PORTLAND—Lucia Pompeo wasn’t about to lose her final City Cup and when Lucia Pompeo is committed to a task, rest assured it’s going to get accomplished.

Saturday evening at Troubh Ice Arena, Pompeo and her Cheverus teammates battled Portland/Deering and after a slow start, found a way to emerge victorious.

Neither team scored in the first period, but early in the second, Pompeo scored the only goal the Stags would need and after junior Olivia Bradford added a goal on a rebound of a Pompeo shot, Pompeo scored again for a 3-0 advantage after two periods.

After some near-misses, Pompeo completed her hat trick with 1:18 to play and Cheverus went on to a 4-0 victory.

The Stags earned their first win this winter in their third try, dropped Portland/Deering to 2-2 and allowed Pompeo and her senior teammates to achieve their goal of beating Portland/Deering every year they were in high school.

“We knew the offense would come,” Pompeo said. “We were playing well. We worried more about defense, then we knew we’d produce on offense.”

Roaring to life

Last year, Cheverus took both meetings, 2-1 and 7-0.

This season, the Stags opened with a 3-2 overtime loss to Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland, then was shut out by Scarborough, 2-0.

Portland/Deering opened with home victories over Biddeford (7-2) and Gorham (9-1) before being blanked Monday by Scarborough, 7-0.

Portland/Deering beat Cheverus in overtime, 4-3, in the City Cup Pompeo’s freshman season (Cheverus/Portland took an earlier meeting that winter, 6-0), but in 2019, the Stags prevailed, 3-2, then went on to win the state title and last year, they won again, 7-0.

Saturday, offense was at a premium early, but eventually, Cheverus hit its stride.

The Stags had a 5-2 edge in shots in the first period, but Portland/Deering senior goalie Anna Gannon denied bids from Pompeo, senior Rose Stait twice and robbed Bradford to keep the game scoreless.

At the other end, Cheverus senior goalie Trinity Atwater stopped a shot through traffic from senior Kim Clifford and the Stags’ defense stymied Portland/Deering’s top scoring tandem of seniors Caroline Lerch and Lucy Howe.

“Caroline Lerch is an amazing hockey player,” Cheverus coach Scott Rousseau said. “We wanted someone else to beat us. We had to make life miserable for her. That’s a compliment to her. We made sure our forwards harassed her through the neutral zone.”

The Stags then broke through with 12:11 to go in the second period, as Pompeo backhanded a shot on goal that Gannon got a piece of, but couldn’t keep out and Cheverus had the only goal it needed.

“I didn’t even know it went in, honestly,” Pompeo said. “I thought we’d have a faceoff and have to start again, but my friends (were cheering).”

“You have to be patient in hockey,” said Rousseau. “It’s a 45-minute game. Today was the first game that we had some time in the zone.”

With 10:08 to go in the second, Gannon stopped a shot from Pompeo, but Bradford pounced on the rebound and finished for a 2-0 lead (Pompeo and freshman Maddie Doherty were given assists).

Gannon kept the score 2-0 for nearly 10 minutes, denying sophomore Bella Cloutier, freshman Brynn McKenney and Bradford and diving to rob freshman Charlotte Miller.

Atwater made some saves as well, on a shot from Lerch, with her pad to deny freshman Mia Merrill and again on Merrill, on a rush.

Then, with 1:26 to go in the period, Pompeo finished unassisted, sending a shot between the goalie’s legs, for a 3-0 advantage.

“Lucia’s an extremely talented skater and athlete,” said Portland/Deering coach Tom Clifford. “To go on scholarship for field hockey (at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut) and to be this good in this sport is amazing.”

Pompeo had several chances to complete her hat trick in the third period, but Gannon kept stymieing her, while also saving a pair of shots from Bradford and another from junior Emily Tucker.

Portland/Deering’s attempt to get on the board went for naught, as Atwater stopped shots by Lerch and Howe and denied breakaway bids from Merrill and Howe.

Pompeo finally completed her hat trick with 1:18 to go, rebounding Cloutier’s shot into the net.

“It’s fun to get a hat trick, but I like to help on the ice too,” Pompeo said. “I worry more about other people scoring than myself.”

“I’ve been very lucky to have Lucia,” Rousseau said. “She’s as great a leader in the locker room as she is a player. She’s very unselfish. She makes the freshmen feel welcome.”

Cheverus ran out the clock from there and celebrated winning another piece of hardware, this time, 4-0.

“It feels good to have normalcy on the ice,” said Pompeo said. “It’s good to play like we know how to. The beginning of the season was frustrating. Once we got out there, it just felt good.”

“(The delayed start of the season) was frustrating, but I’m glad the superintendents got it right,” Rousseau said. “The kids are having a good time. We had an overtime loss to Cape, then played fantastic against Scarborough. You saw the pictures they took with the Cup. Players play. Once you start playing, they love being kids again.”

Cheverus, which has now won seven of 11 City Cup meetings with Portland/Deering, finished with a 27-9 shots advantage and got nine saves from Atwater.

Portland/Deering got 23 saves from Gannon, but couldn’t find a way to get the puck in the net.

“I thought my goalie played really well,” Tom Clifford said. “This is how Anna’s played. Even against Scarborough, she had 38, 39 saves. She’s come a long way and the kids have a ton of confidence in her, as do I. She made the saves to keep us in this and give us a chance.

“(The Stags) do a really good job of clogging space and they have a bunch of kids who can skate well. It makes it a challenge. We were in it, even down 2-0, I thought we were playing well, but it came down to depth. I have a group of seven seniors and a bunch of kids who started two years ago. They compete.”

Next week

Portland/Deering is back in action Tuesday at Greely. Thursday, the squad battles defending South Region champion Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland.

“Every day we get to the rink, even though we dress in the parking lot, the girls have smiles and they dance and sing, then they work hard,” Clifford said. “I’m happy we get this opportunity to play. I want to get the younger kids some valuable ice time and I’m happy to see my seniors get on the ice.”

Cheverus plays host to defending state champion Lewiston Wednesday.

“We just want to have fun with the rest of the season,” Pompeo said. “We’ll get better as we go. We want to just keep it going until the end.”

“I try to be process-oriented and not results-oriented,” said Rousseau. “We want to stay in the now and get better every day. If we’re lucky enough to maybe have an extra week and have a Cumberland County tournament, that would be great. We’re just trying to be the best team we can be. We’re lucky to get to be together again.”

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

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