PORTLAND—Deering’s boys’ soccer team flipped the switch Thursday evening.

And its highly-anticipated offensive explosion was sparked by one of the prettiest flips you’ll ever see.

Hosting city rival Cheverus at Memorial Field on their Senior Night, the Rams trailed, 1-0, at halftime, after Stags’ senior Brady Cormier converted a penalty kick in the first half, but the second half was a dizzying display of goal-scoring.

The onslaught began with just over 34 minutes to go when senior Muntasir Ahmed set up sophomore Carlos Adriano-Muaco for the tying goal, a score which Adrian-Muaco punctuated with a highlight reel flip in celebration.

Fully energized, Deering took the lead for good five minutes later, when senior Carlo DeMucci scored after a turnover.

DeMucci scored again with 25:03 to play, then Ahmed set up Adriano-Muaco for a second goal before Ahmed scored one himself and the Rams closed out a 5-1 victory.

Deering got goals from three different players and improved to 2-1, dropping Cheverus to 1-3 in the process.

“A big problem our last few games has been energy,” said Rams coach Joel Costigan. “We’ve been on our heels. We’ve had great training sessions all week, so I just reminded the guys (at halftime) of that progress we’d made. They needed to motivate themselves and they did it. The captains rallied the guys and that translated in a big way. That’s one of our biggest wins in my 10 years, I think.”

Old friends

Cheverus started the 2020 campaign with a 1-0 victory at Westbrook in a playoff rematch, then fell at home, 3-0, to Portland Saturday and 4-0 at two-time Class C state champion Waynflete Tuesday.

Deering won, 2-1, at South Portland in its first game, then fell to .500 last Saturday after a 3-2 home loss to Waynflete.

Last year, the teams tied, 1-1, at Deering.

Entering the contest, since the start of the 2004 season, the Rams had won 10 meetings, the Stags seven and two others ended in draws (see below for recent results).

Thursday, on a blustery and chilly afternoon (53 degrees and dropping, with a 21 mile-per-hour wind at kickoff), Deering overcame a sluggish start and beat Cheverus for the first time since 2016.

The Stags had some good early pressure, but Rams’ senior goalkeeper Sam Spach denied shots by Cormier and junior Emmet Schuele. After misses by Schuele, Cormier and senior Evangelo Kapothanasis, Cheverus broke through with 15:41 to go before halftime.

After sophomore James Baur was brought down in the box, play was stopped and the visitors were awarded a penalty shot. Stags coach Bill LeBlanc gave Cormier the opportunity to take it and with Spach completely out of the picture, incorrectly guessing and diving to his left, Cormier easily knocked home the shot for a 1-0 lead.

Cheverus had a chance to add to its advantage, but sophomore Carter Hoglund missed wide, sending the game to halftime with the Stags seemingly in relative control.

But after the teams returned to the field, everything changed.

In Deering’s favor.

Cheverus senior goalkeeper Silas Jones momentarily protected the lead by saving a free kick by Ahmed, but with 34:24 left, the Rams transitioned quickly and Ahmed fed Adriano-Muaco, who quickly sent the ball past Jones to even things up.

If the goal was impressive, what followed was simply breathtaking, as Adriano-Muaco took a few running steps, jumped forward, then landed on his hands, sprung into the air and flipped over, sticking the landing, a la Ozzie Smith back in the day.

“I was excited for the game,” said Adriano-Muaco, through his interpreter, sophomore Adilson Vidal. “I got the goal and that’s my signature celebration.”

“That celebration fired us up,” said DeMucci. “It was special for him to do.”

The game didn’t stay tied for long.

After Jones made a sprawling save to deny Adriano-Muaco, DeMucci stole the ball clean from a Cheverus defender, went one-on-one with Jones and scored inside the near post with 29:02 remaining for a 2-1 Deering advantage.

“After the first half, we knew we had to get it into gear,” DeMucci said. “It’s a special night for some of these guys. We showed our fight. I took the shot and it went in the back of the net.”

The Rams struck again with 25:03 on the clock, as DeMucci this time brought the ball down the left side, got past a defender, then raced along the end line until Jones came out to cut off the angle. DeMucci was able to sneak his shot off the keeper and inside the near post and the lead was 3-1.

“I just tried to kick it with my left foot and took it into the middle and shot and it went well,” said DeMucci.

Cheverus tried to answer with 23:40 remaining, but junior Brady Hoglund’s feed barely eluded Baur.

Then, Deering ended all doubt with 19:41 on the clock.

A long serve came to Ahmed, who had a chance to shoot himself, but instead, he passed to Adriano-Muaco to boot the ball home for a 4-1 advantage.

“That was a great pass,” Costigan said. “That’s probably the most unselfish play we’ve seen in high school. We fully anticipated he’d shoot it, but it was a very unselfish pass.”

Ahmed, who had three assists on the night, got in the goal-scoring column himself with 13:04 to play, finishing unassisted after a nice move.

The Rams put on the clamps defensively from there and celebrated their 5-1 victory.

“We didn’t want to lose the game on Senior Night,” said Adriano-Muaco. “We were playing scared in the first half, but the talk at halftime gave us motivation. We just started playing better.”

“It’s a nice win, coming off a loss,” said DeMucci.

“We were very excited about this team going into this year,” Costigan added. “Things worked in practice, but we weren’t clicking in games. Now, this is the first manifestation of what we can be.”

Each team had two corner kicks. Deering out-shot Cheverus, 12-4 (10-1 in the second half) and got three saves from Spach.

The Stags got seven saves from Jones, but couldn’t build on their strong start.

“We played really well in the first half, but we’re just not mentally tough enough right now to play 80 minutes,” LeBlanc said. “We thought we were good, but they played better in the second half. They upped the intensity a little bit and we couldn’t handle it. We had some mental errors in the back and couldn’t handle it. We’re still trying to figure out in a short season how to play. We played a different formation and did it well for awhile, but we need to be better.”

A two-game week

Cheverus is home for two games next week, versus Waynflete Tuesday and South Portland Saturday. The Stags have scored just two goals in four games and are seeking to find an answer.

“Part of it is on me and part of it is on the kids,” LeBlanc said. “We have to have better quality in the offensive third. We have to figure it out.”

Deering is back in action Tuesday at Portland, then the Rams host Westbrook Friday of next week.

“We just need to have more communication in the back and all the way up the field,” said DeMucci. “We did a great job of that tonight.”

“We have some big games to come against some really good teams,” Costigan said. “We’ll use this momentum going forward. That will be important.”

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

Recent Cheverus-Deering results

2019
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 1 (tie)

2018
@ Cheverus 3 Deering 0

2017
Cheverus 1 @ Deering 0

2016
@ Deering 3 Cheverus 0

2015
@ Cheverus 1 Deering 0 

2014
Deering 2 @ Cheverus 1 

2013
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 0

2012
Deering 1 @ Cheverus 0
Western A preliminary round
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 1 (4-3 PKs)

2011
Cheverus 3 @ Deering 0
Western A preliminary round
@ Cheverus 2 Deering 0

2010
Deering 2 @ Cheverus 1

2009
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 0

2008
@ Deering 1 Cheverus 1 (tie)

2007
Deering 4 @ Cheverus 1
Western A quarterfinals
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 1 (OT)

2006
@ Deering 2 Cheverus 0

2005
@ Cheverus 2 Deering 1

2004
Cheverus 2 @ Deering 1

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