(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Cheverus football, NYA-Waynflete boys’ soccer and Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth girls’ soccer game stories, see pressherald.com/forecaster/forecaster-sports/)

Fall sports debuted with a flourish last week, as local teams engaged in memorable games and hinted at even more excitement to come.

Here’s a recap:


Falmouth running back Indi Backman loses his helmet while rushing the ball during the Navigators’ season-opening victory over Cheverus. Backman scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald

Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth’s football teams all debuted with victories last weekend.

The Navigators welcomed Cheverus Friday night in the teams’ first-ever countable meeting. The Stags won the eight-man large school division a year ago, moved back to 11-man this fall and they gave Falmouth all it could handle before the Navigators eked out a victory late.


After falling behind early, 6-0, the Navigators went on top when quarterback Peyton Mitchell, who transferred from Cheverus, registered his first varsity completion, a 74-yard bomb to Miles Gay. Finn Caxton-Smith added a 2-yard TD run to make it 13-6, but the Stags drew back within a point at halftime. When Caxton-Smith broke away for a 42-yard score in the third period, Falmouth was on the brink of pulling away, but Cheverus pulled even on a touchdown pass and two-point conversion pass with 3:45 to go. The Navigators then drove to retake the lead on Indi Backman’s 14-yard scamper with 1:49 remaining. The extra point was blocked, but Falmouth stopped one final Stags’ drive and prevailed, 26-20.

“It’s great to get the win,” Backman said. “It got close, but I stayed calm the whole way.”

“(Cheverus) had a really good running game,” Caxton-Smith said. “It was hard stopping them to the outside in the first half, but after we made adjustments at halftime, we figured out how to stop what they were running.”

“I expected a good game,” added longtime Navigators coach John Fitzsimmons. “(Cheverus) made some great decisions over there. In the end, it’s a ‘W’ and we’re thankful we pulled it off.”

Falmouth finished with 220 yards of offense and overcame nine accepted penalties for 80 yards, a blocked punt and a couple of turnovers.

“We have a good team, but tonight, we had a lot of first-game jitters and it showed with some uncharacteristic penalties that made it a long night,” said Fitzsimmons. “I said to the guys, ‘The good news is there were only two rules in the rulebook we didn’t violate.’”

Caxton-Smith wound up rushing 10 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a seven-yard reception and played a key role on defense as well. Mitchell wound up completing 2-of-7 passes, good for 81 yards and a score. Backman ran five times for 22 yards and a TD.


Falmouth remains home to take on 1-0 Mt. Blue Friday night. The following week, the Navigators go to reigning Class C champion Cape Elizabeth.

“I think our team is amazing and we can go pretty deep,” Caxton-Smith said. “Our offensive line is one of the best in the state.”

“We just have to fix our mistakes and clean up our penalties,” said Backman.

“This is something to build on,” Fitzsimmons added. “There’s a lot of good character on this team. We’ll learn our lessons. We play two state champions in our first three games, so we’ll see what we’re made of.”

Freeport, a state semifinalist in Class D last season, impressed in its opener, downing visiting Lisbon, 35-22. The Falcons opened up a 14-6 lead after one quarter, as Jordan Knighton broke away for a 57-yard touchdown run and quarterback Aidan Heath added a 43-yard TD scamper. A second touchdown from Knighton (a 22-yard run) made it 21-6 at the half. Heath connected with Nick White for a 43-yard score in the third quarter to extend the lead to 28-6. After a Lisbon touchdown, Knighton put it away with a 5-yard touchdown run. The Greyhounds added a score late, but it wasn’t enough.

Knighton finished with 151 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. Heath ran for 57 yards and a score on six rushes and completed 9-of-10 passes, good for 154 yards and a TD. White caught six balls for 113 yards and a score and Alex Graver made all five of his extra point attempts.


Freeport looks to improve to 2-0 when it visits Madison (1-0) Friday.

Yarmouth (which has a few players from North Yarmouth Academy) began with a decisive 45-6 home win over Lake Region. The Clippers seized control with a 23-0 run in the first period, as Sam Bradford threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kai Sullivan, Mike McGonagle scored on an 18-yard run and Spencer LaBrecque scored from 13-yards out. By halftime, they were up, 39-0 (as McGonagle scored on a 10-yard run and Bradford hit LaBrecque for a 71-yard TD), and never looked back. LaBrecque ran for a 60-yard score in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring. McGonagle gained 176 yards on 25 carries, scoring twice, while LaBrecque gained 114 yards and had two TDs on 10 carries. Bradford finished 3-of-5 for 103 yards and two scores.

Yarmouth visits Camden Hills Saturday.

Greely, which returned to stand-alone varsity status this fall, was the only local squad to begin with a loss, 26-12, at Gray-New Gloucester. The Rangers fell behind, 18-0, at halftime and rallied in the second half before falling short. Brayden VanPembrook and Ryder Simpson each had touchdown runs.

Greely will try again for its first victory Friday, when Waterville pays a visit. It was be the Rangers’ first home game since 2018.

Boys’ soccer


NYA’s Cooper St. Hilaire plays defense during a season-opening loss at Waynflete. Michael Hoffer / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team, the two-time defending Class B state champion, began another title chase Saturday by tying visiting Cape Elizabeth, 1-1. The Clippers, who had an early goal from Justin Dawes erased by an offsides call, gave up a penalty kick goal just before halftime, but drew even early in the second half, as Wyatt Anderson set up Zack Kelly. Yarmouth looks for its first victory Wednesday at Freeport (see pressherald.com/forecaster/forecaster-sports/ for game story), then welcomes York Thursday and hosts NYA Monday.

Freeport also settled for a draw in its opener, rallying to tie visiting York, 1-1, on Alex Graver’s second half penalty kick. After hosting Yarmouth Wednesday, the Falcons go to Greely Saturday, then welcome Lake Region Tuesday of next week.

Greely dominated visiting Poland in its opener, 9-0. Ethan Njitoh scored four times and Tonny Bennert, Ben Hanson, Bez Mendelsohn, Tate Nadeau and Owen Piesik had one goal apiece. The Rangers were at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and host Freeport Saturday.

Falmouth blanked host Bonny Eagle, 4-0, in its first game. Mason Quiet scored twice and also had an assist and Finn Cameron and Ben Pausman added a goal apiece. The Navigators welcome Noble for their home opener Wednesday and go to Sanford Saturday.

NYA, the reigning Class D South champion, was no match for three-time reigning Class C champion Waynflete on Opening Day, falling, 6-0, in Portland. The Panthers managed just one shot. Goalkeeper Tanner Anctil made 10 saves.

“(Waynflete’s) a phenomenal team,” first-year NYA coach Branden Noltkamper said. “It’s fun to watch them play. Expectations are so high, then you give up an early goal and it’s tough to rebound.”


The Panthers seek their first win next Thursday, at Richmond. After going to Wells Saturday, NYA visits Yarmouth Monday.

“We’re still learning,” said Noltkamper. “A lot of teams had all summer to do workouts, but I was appointed the coach here just a few days before the hands-off period started. I didn’t really know any of the kids until the first week of preseason. We still have a long way to go. This was a good wakeup call for us. A good opportunity to see where we stack up. We want to peak in October.”

Girls’ soccer

Yarmouth’s Neena Panozzo keeps the ball away from a Cape Elizabeth defender during Saturday’s 2-1 setback. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald.

On the girls’ side, NYA, the three-time reigning Class C state champion which is highly-touted again, started with a 4-1 victory at Old Orchard Beach. Hayden Wienckowski scored twice and Anna Belleau and Vy Tran each added a goal. The Panthers’ home opener is Thursday, versus Richmond.

In Class A, Falmouth edged visiting Bonny Eagle, 1-0, in its first game under new coach Ben Johnson. Elise Gearan scored the lone goal, assisted by Audrey Murray. Eve Chace made five saves. The Navigators were at Noble Tuesday, return home to face Sanford Thursday and host Kennebunk Monday.

In Class B, Yarmouth is still chasing three-time champion Cape Elizabeth and the Clippers had their chance to avenge a regional final loss to the Capers in their opener Saturday. Visiting Yarmouth fell behind, 1-0, in the first half, but drew even on Grace Lestage’s second half goal. Cape Elizabeth then converted a free kick with 19 minutes to play and went on to a 2-1 victory. Goalkeeper Regan Sullivan made six saves for Yarmouth, which battled back, but couldn’t earn a result.


“What a day,,” said Clippers coach Andy Higgins. “This was fun. A really fun opener. It was great to see both teams have kids get out and compete and battle with each other. It’s a great start to the season.

“Cape taking a big step back is a myth. You can look at who they lost, but they bring back a lot of really good players and they have good young players. They’ll never be bad. They are very good and they’ll be a tough team to play against, but I feel the way we played today, we’ll be too.”

Yarmouth looked to get in the win column Tuesday at home versus rival Freeport (see pressherald.com/forecaster/forecaster-sports/ for game story). The Clippers are at York Saturday and welcome Greely Tuesday of next week.

“We’ve got some things to tighten up, but if we compete like this every day, we’ll have a fun year,” Higgins said.

Greely started with a 4-0 win at Poland. Shaylee O’Grady scored two goals and Eva Williams and Avery Bush each had one. After hosting Cape Elizabeth Tuesday, the Rangers travel to Freeport Thursday and visit Yarmouth Tuesday of next week.

Freeport started with a 1-0 loss at York. After going to Yarmouth Tuesday, the Falcons play their home opener Thursday against Greely before returning to the road Tuesday of next week at Lake Region.


Field hockey

Falmouth’s field hockey team started fast last week with victories at South Portland/Westbrook (2-1) and at home over Kennebunk (3-0). In the opener, Charlize Kelly and Elizabeth Brown each scored goals and goalkeeper Jenna Nunley made seven saves. Against the Rams, Valerie Rand, Allison Sweetser and Anna Turgeon each scored one goal. The Navigators are back in action Friday at Biddeford. They host reigning Class A state champion Cheverus Tuesday of next week.

Freeport started with a 3-1 setback at perennial powerhouse York. Freshman Emily Groves scored the lone goal. The Falcons hosted Yarmouth Tuesday and Lake Region Friday, then visit Cape Elizabeth Monday.

Greely started with a 2-0 loss at Lake Region in a playoff rematch. Kate Parkinson made three saves in defeat. The Rangers hosted Fryeburg Academy Tuesday (see pressherald.com/forecaster/forecaster-sports/ for game story) and go to St. Dom’s Monday.

Yarmouth opened with a 1-0 setback at St. Dom’s. After hosting Freeport Tuesday, the Clippers welcome Wells Monday.



Yarmouth’s three-time reigning Class B champion volleyball team blanked Falmouth, 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-21), in the season-opener, as it successfully served all 73 attempts, Laila Brewer had eight assists, Dorcus Bolese and Grace Keaney each had five kills and Annie Vinnakota added four kills and four aces.

“We didn’t miss a serve and I think that was the difference against a much-improved Falmouth team,” said Yarmouth coach Jim Senecal.

The Clippers have a state match rematch at Cape Elizabeth Thursday, host Greely Saturday and visit Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday of next week.

Falmouth hopes to get in the win column Wednesday at home versus Cheverus. The Navigators are at Bonny Eagle and go to Greely Tuesday of next week.

Greely eked out a 3-2 victory at Wells in its first match under new coach Autumn Vargo. After going to Noble Thursday, the Rangers visit Yarmouth Saturday before playing at home for the first time against Falmouth Tuesday of next week.

NYA dropped a 3-1 (13-25, 19-25, 25-17, 11-25) home decision to Brunswick/Mt. Ararat in its opener. Charlotte McLatchy had seven digs and four aces, Sarah English finished with nine digs, Madilyn Oronato had five digs and Laurel Buehner added six digs. The Panthers were at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday.


Cross country

Falmouth’s girls’ cross country team opened by placing first at a four-team meet at Thornton Academy. Fiona Hanrahan (20 minutes, 17 seconds) and Maeve Ginevan (21:02) were the top two individuals. The Navigators boys were second to South Portland. Miles Woodbury was the top individual (17:04).

Yarmouth hosted Freeport, Greely and Cape Elizabeth.

The Falcons were first in the boys’ meet, as Henry Horne was the top individual in 17:19.42. Teammate Will Spaulding (17:57.45) was second. The Rangers were second as a team and had the third-best individual (William Coull, 18:02.96). The Clippers wound up fourth and were paced by Cameron Pernal (ninth, 18:44.65).

In the girls’ competition, won by Cape Elizabeth, Greely was second, Freeport third and Yarmouth fourth. The Rangers were led individually by freshman Rowan Berry (seventh, 22:09.8). The top Falcon was Caroline Carter (fifth, 22:02.16). The Clippers produced third-place finisher Madeleine Jones (21:22.96).



On the links, Falmouth’s reigning Class A champion golf team started with a 7.5-5.5 loss to Scarborough, then blanked Deering (13-0).

Greely started with victories over Bonny Eagle (12.5-0.5) and Windham (10.5-2.5).

Yarmouth, the defending Class B champion, won its first three matches.

Freeport started with a 1-0 loss to Cape Elizabeth.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Comments are not available on this story.