An autumn of triumph and thrills
Maybe it's hyperbole or being lost in the moment, but it's quite likely that the autumn of 2013 brought more high school sports drama to Forecaster Country than any in memory.
Great games, scintillating individual performances and compelling themes were too numerous to count, but here's an effort to do so.
Volleyball doesn't tend to get the most attention, but that sport delivered the most hardware, as Falmouth won Class A for its first championship and Yarmouth captured Class B for the second time in three seasons. Greely remained a powerhouse program, while North Yarmouth Academy enjoyed its best ever campaign, reaching the playoffs for the first time.
Soccer has long been this area's calling card and once again, local teams excelled.
Yarmouth appeared to have the best boys' team, but Greely stunned the Clippers in the regional final, then won Class B for the first time in nearly four decades. NYA enjoyed its first ever undefeated regular season, then was ousted in a semifinal round heartbreaker. Falmouth and Freeport also made the playoffs.
On the girls' side, Freeport earned arguably its biggest victory ever, upsetting Yarmouth in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1990. Falmouth also reached the semis in its first season in Class A. NYA got back to the playoffs after three years away. Greely advanced the deepest, making it to the Western B Final before losing to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth.
NYA's field hockey team continued to be the gold standard in Western C, winning a fifth regional championship in six seasons. Yarmouth returned to prominence and engaged in three memorable showdowns with the Panthers. Falmouth reached the semifinals in its first year at the Class A level. In Western B, Freeport edged Greely in the preliminary round, then lost to eventual regional champion York in the quarterfinals.
Cross country saw the dominance of Greely's Kirstin Sandreuter (Class B individual champion) and the Freeport girls' squad, which won the Western B title and qualified for New Englands. Almost every team in the coverage area made it to the state meet.
Last, but certainly not least, Falmouth won yet another golf team title. Greely, NYA and Yarmouth also made it to states and individuals of both genders had tremendous seasons.
Like it or not, it's time to move on to winter sports, but first, here's one last look at the champions and top stories of the 2013 fall season.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Parade of champions
Falmouth golf (Class A)
Falmouth volleyball (Class A)
Greely boys' soccer (Class B)
Yarmouth volleyball (Class B)
Freeport girls' cross country (Western B)
North Yarmouth Academy field hockey (Western C)
Kirstin Sandreuter, Greely, Class B girls
Michael's Top 5 stories
5) Freeport girls shock rival
Freeport's girls' soccer team took the next step and registered a signature victory this fall, posting a solid 9-5 regular season record, then upsetting Yarmouth, 1-0, in the Western B quarterfinals to reach the semifinal round for the first time since 1990. While the Falcons were then ousted by eventual champion Cape Elizabeth, it's safe to say they've arrived as an upper echelon contender.
4) NYA field hockey comes oh so close
NYA's field hockey team has set the bar in Class C since 2008 and this year's squad almost added another championship trophy. What made this season additionally exciting was the restoration of the Panthers' dormant rivalry with Yarmouth. NYA edged the Clippers twice in the regular season, then did it again in the semifinals. The Panthers then went to penalty corners in the regional final versus defending state champion Lisbon before Charlotte Eisenberg's goal sent them to the state final for the fifth time in six seasons. There, NYA battled Foxcroft Academy for 60 exciting minutes, but couldn't score and lost, 1-0.
3) Freeport girls' team, Greely individual sparkles on trails
As always, Forecaster Country cross country runners and teams were as good as any in the region and state. Ultimately, the biggest team highlights were stolen by the Freeport girls, who won Western B, finished runner-up at states, captured the Sportsmanship award and qualified for New Englands. Greely senior standout Kirstin Sandreuter did even better, winning both the Western B and Class B individual crowns, putting an impressive exclamation point on another great year.
2) Greely boys stun Yarmouth, then win championship
Entering its first Class B postseason in nearly four decades, few gave Greely's boys' soccer team much of a chance to win a Gold Ball, but the Rangers put together a thrilling run. After getting past Gray-New Gloucester and York in the first two rounds, Greely went to seemingly unstoppable powerhouse Yarmouth, which had beaten the Rangers, 4-1, just a couple weeks prior, and despite falling behind, 1-0, early, rallied to tie on a great goal from Jacob Nason, then pulled the stunner when Matt Crowley scored late. That sent Greely to the Class B Final, where another highlight reel Nason goal produced an early 1-0 lead which the Rangers made stand up to down Camden Hills, setting the stage for a celebration a long time in the making.
1) Center of volleyball universe
Greely has long been the local volleyball team synonymous with championships, but this fall, two other local schools reached the pinnacle. After numerous close calls, Falmouth shook off a couple close regular season losses to Scarborough, then eliminated Biddeford in the quarterfinals, rallied from near elimination to oust Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, then avenged its regular season losses with a four-set victory over Scarborough to win the Class A crown, the program's first. In Class B, Yarmouth made it two titles in three years. The Clippers, beaten just once in the regular season, had no trouble reaching the state match, but there, dropped the first two sets to Washington Academy, but Yarmouth was saving its best for last, rallying to win in five games.