The 2018 sports year was one to remember-Northern edition

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Greely’s girls’ hockey team made a stirring run to the state title in February.

Falmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team shocked Massabesic and won a first-ever Class A state title in June.

Freeport’s boys’ soccer team enjoyed its best season in four decades this fall, getting to the Class B state final, where it lost in double-overtime to Presque Isle.

Local high school sports athletes made plenty of memories again in 2018.

Whether the season was winter, spring or fall, triumph was the theme and there were countless breathtaking moments.

With another winter season underway and a new year upon us, here’s one final look back at the thrills that made up a special year.

January

When 2017 gave way to 2018, Greely’s boys’ basketball team was undefeated and defending a state championship, while Falmouth, Freeport, North Yarmouth and Yarmouth were also in contention.

On the girls’ side, Greely was again a powerhouse, Freeport was enjoying its best season in four decades and Falmouth, NYA and Yarmouth were jockeying for postseason bids.

On the ice, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth’s boys’ hockey teams were turning heads, while the Falmouth and Greely/Gray-New Gloucester girls’ squads were playoff-bound.

Skiing, swimming and track teams and individuals geared up for the postseason.

February

February vacation week brought the first championships of the year.

Skiing, once again produced no shortage of glory, as Falmouth’s boys’ Alpine team (Class A) and Yarmouth’s girls’ Nordic squad (Class B) took home team championships. Individually, Falmouth’s Ethan Livingood (Nordic boys’ freestyle) and A.J. Noyes (Alpine boys’ slalom), Maine Coast Waldorf’s Nick Neveu (Class C boys’ freestyle) and Yarmouth’s Sophia Laukli (Nordic classical and freestyle) all took top honors.

In the pool, Greely’s Julia Bisson and Yarmouth’s Sean Whynot each won Class B diving titles.

In track, Greely swept the Class B championships. Individually, the Rangers boys got a win from Matthew Todd in the mile, while the girls were led by Elizabeth Brown, who was first in the high jump, and Carolyn Todd, tops in the mile and two-mile. Yarmouth’s Luke Laverdiere also won a crown, in the Class B boys’ two-mile.

On the ice, the Falmouth girls lost to the Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team in the South Region quarterfinals. Greely/Gray-New Gloucester, ranked third in the North, rode Courtney Sullivan’s brilliance and caught fire at the right time, ousting Edward Little/Leavitt in the quarterfinals, then upsetting St. Dom’s in the semifinals and Lewiston in the regional final before downing Cheverus/Kennebunk, 3-1, to win a surprising state title.

On the boys’ side, Falmouth earned a bye into the Class A South semifinals. The South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op squad lost in the quarterfinals. In Class B South, Yarmouth defeated Gorham in the quarterfinals to advance to meet Greely, which had a bye, in the semifinal round.

In the basketball tournament, NYA’s girls were defeated by Traip Academy in the Class C South preliminary round. In Class B South, Freeport held off Wells in the quarterfinals and Poland in the semifinals to reach the regional final for the first time since 1976. The Falcons then lost a close game to Lake Region. Falmouth was sent packing by defending regional champion Brunswick in the Class A South quarterfinals. That left Greely, which dominated Leavitt in the quarterfinals, Marshwood in the semifinals and Brunswick in the regional final to reach the state game.

On the boys’ side, in Class B South, Freeport reached the tournament for the first time in a decade and after downing Lisbon in the preliminary round, the Falcons’ upset bid fell short against eventual regional champion Wells in the quarterfinals. Yarmouth defeated Maranacook in the quarterfinals, then lost to Cape Elizabeth in the semifinal round. In Class A South, Falmouth held off York in a double-overtime thriller in the quarterfinals, while Greely outlasted Fryeburg Academy in its quarterfinal. The rivals then met in the semifinals and the Rangers held on to eliminate the Yachtsmen, 49-47. Greely had an easier time in the regional final, downing Westbrook to return to the state final.

March

March dawned with some exciting boys’ hockey playoff action. In Class A South, Falmouth took Biddeford to overtime in the semifinals before losing a heartbreaker. In Class B South, Greely ended Yarmouth’s season in the semifinals, then edged Cape Elizabeth in the regional final. In the state game, the Rangers took an early 2-0 lead over Old Town/Orono, but couldn’t hold on and lost a gutwrencher in overtime, 3-2.

Greely’s basketball teams each won the Class A championship. The girls crushed Hampden Academy, while the boys also beat the Broncos in a game that went down to the final second.

April and May

Even though the weather was often challenging, the short spring regular season featured much excitement.

Falmouth, Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth’s baseball squads all reached the playoffs.

Greely and Yarmouth’s softball teams were among the best in Class B South.

Boys’ lacrosse featured Greely enjoying arguably its best season, with Falmouth, NYA and Yarmouth also enjoying their moments.

On the girls’ side, all five teams were playoff-bound.

Area track stars geared up for the state meet.

The tennis story featured excellence from several teams, most notably the once-again-unbeatable Falmouth girls. Falmouth’s Nick Forester won the boys’ individual crown.

June

The spring championship season began with Greely’s girls repeating as Class B outdoor track champions. Individually, the Rangers were led by Brown, who was first in the high jump. Several other locals captured titles as well, as Falmouth’s Malaika Pasch won the Class A girls’ 800 and girls’ mile, Freeport’s Lily Horne was first in the Class B girls’ mile and girls’ two-mile, Olivia Reynolds of Maine Coast Waldorf was tops in the Class C girls’ mile and girls’ two-mile, Yarmouth’s Tahj Garvey won the Class B boys’ 400 and teammate Luke Laverdiere capped his stellar career by winning the Class B boys’ mile and boys’ two-mile.

A week later, Falmouth’s girls tennis team won a phenomenal 11th successive state title, taking Class A, and extending the program’s win streak to 173 matches. The Falmouth boys were also perfect Class A champion, while the Freeport boys won a regional championship for the first time before dropping a 3-2 heartbreaker to Caribou in the state match.

On the diamond, Yarmouth’s softball team lost to Cape Elizabeth in the Class B South preliminary round. Greely, meanwhile, despite being the number six seed, made a stirring run to the state game behind the brilliance of ace Kelsey Currier. The Rangers downed Spruce Mountain in the preliminary round, Fryeburg Academy in the quarterfinals, Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals and Morse in the regional final. Greely then fell one run shy of its first title since 2002 when it lost, 1-0, to Brewer in the state game.

Baseball’s playoffs began with Freeport losing to Gray-New Gloucester in the preliminary round of the Class B South tournament. Defending Class B champion Yarmouth beat Spruce Mountain in the preliminary round before losing to Cape Elizabeth in a thriller in the quarterfinals. Greely knocked off Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals and upset Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals before losing to Wells in the regional final. In Class A South, Falmouth, ranked ninth, upset Marshwood in the preliminary round and top-ranked South Porltand in the quarterfinals. In the semis, the Yachtsmen led at Cheverus going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Stags rallied to win by a run.

Four local boys’ lacrosse teams liked their chances of winning a state title, but ultimately, all four fell short. In Class C, NYA earned the top seed and knocked off Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals, but the Panthers lost to eventual champion Waynflete in the semifinals. In Class A North, Falmouth downed Lewiston in the semifinals and Portland in the regional final. The Yachtsmen led favored Thornton Academy much of the way in the state game, but wound up losing, 14-12. In Class B, Yarmouth beat York in the quarterfinals, then dropped an overtime heartbreaker at Brunswick in the semifinals. That left Greely, which handled Gardiner and Messalonskee to reach the state game for the first time in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era. The Rangers also took Brunswick to overtime and like the Clippers, lost in agonizing fashion.

On the girls’ side, Freeport got to the Class C semifinals before losing to eventual champion Lake Region, which had beaten NYA in the quarterfinals. In Class B, Greely survived Waynflete’s upset bid in the quarterfinals, then lost to Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals. Yarmouth beat Brunswick and Messalonskee to reach the state final yet again, but for the third year in a row, the Clippers fell short of their goal, dropping an overtime heartbreaker to Cape Elizabeth. The last team standing came as a surprise to many. After several close calls, Falmouth, under new coach Ashley Pullen, reached the state final for the first time, beating Windham and Cheverus to set up a date with Massabesic for the Class A crown. The Mustangs were favored, but the Yachtsmen saved their best for last and won the program’s first title.

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.

September

Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball excitement.

On the gridiron, Falmouth, undermanned Greely and Yarmouth were all in contention. Freeport took part in the Class E Developmental League and made itself at home.

On the pitch, Yarmouth’s boys extended their unbeaten streak, while Freeport emerged as a power, NYA became the team to beat in Class D South and Falmouth and Greely were also in contention.

All five girls’ squads impressed, with NYA enjoying its best season in a decade.

Freeport’s field hockey team stole headlines, while Falmouth, Greely, NYA and Yarmouth also turned heads.

Falmouth and Yarmouth’s volleyball teams hinted at greatness to come, while Greely and NYA also contended.

Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.

October

Several local golf teams qualified for the state match. Freeport posted a program-best third-place finish in Class B. NYA was a solid third in Class C. In Class A, Falmouth finished fifth and Greely was sixth. The following week, Greely’s Rachel Smith captured the girls’ individual title.

The MCW boys won the Class C cross country championship. The MCW girls were second and produced the individual champion in Olivia Reynolds. Falmouth’s Sofie Matson (Class A) was first as well.

All four local volleyball teams made the playoffs. NYA lost to Calais in the Class C semifinals. After beating Greely in the Class B quarterfinals, Yarmouth advanced to the state match against favored Cape Elizabeth, where the Clippers prevailed in a five-set epic. In Class A, Falmouth had no peer, beating Thornton Academy, Biddeford and Gorham in dominant fashion to win the title.

The field hockey playoffs saw NYA lose to Spruce Mountain in the Class C South quarterfinals, Falmouth lose to eventual champion Biddeford in the Class A South semifinals, Greely get eliminated by Lake Region in the Class B South quarterfinals, Yarmouth lose to York in the same round and Freeport rally to beat Poland in the quarterfinals and edge Fryeburg Academy in overtime in the semifinals to reach the regional final for the first time since 2000. There, the Falcons dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to perennial champion York.

The soccer playoffs saw Falmouth’s girls lose to Cheverus in the Class A South quarterfinals, two-time defending champion Yarmouth oust Freeport in the Class B South quarterfinals before losing to Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals and Greely fall at York in the semifinals. In Class D, NYA beat Rangeley, Greenville and Richmond to get to the state final.

On the boys’ side, two teams made it to states and neither of them was Yarmouth, the four-time defending Class B state champ. The Clippers were upset by Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals. Falmouth lost to Marshwood in the Class A South quarterfinal. Greely was beaten by Freeport in the Class B South semifinals and the Falcons went on to edge Cape Elizabeth in a thriller to win its first regional crown since 1978. In Class D South, top-ranked NYA defeated Pine Tree Academy, Buckfield and Temple Academy (on penalty kicks) to also advance to states.

Football’s playoffs began with Yarmouth losing to eventual champion Fryeburg Academy in the Class C South quarterfinals and Falmouth and Greely advancing (with wins over Noble and Biddeford respectively). Freeport earned the top seed and a bye into the Class E semifinals.

November

The soccer drama continued into November, where local teams went 2-1 on the big stage. NYA proved to have no peer in Class D, as the girls won for the first time since 2007, beating Central Aroostook, 4-1. The boys captured their first crown since 2005, beating Penobscot Valley, 3-1. In Class B, Freeport took a 2-0 lead over Presque Isle, but couldn’t hold it and the Falcons ultimately lost a double-overtime gutwrencher, 3-2.

On the gridiron, Falmouth (at Marshwood) and Greely (at Kennebunk) lost in the Class B semifinals. That left Freeport, which capped the school’s sensational fall by beating Telstar and Dirigo to capture the Class E championship.

December

Winter has returned and here we go again.

In boys’ basketball, Greely saw its three-year, 46-game win streak snapped, but it remains the team to beat in Class A South. Falmouth will be the Rangers’ top competition when all is said and done. Freeport and Yarmouth in Class B South and NYA in Class C South will also be heard from.

On the girls’ side, Greely appears poised to repeat in Class A, while NYA is earning buzz and Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth hope to make the playoffs.

On the ice, Greely’s boys are looking to finish what last year’s team started, while Falmouth and Yarmouth are also in contention. The Falmouth, Greely/Gray-NG and Yarmouth/Freeport girls’ squads are also impressing.

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 2019 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.