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Cheverus girls’ hockey might be the best of the bunch New coaches at Deering and Portland

Sports

Cheverus girls’ hockey might be the best of the bunch New coaches at Deering and Portland

Based on early results, it's possible the Cheverus girls' hockey squad will have plenty to get excited about in February. After finishing 16-3-1 and falling 2-1 to Biddeford in the West Region Final a year ago, the 2009-10 Stags have turned it up another notch.

Cheverus captured its first four games in one-sided fashion (8-0 over Cape Elizabeth, 7-0 over Greely, 7-2 over Deering and 7-0 over defending champion Lewiston) to make an emphatic, early statement. Then, Saturday, the Stags improved to 5-0 after passing a tougher test and winning 8-0 at Biddeford.

Offense has come from many different sources. Senior Alyssa Audet (an SMAA and all-regional first-team forward last year) has been close to unstoppable at times, scoring four times in the opener. Senior Grace Fitzpatrick (first team league and regional all-star in 2008-09), senior Caitlin Pleau (reigning first-team conference and regional all-star), junior Emily Sawchuck (second-team league and regional all-star last winter), senior Sage Witham (another reigning SMAA second-teamer and honorable mention all-region player), junior Anna McDonough, sophomore Sarah LaQuerre (who turned heads in field hockey this fall) and freshman Katie Roy have all made their mark as well.

When they're not busy filling the net, Fitzpatrick, LaQuerre, Pleau and Roy are also forces on defense in front of Lanouette (a first-team all-regional and second-team league all-star in 2008-09), who is one of the best goalies around (even though she hasn't seen much action to date and has yet to allow a goal). If this team can stay healthy, look out. Cross country just won Cheverus' first-ever girls' state championship. There's a good chance this squad could be the second.

"We will be competitive," said third-year coach J.P. Lavoie. "We should be in the mix when the playoffs arrive. We feel we're one of several teams who have a chance to make it to the state championship game."

The two other city teams aren't dreaming of titles, just trying to improve.

So far, Portland has made great strides. The Bulldogs, who went 2-15-1 last winter, have already matched that win total with a 5-2 victory over Gorham and a 4-1 win over Deering. Portland is coached this year by Courtney Rideout, who played at South Portland and at the University of Southern Maine. She was an assistant coach previously with Casco Bay's U-19 girls' team and also served as an assistant for the Portland Lady Junior Pirates.

Offensively, the Bulldogs have featured dynamic sophomore Raechel Allen (a first-team league and region all-star last winter), junior Kathleen Dalbec, junior Effie Drew and senior Nancy McAdam, as well as new senior Drew Barry and Emma Wilson. Senior Abby Dolan (an honorable mention SMAA and regional all-star in 2008-09) and junior Abbi Scrutchfield are top defenders in front of sophomore goalie Courtney Rickett. Since Portland has already won twice, everything from here on out is gravy.

"We're hoping for the girls to improve as individuals and as a team," said Rideout. "We expect to have a good season and for the girls to all have fun and learn more about the game."

Deering is 0-4 in the early going, but stands to improve. This winter, the Rams are coached by Brittany Dion, who played at Deering back when girls' hockey was a club sport. This is her first varsity coaching job and she brings a lot of passion and enthusiasm to a team that was 1-16-1 last year.

So far this season, junior Jennifer Lynch and new senior Tiffany Leadbetter, who previously played on the Bangor boys' team, have managed to score goals. Sophomore Lindsey Sneider is another offensive weapon. Junior Adie Broadwater and junior Rebecca Silver anchor the defense in front of senior Julie Pallozzi, who has already been named Player of the Week by the Maine Girls' Hockey Academy. Pallozzi will keep Deering in a lot of games. If the Rams can find a way to score some goals, they'll enjoy the fruits of victory more frequently this winter. This program appears to be heading in the right direction and will take some positive strides in the weeks to come.

"We're very much in the growing stage," Dion said. "What I hope for my team this year is to have a season that they can walk away from proud of themselves. I don't believe pride is always revealed on the scoreboard. I think it's a feeling of accomplishment that is rooted in a team that sees themselves as one, working together for an outcome, whatever that may be. I wish my team the best and hope that together we can deliver a season we all can say was a great time."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Photo:
Cheverus senior Caitlin Pleau is a force on both offense and defense for a team that is undefeated so far this season.