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It began with snowbanks as a backdrop, but the spring sports season, like the weather, quickly ramped up into something quite enjoyable.
Arguably the most competitive baseball season in memory saw Deering return to prominence, Cheverus contend yet again and Portland put together a playoff run that woke up the echoes.
McAuley was the lone softball team to qualify for the playoffs this year, but Deering continued to improve and Cheverus and Portland figure to be in the thick of things next year.
Boys’ lacrosse saw every city team make the playoffs, with Cheverus and Waynflete reach the semifinals.
The top girls’ lacrosse story was the amazing run of the Portland Bulldogs, who had never advanced to the semifinals prior to 2015, but got all the way to the Eastern A Final behind two of the most palpitating overtime wins you’ll ever see. Waynflete continued its longstanding tradition of excellence, Cheverus got back to the playoffs and McAuley qualified for the postseason for the first time in a decade.
On the track, Cheverus’ boys just missed out on a repeat title, but produced a trio of individual champions, including a record-setter.
Waynflete’s boys’ tennis team added yet another piece of hardware and this spring, produced an individual champion to boot, highlighting another great season on the courts.
Before we all take a deep breath and enjoy a well-earned summer break, here’s one last look at the highlights of spring:
Waynflete boys’ tennis, Class C
Isaac Salas, Waynflete, boys’ singles
Jake Dixon, Cheverus, Class A boys’ 400 (state record)
Jacob Schott, Cheverus, Class A boys’ high jump
Nick White, Cheverus, Class A boys’ discus
Paulo DeMarco, Deering, Class A boys’ 300 hurdles
5) Waynflete boys’ tennis reign continues
It’s gotten to the point that if the month is June, you just know Waynflete’s boys’ tennis team is going to be receiving another piece of championship hardware. The Flyers are always at their best in the postseason, but this spring, they excelled during the regular year as well, losing only a 4-1 decision to now-three-time Class B champion Cape Elizabeth in the opener (a loss Waynflete later avenged). The Flyers also beat eventual repeat Class A champion Falmouth during the season, then won 5-0, 5-0, 5-0 in the regional tournament before closing out its latest title with a 4-1 victory over George Stevens Academy in the state match. And that title wasn’t even the first feather in the program’s cap this spring, as standout Isaac Salas previously won the state singles championship. Put those crowns together and 2015 might have been Waynflete’s best year yet. And it’s quite possible it will be eclipsed by whatever follows in 2016.
4) Track record setter
Cheverus’ Jake Dixon was no stranger to track excellence prior to the Class A state meet June 6, but there, he took his game to another level. In the 400, Dixon posted a time of 48.45 seconds, which bettered the previous state record by .13 of a second. The Stags also got wins from Jacob Schott in the high jump and Nick White in the discus and were in the hunt for a repeat title, but they ultimately wound up third behind Lewiston and Scarborough.
3) Rams return to prominence
Deering’s baseball team won a combined 10 games between 2012-14, but this spring, the Rams reawakened. Under new coach Josh Stowell, a one-time program standout and link to the glory years, Deering earned confidence early and only got better, making the playoffs after winning 10 regular season games. The Rams then erupted for 12 runs in a surprisingly easy preliminary round win over city rival Cheverus. At top-ranked Portland in the quarterfinals, Deering took a 3-0 lead to the bottom of the fifth, but the Bulldogs scored four quick runs and the Rams couldn’t answer, as their season came to a close at 11-7. While the ending was disappointing, the season as a whole was a resounding success and Deering should remain a top contender next year.
2) Overtime a very good time for Portland girls’ lax
Portland’s girls’ lacrosse team was 2-4 at one point this spring and no one, not even the Bulldogs themselves, could have imagined what was in store. Portland got going in the second half of the season, went 5-1 down the stretch and its 7-5 record gave it the No. 3 seed for the Eastern Class A tournament. Then the fun really began. Hosting Cheverus in the quarterfinals, the Bulldogs, who had let a big lead slip away in a regular season loss to the Stags, couldn’t put them away again and the game went to overtime. Then another. Then another. Finally, in the fourth OT, senior Ella Coose’s goal produced a 16-15 marathon victory and sent Portland somewhere it had never gone before, the semifinals, and there, the Bulldogs had more heroics in store. After falling behind No. 2 Mt. Ararat, 8-4, in the second half, junior Isabel Stehli sparked a rally, which junior standout Merritt Ryan completed with a goal in the final minute to force, you guessed it, overtime. This time around, just the normal six-minutes of OT would be needed as a Ryan goal stood up and Portland prevailed, 10-9, to reach the regional final for the first time. There, the Bulldogs would finally meet their match against top-ranked Messalonskee in an 11-8 loss, but even in that one, Portland fought hard to the end, a fitting coda to a playoff run that will never be forgotten.
1) Portland baseball discovers magic
Portland’s baseball program took a step into its glorious past prior to the season when former standout player and coach Mike Rutherford returned to head the program. Rutherford and Bulldog Nation hoped for a competitive season and maybe a playoff game, but what ensued was a run that etched the 2015 squad into program lore. Not only did Portland post a winning record, it won 12 games, and not only did the Bulldogs qualify for the postseason, they earned the top seed in a deep and balanced Western Class A. And Portland wasn’t done. The Bulldogs rallied for a stirring 4-3 win over rival Deering in the quarterfinals, scored four times in the sixth to beat Falmouth in the semifinals, then took South Portland to the absolute limit in the regional final, where only a line drive hit right at the Red Riots’ first basemen with the tying and winning runs heading for home prevented Portland from playing on the biggest stage of all. This year’s Bulldog Magic has been extinguished, but we can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.
Sam Luebbert helped pitch the Deering baseball team back into contention this spring.
Merritt Ryan’s ability to find the net helped Portland’s girls’ lacrosse team to its best season ever.
Cheverus’ Jacob Schott won the Class A title in the high jump.
Waynflete’s Isaac Salas not only won the state’s boys’ tennis singles crown, but he helped his team win Class C for the eighth year in a row.