Local high school sports athletes set a high standard again in 2016.
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 the year just past.
When 2015 gave way to 2016, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball teams were all emerging as top contenders.
On the girls’ side, Greely was defending a state title and remained very strong, while Freeport and Yarmouth were in the playoff hunt.
On the ice, Yarmouth’s boys emerged as the top team in Class B South, Falmouth was again a powerhouse in Class A South and Greely was on the fringe of contention as well.
On the girls’ side, Falmouth and Greely had the look of a championship contender. The Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester co-op team was also chasing a playoff spot.
Skiing, swimming and track teams and individuals geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.
Greely’s girls’ swim team won the Class B state title. North Yarmouth Academy’s Sonia Lin, who trained with the Rangers, won the Class B breaststroke title. Falmouth’s Charlotte Janelle capped her stellar career with another Class A diving crown.
While there were no team titles won in indoor track, five individuals managed to have no peer. In Class A, Falmouth’s Matt Polewaczyk won the boys’ 200. In Class B, Greely’s Alyssa Coyne won the girls’ shot put, NYA’s Henry Quesada took the boys’ 800, Yarmouth’s Emma Egan was first in the girls’ 55 and high jump and Yarmouth’s Luke Laverdiere won the boys’ mile.
Skiing produced the most hardware, as Falmouth won the Class A girls’ Alpine crown, Freeport’s boys took the Class B Nordic title, Yarmouth’s girls won the Class B Nordic crown and Maine Coast Waldorf swept the Class C Nordic championships. Individual champions included Falmouth’s Gabby Farrell (Class A girls’ skate) and Alex Shapiro (Class A girls’ giant slalom) and MCW’s Fiona Ahearne (Class C girls’ classical and skate) and Tucker Pierce (Class C boys’ classical and skate).
On the ice, the Yarmouth/Freeport/GNG girls’ co-op team lost to Edward Little/Leavitt in the North Region quarterfinals. Greely went undefeated and downed EL/Leavitt in the semifinals, but in the regional final, the Rangers were upset by eventual state champion St. Dom’s. In the South, Falmouth got to the regional final by dispatching Cheverus in the semifinals, but the Yachtsmen lost to Scarborough.
On the boys’ side, Greely just missed the playoffs, but Yarmouth earned the top seed in Class B South. The Clippers earned a bye into the semifinals, then eliminated Kennebunk. In Class A South, Falmouth beat South Portland in the quarterfinals, then ousted Thornton Academy in the semis.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys’ side, in Class B South, Yarmouth beat Spruce Mountain and Maranacook to reach the regional final against top-ranked Lake Region, but for the second year in a row, the Clippers were eliminated by the Lakers. Greely earned the top ranking in Class A South, but after beating Marshwood in the quarterfinals, the Rangers were upset by Brunswick in the semis. That left Falmouth, the No. 2 seed, which beat Westbrook in the quarterfinals and survived a scare by defending champion Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals. The Yachtsmen managed to do what Greely couldn’t, beat Brunswick, in the regional final, then they went on to rout Oceanside in the state game to win the program’s first-ever Class A championship.
Freeport and Yarmouth’s girls got to the Class B tournament and were both ousted in the quarterfinals, the Falcons by eventual regional champion Gray-New Gloucester and the Clippers in heartbreaking and controversial fashion to Lake Region. Greely, now in Class A South, proved to be the second-best team, as after beating Marshwood and Leavitt, the Rangers were eliminated by eventual champion York.
March saw few games, but there was plenty of drama on the ice.
In Class A South, Falmouth took on Scarborough in the regional final and just one goal was scored, but unfortunately for the Yachtsmen, the Red Storm produced it, ending their season.
In Class B South, Yarmouth downed Gardiner to win its first regional championship since 2002. The Clippers hoped to capture their first state title since that season as well, but they lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to Waterville, 3-2.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
Falmouth’s baseball team was dominant, beating all 16 regular season foes behind an overwhelming pitching staff (Max Fortier and Cam Guarino both threw no-hitters). Two-time defending Class B champion Greely was its usual strong self and also in that region, Yarmouth gave chase and Freeport quietly emerged as a contender. The Falcons wouldn’t remain quiet for long. NYA was in the mix in Class D South.
Defending Class B softball champion Yarmouth was once again a top contender with Greely hanging tough.
Boys’ lacrosse featured strong play as Falmouth, NYA and Yarmouth all made pushes to the playoffs.
On the girls’ side, two-time Class B champion Yarmouth had the pieces in place to win a third consecutive crown, while Falmouth enjoyed another dominant regular season (losing just once) and Freeport and Greely also made their presence felt.
Area track stars geared up for the state meet.
The tennis story featured excellence from several teams, most notably the unbeatable Falmouth girls.
The spring championship season began with Falmouth’s girls’ outdoor track team taking the Class A championship. The Yachtsmen were led by Adelaide Cooke, who was first in both the discus and shot put. There were several other individual champions as well from Forecaster Country, as Freeport’s Chandler Vincent won the Class B boys’ two-mile, Greely’s Siana Emery took the Class B girls’ racewalk, Yarmouth’s Emma Egan was first in the Class B girls’ high jump, Yarmouth’s Tahj Garvey won the Class B boys’ 400, Yarmouth’s Abby Hamilton was first in the Class B girls’ two-mile, Yarmouth’s Luke Laverdiere took the Class B boys’ 800 and mile and Yarmouth’s Anneka Murrin was first in the Class B girls’ mile.
A week later, Falmouth’s girls’ tennis team won its ninth successive state title, extending its match win streak to an unthinkable 141 in the process. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Yachtsmen standout Julia Brogan won the girls’ individual crown.
The most memorable lacrosse story came courtesy the Falmouth boys. The Yachtsmen were struggling entering the playoffs, having lost their finale by eight goals to visiting Cape Elizabeth, but after rallying to edge Kennebunk in the Class B South semifinals, Falmouth went to Cape Elizabeth and sprung an epic upset (see story, below), then capped its run to an improbable championship with a 13-9 state game win over Yarmouth, which lost in the finale for the fourth year in a row. The Clippers had beaten NYA in the B North quarterfinals.
On the girls’ side, Falmouth survived Greely in the B South semifinals, then lost to Kennebunk in the regional final for the second year in a row. In B North, top-ranked Yarmouth ousted Freeport in the quarterfinals, then beat St. Dom’s and Morse on the road to get to its fourth straight state final. There, the Clippers gave the undefeated Kennebunk Rams a scare, but they couldn’t quite capture a third consecutive title, losing, 9-7.
On the diamond, Yarmouth hosted Greely in a rainy softball semifinal and the Rangers rained on the Clippers’ parade, ending their title reign. Greely went on to give top-ranked York a scare in the regional final before falling a run short.
Baseball provided tremendous excitement. In Class A South, Falmouth continued its dominance, blanking Deering and Portland in the quarterfinals and semifinals before beating defending regional champion South Portland, 4-2, in the regional final. the Yachtsmen finally met their match in the state final, however, losing to Bangor, 5-0. In Class B South, Greely started what it hoped would be a march toward a three-peat by eliminating Yarmouth in the quarterfinals, but in the semifinals, the Rangers were stunned by Freeport, which until the preliminary round, hadn’t won a playoff game in over three decades. The Falcons then completed their fairy tale run by upsetting Cape Elizabeth in the regional final to make a state game for the first time. Midnight finally struck in Bangor where Freeport lost to Old Town, 12-2, but what a ride it was.
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, Yarmouth got off to a fast start, while Falmouth looked strong and Greely began to put it together around midseason.
On the pitch, Yarmouth’s boys had the pieces in place to make a run at a third successive Class B title, even though the Clippers were twice handed lopsided losses by Falmouth. Freeport, Greely and NYA were also competitive.
On the girls’ side, defending Class B champion Greely remained strong despite losing some key players to graduation, but Yarmouth emerged as the team to beat in the region. Falmouth battled its way through injuries and a tough schedule and Freeport got off to a fast start.
The Falmouth and Yarmouth field hockey teams got off to hot starts and Freeport, Greely and NYA were also in contention.
Greely’s volleyball team started with a 3-0 win over Scarborough, avenging a state match loss from the year before, and the Rangers would continue to win by that margin every time out. Falmouth and Yarmouth were also top Class A contenders, while NYA was enjoying its best season to date in Class B.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.
Three golf teams qualified for states. In Class A, Falmouth finished third and Greely was fifth. In Class B, Yarmouth placed fourth. Greely’s Erin Holmes shared the girls’ individual title.
Falmouth swept the Class A South cross country regional titles and Greely did the same in Class B. Several other squads also qualified for states.
Greely’s volleyball team was perfect in the regular season, winning all 14 matches by 3-0 scores, becoming the first team in state history to accomplish such a feat. The Rangers, led by standout Kayley Cimino, did lose three sets in the playoffs, but still had no peer, beating Gorham in the quarterfinals, Falmouth in the semifinals and avenging the previous year’s defeat with a win over Scarborough (which had ousted Yarmouth in the other semifinal) in the state match for the program’s 10th championship.
The field hockey playoffs produced plenty of drama. Falmouth wound up with the top seed in Class A South (its first such lofty ranking since 1977), then eliminated Gorham in the quarterfinals before finally losing a painful overtime decision to Massabesic in the semifinals. In Class C South, NYA lost at Lisbon in the quarterfinal round. Freeport beat Cape Elizabeth in a Class B South preliminary round game, then lost to eventual champion York in the quarterfinals. Greely fell in its prelim. Yarmouth had the most postseason success, beating Fryeburg Academy in the quarterfinals, then holding off Kennebunk in the semifinals to reach the regional final for the first time since 2000. There, the Clippers scored first against York, but ultimately dropped a 2-1 decision.
The soccer playoffs saw Freeport’s girls knock off Maranacook in the Class B South preliminary round, then lose to Greely in the quarterfinals. Greely went on to oust York to get back to the regional final for a fourth straight season. Yarmouth, the top seed, had no trouble with Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals, then fended off Cape Elizabeth’s upset bid in the semifinals to set up a showdown with Greely in the Class B South Final. In Class A South, Falmouth, which finished the season on a seven-game win streak, beat Marshwood in overtime in the quarterfinals, then lost to eventual regional champion Gorham in the semifinals.
On the boys’ side, Freeport made the Class B South preliminary round and beat Lincoln Academy. The Falcons then lost to top-ranked Maranacook in the quarterfinals. Yarmouth would have to face Maranacook in the regional final after eliminating Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals and rallying to edge Greely in an overtime classic in the semifinals. In Class A South, Falmouth defeated Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals, then dropped a heartbreaker to Portland in the semifinals, as the Yachtsmen rallied to tie the score in the final minute, then lost on penalty kicks. In Class C South, NYA upset Hall-Dale in the quarterfinals, then dropped a close game at top-ranked Monmouth Academy in the semifinals.
Football’s playoffs began with Yarmouth losing at eventual Class C champion Wells in the quarterfinals, Freeport (which beat Yarmouth for the first time in program history in the regular season finale) giving Spruce Mountain a scare before losing in the Class C South quarterfinals and Greely upsetting Falmouth in the Class B South quarterfinals in the first-ever postseason encounter between the rivals.
Cross country’s state meet was dominated by Falmouth and Greely. The Rangers swept the Class B titles, while Falmouth’s boys won Class A. The Yachtsmen girls were second to Bonny Eagle, but Malaika Pasch was the individual winner. Yarmouth produced the individual champions (Luke Laverdiere and Abigail Hamilton) in Class B.
The soccer drama continued into November, where Yarmouth took care of Maranacook in the regional final, then had no trouble in beating Winslow, 5-2, in the state game for a program-first three-peat.
The highly anticipated Yarmouth-Greely girls’ regional final saw the Clippers prevail to win their first regional crown since 2003. Yarmouth then brought home its first Gold Ball since that year when it rallied late to beat Waterville, 3-1, in the state game.
The last remaining football team, Greely, fell in the semifinals, losing at Biddeford.
And with that, the fall season was over.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys’ basketball, Falmouth and Greely are off to undefeated starts and appear to be the gold standard in Class A South. Yarmouth is a favorite in Class B South, Freeport is showing signs of life under Bill Ridge, who also coached the baseball team to glory back in the spring. NYA could be a contender in Class C South.
On the girls’ side, Greely is eyeing its second title in three years, Falmouth is resurgent, Freeport and Yarmouth appear playoff-bound again and NYA is improved.
On the ice, playoffs are a realistic goal for every local team.
Swimming and track have provided their share of promising moments and skiing is about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2017 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!
Falmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 5 Class B South boys’ lacrosse final
After being the bridesmaid to the Capers for three years running and after losing to them twice in the regular season, the Yachtsmen sprung a big upset in the regional final before going on to win the Class B state title. Falmouth held the prolific Cape Elizabeth offense in check and turned up the offense in the second half for arguably the sweetest victory in program history.
Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team punctuated the winter sports season with its first Class A state championship last February.
Freeport’s baseball team came from nowhere to win a stunning regional championship in June.
After a 13-year drought, Yarmouth’s girls’ soccer team took the Class B state title in November.