The Class A North boys’ soccer playoffs will once again run through the Twin Cities, but unlike in previous years, it’s Edward Little, not Lewiston, that has homefield advantage. That’s just one of many storylines to keep an eye on as the playoffs in all four classes get underway.
For the first time this decade, the Lewiston Blue Devils didn’t clinch a top-two seed in the Class A North playoffs. Despite just two losses during the regular season, Lewiston has to settle for the No. 4 seed. Thanks to a little more parity this year, Edward Little earned the top seed with the same 11-2-1 record. Bangor went 12-1-1 to pick up the No. 2 seed, and Mt. Ararat’s 12-2 season granted the Eagles the third seed.
The road will not be easy for the Red Eddies. Their playoffs could begin with No. 9 Mt. Blue, which tied EL during the season. The Cougars will have to get past No. 8 Brewer first. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, begin with No. 5 Camden Hills, which they beat 1-0 earlier this season.
That would set up a Lewiston at EL regional semifinal. The Red Eddies won their home rivalry match late in the season after dropping the first meeting in Lewiston.
For what it’s worth, EL beat both Bangor and Mt. Ararat (albeit early), while Lewiston lost to the Eagles and tied the Rams.
Down in the South, Gorham is the No. 1 seed after a 13-0-1 season. Falmouth (11-2-1) is No. 2, while Deering (11-1-2) is No. 3. Scarborough, which lost to Lewiston in last year’s state title game, is lurking at No. 4.
For the second year in a row, MVC heavyweight Maranacook is the No. 1 seed in B South, thanks to a 13-0-1 record. The Black Bears are again followed by the top team out of the WMC, and that’s Yarmouth, the two-time defending state champ. The Clippers have the same 11-2-1 record as conference foe Cape Elizabeth, the No. 3 seed, and there is a big drop-off in Heal points after that.
The Black Bears will be looking to avenge last year’s overtime home loss to the Clippers, but they will likely first have to get through WMC foe York, the No. 4 seed. The Capers will also want revenge against Yarmouth, after two regular-season losses, but they have to get through No. 6 Greely, while the Clippers have to get past No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester. The Capers edged out the Rangers by one goal twice this season, while the Patriots played Yarmouth tough on the road in a 2-0 loss.
In the North, there’s a new name at the top, in John Bapst of Bangor. The Crusaders weren’t even a playoff team a year ago, but went 13-1-0 this season to edge out Winslow for the top seed. The Black Raiders were also No. 2 last year, when they were upset by eventual regional champion Erskine Academy in the quarterfinals. The Eagles are No. 6 this postseason, with perennial power Ellsworth just ahead at No. 5. A low seed could once again make its way to the state final this year.
Monmouth Academy is the prohibitive favorite in C South after an 11-1-2 season. The next closest team in the standings, No. 2 Wiscasset, finished more than 33 Heal points behind. But the Mustangs’ potential postseason run is an interesting one. If they get through their quarterfinal, they could potentially face No. 4 Hall-Dale, which handed them one of their two draws this season. That’s also a rematch of last year’s No. 1 vs. No. 4 matchup, which saw Monmouth upset the Bulldogs.
If Wiscasset gets past No. 7 Waynflete (last year’s regional champion) and No. 3 Lisbon gets past No. 6 Telstar (which just beat the Greyhounds to end the regular season), then the Wolverines and Greyhounds will play a rematch of Wiscasset’s regular-season finale, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
If it’s a Wiscasset vs. Monmouth regional final, then the Wolverines can hang their hat on being the lone team to beat the Mustangs this season.
Meanwhile, in the North, defending state champ Washington Academy opens as the No. 3 seed, despite finishing the regular season 14-0. The Raiders sit behind a pair of 13-1 teams in No. 1 Orono and No. 2 Central. The Red Riots and Red Devils split their two regular-season matchups.
A potential Washington Academy vs. Central regional semifinal is looming, which would be a rematch of last year’s regional final that ended in a 6-0 victory for the Raiders.
The road back to the state final will not be an easy one for Buckfield. The Bucks won’t have homefield advantage, as they did last year. That honor goes to No. 1 Richmond, which is usually a stop on every South champion’s postseason run. The Bucks won in penalty kicks at home in last year’s playoff matchup. The two teams split a pair of regular-season matchups this year, both on the road. The Bobcats’ win to end the regular season clinched the No. 1 seed over Seacoast Christian, and relegated Buckfield to No. 3.
The Bucks open their postseason against an unfamiliar foe, No. 6 Greenville. A win could mean a semifinal tilt against the No. 2 Guardians (who have to get past No. 10 Rangely), who only lost once this year, and not since their second game of the season.
The Class D North postseason runs through defending state champ Fort Fairfield, which went 14-0 to earn the No. 1 seed. The Tigers are on a collision course to meet fellow 14-0 team, No. 2 Bangor Christian. The Tigers and Patriots met in last year’s regional final before Fort Fairfield went on to beat Buckfield for the state championship. That ended Bangor Christian’s streak of six straight regional championships.