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No shortage of highlights for Portland teams

Sports

No shortage of highlights for Portland teams

(Ed. Note: We recapped the basketball season in last week's edition)

Winter sports fans had plenty of options the past few months. There was ample drama on the ice, slopes, trails, track, mat and in the pool.

Two local boys' hockey teams made the playoffs. The Cheverus girls won the state title. Track, swimming, skiing and wrestling all produced highlights as well.

Here's one final look at the 2009-10 winter sports season.

Michael's Top Five stories:

5) Portland boys' hockey drops a heartbreaker

The Portland boys' hockey team started 0-3 this winter, but was a factor by season's end. A stretch of five victories in six games in January helped the Bulldogs finish 9-9 and make the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in Western Class A. In the quarterfinals, the Bulldogs drew a South Portland team, ranked fourth, that was enjoying a tremendous year of its own. The Red Riots won the two regular season meetings by a combined 12-5 margin, but Portland almost sprung the upset. The Bulldogs held a 2-1 lead in the third period and appeared bound for Lewiston and the semifinals, but South Portland rose off the deck and scored two late goals to win, 3-2. Portland finished 9-10 and will try again next winter.

4)  Deering boys' hockey resurgence

While Portland's hockey team had a good season, the Rams of Deering marveled. The Rams went 2-16 a year ago, but under new coach Jack Lowry, they turned things around this winter. Deering eclipsed last year's win total two days before Christmas with an overtime victory over rival Cheverus, Lowry's former team. The Rams won seven of eight in one stretch and wound up 10-5-3, good for the No. 7 seed. Deering's playoff run ended with a 7-0 loss at Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals, but the Rams resurgence was one of the memorable stories of the season and provided optimism for future success.

3) Swimmers shine at states

There were many highlights for local swimmers and divers this winter. Both Cheverus teams came in third at the Class A state meet. Stags standout Cal Rhode won a pair of individual events on the boys' side. Deering got victories from George Mandic and Genevieve Worthely and placed sixth in both genders. Portland accomplished some very positive things, while McAuley had the fourth-best score at the Class B state meet. Best of all, many top swimmers and divers will return in 2010-11.

2) Two more titles for Zagon

While no local indoor track and field team made a run at a state title, there were plenty of individual accolades to go around. Once again, the charge was led by Portland junior standout Imadhi Zagon, who won a pair of events at the Class A meet and almost single-handedly paced the Bulldogs to a fifth-place finish. Cheverus had a pair of winners, as John White was the best boys' shotputter and Liana Rubinoff captured the girls' two-mile run. The Stags boys' team was runner-up to Brunswick.

1) Cheverus girls' hockey simply perfect

After a close call a year ago, a regional final loss to Biddeford, the Cheverus girls' hockey team entered 2009-10 bound and determined to win a championship. In the end, the Stags won every time they took the ice. Cheverus was sensational in the regular season, winning 18 times by a combined margin of 112-10. The Stags had their share of tests in the playoffs, but passed them all. After trailing for the first and only time all season, 1-0 after one period in the semifinals versus York, Cheverus erupted for seven unanswered goals to advance. Falmouth gave the Stags fits for two periods in the regional final before Cheverus finally put it away, 3-0. In the state game, the Stags and defending champion Lewiston were scoreless into the third period before Cheverus scored three times to cap its title. Behind a talented, balanced offense and the superb goalkeeping of senior Saundrine Lanouette, the Stags proved to have no peer.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Photo: File photo

Portland junior standout Imadhi Zagon (far right) won two more individual indoor track state titles this winter.