Cheverus senior goalie Kat Kane and classmate Anna Smith celebrate during the Stags’ 4-0 home win over Falmouth Tuesday afternoon.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Foes of the Cheverus field hockey team are well aware of the danger posed by the Pompeo sisters and University of Maine-bound senior standout Hannah Abbott, but the Stags have even more talent in reserve and one of the squad’s budding stars took center stage Tuesday afternoon at Shea Field in Cheverus’ first-ever countable game against Falmouth.
Junior Bella Booth first made her presence felt on the game’s first goal, setting up freshman Lucia Pompeo off a penalty corner with 6:40 to play in the first half, giving the Stags the only tally they would need.
There would be more, however.
Two minutes later, off another corner, Booth got in the scoring column on the rebound and Cheverus had a 2-0 lead.
After the Stags’ defense and senior goalie Kat Kane stymied several Yachtsmen corners in the second half, Booth iced the victory, scoring off a corner 1:53 on the clock and a goal in the final minute by Pompeo accounted for a 4-0 victory.
Booth finished with two goals and one assist and Pompeo also rattled the cage twice as Cheverus won its third game in a row, improved to 5-1 and dropped Falmouth to 3-4 in the process.
“We played OK,” said Stags coach Sally Cloutier. “We had some nice passing. We just kind of played our game. We knew they’d be strong. It’s a good win. We got our momentum.”
Despite being located just five miles apart, Cheverus and Falmouth had never met in a countable game prior to Tuesday, but with Falmouth now part of the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, the teams will meet regularly.
Both squads, perennial contenders, expect to be in the mix this year and the Stags had passed every test but one, while the Yachtsmen had been up and down.
Falmouth started with a 4-1 loss at Westbrook and a 3-1 home loss to Scarborough, then downed host Deering (3-0) and visiting Noble (2-0) to give longtime coach Robin Haley her 200th career victory. After a 3-2 loss at Bonny Eagle, the Yachtsmen edged visiting Windham Friday, 1-0.
Cheverus started with wins at Kennebunk (1-0) and Biddeford (2-0) before falling just short at home against defending regional champion Massabesic, 3-2. The Stags then bounced back by handling visiting South Portland (6-1) and edging host Gorham in overtime (1-0).
Tuesday, on a dreary and drizzly afternoon, Cheverus posted another victory in impressive fashion.
The Stags got the first chance, in the sixth minute, but couldn’t produce a shot on a penalty corner.
They would do much better the next time.
After Falmouth senior Grace Soucy shot wide, Lucia Pompeo rushed up the field and was denied in impressive fashion by Yachtsmen junior goalie Caitlyn Bull.
In the 10th minute, both Pompeo (off a pass from junior Sophia Pompeo) and Abbott barely missed wide and at the last second, a nice cross from Sophia Pompeo was cleared away by Falmouth junior defender Caitlyn Hanley.
Cloutier called timeout with 12:14 to play in the half and it wasn’t long before Cheverus was on the board. With 6:50 remaining, the Stags earned their second corner and this time, it turned into a goal.
Booth inserted the ball, it wound up loose in the circle and Booth fed Lucia Pompeo for a shot that Bull couldn’t stop for a 1-0 lead with 6:40 left before the break.
The Stags got another corner with 5:10 on the clock and this time, Booth, the inserter, would finish, as she banged home a rebound 13 seconds later to make it 2-0. On the play, Sophia Pompeo had an initial shot that Bull saved, Abbott tried three separate times to get the rebound in, but was denied on all three and eventually, Booth was able to finish.
“I just really try to play my own game no matter what goes on,” Booth said. “I feel like I’m more of a playmaker and I feel like I’ve stepped it up this year. I’m on the post and I get the ball in when it needs to be. I just have to be scrappy.”
“Bella is one of our best players and she doesn’t get the attention,” Cloutier said. “She’s got a great stick, she’s fast as ever and she’s a smart player. She’s tireless. She can run, run, run. She’s a great secret weapon. She looked good today.”
Haley called timeout, but the visitors couldn’t generate any offense before halftime.
Cheverus almost went ahead by three, but Bull made her sixth save, denying Lucia Pompeo. and the game went to halftime with the Stags holding a 2-0 advantage.
Falmouth had some chances to draw closer in the second half, but couldn’t do so and late in regulation, Cheverus ended all doubt.
With 25:20 remaining, Yachtsmen junior Abbie Marley had a shot saved by Kane and Soucy’s rebound was also turned aside.
After Lucia Pompeo had a rush broken up and Abbott shot wide, Kane broke up the rush of Falmouth senior Stone Carmichael.
With 15:55 on the clock, Falmouth earned its first corner, which was quickly followed by two more, none of which generated a good chance.
With 10:43 to play, junior Emma Cohen had a shot saved by Kane.
The Yachtsmen had one final corner which didn’t produce a shot and Cheverus was able to control the ball the rest of the way.
With 1:53 remaining, off another corner, Booth banged home a rebound for a 3-0 lead.
Ultimately, play on penalty corners was the difference in this one.
“Our corners have been really good lately,” Booth said. “Our positioning and passing have been great. We talk it out before and we insert from the right side so I can be on the strong side. Soph and Hannah have wicked shots and Lucia is great going in on pads.”
“Our corners were better today,” Cloutier said. “We executed them well.”
“We had some difficulties in the circle,” Haley said. “They have very good, skilled players. You can focus on individual players, but they can dish it off to someone else, so we knew we had to play all 11 players.”
Then, 20 seconds later, off yet another dazzling rush, Lucia Pompeo finished to bring the curtain down on the 4-0 victory.
“I feel like the (Massabesic) loss made us realize even though we think we’re good, we won’t always play our best,” Booth said. “It’s important to get knocked down so we can get back up. We weren’t really sure about (Falmouth) because we’ve never played. We went into it with an open mind. We treat every team the same.”
The Stags put 12 shots on cage to five for Falmouth and had a 5-4 edge in corners. Kane made five saves.
“Kat played great today,” Cloutier said. “She came out of the goal and was aggressive.”
Falmouth got seven saves from Bull, but couldn’t find the cage.
“We continue to struggle putting the ball in the net,” Haley said. “I feel like we started out fairly strong and played strong most of the first half. Once they got that goal, we let down a little bit. It tapped into our confidence somewhat. Their momentum started to carry and their big players stepped up and were able to execute. We had some good spurts in the second half, we just weren’t able to finish our opportunities.”
Falmouth looks to bounce back Friday when Kennebunk pays a visit. Monday, the Yachtsmen get a chance to avenge last year’s painful playoff ouster when they go to Massabesic.
“I wish we had a couple more wins, but we want to continue to get better and focus on the next game,” Haley said. “If we go out and execute, we can win. We want to win enough games to get in the playoffs.”
Cheverus goes to Thornton Academy Thursday and returns home Monday to battle Sanford.
“Our passing is getting a lot better and I think it can still be better going forward,” Booth said. “Our communication needs to get better. Our confidence is where it needs to be. We’re having fun.”
“Things are going well,” Cloutier said. “I’ll take the one loss. It was good for us to lose in a way. The girls are playing really hard together. They’re really focused. They really want it.”
Cheverus senior Bella Booth inserts the ball on a penalty corner. Booth scored two goals and added an assist in the win.
Falmouth junior Juliana LaPorta brings the ball up the field.
Falmouth junior goalie Caitlyn Bull denies Cheverus freshman Lucia Pompeo.
Cheverus junior Sophia Pompeo battles Falmouth junior Juliana LaPorta for the ball.
Falmouth junior Liberty Ladd knocks the ball away from Cheverus freshman Lucia Pompeo.