The most common question among girls’ soccer players, coaches and fans over the next two weeks may be, “Doesn’t it feel like we’ve been here before?” Whether it’s top seeds or specific playoff matchups, the 2016 tournament has a lot of the same to offer as the 2015 tournament. All four classes either are already repeating history or have a strong chance of doing so.
For the third year in a row, rivals Edward Little and Lewiston face each other in a must-win game. Perhaps more relevant, Wednesday’s quarterfinal between the fourth-seeded Red Eddies and fifth-seeded Blue Devils is their third meeting this year. EL won the first, in Lewiston, 3-0, while the two sides settled for a scoreless draw in the Auburn sequel.
The reward for the winner, aside from bragging rights, will likely be top-seeded, unbeaten defending state champion Bangor. The Rams haven’t allowed a goal since Sept. 27. Camden Hills, whose only loss this season came at the hands of Bangor (3-2), is the No. 2 seed.
The rankings in the South suggest a state final rematch, as defending champion Gorham holds the top seed. Seeds 2-5, Scarborough, Cheverus, Falmouth and Marshwood won 10 games apiece this season, so these Rams may have to negotiate rockier path back.
Class B South’s preliminary round made one thing clear — the Western Maine Conference’s dominance over the region will continue this year. All but one of the eight teams remaining in the bracket hails from the conference — including top seed Yarmouth and defending state champion Greely, the No. 2 seed. No. 9 Gray-New Gloucester carries the momentum from its impressive 10-1 prelim win over Mountain Valley into Wednesday’s quarterfinal with the Clippers, who beat the Patriots twice during the regular season.
The North boasts two unbeaten teams. Not surprisingly, they’re the schools that split the last four regional titles — Hermon and Waterville.
Monmouth and Madison waged a compelling two-team battle for the top seed in the South. Each won a game on the other’s turf, but the Mustangs earned the top spot by virtue of winning all four of the games against Class B teams on their schedule. The Bulldogs beat all of their Class B opponents, but only had two to play. Sacopee Valley of the WMC looms in the No. 3 spot and would like nothing better than to avenge last year’s loss to the Mustangs when it was the top seed.
No. 4 Lisbon hosts another WMC power in Waynflete, the defending regional champs, in the quarterfinals. Defense got the Greyhounds a home playoff game and will be key to their playoff survival.
C North appears to be even more unpredictable. Orono begins defense of its state title as the top seed, but the next four seeds have shown they can at least be competitive with the reigning champions.
Is this the year Richmond’s run of regional titles, now up to six in a row, finally comes to an end? Another rematch in the state title game with Ashland, for the third consecutive year, seems in the cards. But the Bobcats will likely have to take care of No. 2 Buckfield first. The Bucks played them tough in their season finale, losing 2-0, but they will have to defeat Greater Portland Christian in the quarterfinals and then either Searsport or Greenville to get another crack at halting Richmond’s dynasty.
Ashland is the unbeaten top seed in the North. In 14 games this season, the Hornets have outscored their opponents 111-6.