Another terrific sports year has come and gone
Another year of high school sports action is in the rearview mirror, but the memories will linger for a long time.
Local athletes turned heads last winter, dazzled in the spring and enthralled in the autumn.
With another winter season underway and the calendar now reading 2013, here's one final look back to the thrills that made up 2012.
When 2011 gave way to 2012, all four city boys' basketball teams were clearly playoff-bound. In Western A, reigning regional champion Cheverus and dangerous Deering and Portland were all jockeying for top spots. In Western C, Waynflete was making it clear that its run to the semifinals the year before was no fluke.
On the girls' side, it was McAuley and everyone else, although the Lions were tested by rival Deering and upstart Scarborough in the month. The Rams and Cheverus were winning the majority of their games, while in Western C, Waynflete, despite injury problems again, loomed as a dangerous threat.
On the ice, the Cheverus boys were enjoying their best season since the championship years of 2005 and 2006, while the Stags girls and resurgent Portland girls were also turning heads.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.
Cheverus' Iain Whitis won the Class A wrestling state title at 120 pounds.
In track, where the Deering boys missed out on a state title by a single, agonizing point, Jared Bell managed to emerge as the top shot putter in Class A. In the girls' Class A meet, Cheverus' Fiona Hendry won state titles in both the mile and two-mile.
In the pool, there were no shortage of stellar performances. Cheverus' Trebor Lawton was named Performer of the Class A boys' meet after winning the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley titles as the Stags finished second as a team. Deering's Eric Delmonte (100 breaststroke) was also a champion. On the girls' side, Deering's Genevieve Worthley was named Performer of the Class A meet after she won both the IM and breaststroke championships. In Class B, Waynflete's Amelia Deady was tops in both the 200 and 500 girls' freestyle, while teammate Colby Harvey took the 100 butterfly crown. The Flyers program continued to surge up the standings, winning the Southwestern meet and placing third in Class B.
Portland's Nordic ski team turned heads by placing in Class A, a stunning result considering the team's lack of numbers.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, in Western C, Waynflete got past Wiscasset in quarterfinals, then lost in the semis for the second year in a row, to Old Orchard Beach. In Western A, Portland had high hopes entering the tournament, but was stunned by South Portland in the quarterfinals. Cheverus and Deering squared off in the semifinals and the Rams rode a fast start to a victory, reaching the regional final, where they and Bonny Eagle put on a memorable show. It came down to a final shot and Deering senior Patrick Green buried it, a 3-pointer, to give the Rams a 45-42 win and a berth in the state final.
On the girls' side, Waynflete, despite being seeded seventh, embarked on another deep run. After dominating Lisbon in a preliminary round game, the Flyers upset No. 2 Madison, then No. 3 Boothbay Region as junior star Martha Veroneau set a scoring record. Waynflete's run finally ended with a close loss to top-ranked Hall-Dale in the regional final. In Western A, Deering was upset by Windham in the quarterfinals and Cheverus, despite leading most of the way, ran out of gas and lost to Scarborough in its quarterfinal. That left the mighty Lions of McAuley, who would not stumble. The Lions downed Westbrook, Windham and Scarborough with relative ease to capture a second straight regional crown.
Hockey saw not only Portland's girls reach the playoffs, but enjoy their first ever postseason win, 6-2, over Cheverus in the West Region quarterfinals. The Bulldogs were eliminated by powerhouse Falmouth in the semis. On the boys' side, Cheverus earned the No. 4 seed in Western A, but was upset by Marshwood/Traip, 5-3, in the quarterfinals on the final day of the month.
The first Saturday of March saw a McAuley coronation. The Lions were pushed for awhile by Cony in the Class A state game, but down the stretch, they wouldn't be denied and went on to a 54-41 win.
Six days later, McAuley senior standout Alexa Coulombe was named Miss Maine Basketball.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
Defending state champion Cheverus was again the Class A baseball team to beat. In Western C, Waynflete was once again competitive.
Boys' lacrosse featured strong play from Cheverus and Deering, as Portland and Waynflete hoped to make playoff runs.
On the girls' side, Waynflete, as always, was one of the top contenders for a state title. Cheverus and Portland were also in the postseason hunt.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from several city teams.
On June 2, Cheverus' Matt Cushing (boys' javelin), Joe Slattery (boys' long jump) and Katie Shapiro (girls' discus) all won individual outdoor track championships.
A week later, both Waynflete tennis teams won more hardware. It was the girls' squad's second Class C title in succession, while the boys made it five in a row. McAuley almost won the Class A girls' crown, while Portland's girls were once again superb.
On the diamond, Cheverus' hopes for a repeat title were denied in epic fashion, on a walkoff home run in the regional final against Scarborough.
The top local boys' lacrosse story was Cheverus, which ousted Deering in the regional final (the Rams had eliminated Portland in overtime in the quarterfinals), earning a berth in the state game for the first time in the MPA Era. The Stags fought defending champion Scarborough tooth and nail, but in the end, dropped a 9-4 decision in the final game of Deke Andrew's long run as the only coach the program had known.
On the girls' side, Cheverus again reached the Eastern A Final, only to lose to Brunswick, again, and Portland was ousted in the quarterfinals. That left the storied Flyers of Waynflete who would embark on the most stirring playoff run in program history. There wasn't a lot of buzz around the Flyers as they entered the tournament ranked second to undefeated Cape Elizabeth and slightly ahead of a Falmouth team which it had lost to on its home field, but Waynflete rallied for a palpitating semifinal round victory over the Yachtsmen, then did the same against the Capers in the regional final. Martha Veroneau (equally skilled on the lacrosse field as the hardcourt) capped a comeback with one of the most breathtaking individual plays you'll ever see and the Flyers went on to break Cape Elizabeth's heart on sophomore Walker Foehl's overtime goal. The state final proved anticlimactic as Waynflete dominated Freeport to return to the pinnacle after a two-year absence.
July and August
High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.
Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country and golf excitement.
On the gridiron, two-time defending Class A champion Cheverus continued to win as it closed in on a hallowed record. Portland showed great improvement under new coach Jim Hartman, while across town, Deering struggled early before Kenny Sweet took over under center, getting the Rams moving.
On the pitch, defending Class C boys' champion Waynflete had the pieces in place to repeat, while Cheverus and Deering also looked strong. Portland struggled early, but that would change.
On the girls' side, Waynflete was competitive, but had trouble scoring goals at key times. Cheverus and Deering were also looking good.
Cheverus' field hockey team once again led the way, with resurgent Deering turning heads and Waynflete producing its best team in decades.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come and volleyball came to the city courtesy a first-year Cheverus program.
Golf held its state championship on Oct. 6. Cheverus came in third.
Cheverus' three-year reign as girls' cross country champion ended, but the Stags and several other city runners had strong showings at the state meet.
Waynflete's field hockey team hosted a playoff game for the first time in program history. The Flyers were upset by Dirigo, but had a season to remember. Deering made it back to the postseason after a two-year absence and Cheverus shook off its 2011 disappointment by winning two games to reach the regional final before finally losing to Scarborough.
The soccer playoffs began with the Portland boys, who turned their season around in dramatic fashion, shocked defending champion Windham in double overtime in the preliminary round. The Bulldogs' "house money" finally played itself out in a quarterfinal round loss to eventual champion Scarborough. Deering ousted Cheverus in the preliminary round on penalty kicks, but suffered a PK loss at Kennebunk in the quarterfinals. Waynflete advanced to the regional final for the third year in a row.
On the girls' side, Cheverus upset Deering in the preliminary round, then fell on PKs at Windham in the quarterfinals. Waynflete then embarked on a memorable run. With many of the same faces from lacrosse doing their thing, the Flyers defeated Wiscasset in the quarterfinals, erupted in the second half for a win over Lisbon in the semis, then avenged their 2011 playoff ouster with a 2-1 double OT win at St. Dom's, on senior Sadie Cole's winner, in the regional final Halloween afternoon.
Cheverus football went undefeated once again and on the 13th, downed host Thornton Academy, 28-14, in a highly touted "Game of the Century." The next week, the Stags beat visiting Deering, 21-0, to tie South Portland's record of 31 straight Class A victories. On Oct. 27, again facing the Rams, Cheverus set a new mark by rolling to a 49-0 romp. Portland, meanwhile, won its first playoff game in seven seasons, downing Windham in its quarterfinal.
The Waynflete boys hoped to join the girls in the state final, but on the 1st, the Flyers were stymied by Hall-Dale and lost on PKs in the regional final.
Two days later, the Waynflete girls met Fort Kent in the Class C state game at Scarborough. The Flyers continued their trend of living dangerously and were behind, 2-1, in the second half, but scored two quick goals and held on for a 3-2 victory, earning their first championship in four seasons.
Football then had center stage all to itself. In the semifinals, Portland had no answers for Cheverus as the Stags rolled, 35-7. That set up a delicious regional final showdown with Thornton Academy, but this time, Cheverus' luck would run out. The Stags trailed most of the way and despite a valiant effort, saw their 34-game streak and two-year title reign conclude with a 20-13 loss.
If it was any consolation, Cheverus senior Donald Goodrich was named a Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist and later, a finalist for the award which will be given in January.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys' basketball, Deering and Portland could be the top two teams in Western A when all is said and done Cheverus will only get better in its first season under coach Dan Costigan, who replaced the legendary Bob Brown, who retired. Waynflete appears capable of a deep run in Western C.
On the girls' side, McAuley is up to its old tricks, extending its three-year win streak to 31 games at press time. Cheverus and Deering will make life tough for the Lions as the season progresses and Portland is capable of springing an upset. Waynflete, if it stays healthy, has a great shot to get over the hump and play for and win a first Class C championship.
On the ice, Cheverus' boys got off to a hot start before running into Portland in the "City Cup." Both teams will be in contention for a playoff spot this winter.
Both the Cheverus and Portland girls have had moments of greatness and will also be in the mix.
Swimming, track and wrestling have provided positive glimpses and skiing is about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2013 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!