Playoff runs over, with one exception

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With football’s playoffs taking center stage (see story), the field hockey season has come to a close and time has run out for all but one city soccer team.

Here’s a recap:

Field hockey

Cheverus’ field hockey team went 0-7-2 down the stretch, but still wound up earning the No. 10 seed for the playoffs, where the Stags quickly came to life and made a spirited run to the semifinals.

After knocking off seventh-ranked Portland in the preliminary round (5-1), Cheverus shocked No. 2 Gorham (2-0) in the quarterfinals, but last Tuesday in the semifinals, the Stags finally met their match, falling, 5-1, at No. 3 Marshwood to finish 7-8-2. Emily Michaud had the lone goal in the defeat.

“I am extremely proud of our season,” said Cheverus coach Amy Ashley. “This program has been hit hard with graduation. In the past four years, we have graduated 44 girls. This year was no different as we lost 14.. For a young team that didn’t have much experience, it was a great step. We struggled at times, which was to be expected, but we were able to turn things around and get momentum during playoffs. This team exceeded all expectations and made a great run. If I look back at our team at the beginning of the season and then compare them to the team we saw in playoffs, I can’t even believe the improvement. They worked hard and never gave up on each other and that is what I am most proud of. Through it all, we struggled, we bonded and we succeeded. They should be very proud of themselves.”

Graduation will take a toll again, but the 2015 Stags will be starting from a stronger place.

“We thankfully only lose five, but those five will be tough to replace,” Ashley said. “Our junior group did an excellent job this year and we will be looking for them to step up and lead next year’s team. Since there is no feeder system, we won’t know who we will get for incoming freshmen until June, so we will have to work hard this summer to pick up where we left off. Our goal is always to get one step further than the year before so we will have our work cut out for us.”

Boys’ soccer

Cheverus’ boys’ soccer team was in the midst of an improbable surge at press time, having reached the regional final for the first time since winning it all in 2001.

The Stags wound up ranked seventh in Western A after a competitive regular season that didn’t produce a lot of victories. After a 1-0 win over No. 10 Portland in the preliminary round, Cheverus went to traditional powerhouse Falmouth, the No. 2 seed, for the quarterfinals last Tuesday and in the first-ever countable meeting between the schools, stunned the world with a 2-1 upset victory behind goals from Brady Levesque and Mackenzie Hoglund.

“We were able to score early against Falmouth which got our confidence up, but they came back and tied it up shortly after,” said Stags coach Colin Minte. “Despite their response, my kids continued to fight and scored the game winning goal 10 minutes after they scored in the first half. After that point, our defense, which has been rock solid the past few weeks, limited their chances. We gave them a fair amount of possession, but didn’t give them a lot of chances, similar to Portland.”

Saturday, the Stags did it again, erasing an early 1-0 deficit at No. 6 South Portland in the semifinals, tying the game on Hoglund’s goal. The game stayed 1-1 through 30 minutes of overtime and came down to penalty kicks, which Cheverus won, 5-4. Levesque’s PK clinched the victory and goalkeeper Jake Tomkinson had a terrific effort.

“This week has been pretty exciting for my kids,” said Minte. “The kids continue to play with a lot of heart and energy. South Portland game out flying with the wind at their back in the first half. They generated a lot of opportunities in the initial 25 minutes. We then started getting more chances and possessions and were unfortunate to have a goal disallowed after the officials changed their mind on a corner versus throw-in towards the end of the half. In the second half, the game got more physical, and we continued to generate more opportunities with a tying goal eventually coming. The teams played back and forth for the rest of the match and overtimes, with opportunities going both ways but no game-winning goals. In (PKs), which we have spent all week practicing, all my kids stepped in and buried them with confidence.

“Mackenzie Hoglund has been a huge reason for our success, putting pressure on defenses and scoring some huge goals for us. Andrei Vile has been the foundation of our defense, keeping us organized and winning tons of tackles. Jacob Tomkinson was the reason we are still playing, as his game against South Portland was one of his best performances all year, and he kept us in the game early when we were being thoroughly outplayed.”

Cheverus (now 9-4-4) goes to No. 1 Scarborough (15-0-1) for the Western A Final Wednesday. The Stags lost at the Red Storm, 2-0, back on Sept. 20. The teams have no playoff history.

“We have a big challenge against Scarborough,” Minte said. “Going into their place in a (regional final) is not easy and they are playing some really good soccer. The biggest thing with Scarborough is that they are solid throughout the entire field and they do not make many, if any mistakes. They never give up soft goals, and are always playing with good energy and a high-level of organization. The biggest thing for us is to avoid the mental mistakes, defend with passion and challenge every ball and win every tackle. I don’t think anyone is giving us a chance in this game, but I am fine with that. No one gave us a chance to make it this far, and we are one of two teams left playing in Western A.”

If the Stags continue to shock the world, they will go to Hampden Academy Saturday (at Deering High School) for the Class A Final against the survivor of the Eastern A Final between Brunswick (12-2-2) and Lewiston (15-0-1).

Deering was the fourth-ranked team in Western A after its best season in 14 years. As the No. 4 seed, the Rams survived fifth-ranked Thornton Academy, 2-1, in double overtime, in the quarterfinals. Deering struck first on a goal from standout Stephen Ochan, but the Golden Trojans drew even in the second half. After near-misses by both squads, the Rams won it in the second overtime, as Hany Ramadan scored on a rebound.

In the semifinals Saturday, the Rams went to top-ranked Scarborough and scored first, as Jonathan Bujambi struck midway through the first half, but the two-time defending state champions scored three unanswered goals to prevail, 3-1, and end Deering’s season at 13-2-1.

“Our 2014 season was special,” said Rams coach Joel Costigan. “We had so many story lines, so many exciting games and our team bond grew stronger because of it. Seasons like this that remind me that I coach for more reasons than just ‘the soccer.’ The kids never gave up in any situation, which speaks to their amazing characters. This was by far the most talented team I’ve seen play, we just didn’t get the breaks we needed to make it happen in the postseason.”

Deering is primed to make another run next fall.

“The 2015 season looks promising,” Costigan said. “We lose five starters, the biggest void felt being Stephen Ochan, but the coaching staff has been preparing for this, focusing on player development to assure we won’t miss a beat. We return a ton of talent in 2015, including Jonathan Bujambi, Jonata Mbongo, Christian Castaneda, Paolo DeMarco, Riley Brennan and goalkeeper Orey Dutton. There are also many siblings of our former stars who will be attending Deering in years to come. You can count on Deering to be back in the playoffs, again making our mark as a top contender.”

In Western C, Waynflete earned the No. 4 seed after a solid regular season and dispatched No. 5 St. Dom’s in the quarterfinals, 3-0, behind goals from Harry Baker-Connick, Clancy Mitchell and Christian Kabongo. Friday, the Flyers went to top-ranked, defending state champion Maranacook for a first meeting between the schools. Waynflete got an own goal, but the Black Bears scored four times to win, 4-1, and end the Flyers’ season at 12-2-2.

“We knew we’d have to play a complete game to win at Maranacook,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “They’re a big, fast, experienced group. They’re tough to beat on that field. We responded to their first half goal like we have all season, by coming right back. The second half did not go our way, they scored early, we fought back and had a couple of chances to tie it, It’s always disappointing to lose in the playoffs but I’m proud of how our team played. Sometimes it’s just not your night.

“We really enjoyed coaching this group. They were very consistent in their effort. Competitive players that enjoyed each other and enjoyed winning. A young group. This team may have improved more in season than any other team I have coached. In August, looking at the schedule I’m not sure many people thought this group would win the (Class C division of the Western Maine Conference) and end up 12-2-2. They played great soccer the right way.”

Waynflete, as always, will be in the hunt in 2015.

“The good news is we only lose three seniors,” said Salway. “Harry, Clancy and Aidan Olney. The bad news is we will have to replace a lot of goals and a lot of excellent leadership. We have many hungry players returning who earned valuable experience, including our entire group of defenders. Obviously, we’ll have to develop a few goal scorers, but when you look at who is returning, it’s pretty exciting, especially if players continue to improve and come back motivated to get to the next level.”

Girls’ soccer

On the girls’ side, two-time defending Class C champion Waynflete’s quest for a “three-peat” fell short. The Flyers, ranked sixth, eliminated No. 11 Carrabec in a prelim, 4-1, then ousted No. 3 Mountain Valley in the quarterfinals, 2-0, behind goals from Ava Farrar and Isabel Canning. Friday, in the semifinals, Waynflete hosted No. 7 Sacopee Valley in a rematch of last year’s regional final (a 1-0 Flyers victory), but fell this time, 1-0, to finish 10-2-5.

“The game was evenly played,” said Waynflete coach Todd Dominski. “I think they did a better job in the first half winning the 50-50 balls. We came out and did a better job of that in the second half. We had a good chance to score off a corner, but Sacopee was able to clear it off the line. They had a corner that we were not able to clear. The ball bounced to one of their girls who was open and she put it in. I think it was the typical type of goal in a tight game. I’m very proud of the way my girls played and developed over the course of the season.”

The Flyers say goodbye to some special seniors, but will reload and be back and in the hunt next fall.

“I’m looking forward to 2015,” Dominski said. “We only had three seniors on the team this season. A lot of the younger kids played and learned a lot during the season. It will be tough to replace (Helen Gray-Bauer’s) energy, (Annarosa Whitman’s) love of the game and (four-year goalkeeper Juliana Harwood) just being an amazing leader and goalie. We have kids who have learned from our seniors and have been working hard to be ready when it is their time.  I see good things in the future for us.”

In Western A, Portland, the No. 9 seed, knocked No. 8 Deering in penalty kicks in the preliminary round, then almost pulled off the biggest stunner of the playoffs in the quarterfinals when it went to top-ranked, defending champion Windham. An early goal from Madison Bolduc, who had a terrific postseason, put the Bulldogs ahead, 1-0, in the first half and when Ella Altidore added a goal with 32 minutes to play, Portland was dreaming of what might have been the biggest win in program history and a first trip to the semifinals since 2003, but the Eagles rallied with three late tallies to escape, 3-2, end the Bulldogs’ campaign at 9-7.

“The Windham game showed us just how close we are to joining the bigger teams in the league,” said Portland coach Arthur Mosen. “We were disappointed to lose a two-goal lead, but the girls gave absolutely everything they had and unfortunately just ran out of steam. Our game plan worked. We soaked up pressure and scored two goals on the counter-attack, but Windham’s experience in big games helped them cross the line. We will be better for the experience.
 
“Our season was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. We played exciting soccer, scored lots of goals and met our goal of going one round further in the playoffs. To do that in a penalty shootout against your biggest rival is something that these girls will never forget. This is the first time I’ve had players that started with me as freshman. To see them now in their senior year is crazy, but it shows me that when a team is able to stay together and buys into what you are doing, that the sky is the limit. They have a lot to be proud of and best of all, they’ve had a taste of what it’s like to get deeper into the playoffs and now they want more.”

Look out for the 2015 Bulldogs.

“Everybody’s team changes a little bit each year with people graduating,” Mosen said. “We say goodbye to some real talent, but every year players step up and take on more responsibility in the team. Sophomores Taylor Crosby and Hayleigh Blanchard made a huge impact this year, as did freshman Ella Altidore. We are looking like a young team next year, but one that has already had plenty of big game experience. The fear factor of playing the bigger teams is gone after our playoff run because we know we are very close to being one of them. We are already looking forward to next year.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements


Waynflete senior Harry Baker-Connick boots the ball during last Tuesday’s 3-0 home win over St. Dom’s in a Western C boys’ soccer quarterfinal. The Flyers were then eliminated at Maranacook Friday, 4-1.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.