PORTLAND—After a better-than-hoped-for regular season, the title dreams of the Cheverus field hockey team were quickly extinguished Tuesday evening.
“Hosting” Marshwood in a Western Class A quarterfinal on the Deering High turf, the fourth-ranked Stags were hoping to repeat one of their most inspirational regular season victories, but instead, found themselves down two goals to the fifth-seeded Hawks less than 13 minutes in.
Cheverus never was able to drum up much offense and even though it had four penalty corners in the second half, none of them resulted in a goal.
Marshwood added an insurance tally with just over 21 minutes to play and went on to a 3-0 triumph, which ended the Stags’ season at 11-3-1.
The Hawks improved to 12-3 and set up a semifinal round showdown at top-ranked Scarborough Saturday at 1 p.m.
Cheverus has to look ahead to next year.
“They came out and just outplayed us,” lamented Stags coach Amy McMullin. “Unfortunately, I think we got psyched out. It reminds me of last year’s (regional final) loss to Scarborough. Still, it was a great season.”
Cheverus has been no stranger to success the past four years, reaching the regional final on three occasions and playing in the Class A state game in 2010. These Stags entered the postseason believing they were capable of a deep run.
Despite a lot of changes, Cheverus posted a strong 11-2-1 record, losing only to Bonny Eagle and Massabesic and tying Scarborough, which was a very encouraging result.
Marshwood, a state finalist in 2011, and one of the favorites this fall, lost to Scarborough in its opener, then won six in a row before losing, 1-0, at Cheverus Sept. 24. The Hawks then won five of their final six, falling only at Gorham by a goal.
The teams came in having met just once before in the playoffs and that came last year in the semifinals, a 1-0 Stags’ triumph.
Tuesday, Marshwood struck quickly.
Junior standout Lindsey Poirier set up the first goal, which was finished by senior Ashley Hickey with 20:57 to play in the first half.
Just over three minutes later, Poirier did it herself, finishing for a quick 2-0 advantage.
“We lost our heads completely and they played great,” said McMullin. “Everything we talked about all week kind of didn’t happen. They played an awesome game. They were ready for us.”
No further damage was done before halftime, but Cheverus only managed one first half shot and no corners. Still, the Stags still had hope entering the second half.
“At halftime, we wanted to tie it up and send it to overtime,” said McMullin. “We wanted to get one in the first 10 minutes and have 20 minutes to get the other, but that third one hurt us.”
The third goal came with 21:23 to play and it came off a corner, which freshman Elaine Batchelder finished to essentially end the competitive phase of the contest.
When the final horn sounded, Marshwood celebrated the extension of its season, while the Stags tried to hold their heads high over what they’d accomplished the past couple months.
“This season was way more than we expected and I’m extremely proud,” said senior captain MaryKate Slattery. “We thought we’d maybe win four games. To tie Scarborough and beat Marshwood and Sanford, it was phenomenal. We believed and trusted in each other. We gave it all of our heart. We had nothing to lose. It’s been a fun ride. (Coach Mac) is our biggest role model. We all grew with each other. Playing with the other seniors has been like no other experience.”
“These kids completely re-energized me and the program,” said McMullin. “I wasn’t expecting this. They exceeded everything we wanted. This is almost more rewarding than going to the Western Maine Finals because of the journey we’ve had. I’m proud of how we did it, but it’s always sad to end.”
Cheverus was outshot, 8-2 and Marshwood had nine corners to five for the Stags. Senior goalie Libby DesRuisseaux made six saves.
The Stags had a chance to play on their grass field at the high school, but opted instead to play on turf, which might, in retrospect, have been a mistake, as Marshwood’s speed and stick skills were close to unstoppable at times.
“No excuses,” said McMullin. “Maybe we could have lost on grass. We didn’t play up to our potential. It just wasn’t our night.”
Cheverus wasn’t able to set up a fourth playoff showdown in five seasons with Scarborough, having instead to say goodbye to a special senior class.
“It will be hard losing 14 seniors,” said McMullin. “They’ve had a huge impact. I have to thank them for what they did for us. The three captains will be tough to replace. MaryKate, Libby and Elyse (Caiazzo) did everything. Laura (Bither) was another amazing player who got better in her four years.”
The cupboard won’t be completely bare, as several younger players who saw ample time this fall will return a year older, stronger and hopefully better in 2014.
“The sophomores did a great job this year,” said McMullin. “They’ll be ready for next year.”
Cheverus senior Alex Logan reaches out to poke the ball away from Marshwood senior Karissa Boesch.
Cheverus sophomore Emily Michaud battles for possession in the midfield.
Cheverus senior Elyse Caiazzo plays the ball.
Cheverus senior Elyse Caiazzo plays the ball up the field during Tuesday evening’s 3-0 loss to Marshwood in the Western A quarterfinals.
Brandon McKenney photos.
More photos below.