Waynflete would have won the Western Maine Class C girls’ cross country championship even without her, but the addition of senior Sophia Canning, a four-year soccer player with a background in road racing and a hankering to run in college, turned Saturday’s regional meet into a runaway.
Canning won the 5-kilometer race by 2 seconds over Hannah Austin, a North Yarmouth Academy junior, in 20 minutes, 37 seconds. That time was faster than all but 10 runners in the Class A and B races, and it came in Canning’s second lifetime race over the challenging course at Twin Brook Recreation Area, site of this Saturday’s state meet.
Two weeks earlier, Canning ran in a meet against Falmouth and Greely and won with a time of 20:27, 8 seconds faster than runner-up Madeline Roberts of Falmouth. Greely senior Kirstin Sandreuter, who won Saturday’s Class B race in a best-of-the-day time of 19:02, did not run in the Oct. 13 race because of tissue inflammation in her foot.
“I was not expecting that,” Canning said of her victory Saturday, less than 24 hours after she had two assists in Waynflete’s 5-0 playoff soccer victory over Mt. Abram. The fifth-seeded Flyers travel to No. 4 Wiscasset Tuesday afternoon for a Western Class C quarterfinal.
Should Waynflete advance to the regional semifinals, Canning would play that game on Friday and run in the state cross country meet Saturday.
“Whenever I get down or when I feel like, ‘Omigosh, I’m dying,’ I think of how the athletic director (Russ Burdick) really worked hard to make this possible,” Canning said. “I’ve been given this great opportunity, so I need to at least do well, and succeed.”
Canning’s other inspiration? Yarmouth senior Ben Decker, another soccer player who enjoys road racing and plans to run in college. Decker, who has been nursing a knee injury and hadn’t raced cross country since the Manchester (N.H.) Invitational in late September, returned Saturday and finished fourth in the Class B boys’ race.
“I don’t know him personally,” said Canning, “but my friend’s dad runs with his dad and that’s how I found out you could even do this.”
BRUNSWICK WON the Eastern Class A girls’ cross country title on a tiebreaker – a year after having lost the KVAC championship meet to Mt. Ararat in the same manner.
On Saturday in Belfast, Brunswick and Hampden Academy each finished with a 55-point total from the first five runners. But Brunswick’s sixth and seventh finishers, junior Brooke Escoe and freshman Allie Burns, were 26th and 29th, both in front of Hampden’s sixth runner.
“It can’t get any closer,” said Brunswick Coach Dave DeLois. “I think the kids really wanted it. They stepped it up.”
Burns, in particular, cut a minute and 21 seconds from the time she ran over the same course three weeks earlier at the Festival of Champions.
AFTER HER team went 17-1 in 2012 and didn’t allow a goal until losing the Class A state final 3-0 to Skowhegan, Scarborough Coach Kerry Mariello knew graduating 10 quality seniors would mean a dramatic change to her roster.
That doesn’t mean she expected less.
“Success feeds itself. I guess (it is like) the quote, ‘It becomes a habit,’ ” Mariello said. “The more you feel those feelings of success, the more you want it; the more you want it, the harder you work to achieve it. Those are the things these girls do. It just becomes the habit, something that’s part of the norm,” Mariello said.
The Red Storm have allowed a few goals this year (five opponents have scored once), but they’re still riding an unbeaten streak in Western Class A. With Saturday’s 1-0 regional semifinal win against Marshwood, Scarborough is 15-0-1 this year and 32-0-1 against the West over the last two seasons.
Rachael Wallace scored Scarborough’s semifinal goal. Wallace, cool-headed sweeper Mikaela Coombs and forward Maggie Carbin are Scarborough’s senior starters. Juniors Maddie Dobecki and Abby Walker are also returning regulars.
“I think everyone thought it could be a building year for us but we really didn’t want that,” Wallace said. “Everyone wanted it so badly that we worked so hard in the offseason, and in the regular season and I think it really paid off in the end. Every person had a role and they do this role perfectly, and together we make a great team and it’s the best thing in the world.”
YARMOUTH’S SEASON ended Saturday with a 2-0 loss to North Yarmouth Academy in the Western Class C semifinals.
It was the third loss of the season to NYA for the Clippers, who finished 10-5-1.
Asked what the difference between the teams was, Yarmouth Coach Mandy Lewis said, “I think that they’re stepping to the ball. One thing we talked about at halftime is that (NYA’s players) stepped to every ball. And there were times we stepped behind and didn’t get possession of it. Those small, 1-versus-1 situations, they wanted it more than us.”
The Clippers played NYA hard and had a territorial edge. They just couldn’t beat NYA goalie Elizabeth Coughlin, who made several pivotal saves.
“Those were big ones, which is what we always count on her for,” said NYA Coach Tracy Quimby.
The Panthers scored just 58 seconds into the game, and Coughlin said it took a lot of pressure off the defense.
“It relieves a lot of pressure,” she said. “It just makes things a lot more settled. My defense is a lot more settled. But I know I still have to play my game because it’s easy to come back from one goal.”
Thornton Academy was hit hard by injuries this season, but if any team could handle it, it was the Golden Trojans. It all started with an injury to Andrew Libby, who entered the season as the favorite to win the Fitzpatrick Trophy as the best senior player in the state. Libby, a running back, was the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year last fall when he led the Golden Trojans to the Class A state title. But he went down with an ACL injury early in the opening game of the season against South Portland.
After Libby came injuries to the line. Three games ago, Jesse Meikle, Libby’s replacement at running back, was injured in against Cheverus. He missed his second game in a row Saturday but should be back for the playoffs, as Thornton has two weeks until its next game because of a first-round bye.
Thornton is loaded with backfield depth, and that’s a reason the team has been able to lessen the impact of injuries. Junior Demel Ruff ran for four touchdowns Saturday in a 54-6 rout of Biddeford. Justin Boure, another junior, scored two late touchdowns. Boure, a solid 185 pounds, showed moves as good as anyone on the field.
The Golden Trojans also used Derek Boissonnault, Ben Lambert and Andrew Smith in the backfield. Those three are track stars with speed to burn.
“We’re fortunate in that we have depth,” said Coach Kevin Kezal. “We’re as healthy as we’re going to get in the line.”
Thornton (6-2) will face the winner of a regional quarterfinal between South Portland and Sanford.
BRUNSWICK COACH Dan Cooper walked off the field Friday night more disappointed with the 10 penalties his Dragons accrued against Kennebunk than the outcome, a 21-6 Kennebunk victory.
He felt his players lost their composure for the first time this season and it “really cost us the game.”
At one point, the Dragons were hit with two penalties on the same play: a block in the back and then a personal foul after the play ended. Instead of having the ball near midfield, they faced third-and-28 from their own 20.
The Dragons still finished first in Eastern Class B at 6-2 and will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Asked what he had to do to get his team back on track, Cooper said, “We watch this game and find a way to get better. The last month or so teams have played us tough. When you’re on top they come at you hard. We’ve got to find a way to make the plays that we need to make.”
KENNEBUNK FINISHED 8-0 and will play No. 8 Morse this weekend in the Western Class B quarterfinals.
Coach Joe Rafferty said his team showed great discipline in the win over Brunswick.
“It was one of those physical games, it got ugly at times, but that’s what happens when there’s a lot of emotions involved,” said Rafferty. “Football is certainly an emotional game. I’m just really proud of our kids for completing the first phase (of their preseason goal). We had a good night, we executed. We worked hard for it and it worked out.”
Nicco DeLorenzo, a hard-running back, said his team wanted to finish undefeated.
“It’s amazing, a dream come true,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. Now we’ve got the playoffs.”
THERE WERE two coin flips to break ties in the final Crabtree standings that determine playoff seedings. In Western Class C, Spruce Mountain won a coin flip with Yarmouth for the No. 3 seed. In Eastern Class D, MCI and Mattanawcook tied for second place, and MCI won the flip, giving the Huskies a first-round bye.
Greely and Westbrook tied for fourth place in Western Class B, but Greely won the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Rangers will host Westbrook in the quarterfinals.
– Staff Writers Glenn Jordan, Steve Craig, Mike Lowe and Tom Chard contributed to this report