Fri, Aug 01, 2014 ●
BathHarpswellTopshamBrunswickCumberlandNorth YarmouthFalmouthFreeportPortlandCape ElizabethScarboroughSouth PortlandChebeague IslandYarmouth

Postseason action fast and furious

Sports

Postseason action fast and furious

(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-NYA and Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth boys' lacrosse and Falmouth-NYA and Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth girls' lacrosse game stories, with additional photos and box scores, please visit theforecaster.net)

The regular season is behind us and the two-week dash to the championship finish line is underway.

While outdoor track got the jump crowning champions Saturday (please see story), baseball, softball, lacrosse and tennis are in the process of whittling down to the select few and to no one's surprise, local teams are heavily involved in the process.

Here's a look at what's occurred and what's to come with the finish line very much in sight.

Tennis

Falmouth's Olivia Leavitt is the new girls' tennis singles state champion.

Leavitt, seeded second, defeated sixth-ranked teammate Libby Voccola, 6-3, 6-2, in the semifinals, then dethroned top-ranked Brunswick's Maisie Silverman, 6-1, 6-1, in the final. Silverman had eliminated Falmouth's Julia Brogan, ranked fifth, 6-3, 6-1, in the semis.

"Olivia had been nursing a bicep strain and still displayed the best skill, focus and attitude that enabled her to win it all," said Falmouth coach Sandra Stone. "Julia played after no sleep or food, having fought through a stomach ailment all night, making a strong statement rising well to the challenge of the competition. Libby had to play against her own teammate and managed to earn more games against Olivia than the state finalist!"

On the boys' side, Falmouth's Brendan McCarthy, the No. 2 seed, ousted third-ranked Patrick Ordway of Waynflete, 6-2, 6-4, in the semifinals, but lost in the championship match to Jordan Friedland of Lincoln Academy, 3-6, 0-6.

Falmouth's five-time defending Class B champion girls' team (as well as both North Yarmouth Academy squads) was still entertaining title dreams at press time. The top-ranked Yachtsmen extended their six-year match win streak to 91 with 5-0 victories over No. 8 Maranacook and No. 4 Lincoln in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively, even though they had to shuffle the lineup somewhat.

"Since Julia was not in school on Thursday due to the stomach flu and Olivia was advised to rest her arm by the school (athletic) trainer, we had to bump up the ladder and pull in two swing varsity players at second doubles and were pleased to still only drop four games," Stone said. "We made roster adjustments again on Saturday to continue to rest Olivia and again only dropped three games."

Falmouth (14-0) met No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (12-2) in Wednesday's regional final in Lewiston. The Yachtsmen won, 5-0, April 26, at the Capers. The teams have played seven previous times in the playoffs with Falmouth capturing five of them, including a 5-0 decision two years ago in the semifinals.

"Cape always seems to rise to the challenge and give us really good competition," Stone said.

If the Yachtsmen make it back to states, they'll face either Ellsworth (13-1) or Waterville (14-0) Saturday at 1 p.m., at the University of Maine in Orono. Falmouth's beaten the Purple Panthers in each of the past two state matches.

In Western C, NYA was the ninth and final team in, but won at No. 8 Lisbon (5-0), top-ranked Hall-Dale (4-1) and No. 4 St. Dom's (4-1) to reach Wednesday's regional final, where the Panthers met Waynflete (9-5), the No. 6 seed. The rivals split in the regular season, each prevailing, 3-2. The teams had played 10 previous times since 1998 in the postseason, with the Panthers holding a 7-3 advantage. If NYA won that match, it will seek a ninth title in program history Saturday at 9 a.m. at UMO, versus either Mattanawcook (13-1) or Van Buren (10-2).

Freeport, the No. 10 seed in Western B, earned its first playoff win since 2004, 4-1, at No. 7 Oak Hill in the preliminary round, then was ousted, 5-0, by No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals to finish 7-7.

"We accomplished so much this season," said Falcons coach Chris Nordensen. "The girls worked hard to improve individually and as a team. They also really stepped up when they needed to and hung tough to the end against a very talented Cape team. We were able to beat Yarmouth for the first time in nine years, we went to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and we won a playoff game for the first time in awhile. I feel like that really says it all. It was nice too, because this season meant so much for the seniors that have worked so hard and they finally saw their hard work pay off."

Greely, the No. 3 seed, edged No. 6 York, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, but also lost to Cape Elizabeth, 5-0, in the semifinals, to wind up 10-4.

Yarmouth (3-9) didn't qualify for the postseason.

The NYA boys made it to their first regional final since winning Class C back in 2007. The Panthers, ranked sixth in Western C, advanced courtesy a 5-0 victory at No. 3 Boothbay and a 3-2 upset win at top-ranked Hall-Dale. NYA faced No. 4 Waynflete (11-3), the five-time reigning champion, in Wednesday's regional final. Waynflete won both regular season matches by 5-0 scores. The Flyers had won five of the previous six playoff meetings, including last year in the semifinals. If NYA sprung an upset and advanced to the state final Saturday morning at 9 at UMO, it will meet either Madawaska (11-3) or George Stevens Academy (12-2).

In Western B, Falmouth's two-year run as state champs culminated Saturday. The third-ranked Yachtsmen managed to down No. 6 Maranacook, 5-0, in the quarterfinals, but were ousted by No. 2 Cape Elizabeth, 5-0, in the semifinals to finish 12-2.

Freeport enjoyed its best season since 2006. The Falcons, ranked fifth, won at No. 4 Gardiner, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to No. 8 York in the semis, to wind up 8-6.

Greely (2-10) and Yarmouth (1-11) didn't partake in the postseason.

Baseball

The defending Class B state champion Falmouth baseball team, along with Greely and Yarmouth, begins a title quest Thursday.

The Yachtsmen wound up second to the Rangers in the Western Class B Heal Points standings after a 14-2 regular season. Falmouth closed with a 3-2 home win over York and a 6-4 (eight inning victory) at Gray-New Gloucester. Ace Thomas Fortier threw a five-hitter (five hits more than he's accustomed) and struck out seven against the Wildcats. In the win over the Patriots, the Yachtsmen rallied from four runs down and won it on Connor Aube's hit in extra innings. Will D'Agostino got the victory in relief. The Yachtsmen will face either No. 7 Maranacook (9-7) or No. 10 Poland (9-7) in the quarterfinals Thursday. Falmouth beat Maranacook, 7-6, in the 2006 quarterfinals. The teams don't play in the regular season. The Yachtsmen beat the Knights twice, 10-0 (in five innings) at home and 11-7 away, this year. The Yachstmen edged the Knights, 1-0, in the 2004 preliminary round, while Poland beat Falmouth, 3-0, in the 2005 quarterfinals and 5-3 in the 2007 quarterfinals.

Greely earned the No. 1 seed for the second straight season after a 15-1 campaign. The Rangers suffered their first loss, 6-4, at nemesis Cape Elizabeth last Thursday (despite two hits from Pat Finnegan), then closed with a 4-0 victory at Fryeburg (as Connor Russell earned the win and tied a school record with 15 strikeouts in a seven-inning game and Jonah Normandeau had a two-run double). Greely will play host to either No. 8 Fryeburg (8-8) or No. 9 Lincoln (8-8) in Thursday's quarterfinals. The Rangers also handled Fryeburg at home earlier in the season, 10-0 (in five innings) and beat the Raiders in the teams' most recent playoff meeting, 9-5 (eight innings), in the 2005 preliminary round. Greely and Lincoln don't play in the regular season. The teams last met in the 2009 regional final (a 15-8 Rangers' triumph en route to their most recent state title).

Yarmouth finished strong and wound up fourth with a 10-6 mark after a 5-2 victory at York in the finale last Thursday. Matt Highland had three hits, including two doubles. The Clippers face the Wildcats (11-5) again Thursday in the quarterfinals. The last playoff meeting resulted in a 14-6 Yarmouth victory in the 2006 preliminary round.

Freeport just missed out, going 7-9, a record which left the Falcons 13th (but only 12 made the cut). Freeport closed with a 4-3 loss at Poland last Thursday (Jack Davenport and Brian Rhea had doubles).

Looking ahead, the semifinal round will be played Saturday on the field of the higher remaining seeds. The regional finals are Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and the state games are Saturday, June 15.

Softball

Three of four local softball teams qualified for the postseason.

Leading the way was Greely, which earned the No. 4 seed after a 12-4 regular season. The Rangers closed with tough losses at second-ranked Cape Elizabeth (5-0) and No. 1 Fryeburg, the defending regional champion, 6-1. Greely will host either No. 5 Mountain Valley (10-4) or No. 12 Yarmouth (8-8) in the quarterfinals Thursday. The Rangers don't play the Falcons in the regular season. The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2009 preliminary round (a 7-1 Greely victory). The Rangers beat the Clippers twice this year, 7-1 at home and 11-8 in Yarmouth. The teams have met just once before in the playoffs, a 3-2 Greely victory in the 2006 semifinals.

The Clippers closed with 6-3 win at York to earn the final seed in the region. Yarmouth went to Mountain Valley Tuesday for a prelim. The teams didn't play this season and had no playoff history.

Falmouth's best regular season since 2005 culminated at 9-7 after a 4-3 loss at Gray-New Gloucester in the finale. Julia Treadwell tripled and was the hard-luck loser. The Yachtsmen wound up seventh and hosted No. 10 Poland (10-6) in the preliminary round Tuesday. Falmouth lost, 2-0, at Poland May 15. The teams had no playoff history. If the Yachtsmen were able to advance, they'd go to No. 3 Oak Hill (12-3) for the quarterfinals Thursday. The teams don't play in the regular season. Falmouth lost at Oak Hill, 2-1, in the 2009 preliminary round.

Freeport wound up 5-11 and 15th, but just 12 teams made the playoffs. The Falcons, who last qualified for the postseason in 2002, finished with a 7-0 loss at Poland.

Looking ahead, the semifinal round will be played Saturday on the field of the higher remaining seeds. The regional finals are Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and the state games are Saturday, June 15.

Boys' lacrosse

All five local boys' lacrosse teams made the playoff cut.

Falmouth capped and up-and-down regular season with a confidence-building 11-10 win at North Yarmouth Academy in a thriller last Thursday. The Yachtsmen couldn't hold a four-goal lead as the Panthers battled back to tie the game 7-7 in the third period and again, 10-10, in the fourth. With 34.5 seconds left in regulation, however, Brad Gilbert scored to put Falmouth ahead to stay. 

"I just caught it, looked at the net, saw there was an opening and didn't really aim, just shot," Gilbert said. "Once you get that opportunity, you can't not finish it. When I have a chance, I try to score. As long as we win, I'm happy."

A Yachtsmen turnover gave the Panthers one final chance and as time wound down, NYA sharpshooter Jacob Scammon had a decent look at the goal, but Falmouth goalie Will Nash made his 15th save and the Yachtsmen held on for an 11-10 triumph. Fay scored four times and junior I.V. Stucker added three goals.

"I guess I was just really feeling it," Nash said. "I just buckled down and made the save. It felt great. This is the first big game we've played all the way through to the end."

"It's nice to know we can do it at the end of the game," Fay said. "It's nice to know we can turn it on. We just needed it."

"I didn't want to go to overtime," added Falmouth coach Mike LeBel, alluding to the Yachtsmen's 0-3 OT record this spring. "I think it's a weight off our shoulders. Eventually it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we get in those situations, no matter what happens, we think we're not going to win. We finally put together a complete game, from all positions for every second of the game. I'm really proud of the guys for that."

The Yachtsmen (8-4) will be the No. 2 seed for the Western B playoffs and will host No. 3 Greely (8-4) Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the semifinals. The Rangers closed with a 14-5 win at York.

Falmouth won the regular season meeting, 12-3, at Greely, May 13. The teams have split four prior playoff encounters. The last came in the 2010 semifinals (a 22-5 Yachtsmen triumph).

"I think we have as good a shot as anyone else," LeBel said. "I think we're in a better place now, mentally at least, going into the tournament."

In Eastern B, NYA finished second to Gardiner with an 8-4 mark following the 11-10 home loss to Falmouth in the finale. In that one, the Panthers got three goals apiece from Scammon and Eliott Wellenbach and just ran out of time.

"Momentum was back and forth," NYA coach Peter Gerrity said. "It would have been nice to be on the other side. I think we recognized we could play with them."

The Panthers hosted No. 7 Camden Hills (5-7) in Wednesday's quarterfinals. The teams didn't meet this spring and had no previous playoff history.

Yarmouth earned the third seed in Eastern B at 9-3 following a 13-7 home loss to Cape Elizabeth in its finale, Friday. The Clippers did get three goals from Quinn Hathcock, but couldn't dig out of a 5-1 halftime hole, due in large part to 27 turnovers, and lost to the Capers for the eighth straight time.

"I really felt, like I have all season, that we had a chance to come back," Yarmouth coach David Pearl said. "Cape's a very good team and hopefully we'll get another crack at them."

The Clippers hosted No. 6 Oak Hill (9-3) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams didn't play this spring. Yarmouth won both previous playoff meetings, including an 18-4 decision in last year's quarterfinals.

There's a good chance NYA will host Yarmouth in the semifinals Saturday, which would be viewed by many as the de facto regional final.

"I'm very proud of our regular season and I think we're ready for the playoffs," Pearl said. "If we win (Wednesday), our focus will be on NYA. They'll be ready for us, we'll be ready for them."

"I think we can make a run," Gerrity said. "We'll be ready to go."

Freeport wound up with the eighth and final Eastern B playoff seed after a 3-9 regular season, culminated with a 15-7 loss at Waynflete (Clayton Morrison did score four goals). The Falcons were at top-ranked Gardiner (12-0) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams didn't play in the regular season. Freeport won the lone prior playoff meeting, 17-6, in the 2006 quarterfinals.

Looking ahead, the semifinals are Saturday and regional finals Wednesday, with games to be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The state games are Saturday, June 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Girls' lacrosse

Four girls' squads also moved on.

Defending Eastern B champion Freeport earned the No. 2 seed behind Gardiner after a 6-6 regular season. The Falcons closed with a 13-6 home loss to Greely last Thursday. Freeport only trailed, 5-4, at halftime, but the Rangers pulled away in the second half. Bethanie Knighton and Aubrey Pennell both scored twice.

Yarmouth ended up third in the region with a 5-7 mark following a 14-12 home loss to Cape Elizabeth in the finale last Thursday. The Clippers hung tough throughout, leading early, 2-1, then tying the game at 5-5, 6-6 and 9-9, but the Capers had too much firepower and held on to avenge an earlier loss to Yarmouth. The Clippers did get seven goals from Grace O'Donnell in defeat.

"We just couldn't quite get over the hump today," Clippers coach Dorothy Holt said. "Cape is one of the top teams in the state. They have an amazing group of girls and we kept up with them. The first time wasn't a fluke. We're showing people who we are."

Yarmouth will play at Freeport in a semifinal round game Saturday. The teams didn't play this year. Last spring, the Falcons beat the Clippers in overtime of the regional final, 12-11. Yarmouth holds a 4-1 all-time playoff record vs. Freeport.

North Yarmouth Academy entered its finale Friday versus visiting Falmouth hoping to win and earn the last playoff spot, but amid sweltering conditions, the Panthers couldn't overcome an early 7-0 deficit and went down to a 21-10 defeat, despite four goals from Olivia Madore.

NYA made nice strides in 2013, but not enough to return to the postseason. That figures to happen next spring.

"We learned a lot this season," Panthers coach Lynn Sullivan said. "We beat some good teams. The seniors are a great group. Seven have been with the program for four years. We hope to improve next year. Playoffs are a realistic goal. I have a talented group of ninth and 10th graders."

In Western B, Greely earned the No. 3 seed behind undefeated, defending champion Waynflete and Cape Elizabeth after going 9-3. The Rangers closed with a 10-6 home loss to the Flyers and a 13-6 win at Freeport. Against Waynflete, in the completion of a game which started May 9 and was suspended 12 minutes in with the Flyers ahead, 3-1, Greely got as close as 7-5 in the second half, but fell short. In the victory, Meg Finlay and Julia Mitiguy both had three goals. The Rangers (9-3) go to the second-ranked Capers (9-3) for the semifinals Saturday. Greely lost the regular season matchup, 14-9, at Cape Elizabeth, May 17. The teams split two prior playoff meetings in the MPA-sanctioned era. The Rangers won in the 2002 quarterfinals, while the Capers took last year's semifinal, 18-8.

Falmouth closed 7-5 and earned the No. 5 spot after a 17-10 loss at Cape Elizabeth and a 21-10 win at NYA in the finale Friday. Alex Bernier and Angela Mallis both had four goals in the loss. Against the Panthers, London Bernier, Molly Ryan, Sabrina Smithwick and Julia Spugnardi all had three goals, while Alex Bernier had two with nine assists.

"We connected on our passes today," said Alex Bernier. "We had a lot of different scorers. We wanted everyone to have a good last game before playoffs."

"It was a great way to end the season," Falmouth coach Robin Haley said. "We've had some bumps along the way."

The Yachtsmen visited No. 4 York (9-3) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Falmouth lost at York, 9-6, May 14. The teams had no playoff history. A win in that game would have sent the Yachtsmen to No. 1 Waynflete (12-0) for the semifinals Saturday. The Flyers won both meetings this spring, 10-8, at Falmouth May 3 and 16-3, at Waynflete May 21. Waynflete has won all three prior playoff meetings, including an epic 10-9 decision in last year's semifinals.

Looking ahead, the semifinals are Saturday and regional finals Wednesday, with games to be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The state games are Saturday, June 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

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