Playoff thrills, heartbreak continue-Northern edition

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North Yarmouth Academy’s Chas Rhode bellows in delight after scoring the first goal of the Panthers’ 7-0 win over Buckfield in last week’s Class D South semifinal.

Freeport’s Rachel Harmon goes all out on defense during the Falcons’ 1-0 loss to York in last week’s Class B South Final.

(Ed. Note: For the complete North Yarmouth Academy-Buckfield and Yarmouth-York boys’ soccer, Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth girls’ soccer and Freeport-York field hockey game stories, see theforecaster.net)

With the volleyball, cross country (see stories) and field hockey seasons having come to a close, all eyes in Forecaster Country turn to football and soccer.

Several teams still entertained championship dreams at press time.

Here’s a look at last week’s postseason action and a look at what’s coming up:

Field hockey

Freeport’s field hockey team played in its first regional final since 2000 last Wednesday and wound up one goal shy of advancing to the state championship game.

The Falcons, ranked third in Class B South, advanced by outlasting No. 6 Poland, 3-2, in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Fryeburg Academy, 1-0, in overtime, in the semifinals, but couldn’t score against top-ranked, defending regional champion York in the Class B South Final in Biddeford.

Freeport nearly scored 40 seconds in, but a shot from Ally Randall hit the post. The Falcons never could put the ball in the cage and a Wildcats’ goal off a penalty corner with 4:12 to go in regulation led to a painful 1-0 loss which ended their season at 13-3-1.

“I feel like we controlled a lot of that game, so it’s hard,” Freeport coach Marcia Wood said. “We had our chances. I’m disappointed for the girls. They worked hard and really wanted it. They played wonderful. I thought we were going to do it. We pressured, but it just didn’t fall our way.

“I’m happy we made it this far. It was just so exciting. To have a season with only three losses, I don’t know if (the girls) realize (what they accomplished). We’ll get a banner in our gym. We played to the last week of field hockey and that’s what we wanted.”

Now that Freeport has had a taste of success, the 2019 Falcons, even with a lot of new faces in new places, hope to remain a top contender.

“We have a big sophomore class and they play year-round,” Wood said. “We’ll have to work hard next year and we hope to get back here. Now I have something to compare to. I can’ say, ‘Remember when we (got to the regional final).”

Football

Falmouth and Greely’s football teams advanced to the semifinal round last weekend, while Yarmouth was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

The Yachtsmen, ranked third in Class B South, handled No. 6 Noble, 31-13, in the Class B South quarterfinals. Coleman Allen had touchdown runs of 2- and 45-yards in the first period for a 14-0 lead. After the Knights cut the deficit in half at the break, Sam Pausman made a 30-yard field goal and Brady Douglas ran for a 7-yard TD and a 24-7 advantage. After Noble scored early in the final stanza, Douglas caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Nick Mancini to account for the final score.

Falmouth (6-3) advanced to travel to No. 2 Marshwood (8-1) for the semifinals Friday. On Sept. 28, the Yachtsmen lost at home to the defending Class B champion Hawks, 45-0. In last year’s regional final, Falmouth dropped a 31-28 heartbreak at Marshwood to fall to 0-3 all-time against the Hawks in the playoffs.

Greely, the No. 4 seed in Class B South, hosted a fifth-ranked Biddeford squad which had handed the host Rangers a 36-6 loss Oct. 5 in the quarterfinals and turned the tables, prevailing, 22-14, to improve to 5-4. Touchdown runs from Joey Cassella (19-yards) and Luke Stickney (8-yards) gave Greely a 14-0 halftime lead, but the Tigers rallied to tie the game in the fourth period before Will Schmacher returned an interception 35 yards for a TD and Cassella added the two-point conversion to give the Rangers a semifinal round victory for the fourth year in a row.

“I’m just running through my drop and I turned and saw the ball coming straight at me, so I stepped for it and grab it and it was just open field from there,” said Schumacher.

“It feels amazing,” Cassella said. “We get it done every single year. We just go out there and play and I love it.”

“It looked like we were running out of gas, we had people hurt and everything else,” added Greely coach David Higgins. “We had a couple kids just absolutely step up again, and the interception was just amazing.”

The Rangers advanced to visit No. 1 Kennebunk (9-0) in Friday’s semifinals. The teams didn’t play this fall and have no playoff history.

In Class C South, seventh-ranked Yarmouth went to No. 2 Fryeburg Academy Saturday afternoon for a quarterfinal that was played in the snow. The Clippers, lost, 38-6, to finish 3-6. Noah Eckersley-Ray hit Blake Venden for an 18-yard score in the third period to account for Yarmouth’s points.

Following the game, coach Jason Veilleux announced that he was stepping down after going 25-24 in five years. Veilleux led the Clippers to the 2015 Class C state final.

“I am very proud of what the program has accomplished during my time in Yarmouth, especially the fine young men our program has helped to coach, mentor and prepare for the challenges of life off the field,” Veilleux said, in his resignation letter.

The Clippers’ search for a new coach is underway.

Boys’ soccer

Freeport and North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ soccer teams were still standing at press time.

The Falcons, ranked second in Class B South, reached the regional final for the first time since 2007 after ousting No. 7 Leavitt, 5-0, in the quarterfinals and third-ranked Greely, 3-0, in the semifinals. Jesse Bennell had three goals and Shea Wagner two against the Hornets. In the win over the Rangers, Bennell, Wes Goodwin and Eriksen Shea had the goals. Freeport (11-3-2) hosts No. 4 Cape Elizabeth (9-4-3), which vanquished four-time defending champion Yarmouth in its semifinal (more on that in a moment), Wednesday evening in the Class B South Final. The teams split this year, with the Capers winning at home, 2-0, Sept. 17 and the Falcons winning, 2-1, at home Oct. 12. The teams met once before in the playoffs, a 2-1, overtime victory for Cape Elizabeth in the 2015 Class B South preliminary round.

If Freeport advances to the state final for the first time since winning its last state championship in 1978, it will battle either Presque Isle (13-1-2) or Washington Academy (12-5) Saturday at 5:30 p.m., in Hampden. The Falcons have no postseason history with either potential foe.

NYA, the top seed in Class D South, reached the regional final for the first time since 2011, thanks to a 7-2 quarterfinal round victory over No. 8 Pine Tree Academy and a 7-0 banking of No. 4 Buckfield in the semifinals. Ryan Baker had four goals, while Damon Dulac, Xander Kostelnik and Chas Rhode each scored once. In the win over the Bucks, Rhode scored in the second minute and Baker and Alasdair Swett added goals for a 3-0 halftime lead. In the second half, Baker scored his second and third goals, Swett got his second and Reese Merritt also found the net.

“We’re playing with confidence,” Baker said. “That early goal helped us out a lot.”

“We knew what (Buckfield) had to offer, so we wanted to keep the ball on the ground and move it around and break them down systematically and we did that,” Kostelnik said.

“We played some very nice soccer,” NYA coach Martyn Keen added. “Our starters are doing well and we’ve got three or four kids who can come off the bench and help as well.”

Wednesday afternoon, the Panthers (14-2) hosted No. 3 Temple Academy (15-1) in the Class D South Final. The teams didn’t meet this year and had no history.

If NYA reaches the state game for the first time since 2010, it will have a chance to win the program’s first championship since 2005 against either Central Aroostook (16-0) or Penobscot Valley (15-1) Saturday at 5:30 p.m., in Bath. The Panthers have no history with the Panthers, but split two prior (Class C) state games against the Howlers, winning, 3-2 in 1984 and losing, 3-2, in 1986.

Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth weren’t as fortunate.

The Yachtsmen, ranked second in Class A South, were upset by No. 7 Marshwood, 2-1, in the quarterfinals to finish 11-3-1. Tom Fitzgerald scored early, but Falmouth was ousted shy of the semifinals for the first time since 2014.

Greely, ranked third in Class B South, blanked No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, 3-0, in the quarterfinals (Jake Cornwall scored twice and Pietro Ambrosini also found the net). The Rangers then finished 8-6-2 after a 3-1 loss at No. 2 Freeport in the semifinals. Charlie Saffian had Greely’s goal.

“Freeport was just better than us, but we had a great season,” said Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. “We did better than anyone thought we would.”

Yarmouth, the top-seed in Class B South, which was chasing a big school-record fifth consecutive title, opened with a 4-0 win over No. 8 York in the quarterfinals, behind goals from Aidan Hickey, Liam Ireland, Eric LaBrie and Cam Merrill.

“It was really important to get a first goal and then we got confident and started moving the ball better and we really started to click,” said Ireland.

“Sometimes in the first game, the first opponent might not get your attention, but York’s good, so they got our attention,” said longtime Clippers coach Mike Hagerty.

Yarmouth then hosted No. 4 Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals and fell behind on an early goal, then went down, 2-0, late in the first half. Jack Romano scored with four minutes to go, but the Clippers couldn’t get the equalizer, as their season ended at 13-1-2 and in the process, their 45-game unbeaten streak and their 17-game postseason win streak were snapped.

“We controlled much of the game, winning the possession battle and outshooting them, 15-4, but two spectacular goals by Cape were the difference,” said Hagerty. “We didn’t do what we needed to do to win.”

This season we entered as favorites, but we also entered as a young team and given the past four years, we knew we would get every opponent’s best game. With that in mind, we had some interesting team goals. The streaks were not any part of our seasonal goals, instead, we wanted to create great team chemistry and just focus on doing our best. We figured if we did those two things, the winning and losing would take care of itself. Our team chemistry was terrific all year, we focused on being good teammates and having fun and then the results followed.

“Upon reflection, we coaches are very proud of the season and the way the kids responded all year to the challenges they faced. We are sad for the seniors who did not end the season with a result we felt they deserved. We still feel like we are the best team in Class B and maybe even the entire state. As always, we will learn a lot from this season and have a lot to be thankful for. We are also already looking forward to next season and believe we will come back as strong as we have ever been in my 22 years here.”

Girls’ soccer

Greely and NYA’s girls’ squads still entertained title dreams when this edition went to press.

The Rangers, ranked 10th in Class B South, blanked No. 7 Spruce Mountain, 5-0, in the preliminary round, then downed host No. 2 seed Oak Hill, 6-2, last Thursday in the quarterfinals. Greely erased an early deficit behind three goals from Kaci O’Grady. Carly Asherman, Sawyer Dusch and Mollie Obar all scored once.

“I said at halftime, ‘Show me what you’re capable of doing’ and I guess it must have sunk in,” said Rangers coach Josh Muscadin.

Greely was supposed to play a semifinal at No. 3 York Saturday and again Monday and both times, the game was postponed by rain. The teams tried again Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Rangers lost twice to the Wildcats this year, 4-0, Sept. 6 in York and 3-0 at home Oct. 11. Greely is 3-0 all-time against the Wildcats in the playoffs with a 4-0 victory in the 2016 Class B South semifinals the most recent.

If the Rangers (8-7-1) continued their Cinderella run, they’d play at No. 1 Cape Elizabeth (16-0) in Wednesday’s regional final. Greely lost twice to the Capers this year, 2-1 at home Aug. 31 and 5-1 Sept. 25 in Cape Elizabeth. The Rangers hold a 10-9 all-time postseason edge. The Capers won the most recent, 3-2, in last year’s Class B South semifinals.

If Greely improbably gets to the Class B state final Saturday at 3 p.m., in Hampden, it would meet either Presque Isle (13-1-2) or Winslow (15-1). The Rangers have no history with either squad.

NYA’s girls were one win from their first state final in 11 years at press time. The Panthers, ranked second in Class D South downed No. 7 Rangeley, 3-0, in the quarterfinals for their first playoff win since 2008, as Serena Mower had two goals and Riley McIntyre tickled the twine once. NYA then doubled up No. 3 Greenville, 4-2, in the semifinals, erasing a 2-1 deficit, as McIntyre, Mower, Natalie Farrell and Catherine Reid all scored. The Panthers went to No. 1 Richmond (12-3-1) Wednesday afternoon for the regional final. The teams tied, 1-1, Sept. 24 in Yarmouth, then NYA edged the host Bobcats, 3-2, in overtime Oct. 12. The teams had no playoff history.

If the Panthers get to the state game, they will meet Central Aroostook (15-0-1) or Ashland (13-2-1) Saturday at 3 p.m., in Bath. NYA has no history with either potential foe.

Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth weren’t able to make it as far.

The Yachtsmen, ranked sixth in Class A South, eliminated No. 11 Thornton Academy, 2-1, in the preliminary round, but last Wednesday, Falmouth fell, 6-0, at third-ranked Cheverus in the quarterfinals to finish 9-4-3.

“The goals that we gave up today weren’t very good goals,” said Falmouth coach Andrew Pelletier, after the loss to the Stags. “It’s uncharacteristic of us.”

Yarmouth, the two-time defending Class B state champion, earned the No. 4 seed in Class B South and welcomed No. 5 Freeport in the quarterfinals last Wednesday where the Clippers avenged a regular season loss with a 3-2 victory, as Hannah Dwyer scored twice and Gabby Thibodeau also found the net.

“I thought we controlled the game extremely well,” Yarmouth coach Chris Coleman said. “We were always going to create chances. It came down to whether or not we were going to take them and tonight we did.”

The Falcons got goals from Catriona Gould (on a penalty kick) and Rachel Wall, but finished their fine season at 8-5-2.

“In the old days, Yarmouth goes up by two and they bury you, but we stayed right in it,” said Freeport first-year coach David Intraversato. “The girls played hard, with a lot of heart.”

The Clippers went on to visit top-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals. The game was scheduled for Saturday, but it was postponed to Monday due to rain. There, Yarmouth took an early lead on Adriana Whitlock’s goal, but the Capers tied the score late in the first half, then struck again in the second half for a 2-1 victory, which ended the Clippers title reign and their season at 10-6.

“We wanted to make one count and we did early,” Coleman said. “If we got into halftime 1-0, it could have been a different story. We gave them everything we had tonight.

“With the injuries we’ve had and some of the results we had, I think it’s important to acknowledge how far we came. We were 6-5 and we got here. It’s a great group of girls who fought for each other.

“We have a big freshman class coming in, something we didn’t have last year. That will give us a little bit more. We’ll put ourselves in the mix and give it another shot.”

Press Herald staff writers Steve Craig and Glenn Jordan contributed to this story.

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

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