With news Monday from the Maine Principals’ Association that the cross country state championship meets, scheduled for later this week, have been cancelled (see below), the fall sports season has come to a close.

Soccer was able to wrap up its season last week and what a week it was.

Here’s a glimpse:

Cross country

Waynflete’s boys’ and girls’ cross country teams, along with individuals Annabelle Brooks of Cheverus and Alyssa Sigfridson of Portland, planned to compete at the state championship meets later this week in Bangor (boys on Wednesday, girls on Saturday), but that won’t happen.

Monday afternoon, the MPA sent out an email with the following announcement:

“It is with regret that the Maine Principals’ Association announces the cancellation of the 2020 State Cross Country Championships.  Please know that this was not a decision that was taken lightly, but one that the leadership at the MPA felt necessary to take based on a couple of major of concerns.

* The concern of bringing students together from all parts of Maine through state-wide travel as we are experiencing a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Maine.

* The new mask mandate for student-athletes to wear masks throughout the competition. Many cross country runners have not been acclimatized to wearing the mask while competing in a high stakes race since the mandate took place last Friday. This is a concern for the health and safety of the student-athletes.

We received a great deal of feedback from school administrators and coaches regarding this meet and all concerns were heard. We also know that there will be a great deal of disappointment from those scheduled to compete in this race.”

Boys’ soccer

Portland’s Steve Matanga scores one of his two goals during the Bulldogs’ 3-1 victory over South Portland in last week’s City Cup championship game. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald.

There was happier news on the pitch.

Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team won’t win a third consecutive Class C state title this fall, as there will be no postseason due to COVID-19 restrictions,  but what a transcendent, triumphant season it was for the Fabulous Flyers.

Last week, Waynflete capped a perfect 10-0 campaign, which included multiple games against Class A foes, with a come-from-behind 5-3 victory at Greely and a 4-1 home win over Freeport. In the win over the Rangers, a Class B South finalist a year ago, Joey Ansel-Mullen and Alex Vest scored early, but Greely rallied to lead 3-2. The Flyers then tied it on a goal from Ben Adey and got two quick goals from Samir Sayed to prevail.

“The guys were so excited to win that one,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “At the final horn, they celebrated like they won a title.”

In the finale, Vest, Harry Millspaugh and Ansel-Mullen scored first half goals and Sayed added one in the second half as the Flyers finished unbeaten and untied for the first time since 1993.

“It’s pretty amazing honestly,” said Vest. “There’s not a team like this. It comes from the coach, it comes from the players.”

“We’ve had a great year,” Ansel-Mullen said. “We’re a great team. We’re happy to end it with a win.”

Waynflete went 51-6-5 against a daunting schedule over the past four years, won two state titles and almost certainly would have captured a third.

The Flyers’ nonpareil senior class has left a legacy that will long be hailed.

“I’ve learned a lot from the seniors,” Sayed said. “Decision-making, how to be a better player. How to be a better teammate. Playing at Waynflete is something different. The seniors taught me a lot and I appreciate it.”

“I’ve played with a lot of these kids pretty much my whole life,” Millspaugh said. “It will be hard to take off this jersey.”

“The seniors are special and they were so accomplished,” Salway added. “They had a couple unbeaten seasons, a couple championships. I think this group had fun. We played a lot of good teams this year and we just wouldn’t be denied. They took the program to new heights. It will be tough to say goodbye.”

Cheverus, Deering and Portland, meanwhile, joined South Portland last week in the “City Cup,” a tournament won by the Bulldogs.

Portland first got past Cheverus, 2-1, in the semifinals, as Gracien Mukwa made a penalty kick and Josephat Kalombo set up sophomore Evandro Tchibassa for the game-winner late in the first half.

“I looked at the defense and I knew that they were thinking I was going to one side, so I stopped (the ball) with my chest and I hit it right away,” Tchibassa said.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Littel came up huge as well in his first varsity start.

“I was a little nervous because it was my first varsity game and I didn’t want to let my team down,” Littel said. “I knew I had to do my job.”

“We had seven new field players and a goalie and they all contributed,” said longtime Portland coach Rocco Frenzilli. “Cheverus, to their credit, took us to the end, as I knew they would.”

The Bulldogs moved on to face South Portland in the final after the Red Riots upset Deering in the other semifinal. Portland got two quick goals from Steve Matanga and after South Portland got on the board, Anselmo Tela added a goal and the Bulldogs went on to a 3-1 victory to finish the year 8-2.

“I’ve been working hard,” said Matanga, through his interpreter, senior Gabriel Panzo. “I knew I would score this game. I wanted to be the player of the tournament.”

“It was a lot of fun to get on the field and leave with no regrets,” Portland senior goalkeeper Henry Flynn said. “We wish we could have had playoffs, but this year, we got to end with a win, not a loss, which was great.”

“It wasn’t easy and the boys knew they had to work at it,” added Frenzilli, who now has 261 victories with the program. “South Portland pushed us and I was just happy for the boys. They get to walk off Fitzpatrick Stadium having won the last game of the season. That’s special.”

Deering lost its semifinal to South Portland on penalty kicks, 2-1. The Rams then closed with a 4-0  victory over Cheverus to wind up 6-4. Carlo DeMucci, Andrew James, Mick Fennessy, and Patricio Mowa all scored in the win.

Cheverus closed with losses at Portland (2-1) and Deering (4-0) and finished 2-8 against a daunting scheduled. Against the Bulldogs, Emmet Schuele scored the goal.

“It was a good match,” said Stags coach Bill LeBlanc. “Portland’s a fun team to play against. We’re just grateful we got to play and compete this year. It’s no fun to lose and we’ve lost a lot this year, but we got our games in.”

Girls’ soccer

Potland’s Lydia Stein and Cheverus’ Lillie Singleton collide while battling for possession during the Stags’ 1-0 victory last week. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald.

Cheverus and Portland’s girls’ teams each won their finales last week.

Last Monday, the Stags and Bulldogs met at Fitzpatrick Stadium and Cheverus avenged a loss from earlier in the year with a 1-0 victory behind a goal from Kadynne Smith and a strong game from its defense and senior goalkeeper Neve Cawley.

“The ball was getting knocked around out there and I ended up being able to get to it and get through, said Smith, who transferred to Cheverus this year from Biddeford. “I was trying to hit the corner. I normally don’t, but I did my best to pick a spot and get it there.”

“We talked about being a super-young team this year, but look how much we’ve improved,” Cawley said.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” Stags coach Craig Roberts added. “Just their competitiveness and their resilience after losing so many players last year. This year’s team has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder to show we can still compete. That’s showed up in every practice and almost every game.”

Cheverus then capped its 8-1-1 campaign last Wednesday with a 3-1 come-from-behind victory at South Portland, as Helena Bolduc scored in the final minute of the first half and the first minute of the second half and Julia Kratzer clinched it with a late goal.

“I could not be more proud of my teammates,” said Bolduc, a captain. “Everyone on the team has stepped up. Veteran players, brand new freshmen. We worked on team chemistry all year. Our focus all year was to have the best record possible and be as good as we could be. The team really bonded and it couldn’t have been a better season.”

“It’s sort of bittersweet,” said Roberts. “I’m happy we ended on a winning note, but sad because I would have loved to have more time with this group.”

Portland was blanked by visiting Cheverus, 1-0, last Monday, then finished with a record of 7-2 after defeating visiting South Portland, 4-2, last Friday. In the victory, Toni Stevenson scored the go-ahead goal and Elizabeth Littel, Eliza Stein and Lydia Stein also had goals.

“We’ve got some great kids here,” said Bulldogs coach Curtis Chapin. “The opportunity to get out here with them and kick the ball around and play the game we enjoy, that’s what it’s all about.”

Waynflete finished 4-5-1 after wins last week at Sacopee Valley (6-1) and at home over Greely (2-1) and a 1-0 loss at Freeport. Against the Hawks, Lucy Hart and Devan Sherry both had two goals, while Rachel Melendi and Kilee Sherry added one apiece. In the win over the Rangers, Melendi scored both goals.

“Just getting games under these kids’ feet is going to put them a great position to really compete next year,” said Carrie Earls, who co-coaches the Flyers with George Sherry. “I think they’ve done great.”

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

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