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Deering’s Avery Donovan goes up for a kill against the South Portland in the Class A state volleyball semifinals last week. The Rams’ magical season ended with a straight set loss.
(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Gorham, Deering-Falmouth and Waynflete-Mt. Abram boys’ soccer, Cheverus-Gorham girls’ soccer and Deering-South Portland volleyball game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)
Football’s playoffs are underway (see story), but just about every city squad that made it to the postseason has been sent home.
There is one exception and at press time, Portland boys’ soccer team’s quest for its first-ever state championship remained alive and well.
Here’s a look at all the playoff excitement:
Portland’s boys’ soccer team, which lost by a goal at Gorham in last year’s regional final, will get another crack at the Rams in that round Wednesday evening in Gorham.
The Bulldogs earned the No. 4 seed in Class A South after a 10-3-1 campaign. Last Wednesday, Portland edged longtime nemesis Scarborough, the No. 5 seed, 1-0, on a late goal from Zekariya Shaib. Saturday, in the semifinal round, the Bulldogs got to host eighth-ranked Thornton Academy and held on for a 2-1 win, as Samuel Nkurunziza and Berrick Bobe tickled the twine.
Portland edged host Gorham, 2-1, back on Sept. 9 and is 1-2 all-time in the postseason against the Rams, losing, 3-0, in the 2005 Western A quarterfinals and winning, 2-1, in the 2010 Western A Final in addition to last year’s result.
If the Bulldogs join the 1994 and 2010 squads and reaches to the Class A state final, they would play either defending champion Bangor (15-0-1) or 2015 champion Lewiston (12-2-2) in the state final Saturday at 10 a.m. at Hampden Academy. Portland lost, 3-2, to the Rams in the 2010 state game. The Bulldogs downed the Blue Devils, 3-2, in the 1995 Western A semifinal round.
Cheverus, Deering and Waynflete weren’t as fortunate.
The Stags, ranked sixth in Class A South, beat No. 11 Bonny Eagle, 4-2, in the preliminary round, but were eliminated by third-ranked Gorham, 3-2, in the quarterfinals last Tuesday. Ian Haines and Tanner LaFlamme had the goals, but it wasn’t quite enough as Cheverus finished 9-6-1.
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” said Cheverus coach Matt Andreasen. “We lost to a better team. They were a tough matchup for us, but the kids showed a lot of character coming back. We made progress this year. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Cheverus projects to be very competitive again in 2018.
“I only lose two starters and they’ll be tough to replace, but my junior class is very passionate about the sport and they love soccer,” Andreasen said. “We have good sophomores back too. I think if we get in the weight room and have a good offseason, we can take another step forward.”
Deering, the No. 7 seed in Class A South, blanked No. 10 Westbrook, 3-0, in the preliminary round, but had no answers for second-seeded Falmouth in the quarterfinals last Wednesday, losing, 2-0. The Yachtsmen scored goals in each half and the Rams couldn’t generate offense on a rainy night as they wound up 10-5-1.
“We knew because of the weather that whoever scored early would have momentum,” said Deering coach Joel Costigan. “(Falmouth’s) super-disciplined. They were way more disciplined than us tonight.”
The Rams posted double digit victories for the fourth time in five years, but were hoping for even more.
“There are a lot of games we’d like back, this being one of them,” Costigan said. “We got momentum toward the end of the season.
“We have a good group coming up. Every year we get new players and you never know who might come through the pipeline.”
Waynflete finished ranked fourth in Class C South and got a scare from No. 5 Mt. Abram in the quarterfinals before surviving, 1-0, on an overtime goal from Thorne Kieffer.
“We had a hard time breaking them down,” said Kieffer. “We started slow, then we amped it up. I did it for my team. We’ve been grinding all year.”
“Credit to Mt. Abram to travel down here, get off the bus and play us tough,” said longtime Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “I tried to prep our kids that they’d come in and be ready. Mt. Abram did what I expected them to. I don’t think it’s what the team was thinking, but we were able to move on.”
Saturday night, the Flyers went to top-ranked Maranacook and again went to overtime, but this time wound up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, falling, 2-1. Christian Brooks scored on a free kick to tie it in the second half, but after Ilyas Abdi hit the crossbar late in regulation, the Black Bears got a goal in the second overtime to end Waynflete’s season at 10-4-2.
On the girls’ side, Cheverus advanced the deepest, making it to the semifinals.
The Stags, seeded fifth after a program-best 12-2 regular season, advanced with a 4-0 blanking of No. 12 Sanford in the preliminary round. Last Tuesday, Cheverus went to longtime nemesis Gorham, the No. 4 seed and defending regional champion, for the quarterfinals and fell behind in the first half. The Stags would tie the contest on freshman Lily Paszyc’s goal with 12:30 remaining in regulation. Then, just 86 seconds into overtime, Mackenzie Johnston scored to give Cheverus a dramatic 2-1 victory.
“It feels so awesome, one of the best feelings in the world,” Johnston said. “One thing I’ve learned about this team is that we never give up.”
“We continued to attack and we got the result in overtime,” Stags coach Craig Roberts said. “I felt like we had momentum going in. I can’t say enough about MJ as a leader. We got a fortunate bounce and capitalized.”
Cheverus went to top-ranked Scarborough for the semifinals Saturday and gave the Red Storm a battle until late in regulation, when Scarborough scored and went on to a 1-0 victory, ending the Stags’ season at 14-3.
Defending Class C South champion Waynflete earned the No. 5 seed in the region and had to go to fourth-ranked St. Dom’s for the quarterfinals last Tuesday. The Flyers fell behind in the second minute, but tied the score on Izzy Burdick’s goal and went on top behind a goal from Ava Farrar. The Saints drew even with just seconds remaining in the first half, then added a second half goal to prevail, 3-2, and end Waynflete’s season at 6-7-2, the Flyers’ first sub-.500 record since 1990.
“Anytime you concede goals early and late in a half, it puts pressure on and emotionally, it’s a big swing to overcome,” said Waynflete coach Jon Shardlow. “We were able to continue to compete, but we couldn’t put the ball in the net again. We played a very tough schedule and we felt prepared for the tournament, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get through the first match.”
Deering’s volleyball team was the feel-good story of the 2017 season, but the Rams’ magic carpet ride finally came to an end last Wednesday.
The Rams, who went 13-1 in the regular season, earned the top seed in the Class A playoff field and swept No. 9 Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals, hosted fifth-ranked South Portland in the semifinals and were expected to advance. Deering beat the Red Riots in three sets in the regular season, but the teams’ first-ever postseason encounter was just the opposite.
Deering raced to a 17-10 lead in the first set, as Avery Donovan had her way at the net, producing four straight kills, but the Red Riots roared back to prevail, 25-22.
South Portland then appeared to seize control of the match when it went up, 23-17, in the second game, but Deering rose off the deck and pulled even on a block from Donovan. Had the Rams been able to complete the comeback, they may have righted the ship, but instead, the Red Riots got the next two points to win, 25-23, and go up two sets to none.
South Portland wasn’t about to let Deering breathe in the third set, scoring the first nine points. The Rams were staggered and couldn’t recover and the Red Riots went on to a 25-10 victory to take the match, three sets to none, ending Deering’s best-season-to-date at 14-2.
Deering was led by 13 kills from Donovan, 18 assists and eight service points from Maddy Broda and nine service points from Dianne Dervis.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” Nichols said. “They worked hard, but give all the credit to South Portland. They took it to us and we had errors and losing that first game was huge. If we took the second set, it would have been interesting, but again, we didn’t take care of the ball and they did. They did just what you’re supposed to do in the third set.”
The Rams were this year’s “it team” from Opening Night right up until last Wednesday and while the season’s end was bitter, it will long be remembered fondly.
“I wish we’d played better, but it’s been a magical year for this club,” Nichols said.
Deering won’t be able to sneak up on anyone in 2018, but the Rams won’t need to.
“We have other kids coming back who have seen what volleyball was like,” Nichols said. “We can only learn and get better.”