City lax teams fired up for postseason
Six city lacrosse teams qualified for the playoffs and all have high hopes of their season ending in celebration at Fitzpatrick Stadium on June 16.
Cheverus, Portland and Waynflete's girls' squads are all capable of deep runs.
In Western B, the Flyers earned the No. 2 seed behind Cape Elizabeth with an 11-1 record, the fifth straight regular season Waynflete has posted double digit victories.
"I'm very happy with the regular season," said Flyers coach Cathie Connors. "I had no idea how it would turn out. All the kids stepped up."
Waynflete will host No. 3 Falmouth (10-2) in a championship game-caliber semifinal Saturday at 2 p.m. The teams each won 13-10 decisions on the other's home field in the regular season. The Flyers are 2-0 all-time against the Yachtsmen in the postseason, including an 11-6 regional final victory in 2010.
Waynflete has a lot in its favor heading into the contest. The Flyers have a 28-1 all-time home record in the playoffs and have won 23 straight postseason games on their homefield, dating back to a 10-9 overtime loss to Greely in the 2000 semifinals. Waynflete is also 14-1 all-time against Falmouth.
"Falmouth has had a great season this year with so many talented athletes," said Connors. "(Coach) Robin (Haley) has done a great job with them. It will definitely be a great game, we are looking forward to it. The girls are working hard. I think we've done great things. We're capable of doing more great things."
If the Flyers can survive that battle, they'll likely have to go to top-ranked and undefeated Cape Elizabeth (12-0) in the regional final Wednesday of next week. The teams didn't play this year. Waynflete edged the Capers, 8-7, in last year's regional final and have defeated Cape Elizabeth 18 straight times dating back to the 2002 regular season.
In Eastern A, the Bulldogs capped their best-ever regular season with a 15-10 win at Gorham last Tuesday.
"We really have focused on the fundamentals," said Portland first-year coach Cait Johnson. "Building and building from day one. Our success has come from the hard work the girls have put in and their trust in me as a coach. It's a new culture for Portland lacrosse, but the girls have responded incredibly well."
Portland finished second to Brunswick in the Heal Points standings and hosted No. 7 Messalonskee (7-5) Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The teams didn't meet in the regular season and had no playoff history.
"We are playing our best lacrosse right now and the timing is key," Johnson said. "We have really started to play as a team. I believe this will be the key component to our success in playoffs."
If the Bulldogs make it to the semifinals for the first time ever, they would host either No. 3 Lewiston (11-1) or No. 6 Cheverus (7-5) Saturday. Those teams meet in a quarterfinal Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Lewiston.
The Stags' record is misleading. Regional finalists after a three-win regular season a year ago, they had two-time defending Class A champion Scarborough on the ropes before losing by a goal and also dropped a one-goal decision to perennial contender Kennebunk this spring.
"We're right where we want to be," said Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain. "We played very well at the end of the regular season. Defensively and offensively, everything seems to be clicking. We had a number of question marks at the start of the season. We knew we had athletic players, but not how they'd respond. The new kids now have a level of experience. We don't consider them new kids anymore. I'm very happy. We know we can play with anyone."
Cheverus didn't play Lewiston this year. The teams have no postseason history.
"I think it's a wide open region," said Chamberlain. "Portland has good athletes. Brunswick and Cony were back and forth. Mt. Ararat had speed and athleticism. Lewiston's young, but athletic. They want to come out and prove something. We want to prove last year was not a fluke. It'll be an interesting game."
If the Stags and Bulldogs play Saturday, Cheverus would have cause for optimism, having beaten visiting Portland, 10-3, on May 2.
McAuley won its final five games and went 6-6, but wound up ninth in Eastern A (only eight teams qualified). The Lions closed with a 17-7 home victory over Noble last Tuesday, behind six goals from Sadie DiPierro.
Deering finished 12th in Eastern A with a 3-9 record. The Rams finished with a 16-5 home loss to Marshwood last Tuesday. Veronica Mitchell scored four goals.
In Eastern A, Deering hosted Portland in a quarterfinal Tuesday (please see theforecaster.net for the full game story, with photos and a box score).
The Rams finished the regular season with the No. 3 seed in Eastern A (behind Brunswick and Mt. Ararat). Deering closed the year at 7-5 after a 10-4 home loss to Kennebunk last Wednesday.
"I'm happy with our season," said Rams first-year coach Jon Dubois. "We played the fifth-toughest schedule in the state and the first toughest in Class A. To come out 7-5 is good even though a couple (wins) slipped away."
The Bulldogs wound up 6-6 and sixth, but closed by winning four of five.
"We came together really nicely," said Portland coach Eric Begonia. "Guys got healthy. We had a shift in mentality. It was a maturing process. A young team needed to come of age and our schedule was a challenge."
Back on April 20, the Rams beat visiting Portland, 9-5, thanks in large part to a superb effort from senior Karl Rickett, who scored four goals and won 14 of 18 faceoffs.
The teams have met three prior times in the postseason with the Bulldogs taking all three (in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 semifinals).
"I definitely think it'll be a tight game," said Dubois. "(Portland's) playing good lacrosse right now. They have a zone defense they've been throwing at teams. I'm sure they'll use it against us. It's easier to find motivation after losing the first game and have a chip on your shoulder."
"We'll have to account for (Rickett) better than last time," Begonia said. "He created mismatches. He's an experienced faceoff guy. We were inexperienced then. We hope to win a better percentage. We like our chances. We're psyched to be there. It'll be a big night."
The winner will play either No. 2 Mt. Ararat (10-2) or No. 7 Lewiston (6-6), the defending regional champion, in Saturday's semifinals.
Neither Deering or Portland faced the Eagles or Blue Devils this year. Lewiston eliminated both the Bulldogs and Rams from last year's tournament.
"I don't know what to make of Brunswick," said Dubois. "To go undefeated, you've done something. Portland and Cheverus are stiff competition. If we get through Portland we have a chance."
Cheverus wound up fourth in Eastern A with an 8-4 mark following last Wednsday's 10-9 double overtime loss at Marshwood in the finale. The game was tight throughout with the Hawks leading 4-2 after one period, the teams being deadlocked 5-5 at halftime and Cheverus leading 7-6 after three, but the game went into one sudden victory overtime, then a second before Marshwood prevailed. Thomas Lawson had three goals in defeat.
"It was an awesome game," said Stags coach Deke Andrew. "I was really impressed with Marshwood. I think they flew under the radar. We played great, but didn't win."
Considering Cheverus missed the playoffs for the first time a year ago, the 2012 regular season has been a huge success.
"We had offense this year that we didn't last year and it was almost all freshmen and sophomores doing it," Andrew said. "That was the missing piece. It's been much more fun. Winning is preferable."
The Stags host No. 5 Messalonskee (8-4) Wednesday (5:30 p.m., on Deering's turf field) in the quarterfinals. The teams didn't play this year. Two years ago, the Eagles beat Cheverus in the quarterfinals, 9-6.
"I don't know a great deal about (Messalonskee)," Andrew said. "I think it should be a good game. We're playing the best lacrosse we've played this year. Just outstanding the past two, three games."
If the Stags advance, they'll go to top-ranked Brunswick (12-0) for the semifinals Saturday. Cheverus didn't face the Dragons this year. The teams have no playoff history.
"Brunswick's very good," Andrew said.
Waynflete just missed the fifth and final Western B playoff spot, finishing sixth with a 5-7 mark following a 14-12 win at Freeport in the finale last Wednesday. Chris Burke had five goals, Henry Cleaves four and Will Cleaves a pair. That victory was the 175th and final in the 24-year career of coach Bob Johnson.
The regional finals will be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds Wednesday.
The state finals are Saturday, June 16, at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The Class B girls play first, at 10 a.m. Class B boys go at 12:30 p.m. The Class A girls' final is at 3 p.m. and the Class A boys finish the day at 5:30 p.m.