Cheverus senior goalie Hannah Woodford goes to the ground to deny Massabesic junior Emma Snyder during the teams’ regular season finale Wednesday. Despite Woodford’s heroics, the Mustangs prevailed, 3-1. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos. More photos below.

PORTLAND—Cheverus’ field hockey team had a golden opportunity to move up the final Class A South Heal Points standings when it hosted Massabesic in the regular season finale Wednesday afternoon at Shea Field.

The Stags even took an early lead, when junior standout Lucia Pompeo scored in the seventh minute, but the Mustangs have been one of the state’s best teams all autumn for a reason and by halftime, they went on top to stay, courtesy goals from junior Emma Snyder and sophomore Emily Jacobs.

Junior Isabelle Hurlburt added a second half goal for Massabesic and senior goalie Julia Gregoire did the rest, twice robbing Pompeo on breakaways, and the Mustangs went on to a 3-1 victory.

Massabesic capped its superb regular season at 13-1 and in the process, dropped Cheverus to 7-4-3.

“When we play together, I think we’re a very hard team to compete against, but we started to get tired and broke down and Massabesic does a great job,” said Stags’ coach Theresa Hendrix.

Dress rehearsal

The 2019 season has been a success for both teams.

Massabesic won its first 11 games: 6-1 over visiting Bonny Eagle, 6-2 at Westbrook, 4-2 over visiting Windham, 2-0 at Thornton Academy, 5-0 over visiting Noble, 2-0 at Gorham, 6-1 at home over South Portland, 1-0 at Falmouth, 4-0 at home over Kennebunk, 4-1 over visiting Marshwood and 3-1 at Portland/Deering. After a 3-2 loss at defending Class A champion Biddeford, the Mustangs rebounded Thursday of last week with a 3-2 home win over Sanford.

Cheverus meanwhile, settled for a 2-2 tie at Marshwood in the opener, then let a two-goal lead slip away and lost on a penalty corner after the final horn at Biddeford, 3-2. The Stags handled visiting Sanford (5-2), then blanked visiting Portland/Deering (7-0) and edged host Scarborough in double-overtime (2-1). After a 1-1 home tie against Bonny Eagle, Cheverus lost at Kennebunk (2-1), let a three-goal lead slip away in a 3-3 home tie against Westbrook, then outlasted host Windham, 2-1, in double-overtime. After a 2-1 home win over Thornton Academy,  the Stags won at Noble (5-1), lost at home to Gorham (3-1) and last Thursday, held on for a  2-1 win at South Portland.

The teams met twice in 2018 and both games were memorable.

In the regular season, Massabesic eked out a 4-3 win in Waterboro. Then, in the Class A South preliminary round, Sophia Pompeo’s penalty stroke in overtime gave host Cheverus a 5-4 victory.

Wednesday, on a classic fall afternoon (56 degrees but breezy and overcast), the Stags looked to do it again, but the Mustangs were able to put a cherry on top of their superb regular season.

The first good scoring chance came in the seventh minute and resulted in the game’s first goal.

On a penalty corner, the ball came up top to junior Madisyn Durgin, who fired a shot that Gregoire saved, but Pompeo pounced on the rebound and banged it into the cage with 23:22 left in the first half for a 1-0 Cheverus advantage.

After Massabesic coach Michele Martin-Moore called timeout, the Stags nearly doubled their lead, but sophomore Sammi Snow’s shot was saved by Gregoire.

The Mustangs then began to tilt the field to their offense’s favor.

After the Stags’ defense cleared the ball out of a scrum, Snyder tried to tie the score, but her shot was saved by Cheverus senior goalie Hannah Woodford.

With 8:36 left in the half, a Durgin shot off a corner deflected to the far post, but sophomore Mary Kathryn Murphy couldn’t get her stick on it.

Massabesic then transitioned back into the attacking end and after Woodford saved a bid on a rush from sophomore Micaela Jacobs, Snyder was there to bury the rebound to tie the score, 1-1, with 7:06 on the first half clock.

A little over three minutes later, wit 3:55 showing, the Mustangs went on top to stay.

Again, Jacobs got things started with a rush and after she had the ball knocked away, it came to Emily Jacobs, whose shot from up top got through the defense and past Woodford for a 2-1 lead.

Massabesic nearly extended its lead with 52 seconds remaining, by Woodford dove to deny Snyder, keeping it a one-goal game at the break.

In the first 30 minutes, the Mustangs had a 6-3 advantage in shots and a 5-4 edge in corners and had seized momentum.

Cheverus’ best chance to answer came with 17 minutes to go, as freshman Taylor Tory had a good look, but Gregoire made the save.

Then, after Woodford denied junior Camryn Champlin in front, Massabesic got an insurance goal.

With 12:36 remaining, off a corner, Hurlburt directed the ball just inside the near post and the Mustangs led, 3-1, forcing Hendrix to call timeout.

The Stags got a boost, make that three boosts, from Woodford with just over 8 minutes to go, as she dove to deny Champlin, saved a rebound shot from Emily Jacobs, then denied another rebound by Micaela Jacobs.

Pompeo then broke free the other way and was primed to get Cheverus back in the game, but Gregoire came out and denied her at the last second.

After the Stags failed to convert on a corner, Pompeo had another breakaway chance, but with 3:33 to play, Gregoire again stood tall and made the save.

“Jules really did a nice job,” said Martin-Moore. “It was good to see that.”

“We want the ball on Lucia’s stick going into the circle, but their goalie came out fearless,” Hendrix said.

Cheverus couldn’t generate another chance and Massabesic was able to celebrate its 3-1 victory.

“The girls just love playing together and the chemistry is great,” said Martin-Moore. “They enjoy passing. They’re psyched when someone scores a goal or when Julia makes a save. That excitement feeds into how they play. The last 10 minutes of the first half and the whole second half, is how we play. We got good passing, good communication, good energy. Everything clicked.”

The Mustangs enjoyed a 12-6 shots advantage, got five critical saves from Gregoire and took 10 corners to the Stags’ six.

Cheverus got nine saves from Woodford, but wasn’t able to convert enough chances.

“Every game this year was close and fought hard and that makes going into the postseason that much more exciting because we’ve played at that level,” Hendrix said.

Playoff fun

Massabesic will be the number two seed in Class A South and has a bye into the quarterfinal round where it will host a game Wednesday of next week. Possible foes include Sanford, Windham or Kennebunk.

“We’re confident,” Martin-Moore said. “If we can just play our game and not get too high or too low, we’ll be fine. We’ve said that since (our first) play-day. If we just play and have fun, that seems to work.”

As for Cheverus, the Stags project to go fifth and will likely play at fourth-ranked Westbrook (7-5-2) in the quarterfinals Tuesday of next week. On Sept. 26, host Cheverus built a 3-0 lead on two goals from Pompeo and another from Tory, but couldn’t hold it and the Blue Blazes rallied in the final eight minutes to forge a 3-3 tie.

The teams have met four previous times in the playoffs, with Westbrook winning on three occasions, including a 1-0 victory in the 2017 Class A South quarterfinals. Hendrix was the Blue Blazes’ coach that day.

She’ll look to earn her first playoff win as Stags’ coach against Westbrook.

“Our big thing is just focusing on ourselves and focusing on playing as a team,” Hendrix said. “If we do, I think we can go on a run.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cheverus junior Lucia Pompeo lunges for the ball.

Massabesic junior Camryn Champlin launches a shot.

Massabesic junior Marissa Holt tries to clear the ball away from Cheverus junior Lucy Pirone.

Massabesic junior Emma Snyder spins around Cheverus senior goalie Hannah Woodford, as Stags’ junior Madisyn Durgin tries to clear the ball.

Cheverus players get set to defend a penalty corner.

Cheverus freshman Isabella Cloutier and Massabesic sophomore Emily Jacobs try to settle the ball.

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