PORTLAND—The Cheverus girls’ soccer team was on the ropes Saturday in its Western Class A preliminary round playoff game against Marshwood, but the Stags truly saved their best for last.
After scoring with just nine seconds to go before halftime, host Cheverus couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead in the second half, as the Hawks tied things up in the 66th minute.
Then, with 2:11 remaining, Stags sophomore Abby Maker got just enough breathing room to create and she found the net to put her team ahead to stay as Cheverus went on to a 2-1 win, ending Marshwood’s year at 5-8-2, improving to 10-2-3 and setting up a quarterfinal round showdown at defending Class A state champion Scarborough Tuesday.
“I think we played a great 70 minutes and then we had that 10 minute stretch there and it cost us,” said Stags coach Dan LaVallee. “I really liked the 70 minutes we played though.”
Cheverus has now made the playoffs in nine of its 10 varsity seasons, including each of the past nine. The Stags have won at least one postseason game in six of those years.
This fall, Cheverus started 7-0-2, but suffered late-season setbacks at Thornton Academy and Gorham and wound up earning the No. 6 seed in Western Class A.
Marshwood, a steady contender in recent years, overcame a 1-4 start and finished 11th in the Heals. The Hawks’ signature win was a 1-0 upset over Thornton Academy.
The teams didn’t play in the regular season and had met just twice prior in the playoffs, a 2-1 Hawks’ win in the 2003 preliminary round and a 3-0 Marshwood victory in the 2008 quarterfinals.
Saturday, the Stags had an abundance of first half opportunities, but appeared doomed for a scoreless tie at the break before striking in the waning seconds.
Cheverus earned back-to-back corner kicks in the first minute. In the fifth, a cross from junior Eden Monsen to Maker was bobbled, then finally grabbed by sprawling Marshwood senior goalkeeper Tatum Schaldenhauffen.
The visitors had their first good bid in the ninth minute as a blast from freshman Lydia St. Pierre forced Stags junior goalkeeper Mikayla Mayberry to dive and tip the ball out of bounds, setting up a corner kick. On that corner, the ball rolled free across the crease, but got out of harm’s way as the game remained scoreless.
In the 17th minute, seconds after a high shot from Cheverus senior Leeann Morrison, sophomore teammate Meredith Willard pounced on a failed clear and launched a shot that Schaldenhauffen had to dive to deflect out. On the ensuing corner kick, Maker’s shot was blocked by a defender.
Later in the half, Monsen had a rush broken up at the last second, then, Maker (on a pass from freshman Olivia Mull) went one-on-one with the goalie, but Schaldenhauffen made a fingertip save, then got to the rebound.
“I could not finish in the first half,” Maker said. “Our passing was good. Our shots in warmups were good, but in the game, we just couldn’t finish.”
After a couple close calls on corner kicks, the hosts finally broke through.
With time winding down, junior Darby Rawcliffe eluded two defenders and shot the ball, which eluded Schaldenhauffen long enough for Mull to bang home with nine seconds to go.
Early in the second half, Cheverus looked to double its lead and get some breathing room, but it wasn’t to be.
With 37:08 left in regulation, Rawcliffe’s free kick required Schaldenhauffen to make a leaping save. Three minutes later, the goalie broke up Maker’s rush at the last second. With 31:13 to play, Monsen sent a through ball to Maker, but again, Schaldenhauffen got there first.
Marshwood almost got the equalizer with 22:58 showing when, off a corner kick, junior Alli Schoff sent a shot ticketed for the net, but out of nowhere, Stags senior Allison Thomas headed the ball away and Cheverus reamined on top.
The Hawks kept pressuring and freshman Gianna Riccardi’s shot forced Mayberry to make a sprawling save.
Then, with 14:13 to go, Marshwood struck.
After a defensive breakdown, Riccardi fed sophomore Korinne Bohunsky and she beat Mayberry to tie the score, 1-1.
Down the stretch, both teams looked to break the deadlock.
With 9:41 showing, a cross from Stags sophomore Sade Lyons was snared by Schladenhauffen.
With 6:43 to go, Maker broke in on goal, knocked the ball away from the prone goalie and chased it down to the left of the goal. Under pressure, Maker shot, but it went just wide.
Maker would get another chance and this time, she finished.
With 2:11 remaining, Maker hauled in a long pass from Thomas, got around two defenders and this time, her shot was true and Cheverus was back on top, 2-1.
“The first time I had a break, I missed it,” Maker said. “I’m somebody who gets down on themselves easily. I looked up in the stands. Me and (my basketball coach, Richie Ashley) are really close and he just kind of gave me a point to keep my head up. That was huge for me to see that and to keep going. I was down for a minute, then came back. The defenders are big, fast and good. I give them props. I thought (the shot) was going to go over, but it kind of sunk. It was just kind of there. We didn’t want overtime.”
“Abby’s special,” LaVallee said. “No question about it.”
The Hawks got a corner kick with about a minute to go (Cheverus finished with an 11-5 edge for the game), but it was cleared. The Stags’ defense ran out the clock from there and they advanced by virtue of the hard-fought 2-1 triumph.
“It was a little tricky since we didn’t play them in the season,” said LaVallee. “(St. Pierre and junior Hannah Ferguson) played well and their goalie was huge for them. We didn’t take our shots.”
Last year, Scarborough won the title and only gave up one goal all season. It was scored by Cheverus, on a penalty kick, in a 2-1 semifinal round loss. The Red Storm also beat the Stags, 1-0 (in double overtime) in the 2004 semifinals. The teams tied, 1-1, Sept. 17 in Scarborough, in this year’s meeting.
Cheverus expects a tough test, but is confident entering Tuesday’s showdown.
“We just have to get ready,” Maker said. “Practice Monday will be huge. We just have to get our minds in it. It’s whoever comes out wanting it. I think we’re pretty equal teams. I think we can play with them.”
“We have to maintain our intensity the whole way,” LaVallee said. “Against Scarborough, if we don’t, it may cost us more than one goal, it may cost us two or three. We tied Scarborough in the regular season, but we didn’t play particularly well in the first half against them. If we play 80 minutes, we’ll be in good shape.”
Cheverus junior Darby Rawcliffe heads the ball away from a Marshwood defender.
Cheverus senior Allison Thomas goes way, way up to get to the ball during second half action.
Cheverus spohomore Sade Lyons gets the better of this 50-50 ball.
Cheverus junior Victoria Nappi looks to keep the ball inbounds on this first half play.
Cheverus junior Danielle Kane has some room to operate during the first half Saturday.
On the game winner, Abby Maker watches her shot soar into the net.
Cheverus celebrated the go-ahead goal Saturday.
Cheverus sophomore Abby Maker prepares to boot the game winning shot Saturday as the Stags advanced with a 2-1 win over Marshwood in the Western A preliminary round.
More photos below.