Thornton Academy’s field hockey team celebrates at the final horn of Friday’s 2-1 win at Cheverus in a rematch of last year’s regional final. The Golden Trojans scored the go-ahead goal with just seven seconds to play in regulation.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Everything has gone the way of the Cheverus field hockey team in the early going of the 2016 season.
But Friday afternoon, the Stags learned how quickly and painfully things can change.
Hosting defending Class A South champion Thornton Academy in a rematch of last year’s regional final, Cheverus dominated almost the whole first half, but went into the break tied, as after junior standout Hannah Abbott scored with 6:12 to play before halftime, Golden Trojans senior Emma Dutremble answered with 3:43 remaining to forge a 1-1 tie.
The Stags had plenty of chances in the second half as well, but after Thornton Academy senior goalie Isabella Capozzi made the save of the young season so far, robbing Cheverus sophomore standout Sophie Pompeo point blank, they never could rattle the cage.
Then, as time wound down in regulation, the visitors earned a penalty corner and with seven seconds to play, Dutremble ricocheted a shot off the far post and over the line and the Golden Trojans got out of town with a palpitating 2-1 victory.
Dutremble had both goals, Capozzi made nine big saves and Thornton Academy improved to 3-0-1 on the young season, dropping the Stags to 3-1 in the process.
“That was a tough loss,” said Cheverus’ first-year coach Sally Cloutier. “I feel we dominated the whole first half and should have more than one (goal). We just couldn’t get it in. We had some near misses, but they’re a great team. They played tough and we did too. We’re well matched.”
Cheverus and Thornton Academy were the last two teams standing in Class A South a year ago and actually met twice. The first game came in Saco, where Pompeo’s overtime goal produced a 3-2 victory for the Stags. The Golden Trojans got their revenge in the regional final at Fitzpatrick Stadium, prevailing, 4-1.
In the early going of the 2016 season, each squad has done well.
Thornton Academy opened with a 7-0 home win over Deering, then settled for a 3-3 tie at Gorham before downing visiting Bonny Eagle, 5-0.
Cheverus started with a 3-0 victory at Westbrook, then blanked visiting Windham, 3-0, and won at South Portland, 4-1.
Friday, on a sizzling 86 degree afternoon (there were water breaks in the middle of each half), in the first meeting between the schools on Cheverus’ field since Aug. 30, 2012 (a 4-0 Stags’ win), the Golden Trojans frustrated Cheverus again.
The Stags controlled play almost the entire first half but came out of it deadlocked.
The first good scoring chance came in the fourth minute when Abbott unleashed a shot off a penalty corner, but Capozzi made the save.
After Pompeo shot just wide off a corner, Abbott had a cross kicked away by Capozzi and after a pass from sophomore Bella Booth resulted in a scrum only to result in the ball being cleared, Cheverus finally broke through with 6:12 remaining before halftime.
The ball came in front to Abbott, whose initial shot was saved, but Abbott stayed with the play, pounced on the rebound and sent her second bid into the cage for a 1-0 lead.
That awakened the Golden Trojans, who immediately pressed for the equalizer.
After a shot off a corner from senior Alisha Aube was saved by Stags junior goalie Kat Kane, Thornton Academy kept the play alive and Dutremble banged home the rebound to tie the score, 1-1.
“That goal changed the momentum of the whole game,” Dutremble said. “That was the energy we needed. We didn’t start strong, but the goal gave us a boost and changed the whole tempo of the game.”
The game remained 1-1 at halftime.
In the first half, Cheverus enjoyed a 7-3 edge in shots on goal and a 4-1 advantage in corners, but didn’t own the lead.
The Stags appeared primed to retake the lead with 27:37 left in regulation, when Booth set up Pompeo for a sure goal, but from nowhere, Capozzi lunged to her right and made the save of the season so far to preserve the tie.
After a timeout with just over 20 minutes to play, Cheverus earned consecutive corners, but Abbott was denied by Capozzi on the first and the second didn’t result in a shot.
Thornton Academy pressured for the lead with 10:11 to go, but Stags senior Carrie Hight cleared a loose ball from the circle.
The Golden Trojans took a timeout with 5:42 left and two minutes later they earned a penalty corner. Junior Taylor Ouellette had an opportunity to put the visitors ahead, but Kane made the save.
Thornton Academy earned another corner with 1;30 left and Dutremble managed a shot, but again Kane made the save.
Then, the Golden Trojans got a final corner with 15 seconds remaining and this time, they capitalized.
Senior back Grace Decker, who played stellar defense on Abbott all afternoon, inserted the ball up to Dutremble, who rifled a shot to Kane’s left. The ball deflected off the post, then rolled over the line and with only 7 seconds showing, Thornton Academy was ahead, 2-1.
“The first goal was on the same exact corner,” said Dutremble. “It’s been successful in practice. We just stuck to the basics. A direct shot is the most basic corner you can do. Grace got me the ball. I’m always the one to hit the post. It hit the post and I thought it would bounce out, but it curled over the line. It was an awesome feeling. We didn’t want to go to overtime.”
“That was high drama,” said Golden Trojans coach Lori Smith. “Emma has a really hard hit. She placed it perfectly.”
“I knew once they got another corner and another corner, I thought, ‘Oh, oh, here’s where it’s going to go bad,'” Cloutier said.
The Golden Trojans then ran out the clock and celebrated their win.
“We knew we had to work harder and fix things,” Dutremble said. “We fixed our communication and played together. It was a great team effort.”
“That was exciting,” Smith said. “We didn’t want another overtime game. This was big for us. They have a swarming style of defense, so that’s something we had to adjust to. We’re doing a good job adjusting in the second half. Losing (graduated standout) Libby Pomerleau hurts, but our forwards are stepping up. We’re meshing well offensively. Our defense is seasoned. Grace did a great job today on Hannah.”
Cheverus got three saves from Kane, won the battle of shots (10-5) and had more penalty corners (7-6), but Thornton Academy, which got nine saves from Capozzi, made the most of its opportunities.
“We have a young team, but the girls stepped up,” Cloutier said. “We kept some of their key players out of the game. We shut down their midfield better than I’d expected. Both teams showed a ton of heart.”
Thornton Academy plays just once next week, Tuesday at home versus Windham. The Golden Trojans still have a lot of big games to come, including a visit to a Marshwood squad that appears in the early going to be the team to beat. Thornton Academy expects to be one of the last teams standing yet again.
“We have 12 returners and we all played together in the offseason,” Dutremble said. “We’re a family. That differs us from other teams and is really helpful. Everyone works so hard. I think this can be our year.”
“I felt Marshwood would be the team to beat and we’ll have to get ready for them on grass,” Smith said. “That’s at the end of the season. We still have work to do.”
Cheverus is back in action Tuesday at Sanford and Thursday, the Stags host Scarborough, a team they’ve never beaten on their home field.
“We’ll bounce back,” Cloutier said. “We have some tough games, but we’ll be ready. Our momentum is building. We’re getting stronger each game. The girls are a little heartbroken, but we have the weekend to get over it.”
Cheverus senior Carrie Hight drives the ball up the field past Thornton Academy senior Emma Dutremble, the game’s hero who scored in the waning seconds.
Cheverus sophomore Bella Booth shoots the ball through the legs of a Thornton Academy defender.
Cheverus senior Charlotte Noyes sends a shot on goal.
Cheverus junior Hannah Abbott beats Thornton Academy senior goalie Isabella Capozzi for the Stags’ lone goal.
Cheverus junior Hannah Abbott (right) is congratulated by sophomore Bella Booth after her goal.
Cheverus sophomore Sophia Pompeo chases down a loose ball.
Cheverus junior Taylor McDermott sends the ball past a Thornton Academy attacker.