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, boys’ basketball teams from Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland were all in the hunt for a playoff spot.
On the girls’ side, South Portland was turning heads with a quick start. Scarborough was also playoff-bound.
On the ice, Scarborough’s girls’ squad had no peer as the Red Storm sought to take the final step to a title which had eluded them in previous seasons. The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete co-op squad was enjoying its best season to date.
On the boys’ side, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and undermanned South Portland were all winning their share of games.
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.
Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ Alpine skiing team won Class B in dramatic fashion.
Scarborough’s boys’ track team finished atop the Class A heap, thanks to an 800 relay team (Austin Doody, Cameron Langlois, Jerry Kenney and Max Ornstein) that came in first and qualified for Nationals in the process, a first-place 3,200 relay team (Lucas Foerster, Will Fowler, Jacob Terry and Alex Karam) and individual crowns from Michael Pino (shot put) and Terry (two-mile). South Portland tied for second, won the Sportsmanship Award and saw Michael Cuesta (triple jump) and Duncan Preston (long jump) win individual titles. South Portland’s girls tied for sixth, while the Scarborough girls placed eighth. In Class B, Cape Elizabeth’s boys tied for fifth, while the girls tied for seventh.
In the pool, the Cape Elizabeth girls were runners-up in Class B, as Sydney Wight won the 200 freestyle. The boys placed third. In Class A, Scarborough’s boys were 11th and the girls came in 14th. South Portland’s boys finished 13th and the girls placed 18th.
On the ice, Scarborough’s girls finished their quest for a championship in perfect fashion, ending Capeflete’s best-ever season in the semifinals, downing Falmouth in the West Region Final, then holding off Lewiston to take the crown.
On the boys’ side, South Portland overcame its low numbers to win a playoff game over Lake Region, but the Red Riots were no match for defending and eventual champion Falmouth in the Western A quarterfinals. Scarborough beat Portland/Deering in its quarterfinals. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth was ousted by two-time defending champion Greely in the quarterfinals.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys’ side, South Portland just missed qualifying in Western A, but Scarborough made it. The Red Storm didn’t stay long, however, being ousted by Cheverus in the preliminary round. Cape Elizabeth got to the Western B quarterfinals, but was ousted by Yarmouth in a down-to-the-wire thriller.
On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth couldn’t qualify in Western B. In Western A, Scarborough was eliminated by Deering in the preliminary round. South Portland took a gaudy record and the No. 3 seed into the quarterfinals, but was upset by Cheverus.
Scarborough’s boys’ hockey team was the lone team remaining and the Red Storm won a semifinal over Thornton Academy, but for the second year in a row, Scarborough lost to Falmouth in the regional final.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
South Portland’s baseball team set the pace in Western A, while Scarborough overcame a slow start to slide into contention.
Scarborough’s softball team was dominant as always, while Cape Elizabeth was coasting through Western B in undefeated fashion. South Portland was also in the hunt.
Boys’ lacrosse featured strong play from defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, four-time Class A champion Scarborough and a South Portland squad that was favored to end the Red Storm’s reign.
On the girls’ side, Scarborough and South Portland were playoff-bound in Western A, while in Class B, Cape Elizabeth was having its usual trouble solving nemesis Waynflete and appeared to received a fatal blow when senior standout Hannah Newhall went down with injury.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from the defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth boys, who went 10-2 in the regular season. The Capers girls and both Scarborough squads were also in contention.
The spring championship season began with South Portland’s Daniel Guiliani winning the Class A boys’ shot put. The top team performance at the outdoor track state meet was Scarborough’s boys coming in third.
A week later, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ tennis team went back-to-back as Class B champion. The Capers girls had lost to Greely in the semifinals. In Western A, both Scarborough squads were eliminated by Falmouth in the semifinals. South Portland’s girls lost in the preliminary round.
On the diamond, Scarborough’s baseball team got past Sanford in a prelim, but was denied by Marshwood in the quarterfinals. South Portland escaped Cheverus in extra innings in the quarterfinals, but couldn’t provide an encore as its fine season was ended by Marshwood in the semifinals in 11 innings.
Two softball seasons ended in heartache. After South Portland was eliminated by Bonny Eagle in the Western A quarterfinals, undefeated Scarborough had to rally past Noble in the quarterfinals, before beating Bonny Eagle in the semis. Then, in the regional final, the Red Storm were upset by Thornton Academy, 2-1. In Western B, unbeaten Cape Elizabeth survived Poland in the quarterfinals, then was on the brink of doom in the semis, trailing visiting Yarmouth, 8-3, heading for its final at-bat, but a dramatic two-out home run from Ashley Tinsman tied the score and Tess Haller followed with a walk-off blast to allow the Capers to live to fight another day. The magic then ran out with an 8-3 loss to Wells in the regional final.
Lacrosse brought the greatest triumph to the area, as two teams won it all. In Western A, Scarborough’s bid for a fifth consecutive boys’ crown was denied by Thornton Academy in the semifinals. The Golden Trojans then had top-ranked South Portland on the ropes in the regional final, but the Red Riots refused to say die, tied the score on Thomas Leddy’s goal late in regulation and before the game could go to overtime, senior standout Duncan Preston won the ensuing faceoff, raced off and scored with a second left to keep the title dream alive. South Portland would be pushed by Brunswick in the Class A Final, but held on for a 10-8 victory to reach the pinnacle for the first time. In Class B, Cape Elizabeth finished atop the heap again, going undefeated for the first time since 2002, capping its run with a 6-3 state game win over Yarmouth.
On the girls’ side, there was plenty of drama too. In Western A, Scarborough ousted South Portland in the quarterfinals, but lost at Thornton Academy in the semis. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth appeared vulnerable entering the playoffs, but would save its best for last. After an impressive quarterfinal round win over Falmouth, the Capers took a 12-year, 24-game losing skid to two-time defending champion Waynflete, but this time, at last, Cape Elizabeth had the answer, as senior standout Abby McInerney’s late goal gave the Capers an inspirational 9-8 win. Cape Elizabeth then won in overtime at Kennebunk in the regional final to reach the Class B state game for the time. The dream ultimately fell short despite a state-record eight goals from McInerney, who tried to no avail to rally her team from a 12-3 halftime deficit. The Capers lost, 13-10, but it was a ride to remember.
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, South Portland continued its recent trend of upsets by knocking off Bonny Eagle in Week Two. Scarborough lost its first four games, but was poised for a resurgence. In Western C, Cape Elizabeth opened with a scintillating upset win at defending champion Leavitt, but its title hopes took a serious blow the next week when standout senior quarterback Noah Wolfinger went down for the season with a knee injury.
On the pitch, Scarborough’s boys’ team was looking for a third straight state title and served notice that it would be powerful again with a win at talented South Portland in the opener. Cape Elizabeth was viewed as a top contender in Western B.
On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth was defending its Class B crown, but proved mortal on a few occasions. Scarborough was lurking as the top threat to defending state champion Windham in Western A.
Scarborough’s field hockey team ran roughshod over Western A, as it served notice it was going to finish the job after losing in the state final the two previous years. South Portland hoped to make the playoffs, but dug an early hole. Cape Elizabeth was never boring, but was up-and-down.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come and volleyball saw Scarborough hanging tough with top contenders and Cape Elizabeth, despite its nomadic existence during the replacement of its home court, hinting at some special things to come.
Scarborough’s golf team earned the first championship of the fall sports season, when it won Class A for the first time. Cape Elizabeth placed second in Class B.
Both Scarborough cross country teams were runners-up at the regional meet. Both Cape Elizabeth squads and the South Portland girls also qualified for states.
The field hockey playoffs produced plenty of drama. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth lost in overtime in the quarterfinals at Kennebunk. In Western A, South Portland’s late surge spelled a postseason berth, but the Red Riots were ousted by Falmouth in the preliminary round. That left Scarborough, which didn’t disappoint. The Red Storm won the region with 3-1 victories over Biddeford, Thornton Academy and Marshwood and earned yet another state game date against perennial champion Skowhegan.
Volleyball’s thrills were even more jawdropping. Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, arguably the state’s two best teams, wound up squaring off in the Class A quarterfinals, where the Capers rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win in five thrilling sets. That was a mere appetizer to what came next, as Cape Elizabeth dropped the first two sets at Greely, the state’s gold standard, but instead of buckling, the Capers roared back and stunned the Rangers in five games to earn a state match date versus defending champion Falmouth.
The soccer playoffs began with Scarborough’s girls dominating Falmouth in the quarterfinals. Cape Elizabeth had no trouble with Morse in its quarterfinal.
On the boys’ side, South Portland blanked Kennebunk in the preliminary round, then upset longtime nemesis Gorham in the quarterfinals to reach the semis for the first time in 25 years. Scarborough, the top seed yet again, ousted Marshwood in its quarterfinal. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth got past York in the quarterfinals. Greater Portland Christian School beat Chop Point in a Western D quarterfinal, then lost to top-ranked Richmond in the semifinals.
On the gridiron, Scarborough won its final four games to reach the playoffs, where it held off Sanford, 42-35, in the Western A quarterfinals. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland weren’t as fortunate. The Capers lost at home to Yarmouth, 14-12, in the Western C quarterfinals to finish 6-3. The Red Riots wound up 5-4 after a 34-20 home loss to Biddeford in the Western A quarterfinals.
The first day of the month brought a pair of dramatic championships.
In Biddeford, Cape Elizabeth’s volleyball team followed a most familiar script, dropping the first two sets to Falmouth, before rallying to win the next three and take a Class A championship in the most scintillating fashion possible.
In Waterville, Scarborough’s field hockey team went toe-to-toe with Skowhegan and with time about to expire, Red Storm senior Kristen Murray, aka “Queen Clutch,” scored her latest big postseason goal and Scarborough had a 1-0 victory and the championship.
Two more championships were won by Scarborough’s cross country teams that same day.
The soccer drama continued as well as Cape Elizabeth’s girls rallied late for a semifinal round win at Yarmouth, Scarborough’s girls downed Marshwood to advance to the regional final and the Red Storm boys blanked Deering to do the same. Only the Cape Elizabeth and South Portland boys fell short, as the Capers lost by a goal at defending champion Greely and the Red Riots lost in penalty kicks to Cheverus. The girls’ regional finals saw Cape Elizabeth edge Greely in penalty kicks, while Scarborough couldn’t hold an early lead in a one-goal loss to Windham, which went on to repeat in Class A. Scarborough’s boys were on the verge of another trip to states, but upstart Cheverus tied things up late, then won in improbable fashion in overtime. At the Class B state final, Cape Elizabeth’s girls couldn’t capitalize on some early scoring chances and lost, 1-0, in overtime to Waterville in a rematch of last year’s thriller.
Scarborough’s football team hoped to upset Thornton Academy in the Western A semifinals, but ultimately lost, 50-20.
And with that, the fall season was over.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys’ basketball, Cape Elizabeth is the favorite in Western B, but stumbled early against Yarmouth. In Western A, South Portland is a pleasant early surprise and Scarborough has what it takes to be a force in February. GPCS is chasing a playoff spot in Western D.
On the girls’ side, South Portland looks to get back to the tournament and this time go deeper. The Red Riots have been very impressive to date. Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough will also be in the mix.
On the ice, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland’s boys’ teams all appear formidable. On the girls’ side, Scarborough has what it takes to repeat, while Capeflete might be even better than last year.
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!