PORTLAND—Four days ago, Cheverus’ field hockey team lost by six goals at defending Class A South champion Westbrook.
Monday afternoon, the Stags faced a gut-check when they hosted Marshwood at Shea Field and they rose to the occasion.
Thanks to a quick goal and a tremendous effort from their first-year goalie.
Cheverus got the jump 3 minutes, 35 seconds into the first half when sophomore Lucia Pompeo scored and to the surprise of everyone on hand, that would prove to be the only goal of the game.
The Hawks had ample opportunities to rally, producing 12 shots and earning 14 penalty corners, but the Stags’ defense and junior goalie Hannah Woodford denied them all as Cheverus held on for a 1-0 victory.
The Stags kicked off a critical closing schedule stretch with an important victory, improved to 6-5 and in the process, dropped Marshwood to 6-5 as well.
“Coming off a tough loss, we had to re-evaluate where we are and I’m really proud of the girls,” said Cheverus coach Sally Cloutier. “They worked hard for 60 minutes and I can’t ask for more.”
Both teams are right in the thick of the hunt in a deep and balanced Class A South.
Marshwood, a perennial contender, opened by beating host Gorham, 2-1. After a 2-0 home loss to Thornton Academy, the Hawks beat host Sanford, 1-0, then downed visiting Portland, 6-3. After a 3-1 loss at defending regional champion Westbrook, Marshwood blanked visiting Scarborough, 2-0, then was upset at Deering, 4-3. Shutout home wins over Noble (8-0) and Windham (2-0) were followed by a 1-0 setback at Bonny Eagle Saturday.
Cheverus started with a 1-0 home win over Kennebunk, then lost, 4-3, at Massabesic and dropped a 2-1 “home” decision against Biddeford in a game played at Fitzpatrick Stadium. After rallying for a 4-3 win at South Portland, the Stags lost, 2-1, in double-overtime to Gorham at Fitzpatrick Stadium before holding off host Falmouth, 3-2. After a 2-0 home victory over Thornton Academy, Cheverus fell at Sanford, 2-1, downed visiting Portland (6-2), then lost at Westbrook.
Last year, Marshwood won at home, 2-0.
Monday, on a raw, 53-degree afternoon, with occasional drizzle falling, the Stags snapped the Hawks’ seven-game win streak in the series, beating Marshwood for the first time since Sept. 24, 2013 (2-1 at home).
Cheverus set the tone just 21 seconds in when senior Sophia Pompeo showed off her stick-wizardry by racing into the circle before being denied by Hawks senior goalie Sarah Arenberg.
After Sophia Pompeo missed just wide, the Stags got on the board with 26:25 to play in the first half, as Booth passed to Lucia Pompeo, who one-timed a shot into the cage for a 1-0 advantage.
“I just took the ball and shot it,” Lucia Pompeo said. “I was on my strong side and shot for the corner.”
“The plan was get ahead early and beat them to the ball and we did that,” Cloutier said.
Marshwood’s first shot came 40 seconds later at the other end, but Woodford denied sophomore Linsey Bruno-Moulton.
After Arenberg kept the score 1-0 by saving shots by sophomore Lucy Pirone and Sophia Pompeo, Hawks senior Leah Glidden missed just wide after a rush and Cheverus sophomore Madisyn Durgin made a defensive save.
Out of a timeout, Marshwood tried again to pull even, but Woodford denied sophomore Emma Howarth and late in the half, Woodford saved a shot by sophomore Corrin Hasty to allow the Stags to hold on to the lead at the break.
In the first 30 minutes, the Hawks had an 8-5 edge in shots, but Woodford stopped every one.
Early in the second half, Lucia Pompeo bid to extend Cheverus’ lead, but she sent a backhander wide.
Marshwood then controlled most of the rest of the game.
With 23:30 on the clock, Glidden attempted a long pass ahead to Howarth, but Stags freshman Sam Heinzman got back to break it up.
With 19:08 to play, Glidden fired a rocket that Woodford saved.
Less than a minute later, Hasty sent a promising cross through the circle, but no teammate could get a stick on it.
After Hasty had a shot deflected wide, Glidden was denied by Woodford and sophomore Emma Tice missed wide.
“I was just hoping I could make the saves and the defense could get the ball out,” said Woodford. “It’s a lot more intense playing varsity. I have good defenders and a good team in front of me. It was hard mentally after my first big varsity loss. Coach told us to get the mental game and we executed that.”
Cheverus was able to milk the clock from there and celebrate a 1-0 victory.
“This was great,” Cloutier said. “What a good match. They’re a good team. They gave us a ton of pressure, but our kids held up. We got lucky because they’re fast and quick and have dangerous players.”
Woodford stole the show with a dozen saves.
“Hannah played awesome and made some huge saves,” Cloutier said.
The Stags were out-shot 12-7, took six corners and killed all 14 Marshwood attempted.
“I’m just trying to put myself directly in front of the girl shooting the ball because I know I can go side-to-side if I need to,” Woodford said, of stopping corners.
The Hawks got six saves from Arenberg.
“It was frustrating, but if we take nothing else from this, I can’t fault the effort,” said Marshwood coach Kristin Dupont. “We gave everything we could. I think we outplayed them and had the ball in their end most of the game. Toward the end, I just told them to put shots on goal. I wasn’t trying to be fancy, just take shots.”
Marshwood (now seventh in the Class A South Heal Points standings) is home with Kennebunk Wednesday, visits Massabesic Saturday, then closes the regular season at home against Biddeford Tuesday of next week.
“We have to play like we did today,” Dupont said. “Nine times out of 10 we’ll score goals when we play like that.”
Cheverus (which moved up to sixth in Class A South) has another huge contest upcoming Wednesday, when it visits Scarborough. The Stags welcome Deering for Senior Day Friday, then close the regular season Tuesday of next week at Noble.
“It was really important for us to win,” Lucia Pompeo said. “This is a confidence-booster. We can’t get in our heads too much and get frustrated. We need to keep it positive.”
“We have to keep the mental game going and keep our physicality up,” Woodford said. “We have to keep going with it.”
“It’s anyone’s game and we’re in the mix,” Cloutier added. “We just have to bring it.”