After a year with no spring sports, the return of postseason play last week was highly anticipated and welcomed, but no one could have predicted the drama or unpredictability of the days just past.

A lot of excitement was packed into a short time.

Here’s a look back at the action-packed week that was:

Tennis

Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ tennis team fell a point shy of winning the Class B state title last week.

The Capers, ranked first in Class B South, beat No. 8 Freeport and No. 4 Greely by 4-1 scores to advance to the regional final last Wednesday against second-ranked Yarmouth. Cape Elizabeth lost at first singles and first doubles, but Caroline Gentile won her second singles match in two sets, Sarah Hagan prevailed in three sets at No. 3 singles and Alison Gerety and Emma Kubin won in straight sets at second doubles to allow the Capers to win, 3-2, and advance to states.

Saturday, in Lewiston, Cape Elizabeth found itself in another 3-2 match, this time against Waterville, and this time, the Capers lost to finish the year 13-2. Blair Hollyday beat Inga Zimba at first singles, 6-1, 6-1, and Gentile was a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Emma Sheikh at second singles, but Hagan lost to Sarah McNeil at third singles, 4-6, 2-6, Isa Kesselhaut and Aurora Milton fell in three tough sets to Keira Gilman and Karin Zimba, 2-6, 6-3, 2-6, at first doubles and at No. 2 doubles, Gerety and Kubin lost, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 1-6.

Boys’ lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team was closing in on a state title at press time, although a couple huge hurdles remained.

The Capers, ranked second in Class A South after a perfect regular season, opened the playoffs versus No. 7 Noble in the quarterfinals last week and dominated, 22-1, as Archie McEvoy scored five goals and Keegan Lathrop added three. Next up was No. 3 Gorham in the semifinals and Cape Elizabeth won again with ease, 18-2, as Keegan Lathrop and Colin Campbell both scored four goals and Tiernan Lathrop added three. Tuesday, the Capers were scheduled to play at top-ranked Berwick Academy (12-1) in the regional final, but the threat of bad weather moved that game to Wednesday. The teams didn’t meet this year and had no playoff history.

If it prevailed Wednesday, Cape Elizabeth will travel to Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland Friday at 7:30 p.m., and will look to win its first Class A championship and its first at any level since 2017, when it takes on Falmouth (11-4). The Capers won the regular season meeting, 14-5, May 22. The teams have met nine previous times in the postseason, with Cape Elizabeth holding a 6-3 edge. The most recent encounter came in the 2017 Class B South Final, a 6-5 Capers’ win.

Scarborough and South Portland weren’t able to solve Berwick Academy.

The Red Riots, ranked No. 8 in Class A South, beat No. 9 Massabesic, 15-4, in the preliminary round, then lost at Berwick, 16-3, to wind up 2-12.

The Red Storm, the No. 4 seed in the region, ended No. 5 Thornton Academy’s two-year title reign in the quarterfinals, as Owen Leadley scored three goals and Jeremiah Park and Finn Pedersen added two apiece while Alex Callahan sparked a strong defensive effort.

“Words can’t explain how much this win means to me, especially after they beat us first round my sophomore year,” Callahan said. “This is my first playoff win. That’s huge to me. It means the world for us to come out here and handle our business.”

“It feels amazing to win for the seniors who didn’t get to have a season last year,” Park said. “We’ve struggled with letting off the gas, but we kept on it today. Watching from the sideline, it was nerve-wracking, but our defense has been a huge part of our success. They’ve been amazing this year.”

“This is a good first step,” Scarborough coach Zach Barrett added. “It’s huge for the kids’ confidence. I know anything can happen in the playoffs, especially against TA. Late in the game, we lost control a little bit, but luckily, we’d done enough work early on to build a cushion and hold on.”

The Red Storm then went to Berwick Academy for the semifinals Friday and built a quick 4-0 lead, but couldn’t hold it and lost, 9-7, to wind up 10-4.

“That was a hard loss, but I would say that we accomplished our goal of becoming one of the top teams in the state again,” Barrett said. “We overcame some adversity, losing the majority of our preseason due to COVID quarantine, losing two critical starters to injury early in the season and having to play four games in a row near the end of our season. All in all, we really connected as a team and saw some great leadership and camaraderie this year. We established the culture of working hard and getting better and we learned that everybody has a role to play.

“Looking at 2022, we have a large group of rising seniors who want to put their stamp on the program and they are hungry for redemption. They now have experience playing at the highest level and should be ready to go next year. We also have a few rising sophomores and juniors who are poised to contribute next year. I believe we will be back and competitive again.”

Girls’ lacrosse

Scarborough’s girls’ lacrosse team celebrates its 12-9 win over Massabesic in the Class A South semifinals. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

On the girls’ side, Scarborough’s season of resurgence finally came to an end Tuesday in the regional final round.

The Red Storm, the No. 2 seed in Class A South, opened the playoffs with an 11-3 victory over No. 7 Gorham, racing to a 7-0 halftime lead and never looking back. Maya Sellinger scored five goals, Natalie Bilodeau scored four times and goalie Kathleen Murphy made 10 key saves.

“It’s incredible,” Murphy said. “I hadn’t played in a playoff game. It’s great to win our first game.”

“There were definitely nerves, but we’ve taken what we’ve been practicing and put it out here,” Sellinger said. “It was exciting to play in a playoff game. I just got open and tried to be confident. We’ve worked a lot in practice on attack. We clicked.”

“I don’t have words for what it means for us to win a playoff game,” added Red Storm coach Emily Field. “The girls have faced every challenge this year. They weren’t nervous going into a playoff game. In the pregame, I told them not to worry about the outcome and if we took care of the little stuff, the right outcome would happen.”

Scarborough then held off No. 3 Massabesic, a team it had lost to earlier in the season, 12-9, in a thrilling semifinal. Darby Stolz’s fourth goal broke a tie and Sellinger scored four times as well, including a pair of late free positions, to put it away. Murphy made 11 saves.

“We knew we could do it and we worked so hard,” Stolz said. “They caught up and we knew we had to fight harder than we had before to get back on top.”

“It was definitely nerve-wracking, but we had to make sure we didn’t get frustrated and play our own game to get us where we wanted to go,” Sellinger said. “I think we really had heart this game. We all wanted it so badly. It was so exciting. We had a lot of good energy and that translated into our game play.”

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Field added. “Deja vu is a good word. I knew it would be a really hard game and it would be about momentum, lulls and fighting through the lulls. They needed to believe. We both had skills. We just needed to believe. Once we retook the lead and capitalized on the excitement and built on it, that carried us through to the end.”

Scarborough then met its match in top-ranked, undefeated Kennebunk in Tuesday’s regional final, losing, 13-2, to finish the year 11-4. Bilodeau scored both goals and Murphy made 14 saves.

“We didn’t quite play our game today, but I’m proud of these girls,” Field said. “They made it this far and I couldn’t ask anything more of them this season. It’s certainly not the ending we’d hoped for, but looking at the entire season, holy smokes I am so proud of my girls. I’d confidently say we accomplished just about everything we set out to do this year. To come from a 2-10 no playoff season, to a 1-11 no playoff season, to no season, and now to finish 11-4 with two of the four losses by only one goal, and runners up to the Class A South Final. I mean, that’s pretty incredible.

“I think this season we accomplished a lot on the attacking end. We’ve struggled these last few seasons to really create and produce in the attack and this year we really seemed to solve that. Natalie Bilodeau was obviously huge for us in a lot of games, but it was a team effort all around. I had two veteran players down low who really saw the field well and the rest of the squad bought into the idea that your work on attack is just as meaningful whether you’re scoring the goals or creating the space ahead of time. Just under half our goals were off of assists, and I love that stat. Some of my highest ground ball winners are attackers which, again, says a lot about their attitude and hustle in the attacking end.

“And on the defensive end, Kathleen Murphy first of all is the real deal. I think she’s the best (goalie) in the state. I just have enjoyed watching her play these last four years and she’s for sure a difference-maker for us. But our defensive end as a whole had a tremendous season overall. I have so much confidence in our defenders to play upright, man-on-man defense and they’re smart players. If something didn’t work, a matchup or a defensive stance, they quickly adjusted on their own to handle it better the next time down. Our goals against this season were just half of our goals scored and I love that.

“I think the biggest thing for us this year was proving to ourselves that we did have what it takes. In previous losing seasons I said that we were talented, but the outcomes weren’t reflecting that and this year proved that we are talented and we have the outcomes to back that up. We’re going to build off this. Next year is more of the same. We’ll continue to fine-tune what has worked well and learn from the losses. We’ll improve the areas in our game where we got beat. I’m really excited. This season was special for sure, but it’s just the beginning for us.”

Two-time reigning Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, ranked ninth, won its first playoff game, 13-8, at No. 8 Cony in the preliminary round, then went to No. 1 Yarmouth in the quarterfinals Saturday. The Capers hope to beat the Clippers again, as they did in overtime in the 2018 and 2019 state games, but this time, it was all Yarmouth, which shot to a 13-2 halftime lead and went on to a 17-4 victory to end Cape Elizabeth’s season at 4-10. Charlotte Graham, Hannah Johnson, Claire McDonald and Laura Ryer each scored once.

“We thought we could compete,” said Capers coach Alex Spark. “The score may not reflect it, but the energy level we kept on the field all 50 minutes despite the score and how hard we fought speaks volumes about the type of program we are and how we don’t give up. I’m so proud of the kids for the fight they gave.

“We’re not the same team we were over spring break. It’s about the growth of the program and our program has come so far from the last day in March to now. It’s a special group of seniors. I have 13 of them. I’m lucky to have them leading this group of underclassmen. We told the underclassmen to pay attention and watch. Our junior class has 13 girls also. They’re step up and fill the seniors’ shoes. I hope the program will continue on the same path.”

Baseball

South Portland centerfielder Bradley McMains makes a diving catch during the Red Riots’ 2-1 win over Cheverus in Saturday’s Class A South semifinals. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

South Portland’s baseball team was in the midst of a spirited run at press time.

The Red Riots, ranked sixth in Class A South, opened with a 6-5 victory over No. 11 Sanford in the Round of 16, then dispatched No. 14 Bonny Eagle, 11-6, in the quarterfinals. Johnny Poole had two hits and three RBI and Bradley McMains earned the victory. Saturday, South Portland hosted No. 7 Cheverus in the semifinals and after giving up a run in the top of the first inning and escaping trouble on a couple occasions, Nolan Hobbs settled down and excelled and RBI singles from Richard Gilboy and Noah Dreifus in the bottom of the fourth gave the Red Riots a 2-1 victory.

‘“I knew I’d get a hit before I ever went to the box,” Dreifus said. “I was just trying to hit it hard anywhere. I saw it go through and rounding the base was a great feeling.”

“I was so pumped on the final strike,” Hobbs said. “This team competes. We have to battle one inning at a time.”

“I don’t think we’re a huge Cinderella story,” added Red Riots coach Mike Owens. “Everyone wants to talk about last year and what we missed, but this is such a great group of kids. They’re excited and don’t want it to end.”

South Portland (14-5) was scheduled to meet No. 1 Thornton Academy (16-3) in the Class A South Final Tuesday, but the threat of bad weather postponed that game to Thursday evening (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story).

If South Portland advanced to its first state game since 2015, it will take on Bangor (14-6) or Skowhegan (15-5) Saturday at 1 p.m., at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. The Red Riots lost that 2015 state final to the Rams, 5-4. The Red Riots and Skowhegan have never met in the playoffs.

In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth, the No. 4 seed, which downed No. 13 Lake Region, 11-4, in the Round of 16, dropped a marathon 12-6 (10-inning) decision to No. 5 York in the quarterfinals to wind up 10-8. The Capers tied it with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh and again with a run in the eighth, but six Wildcats runs in the top of the 10th proved too much to overcome.

Softball

Cape Elizabeth’s softball team remained perfect at press time and was two wins shy of a championship.

The Capers, ranked second in Class B South after a perfect regular season, dominated No. 15 Freeport in the Round of 16, 22-0, in five innings, then had no trouble with No. 7 Poland in the quarterfinals, prevailing, 13-2, as Kat Callahan, Dana Schwartz and Abigail Scifres each tallied four hits and Anna Cornell allowed just three hits while striking out 11 to earn the win. Saturday, in the semifinals against No. 6 Medomak Valley, Cape Elizabeth got its first close game all season, but managed to push across a run in the bottom of the seventh to advance, 1-0. Esme Song’s RBI single won it and Cornell struck out 13 while pitching a seven-hitter.

The 19-0 Capers faced top-ranked Fryeburg Academy (14-3) in the Class B South Final Wednesday. The teams didn’t play this spring, but had met four previous times in the playoffs with the Raiders holding a 3-1 advantage. In the most recent encounter, Fryeburg Academy won, 11-4, in the 2019 Class B South semifinals.

If Cape Elizabeth moved on to the state final, it will face either Nokomis (14-5) or Winslow (7-11) Saturday in Brewer. The Capers beat Winslow to win the program’s lone previous championship in the 2007 state final (2-1).

Press Herald staff writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this story.

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

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