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Postseason drama across the board

Sports

Postseason drama across the board

The postseason is now in full swing for every sport save football (please see story). Golf wrapped up its 2012 campaign with individual championships Saturday. Cross country's regionals are this weekend. Field hockey's playoffs are underway and soccer and volleyball will do the same starting this weekend.

Here's a glimpse:

Golf

The golf individual finals were held Saturday at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

The top city finisher was Waynflete's Tom Spagnola, who was fourth in Class C with a round of 77. Deer Isle's Sam Grindle took the title with a 68, the lowest score in any class.

In Class A, won by Gorham's Mike Caron (75), Cheverus' Chris Billings tied Cony's Thomas Foster and Messalonskee's Justin Rollins for seventh with an 81. Cheverus' Andrew Cloutier shot an 84 and finished 16th. Deering's Will Barlock tied Brewer's Dylan Birmingham, Erskin's Shawn Soucie and Messalonskee's Billy Rollins for 33rd with a round of 96. Portland's Travis Godbout (98) placed 38th.

The girls' title was won by Bangor's Alice Hwang. No local girls took part.

Cross country

Waynflete's cross country team got a jump start on the postseason Friday when it took part in the Western Maine Conference championship meet at St. Joseph's College in Standish, squaring off against several of the best teams not just in the Western Maine Conference, but in the entire state.

The Flyers girls were seventh overall and second to Yarmouth in Division II (Falmouth took top honors overall). As expected, Waynflete was led individually by Martha Veroneau, who was 17th on the 5-kilometer course with a time of 22 minutes, 9 seconds. Other scorers included Ella Millard (27th, 22:31), Gail Johnson (39th, 23:12), Helen Gray-Bauer (49th, 23:43) and Cat Johnson (50th, 23:43).

The boys came in 11th (fifth in Division II). Falmouth took first place overall, while Fryeburg was tops in Division II. The Flyers were led individually by Dylan Kingsbury, who was 30th (18:51). Abukar Adan came in 44th (19:29), Colin Laurence placed 64th (20:21), Cam Thompson was 65th (20:24) and Julian Ireland placed 69th (20:35).

The other city teams culminated their regular season in a five-team meet (South Portland also took part) at Deering.

In the boys' race, the host Rams were first, Cheverus placed second and Portland finished fourth. Individually, Bulldogs standout Ben Allen led the pack with a time of 16:53. Yahye Hussein of Deering was second (17:35). The Stags' top finisher was Zeb Tarasevich (fourth, 17:46).

The girls' meet was won by Cheverus, with Portland placing third, McAuley fourth and Deering fifth. Stags standout Shannon Conley took top individual honors (18:57, a full minute ahead of runner-up Nyajock Pan, of South Portland). The Rams were paced by Eleanor McClure-Chute (seventh, 21:30). The Bulldogs' fastest finisher was Abby Popenoe (eighth, 21:50). The Lions' first finisher was Adele Werner (12th, 22:22).

Next up is the regional championship meet, Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Center in Cumberland. Cheverus, Deering and Portland's boys run at 10 a.m. The Class A girls race is at 10:35 a.m. Waynflete's boys go at 2:30 p.m. The Class C girls start at 3:05 p.m.

The state championships are Oct. 27, in Belfast. The New England championships are in Maine this year, back at Twin Brook Nov. 10.

Field hockey

Three city teams qualified for the field hockey playoffs and two were still alive at press time.

The Waynflete Flyers enjoyed their finest regular season since 1979 with an 8-4-2 record, good for the No. 3 seed in Western Class C.

"I am really proud of our team," said Waynflete coach Kelly Hoffman. "We had a wonderful regular season, even in the face of myriad injuries that sidelined several starting players for some period of time."

The Flyers hosted No. 6 Dirigo (5-8-1) in the quarterfinals. The teams don't meet in the regular season and had no playoff history.

"We have a lot of energy going into the playoffs as this is one of the best records that Waynflete has had in several decades," Hoffman said. "We intend to play hard and have fun. If we come out playing our game, we will advance to the semifinals, something Waynflete field hockey has never done."

In Western A, Cheverus had another stellar campaign, losing only to Scarborough in 14 outings and earned the No. 2 spot behind the Red Storm. The Stags hosted No. 7 Gorham (9-6) in the quarterfinals Tuesday. On Sept. 27, Cheverus won at the Rams, 2-1. The teams had met twice previously in the postseason, a 5-0 win for Gorham in the 2007 quarterfinals and a 1-0 Stags' victory in the 2009 semifinals.

"The coaching staff is so proud of the girls on a great regular season, but we have put that behind us now," said Cheverus coach Amy McMullin. "We found out the hard way last year (an upset loss to Westbrook in penalty corners in the quarterfinals) that it doesn't matter what you did before playoffs, all that matters is that you get in. After that, it's win or go home. We have practiced hard the last week and are pleased with the girls' effort. Hopefully we can make a deep run and continue playing great field hockey."

If the Stags passed their first playoff test, they would either host third-ranked Marshwood (12-2), the defending regional champion, or No. 6 Sanford (10-4-1) in the semifinals Saturday. In the regular season, Cheverus won, 2-0, at the Hawks on Sept. 17 and closed with a 4-1 win at the Spartans, Oct. 5. The Stags beat Sanford in the 2008 (2-0) and 2009 (3-0) quarterfinal round. Cheverus has no playoff history against Marshwood.

Deering, which won a total of two games in 2010 and 2011, showed great improvement this fall and wound up 6-8 and 10th in Western A, earning the Rams a trip to Gorham for the preliminary round Saturday. Deering had closed the regular season at Gorham and lost, 3-0, The playoff contest (the first ever between the schools) proved to be deja vu as Gorham got one goal in the first half and added a pair in the second to win, 3-0, and end Deering's season at 6-9.

"The goal the team set during preseason was to make it to playoffs, which we accomplished," said Rams first-year coach Liz Koharian. "I am sure if you asked people in the field hockey community prior to this season if Deering would make playoffs, the answer would be no. We had a very young team, graduating 14 seniors last year, including an All- State goalie Caley Prebsy, so there were big shoes to fill which we did with Bri Delano stepping up and playing goalie. She had 97 saves during the season. Also, we had three freshmen starting: Kerry Wells, Mia Thurston and Kaytlin DiBiase. What I think this team accomplished is changing Deering field hockey and I know we will continue to become stronger each year.

"Playoffs was new territory for this whole team. None of the girls had ever competed in a playoff game. Unfortunately, we did not get the win. I was extremely proud of the team. I did not think we played with the intensity I have seen us play in other games. Gorham played a great game."

Portland (3-10-1 and 15th in Western A) and McAuley (0-14 and 17th in Western A) failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Looking ahead, after Saturday's semifinal round, played on the field of the higher seed, the regional finals are Tuesday at Scarborough. The state games will be played Saturday, Oct. 27, at the University of Maine in Orono.

Boys' soccer

After a double overtime home loss to Kennebunk Oct. 4, Portland's boys' soccer team was 2-7-1 and appeared out of the playoff picture. Less than two weeks later, however, the Bulldogs are on the brink of extending their postseason streak to 13 years. Portland extended its win streak to three last week with victories at Bonny Eagle (7-0) and at home against South Portland (3-2). Against the Scots, standout Tim Rovnak had three goals and Stephen Barry, Ibrahim Dahir, Sam Farr and Dana Kuniholm also had tallies. In the pivotal win over the Red Riots, Rovnak and Haron Habibzai scored, but it was Josh Irving who had the biggest goal, the winner with two minutes to go (assisted by Evan Caliendo). The Bulldogs took the No. 12 seed in the Western Class A Heal Points standings into Tuesday's regular season finale versus No. 13 Thornton Academy. Only 12 teams make the playoffs in the region, but it was unlikely the Golden Trojans could leapfrog Portland with a win. The Bulldogs were in position, however, to move up a spot or two with a victory.

"I'm guardedly optimistic at all times," said longtime Portland coach Rocky Frenzilli. "I'm just happy for the boys and all they had to overcome. They are playing very well at this point."

Deering moved all the way up to fourth in Western A with a 7-3-3 record following a 1-1 home draw against Marshwood and a 1-0 victory at Cheverus last week. In the tie, Ben Peterson had the goal. Stephen Ochan had the only tally against the Stags. The Rams closed at Sanford Tuesday. If they wind up in the top four, they'll have a bye in the preliminary round and will host a quarterfinal.

Cheverus was 11th with a 7-5-1 record at the start of the week after downing visiting Massabesic, 2-1, and falling at home to Deering, 1-0, last week. In the win, Jamie Biegel and MacKenzie Hoglund had the goals. The Stags closed at No. 2 Gorham Tuesday and with a win had an opportunity to move up.

In Western C, defending champion Waynflete was fourth in the Heals with a 10-2-1 record after losing at home to Western A power Greely (4-1) and blanking visiting Lake Region (5-0) last week. Against the Rangers, playing without standout Peabo Knoth, the Flyers got a goal from Elyse Bayizere, but it wasn't enough.

"I thought we were competitive for 60 minutes, then I don't know what happened," Waynflete coach Brandon Salway said. "(The loss is) good for us. Showed us what we need to work on. We had some chances. We were right there. Defensively we have some work to do. We had people back, but it was poor communication. We talked about it at halftime and it didn't really get better. We're not making the big plays we need to make at this time of year. That's going to have to change or it will be a short postseason."

Against the Lakers, Jack Cutler and Mohammed Suja both scored twice and Clancy Mitchell had one goal. Knoth assisted on four of the goals. Returning from injury, goaltender Zander Majercik stopped two shots for his fifth shutout.

The Flyers closed at another surging Western A power, Cape Elizabeth, Monday night (please see theforecaster.net for game story). Waynflete will be anywhere from third to fifth when the playoffs start.

"We need to improve," Salway said. "It looks like we're 3 or 4. At this point, I'm not sure it matters. I'm more concerned with how we're playing. We've proved we can play anywhere, but we have to improve defensively."

The boys' soccer postseason begins Saturday. The quarterfinals are Wednesday of next week. The semifinals are Oct. 26-27 and the regional finals Oct. 31. All of those rounds will be contested on the field of the higher seeds. The state championship games are Nov. 3. The Class A Finals will be contested at Hampden Academy. The Class B and C state games are at Scarborough High.

Girls' soccer

Cheverus hosted Deering in a pivotal girls' soccer showdown Friday and 80 minutes weren't enough to decide a winner.

The Stags were coming off an impressive 5-1 win at Massabesic, while the Rams were riding high after a 6-3 victory at Marshwood, as Alexis Elowtich had four goals and Edie Pallozzi and Chelsea Saucier both had one.

Friday, Cheverus grabbed a quick 1-0 lead on a goal from standout Abby Maker. Deering drew even at halftime thanks to a goal from Pallozzi. When Hayley Morin scored with just over 25 minutes left in regulation, the Stags were up, 2-1, and appeared in good shape, but Elowitch tied the score with 12:43 left. Then, just 43 seconds into OT, Samantha Sivovlos' shot wasn't cleanly handled by the Stags' goalie and Elowitch was waiting to kick home the rebound to give Deering its first win over Cheverus since 2005, 3-2.

"I thought it was the worst kick of my life, but (Alexis) was there to put it in, so I was thankful," said Sivovlos.

"I was just staring at (the ball) in the air because (with the wind) it was so hard to tell where it was going," said Elowitch. "I was just looking at the goalie and saw the ball come down. When it came down, I just reacted. It was a great ball. It's probably the biggest goal I've scored."

"(The girls) never quit," added Rams coach Kevin Olson, who, like his players, had never beaten Cheverus. "They always play to the end. They believe. They have confidence. As much as I'd like to go up early, it shows they don't give up."

Deering improved to 9-4 and seventh in the Western A Heals with the victory. The Rams closed the regular season at home versus Sanford Tuesday. A victory would allow Deering to leapfrog the Spartans into the sixth spot.

“At the end of the season, that's when you want to start rising," said Elowitch. "You don't want to hit your peak early because there is playoffs. We want to keep improving and keep playing our game.”

The Stags were left stunned by the overtime loss.

“It's a tough one," said Cheverus coach Dan LaVallee. "I thought after the first 10 minutes of the first half we played really well and we could have put it away then. We started well in the second half, then fell asleep the last 15 minutes. It carried over into overtime. I hate to say it, but I think they wanted it more than we did and it showed."

The Stags fell to 9-4 and ninth in the region and closed at home against Gorham Tuesday.

"If we beat Gorham, we probably end up sixth," LaVallee said. "If we don't, we might be as low as eighth. I can't see a scenario where we don't host a prelim. I think we'll travel after that. When we step on the field and play hard, there's nobody we can't play with.”

McAuley finished 3-10-1 and 15th in the region, but only 13 teams make the playoffs. The Lions closed with a 3-1 loss at Biddeford and a 4-3 overtime home win over Westbrook. Against the Tigers, Maddy Wade had the goal, while Molly Miller made 13 saves. In the victory, Wade, Becca McNamara and Olivia Smith scored in regulation, Delaney Regan had the winner and Miller made 16 saves in her final game.

Portland fell to 2-9-2 and 17th after a 1-0 loss at South Portland Friday. The Bulldogs closed at home against undefeated No. 2 Thornton Academy Tuesday and if they sprung a major upset, might be able to sneak into playoff position.

In Western C, Waynflete took an 8-1-4 mark and the No. 4 spot in the standings into Monday's regular season finale against visiting Western A power Cape Elizabeth (please see theforecaster.net for game story). Last week, The Flyers lost at Greely (3-0) and beat visiting Old Orchard Beach (2-1). Goalie Juliana Harwood made nine saves against the Rangers. In the victory, Arianna Giguere and Isabel Agnew had the goals. Waynflete will host a quarterfinal round playoff game and will be a difficult out.

The girls' soccer postseason begins Friday. The quarterfinals are Tuesday of next week. The semifinals are Oct. 26-27 and the regional finals Oct. 31. All of those rounds will be contested on the field of the higher seeds. The state championship games are Nov. 3. Class A will be contested at Hampden Academy. The Class C state games are at Scarborough High.

Volleyball

Cheverus' first-year varsity volleyball team had its moments this fall, but ultimately fell shy of the playoffs with a 4-10 record after splitting four matches to end the season. After downing host Cony (3-2) and visiting Windham (3-0), the Stags dropped a 3-0 decision at Cape Elizabeth in what was essentially a play-in match Friday, then closed with a loss at defending Class A champion Greely Monday. Cheverus was 11th in the Class A Heals, but only the top nine teams reached the postseason.

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