Talk about a memorable week.

Cross country and volleyball held their state championships (see stories), field hockey and soccer featured memorable quarterfinals and semifinals, while football’s postseason is also underway.

The best part of the fall sports season hasn’t disappointed, but it’s almost over, so don’t blink, you might miss it.

Here’s a glimpse at the entertaining week that was and how things stand as the calendar flips from October to November:

Boys’ soccer

Freeport’s Owen Rusiecki plays the ball while teammate Owen Howarth looks on and Yarmouth’s Steve Fulton gives chase during the Clippers’ 2-1 overtime win Saturday. Michael Hoffer / The Forecaster

The Yarmouth and North Yarmouth Academy boys’ soccer teams made their way to the regional final round, but not without a scare.

The Clippers, who won the most recent Class B state tournament in 2019, earned the top seed in Class B South and had no trouble in their first two playoff outings, blanking No. 16 Morse, 8-0, in the preliminary round, then shutting out visiting No. 8 York, 3-0, in last Wednesday’s quarterfinal round, behind three goals from Steve Fulton, the first from his brother, Jonny Fulton, the second from Isaac Grondin and the third set up by Truman Peters.

“York’s always a tough team and they always put up a great fight,” Steve Fulton said. “We were prepared and fired up. Everyone here wants to win, it’s playoffs. Every game we approach the same. It doesn’t matter who we play.”

“(Steve) saved his goals for playoffs,” said Hagerty. “I thought he was the best player on the field today and he’s been the best player on the field in a lot of our games. He exploded today. All those finishes were calm and strong, like his game.”

Yarmouth then hosted No. 5 Freeport in the semifinals Saturday in the rain, where nothing came easily.

The Falcons had handled No. 12 Lake Region, 7-3, in their preliminary round contest, then knocked off No. 4 Greely, 2-1, in come-from-behind fashion last Wednesday in a game played on the turf at Falmouth High. In that one, Bobby Strong scored the tying goal and Alex Graver won it with just over 10 minutes to play.

The Rangers, who got a first half goal from Owen Kany, finished 10-4-2.

Freeport would give Yarmouth everything it could handle and more in the semifinal round. The game was tied until Owen Redfield scored for the Clippers with 16 minutes to go. The goal looked like it would stand up, but with 44 seconds to go, Owen Howarth buried a free kick from just outside the box to send the contest to overtime in dramatic fashion.

“Owen was composed,” said Falcons coach Bob Strong. “That was timely. He came through when it mattered.”

Considering Freeport had just tied the score and Yarmouth was playing down a man, it appeared the visitors had the momentum heading to overtime, but just 3 minutes, 8 seconds in, the Clippers won it, 2-1, as Liam Hickey’s long serve found the foot of Stevie Walsh, and Walsh’s shot bounced off the inside of the post and tickled the twine to end it.

“Liam played a perfect ball and I just saw it coming down and all I had to do was put my foot on it,” Walsh said. “The goalie shifted over and the ball just went in.”

“My team is good at finishing and Stevie’s one of the best finishers on the team and I knew if I played him a good ball, he’d do the rest,” Hickey said.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” added longtime Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. “It was a memorable one and I’m glad we wound up on the right end of it. For all the emotions, the way the boys came back and won, it took this game to another level. We showed grit all game.”

The Falcons’ season ended painfully at 11-5-1.

“We played well enough to win,” Strong lamented. “We certainly thought we could win. This is the one we wanted. There have been a lot of teams before this team that got this program to where it is. I think these guys had a great season. I couldn’t be prouder of their hard work and their positive attitudes.”

Freeport will be hard hit by graduation, but the 2022 squad might be the one to take the final step.

“This was my first group when I came in and coached and I consider this my first team,” Strong said. “I’m extra close with this group and that’s why (losing) stings so much.”

The Clippers (15-0-2) will battle No. 7 Cape Elizabeth (11-5-1) in the Class B South Final Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Lewiston High School (see theforecaster.net/sports for game story). Yarmouth beat Cape Elizabeth twice by 2-0 margins this season. The teams have met three times before in the postseason with the Clippers leading, 2-1, but the Capers won last time, 2-1, in the 2018 Class B South semifinals to end Yarmouth’s four-year title reign.

“We’re not close to done,” Hagerty said. “This momentum could carry us and give us really good energy. We want to be in games like this and play the best teams and have to earn it. We know what to expect. I like how we match up with Cape. They’re very direct and athletic. They make you uncomfortable with the way they play. They’re strong down the midfield. We can’t take touches in the middle and think good things will happen. We have to spread the ball around.

“I think it will be a very good, very even, very close game.”

If the Clippers advance to the state final, they will meet either Winslow (17-0) or John Bapst (12-3) Saturday at a time to be announced at Massabesic High School in Waterboro.

In Class D South, the two-time reigning regional champion NYA took the No. 3 seed into the tournament and edged both No. 6 Buckfield and second-seeded Richmond by 2-1 margins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Against the visiting Bucks, Chas Rohde scored twice in the second half. In the win at the Bobcats, the Panthers saved their scoring for the second half again, erasing a deficit, as Matt Powers scored to tie things up with just under 20 minutes remaining and Hans-Erik Jerosch scored the eventual winner five minutes later.

“It was a huge momentum switch to get a goal back as quick as we did,” said Powers, a sophomore midfielder. “We knew we were going to have to grind it out, we all thought it was going to be a close game.”

“This is such a tough place to play,” said NYA coach Matt Williams. “I thought we responded well to adversity when we needed to and played a very complete game in the second half.”

The Panthers advanced to take on No. 1 Islesboro (10-1) in the Class D South Final Tuesday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. The teams didn’t play this year and had no playoff history.

If NYA advances to its third straight state final, it will take on either Lee Academy (17-0) or Wisdom (15-2) Saturday at a time to be announced in Presque Isle.

In Class A South, Falmouth, the fifth seed, blanked No. 12 Kennebunk, 3-0, in the preliminary round, but lost, 3-2, at No. 4 Marshwood in the quarterfinals to finish 11-3-2. The Navigators trailed early, tied it on Andrew Christie’s goal, then fell behind, 3-1, before a late penalty kick from Charlie Adams left them just short.

“They were bigger and stronger than us,” Falmouth coach Dave Halligan said. “They’re a senior team and we were missing players. They wore us down. They just wore us down.”

Girls’ soccer

North Yarmouth Academy senior captain Maggie Holt boots the ball early in the Panthers’ 7-1 quarterfinal round win over St. Dom’s last week. Michael Hoffer / The Forecaster

On the girls’ side, NYA and Yarmouth were still playing at press time.

The Panthers, the two-time reigning Class D state champions, who went undefeated in the regular season and earned the top seed in Class D South, handled visiting No. 8 St. Dom’s with ease in the quarterfinals, 7-1, as Angel Huntsman had four first half goals, including one 10 seconds into the contest, and Anna Belleau, Lila Jackson and Vy Tran also scored.

“I think we’re really excited about where we are right now,” Huntsman said. “We have to keep the intensity and stay focused and play our game. If we play as a team, I think we can make it to the end.”

“We wanted to take care of business and get other girls in and we were able to do that,” Panthers coach Ricky Doyon said. “We’re confident, but you can’t be overconfident. I tell the girls that anything can happen in the postseason. Teams play differently. Every game, you have to be up for that game.”

In the semifinals Friday, NYA advanced with a 5-0 home win over No. 4 Richmond, as Huntsman had three goals and Hayden Wienckowski and Kailyn McIntyre scored as well. The Panthers (15-0-1) met No. 2 Rangeley (11-3) in the Class D South Final Tuesday in Oakland. The teams didn’t play this year. NYA took the lone prior playoff meeting, 3-0, in the 2018 Class D South quarterfinals.

If the Panthers advanced to states again, they will meet either Wisdom (15-2) or Penobscot Valley (15-1) Saturday at a time to be announced in Presque Isle.

“I’m really excited to go all the way to the end,” Huntsman said. “I want to win another Gold Ball so badly. Especially for last year’s seniors who didn’t get to play and this year’s seniors, too.”

In Class B South, Yarmouth, the No. 2 seed, blanked No. 15 Poland, 6-0, in the preliminary round, then survived a scare against No. 7 Freeport in the quarterfinals last Wednesday, prevailing, 1-0, on Ava Feeley’s first half goal, off Macy Gilroy’s corner kick.

“That goal was super big,” Feeley said. “It set the tone for the next half. It brought everybody up. We always know there are more opportunities coming, but it was nice to get that one. All the balls Macy plays in are perfect. She’s so good at taking corners. I knew the placement was perfect, so I just had to get a foot on it.”

“We know the rankings don’t show who a team is,” said Clippers senior standout Katelyn D’Appolonia, who helped anchor the defense. “We never underestimate Freeport. We expected them to come out hard and they did and it was a tight game the whole time. It was tough to hold them off, but we stayed compact and connected and communicated. They’re fast in transition, which was hard on us, but we held them off.”

“This was a tough matchup,” added Yarmouth coach Andy Higgins. “We felt like after we played them last time that it wasn’t one of our best showings and we had some unfinished business we needed to take care of.”

In Saturday’s semifinal round, the Clippers again prevailed, 1-0, this time over third-seeded Medomak Valley, again on a Feeley first-half goal, this time from Kadin Davoren.

Yarmouth (15-1-1) meets No. 1 Cape Elizabeth (15-1), the two-time reigning state champion, in the Class B South Final Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Lewiston High School (see theforecaster.net/sports for game story). The teams split during the regular season, with the Capers prevailing at Yarmouth, 2-0 Sept. 2, and the Clippers rallying for a 3-2 victory at Cape Elizabeth Oct. 5. The teams have met five previous times in the postseason, with Cape Elizabeth winning three of them, including a 3-0 win in the 2019 Class B South Final, the most recent.

If Yarmouth reaches its first state final since winning back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017, it will meet either Hermon (16-0) or Mt. Desert Island (7-10) Saturday at a time to be announced at Massabesic High School in Waterboro.

Freeport, which had beaten No. 10 Gardiner, 4-0, in its preliminary round match, finished 8-8 after a tough 1-0 loss at Yarmouth in the quarterfinals.

“This was a heartbreaker,” said Falcons coach Dave Intraversato. “These kids came so far. I’m so proud of them. We always have to go through Yarmouth to get to Cape, or go through Cape to get to Yarmouth, but we feel comfortable playing here. The kids aren’t scared to come here. Yarmouth’s good. They have good players and they’re tough. I put girls in different places today than they’ve played before and they answered the call. It looked like Yarmouth packed it in pretty tight in the box. We should have taken longer shots. I’ll stay up all night thinking about that.”

Freeport will return a lot of talent in 2022 and could make an even deeper run.

“I think next year will be a different story,” Intraversato said. “We’re heavy with sophomores on this team. I’m confident we’ll be back next year and will have a higher seed.”

Greely, ranked eighth in Class B South, beat No. 9 Leavitt, 2-0, in the preliminary round, then finished 7-7-2 after a 5-0 loss at top-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.

In Class A South, Falmouth earned the No. 2 seed after its best regular season in 14 years and after eliminating 15th-ranked Sanford, 5-1, in the preliminary round, the Navigators edged No. 7 Marshwood, 2-1, in the quarterfinals last Wednesday, erasing an early deficit on goals from Gwen Long and Abbie Ford.

“(The ball) was just bouncing around and I stayed back for the rebound,” Ford said. “The ball came back to me, so I (struck) it home.”

“We’ve been in that situation (playing from behind) a few times,” Falmouth coach Andrew Pelletier said. “I thought Marshwood was very good for the first 15 minutes, then it was a lot of us.”

Saturday, in the semifinals, versus No. 3 Gorham, neither team scored in 80 minutes of regulation or 30 minutes of overtime, so the contest had to settled by penalty kicks, which the Rams won, 4-3, to end the Navigators’ season at 14-2-1.

“Two really evenly matched teams,” Pelletier said. “I couldn’t have asked for more. If you had told me we would go two games without conceding a goal to Gorham, I would’ve said no chance.”

Field hockey

Falmouth goalie Jenna Nunley, aided by her defensive teammates, Emerson Roy and Brooke Saulter, makes a save during Saturday’s 7-0 loss to Cheverus in a Class A South semifinal. Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald

The field hockey season has come to an end in Forecaster Country.

In Class A South, Falmouth, the No. 5 seed, made a spirited run to the semifinals. The Navigators, who blanked No. 12 Marshwood, 4-0, in the preliminary round, went to No. 4 Massabesic last Wednesday and sprung a 2-1 upset victory. That sent Falmouth to top-ranked, undefeated Cheverus for a semifinal Saturday, and that didn’t go as well, as the Navigators fell behind, 3-0, after one period and went on to a 7-0 defeat to finish 11-5.

Falmouth got 10 saves from goalie Jenna Nunley, but it just wasn’t the Navigators’ day.

“We just didn’t come out the way we’d hoped,” said longtime Falmouth coach Robin Haley. “Some of it was probably nerves. They have a lot of quality players. We had some good spurts, but we couldn’t really connect. Playing on grass isn’t an excuse, but we only played on grass twice this year.

“I’m super proud of this group. They didn’t give up. Nobody had us in the top 10. We lose a fair amount. This season’s leadership was a big reason why we went as far as we did. We have big shoes to fill, but we learned a lot for building for next year.”

In Class B South, third-seeded Yarmouth and No. 6 Freeport met in a good one last Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The Falcons, who had beaten No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, 6-0, in the preliminary round, struck first, as Lily Welsher scored in the first quarter, but that would be it for their offense and the Clippers, playing their first game in over two weeks, rallied. Ari Rustad scored the tying goal in the third period, then delivered the winner with 3:53 left and Yarmouth held on for a 2-1 victory.

“It was brutal not playing for over two weeks, but it gave us time to bond,” Rustad said. “We’re a very close team, so this feels so good. This is the farthest I’ve gone in my career.”

“It’s always a nail-biter against Freeport,” Clippers coach Molly Saunders said. “This is great for us.”

The Falcons finished 8-8 with the loss.

“I know the girls are disappointed, but this is what we wanted,” Freeport coach Marcia Wood said. “We had a chance at the end. It’s remarkable to have a .500 season and play this well with only one player (senior Kyla Havey) back with much varsity experience. Having no expectations helped us in the long run. We just went and played.

“This builds so much for next year. We lose four seniors and I have 17 coming back. I’m starting to see the benefits of my youth program, too.”

Yarmouth advanced to meet No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in Saturday’s rainy semifinal round and the Clippers managed just one shot on cage and despite nine saves from goalie Cassie Walsh, lost, 4-0, to wind up 9-5-2.

“We came out a little flat and they came out and played hard,” Saunders said. “We fought until the last minute and didn’t give up. Losing 4-0 isn’t easy, and our six seniors didn’t give up one minute. They have strong forwards and they know how to put some spice behind their shots. We didn’t expect to come this far this season. This was going to be a big rebuilding year, but we kept coming and kept fighting.”

The Clippers lose six seniors, but could be even stronger in 2022.

“We’re ready to hit the ground running coming summertime,” Saunders said. “A bunch of girls are playing club this winter. Putting in the time during the winter really helps when they season starts.”

In Class C South, the North Yarmouth Academy/Waynflete co-op team, ranked third, finished 10-5 after a 6-1 loss to sixth-seeded Lisbon in the quarterfinals last week. The squad struck first, on a goal from Greta Tod, but an injury to standout Emilia McKenney hindered the effort and a five-goal Greyhounds’ outburst in the third period broke the game open.

“This group has been phenomenal to work with,” said NYA/Waynflete coach Annika King. “They’ve worked so hard to get to this point. We have a strong senior class and we’re fortunate to have their talent and their skill and their overall strength in so many ways. It will be hard to lose that, but we’re grateful for what we had.”

As for NYA/Waynflete, considering it didn’t even compete a year ago during the COVID season and had to incorporate players from two schools on the fly this fall, its season was an overwhelming success. The future is bright as well.

“I’m excited to keep moving forward and excited about our eighth grade class coming up,” King said. “We’ll be ready to work hard.”

Football

Freeport’s football team, here celebrating a regular season-ending victory over Oak Hill, will be the No. 3 seed for the Class D state tournament. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

Freeport’s football team is the last one standing. The Falcons, who went 5-2 in the regular season, earned the No. 3 seed for the Class D state tournament and will host No. 6 Poland (2-4) Friday at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The teams were scheduled to play Oct. 2 in Freeport, but COVID complications caused a cancellation. The teams have no playoff history.

In Class B North, the Falmouth/Greely co-op team, ranked fifth, finished 3-4 after a 42-0 loss at No. 4 Skowhegan Friday.

Press Herald staff writers Steve Craig and Travis Lazarczyk and Times Record staff writer Eli Canfield contributed to this story.

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

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