(Ed. Note: With high school sports currently on hiatus, please join me in a look back at some of the finest teams our coverage area has produced this century. To help us get through the summer, each week, I’ll present the top 10 teams from a different sport…four honorable mentions, then our “Super Six,” These rankings are put together with help from coaches and others, including a Twitter poll each week at twitter.com/foresports, but the final decision is mine. This week it’s field hockey. Volleyball is on deck…)

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For years, while the likes of Skowhegan and York have stolen the field hockey headlines state-wide, there have been plenty of memorable moments produced by local squads, not to mention championships won.

The quality of play has long been excellent and there have been far more than 10 transcendent teams over the past two decades, but this list has room for only 10 and while winnowing it down proved to be a challenging task, here’s one writer’s stab at the finest squads we’ve seen over the past 20 years:

Honorable mentions (in chronological order)

Greely Rangers, 14-4, 2002 Western Class B champion

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The Rangers shocked the world in 2001, winning a regional championship for the first time before losing on penalty corners to Winslow in the state final. In 2002, Greely proved that was no fluke, fielding an even better team which again got to the state final, only to run into the same team and suffer another painful loss. The Rangers featured Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist and Western Maine Conference Class B Player of the Year Amanda Chase, All-State selection Hayly Ross, league all-star Gessy LePage (now Greely’s coach), top scorer Sara Dimick and a plethora of other top multi-sport athletes who knew how to have fun, as well as get serious and win games.

Greely roared out of the gate with wins in its first five games, outscoring the opposition, 17-2, in the process. After sandwiching one-goal losses to Cape Elizabeth and Gorham around a 4-0 win over Falmouth, the Rangers were victorious five more times, including an overtime win at Yarmouth, before falling at home to York in the final, 2-1, in double-overtime. As the top seed for the Western B tournament, Greely then avenged two of its losses en route to the regional title.

In the quarterfinals, the Rangers blanked Yarmouth, 2-0, behind goals from Chase and Maryette Stuart. Cape Elizabeth was next in the semifinals and Greely handled the Capers with surprising ease, 6-0, as Dimick scored twice, Julia Chase, Brigitte Demers, Lindsey McKay and Stuart each had one goal and Abby Chapman added two assists. Then, as now, York found its way to the regional final and more than 60 minutes were needed for the Rangers to advance. The Wildcats stunned the partisan Greely crowd with a goal 32 seconds in, but Chapman tied the score late in the first half. Neither team scored in the second half and the contest went to overtime, where Julia Chase set up Dimick for the winning goal and a 2-1 victory which sent the Rangers back to the state final. This time, only 60 minutes would be needed, but again, Winslow left Greely frustrated and heartbroken. The game would be decided on a Black Raiders’ penalty stroke early in the second half and despite nine shots on goal, the Rangers couldn’t finish in an agonizing 1-0 loss. Greely’s championship dream would have to wait for another year. Just one more year as it turned out.

Coach Robyn Thayer: “We played well as a team. Our ultimate goal was to get to the state final. Last year was a lot easier for us. We just went out and played and when we won, that was great. This year, it was more like we thought about the expectations on us and halfway through the season, I think we had a breakdown. The kids had been focused very much on the win because they thought they needed to focus on the win, instead of how they were playing. After we lost a couple, we decided we had to focus more on playing the best we could possibly play and the wins would come.”

Deering Rams, 16-2, 2003 Western Class A champion

After consecutive losses in the regional final, the Rams, in the midst of a phenomenally successful school year for the Deering athletic program, broke through and reached the state game for the only time. The Rams, paced by All-State selections Bronwyn Potthoff and Casey Smith, the team’s lone returning starter, Sarah White, league all-stars Lauren Cash and Becky Nickerson, and goalie Megan Urban, embarked on a run that surprised almost everyone, stumbled just twice, in the opener and state final, and set a benchmark for the program which hasn’t been matched.

Deering lost, 2-1, to Westbrook in the opener, then rattled off 13 straight wins, including several in close games. In the regular season finale, Smith scored her 15th goal of the season in the second overtime for a 2-1 victory over South Portland. The Rams earned the top seed for the Western A playoffs, then fought off three upset bids to reach the big stage for the first time.

In the quarterfinals, unheralded Portland gave Deering fits, taking the Rams to overtime, but White’s second goal of the game, on a penalty stroke, allowed Deering to advance, 2-1. In the semifinals, preseason favorite Massabesic battled the Rams for 60 minutes, but Potthoff’s goal proved to be the difference in a 1-0 victory. That sent Deering to the regional final for the third straight season and after losing to Sanford and Edward Little the two previous years, the third time proved to be the charm against South Portland. White scored the lone goal, from Smith, and the Rams’ defense did the rest in a 1-0 victory, Deering’s 16th in succession. The last obstacle for the Rams, Skowhegan (some things never change), proved to be insurmountable, as Deering went down to a 5-0 defeat. The Rams had finally met their match, but what a run it was.

Coach Andrew Gordon: “This is something we’ve been waiting for for a long time. Maybe we learned some lessons from the past. We know what it’s like to lose (the regional final). I really wanted (the players) to experience winning one. It’s a reward and they earned it. This was a lot more than we hoped to accomplish at the beginning of the season. I think we learned a lot from this experience. This is not something I anticipated from this team, winning 16 in a row. I’m very proud of what they have done.”

North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, 16-2, 2008 Class C state champion

The Panthers captured their first championship in over a decade in memorable fashion, on an overtime goal in the state final. NYA had reached the regional final the year before, but would have no peer in 2008. The Panthers featured All-State selections Nicole Fuller and Lucy Gerrity, fabulous freshmen Kylie Dalbec and Katherine Millett, big-game goalie Hayley Bright, as well as a player, Frances Leslie, who would score one of the biggest goals in program history.

NYA started with wins over Poland, Waynflete and Old Orchard Beach, then its offense went cold in back-to-back 1-0 setbacks to Sacopee Valley and St. Dom’s. The Panthers would close the season on a 13-game win streak, however, and won their final nine regular season contests by a composite 38-1 margin, along the way avenging their losses to Sacopee Valley and St. Dom’s. NYA finished third in Western Class C and would embark on a thrilling title run which featured three one-goal contests.

In the quarterfinals, the Panthers had their only easy playoff win, 6-0, over Lisbon, as Fuller and Millett each scored three goals. Livermore Falls, which upset St. Dom’s in its quarterfinal, allowing NYA to host in the semifinals, proved to be a challenge, but the Panthers eked out a 1-0 victory on Fuller’s goal (assisted by Leslie). NYA won by a 1-0 score again in the regional final, this time beating Jay, which had upset top-ranked Telstar to again give the Panthers an unexpected home game, as Millett scored in the final minute of regulation and Bright turned aside several golden opportunities. NYA then met Dexter in the state final, which proved to be another thriller which needed more than 60 minutes to complete. The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on a Dalbec goal early in the second half, but Dexter tied it and the game went to overtime. There, Leslie broke free, went one-on-one with the goalie and put the ball into the cage, giving NYA a 2-1 victory and setting off a wild celebration. A mini-dynasty (three state titles in a four-year span) had begun.

Coach Julia Littlefield: “This is the most exciting day of my life. We played really, really well together and we deserve it. It’s improbable because we had such a young team. We came this far and not many NYA field hockey teams have. We had that attitude. I’ve been coaching for 25 years and this is the least nervous team I’ve ever had. They just wanted it right from the bus.”

Cheverus Stags, 13-5, 2010 Western Class A champion

It took the Stags until the postseason to truly hit their stride, but once they did, they embarked on a magical run to the state final, one that was documented by a television show, “Varsity.” Cheverus, which made a surprise trip to the 2009 regional final before losing to eventual state champion Scarborough, featured All-State players Emily Sawchuck and Sarah LaQuerre, as well as league all-stars Gabi Cardona and Taylor Witham, and made for appointment TV by season’s end.

The Stags opened with five straight wins, then was upset by South Portland. After two more victories, Cheverus was blanked by Gorham. The Stags then downed Marshwood and McAuley before apparently being put in their place by Scarborough, 6-1. Cheverus bounced back to beat Portland, then stumbled into the playoffs after a loss to Thornton Academy. Despite being 10-4 and ranked fourth, the Stags proved to be the best team in Western Class A when all was said and done after a dizzying postseason run.

In the quarterfinals, Cheverus held off Kennebunk, 3-2, as Cardona scored early, Brooke Flaherty tied the game just before halftime and LaQuerre won it with 17:18 to go in regulation. That sent the Stags to top-ranked Scarborough for what most expected would be their doom, but just 15 days after losing by five goals at the Red Storm, Cheverus enjoyed the program’s biggest win to date, shocking Scarborough, 2-1, as Sawchuck scored midway through the first half and after the Red Storm pulled even, Flaherty won it with a goal with 3:33 to play. The Stags returned to Scarborough for the regional final versus Bonny Eagle and this time, there would be no down-to-the-wire heroics, as Sawchuck cemented her status as an all-time great with four goals and LaQuerre struck as well in a decisive 5-2 victory. Cheverus was a decisive underdog in the state game versus Skowhegan and this time couldn’t pull the upset, losing, 3-0. The Stags didn’t take the final step, but the only regional champion in program history certainly stole headlines.

Coach Amy McMullin: “It was a great, fun season. I’m really proud of the girls. They played their hearts out. I couldn’t be more proud. We exceeded all expectations. We completely jelled in the playoffs and played well. We had a lot of ups and downs, but that’s the story of high school athletics. We didn’t want an undefeated season. We completely regrouped coming into playoffs. It shows it really is a team game.”

The Super Six

6) North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, 17-1, 2010 Class C state champion

The second of three NYA champions in a four-year span was bound and determined to get back to the pinnacle after having its undefeated season end with a state game loss to Dexter in 2009. Thanks in part to the effort of All-State talent Katherine Millett, as well as 2008 heroes Kylie Dalbec and Frances Leslie and league all-stars Megan Fortier and Renee Lamoureau, the Panthers scored in double figures in seven different contests, wound up nearly perfect and this time, capped the season with the big prize, but only after a grueling state final.

NYA opened with 10-1 wins over Freeport and Traip Academy. After holding off highly touted Sacopee Valley, 3-1, the Panthers put up 11 goals in a blanking of Poland, then shut out Old Orchard Beach, 6-0. NYA’s 28-game regular season win streak finally came to a close with a 2-1 loss to Class B powerhouse York, but the Panthers wouldn’t stumble again and they closed the year on an eight-game streak, outscoring the opposition, 56-3, to wind up 13-1 and third in Western Class C. The road to the championship wasn’t easy, but NYA would show its grit and heart as it wound up atop the heap.

In the quarterfinals, the Panthers had one final offensive explosion, blanking Waynflete, 10-0, as Fortier rattled the cage five times and Millett added four goals. The going then got tough, as NYA had to go to Livermore Falls and got taken into overtime before surviving and advancing, 1-0, on Millett’s rebound goal. The regional final saw the Panthers battle Telstar. Millett set up Fortier for an early goal, but the Rebels tied the game on a penalty corner after time expired in the first half. Millett then scored twice in the second half and that proved to be just enough as NYA held on for a 3-2 victory.

This time around, it wasn’t Dexter standing in the way in the state game, it would be a Foxcroft Academy squad which was every bit the Panthers’ equal. Neither team scored in 60 minutes of regulation or in two eight-minute overtime sessions. The contest would be decided on penalty corners and it appeared NYA had the title when Dalbec scored, but the Ponies answered and it was on to another set. This time, Fortier scored and the Panthers’ defense and goalie Mariah Farrell slammed the door on Foxcroft Academy’s chance giving NYA the championship. It would prove to be coach Julia Sterling’s final game as coach. She gave way to assistant Tracy Quimby, who led the Panthers to one more crown in 2011.

Coach Julia Sterling: “It’s so exciting. It sure wasn’t easy. We’ve worked hard from beginning to end. We had more experience this year. The juniors were there as freshmen and again as sophomores last year. They’ve gotten better each year. The younger kids are stepping in because they see where we’re going.”

5) Scarborough Red Storm, 16-1-1, 2013 Western Class A champion

The second of three straight Red Storm regional champions, Scarborough wasn’t able to go unbeaten and untied in the regular season like the year before, nor win the title like its successor, but this team was pretty darn impressive nonetheless. After falling to Skowhegan, 4-1, in the 2012 Class A state game, the Red Storm, featuring all-state selections Maddy Dobecki, Abby Walker and Rachael Wallace, as well as league all-stars Mikaela Coombs and Kristen Murray, regrouped and overwhelmed their regional foes en route to another date with the state’s premier power in the Class A final.

Scarborough opened with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Marshwood (Maggie Carbin scored twice), then handled Massabesic, Noble and Sanford by a composite 20-1 margin. Close calls ensued, but the Red Storm passed them, beating Windham (2-0), Thornton Academy (2-1) and Westbrook (2-0, on goals from Murray and Dobecki). Scarborough then dominated South Portland, Biddeford, Bonny Eagle and McAuley by a combined 37-1 score before settling for a 1-1 draw versus Cheverus, which snapped its 35-game regular season win streak. The Red Storm then closed with a 4-0 win over Deering to go 13-0-1 and earn the top seed for the Western A playoffs. Scarborough would be tested in the regional tournament, but wouldn’t be denied its date with Skowhegan.

In the quarterfinals, the Red Storm blanked Gorham, 5-0, as Murray scored twice. Scarborough only managed one goal in the semifinals versus Marshwood, but it came from Wallace and was enough to advance. In the regional final, played against Massabesic in the freezing cold in Saco, the Red Storm rolled, 6-3, behind two goals apiece from Carbin and Walker and one apiece from Murray and Ashley Levesque.

Scarborough wanted to avenge its prior state game loss when it met Skowhegan on the big stage in Yarmouth, but despite some promising early chances, the Red Storm couldn’t get the jump and wound up losing, 4-1 (Murray would score the lone goal, as she would do again in the 2014 state final which produced a happier result). Scarborough had fallen short, but in the process, had taken another step closer to its championship destiny.

Coach Kerry Mariello: “We wanted another opportunity to play Skowhegan. We knew we didn’t give them as good a game as we could have last year. We wanted to get back and prove it. The score didn’t indicate how well we played. Hopefully this motivates the girls to work even harder. We’re young. We’ll bounce back. Hopefully we’ll be here again.”

4) Scarborough Red Storm, 17-1, 2012 Western Class A champion

The nearly perfect Storm. Scarborough didn’t just win its first 17 games, it didn’t surrender a goal along the way, but the Red Storm finally met their match in the state final, losing to Skowhegan, a setback which kept them from placing higher on this list. After being upset by Windham in the quarterfinals the previous year, Scarborough, which featured All-State talents Karli-An Gilbert, Mikaela Gove and Molly Whelan, league all-stars Maddie Dobecki, Lauren Russell and Rachael Wallace, and goalie Shannon Hicks, was simply unstoppable until the final day of the season.

The Red Storm set the tone with a 10-0 victory ver McAuley in the opener. They were only seriously tested four times in the regular season, downing Westbrook and Windham by 2-0 scores and edging Sanford and Marshwood by 1-0 margins. Scarborough essentially locked up the top seed in Western Class A with a 4-0 victory at Cheverus, then closed the regular season with decisive shutouts of Noble (6-0) and Kennebunk (5-0). The regional tournament saw the Red Storm continue their dominance and keep the opposition off the scoreboard.

Scarborough blanked Thornton Academy, 4-0, in the quarterfinals, as Elly Walker scored twice and Emily Bunting and Kristen Murray also found the cage. Next up was Westbrook and again Hicks didn’t allow a goal, while Bunting, Walker and Whelan scored for a 3-0 victory. In the regional final, Cheverus hoped to upset the Red Storm for the second time in three postseasons, but Scarborough wouldn’t be denied, getting goals from Bunting, Ali Pelczar and Abby Walker for a 3-0 win and the program’s third Western A crown.

The final piece of the puzzle wasn’t to be, however, as the Red Storm surrendered their first goal all season (after 1,053 minutes and 15 seconds of play), early in the second half, then Skowhegan added two more, going on to a 3-0 victory and leaving Scarborough just short of immortality. The Red Storm would be heard from again, however.

Coach Kerry Mariello: “The 17 games that got us to (states) were the most gratifying and team-oriented games that I have ever coached. I believe each person that was involved, whether it be the players, parents, peers, or community members all felt that sense of wholeness that this team created. It will go down as a season of a lifetime and I have been blessed to be a part of it. The seniors are a special group and will make a positive impact in all areas of their future lives. They have impacted me and this program in a way that is immeasurable.”

3) Greely Rangers, 16-1-1, 2003 Class B state champion

The Rangers’ third trip to the state final was unquestionably the charm and a phenomenal team, filled with tremendous multi-sport athletes, captured the program’s first and to date, only title in dominant and memorable fashion. After losing to Winslow on penalty corners in the 2001 Class B state final and to the Black Raiders again, on a second half penalty stroke, in 2002, Greely, led by All-State players Julia Chase, Sara Dimick and Hayly Ross, simply wouldn’t be denied.

The season started slowly with a 1-1 tie against Gorham, but the Rangers then embarked on a 10-game win streak which saw them score 35 goals and surrender only four. The run came to a close with a 1-0 home loss to always-tough York, but Greely wouldn’t stumble again and closed by downing Cape Elizabeth, 3-2, in overtime (on Abby Chapman’s goal) and Fryeburg Academy, 2-1, to wind up a program-best 12-1-1 and first for the Western B tournament. There, the Rangers passed some stern tests and went on to fulfill their destiny.

Greely got a scare from Falmouth in the quarterfinals, but advanced, 4-2, thanks to late goals from Chapman and Chase. The Rangers only managed one goal in the semifinals versus Leavitt (from Chase), but it was enough to prevail, 1-0. That set up a third consecutive regional final versus York and while overtime was needed in 2001 and 2002, it wasn’t this time, as goals from Chapman, Dimick and Maryette Stuart produced a 3-0 victory. That spelled another trip to the state final and another showdown with Winslow. And this time, sweet victory.

The contest was scoreless at the half when the team released 40 ladybugs for luck. It worked like a charm, as early in the second half, Dimick scored on a rebound off a penalty corner for the only goal Greely would need and less than two minutes later, off another corner, Dimick set up Kelly Saucier for an insurance goal. The title didn’t come without some anxious moments down the stretch, but one year after surrendering the decisive penalty stroke goal, Rangers’ goalie Kristen Walker faced another and this time, made the save to all but end it and Greely went on to an exhilarating 2-0 triumph. Seventeen years later, this Rangers team stands alone in program annals. Their triumph was a sight to behold.

Coach Robyn Thayer: “You don’t realize how much emotion goes into this. These are the kids I’ve had from the start. They’re now seniors and it’s so good to see it happen to them. What an outstanding bunch of kids. Seeing their emotions after we won it made it all worth it. We wanted Winslow. If we had a choice, after losing to Winslow two years in a row, we wanted to see them again. This year we were much more confident. We knew what was at stake.”

2) Scarborough Red Storm, 18-0, 2014 Class A state champion

After consecutive state game losses to Skowhegan, Scarborough broke through and won its second championship in breathtaking fashion. The Red Storm, paced by eventual Miss Maine Field Hockey winner Maddy Dobecki, as well as All-State selections Kaitlin Prince, Abby Walker and Kristen Murray, who would score the biggest goal of the season, survived a challenging series of postseason games and worked their way back to the Class A pinnacle and also received the most votes in our Twitter poll.

Scarborough opened with statement-making 3-0 wins over Marshwood (behind goals from Lily Nygren, Gabby Farino and Murray) and Massabesic, then began crushing just about every foe. The Red Storm were pushed by Sanford (winning, 2-1, on Walker’s overtime goal), Thornton Academy (again going to OT before Walker scored to produce a 1-0 victory) and Cheverus (a 1-0 road win behind Walker’s second half goal), but over the 14-game regular season, they outscored the opposition, 82-2. For just the second time in program history, Scarborough posted a 14-0 record and the Red Storm would be the top seed for the Western A playoffs, where they would embark on their run to their elusive crown.

In the quarterfinals, Scarborough got goals from Dobecki, Nygren and Walker and beat Biddeford, 3-1. The Red Storm then defeated Thornton by the same 3-1 margin in the semifinals, thanks to goals from Nygren, Murray and Kristen Levesque. Marshwood was next in the regional final and again, the 3-1 score was the charm, as Scarborough won its third straight regional championship behind two goals from Murray (both set up by Dobecki) and another from Levesque.

To no one’s surprise, it was once again Skowhegan awaiting in the state final and after back-to-back losses, the Red Storm weren’t about to be denied. While Scarborough’s defense and goalie Alyssa Souza pitched their lone shutout of the postseason, Scarborough’s prolific offense couldn’t find the cage either. Until just two seconds remained. With everyone on hand thinking overtime, Murray scored out of a scrum and just like that, the Red Storm were champions. What could possibly top that? How about an almost identical Scarborough victory just a few years before.

Coach Kerry Mariello: “This means everything for us. The girls got the fairy tale ending they deserved. To have a vision to get this dream started, the motivation, conviction and confidence to reinforce that vision and to finish in such explosive fashion is indescribable. Each time we took the field, the flame grew and eventually grew to a point where it had completely taken over these girls’ hearts and soul. They were not going to lose. These girls are at the top of any game, especially life. There’s no group more deserving.”

1) Scarborough Red Storm, 18-0, 2009 Class A state champion

The first time was the sweetest, as Scarborough captured its initial championship, at Skowhegan’s expense, on an improbable overtime goal. After losing an OT heartbreaker to Skowhegan in the 2008 state game, the Red Storm regrouped and didn’t lose a game in 2009, a familiar theme for Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist Brittany Ross and fellow All-State selection Ellie Morin, who enjoyed a perfect school year. Scarborough, which also featured All-State selection Heather Carrier and league all-star Ashley Anastasoff, started the season fast and never looked back.

The Red Storm opened by dominating Portland, 12-0, as Ross hinted at a huge season to come by scoring six times. Scarborough outscored the opposition, 80-9, in the regular season and reached double digit goals on three occasions. The Red Storm won 10 of 14 games by at least three goals and were tested only by Sanford (a 4-2 victory), Westbrook (a 2-0 win), Cheverus (a 3-1 victory) and Gorham (a 2-0 win). Scarborough wound up 14-0 for the first time and locked up the top seed in Western Class A for the first time. The Red Storm were far from finished.

In the quarterfinals, Scarborough blanked Thornton Academy, 2-0, as Ross scored a first half goal and Morin added another in the second half. The Red Storm then had no trouble with Bonny Eagle in the semifinals, rolling, 6-0, behind two goals apiece from Morin and Ross, one each from Akashia Gergler and Mo Hannan and three assists from Carrier. Scarborough then got all it could handle from Cheverus in the regional final, falling behind, 2-1, before rallying for a 3-2 victory. Anastasoff tied the game just before halftime and Kelsey Howard’s second goal of the contest provided the winning margin.

The Red Storm then got the rematch they hoped for in the state game, but fell behind Skowhegan, 1-0, on a goal early in the second half. Just over five minutes from getting its heart broken again, Scarborough responded like the champion it would become, tying the game on Ross’ 31st goal of the season, then winning it in overtime on an improbable, controversial goal. Off a long hit from Carrier from beyond the circle, the ball rolled into the cage. Skowhegan thought it had been untouched, which would have disallowed the goal, but instead Morin began jumping and down and celebrating because she got a piece of the ball en route to the cage. The goal stood and the Red Storm had the championship, 2-1. Scarborough’s first champion will long be hailed.

Coach Kerry Mariello: “It’s overwhelming. It’s a great feeling. The greatest feeling ever, right here. We made some adjustments and had perseverance for sure. We dug deep and we knew we had it. We fought all odds. We had a goal at the start of the year and pursued it. They’re a special group. They deserved every ounce of this. I’m so glad for them. They had so much grit and tenacity. You want to win like this. The surge of energy you feel at the end is something you keep for a lifetime and I’m glad the girls got to experience that.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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