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Portland junior Hazel Praught, left, junior Isabella More and freshman Julia Duggan celebrate a goal during the Bulldogs’ 15-5 win over Lewiston in Wednesday’s Class A North quarterfinal. More and Praught each scored four times.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
L- 4 1- 5
P- 5 10- 15
20:59 L Chasse (Ouellette)
18:06 P Praught (Clifford)
16:17 P Praught (free position)
10:07 P I. More (free position)
8:30 L Leblanc (Chasse)
6:52 L Chasse (free position)
6:21 L Lachance (Lynch)
1:15 P A. More (unassisted)
15.7 P I. More (unassisted)
22:55 P A. More (I. More)
22:15 P Praught (Kilbride)
20:10 P I. More (free position)
15:46 P A. More (unassisted)
12:34 P Praught (A. More)
11:44 P A. More (I. More)
11:06 P Girsch (Kilbride)
9:21 P I. More (free position)
6:11 L Lemieux (Lachance)
5:01 P Girsch (Kilbride)
4:44 P A. More (Praught)
L- Chasse 2, Lachance, Leblanc, Lemieux 1
P- A. More 5, I. More, Praught 4, Girsch 2
L- Chasse, Lachance, Lynch, Ouellette 1
P- Kilbride 3, I. More 2, Clifford, A. More, Praught 1
Draws (Portland, 17-5)
L- Chasse 4 of 11, Lynch 1 of 9, Ouellette 0 of 2
P- I. More 12 of 15, A. More 4 of 6, Girsch 1 of 1
Shots on cage:
L (Racine) 15
P (Doiran) 8
PORTLAND—Portland’s girls’ lacrosse team has already gone where no Bulldogs squad has gone before and the fun is just beginning.
Portland, the No. 3 seed in Class A North, welcomed sixth-ranked Lewiston Wednesday evening for a quarterfinal round playoff game at Fitzpatrick Stadium and in a microcosm of their season, the Bulldogs started slowly, then took care of business in emphatic fashion.
Portland surrendered the game’s first goal, then took a 3-1 lead behind a pair of goals from junior Hazel Praught and another from classmate Isabella More and after the Blue Devils scored three unanswered goals, the Bulldogs closed the first half strong behind goals from junior Annika More and Isabella More to lead, 5-4.
Portland then left Lewiston in its wake in the second half.
Goals from Annika More, Praught and Isabella More got things started and the fun continued, as Annika More and Praught scored again for a 10-4 lead.
Praught, senior Sydney Girsch and Isabella More then added goals to cap a 10-0 run and after the Blue Devils snapped a 25-minute drought, Girsch and Annika More scored to bring the curtain down on the Bulldogs’ 15-5 victory.
Annika More had five goals and Isabella More and Praught added four apiece as Portland improved to 11-2 with its 11th consecutive victory, ended Lewiston’s season at 7-6 and advanced to take on No. 2 Windham (11-1) in the Class A North semifinals Saturday at 11 a.m. in Windham.
“The team this year has been amazing, both on and off the field,” said Girsch, a captain. “We have great chemistry. I think we were just ready. We were hyped and it showed.”
Portland dropped its first two games this spring, 11-6 to visiting Windham and 9-5 at Gorham, but the Bulldogs have been an unstoppable force ever since.
Portland’s win streak began with a 15-9 home triumph over South Portland. After prevailing at Sanford (12-6), Brunswick (12-2) and Edward Little (15-3), the Bulldogs handled visiting Noble (14-7), Cony (19-2) and Westbrook (16-7), then eked out a 7-6 win at Cheverus, beat host Bonny Eagle, 16-11, and closed with a 16-3 home victory over rival Deering.
Portland earned the No. 3 seed in Class A North for the second year in a row.
Lewiston, meanwhile, was competitive with just about everyone on its schedule and wins in three of its final four games gave it a 7-5 mark, good for the sixth and final spot in Class A North.
The teams didn’t meet this year and had never played in the postseason.
Wednesday, the Blue Devils, thanks in large part to junior goalie Cece Racine, hung tough for a half, but the Bulldogs ultimately were too much to contend with.
Racine made her presence felt just 31 seconds in, as after Annika More won the game’s opening draw, Isabella More had a great look on the doorstep, but was denied.
Lewiston opened the scoring with 20:59 to play in the first half, as senior captain Christine Chasse took a pass from junior Rachel Ouellette and beat Portland sophomore goalie Samira Doiran.
Racine then preserved the lead by denying Annika More on a rush and turning aside a bid from junior Elena Clifford.
After Doiran made a key save on a shot from Blue Devils sophomore Grace Dumond, the Bulldogs transitioned to offense and drew even with 18:06 to go in the half, as Clifford set up Praught.
Praught then put Portland on top with 16:17 remaining, as she earned a free position and faked a shot to make Racine commit before finishing for a 2-1 lead.
“My coaches told me to move (the goalie),” Praught said. “I tried to fake and go around. I think we were a little nervous to start, but we settled down.”
Doiran then took center stage, denying Chasse three straight times to keep the Bulldogs ahead.
Doiran, in her first season as Portland’s starting goal, has earned the respect of her coaches and teammates.
“Samira has been great,” junior defender Zam Limet said. “She’s absolutely killing it.”
With 10:07 remaining in the first half, Isabella More scored for the first time, converting a free position for a 3-1 lead and that forced Lewiston coach Tracey Blaisdell to call timeout.
And it worked like a charm, as the Blue Devils rattled off three straight goals.
The comeback began with 8:30 on the clock, as Chasse set up sophomore Shauna Leblanc.
A Chasse free position with 6:52 to go in the half tied it up and 31 seconds later, senor Kelsie Lynch fed senior Erin Lachance for a 4-3 lead.
But Lewiston wouldn’t score again for over 25 minutes and before the break, Portland reasserted control.
After Racine continued to frustrate the Bulldogs by denying Praught and freshman Chelsea Dana, Annika More tied the score with an unassisted goal with 1:15 on the clock.
Then, with 15.7 seconds to go, Isabella More scored unassisted and Portland took a 5-4 lead to halftime.
In the first 25 minutes, the Bulldogs had a 6-4 edge in draws and a 12-8 advantage in shots on cage, but seven saves from Racine kept the game close.
Portland then put together a nearly flawless second half to put it away.
Racine denied Praught early in the half, but with 22:55 to go, Isabella More set up Annika More for a two-goal lead.
Just 40 seconds later, senior Chloe Kilbride fed Praught for a 7-4 advantage.
The Bulldogs kept the good times rolling with 20:10 on the clock, as Isabella More scored on a free position.
Doiran then preserved the lead with a pair of dazzling saves, denying Dumond on the doorstep, then when Dumond scooped up the rebound and shot again, Doiran saved that bid as well.
“At the beginning of the year, it was hard, but I have amazing coaches,” Doiran said. “All I have to do is stop the ball. I don’t have to catch it. I just have to hit it somehow and get it out of there. My defense is amazing. They’re like family. They understand what I want.”
Portland then returned to offense and with 15:46 remaining, Annika More went coast to coast and finished to make it 9-4.
With 12:34 left, Annika More set up Praught for a goal and Blaisdell had to call timeout again.
This time, it didn’t help, as with 11:44 on the clock, Isabella More set up Annika More for a goal and 38 seconds later, Kilbride fed Girsch for a 12-4 advantage.
With 9:21 to play, Isabella More capped the 10-0 run with a free position goal.
Lewiston snapped a 25 minute, 10 second drought when Lachance set up senior Katie Lemieux for a goal with 6:11 left, but 70 seconds later, the Kilbride to Girsch connection clicked for a second time and with 4:44 to play, Praught’s feed led to Annika More’s fifth goal and that slammed the door on the Bulldogs’ 15-5 triumph.
“We learned from our mistakes,” Zimet said. “We learned their cutters would come from the top and if we covered them better, we’d do better.”
“It sure looked like we woke up in the second half,” Portland coach Beth Broderick said. “It was the first playoff game for a lot of girls. We had to work out some jitters and find our rhythm. We played our own game in the second half, which I was happy to see.”
Portland got multiple goals from four players, Annika More, who had five, Isabella More and Praught, who each added four, and Girsch, who scored twice.
“Annika and Isabella really control the ball in the midfield and give us some great looks and Hazel was everywhere,” said Broderick. “You can talk about the goals we scored, but she made such a big difference re-defending in this game.”
Kilbride had three assists, while Isabella More added two and Clifford, Annika More and Praught had one apiece.
Doiran made eight saves.
The Bulldogs won 17 of 22 draws, held a 44-28 edge in ground balls (Isabella More had a game-high 12), enjoyed a 34-16 shots advantage (30-13 on cage) and overcame 20 turnovers.
For Lewiston, Chasse had two goals and an assist, while Lachance, Leblanc and Lemieux all scored once.
Lachance, Lynch and Ouellette all had one assist.
Racine turned heads with 15 saves.
“Cece stood on her head,” Blaisdell said. “She was in it for every shot.”
Chasse had a team-high six ground balls.
The Blue Devils committed 21 turnovers.
“Portland did a great job of adjusting,” Blaisdell said. “Our draw didn’t come together the way we hoped. We hadn’t seen a team like Portland before. It was exciting to play a team we didn’t know. They had better shot selection. That’s haunted us all season.
“We’ll keep looking forward. We lose seven seniors. They’ve made adjustments and they’ve stepped up to the challenge. I’ve got great players coming up. So much talent. The future is bright. I think you’ll see good things from us next year.”
Portland hosted Windham way back on April 22 and the closeness of the loss, combined with how well the Bulldogs are playing now, gives them plenty of confidence going into the rematch, which will mark the first-ever postseason encounter between the teams.
“I think we’ve come so far since our first game,” said Girsch. “I’m so excited to play Windham again.”
“We just need to believe in ourselves,” Praught said. “In the second half of our first game against Windham, we came back and they know it. We’ll have confidence.”
“We talk every year that we want to earn the privilege of playing in June,” Broderick added. “I think we’re hungry. This is a great team to coach.
“It’s nice to see Windham again. Some of our starters weren’t playing or at their best the first time and it was raining sideways. Windham was really good that day. Now, we’re healthy, ready and hungry.”
Portland junior Isabella More drives on Lewiston junior Melina Masseli.
Portland junior Annika More, who had a game-high five goals, gets past Lewiston junior Melina Masseli (14) and freshman Paige Pomerleau.