Cheverus celebrates a goal during its 2-0 home win over Bonny Eagle Wednesday afternoon. The Stags improved to 7-1 with the victory.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team hasn’t had to overcome much adversity in recent games, but Wednesday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, the Stags ran into a red-hot squad from Bonny Eagle and had a goal taken away in the first half.
For many teams, that would start a spiral that would end in defeat, but Cheverus kept its head up and was rewarded with yet another victory.
Less than two minutes after an apparent brilliant tally from sophomore Emma Gallant was taken away because her indirect kick wasn’t touched before finding the net, classmate Lauren Jordan pounced on a loose ball in the box and buried it for a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
The Stags’ defense flummoxed the Scots throughout and with 14:46 remaining in regulation, Gallant scored a goal that did count, with her back to the cage no less, and that was more than enough for Cheverus to go on to a 2-0 victory.
The Stags won their seventh game in a row, improved to 7-1 and dropped vastly improved Bonny Eagle to 6-2 in the process.
“I knew (Bonny Eagle would) come out tough,” Jordan said. “It’s a good win. We have to keep pushing, keep working. Every game is very important.”
While Cheverus was expected to be a top contender this fall, the rise of Bonny Eagle has been a surprise to many.
Last year, the Scots went 7-7-1, losing to Kennebunk in the preliminary round of the Class A South playoffs. So far this autumn, however, Bonny Eagle has turned heads. The Scots opened with wins at Noble (3-2) and Deering (4-1). After blanking visiting Windham (2-0), Bonny Eagle enjoyed a 4-1 victory at Biddeford. After finally suffering a loss, 2-1, at undefeated, top-ranked Scarborough, the Scots bounced back and blanked visiting Sanford (5-0) and Maine Girls’ Academy (14-0).
Cheverus started with a last-second 1-0 loss at Kennebunk, then turned things around by beating visiting South Portland (2-1), host Massabesic (5-0), visiting Falmouth (2-0), visiting Portland (2-0), visiting Westbrook (2-0) and host Thornton Academy (3-1).
Last fall, Cheverus doubled up visiting Bonny Eagle, 4-2.
Wednesday, on yet another sweltering (82-degree) yet breezy (15-miles-per hour) afternoon, the Scots sought their first win in the series since Sept. 24, 2004 (2-1 in Portland), but instead, the Stags improved to 10-0-1 over the past 11 meetings.
Cheverus was frustrated in the early going, as a shot from junior Zoe Mazur was saved, Gallant missed wide and after Bonny Eagle sophomore Emily Byrne made a nice move on a defender and sent it to sophomore Muddy Johnson, whose shot was saved by Stags freshman goalkeeper Neve Cawley, Gallant sent a free kick high, senior Mackenzie Johnston’s 30-yard rocket rang off the crossbar and freshman Victoria Bossong had a shot saved by Scots junior goalkeeper Sydney Gillingham.
Then, with 22:03 left in the half, Gallant appeared to give the hosts a lead, when, on a free kick from the top of the box, her low rocket beat Gillingham to the keeper’s right and kissed the net just inside the near post.
The only problem was that the kick was indirect, not direct, so the goal was waved off.
“I think it was the right call, so we had to adapt,” said Cheverus coach Craig Roberts. “I think we are pretty resilient and mentally tough. That’s something we talk about on and off the field. You have to fight through adversity.”
That’s exactly what the Stags did, as with 20:40 on the first half clock, a throw from the side by senior Abby Cavallaro bounced in front of Gillingham and when the keeper couldn’t handle it cleanly, Jordan was there to bury the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
“It was so important to get that goal,” Jordan said. “We had to bounce back as quickly as we could. I don’t think she saw it in the sun, so I was there.”
“That goal got us settled,” Roberts said. “You have to be hungry like Lauren was. You can’t just be standing there for the ball to drop at your feet. You have to get to the ball first and she did.”
A little over a minute later, Mazur nearly doubled the lead, but her high blast was tipped and caught by Gillingham.
Late in the half, the Scots looked to tie, but sophomore Emily Ginter had a shot saved by Cawley and off a free kick, junior Paige Quilty got the ball to Ginter, who was again denied by Cawley.
Cheverus had a 5-3 edge in first half shots.
Chances were fewer in the second half as the Stags’ defense began to dictate play.
Early on in the second stanza, Bonny Eagle did get a look from Byrne that forced Cawley to leap to save and freshman Hailey Koons missed wide.
With 22:50 to play, the Scots got the game’s first corner kick, but couldn’t generate a shot.
With 19:25 on the clock, Quilty almost tied it, as on a free kick from just inside midfield, she lobbed the ball in front of Cawley and it bounced over the keeper, but at the last second, it rolled just wide of the left post.
Then, with 14:46 left, the hosts got a little breathing room.
Again, the goal was set u by a throw-in from Cavallaro, the basketball standout. Cavallaro’s throw found the head of Mazur, who headed it to Gallant in the box. Gallant, facing away from the goal, then was able to lob a shot over Gillingham for a 2-0 lead.
“This year we’ve got plays going where Zoe and Lauren try to flick it back and I try to get it as close to them as I can,” Cavallaro said. “Emma always impresses us. There’s never a dull moment with her. I just tried to throw it as far as I could.”
“I thought we played really well in the first half and early in the second half, then we were rewarded with a set piece goal,” Roberts said. “(Abby’s) a great weapon and we have girls who are decent in the air, whether it’s because of their size or their ability to read the ball and get to it.”
From there, Cheverus didn’t allow another good chance and the Stags went on to the 2-0 win.
“I expected a tough game,” Jordan said. “I’m from Hollis, so I went to school with all those (Bonny Eagle) girls. It meant a lot to me.”
“Bonny Eagle is always a battle,” Cavallaro said. “We knew they came close to Scarborough and Scarborough is a top team, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. We had to be patient and consistent. We’re all mixing well together and playing a great team game. We love each other. I’m happy with how we’ve played this season.”
The Stags had a 6-4 edge in shots and got four saves from Cawley. More importantly, their defensive unit was smothering.
“We have such a good defense,” Jordan said. “They never make mistakes and if they do, they bounce back and figure it out.”
“(Senior) Michaela (Jordan) is always there to have our back and keep us organized,” Cavallaro said. “Our most important thing was staying organized, knowing when to drop, when to step.”
“Michaela and Abby have been spot-on every game,” Roberts said. “MJ (Michaela Jordan), (senior) Katherine (Griffiths), (senior) Kate Sessler too. They know what it takes on game day. I’m fortunate we have those players to be role models for the younger players. Our back four is pretty much the same back four as last year. They’ve been good at being compact and composed.”
There’s a lot of parity in Class A South, but for now, Scarborough leads the way. Both Bonny Eagle and Cheverus hope to close the gap between now and the start of the playoffs.
The Scots (third in the Heal Points standings at press time) return to action Friday when Marshwood pays a visit. Bonny Eagle then goes to defending regional champion Gorham, hosts Kennebunk, Portland and South Portland, then closes at Massabesic.
Cheverus (now fourth in Class A South) will meet rival Deering Friday afternoon in a game played at Fitzpatrick Stadium. After going to Biddeford next Wednesday, the Stags visit Scarborough in a pivotal contest Oct. 7. Cheverus hosts Sanford and MGA, then closes at Noble.
“We have to keep finishing and staying organized,” Cavallaro said. “If we work hard, we’ll hopefully finish out the season really well.”
“It’s really one game at a time,” Roberts said. “Deering has had good results recently. We’re in a situation where every game is a playoff-type game. We won’t look too far ahead. That’s worked well for us so far.”
Cheverus sophomore Lauren Jordan fights with Bonny Eagle junior Sarah Dube for possession. Jordan scored the game’s first goal.
Cheverus junior Tholia Hallett plays the ball.
Cheverus’ dynamic sophomore Emma Gallant fires a free kick on goal in the first half. Gallant’s shot found the net, but was overturned. She did get credit for a goal in the second half.
Cheverus freshman Victoria Bossong lines up a shot as Bonny Eagle junior goalkeeper Sydney Gillingham gets ready to make a save.
Cheverus freshman Lily Paszyc fights Bonny Eagle sophomore Randi Lee Robinson for possession.
Bonny Eagle junior goalkeeper Sydney Gillingham slides to cut off the angle of Cheverus sophomore Emma Gallant.