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PORTLAND—It doesn’t take much to fire up the Cheverus and Deering girls’ soccer teams when they go head-to-head and when they squared off on a cold and windy Friday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, there was more than the usual city bragging rights at stake.
Each team was seeking a win to solidify its chances to host a preliminary round playoff game next weekend and each was hoping to build a win streak as the regular season winds down.
The Rams had an extra impetus entering the game, having not beaten the Stags in seven years.
It looked like another bout of futility was in store for Deering, but these Rams, who play so well late in games when the score isn’t in their favor, once again rose off the deck.
Cheverus struck first when junior scoring machine Abby Maker scored in the 14th minute, but Deering tied the score 13 minutes later when junior Alexis Elowitch set up classmate Edie Pallozzi. With 25:41 to play in regulation, the Stags retook the lead, 2-1, when senior Hayley Morin was on the doorstep to bang home a rebound, but the Rams had the hosts right where they wanted them.
Elowitch, whose flair for the dramatic increases by the game, got just enough space to elude a defender and fire a shot into the net to tie the score with 12:43 left in the game, forcing overtime. Then, less than a minute into the extra session, Elowitch ended it, finishing senior Samantha Sivovlos’ shot and Deering stole a 3-2 victory, leaving both squads 9-4 on the year.
“(The girls) never quit,” marveled Rams coach Kevin Olson, who, like his players, had never beaten Cheverus. “They always play to the end. They believe. They have confidence. As much as I’d like to go up early, it shows they don’t give up.”
Both Cheverus and Deering have lived up to billing as contenders in 2012.
The Stags reached the Western A quarterfinals a year ago before losing to eventual regional champion Scarborough. This fall, Cheverus beat its first four foes by a composite 32-4 margin, then fell from the unbeaten ranks with a 3-0 home loss to Scarborough. After a 3-1 defeat at Windham, the Stags turned it around and downed host Kennebunk (5-0), visiting Sanford (2-1), host Portland (3-0) and visiting Westbrook (4-1). On Oct. 3, Cheverus couldn’t hold leads of 2-0 and 3-2 against visiting Thornton Academy and suffered a painful 4-3 defeat, but the Stags bounced back Wednesday with a 5-1 victory at Massabesic.
The Rams also made it to the quarterfinals in 2011, where they were ousted by Cape Elizabeth. This season, Deering had little trouble in winning its first three outings: 2-0 against visiting Massabesic, 4-0 over visiting Westbrook and 3-1 against visiting Portland. After a 1-0 overtime loss at Gorham, the Rams handled visiting Noble (5-0), but they then lost at Thornton Academy, 4-0. After a late comeback spelled a 2-1 home victory over South Portland, Deering stumbled again, 2-1 at Scarborough, but the Rams answered by blanking visiting McAuley (3-0) and Kennebunk (4-0). A 3-1 loss at Windham followed, but Wednesday, Deering outslugged host Marshwood, 6-3.
The rivalry had been in Cheverus’ favor for the most part as the Rams entered the game not having beaten the Stags since Sept. 16, 2005 (1-0, at Deering). Cheverus had gone 6-0-2 since that last loss to the Rams, including a 0-0 tie a year ago at Deering.
Friday, the Rams said enough was enough, but it took 80 minutes and then 43 extra seconds to make it happen.
The game was free flowing from the get go, resulting in good chances for both squads.
In the second minute, Deering sophomore Meaghan Wells got her foot on a serve off a corner kick, but Stags sophomore Nicole Pineau blocked the shot.
In the fifth minute, Cheverus junior Sadie Lyons sent a ball ahead to Maker, who eluded Rams junior goalkeeper Lee Ann Downs and had a good look at the goal, but shot high.
The Rams had four corner kicks in the first seven minutes, but couldn’t get a shot on goal.
With 26:51 to play in the first half, Maker got a second chance and this time, wasn’t denied.
Taking a pass from Lyons, Maker blew past a defender before shooting low past Downs inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.
Deering pushed to equalize and after Mayberry made a sliding save, breaking up a pass from Rams senior Chelsea Saucier to freshman Simone Lauture, the visitors tied the score, 1-1, with 13:27 to go before halftime.
Elowitch set it up, beating several defenders before passing to Pallozzi on the left wing. Pallozzi dribbled in, forced Mayberry to commit, then beat the goalie to her left.
Elowitch had a chance to put Deering on top before halftime, but her shot went wide.
In the first half, the Rams had five corner kicks to four for the Stags, but four saves from Mayberry kept the game even.
The fun continued in the second half.
With 25:41 left in regulation, Cheverus pounced on a chance and went ahead as senior Darby Rawcliffe’s floater skipped off Downs’ fingertips and was tapped home by Morin.
Deering, which already boasted come-from-behind triumphs over Portland and South Portland this fall, kept the pressure on and eventually was rewarded.
With 20:28 to go, a 35-yard shot from sophomore Courtney Brett was just over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Sivovlos’ corner kick was just out of reach for Wells.
With 16:40 remaining, a long shot from Elowitch was on target, but just high.
A minute later, on another corner kick, the ball sat free in the Cheverus box before it was cleared.
With 13:25 left, a low shot by Wells was saved by Mayberry.
The Rams kept the ball in the Stags’ end and Elowitch won possession, found a sliver of room and fired a shot low to Mayberry’s left and it slipped inside the far post to tie the score, 2-2.
“I got the loose ball and took it into the 18,” said Elowitch. “I just had to tap the ball. When I tapped the ball, I hoped it would go in. When it went in, it was the best feeling.”
After Elowitch and Pallozzi both shot wide in the waning moments, it was on to overtime.
In Maine girls’ high school regular season soccer, teams play two five-minute, “sudden victory” extra periods. If no one scores, the game results in a tie.
After coming back to force OT, Deering wasn’t about to leave with anything short of a victory.
The Rams got possession to start and Sivovlos sent a seemingly harmless floater on goal. In overtime, however, there’s no such thing as a bad shot and sure enough, Mayberry wasn’t able to handle the ball cleanly and Elowitch (who else?) was waiting to pounce. As soon as the ball hit the ground, Elowitch kicked it forward and it tickled the twine.
Deering 3 Cheverus 2.
“I thought it was the worst kick of my life, but (Alexis) was there to put it in, so I was thankful,” said Sivovlos.
“I was just staring at (the ball) in the air because (with the wind) it was so hard to tell where it was going,” said Elowitch. “I was just looking at the goalie and saw the ball come down. When it came down, I just reacted. It was a great ball. It’s probably the biggest goal I’ve scored.”
“(Alexis has) been amazing,” Olson added. “Her play just improves. She had four goals against Marshwood. It gave her the confidence she’d lost a little bit. She comes up big for us. We want to put shots on goal. We won possession right from the start. One shot is all it takes. That was a tough save for any goaltender.”
A long awaited celebration ensued.
“We wanted it so badly,” said Elowitch. “It’s Spirit Week for us. We had a pep rally. We were so pumped and ready for this game. We wanted to come out strong and fight to the last second. This is a huge game for us. We had to fight. Cheverus is an amazing team. We knew they’d be fast, strong and physical and play well with their feet. We had to play our game and we did that for 80 minutes.”
“It means a lot,” Sivovlos said. “We haven’t been underestimated, but I think teams come in thinking it won’t be that hard to beat us. I think we proved ourselves today. This gives us momentum.”
“When I started here, (Cheverus) knocked us out the first two years in playoffs,” Olson added. “I remember it clearly. It feels good to get a win here going into playoffs.”
The Stags were left stunned.
“It’s a tough one,” said Cheverus coach Dan LaVallee. “I thought after the first 10 minutes of the first half we played really well and we could have put it away then. We started well in the second half, then fell asleep the last 15 minutes. It carried over into overtime. I hate to say it, but I think they wanted it more than we did and it showed.”
The Rams had nine corner kicks to seven for the Stags. Mayberry finished with seven saves to four for Downs.
Cheverus slipped to ninth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings and will close Tuesday against visiting Gorham. The Stags want to ensure a home prelim.
“If we beat Gorham, we probably end up sixth,” LaVallee said. “If we don’t, we might be as low as eighth. I can’t see a scenario where we don’t host a prelim. I think we’ll travel after that. When we step on the field and play hard, there’s nobody we can’t play with.”
Deering’s regular season finale is Tuesday at home versus Sanford, in what will be another key contest. The Rams are now seventh in Western A and should carry this momentum into the postseason.
“We’ll be pumped going into our Senior Game and playoffs as well,” said Sivovlos. “I think the way we’re playing is good. I’m excited.”
“At the end of the season, that’s when you want to start rising,” said Elowitch. “You don’t want to hit your peak early because there is playoffs. We want to keep improving and keep playing our game.”
“A tie or a win against Sanford will definitely give us homefield,” Olson added. “There are a lot of great teams this year. Just look at the Heal Points. We want homefield, but this group has shown me we can win away, we can win when we’re down. I’m so impressed. I think we can make a run.”
Deering senior Chelsea Saucier and Cheverus senior Jamie Dulac fight for the ball.
Cheverus junior Sadie Lyons soars to head the ball away from three Deering players.
Cheverus senior Danielle Kane sends the ball upfield.
Deering junior Edie Pallozzi heads the ball away from Cheverus senior Danielle Kane.
Cheverus senior goalkeeper Mikayla Mayberry slides to reach the ball before Deering sophomore Meaghan Wells can reach it as Stags sophomore Nicole Pineau joins the play.
Cheverus senior Eden Monsen (10) and junior Sadie Lyons, along with Deering senior Samantha Sivovlos, converge on the ball along the sidelines.
@ Deering 0 Cheverus 0 (tie)
Cheverus 1 @ Deering 0
@ Deering 0 Cheverus 0 (tie)
@ Cheverus 2 Deering 0
Cheverus 3 @ Deering 1
@ Cheverus 4 Deering 1 (Western A preliminary round)
@ Cheverus 4 Deering 0
@ Cheverus 2 Deering 0 (Western A preliminary round)
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 0
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 1
Deering junior Alexis Elowitch exults after her overtime goal gives the Rams a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Cheverus Friday afternoon. Elowitch tied the game late in regulation and won it 43 seconds into OT.
More photos below.