Cheverus junior Lydia Niedermeyer (17) passes to classmate Mia Kratzer while South Portland senior Grace Thayer defends during the Stags’ 3-1 victory Wednesday.

SOUTH PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team has done some great things in recent years, but one thing the Stags hadn’t been able to accomplish was winning their final game of the season.

Even last year, when Cheverus went undefeated during the regular year and got to the regional final, it couldn’t close on a high note, but Wednesday afternoon at Martin Memorial Field, the Stags finished a very successful, abbreviated 2020 season with a victory at South Portland.

But it sure didn’t come easily.

The Red Riots, who have demonstrated steady improvement in recent weeks, took a 1-0 lead on a gorgeous finish from senior Evelyn Selser in the 25th minute and clung to that advantage when sophomore goalkeeper Kathryn O’Hare, the team’s backup, made a diving save to deny Cheverus senior Helena Bolduc.

But Bolduc would have the last laugh, scoring on a nearly identical header with just 27 seconds remaining in the half, then scoring again a mere 39 seconds into the second half to turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 lead.

South Portland wasn’t able to answer and junior Julia Kratzer tacked on an insurance goal with just over two minutes left and the Stags went onto a 3-1 victory.

Cheverus finished its season 8-1-1 and in the process, dropped the Red Riots to 2-7.

“I could not be more proud of my teammates,” said Bolduc, a captain. “Everyone on the team has stepped up. Veteran players, brand new freshmen. We worked on team chemistry all year. Our focus all year was to have the best record possible and be as good as we could be. The team really bonded and it couldn’t have been a better season.”

Another great year

Cheverus went 16-1 a year ago, going undefeated until running into Scarborough in the Class A South Final and dropping a painful 2-1 decision.

The Stags were then hard-hit by graduation, but the 2020 campaign has been very successful for Cheverus nonetheless.

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), shut out visiting Deering, 4-0, settled for a 1-1 home tie against Gorham, won at Waynflete (3-1), then downed host Deering, 3-0. Monday, Cheverus went to Portland and avenged its lone loss, 1-0.

South Portland, meanwhile, under new coach Adam Perron, won its first two outings: 1-0 at Deering and 10-1 over visiting Westbrook, then hit a rough patch, losing at Portland (4-1), falling in overtime at Cape Elizabeth (2-1) and getting blanked by visiting Cheverus (4-0), at Cape Elizabeth (8-0), at Scarborough (2-0) and at home by Portland (3-0).

In the teams’ first meeting Oct. 19, Kratzer scored three goals and junior Kadynne Smith also found the net.

Wednesday, on a 45-degree afternoon, South Portland was seeking its first win over the Stags since a 1-0 overtime decision in Portland Oct. 20, 2008, and the Red Riots’ first at home over Cheverus since Sept. 28, 2005, but instead, the Stags made improved to 9-0 (with two ties) over the last 11 meetings in the series.

South Portland announced it had upset aspirations from the start, as in the third minute, senior Kotoha Yomada fired a rising shot that sailed over Cheverus senior goalkeeper Neve Cawley and bounced off the crossbar to Selser, whose rebound shot went high and wide.

The Stags then went on the attack, but a cross from junior Olivia Bradford to Bolduc was just out of reach, freshman Sofia Pothier’s corner kick was headed just wide by junior Hayley Jordan, Bolduc had a pair of shots saved by O’Hare and Smith twice missed just wide.

Then, after junior Julianne Coyne missed a shot wide, the Red Riots took the lead with 15:09 on the first half clock, as junior Eliese Perron got the ball to Selser, who fired a shot with her left foot that bent just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.

Selser, on her 18th birthday, got South Portland on the scoreboard for the first time in five games.

“I’m pleased with our effort and how the girls responded,” Adam Perron said. “We made a couple adjustments. The girls really took to it. We got forward more. Getting that first goal allowed us to settle in.”

After O’Hare saved shots by Bolduc and senior Mia Kratzer, she saved her most impressive save for Bolduc with 9:20 to go in the half.

Off a corner kick serve from Smith, Bolduc sent a promising header on target, but O’Hare dove and kept the ball out of the net.

But South Portland could only hold Cheverus at bay for so long and in the final minute, the Stags earned another corner kick, Smith served in another beautiful ball and with 27.3 seconds to go, Bolduc’s header eluded O’Hare and found the mark and the Stags were even and had all the momentum heading to halftime.

“I was just trying to get anything on it and I was lucky enough to get my head on (the ball),” said Bolduc. “It was exciting. I think I placed it a lot better that time. That was huge for momentum. It gave us a huge push.”

“I was really proud of our resiliency and our ability to get momentum at the end of the first half,” Roberts said. “Cadynne has hit good corner kicks all year and Helena did a good job getting to the far post and heading the ball down so it would be dangerous. (End of halves) are dangerous times to score and I’m glad it went our way.”

Cheverus enjoyed a 6-2 advantage in shots on frame and took four corner kicks to South Portland’s one in the first half.

If the Stags’ goal just before halftime was momentum-turning, their goal in the first minute of the second half was even more invigorating for the visitors and demoralizing for the hosts.

Just 39 seconds in, after Julia Kratzer got the ball to Bradford and Bradford passed to Bolduc, Bolduc finished just inside the far post and Cheverus was on top to stay, 2-1.

“It was a nice cross from Olivia and I got my foot on it and it went in the corner,” said Bolduc.

“We talked at halftime about attacking from the wings, since we have good speed out wide, and getting behind them and Julia and Olivia and Helena, three veteran players, combined well to do just that,” said Roberts.

“We had some mental lapses at the end of the first half and start of the second half,” Adam Perron lamented. “It is what it is.”

After sophomore Bella Schifano bid to pull the Red Riots even, only to have a low shot saved by Cawley, Cheverus hoped to extend its lead, but Julia Kratzer missed wide and Smith shot high.

With 26:57 remaining, Cawley had to race out to beat Coyne to a through ball from senior Anne Von Seggern.

With 21:41 left, Selser eluded two defenders, then for a split second, had some space to attempt an equalizer, but when she finally got a shot off, it was blocked.

After O’Hare twice denied Julia Kratzer, South Portland got another chance with 15:41 on the clock, but a 35-yard free kick from Von Seggern was cleared.

With 9:36 to play, sophomore Talia Lee shot wide for the hosts and 50 seconds later, Von Seggern did the same.

With 4:40 to go, Von Seggern missed just wide on a free kick.

A minute later, the Red Riots took a corner kick, but it was headed out of harm’s way.

Then, with 2:11 to go, Julia Kratzer delivered the coup de grace, burying a long shot.

“We had to hang on,” Roberts said. “Neve came up big and Julia had the insurance goal. That was vintage Julia. Hitting a shot when we really needed it.”

Cheverus then closed out its 3-1 victory.

“I definitely expected it to be a harder game than last time,” said Bolduc. “It was end of the season, we knew we had to step it up. I knew we could compete with them. It was important to keep up the intensity. They caught us off-guard, but we responded really well. Our defense has improved so much and I’m so proud of them.”

“I thought South Portland played really well,” said Roberts. “They were able to put pressure on us.”

The Stags finished with a 15-5 advantage in shots on frame, got four saves from Cawley and held a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.

The Red Riots got 12 saves from O’Hare, but couldn’t build on their early success.

“Sometimes when you have a backup goalie, the team steps up in front of her and that happened today. I was happy for her,” Adam Perron said. “As a program, we took a big step forward tonight and I’m happy with that. We didn’t finish and they did. That’s the next step for us. As we get better as a program, we’ll put those shots away and put pressure on the team. We competed and had an opportunity. ”

South Portland gets to play one more game, Friday, when it hosts Portland.

“It will be the third time we play (Portland), so we’re both open books,” Perron said. “With a young team like this, you take steps forward and back, but the last two, three games, we’ve continued forward, which I’m pleased with.”

Farewell

Cheverus’ seniors won 52 games in four seasons, got to two regional finals and helped steer the 2020 squad through uncharted waters.

“It’s sort of bittersweet,” said Roberts. “I’m happy we ended on a winning note, but sad because I would have loved to have more time with this group.

“I’m sad to see our seniors go. They’ve been such a great group. They were thrust into a leadership role and Helena, Mia, Neve and Tellie (Stamaris) got kids excited about soccer during the summer. They competed for each other all season and really jelled at the end. I can’t say enough about what the seniors have done for us and I appreciate them.”

Despite the imminent departures of some top-notch talent, Cheverus figures to be strong again in 2021, due in part to the experience gained in 2020.

“We started two freshmen today and they held their own,” Roberts said. “Emma Tweed was a JV player last year and she gave us good minutes. I’m crossing my fingers we’ll have summer soccer, so these players who didn’t have last summer and the new players will have an opportunity to play and we can hit the ground running next August.”

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

Previous Cheverus-South Portland results

2020
Cheverus 4 @ South Portland 0

2019
@ Cheverus 5 South Portland 1

2018
Cheverus 3 @ South Portland 0

2017
@ Cheverus 2 South Portland 1

2016
@ Cheverus 1 South Portland 0

2015
Cheverus 1 @ South Portland 0

2014
Cheverus 3 @ South Portland 0

2013
@ Cheverus 1 South Portland 1 (tie)

2010
@ Cheverus 0 South Portland 0 (tie)

2009
Cheverus 4 @ South Portland 1

2008
South Portland 1 @ Cheverus 0 (OT)

2007
Cheverus 3 @ South Portland 1

2006
South Portland 2 @ Cheverus 1

2005
@ South Portland 3 Cheverus 0

2004
@ South Portland 1 Cheverus 0
Western A preliminary round
Cheverus 2 @ South Portland 0

2003
South Portland 2 @ Cheverus 1

2002 
@ South Portland 3 Cheverus 2

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