PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team continues to come of age and hold its own against all comers.

Friday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, in a rematch of a playoff game from a year ago, the young Stags hosted a veteran Gorham squad and did a lot well in going toe-to-toe with the Rams for 90 minutes.

Even though they ultimately didn’t have a victory to show for it.

After a scoreless first half, Cheverus took a 1-0 lead with just over 23 minutes to play, when senior Mia Kratzer, who wasn’t even expected to play in the game, converted a penalty kick.

The lead only lasted three minutes, however, as Gorham answered on a corner kick, as junior Mikayla Martorano scored.

Neither team could find the net from there and settled for a 1-1 draw.

The Rams are now 3-1-2 on the season, while the Stags have a record of 4-1-1.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” said Cheverus coach Craig Roberts. “We knew (Gorham) had most everybody back this year and we’re a young team, but we realized we could stay with them.”

Turning the tide

In the teams’ first 18 meetings, Gorham won 14 and tied two others, but Cheverus has captured the past three, including a pair a year ago, 5-2, at home in the regular season, then 1-0 (3-0 on penalty kicks) in the Class A South semifinals.

Both squads have had more ups than downs this COVID-abbreviated season.

The Stags opened with a 10-0 home win over Westbrook and after a 1-0 loss at Portland, they blanked visiting Waynflete (3-0), won at South Portland (4-0) and Tuesday, shut out visiting Deering, 4-0.

The Rams, meanwhile, beat visiting Bonny Eagle in their opener, 1-0, then fell at Windham, 3-2, in overtime, and after playing host Scarborough to a 0-0 draw, beat visiting Scarborough (1-0) and Monday, eked out a 2-1 double-overtime victory at Bonny Eagle, on senior Lauren Fotter’s game-winning tally.

Friday, on a chilly 55-degree afternoon, Cheverus hoped to make it four wins in a row over its one-time nemesis, but instead, no one emerged victorious.

The Stags had the first shot, but senior Helena Bolduc’s bid from the side was saved by Gorham junior goalkeeper Rachel Gross.

The Rams then got a pair of shots from Fotter, but Cheverus senior keeper Neve Cawley stood tall.

In the 26th minute, the visitors nearly took the lead, but a serve from senior Olivia Michaud to sophomore Faith Connolly resulted in a point blank save by Cawley and a corner kick.

Late in the half, Fotter missed just wide, Fotter lofted a shot to the far post that sailed just wide and off a short corner, Fotter served to Michaud for a header that missed just wide, keeping the contest scoreless at the break.

In the first half, Gorham had a 3-2 edge in shots and a 3-0 advantage in corners, but couldn’t find the net.

Each team would finally break through in the second half.

Stags junior Julia Kratzer looked to break the ice early in the stanza, but Gross made the save.

After Mia Kratzer and junior Kadynne Smith missed wide, Julia Kratzer had a shot blocked and a rebound shot from junior Olivia Bradford missed just wide.

Then, with 23:13 to go, off a corner kick, a foul was called in the box and Cheverus was awarded a penalty kick.

Mia Kratzer did the honors and while Gross correctly guessed on her shot, Kratzer’s blast to the diving goalie’s right was powerful enough to roll into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Kratzer, who lives in Gorham, wasn’t even supposed to play Friday due to an ankle injury, but with a little assistance, she was active.

“Playing against your hometown school is always a big deal and Mia was excited to play,” said Roberts. “We gave credit to Zach (Garbin), our (athletic) trainer, who cleared her. He gave her the OK and she looked good in warmups. We really need to her to help distribute the ball and get us in the offensive third, so it was huge to have her. She was extremely excited to score on that PK.”

Gorham didn’t roll over and soon capitalized off a corner kick of its own.

With 20:03 to play, senior Katie Kutzer played the ball short and low and Martorano beat the defense to it and one-timed a shot that Cawley couldn’t stop, tying the score, 1-1.

“Cheverus is good in the air, so we wanted to keep it on the ground,” said Gorham coach Jeanne Zarrilli.

“The way we defend corner kicks, especially this year with COVID and you can only have five players in there, you can’t man-mark everyone you want to,” Roberts said. “Players have to be responsible for their zone and that’s just the way it goes.”

Late in regulation, Bradford missed high, while Cawley saved shots from junior Leah Woodbury and Connolly.

After Fotter had a free kick blocked and Michaud’s follow-up header sailed wide in the final minute, regulation came to an end with the score still tied.

In high school soccer, teams play two, five-minute, “sudden victory” overtimes and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie.

And that’s how Friday’s contest played out.

In the first OT session, Julia Kratzer tried to feed Bradford in the box, but Gross got the ball first.

Gorham then earned a corner kick, but couldn’t do anything with it.

In the second overtime, freshman Sofia Pothier had a long shot for the Stags, which Gross easily saved, and Cawley broke up a pass from Michaud to Fotter.

Time ran out from there and the contest ended 1-1.

The Rams finished with a 6-5 edge in shots, got five saves from Gross and had an 8-2 advantage in corner kicks, but only converted on one of them.

Gorham has now played overtime in four of six games this autumn.

“Another coach said (our overtimes) must be because we want to play as much soccer as we can,” Zarrilli said. “We’ve gotten some extra minutes. I was proud of our fight. I thought we dominated at the end, but we’re just not finding the back of the net as often as we’d like.  We had to do some shifting on defense. It’s always a battle when we play Cheverus. It’s good soccer and that’s what we’re looking for.”

The Stags got six saves from Cawley.

“We talked about being stronger on the ball and getting more movement up front and that would open up space behind and this team’s really good about implementing things we talk about and wanting to compete,” Roberts said. “Those things helped us stay with a good, veteran, well-coached team today. We were right there with them. It ended 1-1 and that was a fair result.”

Saying farewell

While the season is coming to a close, it appears that there will be some additional games for both the Rams and Stags, in the form of a four-team, pod tournament early next month.

In the meantime, Gorham welcomes Portland in a makeup game Monday.

“It’s hard because we don’t have as much time to do as much as we’d like,” said Zarrilli. “The kids are doing great and playing hard and I think they enjoy being with each other and that’s important.”

Cheverus is at Waynflete Monday, then goes to Deering Wednesday. The Stags then expect to take part in a four-team, city tournament, which will also include Deering, Portland and South Portland.

“The seniors want to play 10 games,” said Roberts. “They’d love it if it was a playoff atmosphere.

“I’m really pleased with the girls. The other day, I ended a drill in a tie, but the girls weren’t happy it ended in a tie, so we went out and finished it. It’s a young and competitive group. Our young players are learning what it takes to be a varsity player. It’s a good year to have a young team and I’ve seen the growth and camaraderie that we couldn’t develop over the summer is coming along now. We’re doing some good things.”

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

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