PORTLAND – Elyse Caiazzo broke a tie early in the second half and Cheverus went on to beat Westbrook 2-1 in an SMAA field hockey game Thursday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Caiazzo dribbled around two defenders and snapped a shot from deep in the striking circle to break a 1-1 tie with 22:54 left in a mutual opener.

“She’s the heart and soul of our team,” Cheverus Coach Amy McMullin said. “She’s just so gifted as an athlete and a leader. She does so much for us and not just on offense. She’s the first one back on defense. She pushes everybody to be their best every day.”

Cheverus dominated possession early, taking three penalty corners in the first five minutes, but Westbrook held on and took a 1-0 lead when Micaela LeBeau shot the ball past the outstretched arms of goaltender Libby DesRuisseaux with 8:47 to play in the half.

Just 45 seconds later, Meredith Willard tied it with a hard shot from the top of the circle.

“We’ve been scored on many times before but I’m proud of this group that they didn’t get down on themselves,” McMullin said. “That’s one of our goals: if we ever get scored on, or we score, the next minute is the most important. It was huge to be able to come back and score in one minute with this new group.”

Cheverus graduated 11 seniors from the team that went to the Western Class A final in 2012. The team practiced four days a week for much of the summer and held a team camp to build chemistry.

“This group is new, full of energy,” said Caiazzo. “A lot of heart. We lost a lot of seniors but it doesn’t mean we can’t be that team we were last year. This first game set a good foundation for our upcoming season.”

Westbrook struggled to create chances, registering just two shots on goal. Nicole Miranda finished with five saves and kept the Blue Blazes in the game.

“She rises to the occasion,” Westbrook Coach Beth Murphy said. “She’s a tough kid. She did really well last year and we’re hoping she follows through for us this year. She played well.”

Murphy said the game came down to one play: Caiazzo’s goal.

“We lacked on defense for one moment with their best player and the kids know that can’t happen again,” she said. “We’ve got to double-team her or not even let her get the ball. Give it to Caiazzo, she made a great play in the circle. She weaved right through everybody.

“But I thought it was pretty evenly matched. I thought we outplayed them in the second half. Overall I think it was a great game.”

FALMOUTH 5, FRYEBURG ACADEMY 0: Mikey Richards scored twice as Falmouth took a 4-0 halftime lead at home.

Morgan Allen and Elle Fitzgerald also scored in the first half. Allen got the lone goal of the second half.

YORK 6, FREEPORT 0: Taylor Simpson scored three goals to lead the Wildcats at Freeport.

Alie Jones added two goals, Sarah Panteleous also scored and Olivia Golini had four saves for York.

LAKE REGION 5, GREELY 0: Lucy Fowler had three goals and an assist for Lake Region at Cumberland. Abby Scott-Mitchell added a goal and two assists. Nicole Marucci also scored.

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