When Lewiston won its first boys’ soccer state championship three years ago, the Blue Devils were the favorites, despite never having broken through to win states. Last year’s title was a bit more of a surprise, if only because Bangor was thought of as the favorite and Lewiston didn’t round into form until the championship run.
Here it is late October looking toward November and the Blue Devils are once again the favorites in Class A North to get back to the state title game. They have yet to be beat in countable games (Mt. Ararat won the KVAC championship on penalty kicks), with only a season-opening draw against Bangor after both teams had to reload their rosters a bit, and a late-season draw against Mt. Ararat.
Lewiston will have a few teams looking to knock off the defending champs on their path back to the state final.
The first team in the No. 1 Blue Devils’ way is upstart No. 8 Oxford Hills, which went 7-7 after winning just two games a year ago. Getting through that first test would mean a regional semifinal against either No. 4 Brunswick or No. 5 Mt. Blue. Both teams played Lewiston tough, and in their own matchup together the Dragons and Cougars tied to open the season in Farmington.
Mt. Ararat earned the No. 2 seed on the back of the draw against Lewiston and 11 wins. The Eagles get No. 7 Hampden Academy in the quarterfinals. The winner of that game takes on the winner of No. 3 Bangor and No. 6 Edward Little in the semifinals. The Rams and Red Eddies tied during the regular season. Both lost to Mt. Ararat (including EL twice).
The winner of the North will likely face a stiff test in the state championship. Gorham is the South’s top seed after a Class A-best 13 wins, but the Rams have to be on the lookout for No. 2 Falmouth (11-2-1), defending regional champ and third-seeded Portland, and No. 4 Cheverus — which gave Gorham its lone tie.
The Class B state final will take place at Hampden Academy, but the Class B South regional final will likely take place at Yarmouth High School once again. At least that’s what the Heal points standings and past precedent say. The four-time defending state champs are the top seed in the South after going 12-0-2, with ties against B South No. 2 Freeport and C South No. 1 Waynflete.
The Clippers’ toughest tests in the playoffs would seemingly be against No. 4 Cape Elizabeth (a pair of one-goal games in the regular season) in the regional semis or the Falcons in a potential B South final.
Freeport must first get past No. 7 Leavitt in a quarterfinal that matches up two non-conference opponents, while No. 3 Greely (which could face the Falcons in the semis) draws conference rival No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester in its quarterfinal. Yarmouth faces No. 8 York in the quarters, while the Capers draw No. 5 Lincoln Academy.
The top of the B North bracket is led by Aroostook County rivals Caribou (No. 1, 12-1-1) and Presque Isle (No. 2, 11-1-2). The top-seeded Vikings went 1-0-1 against the Wildcats. No. 3 Mount View went 14-0 in the KVAC — one of two teams in the state to not suffer a loss or tie. Fellow KVAC member Gardiner is the No. 4 seed, though the two teams didn’t play during the regular season.
Only Caribou and Presque Isle earned byes to the quarterfinals. Mount View and Gardiner had to survive a pair of one-goal prelims.
Three different conferences are represented in the top three spots of the Class C South bracket, meaning there’s no regular-season matchup to look back on if two of those teams meet in the regional final. Waynflete (WMC) is the top seed, but finished with less wins (11) than No. 3 Hall-Dale (13, out of the MVC, and No. 3 Maranacook (12) of the KVAC.
At least the Flyers get a conference rival in the quarterfinals. They beat No. 9 Sacopee Valley twice during the regular season. The No. 2 Bulldogs draw No. 7 Traip Academy (WMC) in their first playoff game, while the defending state champ Black Bears get neighboring No. 6 Winthrop (MVC). The fourth and final quarterfinal pits MVC rivals No. 4 Mt. Abram and No. 5 Monmouth. The host Roadrunners won the regular-season matchup in the season opener, though the Mustangs did hand Hall-Dale its lone loss two days after the Bulldogs beat Mt. Abram.
Fort Kent, last year’s state runner-up, is the No. 1 team in the North. No. 2 Orono and No. 3 Houlton both are 10-win teams, while No. 4 Sumner had a region-best 13 victories. Fort Kent’s lone losses were to Class B contenders Caribou and Presque Isle. The Warriors beat the No. 3 Red Riots twice. Sumner’s lone loss was to No. 5 Lee Academy — its quarterfinal opponent.
Former Class C title contender North Yarmouth Academy finally found its footing in Class D this year. The Panthers went 12-2 to clinch the top seed in the South region, losing only to Class C opponents Waynflete and Sacopee Valley. They didn’t face No. 2 Greenville or No. 3 Temple Academy, but beat No. 4 Buckfield and No. 5 Richmond two times apiece.
The Bucks and Bobcats — last year’s regional finalists — played twice this season, with Buckfield going 1-0-1 against its biggest rival. The Bucks lost to Temple, which earlier in the season lost to Richmond.
Two-time defending Class D state champ Bangor Christian has a difficult path to get back to the state final, but the Patriots started their underdog run out of the No. 12 spot in the North by beating No. 5 Jonesport-Beals in the prelims. Another upset win against No. 4 Madawaska could set up a semifinal matchup with No. 1 Central Aroostook (14-0). No. 2 Penobscot Valley and No. 3 Woodland both will have something to say in the region after matching 13-1 regular-season records.
The North champ has won 13 of the last 15 state titles, with only Richmond winning in that time (2007, 2014).