Halfway through the 2010 field hockey season, just about every team in the city of Portland can entertain playoff hopes.
Cheverus, a regional finalist a year ago, was at the top of the Western Class A standings as of Monday morning.
The Stags won their first five games, capped by an 8-0 home romp over Noble last Tuesday (senior standout Emily Sawchuck had four goals, including a penalty stroke, sophomore Gabi Cardona scored twice and senior Anna McDonough and junior Sarah LaQuerre both had a goal) and an inspirational 2-1 victory at Sanford Thursday (Sawchuck had both goals).
Saturday, Cheverus crashed to earth with a 2-0 home loss to a South Portland squad which entered the contest winless.
“We thought we were unstoppable so I thank South Portland for a great wakeup call,” said Stags coach Amy McMullin. “It’s a good thing. It hurts right now, but they deserved to win. They played better, outhustled us and wanted it more. It’s unfortunate that it took us until the second goal to realize we needed to start playing.”
The Stags got back on track Monday with a clutch 1-0 victory at Westbrook (Sawchuck scored) to improve to 6-1.
Wednesday brings a home tilt against Biddeford.
“We know we can play well against strong teams,” McMullin said. “It’s a big week for us. We’ll see how strong and tough we are mentally. It’s a mental game.”
Then there’s Portland, which won all of one game in 2009, but has roared to life of late.
The Bulldogs struggled in their first two outings, losing 5-1 at defending state champion Scarborough and 2-0 at Thornton Academy, but they turned things around beginning with an inspirational 3-2 overtime victory at Windham.
Last Tuesday brought another overtime win, this one, 4-3, over visiting Bonny Eagle. Portland got a goal from junior Natalie Anderson, a pair from junior Raechel Allen (including the tying tally after a sensational individual effort) and the winner from sophomore Leanne Reichert (on senior Effie Drew’s second assist). Junior Kathleen Dalbec made 17 saves. Thursday, the Bulldogs blanked host Deering, 5-2, their first win over the Rams this century. Drew had three goals, while senior Ellen Taffere and junior Alex Thompson had the others.
Monday, Portland fell to 3-3 after a 5-1 home loss to Massabesic. Portland tied the score on Recihert’s first half goal, but the Mustangs took advantage of 13 penalty corners to pull away.
“It was very frustrating,” said Bulldogs coach Beth Arsenault. “They beat us to the ball and were more aggressive than we were. That’s the key to this game. We shouldn’t have a game that’s 5-1 unless we’re the team with the five.
“Finally beating Deering felt good. We’re in the thick of things. We can’t let this loss get into our heads. The league is so wide open. It’s there for the taking if we step up.”
Portland hosts Kennebunk Friday and goes to Sanford next Tuesday.
McAuley also won only one game in 2009, but is showing improvement. The Lions sandwiched 3-0 losses at Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle around a 2-0 home win over Windham in the first week. Last Tuesday, they blanked visiting Deering, 1-0, on senior Michelle Girard’s first half goal, to top last year’s win total.
“We’re pretty happy to have exceeded last year,” said McAuley coach Lauren Gillespie. “We’re getting the girls focused on the process. They need to talk, cut and pass and more importantly, they need to have fun.
“That’s really our pregame talk, control the controllable. Our attitude, effort and body. They’re really buying into that. If we believe in ourselves, we could upset some people this year. We have nothing to lose as the underdog. The girls have the will to work hard. It’s so present. The upperclassmen are leading the way. If we have fun while we play, we play better. Losing 13 games last year, our focus is never on winning. Our goal is to play well and hopefully good things happen. We hope to keep it going. We want to stay at a .500 level. We’re very excited.”
The Lions lost a pair of road games late last week (3-0 at Kennebunk and 4-0 at Massabesic), but improved to 3-4 Monday with a 5-0 home win over Noble (sophomore Liz Houston had a hat trick and Griard added two goals). McAuley hosts Sanford Saturday.
Deering, under first-year coach Marcia Wood, is still seeking its initial victory. The Rams lost their first four outings by a composite 10-0 score, but rattled the cage twice in the 5-2 loss to Portland. Seniors Lily Hampton and Olivia Lourie scored their first varsity goals. Friday, Deering fell, 4-0, at Scarborough, and Monday, they lost, 4-0, at home to Thornton Academy, to drop to 0-7. The Rams visit Windham Wednesday and welcome Bonny Eagle next Tuesday.
In Western C, Waynflete is seeking its first playoff appearance in a non-open tournament year since 1978. The Flyers lost their opener, 2-1, at Freeport, then enjoyed home victories over Traip (2-1, in overtime) and Poland (4-0, as junior Alida Farrell scored three times). Wednesday, Waynflete lost, 3-1, at home to Sacopee. Friday, the Flyers tied visiting Yarmouth, 0-0.
Waynflete (2-2-1 and eighth in the Heals) goes to powerhouse North Yarmouth Academy Tuesday, Traip Friday, Sacopee Saturday and Old Orchard Beach Monday.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com