Nearing the end of the girls’ hockey season, the leading quartet of teams seemed to be undefeated Lewiston High, South power Scarborough, St. Dominic’s and resurgent Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete.

But there is another team that no one wants to play – Cheverus/Old Orchard Beach and its hunker-down defense.

Cheverus is the defending state champion, but the Stags are rebuilding this season with an easier schedule. On Monday, they knocked off Cape Elizabeth, 4-2, at Troubh Ice Arena.

Lucia Pompeo had a hat trick for the Stags (12-4). Hannah Woodford added a goal and two assists, and goalie Trinity Atwater made 43 saves. Pompeo scored two goals in the third period to break a 2-2 tie.

Cape Elizabeth (10-3-1) out-shot Cheverus 45-11, but could not break through.

“Our style of play makes us as dangerous and as vulnerable to every team,” Cheverus Coach Scott Rousseau.

Using only nine skaters – with some players seemingly never leaving the ice – Cheverus packs it in on defense, relying heavily on Atwater. The Stags rarely set up for long in an opponent’s zone but rely on breakouts from its two powerful skaters, Pompeo and Woodford.

“I have been working in practices on finding the opening and not forcing it,” said Woodford, who figures that she plays 35 to 40 minutes of a 45-minute games.

Cheverus lost several key pieces from last year’s title team. Woodford moved from forward to defense to fill a gap. She’s a threat to go end-to-end – which is what she did in the first period Monday, and Pompeo is always a danger. At times, three Cape players shadowed her when she had the puck. But Pompeo was still able to pick her spots and break free.

“I wait for the right time because I know, if we have a turnover, we need somebody back – they have great skaters on that team who can take it end-to-end,” Pompeo said. “If it’s out of the zone, I know that’s when I can take my runs, so I just go for it.”

Unlike previous seasons, Cheverus is not playing North powers Lewiston and St. Dom’s, and the Stags play both Scarborough and Cape only once. Cheverus lost 2-0 to Scarborough (0-0 after two periods) and has losses against middle-of-the pack teams York, Yarmouth and Mt. Ararat (a 5-3 loss, including an empty-netter, on Saturday).

“I wasn’t myself that game,” Atwater said. “I really wanted to win this one (against Cape).”

The significance of beating Cape was not lost on Pompeo: “This is a great turning point for our team. They’re one of the best teams in the South. We had to come with our A-game.”

Indeed, the Capers entered Monday’s game with losses only to Lewiston (after being tied for two periods) and Scarborough.

“There is a confidence in this team,” Cape Coach Bob Mills said. “We feel we’re one of the better teams in the state.”

That feeling comes from a strong defense, and a powerful first line with freshman Bella Schifano (22 goals), and juniors Koto Yamada and Nicoletta Coupe. Defensively, Abbey Agrodnia, Josie Boeschenstein, Annie Guimond, and Sofia Cook form two good lines. Goalie Katharine Blackburn is back after missing the first half of the season with a soccer injury (with freshman Abbey Steinhagen capably filling in).

On Monday, goals by Agrodnia and Delaney Whitten had Cape tied with Cheverus after two periods. But the Capers could not contain Pompeo. She scored at 6:47 and 9:13, on two breakouts in the third period.

Cape dominated possession, but could not generate enough quality shots. The Stags, who have two other quality defensemen in Emily Factor and Clare MacDonald, did not allow open shots, nor rebounds.

“They did a good job of clogging up the slots, and Trinity is a good goalie,” Mills said. “It’s wasn’t our best effort all-around; we were just flat.

“We’re still feeling confident. We like our chances of going deep (in the playoffs).”

With two weeks left in the season, three of Cape’s remaining four games are against Scarborough (Saturday), Lewiston (next Monday) and St. Dom’s (TBA). Cheverus has two games left, against Brunswick and Winslow.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.