They were playoff losses that tend to linger.

No. 8 Sacopee Valley stunned the unbeaten and top-ranked St. Dom’s girls,  while Leavitt pushed Yarmouth to the brink in their quarterfinal.

Both defeats were tough to swallow but serve as extra motivation this season. Meanwhile, schools like Monmouth, Buckfield, Oxford Hills and Lewiston all suffered through challenging years that could serve as the foundation for this year’s progress.

When the 2010 fall season gets under way Friday, teams have the chance to make up for near-misses or build off last year’s experiences. A number of local squads could see significant progress this year as teams attempt to make their mark on the coming season.

Class A

Edward Little was the lone area playoff club a year ago. The Red Eddies lost key personnel but still return 12 players that could put EL in the playoff hunt again. Replacing all-state goalie Kirsten Prue will be a challenge, but the Red Eddies have experience in the midfield and in the back to keep EL strong. Mt. Blue fell just shy of a tourney berth. The Cougars return a dozen and have a wealth of new players that could make an impact.

Lewiston and Oxford Hills were near the bottom of the Eastern A standings, but have new coaches and optimism this season. The Blue Devils return 11 players with a goal of bolstering Lewiston’s standing in the KVAC. The Vikings have 12 players back also and hope to improve with the help of 11 new players.

The teams in Eastern A won’t be any strangers to success. Brunswick, the defending state champion, Bangor, Waterville and Mt. Ararat were the top four clubs a year ago and should be contenders again. Teams like Messalsonkee, Morse and Cony should be in the mix as well.

Class B

A WMC team has won 11 of the last 12 Class B state titles and with the defending champs from York along with solid clubs like Falmouth and Yarmouth, that trend could continue. Maranacook could be in the top of the standings as well.

There are some locals clubs shooting to put a dent into that tradition. Leavitt returns most of its club after eight wins and the fourth seed last year. Mountain Valley earned the sixth seed and returns 12 players from that club and has 15 incoming freshmen that could make them a regular in Western B for seasons to come. Lisbon lost some top talent but still has the nucleus of its team back with 15 returning players and a solid defense and midfield. Oak Hill also has the bulk of its team back after barely missing out on the tournament. Poland also has strong numbers back and, along with Gray-New Gloucester, could make a push for a playoff spot.

Class C

St. Dom’s lost plenty of talent and experience from its MVC championship team but still has 10 players returning and an eye on another great season. The defending Class C state champs from Georges Valley will be a force as could Hall-Dale be, and traditional threats like Waynflete and North Yarmouth Academy continue to lurk.

Mt. Abram and Dirigo were the only other area teams to reach the playoffs last fall. Both clubs have some holes to fill but could challenge for the postseason. Jay was a combined team with Livermore Falls last year in Western B. The Tigers are now in C and have a team that could also contend for a playoff berth.

Winthrop should be a solid club and in the mix in the MVC as well, while Monmouth had a young team a year ago that could be a little more seasoned this fall.

Class D

Richmond and Greenville were the top two clubs a year ago and should be strong again. The Lakers won the regional crown before losing to Southern Aroostook.

Greenville has enough back to make them a factor while Richmond graduated just four starters, three in the midfield, from a club that went unbeaten in the regular season before losing in the regional final.

Rangeley went 5-6-1 last fall and could be chasing those top clubs this year with 11 players back including all-state midfielder Allie Hammond. Buckfield could make strides also after just three wins last year. The Bucks return nine starters and have their entire midfield back.

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