Cheverus and Portland girls wind up in 0-0 tie
PORTLAND—While Friday afternoon's city battle between the Cheverus and Portland girls' soccer teams featured a good dose of frustration, in the end, both teams were content with kissing their proverbial sisters.
The Stags, coming off their first victory this season, and the Bulldogs, who have their best team in several years, gave each other their all for 80 minutes of regulation, but neither squad could tickle the twine.
Ten more minutes of overtime had the same fruitless result and the game went in the books as a 0-0 draw, leaving Portland 3-2-1 and Cheverus 1-5-1 on the season.
"I thought this was an opportunity to get some good (Heal Points)," said Bulldogs coach Art Mosen. "I'm disappointed we weren't able to do that. We don't have much of a choice but to move on to our next game."
"We felt based on the scores we had and Portland's scores, it would be a competitive game, but one we could win," said first-year Stags coach Craig Roberts. "We weren't disappointed with the effort or how we played. I think it was one of our better games. Portland's a good team. We're just disappointed because we had an opportunity to win and we didn't take advantage."
Fit to be tied
Cheverus and Portland began playing in 2002 and while the Bulldogs won the first two meetings, the Stags have won the vast majority since then (please see below).
Entering Friday's game, Cheverus had beaten Portland six of seven times, including a 3-0 decision last fall at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The Bulldogs' last victory came Oct. 6, 2009, 1-0, at Cheverus.
Both teams have faced challenges this fall, with Portland thus far doing the best job of overcoming.
The Bulldogs started 2013 with a 3-2 home win over Sanford. After falling at home, 5-0, to defending Class A champion Scarborough, Portland blanked visiting Noble, 2-0, and won at Bonny Eagle, 2-0. Monday, the Bulldogs lost at home to rival Deering, 3-0.
Cheverus, playing without two injured senior standouts, Sadie Lyons and Abby Maker, lost at Deering in the opener, 6-1, then fell to visiting McAuley (2-1), at Marshwood (5-3), at home to Windham (10-0) and at Biddeford (4-1). Wednesday, the Stags gave Roberts his first victory, 1-0, over visiting Sanford.
Friday, Cheverus controlled play early, then the contest tightened up, but in the end, nary a goal was scored.
The Stags produced pressure early, but Portland senior goalkeeper Zoe Rivera managed to hold them at bay.
In the fourth minute, Rivera broke up a rush from Cheverus junior Olivia Mull.
After Bulldogs sophomore Chessa Hoekstra fired her team's first shot (just high), Stags sophomore Alyssa Smith had a shot blocked by the Portland defense and Mull's bid from the side was denied by Rivera.
After Portland freshman Kate Johnson fired wide, Mull had a look with Rivera out of the goal, but again the shot was blocked by a defender. Freshman Katie Gordon then launched a low shot, but Rivera made the save.
Late in the first half, Stags freshman Meredith Cilley had a shot saved by Rivera and in the waning seconds, junior Abby Goodrich had a great look at the goal, but shot high.
Cheverus outshot Portland, 9-4, in the first half.
Early in the second half, the Stags continued to knock on the door, but a Gordon shot on a rush was saved, Rivera made a sprawling save after Gordon got past a defender and fired a low shot and a long shot from Goodrich was also turned aside by Rivera.
With 32:05 to play in regulation, the Bulldogs earned the game's first corner kick, but no shot came of it.
Portland kept the pressure on and freshman Hayleigh Blanchard set up Hoekstra, but her shot was just high.
The Stags' first corner kick came with 28:15 to play, but the defense cleared it.
With 21:23 to go, Cheverus senior Margaret Kathryn LaFountain broke up a rush by the dangerous Johnson.
Johnson later had a couple shots, but the first was saved by Cheverus junior goalkeeper Anna Niedermeyer and the second went just wide.
The best scoring opportunity of the game came with 15:30 left in regulation, as Goodrich sent a direct kick into the box from about 35 yards out and Mull timed her leap perfectly. Mull directed the ball on target, but it sailed just a tiny bit too high, kissing the top of the crossbar and skittering harmlessly out of play.
Late in regulation, a Cheverus corner kick was headed away by a Portland defender, a pair of left-footed bids from Bulldogs junior Madison Bolduc were denied, Blanchard's free kick went high and a low blast from Gordon was saved by Rivera.
It was on to overtime.
In Maine girls' soccer, teams play two five-minute "sudden victory" sessions. If no one scores, the game goes into the books as a tie.
That would be the conclusion on this day.
Neither team even managed a shot in the first OT and there was just one opportunity in the second, when Goodrich sent a long, low shot on goal, but Rivera snared it.
The game then finished 0-0.
"The first half, we really took it to them, but the second half, they regrouped and took it us for periods," Roberts said. "We bent, but didn't break. The result is indicative of that. Each team had its chances."
"The positives are that this was our third shutout this season and our defense was solid today and we rely on that," Mosen said. "It's important to focus on the positives and bring a different attitude to the next game. We just didn't seem to be connecting today. I don't know why that is. I think on another day, we would have finished our chances, but we couldn't do it today."
Cheverus finished with a 19-12 shots advantage (10-3 on frame). Rivera stopped 10 shots, while Niedermeyer made three saves.
The Stags had two corner kicks to one for the Bulldogs.
Cheverus (13th in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings, where the top 12 teams make the postseason) has the daunting task of going to dangerous Thornton Academy Wednesday. The Stags then host Massabesic and South Portland, visit Bonny Eagle, welcome Noble, then close at Westbrook and Gorham.
Cheverus last missed the playoffs in 2002, its first varsity season. The ever-improving Stags still have time to win some games and extend their streak of postseason appearances to 11 years.
"We still have a number of injured players and a number of our players are young, but the effort is consistent and the lapses in games are shorter," Roberts said. "All our freshmen play hard. This year, we'll be more competitive against teams that don't necessarily have seven or eight Premier players. There are teams in our boat. Those are the teams we can compete against. This was a really good week. To get a win against Sanford was great. Now it's on to TA. There's no quit in this group and that's important. We hope this experience pays off."
Portland (ranked 11th) is back in action Wednesday, when it hosts Marshwood. After going to South Portland and Gorham, the Bulldogs host McAuley, Massabesic and Westbrook, then close at Windham and Biddeford.
"The season's flying by," Mosen said. "We do have a very good shot (at the playoffs). We have to keep the teams below us at a distance. That distance will get smaller as the season goes on. We have to have the intent to win. We need a few more wins. What's telling is that (the girls are) disappointed because they want more. They know they're good enough to get more. We just have to connect better in the next game."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Cheverus-Portland results
Cheverus 3 @ Portland 0
@ Cheverus 5 Portland 0
Cheverus 6 @ Portland 0
Portland 1 @ Cheverus 0
Cheverus 1 @ Portland 0
@ Cheverus 1 Portland 0
@ Portland 2 Cheverus 1
Western A quarterfinals
Cheverus 1 @ Portland 0
@ Cheverus 2 Portland 1
@ Cheverus 2 Portland 0
Portland 3 Cheverus 1
Portland 6 Cheverus 0