Soccer playoffs loom; Several local teams thinking title

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(Ed. Note: For the full Waynflete-Greely boys’ soccer story, please visit theforecaster.net)

The soccer regular season is winding to a close and it looks as if most city teams will take part in the postseason, which begins this weekend.

Bulldogs, Flyers rolling

The boys’ parade is led by Portland and Waynflete, both of which are playoff-bound and have legitimate shots at their respective regional titles.

The Flyers, Class C state finalists in 2008 and dominant before being upset in the quarterfinals a year ago, continue to turn heads this fall. Wins last week over visiting Traip (3-0), Greely (1-0) and host Poland (3-0) gave Waynflete a 10-0-2 mark and elevated it to the No. 2 spot in Western C.  Against Traip, seniors Omar Abdille and Tucker Geoffroy, along with sophomore Peabo Knoth, scored goals. Geoffroy had a second half goal in the win over Greely (his former school).

“It was a team effort,” said Geoffroy. “It’s always nice to beat the school you came from. Our defense played great today. It’s definitely nice to see our program accelerate through the ranks. We have a similar record to last year. We started out with low hopes, because we lost 9 of 11 starters, but it’s been a great season so far.”

“It’s a great win,” added Waynflete’s longtime coach Brandon Salway, who couldn’t recall the Flyers ever meeting the Rangers, a perennial Class A power. “Obviously, a program like Greely is the top of the top. For our kids to not only play with them but beat them, it’s a pretty big for our program.”

In the victory over the Knights, Abdille, Geoffroy and senior Lukas Tubby scored.

Waynflete hosted defending Class B champion Falmouth Tuesday. A win could lift the Flyers to the No. 1 spot. They figure to finish in the top three and have at least one home playoff game.

“We hope to finish,” Salway added. “We need to be consistent and play this way every game. We want homefield. Officials know you. It’s your field, no bus rides. But we proved a few years ago we can go on the road and win games if we have to.”

In Western A, Portland has lived up to the preseason hype and overcome a 1-1-1 start to position itself as the lead threat to two-time defending state champion Scarborough. The Bulldogs improved to 11-1-1 last week with wins at Marshwood (3-1) and at home over South Portland (4-1), making it 10 in a row.

Against the Hawks, senior standout Fazal Nabi scored twice, while sophomore Tim Rovnak also tickled the twine. Nabi added two goals versus the Red Riots, while juniors Paley Burlin and Alan Tuyishme added tallies.

“I’m happy for the kids, they’re working hard,” said longtime Bulldogs coach Rocky Frenzilli. “We played well against Marshwood, but it was touch-and-go for awhile. Fazal set the tone right off the bat against South Portland.”

Portland (second to the Red Storm in the Western A Heals at the start of the week) finished its regular season Tuesday at Bonny Eagle.

“It really doesn’t matter what our final seed is,” Frenzilli said. “These teams we’re playing are all tight games. All the teams will give us all we want. Obviously, we’d like to get as many as we can at home. I like what my kids have been able to do. We’re getting better, matching the intensity of other teams and let’s face it, we’re getting some breaks.”

Cheverus will make the postseason, but the Stags have slipped of late. Losses by 2-1 margins at Thornton Academy and at home to Deering made it three setbacks in four games, a 7-5-1 record and the No. 7 spot in the Heals. Junior Nicholas Melville had the goal versus the Golden Trojans. Classmate Alexander Hoglund scored against the Rams. Cheverus closed at South Portland Monday night in a game pivotal for the final standings.

Deering will likely miss the playoffs, but the Rams have certainly stolen their share of headlines in the past couple of weeks. Already boasting an epic upset win over Scarborough, Deering bounced back from a 1-0 home loss to Kennebunk last Thursday with a 2-1 upset at Cheverus Thursday. Senior standout Charlie Dupee and junior French exchange student Augustine Solleux had the goals.

“It was a hard-fought game,” said Rams coach Andy LeFebvre. “We got a great result against a top team in the league. I thought we responded well since it was their Senior Day game and they opened the scoring.”

The Rams (4-8-1 and 12th in Western A, only nine teams qualify for the postseason) finished at home versus Marshwood Tuesday. Another upset win probably wouldn’t have been enough to send Deering to the playoffs.

“We have some playoff hopes if we beat Marshwood, but we’ll also need some help with other teams losing their last games,” LeFebvre said.

Surging Stags

On the girls’ side, Cheverus and Deering lead the way and did battle Saturday morning. The Stags, who were coming off a 6-0 win at Portland last Monday (senior Britni Mikulanecz had two goals), extended their victory string to five with a 1-0 decision over the Rams, who had beaten visiting Kennebunk, 4-0, three days prior (seniors Amanda Masse and Aarika Viola along with freshmen Alexis Elowitch and Edie Pallozzi had the goals). The lone goal of Saturday’s contest came in the 17th minute when freshman Abby Maker beat Deering senior goalkeeper Jen Lynch. Cheverus held on and improved to 10-2-1.

“It’s a good win for us, “said Stags coach Dan LaVallee. “We played a really good first half with the wind at our face. The second half we played OK. It was the first 1-0 game we’ve been in. Deering played really well. They’re a very good team.”

Cheverus was second in the Western A Heals at the start of the week (but 2 through 6 were very close) and finished at McAuley Tuesday.

The Rams fell to 8-5 with the loss, but have been very impressive this year.

“I feel good,” said Deering coach Kevin Olson. “The way we move the ball is great. We play to feet and play quick and stretch the field. Jen’s had a heck of a season in goal. She takes initiative back there.”

The Rams were seventh in Western A at the start of the week. They closed at Windham Tuesday. Deering could host a preliminary round game. The Rams were ousted in that round a year ago.

“I think we have the potential to go further this year,” Olson said. “That’s our expectation since preseason. We want to make a push in the playoffs. We know we have a good mix of youngsters and upperclassmen.”

McAuley still has playoff hopes, but needed to take care of some business. The Lions tied visiting Noble, 1-1, then lost, 2-1, at Marshwood last week to fall to 5-4-3. Sophomore Hannah Cook had the goal in the deadlock. The Lions (11th in the Western A Heals at the start of the week, only 10 teams qualify) had a makeup game at Thornton Academy Monday and close at home versus Cheverus Tuesday. A victory in either game could get them in. Wins in both would definitely mean the program’s first playoff berth since 2003.

Portland won’t make the postseason. The Bulldogs were 6-0 home losers to Cheverus last Monday, then fell, 2-1, at home to South Portland Saturday to drop to 1-12 (19th in the region). Senior Becca Smith scored against the Red Riots. Portland finished at home versus Kennebunk Tuesday.

“The season has been full of several steps forward and many steps backward,” said Bulldogs coach Dave Levasseur. “We knew we’d be inexperienced and untested. Add to that, several injuries to key personnel and some players deciding to leave the program for personal resons only made it that much more challenging. I’ve been happy with how our seniors responded. My seniors, specifically Becca Smith, Casey Hart, Malinka Jankowski and Abbi Scrutchfield, continued to be role models on the field, leaders in the locker room and each displayed admirable character.”

Levasseur announced that he is stepping down after nine seasons as the girls’ varsity coach (he also served five years as the JV boys’ coach).

“Fourteen years at PHS has been a wonderful experience, but it’s time for a change,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have worked with some incredible student-athletes and wonderful parents, who were always supportive. Getting through this difficult year was something I wanted to do and I honestly believe our next coach will transition much easier now that we’ve been through the lows of this season.”

In Western C, perennial contender Waynflete hasn’t had it easy this year and wasn’t a playoff lock as of Monday. The Flyers beat host Traip, 3-2, last Tuesday, then lost, 8-1, at Western A powerhouse Greely Thursday and 2-0 at Sacopee Saturday to drop to 6-5-1. Waynflete was sixth at the beginning of the week (nine teams qualify), but there were 10 teams battling for five slots. The Flyers closed at Western B power Falmouth Tuesday.

Schedule

Playoffs begin Friday with the girls’ preliminary round. The boys’ prelims are Saturday. Tuesday of next week, the girls have their quarterfinals. The boys go the next day. Semifinals are Saturday, Oct. 30. Regional finals will be contested Tuesday, Nov. 3. All of those rounds will be played on the field of the higher seed. The state finals are Saturday, Nov. 7, at Falmouth High School and Hampden Academy.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

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