After a regular season that was unexpected and sensational, Cheverus’ field hockey team enters the postseason as the top seed in Class A South.
Deering made the playoffs as well, but was ousted in Saturday’s preliminary round, while Portland and the McAuley/Waynflete co-op team weren’t as fortunate, falling short of the postseason.
After an up-and-down 2014 campaign, which saw Cheverus start 5-0, then go 0-7-2 down the stretch, only to bounce back and win two playoff games before losing to Marshwood in the semifinals, this year’s team was an unknown entity in August, but has excelled.
The 2015 Stags won their first eight games, including a statement-making victory at defending Class A champion Scarborough, then lost two in a row, but this time, a skid didn’t ensue and Cheverus won its final four contests to earn the top seed in Class A South with a 12-2 mark.
“I didn’t expect going 12-2 at all,” Stags coach Amy Ashley said. “We’ve been a complete team. We’ve had different people step up every game. A lot of different scorers. No heroes.”
Cheverus had to wait to see who it would face in the quarterfinals as No. 8 Westbrook hosted ninth-ranked Deering in the preliminary round Saturday. The Rams made the playoffs with a 6-8 mark after closing with a 3-1 win at Windham.
Deering beat Westbrook during the regular season, 1-0, in overtime, on the road Sept. 4, but couldn’t pull off an encore.
The Rams surrendered two shots all game, but one went in during the first half and the Blue Blazes went on to a 1-0 victory, ending Deering’s season at 6-9.
Cheverus went into Tuesday’s quarterfinal knowing that the 8-7 Blue Blazes will be a tough foe. In the opener, Sept. 2, the Stags needed an overtime goal from Becca Archer to prevail, 2-1.
Westbrook had history on its side as well, beating Cheverus in both the 2008 Western A semifinals (2-1, in overtime) and the 2011 Western A quarterfinals (1-0, in four rounds of penalty corners).
“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. “We hope to have a run like we did last year and maybe even a little bit more.”
If the Stags managed to advance, they would host either No. 4 Sanford (11-2-1) or No. 5 Massabesic (11-3) in Saturday’s semifinal round. Cheverus won at home over the Spartans, 1-0, Sept. 14 and lost at the Mustangs, 3-2, in double overtime, Sept. 28.
The Stags beat Sanford in both prior playoff meetings, 2-0 in the 2008 quarterfinals and 3-0 in the 2009 quarterfinals. Cheverus and Massabesic have no playoff history.
The regional final is Tuesday, Oct. 27 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The state finals are Saturday, Oct. 31 at the University of Maine in Orono.
Portland made the playoffs in 2014 and started 2-0 this fall, but the Bulldogs lost their final five games, capped by a 2-1 home setback at the hands of Sanford last Tuesday, to wind up 4-10 and 12th in Class A South, where only 11 teams qualify for the postseason. Lauren McIntyre had the goal against the Spartans in the finale.
McAuley and Waynflete teamed up this fall as the CMW Flying Lions and went 1-13, good for 12th in Class B South, where only 10 teams qualified. CMW closed with a 5-1 loss at North Yarmouth Academy, despite a goal from Molly Barr and strong goaltending from Kiera MacWhinnie.
Deering senior Lili Kien drives the ball during the Rams’ 1-0 preliminary round playoff loss at Westbrook Saturday.