For the third year in a row, Monmouth Academy earned the top seed in the Class C South girls’ soccer bracket. That homefield advantage hasn’t translated to a ticket out of the region so far, however.
That doesn’t mean the Mustangs will complain about the region running through Monmouth. But maybe this will be the year that home cooking will be a recipe for regional success.
The Mustangs won’t have to worry about facing either of the two previous teams to knock them out of the playoffs. Waynflete — which beat Monmouth in the regional semifinals in 2016 — didn’t qualify for this year’s postseason, and Madison — one of the Mustangs’ biggest rivals and the team that beat them in overtime in last year’s C South final — lost to Sacopee Valley in the preliminary round.
Just because Waynflete and Madison are out of the way doesn’t mean the Mustangs’ path to the state final is lined with roses. First they’ll face No. 9 Sacopee, which is a non-conference opponent. Get past that and Monmouth will draw the winner of No. 4 Maranacook and No. 5 Hall-Dale. The No. 4 Black Bears are also a non-conference foe, while the Bulldogs were one of the MVC’s better teams this season.
The Mustangs’ biggest threat might be No. 2 Traip Academy — yet another non-MVC team. The Rangers, like the Mustangs, went 13-1 during the regular season, losing only to Class B contender York. Monmouth’s lone regular-season loss was to MVC rival Oak Hill, which plays postseason games in Class B. The Raiders also beat the Mustangs in the MVC championship.
Traip draws No. 7 Winthrop in the quarterfinals. The final quarterfinal matches up a pair of MVC rivals, No. 3 Lisbon and No. 6 Mt. Abram. The higher-seeded Greyhounds won the regular-season meeting.
The North bracket is led by No. 1 Dexter (14-0), followed by defending state champ Houlton at No. 2. Those two teams finished with a comfortable margin over the rest of the field in the Heal points standings, with an even bigger gap from No. 3 Fort Kent to No. 4 Central and No. 5 Sumner.
Judging by the Heal points, the Class A state final should be a rematch between Camden Hills and Scarborough. Both teams finished the regular season 14-0 to capture the top seeds in their respective regions. Neither road back to the state championship will be easy, though.
The Windjammers have some stiff competition in the North in No. 2 Brunswick and No. 3 Messalonskee. Both teams only finished with one loss, and that was to Camden Hills in both instances. For the No. 3 Eagles, that was the first game of the season, and they’re unbeaten since then. But in order to get to a potential regional final against the Windjammers — or semifinal against the Dragons — they’ll first have to get past a No. 6 Oxford Hills team that lost by one at Messalonskee to close out the regular season.
The other quarterfinals pit the Windjammers against No. 8 Hampden Academy, the Dragons against No. 7 Skowhegan, and No. 4 Bangor against No. 5 Mt. Ararat.
In the South, the Red Storm has an equally difficult regional path. No. 2 Gorham, No. 3 Cheverus and No. 5 Windham all finished with double-digit wins in the regular season, and No. 4 Bonny Eagle provided a tough test all season. The quarterfinals match up Scarborough with No. 9 Noble, the No. 2 Rams with No. 7 Marshwood, the No. 3 Stags with No. 6 Falmouth, and neighboring rivals Windham and Bonny Eagle.
The favorite in B South has to be Cape Elizabeth. The Capers are the No. 1 seed after going 14-0. There was a big gap in the final Heals between them and No. 2 Oak Hill, which edged out No. 3 York for the second spot. Defending state champ Yarmouth finished in the No. 4 spot, just ahead of No. 5 Freeport, which it will face in the quarterfinals.
The second-seeded Raiders are the only non-Western Maine Conference team left in the region, after No. 9 Gray-New Gloucester, No. 10 Greely and No. 11 Lake Region all upset higher seeds from outside the conference. Oak Hill gets matched up with Greely, which beat Spruce Mountain in the preliminary round. The No. 9 Patriots have a tall task of facing the Capers in the quarters. The Lakers are matched up with the No. 3 Wildcats.
Defending North champ Presque Isle is in position to win the region against after clinching the No. 1 seed. The Wildcats got homefield advantage ahead of No. 2 Hermon and No. 3 Winslow. The top four teams, including No. 4 Medomak Valley, didn’t play each other during the regular season. No. 7 Mount View and No. 8 Brewer were both 10-win teams, and will look to spring quarterfinal upsets — though the Wildcats routed the Witches to end the regular season.
The last four Class D state finals have matched up Richmond and Ashland, with the teams alternating the winner. Richmond, in fact, has played in the past eight Class D title games.
The Bobcats are positioned to get there again, as the No. 1 seed in the South. They just beat out No. 2 North Yarmouth Academy for that spot. The Panthers appear to be the biggest threat to end that run, after going 1-0-1 against Richmond during the regular season. No. 5 Buckfield also handed the Bobcats a loss, and those two teams would meet again if Richmond ousts No. 8 Hyde in the quarterfinals and the Bucks do the same at No. 4 Temple Academy. The Bereans did beat Buckfield twice during the regular season, however.
NYA draws No. 7 Rangeley in the quarters. Both regular-season meetings were close Panther wins (1-0, 4-2). Last year’s regional runner-up — and the last non-Richmond team to win the South/West — No. 3 Greenville, gets No. 6 Searsport in the quarterfinals.
Ashland might not be the favorite to make it out of D North again. The Hornets are the No. 2 seed in the region, having been topped in the standings by No. 1 Central Aroostook. The Panthers went 13-0-1, with the lone tie against Ashland after beating the Hornets earlier in the season.
No. 3 Penobscot Valley also went 13-0-1 after falling in the regional last year. The Howlers didn’t face the Panthers or Hornets during the regular season. There was a large drop-off in the standings after the top three.