Portland junior Quinn Clarke (4) celebrates his goal with senior El-Shadai Ngaundu during Tuesday’s showdown at Deering. Clarke’s goal made it 1-1 and that’s how the team’s mutual regular season finale ended.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—If Tuesday evening’s regular season finale was any indication, Deering and Portland’s boys’ soccer teams are ready for a postseason run.
The ancient rivals did battle at Memorial Field and in a year with little separation between the top powers, it’s no surprise that more than 80 minutes were needed.
And another 10 still couldn’t determine a winner.
After a scoreless first half, the host Rams struck first with 33:17 to play, when senior Orey Dutton scored.
The Bulldogs weren’t down for long, however, as roughly two minutes later, off a corner kick, junior Quinn Clarke tied the score.
From there, neither team could produce a goal the remainder of regulation or in two, five-minute, “sudden victory” overtimes and Deering and Portland settled for a 1-1 draw.
The Rams’ superb regular season ended at 11-1-2, the Bulldogs’ fine campaign ended at 9-3-2 and both squads will now look to produce magic in the playoffs, where it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if they get to square off again.
“You always want to come away with a ‘W,’ but the bottom line is both teams played well,” said longtime Portland coach Rocco Frenzilli. “It’s a well deserved tie.”
“We had a lot to play for today,” Dutton said. “We had chances and should have scored more, but I’m not disappointed with how we played. Everybody played hard. I’m extremely proud of the team.”
In a season of great parity, Deering and Portland have both done very well.
The Bulldogs started with wins at Cheverus (1-0), at home over Noble (5-1) and at Windham (5-0). After a 1-0 setback at Thornton Academy, Portland downed visiting Marshwood (1-0) and host Massabesic (4-1), then rallied late to tie visiting Westbrook, 3-3. After an agonizing 1-0 loss at South Portland, on a goal in the final minute, the Bulldogs edged visiting, defending regional champion Scarborough, 2-1, and beat visiting Bonny Eagle, 3-2. Portland then lost, 3-0 at Gorham, but responded by blanking visiting Biddeford, 6-0, and downing host Sanford, 4-1.
The Rams opened with a 1-0 victory at Scarborough, then held off host South Portland (2-1), won at home over Biddeford (2-1), Sanford (3-0) and Westbrook (1-0) and blanked host Bonny Eagle (2-0). After settling for a scoreless home tie versus Gorham, the Rams blanked host Windham (4-0) and Noble (7-0) and beat visiting Marshwood, 3-1, before finally meeting their match at Massabesic, losing, 3-1. Deering got back on track with a 2-0 home victory over Thornton Academy, then blanked visiting Cheverus, 3-0.
Entering play Tuesday, Portland held a 6-3 edge (with three ties) since the start of the 2004 season, but the Rams had won two straight, including a 1-0 double-overtime decision at the Bulldogs last fall.
This time around, in front of a playoff-like environment, on a cloudy and misty, albeit comfortable evening, there would be no resolution.
In the first half, neither team broke through even though Portland had more corner kicks and chances.
Early in the second half, both offenses found the net as the action picked up.
With 33:17 to play in regulation, Dutton got a little lucky, as his attempted cross to sophomore Iessa Ramadan bounced off a Portland defender and past Bulldogs junior goalkeeper Rowan Daligan for a 1-0 lead.
“It was an intended cross,” Dutton said. “I was trying to play the ball to Iessa, who was making a great run, but fortunately the ball was deflected off one of their player’s shins and went into the goal.”
Just when it appeared the Rams had the momentum, however, the Bulldogs wrested it back, as they earned a corner kick and with 31:19 to play, freshman Alex Millones got the ball to Clarke, who beat Deering senior goalkeeper Mustafa Kadhim to make it 1-1.
“Box to box, I thought play was incredibly inspired and intense,” Frenzilli said. “They got their one inside and we wound up breaking through and scoring on a corner.”
Late in regulation, Deering had to clear away a corner kick and as time wound down, a hand ball penalty on a Ram gave Portland a free kick, but time expired before the Bulldogs could take it.
That sent the game to a first five-minute overtime, where there was just one good scoring chance.
With 1:55 left, a cross from Portland senior Alex Frank to senior El-Shadai Ngaundu resulted in a shot which went just wide.
The Bulldogs almost won it 23 seconds into the second OT, but Kadhim broke up Frank’s cross to sophomore Pedro Fonseca.
A minute later, Deering earned a corner kick, but the ball was cleared.
The Rams got one more corner, but that too didn’t result in a shot and the game wound up deadlocked, 1-1.
“We get a sense of motivation (from this game),” Dutton said. “Hopefully we see Portland again and we beat them next time.
“I’m disappointed,” said Deering coach Joel Costigan. “Whenever we play a big game, typically our common sense goes out the door and it did tonight. We played emotionally instead of playing smart. The soccer IQ stuff we work on in training, we forgot about.”
Regardless, the Rams enjoyed an excellent regular season.
“We knew we had speed on the sides that can’t be matched by anyone else and we became a family and it’s showed the past few games,” Dutton said.
“I’m always trying to be better,” said Costigan. “We’re always looking for an undefeated season.”
The Bulldogs were pleased with the result.
“Both defenses stepped up in this game,” Frenzilli said. “Rotation behind the ball was good for both teams. They thwarted us and we thwarted them. We saw what we were made out of. I told the kids before the game today, a nine-win season and getting a homefield playoff game is a great season. We’re legit and for real.”
Portland will likely be the No. 6 seed in Class A South and will host a preliminary round game Friday against a foe and at a time to be announced.
The Bulldogs are primed to make some noise in the postseason.
“We’re gearing up for the playoffs,” said Frenzilli. “We have to take care of business at our place. Whoever comes in will be ready and we’ll have to knock them down. It’s a brand new season now. We’ll see how it all works out.”
Deering will likely be the third seed and will have a bye into Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“Every team is so talented, so all that matters is mental toughness,” Dutton said. “Everyone’s got good players, it’s about who keeps their heads. Homefield is important. We got incredible support tonight and that means the world to us.”
“We have to work out our problems before we get to playoffs, so we can make a run and get a Gold Ball,” Costigan said. “The teams that are most disciplined are always the teams that win.”
Deering sophomore Iessa Ramadan and Portland freshman Alex Millones battle for the ball.
Portland junior Manny Yugu shields the ball from a Deering defender.
Deering senior goalkeeper Mustafa Kadhim and senior defender Jonata Mbongo do their best to prevent Portland sophomore Pedro Fonseca from scoring.
Deering senior Bill Turahimbawe plays the ball as Portland junior Manny Yugu gives chase.
Deering senior Orey Dutton heads the ball. Dutton scored the game’s first goal.
Portland junior Quinn Clarke beats Deering senior goalie Mustafa Kadhim with the tying score.
Deering 1 @ Portland 0 (2 OT)
@ Portland 2 Deering 0
Portland 2 @ Deering 0
(forfeited to a 1-0 Deering win)
@ Portland 2 Deering 0
Portland 5 @ Deering 2
@ Portland 2 Deering 2 (tie)
Portland 2 @ Deering 1 (OT)
Deering 4 @ Portland 3
@ Deering 2 Portland 2 (tie)
@ Portland 1 Deering 1 (tie)
Portland 1 @ Deering 0