Deering junior Ally Butts plays the ball as Portland sophomore Katie Martell gives chase during the Bulldogs’ 4-0 victory Monday.

PORTLAND—An unselfish team is a successful team.

And Portland’s girls’ soccer squad has enjoyed its share of success so far this autumn.

The Bulldogs visited rival Deering Monday afternoon at Memorial Field in the teams’ second of two meetings this fall and nice ball movement spelled a pair of goals in each half and another victory.

After watching the Rams hit the crossbar early in the game and struggling to solve Deering senior goalkeeper Grayson Soldati for much of the first half, Portland got the only goal it would need with 8:58 left before halftime, as sophomore Elizabeth Littel scored on a rebound.

After waiting 31-plus minutes for goal number one, the Bulldogs needed just 70 seconds for their second tally, as sophomore Kate Martell finished a feed from senior Toni Stevenson for a 2-0 halftime lead.

Stevenson got in on the scoring fun with 27:11 remaining in the game, converting a pass from sophomore Eliza Stein.

Stevenson then set up Martell for a second goal with 3:36 on the clock and Portland went on to a 4-0 victory.

The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 on the season, their best start since 2003, and in the process, dropped the Rams to 0-3-1.

“We’re becoming more unselfish as a whole and realizing when we do, everyone gets a little piece of happiness in the end from scoring goals or getting assists,” said Stevenson, one of Portland’s three captains.

Round two

Deering and Portland opened the season against each other Sept. 25 when senior Lydia Stein’s goal in the second overtime gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 victory.

Portland then downed visiting Cheverus (1-0) and South Portland (4-1).

Deering followed up its loss to Portland with a 1-0 home loss to South Portland and a 1-1 tie at Waynflete.

The Portland-Deering rivalry has been streaky this century.

The Bulldogs won four of five meetings (and tied the other) between 2004-08, then the Rams took six in a row between 2009-14. Portland then upset Deering in a memorable Western A preliminary round playoff game (decided on PKs) at the end of the 2014 season and since then, the Bulldogs have won two games and tied the two others (see below for recent results).

Monday, on a sunny but chilly afternoon (52 degrees at the start, 47 degrees at the end), Deering sought its first win over Portland since Sept. 12, 2014 (1-0), but the Bulldogs kept their good times rolling.

The Rams came out strong and nearly got the jump in the sixth minute, when after Portland failed to clear the ball from the box, Deering junior Ally Butts pounced on it and fired a shot over the outstretched hands of Bulldogs’ senior goalkeeper Caroline Lerch.

The ball sailed to high to be of value to the Rams, however, as it hit the top of the crossbar and sailed over to keep the game scoreless.

“It was a classic holiday weekend, ‘We’re not awake yet’ play,” said Portland coach Curtis Chapin. “All the credit to (Deering). They were ready and I think that woke us up a little bit. We responded the right way.”

Indeed, the Bulldogs began peppering Soldati, but she stood tall under pressure.

After Littel hit the side netting, her shot from the side was saved by Soldati.

After Soldati stopped a shot from junior Lainey Randall, a blast by Eliza Stein was tipped over the crossbar by Soldati for a corner kick.

After Stein and Randall missed wide, Soldati robbed Littel in close, then sophomore Kendall Sniper sent a pair of shots just wide.

Soldati saved a shot from junior Chelsea Dana and two more bids by Sniper, before robbing Stevenson.

Finally, with 8:58 left in the half, a Sniper free kick was knocked around in the box and the ball came to Littel, who knocked it home to break the ice.

“We preach that if you do the right things, you’ll get the right result,” said Chapin. “Deering’s really good at frustrating you. They put a lot of people behind the ball and make you work for every chance you get. You just need that breakthrough. We worked on some things last week to make sure we were ready for it. We just had to stick to the plan and the plan finally worked. After knocking on the door awhile, things started coming for us.”

Portland quickly added a second goal, this time with a nice passing display, as Stevenson set up Martell, who fired a low shot that Soldati got her hand on but couldn’t stop and the Bulldogs held a 2-0 advantage, which they took to the half.

“I wasn’t frustrated because you could see our improvement from the first time we played (Deering),” said Stevenson. “We learned not to underestimate them. We just needed to come out strong. Last week in practice, we did a lot of 3-v-2’s and that helped us.”

“We had to simplify it a little bit,” Chapin said. “Sometimes we hold on to the ball too long. Sometimes we try to win the game on our own instead of trusting our teammates and moving the ball. We have a very good team. Today, we had the little extra on the passes and crosses.”

The Bulldogs out-shot the Rams, 12-2, in the first half, but Soldati’s 10 saves kept Deering within hailing distance.

Portland then ended all doubt in the second half.

After the Bulldogs achieved the unwelcome distinction of hitting the post (a shot by Eliza Stein) and the crossbar (by Stevenson) on the same sequence and Littel missed wide on a breakaway, Portland got a third goal with 27:11 on the clock.

Stein set up the goal, by sending a perfectly timed through-ball to Stevenson, who got past the defense, dribbled in and at the last second, with Soldati coming out to contest, one-timing a shot into the net for a 3-0 advantage.

“I was just happy to get through and not get called offsides,” Stevenson said. “It felt really good to score.”

“Toni has brought everything the last four years,” said Chapin. “She sees the field so well. She lays the ball off nicely. She moves into space. Composure is her biggest thing. She keeps the game in front of her and does the right thing. Time and time again, she rewards us with a performance like she had today.”

Stevenson then set up the final goal with 3:36 remaining, as she took a pass from Stein, then fed Martell for her second goal, and the lead was 4-0, which was how the contest ended.

“Eliza sent it to me, then it was a couple one-touch passes and through to Kate for the goal,” said Stevenson.

“This group couldn’t be more fun,” said Chapin. “They work hard, they listen to directions and see it, then go do it on the field. We took a couple things from practice and did it on the field today.”

Portland ended with a 23-2 shots advantage, got one save from Lerch and took four corner kicks to just one for Deering, which got 17 saves from Soldati.

Winding down

Each team has four scheduled games remaining, although the option exists to play as many as 10 games total.

Deering will play at Westbrook Friday, then visits Cheverus a week from Tuesday.

Portland visits Gorham Friday in its biggest test to date, then welcomes Westbrook Wednesday of next week.

“We want to go undefeated and give up as few goals as possible,” said Stevenson. “We’re having fun. I’m loving every second of it. Gorham is our first game where we really have to be in the right mindset. We can’t start slow.”

“We have a big one on Friday,” Chapin said. “It’s our biggest test so far. We still haven’t been what I know we’re capable of in the final third. The through ball is there and now, we need to get our foot on it and believe it’s going in the back of the net.”

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

Recent Deering-Portland results

@ Portland 1 Deering 0 (2 OT)

Portland 2 @ Deering 0

@ Portland 0 Deering 0 (tie)

@ Deering 0 Portland 0 (tie)

@ Portland 3 Deering 2

@ Deering 1 Portland 0
Western A prelim
Portland 2 @ Deering 1 (2-1 PK) 

Deering 3 @ Portland 0 

@ Deering 3 Portland 1

@ Deering 1 Portland 0

Deering 5 @ Portland 0

Deering 2 @ Portland 1

Portland 2 @ Deering 1

@ Portland 1 Deering 0

Portland 1 @ Deering 0

@ Portland 1 Deering 1 (tie)

Portland 1 @ Deering 0

Western Class A semifinals
Deering 1 @ Portland 0

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