PORTLAND—There’s never a dull moment when Portland and Deering’s boys’ soccer teams square off and Saturday at Memorial Field was no exception.

In another memorable contest which featured breathtaking talent, physicality and clutch goal-scoring, the Bulldogs once again found a way to stymie their ancient rival.

Portland, which beat visiting Deering earlier this month, 1-0, on an improbable, wind-aided goal from senior goalkeeper Henry Flynn, opened the scoring in the seventh minute on another fluky tally, this time from junior Ben Horrisberger, who collided with a defender and Rams senior goalkeeper Sam Spach, but still managed to direct the ball into the goal.

The Bulldogs took a one-goal advantage into halftime, but Deering came out sizzling in the second half and was rewarded with just over 30 minutes to go, when sophomore Adilson Vidal produced a beautiful strike from 30-yards out.

Just when the Rams appeared to have the momentum, however, an unlikely, young hero emerged for Portland.

Freshman Ford Myers, playing his first game at right back, made the pass of the day, setting up senior striker Anselmo Tela for the go-ahead goal with 16:02 on the clock and the Bulldogs’ defense slammed the door from there as Portland held on for a 2-1 victory.

The Bulldogs beat the Rams for the second time this fall, improved to 4-2 and in the process, dropped Deering to 4-3 on the season.

“Credit to all the guys,” said longtime Portland coach Rocco Frenzilli. “I’m so happy with our attitude today and our spirit on the bench. Win or lose, I wanted that spirit and togetherness as a team. It’s really hard for the guys who don’t play, but everyone supported each other.”

Act two

When the teams met for the first time, Oct. 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the Bulldogs prevailed, 1-0, on arguably the most improbable goal in program history, when Flynn, aided by the wind, booted a ball some 80 yards in the air and it bounced in front of the Deering keeper, then over his head and into the goal for the only score of the game.

That was one of three previous wins for Portland, which also defeated host Cheverus (3-0) and South Portland (2-0). The Bulldogs lost at home to defending Class A champion Falmouth (4-2) and Monday dropped a 2-1 decision at defending Class C champion Waynflete.

The Rams, meanwhile, won, 2-1, at South Portland in its first game, then lost at home to Waynflete, 3-2, beat visiting Cheverus (5-1) and after falling at Portland (1-0), downed Westbrook twice: 7-0 at home and 6-1 on the road.

Coming into play Saturday, Portland held a 9-3 edge (with five ties) since the start of the 2004 season (see below for recent results). That includes a Bulldogs win turned forfeit in 2012.

Saturday, on a 58-degree day which started cloudy before the sun made a late appearance, Deering sought its first win over Portland since the 2015 season, but the Bulldogs found a way to defeat the Rams yet again.

Vidal had the game’s first shot, but Flynn made the save.

Portland then got the jump in the seventh minute, as senior Gabriel Panzo played a long ball ahead to Horrisberger, who got to it just as Spach and a defender arrived and in the ensuing collision, Horrisberger managed to steer the ball (slowly) into the net for a 1-0 lead.

The hosts tried to answer, but senior Calvin Bendier headed the ball wide.

The Bulldogs then had chances to double their lead, but Spach dove to rob Panzo, senior Sublime Kitenga missed just wide, Horrisberger was wide off a corner kick, Panzo shot high, Panzo was denied by Spach and a Tela free kick was blocked.

Portland had a 3-2 edge in first half shots and took five corner kicks in the first 40 minutes, but had nothing to show for it.

Deering then came out on a mission when the second half began.

Just 51 seconds in, sophomore Carlos Adriano-Muaco fired a shot that Flynn had to save.

Senior Muntasir Ahmed then missed wide and sophomore Patricio Mowa shot wide as well.

With 30:24 to play in regulation, Vidal got a look and he didn’t miss, as he ripped a shot from straight on, roughly 30-yards out, which a leaping, lunging Flynn had no chance to stop and when the ball tickled the twine, the game was even, 1-1.

Benider then tried to put the Rams on top, but he had a shot blocked, then Benider tried again and Flynn made the save.

The Bulldogs then transitioned back to offense and after senior Gracien Mukwa missed just wide, Portland had a corner kick that was headed out by Deering’s defense.

Then, with 16:02 on the clock, Myers made his first huge contribution to the Bulldogs’ program.

Myers got the ball just inside midfield by the left sideline, found a little room, then looked up and spotted Tela downfield. Myers passed the ball ahead to Tela, who faked out one defender as he moved to his right, then he turned and shot to the left and despite diving, Spach couldn’t make the save and Portland had a 2-1 lead.

“I got the ball and I realized no one was pressing me, so I knew I had time and I saw Anselmo,” Myers said. “I knew he wanted it, so I gave him a quick chip and watched him do his thing. I just wanted to get an assist. It was amazing.”

“I saw Ford with the ball and we made eye contact,” Tela said. “I knew he’d give it to me. I didn’t rush because I told myself I’d be more calm this game. I saw everybody was going to the right, even the goalie, and I knew I had to put it back on the left.”

“I’m so happy for Ford,” Frenzilli added. “He’s been playing JV and swinging (up to varsity). That was such a nice touch to Anselmo. I’m so happy to see a freshman set up a senior. Those plays are the ones we’ve been working on with him to take him to the next level.”

The Rams had one last look to tie, but Mowa shot wide and Portland was able to celebrate its hard-fought 2-1 victory.

“I love to play Deering,” Myers said. “My brother played at Deering. I live near here and I’m used to playing (at Memorial Field). I knew it would be a challenging game, but playing Deering got us revved up.”

“Deering is always one of the most challenging games of the season,” said Tela. “We wanted to give 100 percent. I’m really enjoying this year. I really want to play college soccer and this is good preparation.”

“It was a great one,” Frenzilli added. “You want to win the rivalry games. Hats off to Deering. They never gave up. They came out pushing in the second half and tied it up. Deering’s very dynamic. The midfield battle was great today. That’s where it’s won or lost. We were fortunate enough to get a couple balls out wide and took advantage. You throw the record book out when you play a game like this.”

Portland out-shot Deering, 9-5, got four saves from Flynn and took eight corners to none for the Rams.

Deering got seven saves from Spach, but fell just short.

“We refocused at halftime,” said Rams coach Joel Costigan. “That’s been a theme for us so far this year. The soccer started to get better near the end of the game. Doing it for 80 minutes is the challenge. We had two breakdowns and that was the game. I think we got out of position. There was too much space in the midfield. Also, injuries were huge. They were able to exploit that space. Stylistically, we play each other very well. We struggle with (Portland’s) physicality and their speed, as most teams do. Games can get chippy and guys can lose composure. It’s always a battle.”

Until next year?

Deering and Portland aren’t quite finished with this unorthodox season, as it was just announced that the Bulldogs and Rams, along with Cheverus and South Portland, will take part in the “Casco Bay Cup” tournament next month.

First, the Rams go to Cheverus Thursday of next week.

“We’re building and hopefully, we’ll learn from our mistakes,” Costigan said. “We’ll have a long week of practice and then Cheverus and I hope we get Portland again in the “Casco Bay Cup.”

Portland, meanwhile, is home versus Westbrook Tuesday, then hosts South Portland next Saturday.

“Every day is a great day to be out on the soccer field and play,” Frenzilli said. “We have Westbrook and South Portland, then we’ll play the “Casco Bay Cup” and let all the kids play and enjoy it.”

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

Recent Deering-Portland results

2020
@ Portland 1 Deering 0

2018
@ Portland 2 Deering 1

2017
@ Deering 1 Portland 1 (tie)

2016
@ Deering 1 Portland 1 (tie)
Class A South quarterfinals
Portland 1 @ Deering 0

2015
Deering 1 @ Portland 0 (2 OT)

2014
@ Deering 3 Portland 0 

2013
@ Portland 2 Deering 0

2012
Portland 2 @ Deering 0
(forfeited to a 1-0 Deering win)

2011
@ Portland 2 Deering 0

2010
Portland 5 @ Deering 2

2009
@ Portland 2 Deering 2 (tie)

2008
Portland 2 @ Deering 1 (OT)

2007
Deering 4 @ Portland 3

2006
@ Deering 2 Portland 2 (tie)

2005
@ Portland 1 Deering 1 (tie)

2004
Portland 1 @ Deering 0

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