Cheverus junior Mackenzie Johnston is hugged by freshman Lauren Jordan (23) following her goal in the second half as junior Abby Cavallaro looks on. The Stags went on to beat Deering Friday afternoon, 2-0.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team has enjoyed a season to remember and the fun is just beginning.
Rival Deering, however, is in danger of seeing its season come a close.
The teams squared off Friday afternoon at Boulos Stadium and while the Rams were able to hold the explosive Stags at bay for awhile, it was only a matter of time until Cheverus, on its Senior Day, notched another ‘W.’
After a frustrating first half which saw them have some good opportunities only to fail to finish, the Stags finally broke through with 27:52 to play, as junior Mackenzie Johnston cleaned up a loose ball in the box and buried it.
Cheverus then put it away with 5:17 remaining when freshman Lauren Jordan finished after a nice move.
The Stags shut the door from there and went on to a 2-0 victory.
Cheverus guaranteed itself its best record since 2012, improved to 9-3-1 and dropped Deering to 5-8 in the process, leaving the Rams’ playoff hopes very much in jeopardy.
“Throughout the summer, I knew we’d be strong this year with our incoming players,” Johnston said. “This has been an amazing, successful season for us. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Entering play Friday, the teams had played 15 times since Cheverus began a varsity program in 2004. Three came in the playoffs and four went to overtime and the Stags held a 7-6 edge (with two ties). Deering had won the past four regular season meetings, however, including a 1-0 home decision in overtime a year ago.
Both teams are eyeing playoff spots this fall.
Cheverus opened with a 3-0 loss at Portland, then got things rolling with a 3-1 home victory over Marshwood and wins over visiting Massabesic (3-0), host Westbrook (3-0) and host Noble (3-2). After settling for a frustrating 3-3 home draw with perennial power Windham, Cheverus bounced back with a 2-0 home victory over Thornton Academy. The Stags then lost, 3-1, at Scarborough, but bounced back to defeat visiting Bonny Eagle, 4-2, After suffering a 1-0 loss at defending regional champion Gorham, Cheverus blanked visiting South Portland (1-0) and rallied to edge host Sanford in overtime, 3-2.
Deering dropped its opener as well, 3-1, to visiting Scarborough, then won at home over South Portland (2-0), at Maine Girls’ Academy (3-0 and at Biddeford (6-1). Losses at Sanford (5-0), at home to Bonny Eagle (2-1), at Gorham (3-0) and at home to Windham (4-2) were followed by a 2-0 home victory over Noble. After falling at Marshwood (6-0), the Rams beat visiting Massabesic (6-1), but lost in double overtime (2-1) Tuesday at Thornton Academy.
Friday, Deering was seeking to even the all-time series, but instead, the Stags earned a win over the Rams for the first time since a 3-0 preliminary round victory in 2012.
After seniors from both teams were honored, it didn’t take long for Cheverus to get a good chance, as in the fourth minute, freshman Emma Gallant launched a shot which Deering senior goalkeeper Meghana Clere managed to get a hand on and knock out of bounds. The ensuing corner kick didn’t result in a shot.
In the ninth minute, Stags senior Meredith Cilley had a shot blocked by Rams junior defender Candy Odhiambo and Cilley’s rebound bid was saved.
In the 11th minute, senior Katie Gordon shot just wide and six minutes later, Johnston shot just high.
After Deering freshman Mia Sargent raced into the box, only to have the chance broken up by Cheverus freshman Julia Ryan, Gallant’s cross was cleared by Rams senior back Leilani Farnsworth with Clere out of the play.
In the 20th minute, Gallant almost put her team on top with a pretty left-footed shot, but Clere dove to tip the ball away and the rebound was cleared.
Down the stretch in the half, Johnston and Jordan both shot wide.
Cheverus had a 4-0 edge in shots and a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks in the first half.
In the second, the Stags changed their approach and soon were rewarded.
Less than two minutes in, Turner served the ball to Jordan at the post post, but Clere got to it first.
Deering managed its first shot with 36:10 to go, when a left-footed blast from the side from Sargent was saved by Stags junior goalkeeper Katie Boynton.
After Rams senior Ewka Varney had a shot headed away by a defender, Gallant served the ball on the ground to the far post, but there was no one there to direct it home.
Cheverus junior back Michaela Jordan headed away a free kick from Varney in the 52nd minute and at the other end, the Stags broke through.
The goal was set up by a throw from junior Abby Cavallaro. The ball was tipped forward to Lauren Jordan and it came to Johnston, whose low shot eluded Clere for a 1-0 lead with 27:52 to play.
“I was a little nervous, but I knew a goal was coming,” Johnston said. “We had good momentum throughout the whole game and we have a lot of shooters and scorers on the team. Abby’s known for her basketball throws. The ball came to me. There was no one on me, so I just took a quick turn and shot. The ball tipped off the goalie’s hand. It felt good to get one.”
“We had to figure things out,” said Cheverus coach Craig Roberts. “They were organized in the back and played off the ball, so we couldn’t play over the top. We talked about that at halftime, playing in front of them and drawing the defense in so we could get behind. It took us 53 minutes. We’d like to figure it out before then.
“We haven’t played a style that’s required our midfielders to get heavily involved. Today, we wanted Mackenzie to get into the attack with them playing off. She did that. She’s a great kid, a real leader, even as a junior. It was nice to see her finish. It’s nice to see us have multiple players who can finish.”
After the goal, Cheverus had some chances to open it up.
With 17:37 remaining, senior Ally Tillotson had a shot which was deflected, but Clere got to the ball.
With 16:03 to go, Tillotson fed the ball ahead and after Clere couldn’t hold it, Cilley had an open look but shot just wide.
With 10:20 left, Deering coach Kevin Olson pulled Clere for senior Tina Dang and three minutes later, Clere, now playing up top, launched a shot that Boynton bobbled, but a defender cleared the rebound from harm’s way.
Cheverus then put it away with 5:17 to play.
Lauren Jordan showed her individual skill, sidestepping a defender, then ripping a high shot past Dang for a 2-0 lead.
The Rams couldn’t muster a shot from there and the Stags went on to victory.
“We came out and played hard,” Roberts said. “These Senior games are nice for the girls and important for the girls, but it seems like they expend a lot of energy. We got our second wind. At the beginning of the season, we came out like a ball of fire, but the last couple games hasn’t been that. I think we’ll get that back.”
Cheverus finished with a 10-3 edge in shots on frame and an 8-1 advantage on corner kicks. Boynton made three saves.
For Deering, Clere stopped eight shots.
“(Cheverus is) a solid team,” Olson said. “They have good freshmen contributing day in and day out. We felt like we were in it. Our defense did everything they could.”
Deering (tied with Noble for 12th place in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) is seeking to hold off Noble and South Portland for the final playoff spot in the region (the Rams last missed the postseason in 2008) and has a key test at home against Portland in the finale Tuesday.
“We need to win Tuesday,” Olson said. “This game is in the past and we’ll focus on the Bulldogs.”
Cheverus (currently second behind Gorham in Class A South) should have at least one home playoff game and will look to close the regular season on a high note Tuesday when it goes to Maine Girls’ Academy.
“That’s always a rivalry game, so we definitely won’t take them lightly,” said Roberts. “We knew that to get a home playoff game, we had to win these three games. We focused at Sanford and came out with a victory and focused and came out with a victory today. Now, it’s one more game of focus for 80 minutes, then we’ll have done everything we can.”
A win Tuesday would match the program mark for victories (10) in a regular season (shared by the 2004, 2007 and 2010 squads).
“We’re excited for playoffs,” Johnston said. “We want to get a bye and go as far as we can. I feel like all the teams are pretty even, but I think we have a really good chance.”
“It’s a great group of girls,” Roberts said. “A nice mix of veterans and freshmen who can play. I had them write down their goals at the start of the season. A lot of them said, ‘Be more than a ..500 team,’ ‘Win a playoff game,’ ‘Host a playoff game,’ ‘Get to states.’ The girls have high expectations so I have to have high expectations of them. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t play hard in the playoffs. I’m confident we’ll play with intensity and we’ll see what happens.”
Deering freshman Mia Sargent plays the ball as Cheverus sophomore Tholia Hallett gives chase.
Cheverus senior Emily Turner fires a shot as Deering senior Leinani Farnsworth (24) and senior Phoebe Bell defend.
Deering senior Ewka Varney brings the ball up the field as junior Darrah Scott tries to get her attention.
Cheverus freshman Lauren Jordan shoots as Deering junior Annah Rossvall defends.
Cheverus junior Abby Cavallaro heads the ball away from Deering junior Darrah Scott.
Cheverus junior goalkeeper Katie Boynton and freshman Julia Ryan celebrate the victory.
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 0 (OT)
Deering 1 @ Cheverus 0
@ Deering 6 Cheverus 1
@ Deering 0 Cheverus 0 (tie)
Cheverus 1 @ Deering 0
@ Deering 0 Cheverus 0 (tie)
@ Cheverus 2 Deering 0
Cheverus 3 @ Deering 1
@ Cheverus 4 Deering 1 (Western A preliminary round)
@ Cheverus 4 Deering 0
@ Cheverus 2 Deering 0 (Western A preliminary round)
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 0
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 1