Postseason drama at a fever pitch-Northern edition

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Falmouth senior Sydney Bell backhands a shot during the Yachtsmen’s 2-1 loss to Massabesic in Monday’s Class A South semifinal.

Yarmouth senior Andrea St. Pierre prepares to serve the ball during the Clippers’ 3-0 win over Windham in last week’s Class A preliminary round playoff game. Yarmouth then upset Biddeford in the quarterfinals.

Freeport’s Jessie Driscoll scores her team’s second goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Maranacook in a Class B South prelim. The Falcons advanced to meet defending state champion Greely in the quarterfinals.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Gorham, Falmouth-Massasbesic, North Yarmouth Academy-Lisbon, Yarmouth-Fryeburg Academy and Yarmouth-Kennebunk field hockey and Greely-Gorham, Yarmouth-Windham and Yarmouth-Biddeford volleyball game stories, see theforecaster.net)

The postseason is now underway in all sports (except golf, which concluded earlier this month) and early returns suggest that there will be no shortage of drama as local soccer, field hockey, volleyball and cross country teams chase championships.

Here’s an overview of all the playoff excitement:

Field hockey

Falmouth and Yarmouth’s field hockey teams both reached the semifinals, but only one advanced.

The Clippers, the No. 3 seed in Class B South, began their playoff run last Tuesday with a 5-1 home win over No. 6 Fryeburg Academy. 

Yarmouth took the lead in the game’s fourth minute, as Sophie McGrath scored from Chloe Noack on a penalty corner. The Clippers went up 2-0 in the 20th minute, as Abby McDowell set up Ally MacLeod. McDowell, from MacLeod, scored for a 3-0 lead before the Raiders got on the board. Late in the half, however, Emilie Martin’s backhanded blast rattled the cage to make it 4-1 and in the second half, MacLeod scored her second goal to account for the final score.

“We had to come in and get rid of the nerves and play confident like we usually do,” said MacLeod.

“We have the team to go far,” McDowell said. “We’ve had some tough losses, but we’re playing our best right now. That’s important. Playoffs are the time we need it.”

“I was hoping we’d win today, but I didn’t expect by this much,” added Clippers first-year coach Amy Ashley. “It’s exciting to see. I’m so proud of the girls. They really deserve it.”

That win sent Yarmouth to No. 2 Kennebunk for the semifinals. The game was originally scheduled to be played Friday, but poor weather moved it to Monday. 

The Clippers scored first, as McGrath put home a rebound, but the Rams tied the game up. With 4:10 to play in the first half, McDowell set up Eliza Lunt in transition for the go-ahead goal and goalie Cate Ralph and a strong defensive effort paced by Nicole McDowell did the rest as Yarmouth held on to advance, 2-1.

 “It feels absolutely amazing,” Nicole McDowell said. “This has been our goal. To do it senior year is really special. Everyone was playing for their season. We fought through and played with heart.”

“It’s great we’ve gone this far,” Lunt said. “Coach has really pushed us a lot. We have to give her a lot of credit. She’s an amazing coach.”

“We didn’t even play as well as I think we could have, but we won and that’s a sign of a great team,” added Ashley. “None of these girls have ever been to a regional final. I’m so proud and happy for them to see what’s to come. They deserve it.” 

The Clippers met No. 1 York (16-0), the two-time defending Class B champion, which has won 52 straight games, in the regional final Wednesday afternoon in Waterboro (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Wildcats won, 3-1, at Yarmouth in the regular season. The Clippers took the lone prior playoff meeting, 1-0, in the 2000 semifinals.

“We have to believe,” Ashley said. “It’s high school sports and anything can happen on any given day. It’s a hard test, but we’re playing for our season and hopefully we’ll step up.”

Falmouth finished with the top seed in Class A South and made quick work of No. 8 Gorham in the quarterfinals last Wednesday night. Less than five minutes in, Devon Sarazin tipped home Sydney Bell’s blast for a 1-0 lead. In the second half, Liberty Ladd set up Bella Libby for a 2-0 advantage and later, on a penalty corner, Ladd set up Kate Kelley. The Rams got a goal back, but with 2:29 remaining, Sarazin scored for a second time, closing the door on a 4-1 victory.

“We’d been waiting to play this game and we were hyped going in,” Sarazin said. “We came in ready to put it all out there.”

“It’s so nice when the ball goes in,” Ladd said. “It was important to increase our lead, but we weren’t worried. We know we have what it takes to get the job done.”

“I’m thrilled,” added Falmouth coach Robin Haley. “I really think scoring early helped settle nerves and I thought we played with confidence.”

The Yachtsmen were supposed to host No. 5 Massabesic in the semifinals Saturday, but the threat of bad weather moved that game to Monday night, where the teams put on a show.

Falmouth couldn’t finish its chances early and fell behind, 1-0, at halftime, but Sarazin tied the second in the second half and the game went to overtime. There, the Mustangs got a goal from Jacklyn Bearse and prevailed, 2-1, ending the Yachtsmen’s season at 13-3.

“It’s painful,” said Haley. “In certain areas we were just a little off. I thought we played much stronger in the second half. Being able to score was great, but it just didn’t work out.

“I’m not sure (the girls will) necessarily digest it, but the point remains that we came in with the first seed and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do that and it’s something to be proud of. This loss is bitter, but we had a stellar season and we gave our all today.”

Falmouth graduates eight special seniors, but will remain a factor in 2017.

“(The seniors have) been an amazing group to coach for four years,” Haley said. “I wanted to see them go further. They’re deserving of that. They’re great people and great athletes. I’m hoping this year’s experience pays off for (the younger kids),”

Freeport was the No. 8 seed in Class B South and after blanking No. 9 Cape Elizabeth, 3-0, in the preliminary round, was no match for York in the quarterfinals last week, falling, 8-0, to finish 7-8-1.

In Class C South, North Yarmouth Academy earned the No. 5 seed and went to No. 4 Lisbon last Wednesday for the quarterfinals. The Panthers were down, 1-0, at halftime, then pulled even on Amber Rose’s goal. The Greyhounds answered with two quick goals and ended NYA’s season at 8-6-1 with a 3-1 decision.

“As a whole, I think the season was great,” Panthers first-year coach Wendy Polstein said. “I’m proud of how it went. The girls were a pleasure. We did fantastic, considering our low numbers.

“This team will be a great group because so many are coming back. This year was a good experience for them.”

Volleyball

Greely’s volleyball team was perfect during the regular season, not only winning its 14 matches, but capturing all 42 sets it played. The Rangers earned the top seed in Class A and hosted No. 9 Gorham in a quarterfinal Saturday. Greely rolled in the first two sets, as usual, 25-18 and 25-17, but the Rams ended the Rangers’ 44-set streak with a 25-21 decision in the third game. The Rangers, behind Sara Agren’s 10 straight service points, then made quick work of Gorham in the fourth set, 25-9, to win the match, 3-1.

“Our back line picked it up this game and offense did really well,” said Agren. “Overall, we were swinging hard.”

“I think it was good to get that pressure off our backs,” said Cimino, who had 15 kills, 14 assists and 10 service points. “We’re all a little disappointed, but we came out with a ‘W’ and that’s what we really needed.”

“I didn’t care about losing a set,” added Rangers coach Kelvin Hasch. “To run the season that way was a feat in itself. I never thought we’d do that in the tournament. I thought we controlled most of this match.”

Greely (15-0) played host to No. 4 Falmouth (13-3) in the state semifinals Wednesday. The Rangers won, 3-0, at the Yachtsmen Sept. 15 and are 4-0 all-time against Falmouth in the playoffs, including last year’s 3-2 home win in the semifinals in a match Greely trailed, 2-0.

“I think the girls want to win, but they’re handling the pressure,” Hasch added. “The seniors are very determined.”

Falmouth advanced with a 3-0 win over No. 13 Kennebunk (25-11, 25-17, 25-10) and a 3-1 victory over fifth-ranked Mt. Desert Island (23-25, 25-19, 25-13 ,25-19). 

Yarmouth, the No. 6 seed, made quick work of No. 11 Windham in its prelim, 25-22, 25-14, 25-18. Alison Clark had 22 saves, Dominique Moran had 25 assists and Rachel Chillé added five service points and four kills.

“We knew we had to get it done,” said Chillé. “Our communication was on tonight. That’s the biggest factor for us.”

“We came into it not too cocky, because we knew we’d have to play our best to beat them,” Clark said. 

“We knew Windham was much stronger than when we saw them earlier in the season,” added Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. “I’m proud of the girls. They fought hard tonight and beat a good team.” 

The Clippers advanced to meet No. 3 Biddeford in the quarterfinals Saturday morning, but had to play without Chillé, who suffered a concussion when she collided with Clark in the Windham match. 

Yarmouth wasn’t given much of a chance, but the Clippers sprung a 3-1 upset, taking the first set (25-19), rallying to win the second (25-21) and after the Tigers took the third (22-25), Yarmouth closed it out, 25-21, thanks to two late kills from Clark.

Clark led the way with 26 kills, Olivia Robichaud stepped in to play in Chillé’s absence and was a revelation with nine service points. Ceanne Lyon played a huge role with nine kills, including some big ones late.

“It was amazing,” Clark said. “We fought hard and fought together and that’s what matters. There were a lot of tears when we found out (Rachel wasn’t going to play), but we truly believed we could win if we played our game.” 

“We have a lot of heart,” Robichaud said. “We know no matter what happens, we go point by point and even if we lose a set, we haven’t lost the match.”

“We worked together as a team and we combined to make up for a loss of a great player,” said Lyon.

“I’m absolutely as proud of this win as any we’ve had,” added Senecal. “We’ve had a lot of wins in our program, but this one is special. We beat a great team on their floor.”

Yarmouth (12-4) advanced to battle No. 2 Scarborough (15-1), the defending Class A champion, which had won 15 straight matches in the state semifinals Wednesday night (see theforecaster.net for match story).

Yarmouth lost, 3-1, at home to Scarborough on Sept. 20. The Red Storm won the lone prior playoff meeting, 3-0, in the 2007 West Region quarterfinals.

“We’ll be underdogs again,” Senecal said. “We understand that Scarborough’s a great team. We know we’ll have to play our best game to stay with them.”

The Class A state match is Friday at 7 p.m. at Gorham High School.

In Class B, third-ranked NYA continued the best season in program history with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-22, 26-28, 25-14) win over No. 6 Wells in the quarterfinals Saturday. Suzanna Butterfield had eight kills and six aces, Zelda Clegg finished with seven kills, five blocks and five aces, Jordan Ackerman added 11 digs and seven aces, Maggie Larson had 16 assists and 10 digs and Tessa Quattrucci finished with 15 digs and seven aces.

The Panthers advanced to meet No. 2 Washington Academy (9-6) in the semifinals Wednesday. NYA lost, 3-1, at Washington Academy Oct. 8.

The Class B Final is Saturday at noon at Mt. Desert Island High School.

Boys’ soccer

All five local boys’ soccer teams were still chasing championships as the week began.

Falmouth capped a solid 11-2-1 season last Tuesday with a 1-0 home win over York on John Mullen’s overtime goal. The Yachtsmen earned the No. 2 seed in Class A South and opened the playoffs at home versus No. 7 Thornton Academy (9-4-2) in the quarterfinals. The teams didn’t meet this season and had no playoff history.

If Falmouth advanced, it would host No. 3 Deering (11-1-2) or No. 6 Portland (10-3-2) in the semifinals Saturday. The Yachtsmen don’t play either squad in the regular season and have no playoff history with the Rams. Falmouth and Portland split two prior playoff meetings, including a 1-0 Yachtsmen overtime win in last year’s quarterfinals.

In Class B South, two-time defending state champion Yarmouth finished second behind Maranacook for the second straight season after winding up 11-2-1. The Clippers closed with a 2-1 home win over Greely. Yarmouth fell behind, 1-0, late in the first half, but tied it on a goal from Luke Groothoff, then won it in the 77th minute on Eric LaBrie’s goal.

Yarmouth hosted No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester (8-6-1) in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The Clippers won the regular season meeting, 2-0, at home Oct. 4. Yarmouth is 3-1 all-time against the Patriots in the playoffs with a 2-1 overtime victory in the 2014 semifinals the most recent.

If the Clippers advanced, they’ll host No. 3 Cape Elizabeth (11-2-1) or No. 6 Greely (8-7) in the semifinals Saturday. Yarmouth swept the Capers, 1-0 at home Sept. 2 and 3-2 in Cape Elizabeth Sept. 20, and swept the Rangers (winning, 4-1, at Greely Oct. 1 in addition to the home victory in the finale). The Clippers are 2-0 against the Capers in the playoffs, with a 2-0 win in last year’s quarterfinals the most recent and are 2-3 all-time against the Rangers, with last year’s 3-1 semifinal round victory the most recent.

Greely got a goal from Henry Melville in the regular season-ending 2-1 loss at Yarmouth. As the No. 6 seed, the Rangers had to play No. 11 Leavitt in a preliminary round playoff game Friday. Due to rain, the contest was played on the turf at North Yarmouth Academy and Greely prevailed, 1-0, behind a goal from Hunter Graham. 

Greely went to No. 3 Cape Elizabeth for a quarterfinal test Tuesday. The Rangers lost twice to the Capers this year, 1-0 Sept. 15 and 2-1 in Cape Elizabeth nine days later. The teams had met 13 prior times in the postseason, with the Capers holding a 7-6 edge. Greely took the most recent meeting, 1-0, in the 2014 semifinals.

If the Rangers sprung the upset, they’d go to No. 2 Yarmouth or host No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals Saturday.

Freeport wound up 6-7-1 and ninth in Class B South. In a preliminary round game at No. 8 Lincoln Academy Friday, the Falcons rallied from an early 1-0 deficit and advanced with a 3-1 victory. 

Tuesday, Freeport went to top-ranked Maranacook (13-0-1) for the quarterfinals. The teams don’t play in the regular season. The Falcons and Black Bears split two prior playoff meetings, with a 2-1 Maranacook win in the 2012 quarterfinals the most recent.

If Freeport sprung an upset, it would go to No. 4 York (7-6-1) or No. 5 Carrabec (8-3-3) for the semifinals Saturday. The Falcons lost, 3-2, at home to the Wildcats Oct. 7. They did not face the Cobras this year. Freeport is 3-0 all-time versus Carrabec in the playoffs, with a 1-0 overtime victory in the 2000 Western C quarterfinals the most recent. The Falcons are 0-2 against York in the postseason, with a 1-0 loss in the 2011 quarterfinals the most recent.

In Class C South, NYA wound up 9-4-1 and fifth and went to No. 4 Hall-Dale (9-2-3) for a quarterfinal round game Tuesday. The teams don’t play in the regular season. The Panthers had won all three prior playoff meetings, with a 2-1 victory in the 2010 semifinals the most recent.

If NYA advanced, it would play at top-ranked Monmouth (11-1-2) or host No. 8 Sacopee Valley (7-6-2) in the semifinals Friday. The Panthers don’t play Monmouth in the regular season. They lost, 3-2, in in double overtime, at Monmouth in last year’s quarterfinals in the lone prior playoff meeting. NYA edged visiting Sacopee Valley, 1-0, Sept. 27 and settled for a 2-2 draw at the Hawks Oct. 8. The Panthers are 1-2 all-time against Sacopee Valley in the playoffs, with a 1-0 preliminary round loss in 2014 the most recent.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Wednesday of next week on the fields of the higher seeds. The state finals are Saturday, Nov. 5.

Girls’ soccer

On the girls’ side, Falmouth, Freeport, defending Class B champion Greely and Yarmouth were still standing at press time.

The Clippers earned the top seed in Class B South after a program-best 12-1-1 regular season. Yarmouth opened what it hoped will be its first championship run since 2003 Wednesday when it hosted No. 9 Gray-New Gloucester (7-8) in the preliminary round. The Clippers swept the Patriots this fall, winning, 4-1, at home Sept. 17 and 4-0 in Gray Oct. 4. Yarmouth was 4-0 all-time against Gray-New Gloucester in the playoffs, with a 4-0 quarterfinal round win two years ago the most recent.

If, as expected, the Clippers advance, they’ll host either No. 4 Cape Elizabeth (7-5-2) or No. 5 Morse (13-2) in the semifinals Saturday. Yarmouth swept the Capers this fall, 5-1, at Cape Elizabeth in the opener Sept. 2 and 3-0 at home Sept. 20. The Clippers lost the only prior playoff meeting, 1-0, in the 2014 semifinals. Yarmouth and Morse don’t play during the regular season and have no postseason history.

Greely took the No. 2 seed into the postseason after going 10-4 during the regular year. The Rangers hosted No. 7 Freeport (8-5-2) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The teams didn’t play this season and had no playoff history.

Freeport beat No. 10 Maranacook, 2-0, in a preliminary round game Saturday, which was moved to the turf at North Yarmouth Academy because of poor weather. The Falcons got goals from Tia Peterson and Jessie Driscoll.

“We have not been on turf this season, so that was a big adjustment,” said Freeport coach Elayna Girardin. “As the game went on, and especially toward the end, when the rain stopped, we were able to start playing our passing game. We started to get a little more confidence with the turf and the weather.”

The Freeport-Greely winner will meet either No. 3 York (7-3-4) or No. 11 Fryeburg Academy (7-8) in the semifinals Saturday (the Rangers would be the host against either team, while the Falcons would have to go to York or host Fryeburg Academy). 

The Rangers beat the visiting Raiders, 4-1, Sept. 13 and won, 3-2, at York Sept. 27. Greely is 1-0 against Fryeburg Academy in the playoffs (a 3-0 quarterfinal round triumph two years ago) and is 2-0 against the Wildcats, including a 5-1 regional final victory last season.

The Falcons won their season opener, 2-0, at Fryeburg Academy Sept. 6 and lost, 5-0, at York Oct. 6. Freeport has no playoff history with the Raiders and is 0-1 versus the Wildcats (a 3-1 loss in the 2011 quarterfinals).

In Class A South, Falmouth capped a regular season-ending seven game win streak with a 4-1 victory at York last Tuesday (behind two goals from Cali Wiberg and one apiece from Delaney Goodell and Lauren Wendland) to wind up 10-4 and fourth in the region. 

The Yachtsmen hosted No. 5 Marshwood (11-3-1) in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. The teams didn’t play this year and have no playoff history.

If Falmouth, advanced, it would either visit No. 1 Gorham (13-0-1) or host No. 8 Kennebunk (8-6-1) in Saturday’s semifinals. The Yachtsmen don’t play Gorham in the regular season. The teams met three times previously in the playoffs with a 3-2 Gorham victory in the 2004 Western B semifinals the most recent. Falmouth won, 2-0, at Kennebunk Oct. 15. The teams have no playoff history.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Wednesday of next week on the fields of the higher seeds. The state finals are Saturday, Nov. 5.

Cross country

The cross country regional championship meet was scheduled for this past Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Center in Cumberland, but poor weather pushed it back to this coming Saturday.

Times remain the same.

The Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth boys kick things off in the Class B meet at 11 a.m.. The Class B girls start at 11:35 a.m. The Maine Coast Waldorf and North Yarmouth Academy boys will run at 12:30 p.m. The Class C girls’ meet begins at 1:05. Falmouth runs in the Class A boys’ race at 2 p.m. The Class A girls start at 2:35 p.m.

The state championship meet will now be Saturday, Nov. 5 in Belfast.

Current staff writer Adam Birt 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.