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Deering sophomore goalkeeper Gianna Charest dives on the ball before Portland sophomore Isabella More can reach it during Saturday morning’s showdown. Charest made 11 saves and the teams settled for a 0-0 tie.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Neither team will likely make the playoffs and neither squad was able to put the ball in the net Saturday morning at Fitzpatrick Stadium, but the Deering and Portland girls’ soccer teams still put on a show.
In the penultimate game of the regular season, the Bulldogs, on their Senior Day, had a pronounced advantage in possession and shots, but Rams sophomore goalkeeper Gianna Charest continued to add to her strong body of work this fall, denying Portland time and again.
After Charest made three saves and constantly got to through balls just in the nick of time in the first half, she really sparkled in the second half.
Charest’s finest moment came with 35:17 to go, as the Bulldogs earned a penalty kick, but Charest dove to tip away a bid from Portland sophomore Annika More.
The teams would remain scoreless through the end of regulation and 10 minutes of “sudden victory” overtime couldn’t determine a winner either and the contest ended, 0-0.
Portland is now 3-7-3 on the season, while Deering’s record is now 2-8-3.
“We did everything but score,” said Bulldogs coach Curtis Chapin. “I’m proud of the performance.”
Deering and Portland have produced some memorable moments over the years, in the regular season and the playoffs.
Entering play Saturday, since the start of the 2004 season, each team had won six meetings and two other games ended in ties (see sidebar, below).
Last fall, the final score was 0-0 and this time around, on another very pleasant day (62-degrees at kickoff), there would be no separation or offense again.
After seniors from both teams were honored in the pregame, the Rams had the first scoring chance, but a long shot from senior Darrah Scott was saved by Bulldogs sophomore goalkeeper Laini Legere.
In the seventh minute, Portland started to tilt the field its way, earning a corner kick. After senior Gracie LaGrange and sophomore Isabella More both shot high, More had a rush broken up in the box and LaGrange twice just missed.
In the 18th minute, Deering nearly got the jump, as freshman Riley Forrest got the ball to sophomore Sahar Habibzai behind the defense, but Habibzai’s high shot was tipped away at the last second by Legere to keep the game scoreless.
Late in the first half, Annika More was denied by Charest, freshman Toni Stevenson shot high and a long shot from Annika More was corralled by Charest, sending the game to the half deadlocked, 0-0.
In the first 40 minutes, Portland had a 9-2 edge in shots (3-2 on frame) and a 3-0 advantage in corner kicks, but had nothing to show for it.
The hosts’ frustrations would continue in the second half and beyond.
Just 55 seconds into the second half, a 30-yard free kick by LaGrange forced Charest to leap and make a save.
After Isabella More’s shot from the side was saved, Bulldogs senior Grace Stacey split a couple defenders and got into the box, where she was taken down, setting up a penalty kick.
With 35:17 on the clock, Annika More did the honors and she struck the ball well on the ground to Charest’s left, but Charest went all out, dove and managed to tip the ball outside the post to save the day.
“I’ve had like no PKs (in a game), so it was a guessing game,” Charest said. “I got it with my palm. It felt great.”
“(Gianna) knew what to look for,” said Deering coach Kevin Olson. “She made a great reaction and saved us.”
“Their keeper was terrific today, very strong,” Chapin said. “She guessed right on a PK and that was the ballgame basically. It was a good hit and an even better save.”
The Rams then cleared the ensuing corner kick, but Portland kept pressing.
After LaGrange had a free kick saved, Annika More got her head on a corner kick, but steered it just wide.
With 21:22 left, Bulldogs junior Sydney Girsch made good contact from the side, but Charest slid to make the save.
Down the stretch, Portland senior C.C. Ritter had a shot blocked, a Stevenson cross to Ritter was snared by Charest, Charest broke up a feed in the box from Ritter to Isabella More and after Legere saved a shot by Scott, Ritter shot high, sending the game to overtime.
The teams had 10 minutes to produce a winner, but couldn’t do so.
Neither squad put a shot on goal in the first OT.
In the second, Charest saved a long shot by LaGrange, a rush by Habibzai was broken up by Bulldogs freshman Lydia Stein and a long shot from LaGrange was saved by Charest, bringing the curtain down on the 0-0 draw.
Portland ousthot Deering, 21-3, and put 11 shots on frame. The Bulldogs also had a 4-0 advantage in corners, but couldn’t dent the scoreboard.
“Frustrating is one way to put it, but when you work hard and your players buy in and leave everything on the field, as a coach, you can’t be upset,” Chapin said. “With that said, we look at our chances and wonder how the ball doesn’t go in. We hit the post, the crossbar, get penalties. That’s just the story of our season.”
Legere stopped three shots for Portland, but was overshadowed by Charest, who made 11 critical saves for Deering.
“My teammates did well keeping the ball out, especially against a team like (Portland),” said Charest. “It’s so much different from middle school, or JV soccer, but my teammates are very supportive.”
“(Gianna’s) unbelievable,” Olson said. “She’s had great games for us. Prior to this year, she may have had a half season at the JV level. She’s really grown and has had some big-time shutouts and this was one of them.”
Neither coach expects that their team will be able to qualify for the postseason, even though each squad has one game left.
Deering (currently 14th in the Class A South Heal Points standings, 12 teams qualify for the postseason) finishes at South Portland Tuesday.
“We lost some good seniors last year, but the young girls are really stepping up,” Charest said. “We’ll only get better.”
“We’re a young team,” Olson said. “We don’t have as many offensive threats as we’ve had in the past. We need to get a foundation down and learn as we go and hopefully we’ll go from there.”
Portland is 13th in Class A South and closes at Biddeford Tuesday.
“We’ve played as well as anybody, but we don’t have the results to show for it,” Chapin said. “I think we needed a win today. I don’t know if a draw can do it for us.”
Portland senior Ella Altidor heads the ball away from Deering sophomore Sahar Habibzai.
Portland sophomore goalkeeper Laini Legere punts the ball.
Portland senior Morgan Kierstead shields the ball from Deering senior Darrah Scott.
Deering senior Candy Odhiambo heads the ball away from Portland sophomore Annika More.
Portland senior Caitriona Moran and Deering senior Darrah Scott fight for possession.
Deering sophomore Kiaya Gatchell lines up a shot.
Deering sophomore Mia Sargent heads the ball away from Portland freshman Toni Stevenson.
@ Portland 3 Deering 2
@ Deering 1 Portland 0
Western A prelim
Portland 2 @ Deering 1 (2-1 PK)
@ Deering 1 Portland 0
Deering 5 @ Portland 0
Deering 2 @ Portland 1
Portland 2 @ Deering 1
@ Portland 1 Deering 0
Portland 1 @ Deering 0
@ Portland 1 Deering 1 (tie)
Portland 1 @ Deering 0
Western Class A semifinals
Deering 1 @ Portland 0