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.

Cape Elizabeth’s football team just captured the program’s first championship and left no doubt. Scarborough reached the Class A state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Thornton Academy, while South Portland was ousted in the Class B South quarterfinals by Noble.

Cape Elizabeth also won a title in girls’ soccer, as the Capers made it three in a row behind the heroics of two exceptional players. Scarborough was upset by Thornton Academy in the Class A South quarterfinals, while South Portland lost to Gorham in the preliminary round.

On the boys’ side, Cape Elizabeth rose from the No. 7 seed to the Class B South Final, but despite scoring first, lost to eventual repeat champion Yarmouth by a goal. Scarborough fell in penalty kicks against Gorham in the Class A South quarterfinals, while South Portland got to the semifinals before also losing to Gorham.

Volleyball produced an abundance of success and drama, as Scarborough edged Biddeford in a five-set state match for the ages in Class A and Cape Elizabeth nearly upset undefeated Yarmouth in the Class B final before bowing out in five games. South Portland lost to Falmouth in the preliminary round.

Field hockey saw two teams reach the regional final, but Scarborough was ousted by eventual Class A champion Cheverus and Cape Elizabeth, after its best season in two decades, was beaten by eventual Class B champion Leavitt.

Cross country featured an individual champion from Cape Elizabeth, Hadley Mahoney, who won the Class B girls title, and strong showings from both Capers teams and the Scarborough and South Portland boys.

South Portland turned heads in golf, reaching the state match for the first time in 20 years, placing sixth and producing an individual champion in Lucas Flaherty. Cape Elizabeth tied for fourth in Class B, while Scarborough finished fourth in Class A.

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:

Southern edition fall champions

Cape Elizabeth Capers football, Class C
Cape Elizabeth Capers girls’ soccer, Class B
Scarborough Red Storm volleyball, Class A

Cape Elizabeth Capers girls’ cross country, Class B South

Hadley Mahoney, Cape Elizabeth, Class B girls’ cross country

Michael’s top five stories

5) South Portland golfer wins states

South Portland’s Lucas Flaherty shows off the hardware after winning the Class A individual golf title last month. File photos

South Portland has long played second fiddle to teams like Cheverus, Falmouth and Scarborough in golf, but the Red Riots took center stage this fall. South Portland qualified for the Class A state match for the first time since 2001 and came in sixth, but that was only part of the story. Lucas Flaherty posted an 18-hole score of 72 to win the individual crown by four strokes.

“I knew I was coming in near the top of the state,” Flaherty said. “I just had to play my game and let it come to me.”

The Red Riots also got strong showings from Alex Leupold (88), Ben Stanley (91) and Connor Corcoran (92), and set the stage for future success.

“For our team to qualify this season was the fulfillment of many years of hard work,” South Portland coach Tom Hyland said. “Our goal in August was to qualify for states and contend for a championship. We believed in ourselves and we believed we could compete. Everyone contributed. We are proud of ourselves and we will continue to work for the ultimate team prize of a state championship.”

4) Cape field hockey parties like its 2000

Junior Grace Gray and her Cape Elizabeth field hockey teammates enjoyed their best season in a generation this fall.

Cape Elizabeth’s field hockey team expected to be competitive this fall, but the Capers surprised everyone, perhaps even themselves, by rolling all the way to the Class B South Final. Led by standouts Camden Woods and Grace Gray and several other girls who came up big in big spots, Cape Elizabeth went 11-2-1 in the regular season, losing only to perennial powerhouse York, for its best record since 2000. Then, as the No. 2 seed for the regional tournament, the Capers blanked Morse and Yarmouth to reach the regional final for the first time since that same 2000 season, the last time the program appeared in the state game. Cape Elizabeth wasn’t able to get that far, losing to Leavitt, 2-0, but what a ride it was.

“It was such a fun season,” said Capers coach Maura Bisogni. “I am so proud of the team. They work really hard on the field but also put in a lot of work and time making sure the team dynamic is positive and supportive. I think that gives them a great space to go for their goals and improve.”

3) Cape girls’ soccer does it again

Cape Elizabeth senior standouts Emily Supple (4) and Maggie Cochran did a lot of celebrating this fall as they led the Capers to another Class B state title.

This time, it wasn’t in perfect fashion, but Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team wound up with the Gold Ball again. The Capers, who won the Class B state title in 2018 and 2019 and would have been heavy favorites to do it again in 2020 if COVID hadn’t prevented a postseason, extended their win streak to 32 games before letting a two-goal lead slip away in a humbling home loss to Yarmouth Oct. 5. That setback proved to be a blessing in disguise, however, as Cape Elizabeth regrouped, won out, earned the top seed for the Class B South tournament, then dispatched Greely and York before avenging its setback with a 3-0 win over Yarmouth in the regional final, as senior standout Emily Supple scored three times. Then, in the state final versus Hermon, Supple scored two more goals and senior Maggie Cochran, arguably the finest player in program history, added the final tally of her illustrious career and the Capers had a 3-0 victory and another crown.

“Rightfully so, (Maggie and Emily) get the attention,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Graham Forsyth. “I may have players that special again, but not on the same team at the same time. They’re special and they have a tremendous supporting cast. There was a lot of work into getting here. There were tears, but at the end of the day, this outcome is what it was all for and we’re thrilled.”

2) Cape football leaves no doubt

Cape Elizabeth didn’t just make history by winning its first Gold Ball Saturday night, the Capers did it with authority (see story) and it won’t be the last time the Capers ascend to the pinnacle.

1) Scarborough wins epic volleyball final, Cape falls just short

Scarborough’s volleyball team erupts in unbridled joy after edging Biddeford in an epic five-set Class A state final.

The volleyball state match drama was unforgettable and two local teams found themselves in the middle of it all.

Cape Elizabeth, which wasn’t able to handle rival/nemesis Yarmouth in a pair of regular season matches, had the Clippers on the ropes in the Class B Final, but despite holding a 2-1 lead in sets and an early lead in the fifth game, lost in agonizing fashion.

“We always say we want to walk off the court with no regrets knowing we did everything we could, and I think that’s the best match we’ve played all season,” Capers coach Sarah Boeckel said.

Scarborough, meanwhile, was able to finish the job in Class A, beating undefeated, top-ranked Biddeford on the Tigers’ home court no less. The Red Storm lost to Biddeford in the regular season, but despite being down a match point, rallied to win in five games, taking the fifth set, 16-14, to win the program’s third title in jaw-dropping fashion.

“It means a lot to the team to win the state title this year,” Scarborough coach Kim Stoddard said. “It’s been our goal since losing (to Falmouth) in 2019 to make it back. After missing out on the opportunity in 2020, we were motivated this year to get there. I am so happy for my team, especially my eight seniors.”

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

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