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Players and coaches from the Cheverus/Kennebunk girls’ hockey team show off their hardware after beating Lewiston, 2-1, in Saturday’s state final.
Cheverus/Kennebunk goalie Trinity Atwater makes one of her 31 saves in Saturday’s state game victory.
After falling two goals short a year ago, the Cheverus/Kennebunk girls’ hockey team navigated a stressful postseason this winter, winning three times by a single goal, to capture the program’s second state championship Saturday at the Colisee in Lewiston.
Cheverus/Kennebunk, which lost, 3-1, to Greely/Gray-New Gloucester last year on the big stage, went 15-2-1 in the regular season, losing twice by a goal to Lewiston (3-2 and 1-0) and settling for a 2-2 tie against St. Dom’s.
As the top seed in the South Region, Cheverus/Kennebunk earned a bye into the semifinals, where it got pushed to the brink and into a second overtime before Lucia Pompeo’s goal produced a 1-0 victory.
Last Thursday, Cheverus/Kennebunk traveled to Lewiston to meet No. 2 Scarborough, a team it beat twice in the regular season, but each time the game was decided in the third period.
This time around, Cheverus/Kennebunk fell behind, 2-0, before rallying to tie the game on goals from Abby Lamontagne and Zoe Mazur. The game went to overtime where Sarah Noyes played the hero, stealing the puck and scoring the winning goal.
“I just got in between that pass, bobbled it a little bit, then shot it as hard as I possibly could,” said Noyes.
“In the locker room, no one was panicking,” said Lamontagne. “We said what we needed to say. We stayed calm. We knew we needed to start with one goal.”
“I know the record’s the same but we have not dominated like we did last year,” Cheverus/Kennebunk coach Scott Rousseau added. “We’ve had a lot of hard, close games. In the long run, we’re more battle-tested.”
Cheverus/Kennebunk then avenged two regular season losses Saturday with a 2-1 win over Lewiston. Lamontagne scored two goals and goalie Trinity Atwater made 31 saves to help their team finish 18-2-1 and win its first state championship since 2010.
“We just had to sacrifice ourselves for the team and that’s what we prepared for and that’s what I had to do and that’s what other girls had to do,” Lamontagne said. “When you do it, it feels great, because we knew we would never forgive ourselves if it got by. So you’ve just got to take one for the team.”
“We’ve got Trinity, we’ve got Zoe Mazur and we’ve got Abby Lamontagne and those three players gave us a puncher’s chance every night and a supporting cast that just worked and worked and worked,” said Rousseau, who previously suffered a litany of big-game heartbreaks as the coach of the Falmouth boys’ program and again last year with the Cheverus/Kennebunk girls.
“When we went through our game-planning on Thursday night, we knew we were going to get out-shot. We gave up on that option, that we were going to get out-shot, and we were OK with being out-shot. We just needed to make sure that we were going to hold the middle of the ice and give Trinity chances to make saves.
“In a way, I was really kind of hoping to have kept the game a bit slower and stay 0-0. In an odd way, it kind of accelerated the level of pace of the game, and in a weird way, it didn’t work in our favor. It brought Lewiston with a really heavy push after that, and the whole game long.”
The final games of the boys’ hockey regular season are upon us as well.
In Class A South, Cheverus finished the year 8-10 after key home victories over Thornton Academy (5-2) and Falmouth (4-3, in overtime). Against the Yachtsmen, the Stags erased a 3-0 deficit, forced OT on Colby Anton’s goal and in the extra session, Anton set up Alex Brewer for the winner. Cheverus, ranked sixth in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time, will be in the playoffs, it’s just a question of its seed.
The Portland/Deering co-op squad was 7-9 and fifth in Class A South at press time following a 6-1 loss at Thornton Academy Saturday. Portland/Deering was at Scarborough Monday, then closes the regular season at home versus the Red Storm Thursday.
The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team was 9-8 and third in the region after a 5-3 home loss to Biddeford and a 3-1 setback at Scarborough. The squad closes the regular season Thursday at Massabesic/Bonny Eagle/Old Orchard Beach.
The quarterfinals start next week on the home ice of the higher seeds.
Portland Press Herald staff writer Kevin Thomas and Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich contributed to this story.