Several teams from the city of Portland will play major roles in the soccer postseason and four squads have already taken the pitch.
In a Western Class A boys’ preliminary round game Saturday afternoon, No. 6 Cheverus defeated No. 11 Deering, 2-0, to move on. The Stags (who lost their regular season finale, 6-3, to visiting Gorham last Tuesday) got a penalty kick goal from senior Elliot Maker midway through the first half and a goal in the regular run of play from Maker late in the half and improved to 11-3-1.
“It was a good playoff win over a tough inter-city opponent,” said Cheverus coach Bill LeBlanc. “They played us fairly even for the first 10 minutes, but after that we had 80 percent possession. Their goalie played very well to keep the score at 2-0. We outshot them about 20 to two.”
The Rams, who solidified a playoff berth with last Tuesday’s 3-0 home win over Sanford in the final, saw their season end at 6-8-1 after their first playoff appearance in four years.
The Stags moved on to meet No. 3 Portland, the defending regional champion, in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The Bulldogs finished 9-2-3 after rallying to beat host Thornton Academy, 3-2 in overtime, in last Tuesday’s finale (senior Alain Tuyishime had two goals, including the OT tally, and classmate Ben Day also scored).
Portland edged Cheverus in a regular season thriller, 3-2, in overtime, on junior Tim Rovnak’s goal back on Sept. 27 at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The teams have met in three of the past four years in the postseason. The Stags won, 1-0, in the 2007 preliminary round, but the Bulldogs prevailed in the 2009 quarterfinals (1-0) and last year’s quarterfinals (6-0).
“It’s our fourth matchup with Portland over the last five years,” said LeBlanc. “We won the first, they won the next two, so it’s time for us to get back on the winning side. We had a good match with them during the season and if we can control Rovnak and play a clean game mentally, I like our chances. I just don’t like their turf. We need our best players to outplay their best players.”
The winner will play again Saturday in the semifinals, either at No. 2 Windham (12-2) or home versus No. 7 Cape Elizabeth (8-4-3).
In Western C, Waynflete finally fell from the unbeaten ranks last Monday, 4-0, to visiting Fryeburg, but its 10-1-3 mark gave it the No. 2 seed in the region. The Flyers host No. 7 Wiscasset (6-5-3) in the quarterfinals. The teams don’t play in the regular season. They did meet in the 2008 preliminary round (a 2-0 Waynflete victory). If the Flyers advance, they’ll host either No. 3 Hall-Dale (12-1-1) or No. 6 Dirigo (11-3) in Friday’s semifinals.
On the girls’ side, Cheverus and Deering both had to survive preliminary round tests Saturday.
The Stags, who ended the regular year 9-2-3 after a 0-0 tie at Deering and a 3-0 setback at Gorham to close, are ranked sixth in Western A. Saturday, Cheverus hosted No. 11 Marshwood, a team it didn’t play this year. The Stags had dropped the previous two playoff meetings between the schools, but the third time was the charm.
After several close calls, Cheverus got on the board with just nine seconds remaining in the first half as freshman Olivia Mull finished senior Darby Rawcliffe’s shot for a 1-0 lead. After the Hawks drew even in the 66th minute, the Stags got the winner from sophomore Abby Maker with just 2:11 to play and went on to the 2-1 victory.
“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. Their 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,” Stags coach Dan LaVallee said. “No question about it. I think we played a great 70 minutes and then we had that 10 minute stretch there and it cost us. I really liked the 70 minutes we played though.”
Cheverus went to No. 3 Scarborough (11-1-2) for the quarterfinals Tuesday. The teams tied, 1-1, Sept. 17 at Scarborough. The Red Storm took the prior two playoff meetings, including a 2-1 decision in last year’s semifinals.
Cheverus expected a tough test, but was 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.”
A victory over the Red Storm would send Cheverus to the semifinals Saturday, either at No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (11-1-2) or at home against No. 10 Deering (6-6-2).
Speaking of Deering, it closed the regular season with a 0-0 home tie against Cheverus and a 2-1 loss at Sanford. Saturday, the Rams had to go right back to Sanford and this time got the job done for their first postseason victory since 2005. Deering avenged not only its regular season loss, but also a painful penalty kick loss to the Redskins from the 2009 preliminary round as goals from sophomore Edie Pallozzi and freshman Meaghan Wells led the way to a 2-1 triumph.
“It was a great game,” said Rams’ coach Kevin Olson. “Our girls came out hard and were focused on the game plan and making sure they executed it. We scored first with a great ball passed to Edie who has incredible composure and took a great left-footed shot and buried it.
“We came out strong second half. Halfway through the second half, the momentum shifted. Sanford scored a goal, but the girls did not drop their heads and kept pushing. We scored our second goal off a corner. (Sophomore) Alexis Elowitch went up and won the ball against the keeper with her head and then the ball was passed in front of the net and Meaghan took the shot on a wide open net. Sanford kept pressing and had some opportunities, but we had a couple great opportunities as well, we just didn’t connect. The girls were outstanding playing the last five minutes of the game to hold on. Our goalkeeper, (sophomore) Lee Ann Downs, had an incredible game and kept us in it. She really stepped up her play.”
Deering advanced to meet No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The teams don’t play in the regular season. Last year, in the preliminary round, the Rams lost at the Capers, 1-0.
“Cape Elizabeth is great team,” Olson said. “That’s why they are the second seed. We don’t know much about them since we don’t play in the regular season. We are going to focus on playing our game and making sure we stay focused, composed and execute the game plan.”
If Deering can spring the upset, it will either go to Scarborough or Cheverus in Saturday’s semifinals.
McAuley ended its year 2-10-2 after a 5-0 home loss to top-ranked Gorham last Monday. The Lions were 16th in the final Western Class A Heal Points standings, but only the top 13 qualified for the playoffs.
Portland wound up 0-13-1 and 19th after a regular season-ending 4-0 setback at Thornton Academy last Tuesday.
In Western C, Waynflete finished 12-2 after a 2-0 win at Fryeburg last Monday (senior Becky Smith and sophomore Walker Foehl had the goals). The Flyers earned the No. 3 seed and hosted No. 6 Hall-Dale (11-4) in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The teams don’t play in the regular season. Waynflete beat Hall-Dale in the 2005 quarterfinals (7-0) and 2007 semifinals in prior postseason meetings.
If the Flyers beat Hall-Dale again, they’ll either go to No. 2 Madison (12-1-1) or host No. 7 Old Orchard Beach (10-5) in Friday’s semifinals. Waynflete doesn’t face Madison in the regular year. The Flyers won 6-2 at Old Orchard Beach and 5-3 at home over the Seagulls in the regular season.
The Western A and C Finals for boys’ and girls’ teams will be held Wednesday, Nov. 2, on the field of the higher remaining seeds. The Class A state final is Saturday, Nov. 5, at Falmouth High School. The Class C state final is the same day at Hampden Academy.
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.
Cheverus senior Allison Thomas goes way, way up to get to the ball during second half action Saturday. Thomas also saved a goal in a pivotal moment of the game.