Cheverus senior Carrie Hight is congratulated by junior Hannah Abbott after scoring to give the Stags a 2-0 lead in Wednesday’s game against Bonny Eagle. That score held up and Cheverus prevailed in its regular season home finale.
Joe Carpine photos (365digitalphotography.com)
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Unless it hosts a preliminary round playoff contest next weekend, it’s quite likely that Cheverus’ field hockey team played its final home game Wednesday afternoon.
And the Stags made sure they bade their home fans adieu with another impressive effort.
Cheverus jumped on top of visiting Bonny Eagle just over six minutes into the game when sophomore standout Sophia Pompeo rushed past the defense and fired the ball into the cage.
The Stags had some more great chances, but couldn’t convert and it remained a one-goal game going to the second half.
Where Cheverus continued to be stymied, but with 1:51 remaining, senior captain Carrie Hight scored just her second career goal and the Stags went on to a 2-0 victory.
Cheverus improved to 9-4 and dropped Bonny Eagle to a misleading 2-10 in the process.
“It’s bittersweet that it was our last home game,” Hight said. “It’s been an awesome season and I’m really happy with our team. We’ve done better than most people thought.”
Cheverus got to the regional final a year ago, but after a coaching change and some big departures to graduation, the Stags weren’t as highly touted as normal coming into the 2016 campaign. Still, they have been consistent and impressive.
Cheverus started with a 3-0 victory at Westbrook, then blanked visiting Windham, 3-0, and won at South Portland, 4-1. After a painful late 1-0 home loss to Thornton Academy, the Stags won, 3-2, at Sanford, then fell at home to Scarborough, 4-0, before beating host Noble (5-1) and visiting Portland (8-0). After a 4-0 setback at Marshwood, Cheverus upset visiting Massabesic in double overtime (2-1) and won at Deering, 6-0, but Monday, the Stags dropped a tough 2-1 overtime decision to visiting Gorham.
“That one could have gone either way, but it didn’t go our way,” said Stags first-year coach Sally Cloutier. “We had to let it go and move on. I felt like we didn’t get beat. It was their game to win.”
Bonny Eagle dropped its first five outings before edging Portland. After two more losses, the Scots blanked Noble, then lost close decisions to Gorham (2-0) and Marshwood (1-0).
Last year, Cheverus took a 3-2 decision at Bonny Eagle.
Wednesday, a glorious early fall day (62 degrees), the Scots were seeking their first win over the Stags since 2-1 overtime decision Sept. 10, 2013, but instead, Cheverus made it three straight wins in the series.
After Bonny Eagle senior goalie Lindsay Gleason denied Stags junior Mallory Leighton in the fourth minute, the Stags got the jump, courtesy the individual heroics of Pompeo.
Pompeo took the ball and raced down the left side, past two hapless defenders, then went one-on-one with Gleason and beat her with a shot into the cage for a 1-0 lead.
“Sophia is awesome,” Cloutier said. “She’s fun to watch and she’s a great kid.”
The Scots then pressured for the equalizer, but Cheverus junior goalie Kat Kane came up big, first clearing a cross from junior Sadie Denico, then kicking out a loose ball from in front of the goal.
The Stags went back on the attack, but were frustrated.
With 7:55 to go in the half, senior Charlotte Noyes fired a shot that eluded Gleason and appeared goal-bound, but Bonny Eagle sophomore sweeper Mya Daniels cleared it at the last minute.
It wasn’t the last time Daniels would be heard from.
Gleason then denied Pompeo, sophomore Bella Booth hit the side of the cage with a shot and just before the half, junior Hannah Abbott’s shot was turned aside by Gleason.
Cheverus continued to pressure at the start of the second half.
After an early scrum saw the ball sit free for several agonizing seconds with no one there to bang it home, the Stags got consecutive penalty corners and on the second, Pompeo missed just wide.
With 26:30 to go, Booth fired a promising backhanded shot on target, but again, Gleason made the stop.
With 22:47 left, Booth’s cross found Abbott’s stick, but the shot trickled wide.
After a Bonny Eagle timeout, Cheverus got a rush from Abbott, who shot, but had it saved, then sent the rebound wide.
On a penalty corner with just under 20 minutes to go, Hight, who inserted the ball, got it back and took a shot, but Gleason made the save.
With 17:57 remaining, Pompeo put on another stick-handling clinic, eluding multiple defenders, but her ensuing shot rolled just wide.
Daniels came up huge again with 14:35 left, as Pompeo, on a rush, fed Abbott for a great shot. Gleason couldn’t stop it, but Daniels did.
Daniels made an even better save five minutes later, when she somehow handled Abbott’s blast and sent it the other way.
Pompeo then had a shot saved by a more traditional source, the goalie, with 8:13 to play.
Cheverus finally got its second goal with 1:51 remaining. Off the Stags’ 10th penalty corner, the ball sat free to Gleason’s right and Hight was there to bang it home for just her second career goal.
“It was a scrum and I wasn’t sure what was going on,” Hight said. “It felt really good to get one in after all those chances were robbed. I’m not a key offensive player, but it was awesome. I’ll definitely always remember it.”
“I was so excited (for Carrie),” said Pompeo. “I was probably more excited than she was.”
“That was awesome,” Cloutier added. “It’s (Carrie’s) last home game. She’s one of our hardest workers. She’s a real leader out there and she’s a girl who doesn’t get a lot of glory, so for her to get that was awesome.”
Cheverus then finished off its 2-0 victory.
“(The Gorham loss) was really tough, but we saw how well we could play,” Hight said. “We know we can perform well and we brought it today.”
“We just had to play our game because we can’t overlook anyone right now,” Pompeo said. “You can’t tell going into these games who will come out the winner. We couldn’t finish much, but we didn’t let it bother us.”
“It wasn’t our best game, but we won,” Cloutier added. “They were tremendous defensively. Their sweeper was unbelievable. It felt like they had two people in goal the entire time. We just couldn’t score because those two girls were so good in goal. Good for them.”
Cheverus finished with a 17-0 shots advantage, but Gleason made 12 saves and Daniels stopped three others. The Stags also had a 10-0 edge in penalty corners.
Bonny Eagle is ranked 12th in Class A South, but only 11 teams qualify for the playoffs. The Scots welcome Deering Friday and close at home versus Biddeford Tuesday.
Cheverus (sixth in Class A South at press time) finishes with a key game at Biddeford Friday.
If the Stags can finish fifth, they’ll avoid the preliminary round of the playoffs.
“We still need to communicate and not get frustrated,” said Hight. “Our positivity is good, we just have to move our feet more.”
“We really need to play well Friday,” Pompeo said. “We need to get a higher ranking for playoffs.”
“These kids have a lot of faith in themselves,” Cloutier added. “We’re only playing with 12 players, but they really want it. They fight hard. I couldn’t ask for any more from them. We’re fired up for playoffs. We have a ton of heart. We can compete. The girls are willing to work and we have good sticks. We’re confident. We’ve proven we can play with the big teams. I’m excited.”
Cheverus sophomore Bella Booth fires a shot.
Cheverus junior Hannah Abbott battles a Bonny Eagle defender for the ball.
Cheverus senior Carrie Hight sends the ball into the offensive zone.
Cheverus junior Hannah Abbott shoots on Bonny Eagle senior goalie Lindsay Gleason as junior Mallory Leighton awaits the rebound.
Cheverus sophomore Bella Booth is denied by Bonny Eagle senior goalie Lindsay Gleason.