PORTLAND – A quick start provided maximum dividends for Cheverus Tuesday night.

The Stags built an early 5-0 lead against Portland and in the end needed nearly every one of those goals as they held on for a 9-7 victory over the Bulldogs in a SMAA girls’ lacrosse game at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“I think they just kind of figured out what we were doing,” said Elyse Caiazzo, who paced Cheverus with four goals and an assist.

“We got right back to what we needed to do to be successful. We went back to our strategy and played our game.”

Cheverus (2-1) exploded out of the gates to build a five-goal lead 12 minutes into the game. Caiazzo and Alex Logan each scored twice in an early offensive display that saw the Stags constantly drive to the goal virtually untouched.

The Bulldogs finally got on the board with just over 11 minutes left in the half when Erin Mahoney capitalized on a rare offensive opportunity to leave Portland down 5-1.

The Bulldogs (2-2) started their comeback in earnest in the final six minutes of the opening half when Drew Barry and Laura Frank — with 9 seconds left before the break — netted goals to allow the home side to climb to within 7-4.

Caiazzo scored her fourth of the game in the opening 90 seconds of the second half to get the Stags back ahead 8-4, but the Bulldogs continued to press.

Three timely saves by Portland goalkeeper Abbey O’Brien kept the Bulldogs within striking distance.

None of the saves were spectacular in nature but each gave Portland opportunities to close the gap.

A stop on Meredith Willard set the stage for a goal by Hallie Alex to make it 8-5. Moments later Portland closed to within two after O’Brien turned aside Caiazzo and Barry traveled the length of the field to notch her second goal of the game.

“Abbey O’Brien did a great job,” said Portland Coach Kait Johnson.

“She had a tough first half handling their fast breaks and it’s tough to get that slammed in your face. But she kept her head in the game and did come up with some really big stops for us.”

Logan’s third goal provided a cushion for the Stags with six minutes left in regulation, putting the visitors ahead 9-6.

Lizzy Landry closed out the scoring for Portland with 21/2 minutes left.

“Fortunately for us we got out to a good lead,” said Cheverus Coach Jamie Chamberlain. “We knew they were that kind of team and they we’re not going to go away. They put a lot of pressure on us and it seems it’s always kind of bend-don’t-break for us. That kind of came into play as well today.”

Willard scored the other two goals for Cheverus.

Gabi Cardona netted the other Portland goal.