PORTLAND—There was no shortage of excitement at Cheverus High School on a busy and beautiful fall Thursday afternoon.
The Stags hosted Biddeford in their Senior Day game in field hockey and capped a tremendous regular season with a 3-0 victory, which will position Cheverus quite nicely for a high playoff seed.
Just down the hill, the defending Class A champion boys’ soccer team hosted South Portland in a playoff rematch and as was the case a year ago, there was no separation to be found as the teams settled for a scoreless draw.
Cheverus’ field hockey team rode a roller coaster a year ago, winning its first five games, then going 0-7-2 down the stretch, only to come back to life with a pair of playoff wins before finally being 0usted at Marshwood in the semifinals.
This fall, it was hard to handicap Cheverus prior to the season as the squad had several holes to fill, but it’s put together a better-than-expected campaign.
The Stags had to go to overtime in their opener to beat visiting Westbrook, 2-1. After edging host Windham, 1-0, Cheverus dominated visiting South Portland, 7-0, then went overtime again for a 3-2 victory at Thornton Academy. After a 1-0 home win over Sanford, the Stags made a powerful statement with a 2-1 win at Scarborough, ending the Red Storm’s five-year, 66-game league unbeaten streak in the process. Cheverus stayed hot with a 5-0 home victory over Noble and a 3-0 win at Portland, then met its match at home with a 2-0 loss to Marshwood. After falling, 3-2, in a double-overtime heartbreaker at Massabesic, the Stags got back on track with a 2-0 victory at Gorham, then won at Deering Monday, 3-1, and at Bonny Eagle Tuesday, 3-2, in overtime.
Biddeford has been up and down this year, beating Windham, Noble, South Portland and Deering and losing to Portland, Westbrook, Massabesic, Thornton Academy, Marshwood, Gorham and Sanford.
Biddeford last beat the Stags, 2-0, Sept. 10, 2007, in Biddeford. Cheverus won last year’s meeting, 4-1, at home and Thursday, it extended its win streak against the Tigers to eight.
The Stags were frustrated much of the first half, as they earned eight penalty corners without converting a single one into a goal.
Then, with 3:46 to play before halftime, on corner number nine, Cheverus finally broke through and got the only goal it would need as freshman sensation Sophia Pompeo scored out of a scrum.
The Stags added to their lead early in the second half, as with 26:03 remaining, senior captain Becca Archer waited by the far post for a pass from classmate and fellow captain Emily Michaud before finishing for a 2-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, with 24:28 to go, Archer scored again, with the assist going to freshman Bella Booth.
“It’s all about the placement of the ball and executing and being at the right place at the right time,” said Archer.
“I was happy that Becca again stepped up and was the spark we needed,” said Cheverus coach Amy Ashley. “We dominated the whole second half.”
The Stags went on to the 3-0 win, enjoying an 8-1 edge in shots and a whopping 21-2 advantage on penalty corners, as they finished the regular season 12-2, dropping Biddeford to 4-8 in the process.
“It feels amazing, Senior Day brought up a lot of memories,” Archer said. “I’ve played four years with almost every senior. It’s been a fun four years. It’s gone by fast. It’s amazing to see how far this team has come.”
“I didn’t expect going 12-2 at all,” Ashley said. “We’ve been a complete team. We’ve had different people step up every game. A lot of different scorers. No heroes. There’s a lot of chemistry. There’s a lot of love for each other. I was nervous coming off of last year. I didn’t know what team we’d be this year. We had big wins early. We pulled out close games late. That’s the sign of a good team.”
While Cheverus is done for the year, several other top contenders still have one or even two games left to play, which means the Stags will have to wait and see just how high a seed they receive for the Class A South playoffs. Cheverus (first at press time) could be as high as first, or could be somewhere else in the top five, but rest assured, this group will be ready to make a run.
“We’ll do a lot of team bonding,” Archer said. “We’re getting better every day. We’re very happy to be a high seed. Homefield advantage is great. Now we just have to go out and win.”
“We’re very proud of what we’ve done and we’re very excited for the position we’ve put ourselves in for playoffs,” Ashley said. “Now we have a huge layover. We have to stay sharp. It will be a challenge for us to come out strong the next game, no matter who is is. We have a lot to work on. We do a lot of team bonding during playoffs. That’s helped a lot over the years. We hope to have a run like we did last year and maybe even a little bit more.”
On the soccer front, Cheverus and South Portland both sought victories to help them keep up with the top teams in a very balanced Class A South.
The defending Class A champion Stags settled for ties in their first two games, 0-0 at Portland and 1-1 at home against Marshwood. After a 5-0 home win over Massabesic, a 1-0 victory at Westbrook and 5-0 wins at Noble and at home over Windham, Cheverus was bested by visiting Thornton Academy, 2-1. After a 5-1 victory at Biddeford, the Stags lost at Scarborough in a regional final rematch, 4-2, settled for a 2-2 home tie against Bonny Eagle, then lost at Gorham, 3-1.
South Portland, which reached the semifinals last fall for the first time in a quarter-century, opened with 1-0 wins at Sanford and Deering, then lost at home to Gorham (2-1), tied host Bonny Eagle, 3-3, and lost at Scarborough, 2-1. The Red Riots beat visiting Biddeford, 5-2, tied host Portland, 0-0, and won at home over Westbrook (2-1) and Windham (3-0) before losing at home to Thornton Academy Tuesday, 1-0.
Last year, the teams played to a 2-2 draw in the regular season at Cheverus, then played an epic in the Western A semifinals, a game the visiting Stags finally won, 2-1, 5-4 on penalty kicks, en route to the championship.
Thursday, South Portland was seeking its first win over Cheverus since Oct. 18, 2010 (3-0 in South Portland), but neither team could produce a goal.
The Red Riots had a great chance to take the lead just 43 seconds in, but Stags senior goalie extraordinaire Jake Tomkinson made a diving save to rob senior Andres Alvarez. Tomkinson also had to deny a good look from freshman Alecks Kaurin and watch as a header from sophomore Liam Coyne went just high in the first half.
The Stags had their chances as well, but a nice rush from senior Brady Levesque was broken up by South Portland sophomore goalkeeper Riley Hasson, Hasson robbed senior Luke Trickey in close, Hasson beat Levesque to a long feed from senior Mackenzie Hoglund and was hurt on the play and backup goalkeeper, freshman Shipper Savidge, stopped a long free kick by Cheverus senior Andrei Vile.
When a last second rush by Red Riots sophomore Charlie Cronin was broken up, the teams went to the break deadlocked, 0-0.
Cheverus had an edge in shots and corner kicks, but had nothing to show for it.
Frustration would continue after halftime.
The Stags’ best chances were a Levesque rush which was broken up at the last second, a shot from junior Will Peterson which went wide, a serve from the side from Vile which Hasson punched away and headers from Levesque and Vile which were off target.
For the Red Riots, Cronin had a promising rush broken up with 23:01 left in regulation, Tomkinson made a save on a Kaurin shot a minute later and with 2:14 to go, freshman Cooper Mehlhorn’s shot from the side was turned aside by Tomkinson.
Ten minutes of overtime solved nothing and the squads settled for the 0-0 tie.
South Portland (now 5-3-3 and sixth in Class A South) is back in action Saturday when Marshwood pays a visit. After playing at Massabesic Tuesday, the Red Riots close the regular season at home against Noble Oct. 10.
Cheverus (5-3-4 and seventh in Class A South) goes to Sanford Tuesday, then closes its regular year with a home showdown against rival Deering Oct. 15.
Cheverus sophomore Kat Kane is the center of attention after the Stags complete a 3-0 shutout win over Biddeford in the Stags’ regular season finale Thursday afternoon.
Bryce Feeley photos.
Cheverus senior Emily Michaud plays the ball as Biddeford sophomore Peyton McKeown defends.
Cheverus senior Becca Archer prepares to score the Stags’ second goal.
Cheverus freshman Sophia Pompeo brings the ball up the field.
South Portland sophomore Liam Coyne and Cheverus senior goalkeeper Jake Tomkinson and classmate Alex Nason wait for the ball to come down during the teams’ 0-0 tie Thursday afternoon.
Cheverus sophomore Luc Dionne heads the ball and it rides up the shoulder of South Portland senior Drew Bradbury.
Cheverus senior Alex Nason and South Portland freshman Alecks Kaurin fight for the ball.
Cheverus senior Mackenzie Hoglund splits South Portland defenders junior Khalid Suja (6) and sophomore Charlie Cronin.