Many memories made this fall
It came and went in a flash, but the fall sports season, circa 2012, was once again a great one in Forecaster Country.
As usual, soccer excellence was paramount as nine of 10 local squads qualified for the postseason and one more, the kings and queens of Class B were the Falmouth Yachtsmen, who both won a record 11th state championship Nov. 3.
Volleyball also produced a champion and a most familiar one in the Greely Rangers, who put it all together at the right time. Falmouth and Yarmouth also qualified for the playoffs.
Footballl featured many memories, including a Freeport-Yarmouth rivalry game for the ages and a best-to-date season by Greely, which only failed to advance to the semifinals thanks to one of the most improbable field goals in state history.
Field hockey saw North Yarmouth Academy excel once more, but the Panthers' quest for a third straight Class C crown was derailed in the regional final. Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth reached the postseason as well.
Cross country didn't produce a team champion, but Merriconeag's Jack Pierce had no peer in Class C and several runners turned heads from the start of the season right through the New England championships Nov. 10.
The 2012 golf campaign might have been the best on record locally as every team made it to the state match.
While the snow will soon be flying and we'll taking our sports viewing indoors for the most part, here's one last look back and tribute to those who made the fall of 2012 so special:
Fall 2012 state champions
Falmouth Yachtsmen boys' soccer, Class B
Falmouth Yachtsmen girls' soccer, Class B
Greely Rangers volleyball, Class A
Fall 2012 regional champions
Falmouth Yachtsmen girls' cross country, Western Class B
Fall 2012 individual champion
Jack Pierce, Merriconeag, Class C boys' cross country
Michael's top five stories
5) Gridiron drama
After winning the 2010 and 2011 Class C state championships, it was a challenging year for the Yarmouth football team, but in the waning seconds of the final game of the regular season, the Clippers woke up the echoes and stole a dramatic win at Freeport to extend their postseason streak to four years, ending the Falcons' competitive campaign in agony in the process. Yarmouth was ousted in the quarterfinals, but the lessons it learned this fall will pay dividends going forward. Then there was Greely, which went a program-best 7-1 before engaging in a classic Western B quarterfinal against visiting, defending state champion Wells. The Rangers led most of the way, but ultimately dropped a gutwrenching 9-7 decision when the Warriors converted an improbable 45-yard field goal in the waning moments.
4) NYA field hockey's run ends
The North Yarmouth Academy field hockey program has been the most dominant this side of Skowhegan over the past five seasons. After winning Class C in 2008, 2010 and 2011, the Panthers produced another stellar campaign in 2012, winning 14 times, but their quest for more hardware was dashed by Lisbon in the Western C Final, 1-0. Rest assured, NYA will be right back in the title hunt in 2013.
3) Golf greatness
This autumn, for the first time, all five local schools qualified for the golf state match. Falmouth wasn't able to win a third straight title, but once again impressed from start to finish. Freeport came from nowhere to qualify for the first time this century. Greely continued to be one of the stronger Class A programs, posting a second place finish. NYA, after not fielding a varsity program in 2011, re-emerged as a Class C power. Yarmouth was as good as anyone in the regular season and after winding up third at states, saw standouts Red DeSmith (Class B) and Monica Austin (girls) both place runner-up at the individual state match. The bar is set pretty high for 2013.
2) Greely volleyball wins emotional title
Greely has now won nine of the past 10 volleyball state championships, but this one was special. For starters, the Rangers had to do it as the No. 2 seed, not the favorite, thanks to two regular season losses to Biddeford. After palpitating playoff wins over Falmouth and Scarborough, Greely got a third crack at the Tigers and this time, passed the test, in four sets. It was a team effort by a gritty and confident group of girls who only got better as the season progressed. Ultimately, the team's motivation was winning it all for late assistant coach Bruce Churchill, who lost his battle with ALS in the offseason. These Rangers were champions in every sense of the word.
1) More soccer hardware in Falmouth
It's likely that Falmouth's time in Class B has come to an end, but the Yachtsmen soccer teams made sure the record books will long hail their dominance. In just 14 seasons at that level, the boys won nine championships and the girls eight and both repeated this fall. The boys had to survive penalty kicks in the semifinals at Maranacook and had to win at rival Yarmouth in the regional final, but managed to survive both tests. In the state game, versus unheralded Camden Hills, Falmouth fell behind early in the second half, but this squad thrived on rallying and did so again, tying the score on Luke Velas' strike and winning it all when J.P. White converted a late PK. The girls' quest for a three-peat saw them have to navigate a tough regular season slate and regional playoff tests from Yarmouth, Gray-New Gloucester and Morse. In the state game, the Yachtsmen were pushed by Hermon, but goals from Cassie Darrow and Megan Miller proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory. Afterwards, members of both teams and coaching staffs gathered for photos, showing off a familiar trophy. A pair of Gold Balls to be added to the overcrowded school trophy case. One more bit of evidence that no one wins soccer gold like Falmouth.