If it’s late October, Forecaster Country boys’ and girls’ soccer teams must be ready to take centerstage.
The posteason got underway Tuesday and Wednesday with seven local squads entertaining title hopes.
Boys will shine
Yarmouth earned the top boys’ seed in Western Class B after a dominant 13-0-1 regular season. The Clippers opened their quest for a fourth state championship in seven seasons Wednesday night when they played host to No. 8 Oak Hill (7-6-1). The teams don’t meet in the regular season and have no playoff history.
If, as expected, Yarmouth advances to the semifinals for the ninth year in a row, it would host either No. 4 York (8-5-1) or No. 5 Lincoln Academy (9-3-2) in Saturday’s semifinal round. The Clippers beat the Wildcats twice this year: 4-1, Sept. 30 on the road and 3-0, at home Oct. 14. They did not face the Eagles. Three years ago, in the quarterfinals, Yarmouth edged Lincoln Academy, 2-1, in double overtime. The Clippers last saw York in the postseason in the 2005 quarterfinals (a 2-1 victory, in two OTs).
Of course, Yarmouth will keep a close eye on its fiercest rival, Falmouth, the No. 3 seed. The Yachtsmen ended up 9-4-1 after a 3-0 victory at Waynflete last Tuesday (seniors Michael Bloom and Sam White and sophomore J.P. White had the goals). Falmouth played host to No. 6 Gray-New Gloucester (9-5), a very dangerous draw. On Sept. 25, the Yachtsmen had to go to overtime to beat the host Patriots, 2-1. The teams’ last playoff meeting was way back in the 1983 Western B Final (a 1-0 win for Gray-New Gloucester).
If the Yachtsmen can move on, they’ll either go to No. 2 Maranacook (13-0-1) or host No. 7 Fryeburg (8-6) in Saturday’s semifinals. Falmouth opened the regular season with a 5-1 home win over the Raiders on Sept. 3 and pounded them in last year’s quarterfinals, 10-0. The Yachtsmen didn’t face the Black Bears in 2010, but have in past postseasons. The most recent meeting was in the 2008 semis (a 1-0 Falmouth victory in OT).
Freeport tied visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 2-2, in its finale, last Tuesday, but wound up 2-10-2 and 12th in Western B (where only eight teams qualified). Juniors Jack Dawe and Manny Rosquete had the Falcons’ goals, while senior Ryan Farley assisted both. Prior to the deadlock, Freeport suffered six straight shutout losses to fall out of contention.
In Western C, NYA went 4-0-1 down the stretch (capped by the tie at Freeport, where junior captains Sam Leishman and Ryan Rousseau scored) to wind up 7-5-1, good for the eighth and final playoff seed. As a reward, the Panthers (regional finalists a year ago) drew No. 1 Wiscasset (13-0-1) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The teams didn’t face off this year and last met in the playoffs in the 1991 quarters (a 3-2 NYA win in PKs).
If the Panthers could spring the upset and remember, they made it to the regional finals a year ago from the No. 7 hole, they’d be at No. 4 Dirigo (10-2-2) or No. 5 Hall-Dale (10-4) in Friday’s semifinals. NYA doesn’t play either team in the regular season. The Panthers downed the Cougars, 1-0, in last year’s quarterfinal round. Their last encounter with the Bulldogs came in the 2001 quarterfinals (a 3-1 NYA triumph).
In Western A, Greely missed the postseason for the first time since 1999 after going 6-7-1 and winding up 12th in a region where just nine teams moved on.
Girls gear up for greatness
On the girls’ side, Yarmouth earned the top seed in Western B for the first time in seven years (which was the last time the Clippers won the championship). After starting 11-0, Yarmouth went 0-2-1 down the stretch, culminated by a 1-0 loss at Greely last Tuesday.
“It was an excellent (regular) season,” Clippers coach Rich Smith said. “It’s nice to be home on our turf. We’ll take our chances. I like my team.”
Yarmouth (11-2-1) played host to No. 8 Gray-New Gloucester (5-7-2) in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. The Clippers beat the host Patriots, 3-0, back on Sept. 8. The last playoff meeting between the schools was in the 2003 quarterfinals (a 4-1 Yarmouth win).
If the Clippers indeed move on to Saturday’s semifinals, they’ll likely play host to a most familiar foe/rival.
Falmouth, despite an in-season coaching change, wound up fourth in the region with an 8-5-1 mark. The Yachtsmen closed with a 3-0 home win over Waynflete last Tuesday, as senior Jess DiPhillippo scored twice and classmate Rachel Bauer added a goal. Falmouth hosted No. 5 Lisbon (10-2-2) in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. The teams didn’t play in the regular season and have no playoff history.
A win in that one likely sends Falmouth to Yarmouth.
The teams met twice in the regular season. The Clippers held on for a 3-2 home victory Sept. 11. The second meeting, Oct. 12, resulted in a scoreless draw. The rivals have squared off four prior times in the postseason, with the Yachtsmen holding a 3-1 edge. The last encounter was in the 2006 regional final (a 2-1 Falmouth victory).
Freeport, despite a 5-1-1 start, couldn’t qualify. The Falcons dropped their final seven outings to finish 5-8-1 and 11th in Western B (where only eight teams made the cut).
In Western A, Greely is sizzling entering the postseason. The Rangers, who were 2-3 at one point. closed on a 7-0-2 surge, capped by a 1-0 home win over Yarmouth last week (senior Kelly Burrell’s second half goal was the difference), to wind up 9-3-2 and third behind Scarborough and Thornton Academy.
“We’re still figuring it out,” said Rangers coach Michael Kennedy. “We’re in a good groove. Half the kids have never been there before. Last year’s team had been there. If we prepare well and play within the system, I think we’ll do fine.”
Greely had a tough quarterfinal round test against visiting No. 6 seed Gorham (11-3), winner of multiple titles this decade. The teams don’t meet in the regular season. They last squared off in the 2008 semifinals (a 4-1 Rams’ win).
“These last nine games were so important for us,” Kennedy said. “It’s important to get home playoff games. It’s a nice field and a good surface for us. We definitely have an advantage here.”
If the Rangers were able to advance to the semifinals on Saturday, they’d either go to No. 2 Thornton Academy (11-3) or host No. 7 Windham (9-4-2). Greely doesn’t face either foe in the regular season. Just last year, the Golden Trojans upset the Rangers, 2-1, in the semifinals. Greely last faced the Eagles in the 2004 quarterfinals (a 4-0 win).
In Western C, NYA saw its 12-year postseason streak come to an end. The Panthers won three of their final four games, capped by a 4-0 home victory over Traip (senior Blair Haggett, junior Hannah Twombly, sophomore Molly Strabley and freshman Chloe Leishman all scored), but their 4-6-3 mark left them 10th in the region where just nine teams made the playoffs.
Looking ahead, the regional final round (played on the fields of teams with the best record) is Wednesday of next week. The state championship games are Saturday, Nov. 7. Class A and B are expected to be contested at Falmouth High School. Class C and D will likely be at Hampden Academy.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yarmouth sophomore Tess Merrill, Greely senior Ali Waterman and their teammates have high hopes as the playoffs commence.