PORTLAND—What we’ve suspected since the start of the field hockey season is now official.
No one in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association is going undefeated.
Thursday afternoon, the Cheverus Stags took the field as the league’s last unblemished team, but there were a couple of causes for concern.
First, Cheverus didn’t practice well leading up to the game and coach Amy Ashley was fearful of how her girls would perform.
And second, lining up across from the Stags was the team that’s given them the most fits the past couple seasons, the Marshwood Hawks.
Marshwood, which eliminated Cheverus from the playoffs in 2013 and 2014, was clearly the more hungry team from the get-go and scored the only goal it would need in the ninth minute when junior Taylor Gilbert rattled the cage.
The Stags didn’t manage a shot on goal in the first half, but only trailed, 1-0, at halftime.
Cheverus earned a quick penalty corner in the second half, but couldn’t convert and at the other end, with 26:38 to play, the Hawks doubled their lead as junior Mallory Nadeau finished from junior Hannah Costin in transition.
On this day, a two-goal lead felt like 20 and Marshwood denied several Stags’ corner chances down the stretch and went on to a 2-0 victory.
The Hawks made it four wins in a row, improved to 6-2-1 and dropped Cheverus to 8-1 in the process.
“I’m disappointed in our effort, but that’s been our effort all week,” said Ashley, following a long postgame chat with her team. “I had a feeling coming in it wouldn’t be pretty. We came out flat. We were complacent. They beat us to every ball. Marshwood played great and we couldn’t adjust. It was frustrating.”
Both teams figure to be in the mix deep into October, especially in a year devoid of a super team, which Scarborough has been so often in recent seasons.
Marshwood started with a frustrating 2-0 home loss to Scarborough, the defending Class A champion, then erupted for a 6-0 victory at South Portland. After holding off visiting Portland, 1-0, the Hawks settled for a 1-1 tie at Sanford before losing at home to Massabesic, 3-2. Marshwood then enjoyed 3-0 wins at Noble and Gorham and a 2-1 home victory over Biddeford.
The Stags had to go to overtime in their opener to beat visiting Westbrook, 2-1. After edging host Windham, 1-0, Cheverus dominated visiting South Portland, 7-0, then went overtime again for a 3-2 victory at Thornton Academy. After a 1-0 home win over Sanford, the Stags made a powerful statement with a 2-1 win at Scarborough, ending the Red Storm’s five-year, 66-game league unbeaten streak in the process. Cheverus stayed hot with a 5-0 home victory over Noble and a 3-0 win at Portland.
Cheverus entered Thursday’s game having lost three straight to Marshwood, with two of those setbacks occurring in the postseason. The Hawks won, 3-0, at Cheverus in the 2013 Western A quarterfinals and after dominating at home, 5-1, during the regular season, Marshwood ended the Stags’ year again last fall in the semifinals, 5-1.
Thursday, Cheverus was seeking its first win over the Hawks since a 2-1 home triumph two years ago to the day, but Marshwood continued its surge and handed the Stags their first setback.
Cheverus couldn’t muster much of an attack in the first seven minutes, so Ashley called timeout with 22:30 to go in the first half.
It didn’t work, as the Hawks set up in Stags’ territory and with 21:29 to play before halftime, Gilbert managed to score out of a scrum, beating Cheverus sophomore goalie Dierdre Sanborn for a 1-0 advantage.
With 10:45 remaining in the half, Cheverus earned a penalty corner, but didn’t manage a shot.
Marshwood then threatened to double its lead, but a shot from Gilbert was saved, a bid from Costin trickled wide and after a Stags’ turnover, freshman Leah Glidden had a shot blocked.
In the final minute of the half, Cheverus got the ball into the offensive zone thanks to some nice work from senior Colleen Slattery, but Slattery’s shot was blocked and the Hawks took their lead to the break.
At the half, the Stags tried to regroup, but they soon found themselves down by two.
Just over a minute into the second half, Cheverus earned a corner, but again didn’t manage a shot.
Marshwood then showed how dangerous it can be in transition, as Costin sent a pass to Nadeau, who one-timed a shot past sophomore goalie Kate Kane, who had come in to replace Sanborn to start the second half, making it 2-0.
While the deficit wasn’t insurmountable, the Stags never could record the goal that would have made things interesting.
With 25:30 to go, a long shot from senior Emily Michaud was saved by Hawks junior goalie Shannon Giblin.
Marshwood earned a pair of corners at the other end, but Kane managed to kick aside a shot from junior Elaine Bachelder.
With 10:25 left, Cheverus earned a corner, but Michaud had a shot blocked.
That led to another corner, which saw freshman Sophia Pompeo shoot wide.
With 7:30 to play, off another corner, sophomore Hannah Abbott tried to deflect a blast from Michaud, but she sent it wide.
The Stags had one final corner with 7 minutes to play, but couldn’t generate a shot.
The Hawks went on to put the finishing touches on their 2-0 victory.
“At halftime, we talked about stopping their big hits, but we didn’t,” Ashley said. “We didn’t execute one corner. I’m disappointed we couldn’t get anything going today. Their defense outplayed our offense. You have to credit them. They played great. Marshwood’s a great team. Last year, they were just a stronger team. This year, I just think we weren’t ready. Yesterday, we ended practice early because it was such a bad effort. I don’t think it’s a mental block. I think we thought we’re better than we are and it’s a good lesson to learn in the regular season. I hope we learned a lesson.”
Marshwood finished with a 4-3 edge shots. Giblin made three saves. Cheverus had a 6-4 advantage in corners. Sanborn stopped two shots.
Both teams are in the hunt for a top two seed and homefield advantage through the semifinal round the playoffs (the regional and state finals will be held on a neutral field).
Marshwood (now fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) is back in action Monday at home versus Deering. The Hawks also have home games remaining versus Bonny Eagle and Windham and go to Westbrook and Thornton Academy.
Cheverus (second behind Scarborough in the standings) will be tested again Monday when it goes to Massabesic. After coming home to face Deering, the Stags visit Gorham and Bonny Eagle, then close at home against Biddeford.
Cheverus has some soul searching to do before it makes the trip to Waterboro.
“I hope we bounce back tomorrow,” Ashley said. “It’ll be interesting to see if we’ll come back with another loss, or if we’ll come back out tomorrow and work harder than we ever have. I’m excited to see practice tomorrow. I wish we could practice right now. Massabesic’s good. Another scrappy team. That’ll be a good test for us. Hopefully we can generate more desire and passion.”
Cheverus senior Becca Archer tries to get around Marshwood junior Andrea Longtin during the teams’ showdown Thursday. The Stags suffered their first loss of the season, 2-0.
Bruce Feeley photos.
Cheverus senior Collen Slattery fights through two Marshwood defenders.
Cheverus senior Colleen Slattery (7) and freshman Sophia Pompeo race Marshwood junior Hannah Costin to the ball.
Cheverus sophomore Hannah Abbott defends a hit by Marshwood junior Andrea Longtin.