After a year with no spring sports, the return of postseason play last week was highly anticipated and welcomed, but no one could have predicted the drama or unpredictability of the days just past.
A lot of excitement was packed into a short time and a familiar champion was crowned.
Here’s a look back at the action-packed week that was:
Saturday in Lewiston, Yarmouth’s boys’ tennis team repeated as the Class B state champion.
The Clippers, ranked first in Class B South, beat No. 9 Lincoln Academy by a 4-1 score in the quarterfinals and eliminated No. 4 York by the same 4-1 margin in the semifinals. Last Wednesday, Yarmouth met No. 3 Greely in the regional final.
The Rangers had advanced by downing No. 6 Cape Elizabeth, 4-1, in the quarterfinals and edging No. 2 Freeport, 3-2, in the semifinals, ending the Falcons’ season at 8-6.
Greely and Yarmouth played a close match in the regional final, but Yarmouth prevailed, 3-2. The Rangers got wins from Leif Boddie at first singles (6-1, 6-1 over Asher Lockwood) and second singles (6-4, 6-2 over Will Best), but the Clippers prevailed at third singles, as Quinn Federle beat Carson Bell, 6-1, 6-2, first doubles, where Sutter Augur and Ethan Lombard downed Grant Dresnok and Ethan Sligh, 6-1, 6-3, and second doubles, where Andi Cobaj and Miles Hagedorn defeated Charles Segal and Tommy Leggat-Barr, 7-5, 6-3.
Greely’s season came to an end at 10-5.
Yarmouth advanced to meet Waterville in the state match and again prevailed by a 3-2 margin to finish 15-1 (the lone blemish was a 4-1 loss to 13-time Class C champion Waynfete in the regular season finale) and win the program’s eighth crown.
Lockwood lost at first singles (3-6, 1-6, to Charlie Haberstock) and Best fell at No. 2 singles (1-6, 3-6, to Owen Evans), but Federle downed Josiah Bloom at third singles (6-0, 6-3), Augur and Lombard were 6-3, 6-2 winners over Logan Tardif and Jay Brock at No. 1 doubles and Cobaj and Hagedorn defeated Cole Bazakas and Nick Poulin, 6-1, 6-0, at second doubles.
“After the first few matches (this year), we were pretty clearly the team to beat,” Federle said. “I don’t think we really let it get to us, though.”
“We had a very deep team,” Yarmouth coach Bill Shardlow said. “Of all the teams that I’ve coached, the difference in ability between 1 and 8 is the closest on this team I’ve ever had. If you watch our No. 2 doubles players, they’re good tennis players. We knew our whole season was going to be predicated on that. We had to rebuild a little bit this year, retool. None of our three singles players had played singles before this year. We’re a deep team that just grinds it out.”
On the girls’ side, Yarmouth lost in the regional finals and Falmouth was ousted in the state final.
The Clippers, ranked second in Class B South, blanked No. 10 Morse, 5-0, in the quarterfinals and held off No. 3 Lincoln Academy, 3-2, in the semifinals. The top-ranked Cape Elizabeth Capers proved to be too much to overcome in the regional final, however.
Sofia Mavor was a 6-2, 6-0 winner over Blair Hollyday at first singles and Margaret McNeil and Eliza O’Neill beat Isa Kesselhaut and Aurora Milton, 6-2, 7-5, at second doubles, but the Capers prevailed in the match, 3-2, as Hannalore Sanokklis dropped a 1-6, 2-6 decision to Caroline Gentile at second singles, Lauren Dawes lost a hard-fought 4-6, 6-1, 4-6 decision to Sarah Hagan at No. 3 singles and Claudia Coolidge and Abby Hill fell, 3-6, 4-6, to Alison Gerety and Emma Kubin at No. 2 doubles.
Yarmouth finished 11-4.
Falmouth, meanwhile, was ranked first in Class A South after a perfect regular season and had no trouble with No. 8 Portland in the quarterfinals (4-1), then edged No. 5 Scarborough, 3-2, in the semifinals to advance to a regional final showdown with third-seeded Kennebunk, which Falmouth pulled out by a 3-2 score.
Ella Holland lost at first singles in straight sets and Nina Woodbury lost in three sets at second singles, but Gracyn Mick won, 6-1, 6-0, at third singles, Marissa LeFavre and Elise Gearan won in straight sets (6-2, 6-2) at first doubles and Liv McHugh and Avery Quinn won in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) at second doubles.
Falmouth then lost, 3-2, to Brunswick in Saturday’s Class A state final to finish the year 15-1.
Falmouth was triumphant in the doubles matches, as LeFavre and Gearan beat Lia Rand and Abby Sharpe, 6-0, 6-4, and McHugh and Quinn defeated Emily Davison and Sadie Levy, 6-2, 6-1. At first singles, Holland lost to Coco Meserve, 0-6, 1-6, Woodbury fell, 2-6, 2-6, at second singles to Anna Barnes and at No. 3 singles, Mick was defeated, 4-6, 4-6, by Ella Perham.
“Our doubles team have played well all year and the 1-2 (singles) are really tough for Brunswick,” said Falmouth coach Larry Nichols. “It came down to the third singles. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a freshman. She saved us a lot this year and she did great under the circumstances. We couldn’t be more happy with how she did. The fact that we got to play, that was the number one thing. We were just going to try to have a good season, have fun and enjoy competition again.”
Four local boys’ lacrosse teams were still chasing titles at the start of the week.
Reigning state champion Yarmouth, ranked sixth in Class B, dominated No. 11 Brewer, 20-0, in the state preliminary round last Thursday, then eliminated No. 3 Mt. Blue, 16-2, in the quarterfinals Saturday to improve to 8-6 and advance to the state semifinals against a familiar foe.
Greely, ranked 10th in Class B, went on the road and knocked off No. 7 Camden Hills, 10-7, in the state preliminary round, then eliminated Brunswick, 15-8, in the quarterfinals. Against the Dragons, the Rangers erased an early 3-0 deficit and pulled away behind four goals from D.J. Kenney and 15 saves from goalie Spencer Osgood as they evened their record at 7-7.
“We have experience in situations like this and know that if we panic, bad things will happen,” said Greely coach Mike Storey. “I told the guys we have a lot of lacrosse left, to not get discouraged and just play our game and that worked out well for us.”
Yarmouth hosts Greely in the Class B state semifinals Wednesday night. The teams split during the regular season, with the Clippers opening with a 8-5 victory in Cumberland April 15 and the Rangers prevailing, 7-5, May 6 in Yarmouth. The teams have played just once before in the postseason and it was an instant classic, the Clippers’ 11-10 victory in the 2019 Class B state final.
The Greely-Yarmouth winner advances to Saturday’s Class B state final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland against either No. 1 Messalonskee (12-1) or fourth-ranked Marshwood (11-3). Neither the Clippers or Rangers faced the Eagles or Hawks this season.
Yarmouth beat Marshwood in the teams’ lone prior playoff encounter, 12-8, in the 2000 state quarterfinal round. The Clippers are 1-0 all-time versus Messalonskee in the postseason, prevailing, 16-1, in the 2003 East Division quarterfinal round.
Greely has never played Marshwood in the playoffs and is 2-0 all-time versus Messalonskee, beating the Eagles in the 2001 North Division quarterfinals (19-5) and in the 2018 Class B state semifinals (16-11).
In Class A North, top-ranked Falmouth snapped a four-game skid with a 20-3 win over No. 9 Cheverus in the regional quarterfinals, then downed No. 4 Oxford Hills, 20-1, in the semifinals to improve to 10-4. Falmouth hosted No. 6 Windham (7-7) in the regional final Tuesday night (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story). Falmouth won both regular season meetings, 10-7 at home April 23 and 14-5 in Windham May 18. Falmouth took the lone prior playoff encounter, 16-5, in the 2019 Class A North semifinals.
If Falmouth makes it to the Class A state final, it will battle either Berwick Academy (13-1) or Cape Elizabeth (14-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Falmouth closed the regular season with a 9-5 loss at Berwick June 2. The teams have no playoff history. Falmouth lost at the Capers, 14-5, during the regular season. The teams have met nine previous times in the postseason, with Cape Elizabeth holding a 6-3 edge. The most recent encounter came in the 2017 Class B South Final, a 6-5 Capers’ win.
In Class C, North Yarmouth Academy, the reigning state champion, ranked fourth, began its playoff run with a 16-2 preliminary round victory over No. 13 Erskine Academy, then eliminated No. 5 Gray-New Gloucester, 11-2, in the quarterfinals to improve to 9-5. Chris Hamblett scored six goals against Erskine. In the win over the Patriots, Hamblett had four goals and Brayden Warde added three. The Panthers are at No. 1 Waynflete (12-1) in the state semifinals Wednesday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story). NYA lost, 8-7, at the Flyers May 21. The teams have split two prior playoff meetings, with the Flyers prevailing, 18-6, in the 2018 Class C state semifinals en route to the championship and the Panthers winning, 9-7, in the 2019 state semifinals en route to the title.
If NYA gets a chance to play for a second straight crown Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, it will go up against either No. 2 Oak Hill/Monmouth (12-0) or third-ranked Wells (10-4). The Panthers didn’t face either potential foe this season. NYA has never faced the Warriors in the playoffs. It’s 3-0 all-time versus Oak Hill, with a 10-6 win in the 2015 Eastern B quarterfinals the most recent.
Freeport, ranked 14th, lost in the state preliminary round at third-ranked Wells, 17-2, to finish the year 1-12. Colby Bourgoin and Dylan Hannan scored the goals for the Falcons.
On the girls’ side, two-time reigning state champion Falmouth, the top seed in Class A North, had no trouble with No. 8 Edward Little (13-0) in the quarterfinals or No. 4 Lewiston (13-2) in the semifinals. Sloane Ginevan scored four goals against the Red Eddies and added three more in the win over the Blue Devils. Eva Clement also scored three times. Falmouth (11-3) hosted No. 2 Windham (12-2) in the regional final Tuesday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story). Falmouth lost, 11-9, at the Eagles back on April 19. Falmouth has beaten Windham in the teams’ two prior playoff meetings, 10-5 in the 2018 Class A North semifinals and 13-6 in the 2019 Class A North Final.
If Falmouth advanced to the Class A state final for the third consecutive season, it will meet either Kennebunk (14-0) or Scarborough (11-3) Friday at 5 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Falmouth lost at home to the Rams, 17-11, May 25 and edged the visiting Red Storm, 11-10, on Clement’s overtime goal, May 29. Falmouth has never met Scarborough in the playoffs. It has played Kennebunk six prior times, losing five, but in the most recent encounter, Falmouth prevailed, 5-3, in the 2019 Class A state final.
In Class B, top-ranked Yarmouth began its playoff run with a cathartic and emphatic 17-4 home win over No. 9 Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals Saturday night. The Clippers, who lost in overtime to the Capers in both the 2018 and 2019 state finals, got a goal from Katelyn D’Appolonia just over two minutes in to set the tone. Natalie Teare and freshman sensation Aine Powers added goals for a quick 3-0 advantage. Yarmouth scored eight unanswered goals to end the first half and pulled away for a 17-4 victory. The Clippers got goals from six different players, led by Powers, who had five, and D’Appolonia, who finished with four, as they improved to 12-1.
“This means a lot,” said Teare, who scored twice and added a pair of assists. “Cape’s always great competition. We’re very excited to win this game. We were definitely nervous. We didn’t want to be overconfident. We knew it could be our last game. That realism really helped us.”
“The girls talk about Cape all the time and it felt great to come out and play Yarmouth lacrosse,” Powers said. “We had nerves, but I think they were good nerves. We know how we can play. We had great team chemistry and connected really well. Communication was on point and the energy was so high.”
“I knew it would be a battle,” added longtime Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “(Cape’s) coached well, they have good players. On paper, we could be evenly matched. I’m proud of the girls today. We were nervous and those of us who know what happened in state games past, we had to get that monkey off our backs and now, it’s off.”
Wednesday afternoon, the Clippers welcome No. 4 York (11-3) in the state semifinals. Yarmouth won the regular season meeting, 17-6, at home June 3. The teams have no playoff history.
“This group knows what it takes,” Holt said. “It takes 25 of us to get there. We’ll bring the intensity in practice. Practice makes perfect.”
If the Clippers advance to the state final for the eighth straight season, they’ll face either No. 3 Messalonskee (13-0) or second-seeded Greely (11-3) Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
Greely enjoyed two decisive playoff wins, opening with a 15-0 victory over No. 15 Westbrook in the state preliminary round, then downing No. 7 Brunswick, 11-2, in the state quarterfinals. Lauren Dennen and Carley Ferentz both scored three times against the Blue Blazes. In the win over the Dragons, Elsa Dean-Muncie scored five first half goals and the Rangers raced to a 10-0 halftime lead before closing it out. Dennen added three goals.
“I know it’s a team goal, so we’re all working toward the same thing, hoping to make it to Fitzpatrick (Stadium),” said Dean-Muncie. “Usually we lose in the semifinals, so it means a lot to have the potential to have another shot at it.”
“When we move the ball, that’s when we have success,” Greely coach Becca Koelker said. “We took control in the beginning, then kind of fell off. We’ve really come together as a unit. We’re dangerous when we play together.”
The Rangers advanced to host No. 3 Messalonskee in the semifinals Wednesday afternoon. Greely didn’t face Messalonskee this year and the teams have no playoff history.
“We have to rise and play to the level we know we can play,” Koelker said. “We’re close to making history. This team, I have to give them credit, has worked so hard. They’ve earned it. Now, we just need to finish it.”
If Greely and Yarmouth square off in the state game, it will mark the teams’ third meeting this spring. The Clippers won in Yarmouth (13-6) and in Cumberland (11-9). The rivals haven’t met in the postseason since the 1997 Division II semifinals, a 6-5 victory for the Rangers.
In Class C, top-ranked Freeport earned a bye into the state quarterfinals where it doubled up visiting No. 8 seed St. Dom’s, 18-9, Saturday. Meredith Feller and Savannah Tracy both scored four times and Kate Tracy finished with three goals and four assists. The Falcons (10-3) host No. 4 Lake Region (8-5) in the semifinals Wednesday. Freeport twice beat the Lakers this season, 13-8 at home and 11-9 in Naples. Freeport lost to the Lakers, 19-8, in the 2018 Class C state semifinals, in the lone prior playoff meeting between the teams.
If the Falcons advance to the state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, they will meet either No. 2 Maranacook/Winthrop (10-3) or third-seeded Waynflete (8-5). Freeport didn’t face Maranacook/Winthrop this season and the teams have no playoff history. The host Falcons downed the Flyers, 9-6, May 19. The teams played once before in the postseason, a 16-5 Waynflete win in the 2012 Class B state final.
NYA, ranked fifth in Class C, dropped a hard-fought 11-10 decision at Lake Region in Saturday’s state quarterfinal to finish 7-6. Maggie Holt led the Panthers with four goals and Emma Sharp added three.
Freeport and Greely’s baseball teams were on a regional final collision course at press time.
The Rangers, ranked second in Class B South, didn’t produce a hit in their Round of 16 game versus No. 15 Morse, but still managed to prevail, 4-3, as Mark Axelsen drew a bases loaded walk to tie it and Zach Johnston was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in the go-ahead run. Brady Nolin earned the victory, striking out 13. Greely then won its quarterfinal in more orthodox fashion, blanking No. 7 Erskine Academy, 6-0, behind Johnston, who allowed just two hits and struck out 14. Ryan Kolben doubled, homered and drove in three runs. Saturday, in the semifinals, the Rangers blanked No. 3 Wells, 4-0, to improve to 16-3. Nolin threw a no-hitter and Greely set a new program record with its 10th shutout of the season. Dawson Jowett had two hits and an RBI, Cooper Neleski had two hits and Johnston added an RBI double.
Freeport, seeded ninth, rediscovered its playoff magic with three victories last week, including two on the road. The Falcons started with an 11-1 (six-inning) victory at Fryeburg Academy in the Round of 16. Nathan Abbott earned the win and had two hits and Anthony Panciocco doubled twice. In the quarterfinals, Freeport blanked No. 16 Gray-New Gloucester, 10-0, in six-innings, as Blaine Cockburn (who struck out 11) and Zane Aguiar combined on a one-hitter and Keigan Shea and Gus Wing had multiple hits. The Falcons then went to No. 5 York for the semifinals Saturday and rolled again, 7-1, behind two home runs from Abbott, who also earned the save after a strong start from Panciocco.
Freeport (13-6) and Greely square off in the Class B South Final Wednesday night at St. Joseph’s College in Standish (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story). The Rangers beat the Falcons in all three meetings this year, 12-0, in five-innings, and 3-2 and 3-0 in a doubleheader. Freeport won two of the three prior playoff meetings, with a 4-2 victory in the 2019 Class B South semifinals the most recent.
The Freeport-Greely winner will face either Old Town (14-4) or reigning champion Ellsworth (13-5) in the state final Saturday in Bangor. The Rangers have no history with either squad. The Falcons have lost state games to each potential foe, falling, 12-2 (in five-innings) to Old Town in 2016 and 2-0 to Ellsworth two years ago.
Yarmouth was the top seed in Class B South, but was stunned by No. 16 Gray-New Gloucester, 6-4, in last week’s Round of 16 to finish 13-4.
In Class A South, Falmouth, the No. 5 seed, got past No. 12 Biddeford, 5-3, in last Monday’s Round of 16, then beat fourth-ranked Marshwood, 7-0, in the quarterfinals last Thursday. Eli Cowperthwaite threw a three-hitter with eight strikeouts, Sam Kidder had three singles and scored twice and Sean Dilworth added a pair of hits. Saturday, in the semifinals at top-ranked Thornton Academy, Falmouth dropped a hard-fought 3-1 decision to finish the season 15-4. Bennett Smith was the hard-luck loser as Falmouth managed just three hits. Falmouth had the bases loaded in the seventh, but couldn’t score.
“We were one pitch away from not only tying it, but a ball in the gap, we score three because we had speed on the bases,” Falmouth coach Mike D’Andrea said.
“I am extremely proud of the growth we showed this season. We were a committed, driven and resilient team. This team improved more than any team I have ever coached. I had a blast with this team. We played solid baseball offensively and defensively.
“Looking ahead to next year we will have to replace six seniors who contributed greatly. That brings a big challenge, but is also an exciting opportunity for our younger, hungry players to go out and compete for a spot on the field. We have most of our pitching back, as well as our catchers. We should be a strong contender in 2022.”
In Class C South, the Waynflete/North Yarmouth Academy co-op team, ranked fifth, had no problem with No. 12 Mountain Valley in the Round of 16, prevailing, 13-1, in six innings. Winning pitcher Luke Josephson and Mike Belleau each blasted two-run homers. Belleau finished with three hits, driving in six runs. Liam Slocumb added three hits, including a double, while Will Jackson had two hits. Waynflete/NYA then dropped a 4-3 decision at No. 4 Lisbon in the quarterfinals to finish 12-6. Belleau had a RBI double and Josephson struck out seven, had a hit and a run scored.
“I am so incredibly proud of the players and what they were able to accomplish this season,” said Waynflete/NYA coach Paul Grazia. “We had a lot of reasons for hope and optimism after the 2019 season and the loss the 2020 due to COVID was heartbreaking, but throughout the kids stayed positive, connected, and focused on this season. They were led by an amazing group of seniors, Ben Curtis, Will Jackson, Gabe Garcia, Cal Davies, Derek Wolverton, Anders Jonson and Luke Josephson, who were focused, engaged, and selfless. Their leadership was paramount to our success throughout the season.
“Now that we all have had time to reflect on the season, it was a historic one for our program. We were able post an 11-5 regular season record, which was the most for Waynflete since joining Class C in 2006 and the most for NYA since 2011. We made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and had our first playoff win since 2011. Finally, our fifth-place finish in the Heal Points was the highest finish by either school ever in Class C.
“Our accomplishments go beyond simply wins and losses. Co-op teams can be difficult as you are combining two schools and in our case being historic rivals and competing against each other in other sports. As expected, we had some growing pains the first year, but through the pandemic and into this season it was flawless. Everyone was inclusive, supportive and bought into the team’s goals. But our accomplishments go beyond wins and losses. Not everyone can start or play every game, but everyone can help the team compete and win. Every player bought in and was able to use their own individual skill set to help the team throughout the season, whether it was bunting, as a defensive specialist, fireman, back-up catcher, or pinch runner. Most importantly, we were able to foster a strong, empowering, and supportive environment that highlighted everyone’s strengths and made individual successes team successes. In our final breakdown after our playoff loss to Lisbon, the seniors and captains elected to say ‘Family,’ which is different than our normal ‘Flying Panthers’ chant. I believe this small action embodies what the team and the season meant to each player and those involved.”
Waynflete/NYA looks forward to what awaits in 2022.
“We are incredibly optimistic about the future of our program,” said Grazia. “Although we are graduating seven seniors, we have strong underclassmen ready to play expanded roles and we expect to build off this season, compete again next year and return to the playoffs.”
The softball season has come to an end in Forecaster Country.
Falmouth, the No. 14 seed, which began the postseason with the biggest upset in recent memory, ending three-time champion Scarborough’s reign, 5-2, in the Round of 16, came back to reality last Thursday with a 17-0 (five-inning) loss at No. 6 Windham in a game in which it was no-hit. Falmouth finished the year 4-14.
In Class D South, NYA, which returned to varsity play this spring, was ranked seventh in the region, then went on a nice run. The Panthers opened with a 15-3 (six-inning) home win over No. 10 Rangeley in the Round of 16. Acadia Gee picked up the victory while recording two hits. Eliza Chase, Lauren Powers and McKayla Wallace each added multiple hits. In the quarterfinals, NYA upset No. 2 Valley, 7-3, as Haley Hegarty, the winning pitcher, and Hayden Wienckowski each hit an RBI single in a three-run second inning Michaela Wallace added three hits, including a triple. Gee, Wienckowski and Jasmine Huntsman finished with two hits apiece. In the semifinals Saturday, at No. 6 St. Dom’s, the Panthers dropped an agonizing 8-7 (nine-inning) decision to finish 9-9. NYA forced extra innings with a run in the top of the seventh and scored twice in the top of the ninth, but couldn’t hold it. Gee led NYA with three hits and Huntsman finished with two.
In Class B South, Greely, the No. 13 seed, was eliminated, 8-1, by No. 4 Lincoln Academy in the Round of 16 to finish 7-10. Lily Rawnsley hit a home run and Lindsey Eisenhart had a pair of hits.
Freeport, ranked 15th, lost, 22-0 (in five-innings) at No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the Round of 16 to wind up 2-15.
Yarmouth, seeded 16th, ended with an 18-2 (five-inning) loss at No. 1 Fryeburg Academy in the Round of 16. Emma Butsch hit a two-run home run.
Press Herald staff writers Steve Craig and Kevin Thomas, Times Record staff writer Eli Canfield and Morning Sentinel staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this story.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.