Cheverus junior goalie Kat Kane and junior Anna Smith celebrate after one of the Stags’ eight goals in Wednesday’s 8-0 home win over Portland.
Joe Carpine photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—On the brink of its biggest two-game stretch of the season, Cheverus’ field hockey team put together its most complete 60-minute effort to date.
Wednesday afternoon, the Stags hosted city rival Portland and had the Bulldogs on their heels from the get-go, as they scored goals with abandon.
Less than four minutes into the contest, Cheverus scored the only goal it would need when junior Caroline Ford rattled the cage.
With 20 minutes to play in the first half, sophomore Sophia Pompeo scored and the tone was set.
Pompeo added a second goal for a 3-0 halftime lead and the Stags were far from finished.
Just 2 minutes, 21 seconds into the second half, Pompeo completed her hat track and as it turned out, she wouldn’t be the only Stag to score three times.
After junior Hannah Abbott gave Cheverus a 5-0 lead with 24:20 to play, Ford scored on a rebound off a penalty corner three minutes later and then, with 10:51 to go, Ford completed her first career hat trick.
Sophomore Bella Booth, who assisted on three goals, got in the scoring column with 2:14 remaining and the Stags went on to complete their emphatic 8-0 victory.
Cheverus won its second game in a row, improved to 6-2 on the season and 12-2 all-time against Portland while dropping the Bulldogs to 2-6 in the process.
“It was a good game for us,” said Stags first-year coach Sally Cloutier. “Things just worked and flowed well. We’ve been working on finishing in the circle and we did that today. I’m proud of the girls. They were excited and came to win. Portland’s always a big game for us.”
Both teams came into the 2016 season entertaining playoff hopes.
Portland began with a 3-0 home win over Noble, then lost, 6-0, at Biddeford, 9-0, at home to Marshwood and 10-1 at Massabesic. The Bulldogs bounced back to down visiting Deering ,2-0, then lost, 7-0, at Gorham and dropped a tough 3-2 home decision to Bonny Eagle Monday.
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.
“Against Scarborough, we were just off,” said Cloutier. “They were on top of us. We had to come back and go back to basics and get more shots.”
Monday, Cheverus enjoyed a 5-1, victory at Noble.
Entering play Wednesday, the Stags had won 11 of 13 all-time meetings (see sidebar below). The Bulldogs won the first encounter in 2004, then didn’t prevail again until 2014, when Gabby Wagabaza’s goal in the second overtime gave Portland a 3-2 victory at Cheverus. The Stags got revenge in the preliminary round of that year’s playoffs, winning, 5-1, at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Last year, Cheverus won at Portland, 3-0.
This time around, on a gorgeous final day of summer (82 degrees), the Stags put on an offensive show.
Cheverus put pressure on from the get go, but Bulldogs junior goalie Maddie Pettengill denied a couple shots from Abbott, Abbott shot wide and a rebound from Pompeo went wide.
With 26:18 left in the first half, Ford got a hold of a loose ball and steered it into the goal to give the Stags a 1-0 lead and get them going.
“That first goal was good for me to get one and I think it got the ball rolling for the entire team,” Ford said.
Exactly six minutes later, Cheverus strung together a nice series of passes, as senior Carrie Hight got the ball to Booth, who fed Pompeo for a goal and a 2-0 lead.
Pettengill kept Portland in the game momentarily by denying both Abbott and Pompeo twice, but with 8:11 remaining in the half, Booth set up Pompeo again to make it 3-0.
“I got the ball in the right place,” Pompeo said. “The backfield, midfield, everyone worked together beautifully and all our forwards finished. Bella is awesome. She has a great touch and she sends the ball in with speed.”
“I think Bella was probably the playmaker of the game,” said Cloutier. “She brought the ball in and made beautiful passes. She played awesome.”
With just under three minutes to go before halftime, the Bulldogs got their first penalty corner and what proved to be their lone shot of the game, but junior Sydney Gilbert’s shot was denied and Cheverus took a three-goal advantage to the break.
In the first half, the Stags enjoyed a 12-1 shots advantage. Only nine saves from Pettengill kept the game within reach.
Cheverus ended all doubt early in the second half.
With 27:39 to play, Pompeo completed her hat trick, firing a shot which deflected off a Portland defender and past backup goalie, freshman Jada McIlwain, to make it 4-0.
“Sophia’s an awesome weapon,” Cloutier said. “When she gets the ball down low, it almost always goes in. She’s a great leader on our team and we look to her.”
With 24:20 remaining, Booth set up Abbott to make it 5-0.
With 21:32 showing, Ford scored her second goal. It came off a penalty corner, as Hight inserted the ball to Abbott, whose shot was saved, but Ford buried the rebound for a six-goal advantage.
McIlwain made some nice saves on Abbott, Booth and Pompeo and Ford shot just wide before Ford completed her hat trick with 10:51 to play, as she finished unassisted on a rush.
“I’ve never scored three goals in a game and before this season, I”d never scored one,” Ford said. “I cleared my head and got my stick on the ball. The past few games, I had trouble with that. I was on my way to a hat trick and wanted to get it. I was thrilled.”
“Caroline is a quiet force,” Cloutier said. “We’ve worked with her on the edge. She’s been a little tentative, but she’s gained her confidence and she showed it today.”
With 2:14 to play, Booth’s rebound goal brought the curtain down on Cheverus’ 8-0 victory.
“It was a very good day,” Ford said. “I knew we could do it because we have a good group of girls. We all have heart.”
“We just focus on moving forward,” Pompeo said. “We talk about what we need to work on and the next game we do what we worked on in practice. It’s awesome when that works out.”
“Today, we converted and we gained confidence,” Cloutier added.
The Stags put 24 shots on goal to a mere one for Portland. Cheverus also had a 4-2 edge in penalty corners. Junior goalie Kat Kane made one save.
The Bulldogs got nine saves from Pettengill and seven from McIlwain.
“(Cheverus) really clicked and some of it is we’re just young,” said Portland coach Beth Arsenault. “We talk about not being intimidated and the second you’re tentative, a team like this will take advantage. The effort is always there with this group. It’s just gathering experience and confidence to put yourself out there. We’re not quite there as a whole yet. I thought in the first half, despite the fact they were in the circle a lot, we did a good job limiting shots. (Sophomore) Nettie Walsh in particular kept her stick down and prevented shots.”
Portland has a lot of work to do to qualify for the playoffs. The Bulldogs (currently ranked 14th in the Class A South Heal Points standings, where 11 teams qualify) host Windham Saturday and welcome Thornton Academy Thursday of next week. Games at Westbrook, South Portland and Sanford and a home tilt against Scarborough also remain.
“We need to probably win four of six and hope for some help along the way,” Arsenault said. “We didn’t have any illusions that it would be a year of anything other than what it is, rebuilding. It would be great to make the playoffs and it would be good to get a couple more wins under our belt. We only have three seniors, so we’ll return a lot of kids and we want to leave the season on a good note.”
Cheverus (fifth in a closely bunched Class A South at press time) has a brutal upcoming slate, as it goes to powerhouse Marshwood Friday and hosts currently undefeated, top-ranked Massabesic Tuesday.
“We have to play like we did today and play together,” Ford said.
“We don’t want to play to somebody else’s level,” Pompeo said. “We need to play the way we know we can.”
“We have good, positive momentum,” Cloutier added. “The kids are having fun playing together. Friday will be big for us. We’ll be challenged for sure. We have to be smart and poised, I think the girls are up for it. We’re trying to take it up a notch .We’re having a good time and we’ll keep moving forward.”
After playing at Deering, the Stags host Gorham and Bonny Eagle, then close at Biddeford.
Cheverus sophomore Sophia Pompeo races past Portland junior Mikayla Fortin. Pompeo had three goals in the victory.
Cheverus junior Celia Migliaccio tries to get around Portland sophomore Jaidyn Appel.
Cheverus senior Carrie Hight knocks the ball away from Portland junior Sydney Gibert.
Portland junior Charlie Green, left, and senior Jenniluyn Nguyen try to slow Cheverus sophomore Bella Booth.
Cheverus 3 @ Portland 0
Cheverus 3 @ Portland 1
Cheverus 7 @ Portland 1
@ Cheverus 5 Portland 0
@ Cheverus 3 Portland 1
Cheverus 6 @ Portland 0
@ Cheverus 6 Portland 0
Cheverus 2 @ Portland 1 (OT)
@ Cheverus 2 Portland 1 (OT)
Cheverus 3 @ Portland 2
@ Portland 4 Cheverus 1