SP boys end skid with decisive win over Deering

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South Portland sophomore David Fiorini, left, congratulates classmate Cooper Mehlhorn after a goal in the Red Riots’ 17-7 home win over Deering Friday night. Both Fiorini and Mehlhorn scored five goals.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


South Portland 17 Deering 7

D- 0 1 3 3- 7
SP- 2 7 6 2- 17

First quarter
7:35 SP Milton (Savidge)
1:41 SP Fiorini (Tierney)

Second quarter
11:19 SP Fiorini (unassisted)
10:44 D Richards (unassisted)
10:18 SP Mehlhorn (unassisted)
9:37 SP Fiorini (Mehlhorn)
7:45 SP Myers (Mehlhorn)
7:02 SP Angell (Mehlhorn)
5:49 SP Mehlhorn (Myers)
50.2 SP Fiorini (Myers)

Third quarter 
11:11 SP Milton (Mehlhorn)
10:08 SP Fiorini (Tierney)
9:50 SP Mehlhorn (Fiorini)
8:25 SP Ellis (Fiorini)
6:29 D James (unassisted)
4:26 D Contreras (Richards)
3:25 SP Mehlhorn (Fiorini)
2:18 SP Angell (Mehlhorn)
56.7 D Z. Harvey (James)

Fourth quarter
11:20 D James (unassisted)
9:23 SP Mehlhorn (Fiorini) (MAN-UP)
3:37 SP Scott (Zechman)
2:48 D James (unassisted)
1:57 D Richards (unassisted)

D- James 3, Richards 2, Contreras, Z. Harvey 1
SP- Fiorini, Mehlhorn 5, Angell, Milton 2, Ellis, Myers, Scott 1

D- James, Richards 1
SP- Mehlhorn 5, Fiorini 4, Myers, Tierney 2, Savidge, Zechman 1

Faceoffs (South Portland, 15-13):
D- Walter 11 of 23, Z. Harvey 2 of 3
SP- Tierney 11 of 20, Doan 4 of 5, Alvarez 0 of 3

Ground balls (South Portland, 49-32):
D- Walter 9, James, Richards 4, Brown, P. Harvey, Rarn 3, Boxer, Contreras, Francour, Nguany, Pichette, Tosi 1
SP- Milton 10, Myers 6, Angell, Tierney 5, Fiorini, Savidge 4, Ellis 3, Campbell, Doucette, Mehlhorn, Rowland 2, Doan, Scott, Watson, Zechman 1

D- 17
SP- 19

D- 29
SP- 47

Shots on cage
D- 19
SP- 25

D (Nussinow) 8
SP (Watson) 11 (H. Myers) 1

SOUTH PORTLAND—On the heels of a pair of one-sided defeats, South Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team found itself at a crossroads when it welcomed Deering to Martin Memorial Field Friday night.

The Red Riots could have stopped fighting, or they could make a renewed effort at being one of the best teams in Class A.

South Portland chose the latter option and put forth a solid 48 minutes to finish on the winning end of a decisive game and get its season back on track.

After Red Riots sophomore goalie Quinn Watson fended off an early Rams’ flurry of shots, South Portland got first period goals from unheralded sophomore Jacob Milton and sophomore David Fiorini to take a 2-0 lead to the second quarter.

There, the Red Riots blew the game open.

After Fiorini scored 41 seconds in, Deering got on the board on a goal from senior Nate Richards, but South Portland got the final six scores of the half to seize control for good.

Sophomore Cooper Mehlhorn started the surge with an unassisted tally and Fiorini, senior Ross Myers, senior Jake Angell, Mehlhorn and Fiorini followed to make it 9-1 at the break.

When Milton, Fiorini, Mehlhorn and senior James Ellis scored early in the second half, the Red Riots induced a mercy rule running clock, but the Rams answered, thanks to goals from juniors Nick James and Omar Contreras. Goals from Mehlhorn and Angell momentarily restored the running clock, but in the final minute, junior Zach Harvey scored for Deering, cutting the deficit to 15-4.

In the fourth quarter, a James goal was countered by tallies from Mehlhorn and junior Sean Scott to complete South Portland’s scoring before James and Richards scored to account for the final goals of the Red Riots’ 17-7 victory.

Mehlhorn had five goals and five assists, Fiorini added five goals and four assists and South Portland produced assists on 15 of its tallies as it improved to 5-3 and dropped the Rams to 5-4 in the process.

“To be honest, I lit into them a little bit because they weren’t playing up to their potential,” said Red Riots coach Tom Fiorini. “I think they needed to be awakened a little bit and get going. I’m not sure if they felt a little full of themselves, but now they seem to be back to where they belong.”

High powered

Both teams have experienced ups and downs this spring.

Deering opened with a 20-9 win at Westbrook, then lost at home to Cheverus, 11-3, before downing visiting Maranacook/Winthrop, 12-2, and host Portland, 18-9. After falling at home to Thornton Academy, 16-7, and at defending Class A champion Scarborough, 20-8, the Rams beat host Oak Hill (19-1) and Bonny Eagle (19-4). 

South Portland opened with a stirring 14-13, come-from-behind overtime win over visiting nemesis Scarborough. After a 17-4 home win over Biddeford, the Red Riots hung tough with reigning Class B champion Falmouth before losing at home, 12-10. After a 10-4 win at Cheverus, South Portland dominated visiting Westbrook, 22-5. Then, South Portland had to go up against two strong teams, away from home and the Red Riots fell at Cape Elizabeth (16-2) and Thornton Academy (15-9). 

The Rams dominated the rivalry early in the century, taking every meeting between 2002 and 2008 (see sidebar, below), but the Red Riots had taken five of the previous six, including an 11-5 victory at Deering last spring.

Friday, Deering sought its first victory over South Portland since April 23, 2011 (18-5 at home) and its first at Martin Memorial Stadium since April 27, 2007 (14-11), but the Red Riots made it four straight in the series.

In emphatic fashion.

Early on, however, it looked like the Rams would dominate, as senior Chase Walter won the opening faceoff and Deering controlled possession and peppered Watson.

In the game’s first 3 minutes, 26 seconds, the Rams unleashed seven shots and Watson made three saves to keep the game scoreless.

“Quinn has come up big this year,” David Fiorini said. “He’s the reason we beat Scarborough. Him playing well makes everyone want to play well for him.” 

“I thought their goalie was great,” Deering coach Jon Dubois said. “We had the ball the first four minutes or so. It was early, but not scoring was demoralizing. He made some good saves and that took momentum away.”

South Portland then transitioned to offense and a long pass from sophomore defender Shippen Savidge led to a Milton tally with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter to put the hosts ahead to stay.

With 1:41 to go, David Fiorini scored for the first time, off a feed from junior Jack Tierney.

Watson made a half dozen saves in the first period, but in the second quarter, it would be the Red Riots going on the attack.

With 11:19 to play in the first half, Fiorini scored unassisted from way downtown, beating Deering senior goalie Tanner Nussinow.

The Rams responded 35 seconds later, when Richards scored unassisted, but that would be a momentary blip in South Portland’s dominance.

With 10:18 left in the half, Mehlhorn scored for the first time, unassisted, to turn momentum back the Red Riots’ way.

With 9:37 remaining, Mehlhorn passed to Fiorini, who ripped a shot past Nussinow into the upper right corner to make it 5-1.

With 7:45 showing, Mehlhorn assisted Myers on a goal.

A mere 43 seconds later, Mehlhorn set up another tally, this one by Angell for a 7-1 lead.

After Watson made a great save at one end, South Portland transitioned to offense and Myers set up Mehlhorn with 5:49 to play.

Then, with 50.2 seconds to go, again on the fastbreak, Myers passed to Fiorini, who finished for a 9-1 halftime advantage.

In the first 24 minutes, Deering had an edge in faceoffs and ground balls, but the Red Riots scored on nine of their 13 shots on cage and at the other end, Watson made 10 saves.

The competitive phase of the contest was over, but South Portland didn’t let up in the third period.

First, Mehlhorn set up Milton for a goal 49 seconds in.

After Fiorini scored on another long shot (from Tierney) with 10:08 left, Fiorini set up Mehlhorn 18 seconds later and with 8:25 to go in the frame, Fiorini set up Ellis for a 13-1 lead.

The clock would run, by rule, but only for 1 minute, 56 seconds until James answered, unassisted, for the Rams with 6:29 left.

Richards then set up Contreras for a transition goal with 4:26 on the clock to make it 13-3, but after a Deering turnover, Fiorini fed Mehlhorn with 3:25 remaining and 1:07 later, Mehlhorn assisted on a Angell goal for a 15-3 lead.

With 56.7 seconds to play, James set up Harvey for a goal to make it an 11-goal game heading for the final stanza.

There, James started with an unassisted goal 40 seconds in, but with 9:23 remaining, Fiorini passed to Mehlhorn for a man-up goal and a 16-5 lead.

Scott scored the Red Riots’ final goal (from senior Finn Zechman) with 3:37 on the clock and after Watson was pulled for freshman Hunter Myers, James and Richards both scored unassisted to bring the curtain down on South Portland’s 17-7 victory.

“We showed we were one of the best teams early in the season, then we got full of ourselves,” David Fiorini said. “Tonight, we decided to play more as a family. We want to show everyone we’re still one of the best teams.”

“We had a couple bad games there,” Tom Fiorini said. “Today, we bounced back a little bit, but I see that we have a long way to go.”

David Fiorini and Mehlhorn had games to remember, as Mehlhorn not only scored five times, but he set up five other goals, and Fiorini had five goals and four assists.

“We put in a new zone offense,” David Fiorini said. “We didn’t a good job with it against TA, but we knew we had to keep working hard and work it out. We moved the ball quick and me and Coop have good chemistry. No one played selfish and everyone played great.”

Angell and Milton added two goals apiece and Ellis, Ross Myers and Scott had one each.

Ross Myers and Tierney had two assists apiece and Savidge and Zechman both finished with one.

The Red Riots had a 15-13 edge in faceoffs, a 49-32 advantage in ground balls (Milton had a game-high 10 and Ross Myers collected six), a 47-29 edge in shots (25-19 on cage) and overcame 19 turnovers.

Watson finished with 11 saves and Hunter Myers made one.

Deering’s offense was paced by three goals and an assist from James and two goals and one assist from Richards. Contreras and Harvey each had one goal. Walter had a team-high nine ground balls, Nussinow made eight saves and the Rams turned the ball over 17 times.

“They got a lot of layups on us,” Dubois said. “We made slides on the adjacent when we shouldn’t have. We had guys not slide when they should have. A lot of mental breakdowns tonight. We had three days of practice and put a lot of things in specifically for this game, but it wasn’t in the cards for us tonight.”

Postseason bound

Both teams have the potential to be serious players in the determining of the Class A state champion next month.

Deering (seventh in the latest Class A North Heal Points standings) hopes to bounce back Monday at Massabesic. After hosting Windham Friday, the Rams close the regular year at home versus Noble May 30.

“We have some Heal Points with Massabesic and Windham coming up,” Dubois said. “We could finish 8-4. We’d like to be a 3 or 4 seed if we can.”

South Portland (second to Scarborough in Class A South) is right back in action Saturday, playing a makeup game at Marshwood. After visiting Portland Tuesday, the Red Riots host Massabesic Friday and close at Bonny Eagle May 30.

“This will help us,” David Fiorini said. “We want to win every game. We’ll treat the rest of the games as must-wins. We know we can play with anybody, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. The seniors know it’s their last chance. We have good talent and we want to be here. We want to win.”

“Unfortunately, we’ll end up with a tough road ahead of us,” Tom Fiorini said. “We’ll have to go through TA and Scarborough instead of TA or Scarborough. And instead of or, that’s a big difference, but we’ll never say never. Anything’s possible.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

South Portland sophomore Mitchell Adams shoots as Deering senior Chase Walter defends.

Deering senior Nate Richards fires a sidearm shot.

South Portland sophomore goalie Quinn Watson watches a shot sail just wide.

Deering junior Nick James keeps the ball away from South Portland junior Jack Tierney.

South Portland senior James Ellis races past Deering senior Chase Walter and junior Jonah Peterson.

South Portland senior Jake Angell bounces off Deering junior Zach Harvey.

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Deering 17 @ South Portland 7

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.