clippers are 2-3 all-time against the Cougars.
North Yarmouth Academy, the defending Western C champion, finished 10-4 after a 1-0 loss at York last week. The Panthers, who have competed with just 10 players this fall, earned the No. 4 seed and began their quest for more postseason glory Wednesday when No. 5 Sacopee Valley (8-6) paid a visit. The teams split in the regular season, with NYA winning at Sacopee, 2-1, in double overtime Sept. 17 and the Hawks prevailing in Yarmouth, 1-0, Oct. 10.
The teams met in the 1997 quarterfinals (a 1-0 Sacopee win), 1999 quarterfinals (2-1 Hawks), 2000 quarterfinals (2-0 Sacopee), 2006 quarterfinals (2-1 Hawks), 2007 quarterfinals (4-0 NYA), 2011 Western C Final (2-1 Panthers) and the 2012 quarterfinals (3-0 NYA).
If the Panthers advanced to the semifinals for the eighth year in a row, they would go to top-ranked Oak Hill (13-0-1). The teams didn’t play this fall and have no playoff history.
In Western B, Freeport, despite a late-season slump, earned the No. 7 seed. The Falcons finished 7-6-1 after last week’s 2-0 home loss to Yarmouth.
“We wanted to show a better record this year,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “We were flying high a few weeks ago, then something happened. Still, I’m proud of what the seniors have done. They’re very passionate.”
The Falcons went to No. 2 Leavitt (10-3-1) Tuesday for the quarterfinals. The teams didn’t square off this year.
If Freeport was able to spring an upset, it would go No. 3 Spruce Mountain (10-4) or No. 6 Poland (9-5) for the semifinals. The Falcons didn’t play the Phoenix this year and the schools have no history. Freeport beat the Knights twice: 3-0 at home Sept. 15 and 2-1 at Poland 10 days later. The teams have never met in the playoffs.
Due to this week’s rainy weather, the Maine Principals’ Association changed the field hockey schedule. Originally, the semifinals were going to be played Saturday, but the quarterfinal round can be contested through that date to get all the games in. As a result, the semis are scheduled for Tuesday, the regional final Thursday (at Scarborough High School) and the state games remain Saturday, Nov. 1 at Thomas College in Waterville.
Yarmouth’s Kallie Hutchinson fires a penalty stroke past Freeport goalie Morgan Karnes during the Clippers’ 2-0 regular season-ending victory last week. Both teams qualified for the playoffs.