The soccer playoffs brought a little bit of everything to Forecaster Country last week and the football postseason is kicking into gear as well.
Here’s a glimpse of what transpired last week and what’s on tap:
Scarborough’s boys’ soccer team found itself in a familiar spot at press time.
Playing for a regional championship.
The Red Storm, who earned the top seed in Class A South, the 11th time in the past dozen seasons Scarborough has been ranked first, advanced by virtue of a 2-0 win over No. 9 Westbrook in the quarterfinals and a 3-0 win over fourth-ranked Falmouth in the semifinals. Against the Yachtsmen, in the first-ever playoff meeting between two of the state’s all-time great programs, Sam Jacob converted an early penalty kick and Garrett King and Sam Caron added tallies to allow the Red Storm to advance to Wednesday’s Class A South regional final against No. 7 Cheverus (see theforecaster.net for game story).
Scarborough beat the visiting Stags (7-3-4), 4-2, back on Sept. 29, but lost in last year’s regional final, 3-2, in double overtime, in the only prior playoff encounter.
The Scarborough-Cheverus winner will face either Lewiston (16-0) or Hampden Academy (13-3) in Saturday’s Class A Final, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
The Red Storm beat Hampden Academy, 2-1, in overtime, two years ago in the state game. Scarborough hasn’t played highly-touted Lewiston in a state final, but is 1-2 all-time against the Blue Devils in regional playoff games played between 1974 and 1987.
South Portland was ousted in the semifinals by Cheverus for a second straight season. The Red Riots, ranked sixth in Class A South, eliminated No. 11 Kennebunk, 8-1, in the preliminary round, then upset No. 3 Thornton Academy in last Wednesday’s quarterfinals, 2-2 (4-2 on penalty kicks). South Portland trailed early, 2-0, but tied the score behind goals from Charlie Cronin and Khalid Suja. The game went to PKs, where Suja, Ahmed Suja, Alecks Kaurin and Kervens Anthoine all scored, while goalkeeper Riley Hasson made one huge save which allowed the Red Riots to advance.
South Portland then hosted the seventh-ranked Stags. Last year, Cheverus ousted the Red Riots in PKs, this time, it only took 80 minutes of regulation, as the Stags got a goal and held on for a 1-0 victory, ending South Portland’s season at 9-4-4.
In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth, ranked seventh after a .500 regular season, survived No. 10 Freeport in overtime in the preliminary round, 2-1, then was ousted at No. 2 Yarmouth, the defending Class B champion, 2-0, in last Wednesday’s quarterfinals as the Capers finished 8-8.
In Class D South, Greater Portland Christian School, the No. 4 seed, held off No. 5 A.R. Gould, 2-1, in last week’s quarterfinals, as Jeremiah Hammond scored to tie it and a throw in from John Knoczal eluded the goalie. The Lions then lost, 4-1, to top-ranked Buckfield in the semifinals to finish 9-6-1.
Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough’s girls’ soccer teams both entertained championship dreams going into play last weekend, but both fell short in agonizing fashion.
The two-time defending regional champion Capers, ranked third in Class B South, survived No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, 1-0, in the quarterfinals, then had second-ranked York on the ropes in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth took a 1-0 lead on a Mariah Deschino goal and after the host Wildcats drew even, Prezli Piscopo put the Capers on top, 2-1. That lead held up until 50 seconds remained in regulation, when York drew even and in the second overtime, the Wildcats earned a controversial penalty kick and converted it to prevail, 3-2, ending Cape Elizabeth’s season at 11-5.
“We had a tough loss the day after (the quarterfinal) finding out (senior standout) Montana Braxton had suffered a concussion and would be out for the rest of the season,” said Capers coach Craig Fannan. “We set ourselves up against a tough York team, played a great game, almost executed the game plan to perfection. We were 2-1 up with 53 seconds to play in regulation, switched off to a quick throw in and conceded from a great cross and finish. Overtime played out with little happening before we conceded a cruel penalty. It seemed very soft and ultimately happened outside the box. York scored to win the game. A very harsh way for our season to end, but I have to say York showed great character to come from behind twice, especially equalizing so late in the game.
“I tried to console our senior group with the knowledge that they have lost two playoff games in my time, one to an absolute one in a million strike in last year’s state final and one from a questionable refereeing decision. They deserve special mention for making Cape the powerhouse it has been over the past four years.
“I thought the season went well. It’s always hard to judge the impact of replacing seniors and although we had a fantastic group it took us some time to replace Kathryn Clark and the character of our graduating senior class. We went through a number of formations until we settled on one we felt comfortable with. He had a strong finish to the season and felt good going into the playoffs. ”
The Capers will graduate some of the best players in program history, including Braxton, 2013 state game hero Kate Breed and big-game scorer Katherine Briggs, but should be a force again next fall.
“As for next year ,we start a new chapter,” Fannan said. “We graduate nine seniors, all of them impact players. We still have arguably the best forward in the league in Mariah. We have a few juniors and sophomores who have been around the varsity program and got some valuable minutes this season who will need to step up. We have four freshman who impacted the starting lineup this season and another strong class of 8th graders coming into the school. We have one of the strongest JV programs around and will need to draw players from there. It will take some time to rebuild and get the right formula but I am excited about the challenge this presents us.”
In Class A South, Scarborough, ranked second, won its quarterfinal, 3-0, over No. 7 Deering, behind goals from Gaby Panagakos, Kaleigh Scoville and Maddie Chen. The Red Storm welcomed No. 3 Gorham in Saturday’s semifinals, but weren’t as fortunate, falling, 2-1, to finish 13-2-1. Scarborough tied the score, 1-1, on a goal from Mary Farnkoff, but an “own goal” was the difference as the Red Storm fell just short of their goals of playing for regional and state titles.
“It was a tough way to go out, but you have to hand it to Gorham,” said Scarborough coach Mike Farley. “They played an unbelievable game and made it very tough on us.
“We had a great season and I’m really proud of my players. Above any other year of mine at Scarborough, we dealt with major injury trouble. Despite all of those injuries, this team went 12-1-1 through the regular season and beat a number of really good teams in close matches and beat Deering, a well-coached and talented group, in the 1uarterfinals. It really showed the depth of our program, to be able to have players step right in and not miss a beat. We were a really nice shot from Ciera Berthiaume of Windham away from having an undefeated season. The hard work and commitment of my players and the growth in their play as a group from the start of the year to the end was tremendous.”
Look for the Red Storm to make a run at the championship in 2016.
“I’m very excited about next year’s group,” Farley said. “We had one of, if not the best JV team we’ve had in my time at Scarborough. The younger players progressed great through the season, learning how we like to play the game. By the end of the year, our JV group was giving our varsity group all they could handle in scrimmages in practice. Offensively, we’ll have a number of weapons next year which I’m excited about. Our three leading scores from this season, Gaby Panagakos, Lauren Sabatino and Jillian Ware, will be returning. We will be losing three of our four starting backs, our starting keeper and all of our center-mids, but I’m really excited about the younger players in our program and what they will bring to the team.”
Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough’s football teams won quarterfinal round playoff games last weekend, while South Portland’s season came to an end.
In Class A South, the Red Storm, ranked fourth after a 4-4 regular season, advanced by virtue of a 28-0 home win over fifth-seeded Sanford in the quarterfinals last Friday. After a scoreless first half, Scarborough got a pair of touchdown runs from quarterback Jack Hughes to go up 14-0 after three periods, then put it away with two long TD runs from Owen Garrard in the fourth quarter.
The Red Storm (5-4) now have the daunting task of winning at top-ranked, defending Class A champion Thornton Academy (7-1) in the semifinals Saturday at 1 p.m. Scarborough, lost, 48-7, Oct. 3 in Saco and has never beaten the Golden Trojans, including a 50-20 playoff loss in last season’s semifinals.
If the Red Storm spring a monumental upset, they’d go to either No. 2 Deering (6-2) or third-ranked Bonny Eagle (6-3) in the regional final.
In Class C South, second-ranked Cape Elizabeth improved to 7-2 with a 33-16 win over No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester in last Friday’s quarterfinals. Matt Graham led the way with four touchdown rushes. Nate Weare’s TD run put the Capers ahead to stay late in the first half.
Cape Elizabeth will host No. 3 Wells (7-2) in Friday’s semifinal round. Just two weeks ago, in the regular season finale, the Warriors won at the Capers, 15-0. Wells has won two of the three prior playoff meetings, including a 13-0 triumph in the 2013 semifinals.
If Cape Elizabeth reverses its regular season result, it would either go to top-ranked Yarmouth (9-0), or host fourth-ranked Fryeburg Academy (6-3) in the regional final.
The regional finals are Saturday, Nov. 14, on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Class A and C state games are Saturday, Nov. 21 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.