PORTLAND—With the regular season growing late and the playoffs very much hanging in the balance, the Portland girls’ lacrosse team entered Monday night’s home tilt against crosstown rival Deering knowing that a victory was paramount.
Thanks in large part to the prolific scoring of sophomore Drew Barry, the Bulldogs took care of business.
Barry scored five times in the first half and added two more goals in the second as Portland, which never trailed, pulled away for a 16-9 victory, its fifth in nine games this spring, while dropping the Rams to 2-6 in the process.
Barry scored four consecutive goals in a 5 minute, 38 second span of the first half, finished with a season high and also had a game-high nine ground balls in leading the Bulldogs to their second straight victory.
“We had really good midfield transition today,” said Barry. “Running it seemed to work. We worked well together today. I was impressed. It’s always nice to beat Deering.”
Deering and Portland entered the 2011 season with varying expectations.
The Rams, who won five games total over the past two springs, hoped to improve and be competitive and they have certainly done that, especially of late. After losing at Windham (12-11) and Kennebunk (17-0), at home to defending Class A champion Scarborough (17-5) and at Cheverus (10-5) to start the year. Deering got in the win column last week versus host Biddeford (16-4) and visiting Westbrook (12-6) before suffering an agonizing 14-13 (four overtime) loss at Gardiner Saturday in a game the Tigers tied in the waning seconds.
The Bulldogs have been to the playoffs each of the past three years and came into this spring expecting to be a top contender in Eastern Class A. After rolling, 13-6, at Biddeford to start the season, Portland suffered an 11-4 setback at Scarborough. It then downed visiting Gardiner (12-8) and Cheverus (9-4) before losing three in a row, 12-9 to visiting Windham, 18-14 at Bonny Eagle and 10-8 at home to Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs got back on track Friday with a 16-3 win at Camden Hills.
Entering Monday night’s game, Portland had beaten Deering in three consecutive meetings, dating back to an 11-2 Rams’ victory on May 31, 2007. Last year,the Bulldogs eked out a 6-5 overtime decision.
Portland would stretch that streak to four in relatively easy fashion.
It took both offenses a few minutes to hit their stride but with 19:06 to play in the 25-minute first half, the Bulldogs went on top thanks to an unassisted goal from junior Raechel Allen. After Deering tied the score on an unassisted goal from senior captain Zahra Abu 90 seconds later, an unassisted goal from Allen with 17:25 remaining in the half put the hosts ahead to stay.
With 16:01 showing, junior Catherine Flaherty scored on a free position to make it 3-1. After the Rams answered with 12:09 to go (junior Rachel Luebbert from senior Kayla Vachon), Portland closed the half on a 6-0 run to seize control.
The surge started with 7:36 remaining when Barry scored unassisted. With 6:29 to play before halftime, Barry scored on a free position. Thirty seconds later, Barry (from Flaherty) beat Deering sophomore goalie Lilly Worthley and with 1:58 left, Barry scored unassisted for a 7-2 lead. In the final minute of the half, senior Effie Drew (free position) and Barry (unassisted) tickled the twine to make it a 9-2 contest at the break.
“It’s good to get a couple in to have safety to set up plays and run plays and work together,” Barry said. “That was the plan. I know I have players like Raechel and Cat Flaherty and I know I can rely on them.”
Three minutes, 11 seconds into the second half, Abu scored unassisted, beating Bulldogs junior goalie Kara Grant, to end the 6-0 Portland outburst, but freshman Lizzie Landry (unassisted) and senior Zoe Swaffer (on a rebound) answered to push the lead to 11-3.
After junior Delaney Loring scored an unassisted goal for the visitors, Allen (free position), Barry (unassisted) and senior Maria DeMichelle (from junior Zoe Malia) tickled the twine to make it 14-4 and induce a running clock.
After junior Veronica Mitchell of the Rams and Barry (free position) traded goals to make it a 15-5 contest, Deering closed strong.
Vachon (from senior Maddie Burns), Abu (from junior Anastasia Muca), Vachon (from Abu) and Abu (unassisted) all scored in a 5 minute, 20 second span to cut the deficit to 15-9.
With just 4.6 seconds to go, Landry scored on a free position to account for the 16-9 final score.
“The girls love the crosstown rivalry,” said Portland coach Eric Wales. “Things have been going in a really good direction and are starting to come together.”
Barry, who is already on the short list of finest players in the league, nearly matched Deering’s team total with her seven goals.
“Drew’s an offensive force and she’s only a sophomore,” Wales said. “She’s awesome. I think it’s her being able to roll and dodge. Her footwork is very good. She can weave in between the defenders.”
Allen added three goals, Landry two and DeMichelle, Drew, Flaherty and Swaffer one apiece. Flaherty and Malia had assists. Barry finished with nine ground balls, Allen eight and Swaffer five. Grant made 11 saves.
“The goalie’s been playing really well,” Wales said. “She’s done some good things.”
For the visitors, Abu scored four times, Vachon twice and Loring, Luebbert and Mitchell once each. Abu, Burns, Muca and Vachon all had one assist. Abu led the team with five ground balls, while Loring grabbed four. Worthley stopped eight shots.
“We never give up,” said Deering coach Andrew Gordon. “We never have. Portland’s a good team. They’re more athletic than we are. It took us too long to figure out (Barry) even though I told them about her before the game. She’s very impressive. I’m not displeased with our effort. We’re not on Portland’s level, but the way we played against Westbrook, we’re definitely better than last year. We’ll get better. We’ll trundle along.”
Swaffer beat Vachon on 14-of-26 draws. The Bulldogs had an edge in ground balls (39-30), shots (28-23) and shots on cage (24-20). Portland had 13 turnovers to 12 for Deering.
Deering (10th in the Eastern Class A Heal Points standings) will play the remainder of its games at home. The Rams host Bonny Eagle Thursday, then welcome South Portland, Lewiston and Massabesic.
Portland, which is seventh in the region, where only six teams qualify for the postseason, has work to do.
The Bulldogs visit Westbrook Thursday, are off for a week before going to Heal Points-rich South Portland, then finish up at home against Marshwood May 31.
“We need wins to get in playoffs,” said Barry. “I think we could be pretty destructive if we get that far.”
“We have three huge games left,” Wales added. “They’re winnable games. We have to keep working hard. Hopefully we’ll build. We beat Cheverus and Deering so we have city bragging rights. Now, we want bridge bragging rights (by beating South Portland).”
D- 2 7- 9
P- 9 7- 16
19:06 P Allen (free position)
17:36 D Abu (unassisted)
17:25 P Allen (un)
16:01 P Flaherty (free position)
12:09 D Luebbert (Vachon)
7:36 P Barry (un)
6:29 P Barry (free position)
5:59 P Barry (Flaherty)
1:58 P Barry (un)
55.6 P Drew (free position)
26.2 P Barry (un)
21:49 D Abu (un)
19:02 P Landry (un)
17:58 P Swaffer (un)
17:43 D Loring (un)
16:19 P Allen (free position)
16:07 P Barry (un)
13:53 P DeMichelle (Malia)
9:41 D Mitchell (un)
7:27 P Barry (free position)
6:15 D Vachon (Burns)
5:08 D Abu (Muca)
1:44 D Vachon (Abu)
55.3 D Abu (un)
4.6 P Landry (free position)
D- Abu 4, Vachon 2, Loring, Luebbert, Mitchell 1
P- Barry 7, Allen 3, Landry 2, DeMichelle, Drew, Flaherty, Swaffer 1
D- Abu, Burns, Muca, Vachon 1
P- Flaherty, Malia 1
D- (Worthley) 8
P- (Grant) 11
Draws (Portland, 14-12)
D- Vachon 12-of-26
P- Swaffer 14-of-26
Ground balls (Portland, 39-30)
D- Abu 5, Loring 4
P- Barry 9, Allen 8, Swaffer 5
Shots on cage: