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PORTLAND—After he and his teammates were pounded by the Portland Bulldogs his freshman and sophomore seasons, Deering senior Karl Rickett has earned a measure of revenge.
Last season, the Rams beat the Bulldogs for the first time since 2004 and Friday evening, in a city boys’ lacrosse showdown at Memorial Field, they did it again.
Thanks in large part to Rickett’s excellence.
The Bates College-bound standout ensured his team would have a big edge in possession by winning 14 of 18 faceoffs and that was only the beginning. Rickett, who is normally a defensive stalwart, scored four goals and that proved to be the difference as Deering improved to 2-1 on the season, dropping Portland to 1-2 with a 9-5 victory.
The Rams also got three goals from senior Anthony Verville and one apiece from A.J. Asbury and Bailey Koch as they reminded everyone they have every intention of embarking on another deep run this spring.
“Freshman and sophomore year, (Portland) beat us like 20-0,” Rickett said.. “It’s been nice to reverse the momentum. They’re all my friends. I grew up with them so it’s fun to get some bragging rights.”
Deering turned the corner a year ago, posting a program best 12 victories and advancing to the Eastern Class A Final before being ousted by Lewiston, 9-5. The record included an 8-4 home victory over Portland, the Rams’ first over the Bulldogs in eight tries.
Portland wound up 10-4 in 2011, also being ousted by Lewiston, 15-6, in the semifinals.
Entering this season, both teams lost key players to graduation, but the Bulldogs had been especially decimated over the past couple years.
Portland opened the 2012 campaign with a 3-2 home loss to Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs answered with a 7-5 home win over Massabesic.
Deering, meanwhile, which has a new coach this spring in Jon Dubois, held off Cheverus in its opener, 4-2, but lost at home to Marshwood Wednesday, 7-4.
Friday, it was apparent early that offense would be at a premium, but the Rams were able to get their attack in gear and never trailed.
It took a mere 12 seconds for Deering to take the lead for good as Matt Flaherty set up Asbury for a goal. A little over a minute later, the Rams made it 2-0 when Verville scored unassisted.
Portland got on the board with 9:04 to go in the first when senior Jason Webster set up junior Max Pierter for a goal.
The Rams had a big edge in ground balls and shots on goal in the first period, but the quarter ended 2-1 thanks in large part to several clutch saves from Bulldogs senior goalie Ryan Jurgelevich.
At the start of the second quarter, Deering again scored a quick goal as Koch struck unassisted just 29 seconds in.
With 6:38 to go before halftime, Portland answered when senior Zack Lane set up sophomore Ben Allen for a goal, but Rickett was about to take centerstage and give the Rams some breathing room.
Rickett won the ensuing faceoff, his seventh in eight opportunities to that point. raced in and fired a shot that Jurgelevich couldn’t stop and just like that, the Rams had momentum back on their side and a 4-2 lead.
“I’ve been doing faceoffs since eighth grade,” Rickett said. “It clicked today. A lot of guys try to do a ‘pitch and pop’ where you try to push it forward and get a fast break. Push transition. When I saw the goal, my eyes lit up.”
With 3:26 to go before the half, Rickett scored his second goal, this time man up.
Showing he’s an equal opportunity scorer, Rickett struck again with 1:36 remaining in the half when he scored with Deering playing a man down. That goal gave the Rams a comfortable 6-2 advantage at halftime.
Portland could never make a run in the second half.
The Bulldogs did pull within 6-3 when sophomore Mike Fuller took a pass from senior Seamus Kilbride and beat Rams first-year goal Nick Martin with 5:52 left in the third period, but with 4:24 remaining in the stanza, Verville bounced off two defenders and scored and after another faceoff win, Rickett struck one final time at the 4:18 mark and it was 8-3.
“Rickett’s a stud,” said Portland coach Eric Begonia. “He beat us in every aspect of the game. He’s an All-American and showed why.”
Portland got back to 8-4 on an unassisted goal by Kilbride after a turnover, but that’s how the quarter would end. Deering could have led by even more, but twice Rams’ shots hit the post.
Deering scored its final goal with 8:04 to play when Verville took a pass from Flaherty and finished. With 56.4 seconds remaining, Fuller collected a loose ball in front then found the net to account for the 9-5 final score.
“It’s a huge deal,” Dubois said. “It’s something I looked forward to since I got the job. We’ve beaten both the city schools and both Eastern A opponents we’ve played this year. Going forward, that bodes well for us with Heal Points. It’s nice to be on top of the city for a year at least. We worked hard in practice yesterday. We changed a couple things offensively. Nothing comes easy in lacrosse. It was a new level of intensity and hustle from these guys.
Rickett led all scorers with four goals, but deflected praise to his teammates.
“Our defense really clicked,” said Rickett. “We had a lot of penalties, but overall, we got the rotations down, got the slides going, communicated well. It was good intensity out there. We’re a young team. We lost some pretty good players. We’re pretty deep though.”
“(Karl’s) a great kid,” Dubois said. “He helps us offensively, he helps us defensively, he takes faceoffs. Whenever you get four goals out of a longstick middle it bodes well for your team.”
Verville scored three times, while Asbury and Koch also tickled the twine for the Rams. Flaherty had a pair of assists. Martin made six saves.
Deering (namely Rickett) dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 14 of 18 opportunities. The Rams snared 50 ground balls (Flaherty led all players with nine, Rickett had eight and Verville and Steven Doman both grabbed five). Deering had a 39-30 advantage in shots (22-11 in shots on target). The Rams had 27 turnovers, but forced 35 by Portland.
The Bulldogs got two goals from Fuller and one apiece from Allen, Kilbride and Pierter. Kilbride, Lane and Webster each had one assist. Jurgelevich made 13 saves. Lane was 4 of 14 on faceoffs, junior Liam Brochu lost all four of his tries.
Portland had 52 ground balls. Kilbride led the way with eight. Lane and Pierter both had six, while Fuller and senior Hunter Andreasen each finished with five.
“Too much transition stuff killed us,” Begonia said. “It’s kind of been the story of the season so far. Even though we gave up a couple early ones, we had some good opportunities man-up early on. We’re not putting the ball in the cage. We have guys not scoring when they should. We didn’t capitalize on opportunities. After that, the defense for Deering took over.”
Both teams have nine regular season games remaining.
Portland is at Gorham Tuesday, then draws Class B champion Falmouth, Kennebunk and two-time defending Class A champion Scarborough back-to-back-to-back.
After being as competitive as anyone between 2005 and 2011 (going 84-20 with three regional titles and one state championship in that span), the Bulldogs have found the going more challenging. Look for this team to keep fighting.
“It’s one period at a time for us,” Begonia said. “There are a lot of growing pains. Hopefully we’ll get better each day. It doesn’t get any easier. There won’t be any easy games for us this year. It’s a matter of working hard and seeing what comes of it.”
Deering is at Westbrook Wednesday and Bonny Eagle Saturday. Then, the Rams have their litmus test when they visit Scarborough (May 2). Deering also has games remaining versus Falmouth, Greely, Thornton Academy and Kennebunk.
While there’s still work to do, Deering has to be viewed as a top threat once again.
“I feel like the boys are really working hard and we’re where we want to be,” Dubois said. “Our goal is to make it to the Eastern Maine championship again and see if we can go further. It’s one game at a time, one quarter at a time, one one-on-one matchup at a time. We’re looking forward. There are good teams on our schedule. We have a meaty schedule coming up. It’ll be tough to wade through, but if we focus and do what we need to do, we’ll have some team success.”
Deering senior Alex Stilphen possesses and looks to elude a Bulldog during first half action Friday.
Portland senior Zack Lane is hounded by Deering’s Steven Doman.
Seventeens are wild as Deering’s A.J. Asbury and Portland’s Zack Lane meet.
Deering’s Rick Murray tries to get past Portland senior captain Anthony Bowden.
Deering’s James Doyle poked at Portland’s jason Webster during second half action.
Deering seniors Karl Rickett (2) and Anthony Verville celebrate one of the Rams’ nine goals during Friday’s 9-5 home victory over rival Portland.
More photos below.
P- 1 1 2 1- 5
D- 2 4 2 1- 9
11:48 D Asbury (Flaherty)
10:39 D Verville (unassisted)
9:04 P Pierter (Webster) (MAN-UP)
11:31 D Koch (unassisted)
6:38 P Allen (Lane)
6:31 D Rickett (unassisted)
3:26 D Rickett (unassisted) MAN-UP
1:36 D Rickett (unassisted) MAN-DOWN
5:52 P Fuller (Kilbride)
4:24 D Verville (unassisted)
4:18 D Rickett (unassisted)
2:05 P Kilbride (unassisted)
8:04 D Verville (Flaherty)
56.4 P Fuller (unassisted)
P- Fuller 2, Allen, Kilbride, Pierter 1
D- Rickett 4, Verville 3, Asbury, Koch 1
P- Kilbride, Lane, Webster 1
D- Flaherty 2
P- (Jurgelevich) 13
D- (Martin) 6
Faceoffs (Deering, 14-4)
P- Lane 4 of 14, Brochu 0 of 4
D- Rickett 14 of 18
Ground balls (Portland, 52-50)
P- Kilbride 8, Lane, Pierter 6, Andreason, Fuller 5, Allen, Webster 4, Bowden, Bruce, Green, Higgins, Nielson, O’Kelly 2, Gauvin, Jurgelevich 1
D- Flaherty 9, Rickett 8, Doman, Verville 5, Doyle, Santerre 4, Farrell, Koch, Stilphen 3, Asbury, Murray 2, Hornblower, Martin 1
Shots on goal:
Shots on cage