Cheverus girls punch ticket to semifinals for first time since 2014

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Cheverus’ girls’ lacrosse team mobs sophomore goalie Maeve McGarrity at the final horn of the Stags’ 18-8 win over Gardiner/Hall-Dale in Wednesday’s Class A North quarterfinals. Cheverus advanced to meet top-ranked, defending state champion Messalonskee in the semifinals Friday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Class A North quarterfinal

Cheverus 18 Gardiner/Hall-Dale 8

G/HD- 4 4- 8
C- 6 12- 18

First half
22:26 C Johnston (MacDonald)
19:56 C McElman (unassisted)
16:01 C A. Flaherty (Keating)
15:24 GHD E. Hinkley (unassisted)
14:47 GHD Lovely (unassisted)
13:53 GHD E. Hinkley (unassisted)
12:49 GHD E. Hinkley (unassisted)
8:31 C Johnston (unassisted)
3:05 C Griffiths (free position)
1:27 C Booth (unassisted)

Second half
24:54 C A. Flaherty (McElman)
23:45 C A. Flaherty (unassisted)
23:29 C McElman (unassisted)
23:15 C MacDonald (McElman)
19:00 GHD Lovely (unassisted)
16:59 C McElman (A. Flaherty)
16:43 C Johnston (unassisted)
13:49 C McElman (Keating)
11:43 C Johnston (A. Flaherty)
10:39 C Griffiths (A. Flaherty)
9:24 GHD Chadwick (unassisted)
7:43 C Booth (McElman)
4:54 GHD E. Hinkley (unassisted)
3:17 C Willard (unassisted)
51.5 GHD Lavoie (unassisted)
7.4 C Griffiths (unassisted)

G/HD- E. Hinkley 4, Lovely 2, Chadwick, Lavoie 1
C- Johnston, McElman 4, A. Flaherty, Griffiths 3, Booth 2, MacDonald, Willard 1

C- McElman 3, A. Flaherty, Keating 2, MacDonald 1

G/HD- 14
C- 13

G/HD- 15
C- 44

Shots on cage:
G/HD- 12
C- 30

G/HD (J. Hinkley) 12
C (McGarrity) 4

PORTLAND—After failing to deliver the knockout blow in the first half, Cheverus’ girls’ lacrosse team made quick work of visiting Gardiner/Hall-Dale in the second half of the teams’ Class A North quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon at Boulos Stadium.

The Stags hosted a playoff game on campus for the first time in three years and shot to a 3-0 lead behind goals from senior Mackenzie Johnston, senior Brooke McElman and freshman Aisling Flaherty, but in a 2-minute, 35 second-span, Gardiner-Hall-Dale erupted for four goals, three coming from junior Evelyn Hinkley, to take the lead.

Cheverus then settled down on behind goals from Johnston, junior Kathryn Griffiths and sophomore Bella Booth, took a 6-4 advantage into the half.

The Stags then ended all doubt quickly in the second half.

Before the second half was two minutes old, a two-goal lead had been stretched to six, as Flaherty scored twice, McElman added a goal and sophomore Terryn MacDonald tickled the twine.

After Gardiner/Hall-Dale got a goal back, McElman, Johnston, McElman, Johnston and Griffiths all scored to make it 15-5.

The teams traded goals the rest of the way and Cheverus went on to an 18-8 victory.

Johnston and McElman both scored four goals and Flaherty and Griffiths had three goals apiece as the Stags improved to 6-7, ended Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s season at 4-9 and advanced to visit top-ranked, defending Class A champion Messalonskee (12-1) in the semifinals Friday at 5:30 p.m., at Thomas College in Waterville.

“At halftime, we talked about executing the offense and settling in on defense and the girls did that,” said Cheverus coach Bill Fenton. “I’m really proud of these girls. They’ve come such a long way this season and we have too as coaches.” 

Unfamiliar foe

Cheverus has played its share of playoff games over the past decade, but the Stags had never met Gardiner, Hall-Dale or this current co-op squad. 

Gardiner/Hall-Dale went 4-8 in the regular season, which was good for the No. 5 seed in Class A North.

Cheverus had an up-and-down campaign as well, but its 5-7 record (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories) gave it the No. 4 seed.

Wednesday, on a very pleasant 69-degree afternoon, the Stags put on an offensive show.

The game’s first goal came with 22:26 to go in the first half, when Johnston scored, from MacDonald.

McElman scored with 19:56 on the clock and after Johnston hit the crossbar, Flaherty finished a feed from sophomore Margaret Keating for a seemingly safe 3-0 lead.

Out of a timeout, Gardiner/Hall-Dale then roared to life and turned things around.

With 15:24 left, Hinkley scored unassisted, beating Cheverus sophomore goalie Maeve McGarrity, to break the ice.

Junior Haillee Lovely added an unassisted goal 37 seconds later and with 13:53 on the clock, Hinkley’s unassisted goal tied the score.

After Fenton called timeout, Hinkley scored unassisted again to give Gardiner/Hall-Dale the lead with 12:49 to go, but after Booth hit the post, Cheverus tied the game with 8:31 remaining, as Johnston made a nice move to elude a defender and finished to make it 4-4.

The Stags went on top to stay with 3:05 on the clock, as Griffiths converted a free position.

With 1:27 to go, Booth grabbed a rebound and scored to make it 6-4 at halftime.

In the first half, Cheverus had a big advantage in ground balls (30-17) and shots (24-8), but couldn’t pull away.

That would happen in the second half.

Johnston won the draw and the ball came to McElman, who fed Flaherty for a goal just six seconds in.

Flaherty scored again, unassisted, with 23:45 on the clock, to make it 8-4.

Sixteen seconds later, McElman scored unassisted.

After Gardiner/Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell called timeout, McElman set up MacDonald to make it 10-4 with 23:15 left.

Lovely answered with 19 minutes to play, but in just over six minutes, the Stags would get five more goals to induce a mercy rule running clock.

With 16:59 left, Flaherty set up McElman. 

Sixteen seconds later, Johnston scored unassisted.

With 13:49 on the clock, Keating fed McElman in traffic and McElman finished for a 13-5 lead.

With 11:43 remaining, Flaherty set up Johnston for a goal and with 10:39 left, Flaherty set up Griffiths to make it 15-5.

Gardiner/Hall-Dale answered with 9:24 to go, as senior Lauren Chadwick scored unassisted, but Booth (from McElman) made it a 10-goal game again with 7:43 showing.

After Johnston hit the post, Hinkley scored unassisted with 4:54 to play, but with 3:17 left, junior Adrienne Willard scored for the Stags for a 17-7 lead.

Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s final tally came with 51.5 seconds remaining, as senior Skye Lavoie scored and with 7.4 seconds on the clock, Griffith’s unassisted goal brought the curtain down on Cheverus’ 18-8 triumph.

“We got our momentum going and from there, it was just getting involved on each play,” Johnston said. “All the girls have so much to offer. We were all on the same page and wanted it so badly. Once we got a goal, we got another, then another and another. It’s huge for the seniors to win this one.”

“It’s awesome,” Fenton said. “We had a little timeout and a little talk and the girls put it together. The defense was loose for a little while then came on strong. I’m really proud of them.”

Johnston and McElman paced the offense with four goals apiece. Flaherty and Griffiths both scored three times. Booth added two goals and MacDonald and Willard had one apiece.

McElman also had three assists, while Flaherty, Keating and MacDonald all had one.

Johnston finished with a game-high nine ground balls.

McGarrity had four saves.

Cheverus outshot Gardiner/Hall-Dale, 44-15 (30-12 on cage).

Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s offense featured four goals from Hinkley, two from Lovely and one apiece from Chadwick and Lavoie.

Freshman goalie Julia Hinkley made 12 saves.

Gardiner/Hall-Dale had a 14-13 edge in draws.

Bigger test

Cheverus saw Messalonskee back on April 29 and dropped a 17-6 home decision.

The Stags won three of four prior playoff meetings, but last spring, Messalonskee won, 13-4, in the quarterfinals en route to the program’s first state title.

The Eagles suffered a scare Wednesday in their quarterfinal, but outlasted eighth-ranked Portland, 14-12.

Cheverus will travel north Friday believing it can shock the world.

“On to the next,” said Johnston. “Messalonskee’s a really good team, but I think we’re up for the challenge. We know who their good players are. We’ll have to stay tough on them and keep our confidence up.”

“Today’s a big step and we have another big step ahead of us with Messalonskee,” said Fenton. “We’re looking forward to it. We have nothing to lose.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cheverus senior Brooke McElman fires a shot past Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s Evelyn Hinkley. McElman had four goals. 

Cheverus sophomore Bella Booth knocks the ball away from Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s Skye Lavoie.

Cheverus junior Kathryn Griffiths unleashes a shot.

Cheverus senior Mackenzie Johnston protects the ball.

Cheverus sophomore Terryn MacDonald fires a shot.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.