Field hockey, soccer playoffs producing thrills

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Portland boys’ soccer and Portland-Deering and Waynflete-Freeport girls’ soccer game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

The city of Portland was down to just one remaining field hockey team at press time, but soccer has more than picked up the slack during a most palpitating preliminary round.

Here’s a glimpse:

Field hockey

Cheverus, the No. 10 seed in Western Class A, followed up its preliminary round upset of No. 7 Portland with an even bigger shocker last Tuesday, a 2-0 victory at second-ranked Gorham. The Stags got goals from Kelsey Masselli and Becca Archer (Emily Michaud assisted both) and improved to 7-7-2.

“I’m extremely proud of our effort at Gorham,” said Cheverus coach Amy Ashley. “We knew it was a great matchup for us going in to the game and even though in the first 10 minutes we didn’t play our best, we were able to withstand their pressure. As a result of that, we were able to gain confidence and play our game the rest of the way. It was a total team effort and a big win for our program.”

Cheverus went to third-ranked Marshwood (13-2 after its quarterfinal round victory over Sanford) Tuesday for the semifinals. The Stags lost at the Hawks, 5-1, back on Sept. 26, but that was during their nine-game winless streak to end the season. Cheverus is playing with much more confidence now.

The Stags lost to the Hawks, 3-0, in last year’s quarterfinal round. Cheverus won the only other previous playoff encounter (1-0, in the 2012 semifinals).

“Marshwood will be another tough game, but we are excited for this matchup,” Ashley said. “We’ve been waiting for this game since last year’s quarterfinal loss. Marshwood is a great team and we need to make sure that we play 60 minutes without any letdowns. We love being the underdog and have had a great week of practices leading up to this game. We just need to play our game and work as a team.”

If the Stags could keep their run of upsets going, they would face either top-ranked, two-time defending regional champion Scarborough (15-0) or fourth-seeded Thornton Academy (11-4) in the Western A Final Thursday evening at Scarborough High School.

Cheverus lost at home to the Red Storm in the regular season finale, 1-0, and dropped two of the prior three postseason meetings (a 3-0 Scarborough victory in the 2012 Western A Final was the most recent).

The Stags didn’t meet Thornton Academy this fall. Cheverus won the only previous playoff encounter, 1-0, in the 2007 preliminary round, the program’s first postseason victory.

The Class A Final is Saturday at yet to be announced time at Thomas College in Waterville.

Boys’ soccer

Cheverus and Portland’s boys’ soccer teams opened the playoffs Saturday with a Western A preliminary round tilt, in a game played on Deering’s turf field.

The Stags, seeded seventh, and the 10th-ranked Bulldogs both had difficulty scoring this fall, so it was no surprise Saturday’s tilt wound up 1-0.

While Portland dominated most of the first half, it couldn’t score and with under a minute to go, Cheverus got an indirect kick just outside the Bulldogs’ box and Derek Hammond set up Andrei Vile for a header which gave the Stags the only goal they would need.

“They were controlling possession, but all we needed was the one goal to switch momentum,” Vile said. “We slowed it down. I thought the defense wasn’t ready for that set piece we’ve been practicing for a long time now. It just came together at the right time. Derek had a beautiful cross, back post and all I needed to do was head it in.”

While Portland had more chances in the second half, it never could finish and the Stags advanced, 1-0.

“In playoffs, you have to be ready to battle and compete,” said Cheverus first-year coach Colin Minte. “Portland’s a really good team. I think they carried a lot of the play, but we defended with a lot of passion. We blocked a lot of shots.”

The Stags (7-4-4) advanced to meet No.2  Falmouth (11-1-2) in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round. The teams had no history.

“We haven’t had success against top teams, but hopefully we’ll get on (Falmouth’s) turf and take advantage of some opportunities,” Minte said.

Portland (6-7-2) finished with a 22-6 shots advantage in the prelim and had a 7-1 corners edge, but just couldn’t finish.

“It’s a hard one to take,” longtime Bulldogs coach Rocco Frenzilli said. “I feel badly for the boys. Our season’s been like this. One goal was the difference. Early first half and early second half, we controlled play. Their keeper played well and their defense came through.”

Not only did Portland fail to advance, but the Bulldogs weren’t able to give Frenzilli his 200th victory with the program (he’s stuck on 199).

“It’s been a challenging year,” Frenzilli said. “Every game we played in, the score was close, but we couldn’t finish. I don’t know what the formula is. We practiced and practiced and practiced. Guys got opportunities. The kids worked hard. We tried to put them in positions to make things happen, but it didn’t come through.”

The Bulldogs will have the benefit of returning most of their starters next fall and should return to the league’s elite.

“We lose (senior) Connor (Bruce) out of the back, nobody in the midfield and one guy up top,” Frenzilli said. “We’ll come back. We’ll be back next year and see how it goes.”

Deering went 12-1-1 and earned the fourth seed in Western A after closing with a 4-0 victory at Sanford. The Rams hosted No. 5 Thornton Academy (8-3-3) in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. On Oct. 9, Deering had to go to double overtime to survive the Golden Trojans, 2-1. The teams had no playoff history.

If the Rams advanced, they would likely go to top-ranked, two-time defending Class A champion Scarborough (13-0-1) for the semifinals Saturday. Deering lost, 2-0, at the Red Storm on Oct. 7 and has dropped all four previous playoff encounters between the schools, with the most recent a 1-0 quarterfinal round loss in 2005.

In Western C, Waynflete capped another terrific year with a 1-0 win at Freeport in the rain last Tuesday (behind Christian Kobongo’s goal) to finish 11-1-2 and fourth in the standings. The Flyers hosted No. 5 St. Dom’s (10-2-2) in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The teams don’t play in the regular season. Waynflete beat the Saints in the 2008 regional final (2-1, 8-6 on PKs), 2010 semifinals (1-0) and the 2012 semis (2-1) and lost to them, 2-1, in the 2005 quarterfinals.

If the Flyers advanced, they would likely visit top-ranked, defending Class C champion Maranacook (14-0) in Friday’s semifinals. The teams have no history.

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Wednesday of next week on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Class A and Class C state finals are Saturday, Nov. 8. Class A is in Hampden. Class C will be held in Portland at Deering High School.

Girls’ soccer

On the girls’ side, Portland enjoyed a victory six years in the making Friday evening.

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs went to rival Deering, the No. 8 seed, for just the second-ever playoff encounter between the ancient rivals and it proved to be an epic preliminary round contest.

The Rams (who won the only previous postseason game between the schools, 1-0, in the 2003 semifinals) beat Portland in the regular season encounter, 1-0, on Ewka Varney’s penalty kick, but this time, the Bulldogs got the jump, as Madison Bolduc scored out of a scrum in the 10th minute. That goal held up until 9:24 remained when a disputed penalty kick was awarded to the hosts after a Portland handball in the box. Varney buried the PK and the game would go to overtime.

One 15-minute OT session didn’t decide matters and neither did a second, so the teams had to go to penalty kicks to decide this instant classic and the tension could be cut with a knife.

Through four rounds, each team only made one kick, but Bulldogs junior Isabel Stehli stepped to the line and calmly buried her shot. Portland sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Crosby then made the save of her young life and for the first time since 2008, the Bulldogs had won a playoff game, 2-1 (2-1 on PKs).

“It’s so exhilarating, so nice,” said Crosby (14 saves). “It feels amazing, but I couldn’t have done it without my defense, without my offense, without everyone on the field. It was a team effort.”

“It means so much,” Bolduc said. “Beating Deering was the one thing I wanted to do before leaving high school. They’re our biggest rival. To beat them in playoffs is such a great feeling.”

“It was really amazing,” Stehli said. “I’ve never felt so good before. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point. It’s so great to win this. Deering has always been our biggest competitor.”

“It’s such a good feeling,” added Bulldogs coach Arthur Mosen. “I’m so proud of the girls. They approached the game in the right way. From start to finish. As soon as we stepped on the field, we got the job done. Every minute. They just worked for every ball.”

Portland (9-6) advanced to earn the opportunity to go to No. 1 Windham (13-0-1) for a quarterfinal Wednesday evening. The Bulldogs played well against the visiting Eagles Oct. 17, but dropped a 2-0 decision. Portland won the only previous playoff match, 1-0, way back in the 1987 quarterfinals.

“We did play them tough,” Mosen added. “I’m looking forward to the game. We have a game plan. We know what works for us. We’ll tweak things a little bit, but we’ve got every reason to feel confident.”

Deering’s season ended at 8-6-1 after the agonizing defeat, as for the third time in six years, the Rams’ playoff run ended in PKs.

“It’s never fun to lose,” Deering coach Kevin Olson said. “We played 110 solid minutes of soccer. We just came up short. The girls made Deering proud. They fought hard. I’m proud of them. I told the girls to keep their heads held high. They left everything on the field. There’s no way to simulate PKs in practice. There’s so much pressure on the shooters. I just told them to stick with their routine and with their shot. To have confidence and put it on frame. They had the courage to take those kicks.”

The Rams defied the pundits this fall, as they remained a top contender. They figure to be in the mix again in 2015.

“We did a lot of great things this season,” Olson said. “Overall, it was great. It’s tough to lose these seniors. Our ultimate goal is to get back to the playoffs. The underclassmen will learn from this.”

Cheverus made the playoffs as the No. 10 seed after ending its regular season with a 3-0 home loss to Gorham. Saturday, the Stags went to No. 7 Falmouth for the preliminary round in the first-ever meeting between the schools and despite a valiant effort, fell short, 1-0, to finish 5-8-2.

McAuley qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, despite dropping its finale, 4-2, at Westbrook. Saturday, the 11th-ranked Lions went to Kennebunk for the preliminary round and a first-ever postseason meeting with the Rams. Kennebunk would prevail, 4-1, despite a goal from Ayla Tartre, and McAuley’s season ended at 3-9-3.

In Western C, Waynflete, the two-time defending state champion, closed its regular season with a 1-0 home win over Freeport on freshman Lydia Giguere’s goal late in regulation.

“It was a tight game,” Giguere said. “Freeport played amazing.”

Waynflete finished the regular year 8-1-5.

“The season was a learning curve,” said Flyers senior goalkeeper Julianna Harwood. “There was something to learn from each game, whether it was a win, loss or a tie. We’re a young team. We’ve taken awhile to find our rhythm. There were some bumps along the way, but we’ve learned mental toughness.”

“It feels a little strange to win in regulation,” said Flyers coach Todd Dominski. “We’re tired of tie games. The five ties are games we feel like we should have taken.”

Saturday, Waynflete, the No. 6 seed, hosted No. 11 Carrabec in a preliminary round contest. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season and had no playoff history. Saturday, goals from Giguere, Isabel Canning, Ava Farrar and Beata Vest gave the Flyers a 4-0 win.

Waynflete advanced to earn a shot at No. 3 Mountain Valley (11-3) in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. The teams have no history.

“I think we have all the potential in the world,” Dominski said. “It’s just a matter of staying together as a team, going out and executing and putting the ball in the net. We have to do the little things that make us successful.”

Looking ahead, the regional finals are Wednesday of next week on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Class A and Class C state finals are Saturday, Nov. 8. Class A is in Hampden. Class C will be held in Portland at Deering High School.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements


Portland sophomore Kate Johnson beams as she and her teammates race to congratulate goalkeeper Taylor Crosby after the Bulldogs survive Deering in penalty kicks in Friday’s Western Class A preliminary round playoff game.

Cheverus senior Mackenzie Hoglund heads the ball as Portland junior Josh Irving defends during the Stags’ 1-0 win during Saturday’s Western A boys’ soccer prelim.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.