Multiple teams closing in on the ultimate prize.
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What a week it was for postseason action in soccer, field hockey and football.
And even more excitement awaits this week, as state champions will be crowned in a couple of sports.
Cheverus, Portland and Waynflete still had teams chasing titles at press time.
Here’s a recap:
Cheverus’ field hockey team, the reigning A state champion, had no trouble advancing to the regional final last week.
The Stags, ranked first in Class A South, had to wait an extra day to host a quarterfinal, then made up for last time by easily dispatching No. 8 Falmouth, 9-0, last Thursday, in a game played at Deering High School. Taylor Tory scored 22 seconds into the game and finished with three goals, as did Lucy Johnson. Lily Johnson added two goals and Olivia McCartney also rattled the cage.
Saturday, in the semifinals, Cheverus welcomed No. 5 Thornton Academy and again started fast, as freshman Joey Pompeo struck early. The Stags went on to a 5-1 victory, as Tory and Mackenzie Cash both added two goals.
Cheverus (16-0), which has won 38 consecutive games and has outscored the opposition, 132-6, this fall, faces No. 6 Windham (11-5) in the Class A South Final Wednesday at Biddeford High School. Back on Sept. 7, the Stags dominated the host Eagles, 9-1. Cheverus won the only prior playoff encounter, 2-1, in the 2008 Western A preliminary round.
If the Stags, as expected, punch their ticket to the state game, they will battle either Skowhegan (16-0) or Oxford Hills (13-2-1) Saturday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Cheverus has split a pair of prior state game meetings with Skowhegan, losing, 3-0, in 2010 and winning last year, 4-1. The Stags and Vikings have no playoff history.
Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team, the three-time reigning state champion, found itself two wins shy of another crown at press time, but the Flyers got a scare along the way.
Waynflete, ranked first in Class C South, had no trouble with No. 9 Oak Hill in the quarterfinal, prevailing, 9-0, behind five goals from senior standout Myles Culley. Roan Hopkins finished with two goals and Reed Robinson and Bryan Stark-Chessa also scored.
Saturday, the Flyers hosted No. 5 Traip Academy in the semifinals and despite an early goal from Culley, trailed 2-1 late in the first half. Jacob Woodman then tied it. In the second half, Culley set up Matt Adey for the go-ahead goal, then he scored three more times (giving him 44 goals for the season) to help secure a 6-2 victory.
“It was good for us to be behind for a bit,” said longtime Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “Traip is pretty good and they changed formation which helped them. I think we were a bit nervous at the start, but got through it.”
The Flyers (14-1-1) square off against No. 2 Mt. Abram (15-1) Wednesday afternoon in the regional final at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season. Last fall, in the Class C South Final, Waynflete eked out a 3-2 victory over the Roadrunners to improve to 5-0 all-time in the postseason series.
If the Flyers move on to another state final, they will face either Fort Kent (15-1) or Washington Academy (16-0) Saturday in Hampden at a time to be announced.
In Class A South, Deering, the No. 2 seed, survived a scare from No. 7 Portland in the quarterfinals last Tuesday, 3-2. The Bulldogs struck in the second minute on a goal from Brady Toher, but the Rams answered, as Ethan Fisher scored on a rebound, then went on top when Carlos Adriano-Muaco finished. Portland drew even late in the first half on a penalty kick goal from Ollie Hettenbach. Deering got the decisive goal from Jeannot Ndayishimiye with just over five minutes to go to advance.
“I saw the ball, I saw it was my chance to take it and I did it,” Ndayishimiye said, of his winning goal. “I went to the ball, took (the goalie) one-on-one and shot. I kind of knew where I was going to shoot it, but once I got there, once I kicked it, I thought I was going to miss.
“You saw it was a good game, a close game, No matter what sport it is, as long as it’s Deering versus Portland, you know it’s going to be a good game and today was a hell of a game.”
“The guys have done a good job staying positive on the field,” said Rams coach Joel Costigan, after his team reached the semifinals for the first time since 2014. “There’s some moments of chaos, but they make it work.”
The Bulldogs’ season ended at 10-6.
“I just told my players, I’m proud of each and every one of them for the effort they put forth,” said longtime Portland coach Rocco Frenzilli. “They left everything on the field.
“I’d say having had a little tough luck through the season might be an understatement, but all in all, I felt we played with tremendous heart, great effort and most importantly we were competitive in all our matches, which is all I could ask for as a coach. All the players worked hard to improve their individual skills, but the way they came together as a team was most rewarding, owing to strong senior leadership. The team’s selflessness was contagious.”
The Bulldogs will be hit hard by graduation, but don’t be surprised to see them making another deep run next season.
“Next fall will bring the challenge of replacing some excellent student-athletes, but with the returnees, our JV and first team, and some new players, I’m already looking forward to seeing what the 2023 Dogs look like,” Frenzilli said.
Deering went on to host No. 6 Windham in the semifinals Friday and its quest for a first regional final trip since 1999 was dashed with a 1-0 setback. The Rams wound up 11-2-2 after surrendering a goal in the 10th minute and failing to counter.
“It was a very tough loss for us, but that is just sports, you’ve got to play to the whistle,” said Costigan. “It was actually the only game we’ve been shut out this season. That early goal really changed the tempo of the game. We have come from behind multiple times before this season, so I think we all thought it was just a matter of time that we found the back of the net, but I think the pressure of the moment really got to us. Windham did a great job protecting their lead and their goalkeeper showed great athleticism and a strong command for his box and ultimately, we didn’t respond to the moment.
“The season ended much sooner than we had anticipated. If there has ever been a year where we were going to win a state championship, it was this year. We scored more goals and had more assists than any year I have been coach. This team was by far one of the most talented teams I have ever coached, but winning takes much more than talent and I need to do a better job preparing our teams for these big moments.
“This was an amazing season, and I’m extremely proud of these boys. Over the course of this season, we experienced such a range of emotions. We experienced tragedy, anger, frustration, as well as excitement, incredible joy and then disappointment, but these boys forged a close bond over the course of this season. We became family.”
Graduation will hit the Rams hard, but they’ll be heard from again next fall.
“We will be graduating a lot of impact players, including 14 seniors,” Costigan said. “We also will lose our three All-SMAA players, Adilson Vidal, Patricio Mowa and Celda Mouckala, but we will be returning six starters and we have a talented group of rising seniors who are just waiting for their chance to crack the starting lineup next year. We also have several promising players who played JV this year, who will be competing to get on to the varsity roster. Our greatest need, however, will be incoming freshmen. We only had a handful of freshmen try out this year, so I hope that our success this season will attract some interest from rising incoming freshmen to try out next summer.”
Waynflete’s Lucy Sarno of Waynflete chases after the ball during Friday’s 3-0 win over Traip Academy in the Class C South semifinals. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald
On the girls’ side, Waynflete is heading to its first regional final since 2016. The Flyers, seeded fifth in Class C South, had no trouble ousting No. 4 Monmouth Academy (6-0) last Tuesday, then eliminated No. 8 Traip Academy at Fore River Fields, 3-0, Friday to improve to 12-4. In the first victory, Lucy Hart scored three times and Grace Alexander, Lucy Sarno and Yen Wilson also scored for Waynflete, while Morgan Earls added a pair of assists and goalkeeper Ayla Stutzman stopped six shots. Against the Rangers, Earls scored early and Iris Stutzman and Hart added goals to put it away.
“It’s been a dream,” said Morgan Earls. “We’ve worked so hard. When we play as a team, I think we’re pretty much unstoppable. We have so much love and support for each other and when we put our minds toward something, we think we can do it.”
“I’m a little speechless,” said Carrie Earls, who co-coaches the Flyers along with George Sherry. “These girls have worked so hard all season. We hit a little rut midway through, but they pulled themselves out of it and put on a fantastic display today.”
Waynflete will face No. 2 Maranacook (15-0-1) in the Class C South Final Wednesday night in Topsham. The teams didn’t meet this year. The Flyers lost the only prior playoff encounter, 1-0, in the 2019 Class C South quarterfinals.
“We really want it,” Iris Stutzman said.
“This feels great,” said Hart. “We are so ready for Wednesday. We’re excited.”
If Waynflete gets through to the state game Saturday in Hampden, it will meet either Bucksport (16-0) or Houlton (16-0). The Flyers have no history with either potential foe.
In Class A South, Cheverus, ranked fifth, defeated No. 12 Kennebunk, 4-0, in the preliminary round, then upset No. 4 Marshwood in the quarterfinals last Wednesday, 3-2, prevailing on penalty kicks, 3-2. Against the Hawks, the Stags fell behind by two at halftime, but rallied to draw even behind goals from Caoilinn Durkin and Sophia Monfa. Neither team scored the rest of regulation or in 30 minutes of overtime. In the PK round, Monfa and Jillian Foley scored late to provide the margin of victory and goalkeeper Evelyn Rush made a save to clinch it.
“It looked like if I had hit it any slower, she would have gotten it, so I’m really pleased I hit it the way I hit it,” Foley said, of her PK.
“I had the mindset that this was my goal and I was going to stop that (last) shot,” said Rush.
Friday, Cheverus’ season ended at 12-5 with a 2-1 loss at top-ranked, undefeated Scarborough. The Stags fell behind, 2-0, but made things interesting when Annie Vigue’s cross bounced off bodies and in just before the half. Cheverus couldn’t produce the equalizer, however, and despite 16 saves from Rush, its season came to a conclusion.
“I’m very proud,” Stags coach Craig Roberts said. “It stings right now, but this team and their coach has no regrets. I’m very happy with what we did this year.”
While five key seniors graduate, Cheverus had an abundance of players see critical time this fall and that should spell a team primed to be a top contender again in 2023.
“We have a big sophomore group and in my experience, the jump from sophomore to junior year is a big one in terms of confidence,” Roberts said. “They know how to use their bodies. The game slows down a little bit. Some of our freshmen will be varsity players in other sports too, so they’ll come back next year with three seasons of varsity experience. I think with this group, soccer will be a priority next summer.”
Portland, the No. 9 seed in Class A South, upset No. 8 Sanford, 1-0, in the preliminary round, then was eliminated by top-ranked Scarborough, 4-0, in last Wednesday’s quarterfinals to wind up 8-8. Goalkeeper Lucy Tidd stopped 11 shots.
Portland and Cheverus’ football teams were still alive at press time.
The Bulldogs, ranked first in Class B South, eliminated No. 8 Noble, 42-13, in Friday’s quarterfinals. Portland senior quarterback Kennedy Charles ran for over 200 yards in the first quarter alone and scored on three long touchdown scampers. Charles broke away for another score in the third period to extend the lead to 27-0. Charles then hit Myles Hang for a 45-yard touchdown and Aidan McGowan scored on a 72-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter to put it away.
The Bulldogs (6-3) host No. 4 Kennebunk (6-3) in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. Portland opened the season with a 21-14 victory back on Sept. 3. The teams have no playoff history.
In Class C South, Cheverus, ranked fifth, defeated host No. 4 York, 30-12, in the quarterfinals. The Stags drove to take an 8-0 lead, needing 20 plays and a staggering 13 minutes, 37 seconds to go on top on a 1-yard Rilan Smith touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Gio St. Onge to Preston Fallon. After the Wildcats answered and drew within two, Cheverus marched for another score and a 16-6 advantage, as Joe Osei ran it in from the 4 and the St. Onge-to-Fallon connection produced the two-point play. Osei’s 6-yard TD run capped another long drive to start the second half and answer York countered, Smith’s 19-yard touchdown run iced it.
Smith ran for 118 yards on 14 carries and Osei gained 107 on 25 attempts, as the two consistently found holes behind and around a sturdy offensive line.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Smith said. “We like to demoralize the defense and take up as much time as we can.”
“We weren’t the underdogs this time, but we really fought out there,” Osei said. “There was so much pent-up emotion, as you could see on the field.”
“It’s a new season,” Stags coach Mike Vance added. “We talk about it that way. Nothing matters but what’s right in front of us.”
Cheverus is at top-ranked 9-0 Leavitt in the semifinals Friday. On Oct. 15, the Stags lost at home to the Hornets, 41-13. The teams have no playoff history.
Press Herald staff writers Drew Bonifant, Steve Craig and Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this story.
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