Cheverus junior Lily Paszyc and Thornton Academy sophomore Mia-Claire Kezal chase after the ball during the Stags’ 4-0 win Tuesday.

PORTLAND—While its biggest games are still to come, Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team continues to get better.

And healthier.

If the Stags’ weren’t difficult enough to contend with before, the return of a key offensive cog figures to make life even more difficult for the opposition in the weeks to come.

Hosting better-than-its-record-indicated Thornton Academy Tuesday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, Cheverus scored twice in each half and got goals from four different players as it remained perfect on the 2019 season.

In the 10th minute, the Stags’ biggest offensive weapon, senior speedster Emma Gallant, set up junior Lily Paszyc for the only goal the hosts would need.

With 3:52 left before the half, Gallant served in a corner kick, which was steered home by senior Lauren Jordan for a 2-0 halftime lead.

Cheverus wasn’t content to sit on its lead and with 19:16 to go, sophomore Julia Kratzer, who was sidelined the past five games, enjoyed a triumphant return to action with an unassisted goal and exactly eight minutes later, sophomore Riley O’Mara finished and the Stags went on to a 4-0 victory.

“Rather than sitting on a lead, we took the play to them,” said Cheverus coach Craig Roberts. “We tried to control the tempo. I was proud of the girls for having a workmanlike effort.”

Beat goes on

Cheverus started with a 5-1 home victory over South Portland, then blanked host Portland (1-0), host Marshwood (1-0) and visiting Massabesic (6-0), before downing visiting Gorham (5-2), host Kennebunk (3-0) and visiting Deering (4-0). The Stags then eked out a 3-2 win at Falmouth, before blanking host Bonny Eagle (2-0), shutting down visiting Windham (1-0) and rolling at Biddeford (5-0).

Thornton Academy, meanwhile, has been competitive throughout the season, even if its record hasn’t reflected it. The Golden Trojans opened with losses to visiting Bonny Eagle (2-0) and at Scarborough (1-0). After edging visiting South Portland, 2-1, Thornton Academy fell at home to Portland (2-0) and at Sanford (3-2). After a 10-0 home win over Massabesic, the Golden Trojans lost at Noble (3-1) and Kennebunk (4-1), before downing visiting Marshwood (2-1). Last week brought losses at Falmouth (1-0, in overtime) and at home to Gorham (3-1).

Last year, Cheverus captured a close 2-1 home win over Thornton Academy.

Tuesday, on a very comfortable mid-October afternoon (60 degrees at kickoff), the Golden Trojans hoped to beat the Stags for the first time since 2014, but the Stags carried play most of the way.

After Cheverus failed to convert on a couple of early chances, with junior Mia Kratzer having a shot saved by Thornton Academy junior goalkeeper Grace Mears and O’Mara missing high, Gallant eluded a defender with a crossover dribble, roared in down the right side, then crossed the ball and after it deflected off a defender, Paszyc was there to send it home for a 1-0 lead with 30:04 left in the first half.

The Golden Trojans nearly tied the game in the 12th minute, as senior Alyanna Beaudoin fired a promising, low shot, but it rolled inches wide of the post.

After Mia Kratzer had a shot kicked aside by Mears, Gallant got to a loose ball in the box, but couldn’t finish, ringing a shot off the crossbar.

With 15 minutes on the first half clock, the Stags earned a corner kick and Gallant served the ball in and Mears punched it out to Jordan, who missed just wide.

After Julia Kratzer bounced a shot off the crossbar and Gallant forced Mears to make a sprawling save, Cheverus earned its seventh corner kick of the half and it produced the second goal.

Gallant served the ball near the far post, where Jordan waited to knock it home to make it 2-0 with 3:52 left in the half.

In the first 40 minutes, the Stags enjoyed a 9-2 shots advantage and a 7-2 edge in corner kicks, but seven saves from Mears kept Thornton Academy in the game.

In the second half, after Julia Kratzer and junior Helena Bolduc were off-target on opportunities to extend the lead and Beaudoin was just wide again for the Golden Trojans, Julia Kratzer struck with 19:16 to play, dribbling through the defense before beating Mears to her right for a 3-0 advantage.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning, but after I got into it, I was good,” Kratzer said. “I was excited to be back. (Senior) Caroline (Taylor) had a good ball down the line and I had a good goal out of it.”

“Having Julia back allows some flexibility,” Roberts said. “That makes us more potent on offense. I can play Emma different places. I can play Riley and Lily different places. Julia moves well off the ball and that draws attention and opens things up for other players who move well off the ball. We have smart players and that opens up space. She’s good at finding space. Her finish was her recognizing playing the ball to the right of the goalie because that spot was open.”

After Beaudoin had a shot saved by Cheverus junior goalkeeper Neve Cawley, then missed just high, the Stags got their final goal with 9:42 on the clock, as Gallant set up O’Mara, who stopped the ball with a nice touch, then put it in the net.

Cheverus ran out the clock from there and prevailed, 4-0.

“I knew Thornton Academy had played very competitive,” Roberts said. “Not a lot of goal differential. I liked our play for 80 minutes. We started strong. We had two goals far post, which means players made runs they need to make.”

The Stags put 13 shots on frame (to three by Thornton Academy), got three saves from Cawley and held a 10-2 advantage in corner kicks.

Mears made nine saves for the Golden Trojans,

Fun’s just beginning

Thornton Academy (now 11th in the Class A South Heal Points standings, where 12 teams qualify for the playoffs) goes to Deering Thursday, then closes at home versus rival Biddeford Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus retains a healthy lead in the Class A South Heals and after Thursday’s game at Westbrook, will finally be able to get ready for a long-awaited showdown against two-time defending Class A South champion Scarborough Tuesday of next week in Portland.

“There’s pressure, but we handle it well and come out strong every game,” Julia Kratzer said. “We just have to continue playing like we’ve been playing.”

“We’ve had really good regular season records the past two years and this season, I think our schedule as been tougher, so it seems like we have to focus on our opponent every game because anyone can beat us,” Roberts said. “That allows us to focus on the task ahead of us. We want to make as many teams come to us as possible (in the playoffs). If we can win our last two games, there’s nothing more we can do.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.