PORTLAND—It was a game that no one deserved to lose.
And no one did.
Monday afternoon at Memorial Field, the Cheverus and Deering field hockey teams gave their all for 76 back-and-forth minutes and in the end, wound up splitting Heal Points.
After a relatively uneventful and scoreless first half, both teams hit their stride in the second.
With 22:25 to play, the visitors got the jump when senior Amanda Jiminez scored her first varsity goal on a rebound.
The lead lasted all of four minutes, however, as the Rams drew even on junior Pisey Chhorn’s rebound.
With 15:37 remaining, Deering took its first lead, as junior Kaytlin DiBiase finished Pisey’s cross, but just when it appeared the Rams were going to beat the Stags for the first time in six seasons, Cheverus answered.
With 7:27 to go in regulation, sophomore Charlotte Noyes rattled the cage for the first time in her varsity career and that forced overtime.
There, the Stags almost won it, but junior Becca Archer was denied by Deering sophomore goalie Lillian Frager and the teams played on.
The Rams had some chances as well, but potential game-winners were just off the mark and the game ended, 2-2.
“I would have been happier if we won, but I was so impressed with everybody,” said Deering coach Liz Koharian. “It was a good game. I’m not disappointed in the result. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of the way we played today. You can’t ask for anything more than 100 percent and that’s what we gave.”
“Deering played great,” said Cheverus coach Amy Ashley. “We knew they were improved. I was hoping for a different outcome, but it was a good effort. I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made so far.”
Deering was a surprise playoff team in 2012, but fell short a year ago (finishing 4-9-1). The Rams began this season by losing two of their first three games, sandwiching setbacks at Thornton Academy (4-2) and Biddeford (2-1) around a 4-0 home blanking of Westbrook. Last week, Deering shut out visiting Bonny Eagle by a 4-0 margin, then won handily at McAuley (9-0).
Cheverus has been a top contender for several seasons and reached the quarterfinals in 2013, but after graduation took its toll, the Stags were expected to crash back to earth this fall. It hasn’t happened. Cheverus opened with a 3-2 win at Westbrook, then downed visiting Biddeford (4-1), host Bonny Eagle (1-0), visiting McAuley (7-0) and visiting Windham (2-1).
Entering Monday, the teams had played 11 previous times with each squad winning on five occasions and one other game ending in a tie (see sidebar, below). In the first six meetings, Deering won five and tied one (including a 2-1 victory in the 2006 preliminary round of the playoffs), but since 2009, it’s been all Cheverus, as the Stags won five straight by a composite 19-0 margin.
This time around, the Rams were seeking their first victory over the Stags since Oct. 10, 2008 (2-0). They didn’t get it, but they didn’t lose either in a game that got more compelling the longer it went.
In the first half, Deering managed four shots, while Cheverus unleashed just one.
The best chances came early, when the Rams had back-to-back shots, but Stags senior Casey Simpson saved the first and the rebound went wide. Later in the half, Simpson denied a rush from DiBiase.
The pace picked up quickly in the second half.
After Simpson saved a shot from senior Rylie Turner on a penalty corner, Cheverus managed to produced its best pressure thus far in the game.
After Frager denied a shot from freshman Hannah Abbott, she had to save a rebound from Noyes. Junior Colleen Slattery then had a shot denied before Jiminez banged home the rebound for a 1-0 Stags lead with 22:25 left in regulation.
It didn’t last.
After Cheverus junior Emily Michaud shot just wide on a chance to double the lead, Deering answered.
The tying goal came out of a scrum, as Chhorn got her stick on the loose ball and sent it into the cage to make the score, 1-1, with 18:10 to go.
“Cheverus scored and we came back,” said Koharian. “I feel like the difference this year is we can come back if we’re down.”
With 15:37 to play, the Rams went ahead.
Again Chhorn played a key role, this time as the one setting up the goal. She raced down the right side, crossed the ball in front of the goal and DiBiase was there to send it past Simpson for a 2-1 advantage.
Ashley called timeout to refocus her charges and the Stags didn’t panic.
With 7:27 left, Cheverus created traffic in front of Frager and Noyes was able to finish to tie the score again, 2-2.
Both teams had a good look in the final minute of regulation, but couldn’t finish and it was on to overtime.
In high school field hockey, teams play two, eight-minute, “sudden victory” OT sessions and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie.
That’s how this one would play out, but both overtimes produced close calls.
The best scoring chance came just over two minutes into the first OT, when Archer broke free, but Frager stood tall and made the save of the game.
Two minutes later, Simpson broke up Deering junior Kristin Francoeur’s chance in front.
With 2:08 left, a shot from Cheverus sophomore Carrie Hight went just wide.
With 19 seconds to go, a bid from Stags junior Abby Ford was denied by Frager.
The Rams had the better of play in overtime number two.
The hosts earned a penalty corner a minute in and it almost resulted in a storybook ending as junior Mia Thurston, who had the best seat in the house for 15 minutes serving penalties in regulation, had a chance to end matters, but her redirect of a Turner shot off a corner trickled just wide.
With 3:50 to play, Deering junior Kerry Wells sent a shot just wide and that was it for chances as the game ended deadlocked, 2-2.
The Rams had persevered.
“I feel like our fitness level is really high,” Koharian said. “We have a small team, so we have to have girls play a whole game. We’re learning how to play together. The junior class came in when I started. They’ve all had me as coach. They all have the same expectations.”
The Stags felt Monday was a great experience.
“We’ve got a young team, so it’s good for us to be put in an overtime game since it’s completely different,” said Ashley. “We’re just so inexperienced for the most part. We have a lot of people thrown in there. We’re learning. We have two starters out, including (senior) Hattie Train, our second leading scorer. That makes us even less experienced. We’re not a turf team. We don’t understand the turf mentality, but the fight we had today is all you can ask for as coaches.”
Cheverus finished with a 10-9 shots advantage, while Deering took 12 corners to just one for the Stags. Frager made six saves, while Simpson finished with four.
Deering (ninth in the Western A Heal Points standings at press time) hopes to bounce back Wednesday when it goes to Windham. After hosting Gorham Saturday, the Rams welcome Marshwood Monday. Games at Massabesic, Portland and two-time defending Class A champion Scarborough and home tests versus Noble and Sanford also remain.
“We have to keep winning and keep playing at this high level to compete with top tier teams,” Koharian said. “This game gave us the confidence to not just play against top tier teams, but be close. We have a tough week. We hope to keep it going. We’re working toward higher positioning in the playoffs.”
Cheverus (currently fourth in Western A) is right back at it Tuesday, when it hosts Gorham. After going to Marshwood Friday, the Stags will still have home games against Massabesic, Portland and Scarborough and tests at Noble, Sanford and South Portland.
“It will be a tough week,” Ashley said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress. I hope we can keep getting better every single day.”
Cheverus freshman Hannah Abbott is stymied by Deering’s defense.
Cheverus junior Abby Ford shoots on a penalty corner.
Cheverus senior Amanda Jiminez tries to slow Deering junior Emily Krabbe.
Cheverus junior Emily Michaud fires a shot.
Cheverus junior Colleen Slattery brings the ball up past Deering senior Rylie Turner.
Cheverus junior Hanna Sonnesson fights Deering junior Mia Thurston for possession.
Deering senior Rylie Turner dribbles past Cheverus senior Kelsey Masselli.
Deering junior Kerry Wells shows off her shooting form.
Cheverus junior Emily Michaud, left, congratulates senior Amanda Jiminez, center, after Jiminez’s first career goal.
Deering juniors Lili Kien (13) and Kayla Thoits celebrate one of the Rams’ two second half goals.
@ Cheverus 5 Deering 0
Cheverus 2 @ Deering 0
Cheverus 5 @ Deering 0
@ Cheverus 4 Deering 0
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 0
Deering 2 @ Cheverus 1 (OT)
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 0
Western A preliminary round
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 1
@ Cheverus 3 Deering 3 (tie)
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 1
Deering junior Kerry Wells and Cheverus junior Emily Michaud battle for possession during the teams’ 2-2 tie Monday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.