Local high school sports athletes raised the bar again in 2014.
Whether the season was winter, spring or fall, triumph was the theme and there were countless memorable moments.
With another winter season underway and a new year upon us, here’s one final look back at the thrills that made up 2014.
When 2013 gave way to 2014, Portland’s boys’ basketball team was hinting at something special, boasting an undefeated record and remaining that way through the regular season. Deering was in the hunt as well, while Cheverus, after falling short of the playoffs the year before, was in line for a return to the tournament. In Western C, Waynflete was crushing almost every foe and was gearing up for the finest tournament run in program history.
On the girls’ side, it was once again McAuley and everyone else, but the Lions did see their 56-game win streak come to a close with a loss to Thornton Academy early in the month. McAuley did eventually hit its stride and entered the tournament as the top seed. Cheverus remained a top contender, Portland was a pleasant surprise, enjoying its best season in a decade, and Deering overcame a lack of expectations to be in the hunt. Defending Class C state champion Waynflete was still viewed as a dangerous squad.
On the ice, the Cheverus and Portland/Deering co-op boys’ teams were playoff bound, while the Cheverus girls and several Waynflete players contributing to the Capeflete co-op squad were also in the mix.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.
Both Cheverus swim teams left the rest of Class A in their wake, as the boys made it three straight championships, while the girls prevailed for the first time. Sarah Nappo helped the Stags girls to the title by capturing the 100 backstroke.
Two other city swimmers won two individual crowns, as Deering’s Eric Delmonte took the Class A boys’ 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley and Waynflete’s Colby Harvey won the Class B girls’ backstroke and 100 butterfly. McAuley’s Ana Neff-Jendrasko also took home a girls’ Class B title, as she won the IM.
Skiing isn’t the first sport associated with the city of Portland, but last winter did see Portland’s Lizzie Landry win the Class A Nordic girls’ classical race. Waynflete’s Louis Frumer was even more prolific, winning Class C Alpine titles in the slalom and giant slalom.
In track, both Cheverus teams came in second in Class A and several Stags won state crowns. Jake Dixon (200) and Isaac Yeboah (55 hurdles) were boys’ champions, while Kiera Murray (two-mile) and Meredith Willard (55) took home girls’ titles.
On the ice, Capeflete made the girls’ playoffs for the first time and even won a game before being eliminated by eventual champion Scarborough. On the boys’ side, Cheverus and Portland/Deering fell in the quarterfinals.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys’ side, in Western C, Waynflete made history by beating Monmouth, Hall-Dale and Maranacook to win a regional championship for the first time. In Western A, Cheverus won a preliminary round game over Scarborough, but was ousted by Falmouth in the quarterfinals, while Deering rallied for a stirring quarterfinal round overtime win over Marshwood before being eliminated by Portland in the semifinals. The undefeated Bulldogs then put together a superb second half to oust Bonny Eagle in the Western A Final.
On the girls’ side, Waynflete’s quest for a repeat Class C title began with a preliminary round victory over Sacopee Valley, but ended with a loss to eventual regional champion Carrabec in the quarterfinals. In Class A, Deering beat Scarborough in a prelim, but was ousted by McAuley in the quarterfinals. Portland held off Gorham for its first quarterfinal round win in a decade, but was no match for McAuley in the semifinals. Cheverus toyed with Bonny Eagle in the preliminary round, then handled South Portland with surprising ease in the quarterfinals, but couldn’t hold a second half lead and was upset by Windham in the other semifinal. McAuley then had no trouble with Windham in the regional final, advancing to its fourth successive state final.
The first day of March saw a pair of basketball coronations and nearly a third. First, McAuley overcame a slow start, then raced past Oxford Hills in the second half en route to a 67-41 victory, making it a record-tying four consecutive Class A titles.
Portland’s boys then took the floor as an underdog to Hampden Academy, but blew away the Broncos with a first quarter uprising and went on to a win, 54-40, capping a perfect 22-0 campaign.
Waynflete’s boys, meanwhile, battled favored Houlton to overtime in the Class C Final before losing a gutwrenching 58-56 decision.
Six days later, McAuley star Allie Clement was named Miss Maine Basketball, bringing the curtain down on a pretty amazing hoops season.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
Cheverus and Portland’s baseball teams were on their way to playoff berths in Western A, while Waynflete was once again competitive in Western C.
Cheverus and McAuley’s softball teams were resurgent, while Deering (which snapped a 50-game losing skid) and Portland were all more competitive than the previous year.
Boys’ lacrosse featured strong play from Cheverus and Waynflete.
On the girls’ side, Cheverus was defending its Class A crown with strong play, while Portland was making a run to the playoffs. Then, there was two-time defending Class B champion Waynflete, which, while not as dominant as in the past, played a series of jawdropping games en route to the playoffs.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from several city teams, most notably the two Waynflete juggernauts, a dominant Deering boys’ team and a powerhouse girls’ squad from Portland.
The spring championship season began with Cheverus’ boys’ outdoor track team, after so many close calls, finally winning a Class A state title, thanks in large part to Jake Dixon taking the 400, Nick White winning the discus and Isaac Yeboah capturing both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Deering’s Yahya Hussein took home the Class A boys’ two-mile crown. Cheverus’ Kiera Murray was the Class A girls’ two-mile champion. In Class C, McAuley’s Olivia Smith, better known for her basketball brilliance, proved to be a thrower with no peer, as she won the discus and javelin.
A week later, both Waynflete tennis teams won more hardware. It was the girls’ squad’s fourth Class C title in succession, while the boys made it a mind-boggling seven in a row with no end in sight. Portland’s girls were clearly the best team in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, but unbeatable Falmouth being relegated to Class A for the playoffs doomed the Bulldogs’ quest for a title and Portland lost to the Yachtsmen in the regional final. Deering’s boys were also doomed by Falmouth in the regional final.
On the diamond, Portland’s baseball team was ousted by eventual regional champion Windham in the preliminary round of the Western A tournament. Cheverus edged Thornton Academy in a prelim, then took top-ranked South Portland to extra innings before falling, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.
McAuley’s softball team reached the playoffs, but was ousted by Noble in the Western A preliminary round. Cheverus then won a quarterfinal for the first time, rallying past Marshwood, but the Stags couldn’t hold a lead against Thornton Academy and lost to the eventual regional champion in the semifinals to end the program’s best season to date.
Neither Cheverus or Waynflete’s girls’ lacrosse team was able to repeat as state champion. In Class B, the Flyers’ bid was denied by a surprising foe, Cape Elizabeth, which ended a 12-year, 24-game skid to Waynflete with a shocking, 9-8, last-second win in the semifinals. In Class A, Portland was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Cony. Cheverus took care of Brunswick, Windham and Messalonskee to get back to the state final for a rematch with Massabesic. Like the 2013 contest, which saw the Stags hold on to win by one, the battle was tight throughout and ultimately needed a state-record five overtimes to decide, as the Mustangs prevailed, 9-8.
On the boys’ side, Waynflete got to the Western B playoffs, but gave up 20 goals in a quarterfinal round loss to Greely. In Eastern A, Portland lost in the quarterfinals to Messalonskee, while two-time defending champion Cheverus ousted Edward Little and Messalonskee to reach the regional final before falling by a goal to Brunswick.
July and August
High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.
Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball excitement.
On the gridiron, Cheverus and Portland stole headlines, while Deering showed signs of improvement. The Stags handled the Bulldogs in the opener, but on the 27th, Cheverus 36-game regular season and 20-game home win streak came to an end at the hands of Windham. Portland, meanwhile, bounced back to beat Deering, then suffered a painful overtime loss to Bangor in a game the Bulldogs once led by 21 points.
On the pitch, Deering’s boys’ squad was touted as the team to beat, but another city team, Cheverus, would ultimately steal headlines. Portland and Waynflete were also competitive.
On the girls’ side, two-time Class C champion Waynflete would only lose once and retained dreams of a three-peat. In Western A, each local team made a push for the playoffs.
Cheverus’ field hockey team got off to a hot start, while Deering, Portland and Waynflete were also in contention.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come and volleyball saw Deering and Portland add new programs.
Several local runners and teams saved their best for the final Saturday of the month, when they qualified for the state meet. Waynflete’s girls won the Western C title.
The field hockey playoffs produced plenty of drama. In Western C, Waynflete was ousted by Telstar in the preliminary round. In Western A, Deering lost at Biddeford in the preliminary round. Cheverus entered the postseason on a nine-game winless skid, but upset Portland in a prelim, then went to No. 2 Gorham and sprung another shocker. The Stags were finally ousted by Marshwood in the semifinals.
The soccer playoffs began with a historic and seemingly never-ending showdown between the Deering and Portland girls in the Western A preliminary round. After each team scored once in 80 minutes of regulation, 30 minutes of overtime decided nothing and the game had to go to penalty kicks before the Bulldogs prevailed. Portland then nearly shocked top-ranked, defending champion Windham, before the eventual repeat champs rallied for three late goals to survive, 3-2. Cheverus and McAuley both lost in the preliminary round. In Western C, Waynflete got to the semifinals, but this time, couldn’t finish the job, losing by a goal to Sacopee Valley.
On the boys’ side, Waynflete lost in the Western C semifinals to eventual champion Maranacook. In Western A, Portland fell to Cheverus by a goal in the preliminary round and it turned out that the Stags were just getting started. Cheverus then went to Falmouth and sprung an upset (not its last, as it would turn out). Deering, meanwhile, beat Thornton Academy in an overtime thriller in the quarterfinals.
On the 11th of the month, Cheverus and Portland’s football teams both produced epic victories. The Bulldogs shocked host Windham, 12-6, behind a fabulous defensive effort. The Stags, meanwhile, found themselves in a shootout at seemingly invincible, but prevailed in double overtime, 48-41. All three city teams would secure playoff berths and after Portland had to forfeit its earlier win over Deering due to using an ineligible player, the ancient rivals squared off on Halloween Night in the quarterfinals, where the Bulldogs won easily, 28-7.
The soccer drama continued into November, where Cheverus officially attained Cinderella status with another memorable win, outlasting South Portland in penalty kicks in the semifinals. Deering wasn’t as fortunate, being ousted by two-time defending state champion Scarborough in the same round. The Stags would go to the Red Storm for the Western A Final and trailed in the waning moments, but took advantage of a fortunate bounce to force overtime, then, in the second OT, Gerry Wagner produced the shot of his life to send Cheverus to its first state final in 13 seasons. There, the Stags completed their storybook run with a 2-1 victory over Lewiston, producing the second title in program history.
Football then took center stage as Cheverus (which handled Bangor in the semifinals after a quarterfinal round bye) made it to the regional final again, but the Stags weren’t joined by Portland. The Bulldogs had a great chance to defeat Windham again, but ultimately dropped a heartbreaker, 21-17. Cheverus’ quest for a second straight Eastern A crown was dashed by Windham. The Stags couldn’t hold a 14-3 fourth quarter lead and after the Eagles forced overtime, Cheverus ultimately lost, 21-20, on a blocked PAT.
And with that, the fall season was over.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys’ basketball, Portland is off to another undefeated start, thanks in part to a thrilling buzzer-beater win over South Portland. Deering has an exciting and athletic squad capable of doing big things. Cheverus handed the Rams their lone loss to date and appear primed to return to upper echelon status. In Western C, Waynflete is bound and determined to get back to the state final and win it all this time.
On the girls’ side, McAuley isn’t the favorite this time, but the Lions are still capable of making history with another championship. Cheverus, Deering and Portland are all in the hunt as well. In Western C, Waynflete will be in the mix for another trip to Augusta.
On the ice, Cheverus and Portland/Deering will remain competitive on the boys’ side, while the Cheverus and Capeflete girls also look to do big things.
Swimming, track and wrestling have provided positive glimpses and skiing is about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2015 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!
Portland’s boys’ basketball team was simply perfect last winter and celebrated winning a state title in style.
Despite a valiant effort, Cheverus’ girls’ lacrosse team fell a goal shy of a repeat title in the spring.
The Deering field hockey team (featuring Rylie Turner) was one of four local squads to advance to the postseason this fall.