What a spring! Rough weather overshadowed by high drama
The spring of 2014 is now in our rearview mirror and while it will certainly be remembered for challenging weather conditions, ultimately, it will be hailed for the thrills it produced.
Outdoor track gave out its hardware first and several local standouts turned heads.
Tennis was next and Cape Elizabeth's boys repeated as Class B champions.
On the diamond, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough's softball teams both went undefeated, but after pulling off dramatic come-from-behind playoff wins, were ultimately ousted in their respective regional finals. South Portland also made the playoffs.
South Portland's baseball team enjoyed its best season in a decade and Scarborough surged in the second half, but both squads were knocked off shy of their ultimate goal of a championship.
Lacrosse brought the curtain down. After Scarborough and South Portland's girls were eliminated, Cape Elizabeth stole the show, ending a 12-year hex against Waynflete, then winning at Kennebunk to capture Western B for the first time. The Capers lost to Yarmouth in the state game, but their run was magical.
Scarborough's boys saw their four-year Class A title reign end, but Cape Elizabeth managed to repeat in Class B. South Portland stepped into the Red Storm's void and captured a first-ever championship in thrilling fashion.
What a way to cap a memorable spring!
Here's one last glimpse at the top moments of the spring before we enjoy the summer and look ahead to fall sports (practice starts sooner than you think, Aug. 18)...
Cape Elizabeth boys' lacrosse, Class B
Cape Elizabeth boys' tennis, Class B
South Portland boys' lacrosse, Class A
Daniel Giuliani, South Portland, boys' shot put, Class A
Cape Elizabeth girls' lacrosse, Western B
Michael's top five stories/moments
5) SP baseball enjoys special season
There wasn't much buzz around the South Portland baseball team heading into the 2014 season, but the Red Riots quickly became the team to beat in a wide open Western Class A. Behind stellar pitching and timely hitting, South Portland produced a 14-2 regular season, its best mark in a decade, and earned the top seed for the Western Class A playoffs. The Red Riots escaped Cheverus in extra innings in the quarterfinals, but despite a valiant effort, were ousted by Marshwood in the semifinals. This program will be heard from again. Soon.
4) Cape Elizabeth softball's improbable rally
Cape Elizabeth's softball team bludgeoned its way to victory after victory during a 16-0 regular season and after eking out a 2-0 win over Poland in the quarterfinals, appeared to meet its match when it went up against unheralded Yarmouth in the semis. The Capers beat the Clippers twice in the regular season, but Yarmouth took an 8-3 lead to the seventh inning to apparently finish Cape Elizabeth off. Not so fast. The Capers scored a pair of runs and with two outs and two on, junior standout Ashley Tinsman hit the biggest home run of her life to tie the score. That wasn't even the most memorable longball of the day, however, as sophomore Tess Haller followed with a walkoff blast to end an impossible comeback and give Cape Elizabeth a 9-8 victory. The Capers' magic ran out in the regional final, however, with a loss to Wells.
3) Cape boys go back-to-back, emphatically
Cape Elizabeth's boys' lacrosse team was expected to come back to the pack this spring after graduating some top-notch defenders, but the Capers remained at the top of the heap and produced a dominant season that few, if anyone could have anticipated. The Capers went undefeated for the first time since 2002 and repeated as state champion for the first time since 2002-03, as they scored goals with abandon, smothered the opposition with their defense and got a clutch effort from unheralded goalie Alex Narvaez, who wasn't even expected to be the starter. With a talented young core, a three-peat is a distinct possibility.
2) The 25th time's the charm
Cape Elizabeth's girls' lacrosse team had lost three straight times to Waynflete in the Western B Final, but after a challenging regular season, which included the loss of standout senior Hannah Newhall to a collarbone injury and two more losses to the Flyers (making it 24 in a row dating back to 2003), the Capers caught fire in the playoffs and slayed some mighty big dragons. After handling Falmouth in the quarterfinals, Cape Elizabeth went to Waynflete and played as if it had nothing to lose before rallying to stun the Flyers on Abby McInerney's late goal. The Capers then went to Kennebunk and ended their regional final hex with a thrilling overtime win. While Cape Elizabeth's ultimate dream, a state title, was denied by Yarmouth, its run was one for the memory bank.
1) The Martin Memorial Miracle
South Portland's boys' lacrosse team was the preseason favorite and ran roughshod on the league during an 11-1 regular season, but after downing Gorham in the semifinals, the Red Riots were on the verge of heartache when they trailed visiting Thornton Academy, 11-9, in the final minute of the regional final. South Portland needed a miracle and it got one. After pulling within one, an illegal stick penalty on the Golden Trojans gave the Red Riots life and with 6 seconds to play, Thomas Leddy tied the game. It appeared South Portland would have momentum going to overtime, but the game never got there, as Duncan Preston won the ensuing faceoff, raced in and shot and scored with just 1.9 seconds showing. Red Riots 12 Thornton Academy 11. South Portland went on to beat Brunswick for its first championship three days later, but it's how the Red Riots got to that game that will never be forgotten.