The Cheverus girls’ lacrosse team fell one step short of the Class A state final last week after suffering a 13-8 loss at Brunswick in the Eastern A championship game.
The Stags, who lost more decisively (14-3) to the Dragons in last year’s regional final, were one of the state’s most exciting teams in the regular year, going 7-5 while just missing upset victories over eventual Class A champion Scarborough and perennial contender Kennebunk.
Cheverus earned the No. 6 seed in Eastern A and after a 12-8 upset win at third-ranked Lewiston in the quarterfinals, the Stags held off No. 7 Messalonskee, 10-9, in the semifinals.
At Brunswick, Cheverus hung tough early, grabbing a 1-0 lead on a goal from sharpshooter Meredith Willard and a 2-1 advantage on a goal from do-everything sophomore Alex Logan. After the Dragons scored two in a row to go ahead for the first time, Logan tied the game for the final time at 3-3.
Then, Brunswick rattled off five in a row to take an 8-3 lead into the break.
“We scored first and I think about halfway through, it was back and forth,” said Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain. “Then, on attack, we turned the ball over. (The Dragons) came down. They were patient and their passing was on. Their feeds were sharp. All their seniors had good games. The five-goal run to finish the first half was the difference. They started to get draw controls and ball possession.”
As expected, the Stags rallied and cut the deficit to 8-5 behind goals from Logan and Elyse Caiazzo. Goals from Catie Walsh and Willard actually got Cheverus within two, 9-7, and another Walsh goal made it 10-8 with a little over 11 minutes to go, but the Stags could get no closer and Brunswick went on to a 13-8 victory.
“We talked about being too tentative and too perfect on offense, so I told them to be more aggressive going to goal,” said Chamberlain. “Catie Walsh had a good game with that. She got a couple good shots and good goals for us. Meredith and Alex also found the seams. It was 10-8 and we had some momentum. It seems like this team does better under adversity. The last two playoff games, the ball bounced our way. This time, it was the other way around. The ball seemed to bounce to Brunswick. They pulled it out and stalled and they wore us out at the end. It was a lot closer than the 13-8 score. The kids played hard.”
Logan led the way with three goals, while Walsh and Willard both scored twice. Caiazzo had one goal, while Sadie Lyons continued a season-long trend with three assists. Freshman goalie Hope Correia made seven saves.
Cheverus wound up 9-6 and made many memories.
“Looking at where we started as a young team, we had a very nice season,” said Chamberlain. “Our top scorers are sophomores. We had a freshman in goal and several field players who never played before. To see how far they’ve come since the first day has been impressive to watch. How they stuck together, even when things didn’t go well, they pumped it each other up. They never got frazzled. That’s huge for such a young team.”
The Stags lose three seniors, but return plenty of firepower and will be in position to get back to the regional final and perhaps go even deeper in 2013.
“I think the kids will be excited coming back knowing that they accomplished quite a bit this year,” Chamberlain said. “There’s still work to do. I’m sure they’ll come back hungry.”
Freelance writer Nathan D. Fournier contributed to this story.