Playoff action heats up in Forecaster Country
(For the complete Yarmouth-Greely boys' soccer, Falmouth-Waynflete, Greely-Yarmouth and NYA-Waynflete girls' soccer, Freeport-Greely playoff field hockey and Falmouth-Scarborough, Falmouth-Greely, Greely-Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth-Jonesport-Beals volleyball game stories, with additional photos, please visit theforecaster.net. Also visit the website for additional photos from the Western Maine Conference cross country meet.)
The golf season has come to a close, field hockey's playoffs are underway and cross country, soccer and volleyball's postseason are primed to begin.
Buckle up, the fun's just getting started.
Here's a glimpse:
One week after winning the Class A team golf state title, Falmouth sent four players back to Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro Saturday to compete in the Class A individual championships.
Joe Lesniak shot a 77 and tied three other players for fifth place (Chris Billings of Cheverus and Cam Letourneau of Oxford Hills shared the title with a 75). Craig Smith and Matt Hutcheon finished in a three-way tie for ninth with a 78. Russell Barnard finished at 88, tying him for 27th. Greely's Bailey Train shot an 84 and tied for 19th, while teammate Sam Burgoyne tied for 15th after a round of 85.
In Class C, North Yarmouth Academy's Dan Mahoney tied for 20th with a round of 89. Teammate Nick Dumas shot a 97 and placed 28th. Fort Fairfield's Robbie Watson won with a 71.
In the girls' competition, the title hopes of Yarmouth's Monica Austin fell just short as she shot an 81 to tie for fourth (Lincoln Academy's Bailey Plourde and Presque Isle's Jenna Hallett tied for first at 76). Yarmouth's Grace King impressed as well with a ninth-place finish after shooting a 91. Greely's Erin Holmes (98) tied for 13th, Greely's Isabella Perry (104) tied for 19th, Freeport's Wynne Cushing (106) tied for 23rd and Greley's Sarah Novick (134) was 35th.
The Western Maine Conference championship meet last Friday at St. Joseph's College in Standish produced many highlights for local runners.
In the Division I girls' race, Falmouth came in first, Freeport was second and Greely placed third. The Yachtsmen were led by Madeline Roberts, who had the third-fastest time in the field (20 minutes, 47 seconds).
"The girls had an excellent race and are excited for the next couple weeks," said Falmouth co-coach Jorma Kurry. "Facing a new group of teams in Class A will be fun but we should be able to do well against those teams. Hopefully we can stay healthy and strong as we have been this season."
"The girls are coming on," added the other co-coach, Danny Paul. "Our top five girls are really running well. We are definitely in the mix these next two weeks."
The top Falcon was Sydney Ambrose (fourth, 20:51). The Rangers were led by Kristina Smith (16th, 21:33).
In the Division I boys' race, Cape Elizabeth was first, Falmouth second, Freeport placed fifth and Greely wound up sixth. Individually, Bryce Murdick led the way for the Yachtsmen with a fourth-place overall finish (17:08).
"We ran well overall," Paul said. "We should compete well the next two weeks."
"The boys need to get healthy, but the talent is there to succeed at the big meets," Kurry added.
Chandler Vincent (fifth, 17:11) paced the Falcons. The fastest Ranger was Troy Cochrane (15th, 17:55).
In Division II, Yarmouth stole the show with a first-place finish. Merriconeag placed second and NYA came in fourth. The Clippers were led by Division II individual runner-up Caitlin Teare (21:18). Ellie Teare (21:34) came in fourth.
"We had a really good showing," said longtime Yarmouth coach Bob Morse. "We need to step it up another notch if we're going to catch the girls from Greely and Freeport. The girls have set a goal of top three at regionals."
Merriconeag's top finisher was Samantha Pierce (ninth in Division II, 22:48). NYA featured standout Hannah Austin, who was first in Division II and second overall to Heather Evans of York in 20:33.
In the boys' race, won by Fryeburg, Merriconeag was runner-up and NYA came in third. Yarmouth only had three boys take part and did not score.
"We'll be full strength by regionals," Morse said. "Our goal is to make it to states."
The Panthers were led by Matt Malcom, who won Division II and was eighth overall in 17:21. Merriconeag's top runner was Tucker Pierce (third in Division II, 17:49).
The regional championships are Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Center in Cumberland. Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth's girls take part in the Western B race at 10 a.m. Those schools' boys' teams run at 10:35 a.m. Merriconeag and NYA's girls run in the Western C race at 12:30 p.m. The Western C boys go at 1:05 p.m. The Falmouth girls run in the Class A race at 2:30 p.m. The Yachtsmen boys compete at 3:05 p.m. Teams and individuals will look to qualify for the state meet, which will be held the following Saturday, Nov. 2, back at Twin Brook.
Freeport hosted Greely in a Western Class B preliminary round playoff game Saturday morning to kick off the postseason. The Falcons went 5-9 in the regular season and earned the No. 8 seed, while the Rangers wound up 4-9-1 and grabbed the ninth and final playoff spot.
The game was a rematch of a regular season contest played eight days prior where Greely tied the score on a penalty corner after time expired, then prevailed, 2-1, in overtime. This time, Freeport turned the tables, getting a first half from junior Abby Smith and holding on, 1-0.
"It was a great pass," Smith said. "I just had an open shot. I knew I hit it well."
"It was amazing," said Falcons sophomore goalie Morgan Karnes, who had 11 saves. "Considering how we lost last time, we knew we had to keep playing hard and hold them off."
"It's a very nice win and the girls deserved it," added first-year Freeport coach Marcia Wood. "Thank God it went the other way this time, because it definitely felt like deja vu. We absolutely wanted another shot at them. We needed to redeem ourselves."
With the win, the Falcons improved to 6-9, advanced to meet top-ranked, 14-0 York in the quarterfinals Tuesday (after this edition went to press). The teams have no playoff history.
"We have nothing to lose," Wood added. "We just want to make it a game. We'll make them work. Who knows? I'm a firm believer anyone can win on any given day."
The loss ended Greely's season at 4-10-1.
"We had many chances," lamented Rangers coach Kristina Lane Prescott. "We kept losing the ball over the end line every time. It's what's plagued us all season, not being able to score. "
Greely got back to the playoffs this fall, an impressive feat considering all the new faces at the start of the season.
"Making playoffs is a positive," said Prescott, who missed a game early in the season after giving birth to her daughter, Audrey. "It's been a good season. It's an awesome group of girls. That makes it all worthwhile."
The Rangers will have their work cut out again in 2014.
"We are graduating 10, so it will be right back to where we started, trying to get experience up the best we can," Prescott said.
Falmouth wound up 12-2 and third behind Scarborough and Massabesic in Western A after blanking visiting Gray-New Gloucester, 5-0, in the finale last Tuesday (Elle Fitzgerald and Jillian Rothweiler both had two goals, Mikey Richards scored once).
"It's been quite a season," said Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley. "We had to keep winning to get a top seed in Western A. We've had some tough games. It made for a fun season. I knew we'd be pretty competitive."
Falmouth hosted No. 11 Sanford (8-7) in the quarterfinals Wednesday night. The teams had no history.
"We scrimmaged Sanford in the preseason," Haley said. "Records mean little at this point. We need to key on our game and maintain our focus. We just need to play team field hockey and move the ball well. If we do that, it should be a good game."
If the Yachtsmen advanced, they'd either go to No. 2 Massabesic (12-2) or host No. 7 Westbrook (9-6) in Saturday's semifinal round.
In Western C, NYA finished second to Lisbon with an 11-2-1 record following a 4-0 home loss to York in its finale.
"We'll come back, practice and get ready for the tournament," said Panthers coach Tracy Quimby. "I'm very happy with our season."
NYA hosted No. 7 Telstar (6-8) in the quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon (see theforecaster.net for game story). The teams don't play in the regular season. The teams last met two years ago in the quarterfinals, where the Panthers prevailed, 2-1, in overtime.
If NYA advances, it will either host No. 3 Yarmouth (9-4-1) or No. 6 Oak Hill (7-6-1) in the semifinals Saturday.
The Clippers posted their best record in 13 years after finishing with a 2-0 home win over Freeport (Emma Peterson and Olivia Shay had the goals). Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, Yarmouth hosted No. 6 Oak Hill, a team it doesn't play in the regular season. The teams hadn't met in the postseason in 30 years, when the Clippers lost in the Western C quarterfinals, 1-0, in (this isn't a misprint) 14 overtimes.
"We are very excited at the prospects ahead," said Yarmouth coach Mandy Lewis. "The players are focused on preparing for Oak Hill. This team has the desire. Now we have to come out with intensity and get the job done."
If the Clippers and Panthers had a semifinal showdown Saturday, it would mark the first playoff meeting since the 1995 quarterfinals (a 1-0 overtime victory for Yarmouth).
Looking ahead, the regional finals are Tuesday at Thornton Academy. The state games will be held Saturday, Nov. 2, at Yarmouth High.
The road to the Class B boys' soccer title will go through Yarmouth.
That's because the Clippers closed with a surprisingly easy 4-1 home victory over Greely and a 6-0 home win over Gray-New Gloucester to wind up 11-0-3 (just the fourth undefeated season in program annals) and first in the Heals.
Against the Rangers, Yarmouth got goals from Max Watson, Adam LaBrie, Wyatt Jackson and Watson again (on a PK).
"We're really starting to pull together and play as a team," said Watson. "When everyone does their job, we're tough to beat. We're coming together at the right time."
"The kids were really zoned in tonight," said Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. "Very focused. We played as well as we could have played and we benefited from some good bounces."
Against the Patriots, Jackson and Watson both had two goals, while Michel Salveson added his first varsity goal and David Clemmer accounted for the final score.
"It's really exciting," said Hagerty. "We could have had a letdown after the Greely win, but we came out on fire. It feels like we're peaking at the right time. This was the toughest schedule we've had in 10 years. To go through it with our biggest lapses being down two goals to Greely and Cape and rallying to tie is amazing. The seniors' calmness and composure carried us through. They've seen the elation of a state title (in 2010) and the devastation of losing in the playoffs."
While the final Heal Points weren't available at press time, it's likely Yarmouth will host Freeport or Fryeburg in the quarterfinals Wednesday of next week. The Clippers are the favorite, but they know it won't be easy.
"We tied Greely, York and Cape and those are the teams right behind us," Hagerty said. "It's wide open. I don't expect anything but one-, or two-goal games in the playoffs."
Greely got a goal from Harry Shain in the loss at Yarmouth, but couldn't do much else.
"A team like Yarmouth doesn't give you many opportunities," said Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. "When they give you one, you have to take advantage. We didn't do that tonight. They guarded their turf well. They outskilled us too. They were better in every phase."
Saturday, Greely finished with a 10-2-2 record by rolling at Lake Region, 10-0. Spruce Mountain or Poland could be a quarterfinal round opponent.
Freeport will be in the playoffs for the third year in a row and 14th time in 16 seasons. The Falcons ended up 4-8-2 after tying visiting Poland, 0-0, losing to visiting Falmouth, 5-2, and falling at Cape Elizabeth, 4-0. At press time, it appeared Freeport will go to Fryeburg for the preliminary round, likely Saturday. The teams played Sept. 20 in Fryeburg and settled for a 1-1 draw. The teams have no playoff history.
In Western A, Falmouth, the two-time defending Class B champion, which moved up for the playoffs this fall, finished strong with a 1-0 victory at Kennebunk (Luke Velas scored) a 5-2 win at Freeport and a 2-0 home victory over Waynflete (behind goals from Velas and Jake Grade and goalkeeper Will D'Agostino's eighth shutout) to wind up 8-4-2.
"Our goal was to be playing our best at the end of the season and I think we are," said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. "I'm pleased. The young guys are coming along and the older guys are playing better. We hoped we'd make progress."
The Yachtsmen were fifth in the Heals at press time and were uncertain of who they'd host in a prelim Saturday (possibly Windham, which is coached by former Falmouth girls' coach Wally LeBlanc).
"We're looking forward to it," Halligan said. "No bulls-eye this year. We have a good goalkeeper who can steal a game."
In Western C, NYA wrapped up a first-ever 14-0 campaign last week by downing host Sacopee Valley (4-3) and visiting Waynflete (3-0). D.J. Nicholas had three goals, including his 30th of the year, against the Hawks, while Jackson Cohan-Smith also scored. In the win over the Flyers, Nicholas had two goals and Cohan-Smith one. The Panthers will either be second or third for the playoffs and will host a quarterfinal next week.
On the girls' side, Falmouth finished strong in Western A. The Yachtsmen blanked visiting Kennebunk and Freeport by 1-0 scores last week, then won at Waynflete, 1-0, Monday to wind up 11-2-1. Against the Rams, Taylor Russell had the goal. Tyler Spence scored against the Falcons. In the win over the defending Class C champion Flyers, Georgia Babikian headed home a Spence cross in the 31st minute, which stood up.
"I knew (Tyler) could cross a ball like that," Babikian said. "We practice it a lot. I was able to get around the defense. I didn't have anyone on me. I just had to get my head on the ball."
"We've gone five games now without giving up a goal, which is a plus, but we've only scored five goals," Falmouth coach Andrew Pelletier said. "We're in a funk in the attacking third."
The Yachtsmen expect to be ranked second for their first foray into the Western A playoffs and will host a quarterfinal, likely Tuesday of next week.
"I'm happy to have eight days to get back in the grind of practicing and fixing what we do in the attacking third," Pelletier added. "I thought we exceeded everybody else's expectations in the regular season, but we partly underachieved for what we wanted to do. That's us setting high goals for ourselves. We haven't been the favorites all year. We won't be again, but we'll be ready."
In Western B, Greely stumbled down the stretch, falling at Yarmouth and at home to Lake Region by 1-0 scores to end up 9-4-1 and second to Cape Elizabeth in the Heals. The Rangers will host a playoff game next Tuesday.
"We'll learn from (the end of the regular season)," said Greely first-year coach Josh Muscadin. "We don't care about the one seed. It doesn't really matter. Our job is go out and play well."
Yarmouth closed the year on a four-game win streak, beating visiting Greely (1-0), host Poland (4-1) and host Gray-New Gloucester (2-0). Against the Rangers, Lilly Watson's goal (from Cory Langenbach) proved to be the difference.
"We've been working on the one-touch," said Watson. "We have a lot of really strong shooters. Cory got the ball, I called for it out wide. She passed it right to me. I saw the right corner and I knocked it right in."
Junior Shannon Fallon made a couple critical diving saves to preserve the win.
"It means so much," Fallon said. "(Greely's) such a good team. This gives us confidence we can play against these great tams and even win against them."
"There haven't been a lot of Greely wins, or even a lot of close games (over the years)," said longtime Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. "We've really struggled with them. It was our night. It's great for us to know at this time of year that if we play hard, we can play with anybody."
Against the Knights, Katie Clemmer, Abby Condon, Julia Primeau and Emma Torres had the goals. Clemmer and Langenbach had the goals versus the Patriots as Yarmouth wound up 8-3-3 and fourth in Western B.
Freeport finished the regular year 9-5 (its best record since going 9-1-2 in 1990) after beating visiting Poland, 2-0, and falling at Falmouth, 1-0. Against the Knights, Emily Morang and Ashley Richardson had the goals.
The Falcons will be seeded fifth and project to go to Yarmouth for a quarterfinal Tuesday. The Clippers eked out a 1-0 home win on a Torres goal back on Sept. 16. The teams met just once before in the postseason, a 5-0 Yarmouth victory in the 2005 quarterfinals.
In Western C, NYA, after a three-year absence, is back in the playoffs after winding up 7-5-2 following a 2-1 double overtime win at Old Orchard Beach (Alex Wahlstrom played the hero again with the winner) and a 6-1 loss at Waynflete.
"The girls have been outstanding this season, however, they learned a tough lesson (at Waynflete)," said first-year Panthers coach Josh Thornton.
NYA was eighth at press time and could host Monmouth in a prelim Friday.
The end of the volleyball regular season produced ample drama as well.
Falmouth rallied from two sets down last Tuesday to win a five-game thriller at Greely (27-29, 20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-9).
"I think we really came together as a team and we pulled it out," said Riley Burfeind, who had a dozen kills, four aces and three blocks. "I really love my team. We have great chemistry. We're really supportive of each other."
"(Losing close matches to Greely) was last year's issue," said Yachtsmen coach Gary Powers. "The girls pulled it back themselves. They did an awesome job. They believed in themselves."
Falmouth eked out a 3-2 win at Biddeford Thursday, then dropped a five-set thriller at undefeated Scarborough Monday to finish 12-2. The Yachtsmen won the first and fourth games at the Red Storm, but lost the deciding set, 15-5.
"Momentum in volleyball changes on a dime and you can't do anything about it," Powers said. "We were up and down. The first game was ours and the fourth game was ours, but the middle two we just fell apart."
The Yachtsmen expect to be the No. 2 seed in Class A. They could host Biddeford or Cheverus in the state quarterfinals Saturday.
Greely got a dozen kills from Jordynne Copp in the loss to Falmouth, but couldn't hold on.
"We couldn't make serves and we couldn't pass when we wanted to pass," Rangers coach Kelvin Hasch said. "It was clearly evident in the first two sets, we were the better team, but we got too confident and stopped playing. This team couldn't dig down and come back."
Thursday, the Rangers bounced back with a come-from-behind 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-16, 15-13) victory at Cape Elizabeth.
"Everyone's a good team," said Greely senior Lexi Foster, who made too many clutch plays to count. "Cape's a good team compared what we've seen before. We wanted it. That's what it came down to."
Freshman Kayley Cimino had five kills, including the final point.
"It's been fun to play with the upperclassmen," Cimino said. "They've been welcoming."
Monday, the Rangers won, 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-19), at Gorham to finish 10-4 and fifth in Class A. Greely will visit No. 4 Ellsworth (12-2) in Saturday's quarterfinals. On Sept. 28, the Rangers swept Ellsworth, 3-0.
In Class B, Yarmouth finished 13-1 and first after 3-0 wins last week over Windham (25-8, 25-6, 25-11), at Thornton Academy (25-10, 25-19, 25-11) and visiting Jonesport-Beals (25-7, 25-7, 25-9). Against the Eagles, Grace Mallett had 11 aces and 11 assists, while Kristina Borderia had seven kills. Mallett had 10 aces against the Golden Trojans, while Madeleine Anderson added seven kills. Mallett had six aces and three kills, while Maierhofer had seven aces against Jonesport-Beals.
"Sometimes you struggle to play, but today we worked really hard," Mallett said. "When we run our plays, which is something we try to do a lot, we really shine."
"We have senior strength, which is really nice," Maierhofer said. "It brings unity to our team, which I really love."
"It's been a fantastic season," added Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. "To go 13-1 is a surprise."
The Clippers have a quarterfinal round bye and will host either No. 4 Calais (8-6) or No. 5 NYA (7-7) in the semifinals Wednesday of next week.
NYA reached the playoffs for the first time after closing with wins over visiting Windham (3-2) and Jonesport-Beals (3-0).
"As a team, we decided early on that we really wanted to push to make the playoffs," said Panthers coach Nora Krainis. "We'd never done that and we thought that this year we had a chance. We're very excited. We feel blessed to have incredible support from the NYA athletic department, faculty and parents and I am very proud of our girls."
The Panthers didn't play Calais this year.
If NYA and Yarmouth square off next week, it would be a rematch of a season-opening match won by the Clippers in three sets.
The state matches are Saturday, Nov. 2, at Windham High School.