Deering senior goalie Maddalena Lapomarda, junior Liz Drelich and senior Alli Donovan celebrate at the final horn of the Rams’ 2-1 home win over rival Portland Monday afternoon.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Two ancient rivals looking to make a move up the standings did battle in a midseason Class A South field hockey battle Monday afternoon and to no one’s surprise, yet another battle between the Portland Bulldogs and host Deering Rams came down to the wire at Memorial Field.
Portland scored first, as junior Carly Hagelin finished with 21:16 left in the first half, but in the second period, Deering found the cage.
With 23:56 to go, senior Alyssa Staples tipped in junior Aleah Murph’s long shot to tie it and with 10:28 on the clock, senior Donna Thach rebounded a shot into the goal to put the Rams on top.
Deering had to fight off a late Bulldogs’ rally, but managed to do so, as it improved to 2-7, beat Portland the second year in a row and for the first time on its home turf since 2013, and in the process, dropped the Bulldogs to 0-7-1.
“It was very intense, down to the wire,” said Rams coach Amethyst Hersom. “We’ve come a long way since last year.”
Portland started with losses at Thornton Academy (6-0) and at home to defending regional champion Westbrook (7-0). The Bulldogs then started getting closer to victory, as they scored three goals in a 6-3 loss at Marshwood, played perennial powerhouse Scarborough close for 60 minutes in a 2-1 home setback, then dropped 3-1 decisions to visiting Noble and at Bonny Eagle. Friday, Portland took a 2-0 lead over visiting Windham, then settled for a 2-2 tie.
Deering started with an 8-1 loss at preseason favorite Biddeford. After falling at home to Gorham (4-2), the Rams dropped a 1-0 decision at Falmouth, lost at home to Thornton Academy (3-1) and at Sanford (3-0) and Westbrook (6-1). Deering got in the win column last Tuesday, holding off visiting Marshwood, 4-3, then Thursday fell at Scarborough, 3-0.
Entering play, since the start of the 2004, season, Deering had won 11 of 16 meetings (see sidebar, below), including a 1-0 decision last fall (the Rams also beat the Bulldogs in the 2003 and 2004 Western A quarterfinals).
Monday, on the chilliest day of the fall sports season to date (55 degrees at first hit with the temperature plummeting from there), Deering took its time putting the ball in the cage, but came alive in the second half.
The Rams had early possession, but couldn’t convert and in the ninth minute, Portland got its first good chance and took advantage, as Hagelin finished in traffic for a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs nearly extended their lead, but Deering senior goalie Maddalena Lapomarda twice robbed senior Bridget Maloney.
Late in the half, Staples had a chance to tie it, but Stait made the save.
The Rams earned a corner with a minute left, but three times, Portland sophomore back-up goalie Rose Stait made saves, keeping the score 1-0 at the break.
In the first half, Deering had a 10-7 advantage in shots on cage and earned four corners to none for the Bulldogs, but Stait’s 10 saves kept Portland in front.
The Rams were, eventually, able to rally in the second half.
After Thach was denied by Stait on a rush and Murph sent a shot just wide, Deering drew even with 23:56 to go, as Murphy fired a shot from the top of the circle and Staples got her stick on the ball and was able to send it past Stait and into the goal to tie the score, 1-1.
After Stait denied junior Liz Drelich on a corner, Drelich hit the post on a subsequent corner and Staples was robbed on the doorstep, but the Rams went on top with 10:28 to go.
After Stait denied Staples, Thach got to the rebound and sent it into the cage for a 2-1 Deering advantage.
“I just happened to be there and I had to get my body around,” Thach said. “I didn’t think it would go in, but it felt good.”
“We felt like we would score,” Hersom said. “The girls came out firing in the second half and turned things around. We changed formation and put more people up in the circle. The girls executed and that helped us put the ball in the goal.”
Portland didn’t go quietly, as it earned a corner just inside two minutes and produced a promising shot which Lapomarda saved.
With 1:05 to play, the Bulldogs got another corner and again, Lapomarda had to make a stop.
The Rams then cleared the ball, transitioned to offense and ran out the clock on their 2-1 victory.
“Our defense is solid and I knew they’d clear it out,” Hersom said.
“It feels good,” Thach said. “We were tired, but we wanted to win. We kept going. We’ve come a long way. We play more as a team now.”
Deering finished with a 21-9 shots advantage and took 10 corners to Portland’s three. Lapomarda stopped eight shots.
Portland got 19 saves from Stait, who was filling in for regular goalie Jada McIlwain, who was unavailable.
“I could not be happier how (Rose) played, she played an amazing game, but she’s a field player for us and she plays a solid 15-20 minutes a game in the midfield and it was pretty evident that we were fatigued without (Jada),” said Bulldogs coach Beth Arsenault. “She couldn’t be here today. She had a conflict she couldn’t get out of.
“I didn’t think 1-0 would be the final score. We had some opportunities. We need to get used to being in the circle. I’m really proud of how we played. We’re a small squad and when you lose one (player), it does make a difference. We held up pretty well.”
Each team has a chance to win some games before the end of the regular season.
Portland (17th in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) is right back in action Tuesday at Cheverus. After hosting Kennebunk Thursday, the Bulldogs have games at Massabesic and South Portland and at home versus Biddeford next week. Portland closes at home versus Gorham.
“Now that we can score and we’ve tightened up our defense, we have to learn how to play with a lead,” Arsenault said. “We’ll get there. In this league, this year, anything can happen.”
Deering (13th in Class A South, where 12 teams make the playoffs) welcomes Noble Thursday. Next week, the Rams sandwich games at Bonny Eagle and Cheverus around a home tilt versus Windham. Deering finished at home against Kennebunk.
“Last time we made playoffs, it was my freshman year and I was on JV, so hopefully, this year we can get there,” said Thach.
“The girls know what they need to do,” Hersom said. “It’s the little things and if we can execute that, we’ll be a contender.”
Portland junior Talia Casale and Deering senior Donna Thach fight for the ball.
Deering junior Aleah Murph plays the ball as Portland junior Carly Hagelin gives chase.
Deering senior Molly Dutton tries to knock the ball away from Portland senior Jaidyn Appel.
Portland sophomore goalie Rose Stait keeps her eye on the ball as Deering seniors Alyssa Staples, left, and Donna Thach apply pressure.
Portland senior Nettie Walsh launches the ball up the field.
Deering senior Alyssa Staples, left, and sophomore Rebekah Dunn congratulate senior Donna Thach after Thach’s go-ahead goal.
Deering 1 @ Portland 0
@ Portland 3 Deering 0
Deering 1 @ Portland 0
@ Deering 4 Portland 0
Deering 2 @ Portland 0
Portland 1 @ Deering 0
Portland 5 @ Deering 2
Deering 2 @ Portland 1 (2 OT)
@ Deering 4 Portland 0
Deering 4 @ Portland 0
Deering 1 @ Portland 0 (2 OT)
@ Deering 3 Portland 2 (OT)
Deering 3 @ Portland 2 (OT)
Western A quarterfinal
@ Deering 2 Portland 0