Farewell to a triumphant year; 2009 featured memories galore
Another fantastic year of high school sports drama has come and gone.
Local athletes kept us warm last winter, enthralled in the spring and dazzled in the fall.
With a new year upon us, let's look back once more to the thrills that made up 2009.
When 2008 gave way to 2009, the Cheverus boys' basketball team was stealing headlines, winning every game in impressive fashion. Deering, Portland and Waynflete were competitive as well.
On the girls' side, defending Class A champion Deering once again had no peer, rolling through the early portion of its schedule. Cheverus, McAuley, Portland and Waynflete were also enjoying success.
On the ice, girls' hockey took centerstage as it enjoyed its first season under Maine Principals' Association auspices. Cheverus was dominant.
On the boys' side, Portland enjoyed early success.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams were also making a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week was anything but a respite for athletes, coaches and fans.
In track, Cheverus had the best state meet success as the boys were sixth in Class A and the girls came in eighth. The girls featured individual state champion Fiona Hendry (in the mile and two-mile).
In the pool, the Stags were second in the boys' state meet. Deering came in fourth. McAuley wound up third at the Class B championships. Individual champs included Deering's E.J. Googins (50 free) and Brian McRae (diving) and McAuley's Kristen Desrosiers (200 and 500 freestyle).
On the slopes, Cheverus standout Alexander Markellos won the boys' slalom and giant slalom.
Deering's Ryan Toussaint kept his team's tradition of state champions alive by taking wrestling's Class A title in the 125-pound weight class.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, Cheverus wasn't able to repeat and saw its perfect season come to an agonizing end with a shocking loss to eventual champion Thornton Academy in the semifinals. Deering almost knocked off the Golden Trojans in a thrilling quarterfinal, but fell just short. Portland got its shot at Thornton Academy in the regional final, but didn't have quite enough down the stretch. Waynflete sprung a preliminary round upset to make it to the Western C quarterfinals in Augusta, but was then sent packing by talented Dirigo.
Deering's girls were able to finish the job, going back-to-back in perfect fashion, closing it out with a 49-34 win over Messalonskee in the state game. Cheverus lost to McAuley in the preliminary round. Portland was ousted by South Portland in the same round. The Lions went on to give Deering a scare before losing in the quarterfinals. In Western C, Waynflete came oh-so-close to winning the regional title, but fell by two points to Jay in the final.
Hockey's playoffs saw Portland's boys lose in the preliminary round. On the girls' side, Cheverus reached the regional final before dropping a one-goal decision to Biddeford.
Locals took a between-seasons rest, while many standouts were named to conference, regional and state all-star teams.
April and May
The short spring regular season produced much optimism.
The Deering baseball team, under a new coach, was up to its usual tricks, beating all comers en route to earning the top seed for the playoffs. Cheverus and Portland were also postseason-bound.
Cheverus enjoyed its best softball regular season to date and wound up making the playoffs, along with Deering.
Lacrosse would be the sport that turned heads the most. On the boys' side, a dominant Portland team made it clear that it had every intention of going all the way as it earned the top seed in Western A. Cheverus and Waynflete also made the playoffs.
On the girls' side, the sensational Flyers of Waynflete won every regular season game, getting tested just once, en route to the top seed for the playoffs. Portland also qualified.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured the best girls' team in Portland High history and more dominance from Waynflete.
On the 6th, two local boys won individual glory in track at the Class A meet. Cheverus' Jack Terwilliger was tops in the two-mile, while Portland standout Imadhi Zagon won the 100, 200 and long jump.
On the 13th, the Waynflete boys' tennis team capped an undefeated season with a state title. Portland's girls weren't as fortunate, falling to Lewiston, but the Bulldogs could hang their hats on the fact they were the first team in school history to advance that far. The Waynflete girls weren't able to reach states, but senior standout Christine Ordway capped her sensational high school career by winning the girls' individual championship for a third time.
More champions were crowned on the 20th when Deering won Class A baseball yet again, Portland took the Class A boys' lacrosse crown for the first time and Waynflete ascended to the top of the girls' lacrosse world for the second year in a row.
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, Cheverus got off to a great start, shocking preseason favorite Windham in its second game. Deering won its first two games, while Portland bounced back from early troubles with some promising results.
On the pitch, it became clear that Cheverus and Waynflete's girls' teams, along with the Waynflete boys, had serious postseason aspirations. Other teams improved and lurked as well.
The Cheverus field hockey team won every game it played in the month as it emerged as a top threat to Scarborough. Deering also jockeyed for playoff positioning.
Both Cheverus cross country teams lived up to billing as the best in Class A. Waynflete's girls, led by two first-year runners, senior Amy Allen and freshman Martha Veroneau, hinted that they weren't about to surrender their crown without a fight.
Deering's golf team impressed in its title defense. Cheverus was also competitive.
Golf held its state championship on the 10th. Deering wasn't able to repeat, placing third. Cheverus came in sixth.
Cross country's regionals were held on the 31st. Cheverus won the Western A title on both the boys' and girls' sides. Waynflete's girls were second in Western C, but they wouldn't be runner-up the next time out.
Cheverus' field hockey made a dramatic run to the Western A Final, but despite holding an early lead, couldn't finish off the eventual champion Red Storm of Scarborough in a 3-2 setback. Deering lost at Thornton Academy in the preliminary round, ending the long coaching career of Andrew Gordon.
The soccer playoffs began with a stunning upset as the Waynflete boys were eliminated at home in the quarterfinals by Georges Valley. The Flyers girls reached the regional final before being eliminated at Georges Valley. In Western A boys' action, Portland defeated Cheverus in the quarterfinals, then lost to eventual champion Scarborough in the semis. The Cheverus and Portland girls reached the quarterfinals, but lost to Gorham and Greely, respectively.
Cheverus and Portland's football teams made the playoffs, while Deering lost its last six games to fall short for the first time since 2000. In the quarterfinals, the Stags blanked Biddeford 21-0, while the Bulldogs couldn't hold a late lead and lost 21-19 to two-time defending champion Bonny Eagle.
Three cross country teams celebrated championships on the 7th. Cheverus swept Class A and the girls' team made history in the process, becoming the first girls' squad from the school to win a title. Waynflete's girls, led by Veroneau's top finish, made it three straight.
That left the Cheverus football team, which on the 7th, went to undefeated and top-ranked Thornton Academy for the semifinals. The Stags knocked the Golden Trojans star quarterback out of the game early and absolutely dominated from start to finish in a 36-7 romp. The fun ended the next week, however, in the rain, mud and slop at Windham. Cheverus led the Eagles 6-0 at halftime, but the hosts embarked on a long TD drive in the third period and held on to end the Stags' best season in a generation.
Without any break to speak of, the fall season gave way to winter and here we go again.
In boys' basketball, Cheverus once again finds itself undefeated and dominant. Deering is off to a great start, while Portland and Waynflete show signs of playoff worthiness.
On the girls' side, Deering's mortal this year, but still dangerous. Cheverus is vastly improved and McAuley, Portland and Waynflete will make plenty of noise in the weeks to come.
On the ice, Cheverus, Deering and Portland's boys could all be in the playoff mix, while on the girls' side, Cheverus looks like the best team in the state. Portland is vastly improved.
Swimming and wrestling have provided positive glimpses and track and skiing are about to get underway.
Farewell to 2009. Quite a memorable and triumphant year you were. Now we welcome 2010 and a new batch of thrills.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org