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Southern edition Coaches of the Year

Sports

Southern edition Coaches of the Year

BOYS' TEAM

MARK DIAZ—SCARBOROUGH SOCCER

If you just look at the final result and see that Scarborough's boys' soccer team won the Class A championship, again, you'd think it was business as usual this season, but in truth, this particular title was perhaps the most difficult for the Red Storm to capture.

Scarborough had to overcome a rare early season loss, trailed in two different playoff games and was seriously on the ropes against Hampden Academy in the state final, but exemplifying the attitude of its coach, the Red Storm never wavered and ultimately reached its goal.

That coach, Mark Diaz, reached the 200 win plateau this year and made it six championships in his tenure, making the most of every player on his roster and convincing his athletes to believe there was no one better.

For that performance, Mark Diaz is The Forecaster's choice for our Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.

Diaz was also honored in 2003, 2005 and i2008.

Diaz, a Madawaska native who played soccer and hockey in high school, has been the boys’ soccer coach (as well as physical education teacher) at Scarborough High School since 1999.

He won a Class B title in a first season and has produced a powerhouse program year after year. The Red Storm won the Class A crown in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012 (and lost in the state final in 2003 and 2006) and was the favorite coming into this season.

When Scarborough dropped a home game against Portland early, some took that to be a sign that the Red Storm was vulnerable, but it wouldn't lose again (or trail for a single second) the rest of the regular season. After downing South Portland in the quarterfinals, Scarborough fell behind Gorham early in the semifinals, only to rally to win, 2-1. The Red Storm then got another crack at Portland in the regional final and emphatically avenged its regular season loss, scoring 22 seconds in and going on to a 4-0 victory. In the state final, Scarborough trailed Hampden Academy late, but drew even, then won in overtime, putting the finishing touches on a grueling path to the title.

Diaz had some exceptional talent on his roster, most notably All-American Wyatt Omsberg, and he made the most of everyone, consistently putting players in position to be successful.

Diaz, the father of three, lives in Scarborough and teaches physical education at the high school. Don't be surprised if the wins and titles keep on coming.

That's because he simply wins games and championships. Mark Diaz, our Southern edition boys' team Coach of the Year, has reached stratospheric levels and shows no signs of letting anyone else in on the fun anytime soon.

Prior winners:

2012: Derek Veilleux (Cape Elizabeth cross country)

2011: Steve Stinson (South Portland football)

2010: Lance Johnson (Scarborough football)

2009; Aaron Filieo (Cape Elizabeth football)

2008: Mark Diaz (Scarborough soccer)

2007: Steve Stinson (South Portland football)

2006: Aaron Filieo (Cape Elizabeth football)

2005: Mark Diaz (Scarborough soccer)

2004: Jim Harmon (Scarborough cross country)

2003: Mark Diaz (Scarborough soccer)

2002: Jack Flynn (Scarborough football)

2001: Jack Flynn (Scarborough football)

GIRLS' TEAM

CRAIG FANNAN—CAPE ELIZABETH SOCCER

Cape Elizabeth's girls' soccer team finally got over the hump this fall and won its first state championship this century, but it didn't come easily.

Luckily for the Capers, first-year coach Craig Fannan had the ideal temperament and tactical approach to lead his team to the Promised Land.

Fannan got the most out of a talented lineup, got his players to believe in him and his system and kept them calm when they were pushed in the regional and state finals. In light of those accomplishments, Craig Fannan is the Forecaster's choice for our Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Fannan hails from Hartlepool, England and played soccer (always football in his mind and words) at Newcastle University and for a short time in a semi-pro league. He came to the United States in 2009, worked at a summer camp in Bridgton and decided to stay.

“I planned to go home and teach, but I fell in love with America,” Fannan said.

After coaching with the Phoenix Premier program and being somewhat familiar with the Capers program through his friendship with previous coach Luke Krawczyk, Fannan this fall inherited a squad which fell a goal shy of the state game in 2012 and returned an abundance of talent.

Sure enough, Cape Elizabeth was clearly the team to beat, but a daunting schedule (the Capers lost to Falmouth and Greely and tied Yarmouth), along with emotional highs and lows tested his charges.

Fannan kept them focused and Cape Elizabeth wound up first in Western B. After easy playoff wins over Poland and Freeport, the Capers blew a 2-0 lead to Greely in the regional final, conjuring up unpleasant memories from a late season game which saw the visiting Rangers erase a 2-0 deficit and win, 3-2, but this time, Cape Elizabeth had the mental toughness necessary to recover and it went on to a 4-2 victory.

Then, in the state final, versus Waterville, 110 minutes of regulation and overtime weren't enough to decide a winner and it was on to penalty kicks. Instead of putting the onus on the players by choosing who would go, Fannan let them decide who wanted the pressure and the Capers prevailed, 4-2, to win the title, 2-1.

“Craig's very quiet, but you can tell he's competitive,” said sophomore Kate Breed, Cape Elizabeth's Fall Female Athlete of the Year, who had the championship winning PK. “We didn't want to let him down. He made me feel calm. He was a really good coach for us. There are a lot of big personalities on the team.”

Fannan was very happy with how the 2013 season culminated.

“I couldn't have asked for a better year,” Fannan said. “We had internal and external pressures, so I had to get them to buy into what I said. I tried to give the girls confidence and freedom to go beat teams and they did.”

Fannan lives in Westbrook. He hopes to continue coaching for the foreseeable future.

That's good news for the Capers and for soccer as a whole in the area. Craig Fannan, our Southern edition girls' team Coach of the Year, made an immediate splash and clearly knows how to promote the game and get the most out of his girls.

Prior winners:

2012: Mike Farley (Scarborough soccer)

2011: Jon Roberts (Scarborough volleyball)

2010: Mike Farley (Scarborough soccer)

2009: Kerry Mariello (Scarborough field hockey)

2008: Ron Kelly (Scarborough cross country)

2007: Kerry Mariello (Scarborough field hockey)

2006: Jody King (Scarborough volleyball)

2005: Mary Ann Doss (Cape Elizabeth cross country)

2004: Kerry Mariello (Scarborough field hockey)

2003: Mary Ann Doss (Cape Elizabeth cross country)

2002: Maureen Curran (South Portland field hockey)

2001: Erin McLaughlin (Scarborough field hockey)

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