Sanford football coach Mike Fallon knew his team would have to generate more offense in its Western Class A quarterfinal against South Portland than it did during their regular-season meeting, a 21-10 South Portland victory.
“Scoring 10 points was just not going to do it,” said Fallon. “South Portland can score a lot of points.”
The third-seeded Red Riots proved that again Saturday, but No. 6 Sanford scored one more point in a 33-32 upset.
Now Sanford (4-5) heads to Saco on Saturday to play No. 2 Thornton Academy (6-2) in the regional semifinals. Fallon said it’s the first time Sanford has been in the semifinals in more than 10 seasons.
How did the Spartans generate more offense? For one thing, they gave the ball more to 6-foot-4, 220-pound fullback Nick Love, who scored one touchdown and rumbled for 148 yards on 24 carriers. The other backs stepped up, too – Justin Roberge, Peter Hegarty, Edward Michetti and Jake Leonard. Roberge scored the first three touchdowns as Sanford got off to a quick lead and then held off a rally directed by South Portland quarterback Duncan Preston, who ran for one touchdown and passed for four.
“Sanford did pretty much what they wanted to on the run,” said South Portland Coach Steve Stinson. “They’re a big, physical team and it was a tough matchup for us.”
The biggest play of the game, other than South Portland failing to convert a 2-point conversion pass with 2:26 left, was Michetti’s 73-yard scoring run in the third quarter that gave the Spartans a 33-14 lead. Michetti went straight up the middle and it appeared he would score untouched, but the Riots tracked him down and jarred the ball loose from his grasp. It appeared he lost control of the ball before he reached the goal line, and the ball rolled through the end zone as players from both teams tried to recover it. But officials ruled that Michetti had crossed the plane of the goal line before the fumble.
ANOTHER TEAM seemingly peaking at the right time is Windham, which advanced with a 54-14 win over Edward Little in an Eastern Class A quarterfinal Saturday night.
The Eagles showed a strong and balanced running attack, just like Sanford. Senior Liam Sullivan and sophomore Griffin Jacobson shredded the Eddies for over 250 yards combined.
No. 3 Windham faces a tough semifinal matchup with No. 2 Portland on Friday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Portland beat Windham 57-14 on Oct. 11.
The Eagles are in the semifinals for the first time since 2009, the year after they won the state title. With only six seniors, Windham is one of the youngest teams in Class A.
“We’ve had some good battles with some strong teams and we’ve taken it on the chin with other teams, but we learned from it all and improved,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins. “We’ll have a good week of practice to get ready for Portland.”
FALMOUTH’S SEASON ended without a state championship for the first time since 2009. The Yachtsmen had won the last three Class B state titles and six of the last eight.
But Falmouth moved up to Class A this season and lost to Thornton Academy 2-1 in double overtime Saturday in the Western Class A semifinals. Falmouth still played a Class B schedule in the regular season, but Coach Andrew Pelletier didn’t think his team was at a disadvantage in the playoffs against opponents it hadn’t seen.
“Soccer is soccer,’’ he said. “You can compete or you can’t. Today, we competed. We showed everybody we belong in Class A.
“And unfortunately we were just one touch short.’’
The difference between the teams was minuscule.
“We had chances to finish this game in the first overtime, we had chances in regulation and didn’t,’’ said Pelletier. “I thought we played well enough and stout enough so that we should have had a better result.’’
Falmouth’s defense was exceptional, particularly Laura Bauer, Emma England and Marcy Kittredge.
THORNTON ACADEMY, meanwhile, is headed to the Western Class A championship game for the third time in five years.
The Trojans have advanced to the state championship game once, in 2009, when they lost to Brunswick 3-1.
Haley DeGraca, who had the winning goal with 10:19 left in the second overtime against Falmouth, said the Trojans are ready to take on top-ranked Windham, which beat Thornton 1-0 in the regular season.
“I think our momentum will carry through,’’ she said. “And we’re a really close-knit team and everything. If it goes into overtime again, I think our chemistry and … we have so much willingness to win and competitiveness, that I think it will carry us, along with heart.’’
It was a physical game against Falmouth, as the referee let both teams go hard to the ball.
“We didn’t know how they were going to play and I thought they were a very good opponent,’’ said Tori Daigle, who assisted on the winning goal. “They were very physical and tough, and I wasn’t really expecting that because we hadn’t played them. I had my shorts and shirt pulled a couple times.’’
Coach Chris Kohl credited Daigle with an outstanding play on the assist. She gained control at midfield with a quick left foot, then sped past the defense down the right wing.
“Tori is sick as a dog,’’ he said. “She put everything that she had left and she put it out here. And then she put that one last burst out there.’’
SCARBOROUGH COACH Mark Diaz was about to talk about his team’s win in the Western Class A semifinals Saturday afternoon when a couple players walked by, pointing out that it was Diaz’s 200th win with the Red Storm.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” said Diaz, who quickly transitioned the subject to Scarborough’s 2-1 win over Gorham.
Diaz has coached the Red Storm since 1999. He has led Scarborough to five state championships, including three Class A titles in the past five years.
Scarborough is 15-1, the only blemish coming against Portland, which beat the Red Storm 1-0 on Sept. 10. The two teams meet Wednesday for the regional title.
“They’re a talented team, so we’ll see what happens,” Diaz said.
AFTER TWO straight championship losses to Skowhegan, it would be easy to assume Scarborough has seen enough of the dominant Indians (12 state titles in 13 years).
But 20 minutes after Skowhegan had beaten the Red Storm 4-1 on a sun-splashed afternoon, Scarborough junior Kristen Murray was already talking rematch.
“We only have five seniors this year, so definitely we have a strong group coming back next year, and even some of the girls who didn’t get as much time improved a ton during this season, so we’ll have a strong group going again. It will be a definite reality to come back next year and play them,” Murray said.
Murray scored Scarborough’s goal after Skowhegan had built a 4-0 lead. She was rightfully proud of the goal – only Messalonskee had scored on Skowhegan in MPA-sanctioned games the past two years – but was wishing it had come earlier, like in the first minute. That’s when Scarborough had multiple whacks at an early goal. Murray couldn’t help but wonder how an early strike might have changed the result.
“We had that great rush at the start of the game. Scoring then would have totally changed the way things turned out, I think. Get an early jump on them. They don’t know how to react to (trailing) because they’re never in that position,” Murray said.
NOKOMIS COACH Katie Thompson noted that selecting finalists for the annual Miss Maine Field Hockey award was a tough task this year. Unlike recent years where there were several players seen as a cut above the pack, Thompson said this year challenge was culling from a large group of very talented players. Two of the three finalists were in state title games: Allison Lancaster of Skowhegan and Taylor Simpson of York, which lost to Nokomis. The third finalist is Maddy Cummings of Belfast.
Thompson and the Warriors were certainly focused on Simpson in their 1-0 win.
“We talked about that. No. 7 (Simpson) cannot get the ball in the offensive circle. You need to get it before she gets to the offensive circle,” Thompson said.
Simpson’s high school career ended on an especially sad note. With 2:04 to play and York trying desperately to score a tying goal, Simpson was yellow-carded for not being 5 yards away on a Nokomis free hit, meaning she had to sit in the penalty chair and York was a player down for the rest of the game. It was just the second time this season Simpson did not score a goal. She finished her senior season with 38 goals, including five in three games during the Western Maine tournament.
CROWNING SIX individuals and six teams as cross country state champions was the major focus of the state meet Saturday at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland. There was another element, however: Determining Maine’s representatives to the New England cross country championships this Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H.
The top seven runners from each of Maine’s state championship teams advance to New Englands. For girls, that means Bonny Eagle in Class A, Mt. Desert Island in B and Washburn in C. For boys, Lewiston (A), Cape Elizabeth (B) and Boothbay (C) won.
Times from the three class meets are then compiled as one giant race and rescored to determine the three non-championship teams that will go to New Englands (as well as providing bragging rights for the state’s top overall teams, which turned out to be the MDI girls and the Cape Elizabeth boys.)
The other New England qualifying teams are the girls of Massabesic, Falmouth and Freeport and the boys of Ellsworth, Scarborough and Bangor.
Individually, the three state champions and those with times among the next 22 fastest in the compiled meet also qualified, even if their team did not.
Girls who fell into that category: Class B champ Kirstin Sandreuter of Greely; Shannon Conley of South Portland; Aleta Looker of Ellsworth; Kiera Murray of Cheverus; Maddy Doyle of Marshwood; Casey Loring of South Portland; Elizabeth Labun of Hampden Academy; Anne Guadalupi of Cony; Farhiyo Aden of Lewiston; Brittany Bowman of Camden Hills; Hannah Austin of NYA; Tessa Cassidy of Brunswick; Tia Tardy of Mattanawcook; and Heather Evans of York.
The dividing line between the final qualifier, Evans, who ran in the Class B race, and the runner with the 26th overall time, Brunswick senior Teresa Murphy, who ran in the Class A race, was four hundredths of a second.
Maine boys headed to Manchester on their own: Will Shafer of Gray-New Gloucester; Josh Horne of Mt. Blue; Braden Becker of Yarmouth; Class C champ Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar; Caleb Lord of Hampden; Chris Cote of Waterville; Chandler Vincent of Freeport, Ben Trapani of Camden Hills; Jesse Southard of Gorham; Logan Moses of Messalonskee; Matthew Toussaint of Fort Kent; Ryan Cadorette of Thornton Academy; Yahye Hussein of Deering; and Dan Lesko of Mt. Blue.
Twin Brook hosted last year’s New England meet, and the top Maine team was the Bonny Eagle girls in 15th place. Cape Elizabeth’s boys were 22nd.
“We’d love to be top 10,” said Capers Coach Derek Veilleux, who took his team to the Manchester Invitational in late September to get familiar with Derryfield Park.
“The kids know the course and learned a few things that should help them next (Saturday). Being the top Maine team is another goal.”
– Staff Writers Tom Chard, Mike Lowe, Kevin Thomas, Steve Craig and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.