Congratulations, I know how happy I was when one of my beers made it past the first round. It got dinged for low carbonation and that was true.
It's great that you had knowledgeable judges. I entered a cider in the French category and was told that my cider was too dry for a French cider. I don't know what part of France he drank cider from but all my experience with real French cider is that it's bone dry.
in fairness, I bet that judge was just using the BJCP guidelines for French Cider, which says medium to sweet, full-bodied, and rich. A competition has to have guidelines to judge against and that's what most use. It doesn't mean your cider was bad, but you have to consider how your beverage is going to stand up against whatever guidelines that competition is using. There is a sentence near the top of Category 27 to this effect.
*edit* and of course, congrats to the OP!