Mackenzie Johnston, Aisling Flaherty and Bella Booth each scored three goals as Cheverus defeated South Portland 12-9 in their Class A girls’ lacrosse regular-season finale Thursday afternoon.

Johnston and Booth got all their goals in the second half as Cheverus (8-4) erased a 4-3 deficit.

“Once we started settling and sending cutters through one at a time, it started to come together,” said Booth.

Cheverus took the lead for good, 9-8, on a goal by Zoe Mazur with 10:56 remaining.

“I got excited (when the game was tied up at 8-8) because close games are fun games. I became more ready to go, more mentally focused,” said Mazur.

The Stags added two goals by Booth and one by Johnston in the next eight minutes to stretch their lead to 12-8.

South Portland (5-7) cut the deficit to three with 1:06 remaining when Jena Leckie scored her second goal of the game. Twenty seconds later, Red Riots senior Rachel Haynes had an opportunity to pull her team closer but Neve Cawley thwarted that chance with an outstanding save.

“Neve made some incredible saves for us today. She has just come through for us so much this year,” said Cheverus Coach Bill Fenton.

South Portland’s Paige Fleming scored the game’s first goal less than five minutes into play, assisted by Molly Walker.

Fleming finished with three goals.

The teams alternated goals until South Portland grabbed a 4-2 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half on a goal by Lauren DiBiase.

Flaherty answered with nine seconds on the clock to send the Stags into the break trailing 4-3.

Flaherty chipped in with two assists.

The Stags thrived on physical style and picked up their game in the second half, outscoring the Red Riots 9-5 in the final 25 minutes.

“I love playing physical games. It’s definitely more fun to play physical; it gets more exciting,” said Mazur.

“I think (Cheverus) realized … that transition was our weakness,” said South Portland Coach Leslie Dyer.

South Portland lost a player in the second half when Walker went down with an apparent chest injury. The Red Riots were already short-handed without senior Amelia Pappalardo, who was not at the game for personal reasons.

“(The injury is) kind of a problem. (Cheverus) has some decent players, they definitely have some height. I think they won every draw. So, they definitely have some talent,” said Dyer.

Thursday was the last game of the regular season for both teams and now they will set their sights on the playoffs.

Cheverus, which has won six straight games, is currently ranked No. 2 in Class A North. South Portland is fourth in Class A South.

“I think we’re ready for the playoffs now, which is what we’ve been pushing for,” said Fenton.

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