There wasn’t much fault to be found with the 2022 fall sports season.

The weather was largely terrific and the highlights were plentiful across the board.

Portland’s football team overcame a slow start and got all the way to the state final before coming up just short, Cheverus made it to the playoffs in its return to 11-man play and Deering earned its first victory in three years.

On the pitch, Waynflete’s boys remained the gold standard, winning yet another Class C championship while being led by a record-setting individual. Cheverus, Deering and Portland also made it to the playoffs and produced their share of thrills.

On the girls’ side, Waynflete enjoyed its best season since 2016, Cheverus made a spirited run to the semifinals and Portland peaked late to make the playoffs.

Cheverus’ field hockey team was without peer for 17 games, but finally met its match in the state final.

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Cheverus and Deering’s volleyball teams made it to the postseason.

Portland’s cross country teams enjoyed a memorable season and other local runners turned heads.

No local golf teams qualified for states but some individuals impressed.

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:

Portland edition fall champions

State
Waynflete Flyers boys’ soccer, Class C

Regional
Cheverus Stags, field hockey, Class A South
Portland Bulldogs football, Class B South
Portland Bulldogs, boys’ cross country, Class A South
Waynflete Flyers, girls’ cross country, Class C South

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Michael’s top five stories

5) Cheverus field hockey dominates almost the whole way

 Lucy Johnson was a scoring machine for the powerhouse Cheverus field hockey team this fall. File photos.

The Stags picked right up from where they left off in 2021, when they went undefeated and won the program’s first state title by outscoring the opposition, 99 goals to 9. This season, Cheverus was even more prolific, as an offense featuring sophomore goal scorer extraordinaire Lucy Johnson, along with senior Taylor Tory, junior Lily Johnson and several others, rattled the cage with abandon, scoring 118 times in 14 games, while surrendering a mere five goals. In the regional playoffs, the Stags rolled over Falmouth, Thornton Academy and Windham by a composite 20-1 margin. Then came the state final, when Cheverus’ repeat title hopes came crashing down. Lucy Johnson did score twice to put the Stags ahead and they clung to a lead in the fourth quarter, but Skowhegan, Cheverus’ victim a year ago, scored two quick goals and held on for a stunning 3-2 victory. The Stags couldn’t quite stake their claim as an all-time juggernaut, but they produced no shortage of thrills and they’ll be right back in the hunt again in 2023.

4) Portland cross country teams excel

Portland sophomore Samantha Moore was one of the league and state’s elite runners this season.

Portland’s resurgence as a cross country power continued this season. The Bulldogs boys, led by standout junior Nathan Blades, won the Class A South regional title for a second consecutive season, while the girls, featuring sophomore star Samantha Moore, was fourth at the regional meet. At states, Portland’s boys finished second, its best finish since 2005, while the girls also came in fourth, their best showing since 1984, as Moore was the individual runner-up. With several strong runners returning, the Bulldogs figure to be back in the hunt again next fall.

3) Waynflete girls return to prominence 

Lucy Hart helped pace Waynflete’s girls’ soccer team to its best season in several years.  

The Flyers came into the season full of optimism after reaching the semifinals in 2021 and they wound up excelling. Featuring a nice mix of returning standouts and young stars, Waynflete won its first four games to gain confidence and wound up 10-4 in the regular season, the program’s best mark since 2015. The Flyers then defeated Monmouth Academy and Traip Academy to reach the regional final for the first time in six seasons. While Waynflete fell short there against Maranacook, 2-0, the stage has been set and perhaps next fall, the Flyers will take that final step and win the program’s first Gold Ball since 2013.

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2) Portland football can’t quite capture the big prize

Portland celebrates after winning the Class B South title. The Bulldogs would drop a close game to Skowhegan in the state final.

The Bulldogs overcame and overcame this fall, but a second half deficit in the state final proved one mountain that was too steep to climb. Portland lost its starting quarterback in the opener, then won just one of its first four games, but when Kennedy Charles took over under center, the Bulldogs became nearly unbeatable. Portland won its final four regular season contests to earn the top seed in Class B South, then beat Noble, Kennebunk and South Portland to make it to the big stage. Skowhegan was the only team standing between Portland and a Gold Ball and Saturday, the Bulldogs couldn’t quite come back from a 20-6 halftime deficit and lost, 20-14, to finish up 8-4, the second-best team in its class.

1) Waynflete boys finish Myles ahead of the competition

Myles Culley was the state’s most prolific goal scorer while leading Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team to a fourth consecutive Class C state championship. 

Just when you think the Flyers can’t raise the bar any higher, along came Myles Culley, an individual season for the ages and yet another crown. Culley, a senior, quickly emerged as a goal-scoring machine, and despite losing some great players to graduation a year ago, Waynflete, the state champion in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (there was no postseason in 2020 due to COVID) remained atop Class C, while making its mark against Class B foes as well. The Flyers lost a close game at Cape Elizabeth and settled for a draw at York, but beat everyone else on the schedule, including Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth (on an unforgettable Culley goal in overtime) to wind up 12-1-1. Waynflete then had no trouble against Oak Hill in the quarterfinals before rallying to down Traip Academy in the semifinals. After blanking Mt. Abram in the regional final, the Flyers won their fourth consecutive championship, handling Fort Kent, 6-1, in the state game, as Culley scored five goals, giving him a state record-tying 52 for the season. What does the 2023 squad have in store? We can’t wait to find out.

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

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