One year after a better-than-nothing-but-far-from-ideal abbreviated fall sports season, the good times returned in 2021.

Full schedules were played, championships were bestowed and, for the most part, Mother Nature cooperated as well.

Forecaster Country teams have dominated on the soccer pitch for decades and 2021 was more of the same, as every squad took part in the playoffs, six reached the semifinals, four moved on to the regional finals, three made it to states and two, the Yarmouth boys and the North Yarmouth Academy girls, brought home the Gold Ball.

Volleyball produced a champion as well, as Yarmouth enjoyed its best season to date. Falmouth and Greely also got to the playoffs but lost in their respective state quarterfinals.

Freeport’s boys’ cross country team was the best from the coverage area, capturing the Class B title. Both Falmouth squads, the Freeport girls, both Greely teams, both squads from Maine Coast Waldorf and both Yarmouth teams also made it to the state meet.

On the links, triumph was also the theme, as Falmouth won the team title in Class A, while Yarmouth captured Class B for the first time, while Freeport’s Eli Spaudling was the individual champion.

Field hockey featured several winning teams as well as Falmouth and Yarmouth advanced the farthest in the playoffs, losing in the semifinal round. Freeport, Greely and the NYA/Waynflete co-op squad all fell in the quarterfinals.

On the gridiron, Freeport reached the Class D state semifinals before losing to Winthrop. Falmouth/Greely was ousted in the Class B North quarterfinals by Skowhegan, while Yarmouth lost to Spruce Mountain in its first playoff contest in the eight-man postseason.

It’s time to move indoors and think winter sports, but before we do, here’s one last tip of the cap to the champions of autumn and a glimpse at the best stories of the season:

Northern edition fall champions

Falmouth Navigators, golf, Class A
Freeport Falcons, boys’ cross country, Class B
North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, girls’ soccer, Class D
Yarmouth Clippers, boys’ soccer, Class B
Yarmouth Clippers, golf, Class B
Yarmouth Clippers, volleyball, Class B

North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, boys’ soccer, Class D South

Eli Spaulding, Freeport, Class B golf

Michael’s top five stories

5) Freeport boys capture cross country crown

Freeport’s boys’ cross country team finished second to York at the Class B South regional meet, but at states, the Falcons had no peer, capturing their first state title in six seasons by tallying 86 points, 28 better than York. Henry Horne was eighth in 17 minutes, 28.30 seconds. Also scoring were William Spaulding (11th, 17:40.46), Jack DiRusso (21st, 18:29.57), Samuel Robinson (22nd, 18:30.52) and Alexander Dawson (26th, 18:35.75).

“I’m extremely proud of my boys,” said Freeport coach Brian Berkemeyer. “It was a great example of a team effort. They all relied on each other so they could experience something greater.”

4) History made on the links

Freeport’s Eli Spaulding shows his form en route to winning the Class B individual state title last month. File photos

The weekend of Oct. 8-9 saw a couple of local golf teams capture state titles at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. First, Yarmouth ascended to the pinnacle for the first time in program history, posting a team score of 322, 16 strokes better than runner-up Leavitt. The Clippers were led by Andrew Cheever, who had an 18-hole score of 77. Nate Hagedorn shot a 79, Quinn Federle finished with a round of 81 and Sebastian Martinez finished at 85.

“I know this state title means so much for the golfers as they are well aware that the success of golf at YHS has been limited,” said Yarmouth coach David Cousins. “This is just a fantastic group of young men and I could not be more proud of them.”

If that wasn’t enough, Freeport’s Eli Spaulding shot a round of 68 to not only win the Class B individual crown but post the best score in any class.

“This is something I wanted to check off my list,” Spaulding said. “I wanted to get that final win of the season and it feels really good to do so.”

The following day, at the Class A state match, Falmouth won a team championship for the first time since 2013, shooting a team score of 315, 10 strokes better than runner-up Thornton Academy. The Navigators were led by Paul Dilworth, who shot a 77. Also scoring were John Hwang and Josh Stowell (78) and Mitchell Ham (82).

“All and all, I couldn’t be more proud of these boys and the rest of the team for a tremendous season,” said Falmouth coach A.J. Simokaitis.

3) Yarmouth boys remain the gold standard

Yarmotuh’s boys’ soccer team has made a habit out of celebrating championship wins and this fall was no exception.

The sun will rise, the sun will set and the Yarmouth boys’ soccer team will win Class B state titles. On Nov. 6, the Clippers won their second consecutive Class B state title and their fifth in six seasons, completing an undefeated regular season. Yarmouth tied Freeport and eventual Class C champion Waynflete in the regular campaign, but won every other game. Then, as the top seed in Class B South, the Clippers had no trouble against Morse in the preliminary round and York in the quarterfinals, but the road suddenly got tough, as Freeport took Yarmouth to overtime in the semifinals before Stevie Walsh played the hero, then, after falling behind Cape Elizabeth in the regional final, the Clippers had to rally and advanced behind second half goals from Steve Fulton and Walsh. The state game proved to be a lot easier, as Yarmouth got early goals from Walsh and Isaac Grondin, then Truman Peters added another in the second half and the Clippers went on to a 3-0 victory and the program’s 14th all-time title.

“It’s a special class,” said longtime Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. “I’m so proud for them. They wanted to put their names in with Yarmouth’s best teams and the memories they’ve created will be so special.”

2) NYA girls enjoy spectacular title season

Angel Huntsman and her NYA girls’ soccer teammates laid waste to the opposition during another championship run this season.

Sticking with soccer, NYA’s girls had a sensational season by any measure. The Panthers outscored the opposition, 83-4, in the regular season and went 13-0-1, their best mark in 17 years, with the only blemish a 1-1 tie at Class B South runner-up Yarmouth, a game they nearly won. The dominance continued in the regional playoffs with wins over St. Dom’s (7-1), Richmond (5-0) and Rangeley (7-0). Then, in the state final, NYA made it three straight Gold Balls by handling Wisdom, 3-0, finishing the year with a 105-5 goals advantage.

“I’m not sure how to adequately label this team other than that they are a special group,” Panthers coach Ricky Doyon said. “The girls always played as a team and got the job done. We didn’t have any player who felt that she was the best player on the team.”

1) Yarmouth volleyball caps perfect season with unforgettable state match win

Yarmouth’s volleyball team got to celebrate last and loudest once again this fall.

Yarmouth’s volleyball team has firmly established itself as the best in Class B, but what the Clippers accomplished this fall, winning a third consecutive championship in breathtaking fashion, set the bar even higher. Yarmouth won all 14 regular season matches, 11 times in straight sets and three other times in four games. As the top seed for the Class B state tournament, the Clippers quickly dispatched Ellsworth and Mt. Desert Island in three sets, but in the state final, played on their home court, they got taken to the brink by rival Cape Elizabeth. The Capers won the first and the third games and suddenly, Yarmouth’s dream of a first-ever perfect season was on the ropes, but the Clippers took the fourth set, then rallied from an early deficit to take the fifth as well, 15-10, and capture a third consecutive championship.

“It feels really good,” said longtime Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal. “This team has so exceeded my expectations. I expected we’d be good, but considering what we lost (to graduation), I’m so surprised. The kids did a great job. They were never challenged like this, but they came through.”

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

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