The 2009 field hockey regular season is a thing of the past, but two local teams are still playing and entertaining championship dreams.
The Cheverus Stags completed their finest regular season to date, despite a disappointing, but entertaining, 3-1 home loss to defending regional champion Scarborough last Thursday. Cheverus wound up a dazzling 13-1 and will be the No. 2 seed for the Western Class A playoffs. Based on the Heal Points standings as of Monday morning (which weren’t the official, final standings), the Stags will host No. 7 Sanford (7-6-1) in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon.
Deering also squeaked into the postseason, thanks to a late surge. The Rams went 3-0-2 down the stretch to finish 7-5-2, good for the No. 9 seed. Deering projects to travel to No. 8 Thornton Academy (8-5-1) for a preliminary round contest Wednesday.
McAuley, Portland and Waynflete weren’t as fortunate this fall and fell short of the playoffs.
The Lions finished 1-13. The Bulldogs also went 1-13. The Flyers wound up 3-8-3.
The Cheverus program has been on an upward track since its second varsity season. Last year, the Stags posted double-digit victories and made the semifinals for the first time. This fall, Cheverus opened with a 4-0 home victory over Deering and didn’t look back, winning its first 13 games before hosting Scarborough (please see Web site for full game story).
Against the powerhouse defending regional champion Red Storm, the Stags took an early lead on a goal from senior Theresa Hendrix. But once Scarborough got used to playing on grass, it took over, tying the score on a penalty corner. With 19:17 left in regulation, the Red Storm scored again on a corner to take a 2-1 lead. Cheverus had a great chance to tie with 16:45 to go, but sophomore Sarah LaQuerre was twice denied point blank by Scarborough goalie Jordi Saunders. Then, with three seconds left, Red Storm senior standout Brittany Ross scored to make it a 3-1 game and bring the curtain down on the regular season.
“It was a great game,” Stags coach Amy McMullin said. “Unfortunately, we had a few things not go our way and it resulted in goals. We didn’t take advantage when we got the ball in the circle. It’s hard to hold a lead in this kind of game. One goal’s never enough. We had opportunities to get more, but we couldn’t. It was a great game. If we had to take a loss, we’ll take it today. We’ll move on from here.
“It has been an amazing season. We believed since Day 1 that we could do this. I wouldn’t have believed 13-1. It’s nice to see we can come out and win tough games and do well. We have a lot of talent. We’re a very strong team. We’re in a good spot. I think we can still play better. If we play Scarborough again, I think we’ll play better and they probably will too.”
Cheverus beat Sanford 2-1 at home Sept. 14. The teams met one previous time in the playoffs. Last year, in the quarterfinals, the Stags went to the top-ranked and unbeaten Redskins and pulled off a 2-0 upset.
Deering has been a streaky team in 2009. After losing to Cheverus and Gorham to start the year, the Rams rattled off three straight victories. They then lost three of four and fell to 4-5 and were in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. But the Rams got hot at the right time, finishing the year on a five-game unbeaten streak, which included a rare 3-1 win at Sanford. Friday, Deering tied visiting South Portland 1-1 to finish 7-5-2 and earn its 12th straight postseason berth.
“We have struggled to score all season up until we played Massabesic, won that 7-2, beat Noble 6-0 and then won at Sanford,” said Rams coach Andrew Gordon. “The last one was very sweet, after all the bad results we’ve had there. I was proud of that effort. So basically, we changed our formation and have started scoring goals. We’ve had lots of close games, six overtimes in total. We could easily have beaten both Windham and BE and finished fourth.
“I’m definitely feeling better than a couple of weeks ago. We wouldn’t mind another shot at either Cheverus or Gorham as we’ve improved so much. It will be a case of taking the chances we manage to create.”
Deering beat Thornton Academy in its regular season meeting, 1-0, Sept. 18 in Saco. The teams have no prior playoff history. If the Rams can win the prelim, they’ll go to top-ranked Scarborough (14-0) for a quarterfinal round game Saturday. Deering lost the regular season meeting to the Red Storm, 6-0 at home Sept. 16. Scarborough won the only previous playoff meeting, 1-0, in overtime, in the 2005 preliminary round.
Looking ahead, the semifinals will be played next Wednesday, Oct. 21, on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The regional finals are Saturday, Oct. 24, at Scarborough High School. The state games are at Yarmouth High this year, on Saturday, Oct. 31.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com