Cheverus field hockey advances to semifinals; Deering ousted in prelim
The Cheverus field hockey team kept its dream season alive Saturday with a 3-0 home victory over perennial powerhouse Sanford in the Western Class A quarterfinals.
The second-ranked Stags advanced to set up a semifinal round home showdown against No. 3 Gorham (1-0 winners over No. 6 Kennebunk) Wednesday afternoon.
Deering wasn't as fortunate. The Rams, seeded ninth, lost 2-0 at No. 8 Thornton Academy in the preliminary round last Wednesday.
Second half surge
Cheverus was a semifinalist in 2008, but turned its game up a notch this fall, winning its first 13 games before losing 3-1 at home to defending regional champion Scarborough. The teams also met last Tuesday in the inaugural, non-countable Southern Maine Activities Association championship game, which the Red Storm won, 4-1.
The Stags' 13-1 mark gave them the No. 2 seed in Western Class A and set up a playoff showdown for the second year in a row against perennial contender Sanford (the No. 7 seed, which went 7-6-1 during the regular year). On Sept. 14, Cheverus held off the visiting Redskins. Last fall, the Stags went to then-undefeated Sanford and sprung a 2-0 quarterfinal round upset.
This time around, the game was close for a half before Cheverus took control.
Senior goalie Audrey Grinnell did her best to keep Cheverus in a scoreless tie after 30 minutes. The Stags' offense then came to life in the second half as Anna McDonough scored on a rebound and Emily Sawchuck added a pair of goals to give Cheverus a 3-0 victory.
"We came out really nervous and didn't play to our potential in the first half," said Stags coach Amy McMullin. "In the second half, we came out and really played our game. We were getting to the ball first, making great cuts, and started to dominate the game. Anna's goal gave us the momentum that we needed to carry us through the second half. It seemed like every girl picked up their level of play after that. Our support was better, our communication was better, which is what we were lacking in the first half. Emily did what she does best and found a way to score two great goals, which took the pressure off."
Cheverus edged Gorham 3-2 in a memorable double-overtime showdown Sept. 28 in Portland. Two years ago, the Rams won 5-0 in the quarterfinals in the teams' only prior playoff meeting.
"Our girls now have the confidence going into Wednesday," said McMullin. "Those two losses at the end of the season against Scarborough were a good thing, but we definitely were not as confident going into Sanford as we could have been. I'm very pleased with the effort that my girls gave."
If victorious against Gorham, the Stags will advance to the Western A Final Saturday at Scarborough against either the Red Storm (15-0 after a 2-0 quarterfinal round win over No. 8 Thornton Academy) or No. 4 Bonny Eagle (11-3-1 after beating No. 5 Kennebunk 3-0 in the quarterfinals). Cheverus didn't play Bonny Eagle this year.
The Class A state final is Saturday, Oct. 31 at Yarmouth High School.
The Rams made a nice run to make the playoffs this season. After starting 4-5, Deering closed on a 3-0-2 streak, which included a rare victory at Sanford, to end up 7-5-2 and ninth in the region.
Back on Sept. 18, the Rams eked out a 1-0 win at Thornton Academy, but the rematch (the first-ever postseason meeting between the programs) would be a different story.
The Golden Trojans hinted at what was to come when they got free for a good shot just 35 seconds into the game, but Deering sophomore goalie Caley Presby kicked it away. The hosts then turned it up just before the half, earning three corners, but Presby stepped up big again, making six total saves in the first 30 minutes to keep the game tied.
Thornton Academy then got the only goal it would need with 21:55 to play in regulation. On a corner, senior Lexie Carter fed senior Christine Kirby, whose shot eluded Presby and rattled into the cage for a 1-0 lead.
Just 2 minutes, 34 seconds later, Kirby struck again, this time collecting a loose ball on the side and one-timing it into the goal for a 2-0 advantage.
The Rams were able to turn up the pressure down the stretch and had eight second half corners, but didn't generate much in the way of great scoring chances before the clock wound down and Deering's season ended at 7-6-2 with the 2-0 setback.
"We just didn't click or connect with each other," said Rams coach Andrew Gordon. "The first half was pretty even. Our goalie made two really good saves at the end. We never produced the intensity I'd hoped for in the circle, where you need it. They got two quick ones in the second half, but we fought back. I was pleased with that. We've been scoring goals recently, so it surprised me that it dried up today. We knew they had a good defensive team. We started the old-time mistakes that we shouldn't be doing at this point.
"We finished the year strong. That win at Sanford was nice. We'll remember that one. We don't have much coming up and we have a lot of seniors. It'll be a different team next year for sure."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org