Cheverus freshman Lucy Johnson plays the ball up the field as Marshwood junior Clarice Forrester gives chase during the teams’ season opener Wednesday. Johnson scored three goals to help the Stags to an 8-0 victory. Hoffer photos.

PORTLAND—Two things became quickly and abundantly clear during Cheverus’ field hockey team’s season opener Wednesday.

The program’s future is very bright.

And its present is even brighter.

Hosting Marshwood at Shea Field, the Stags needed just over two minutes to take the lead when freshman Lucy Johnson scored her first varsity goal. Sophomore Taylor Krieger then added another for a 2-0 advantage after one quarter.

Johnson then scored twice in the second period and classmate Zoey Radford struck as well to make it 5-0 at halftime.

After junior captain Taylor Tory added a third quarter goal, sophomore Lily Johnson scored twice in the fourth and Cheverus went on to a decisive and emphatic 8-0 victory.

“We have great leadership with our upperclassmen,” said Stags coach Theresa Hendrix. “The girls are just clicking. They’ve set high expectations for themselves. It’s so exciting. Today really made me feel like we’re back.”

High hopes

Cheverus went 7-1 a year ago, with its lone loss a one-goal setback at Gorham. The Stags out-scored the opposition, 51-6, but had to settle for regular season domination as there was no postseason due to the pandemic.

Cheverus and Marshwood didn’t play last season.

This fall, the Stags are highly touted and Wednesday, in the teams’ first meeting since a 2-2 tie Sept. 5, 2019 in South Berwick, on a 74-degree, cloudy afternoon, they took the first step in their title quest.

It took just seconds for Cheverus to pressure the Hawks defense and their goalie, sophomore Lily Dupree, who robbed Tory, then stopped a shot from Lily Johnson.

But with 12:53 to go in the 15-minute first quarter, Lucy Johnson won possession in the circle, dribbled to her right past two defenders, then fired a shot just inside the near post which Dupree couldn’t stop to break the ice.

“I think we started really well,” Lucy Johnson said. “We started off really fast and had the advantage in the first couple minutes. It was very important to start fast. If you start slower, you don’t have confidence. I was very surprised to score, but it was very exciting.”

The second goal came with 11:41 to go in the frame. After Tory fired a shot that Dupree saved, Krieger was there to swat the rebound home out of the air and into the cage.

Cheverus sophomore Taylor Krieger tries to handle the ball near the sideline as Marshwood junior Maddie LaBreck defends.

The Stags threatened to extend their lead with just over a minute to go in the quarter, but Dupree dove and robbed Lucy Johnson’s breakaway attempt.

After putting seven shots on cage in the first period, Cheverus unleashed 20 in the second and three found the mark.

Early on, Dupree dazzled, denying Lucy Johnson on a rush, swatting away a backhanded attempt from Tory and saving another Lucy Johnson shot before Krieger hit the post.

Finally, with 10:18 remaining in the first half, Lucy Johnson banged home a rebound for her second goal and a 3-0 advantage.

“I get a lot of help from my teammates like my sister,” Johnson said. “(Junior) Elle Picard gets passes to me. I try to get low and get my stick down and get rebounds.”

“Lucy’s going to score a bunch of goals this year, but what you won’t see is everything else she contributes from her hustle and her defense and communicating,” Hendrix said. “She’s very unselfish. She’s a great addition.”

After Dupree saved a blast from Picard, Radford scored her first varsity goal, unassisted, with 5:56 on the clock.

Finally, with 46.6 seconds to go, Lucy Johnson had her initial shot saved, but buried the rebound and at the break, the Stags were in command, up, 5-0.

Cheverus didn’t have a letdown in the second half, adding another goal with 10:26 left in the third quarter, as Tory scored on a rebound.

Late in the period, Marshwood finally generated its first shot on cage, but it was saved by Stags junior goalie Logan LeFever.

Lily Johnson then got in on the scoring fun in the final stanza, scoring unassisted off a penalty corner with 12:40 to play, then scoring unassisted two minutes later.

“Lily works hard the entire game,” Hendrix said. “To see her be successful (scoring) brings confidence to her and her teammates.”

Cheverus ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 8-0 victory.

“It was really fun,” Lucy Johnson said. “I had a great time. It was very different from middle school and club. It was fun to be with my sister and my friends. The support from my teammates was very nice as well.”

“We have a lot of new starters but the girls have been committed since the summer,” Hendrix said. “To see them connect on and off the field is really special.”

The Stags finished with a commanding 42-2 shots advantage, got two saves from LeFever and had a 8-1 edge in penalty corners.

Dupree made 34 saves, many of them of the highlight-reel variety, for the Hawks.

Bigger test

The Stags will return to action next Wednesday at home versus Biddeford, the 2018 and 2019 regional champion. The teams didn’t meet a year ago and Cheverus is eager for the test.

“We’re going to have a good season this year.” Johnson said. “We just need to keep pushing ourselves and play like we did today.”

“I think Southern Maine this year, every game will be really important,” Hendrix said. “We’ll turn our attention to Biddeford. They’re always tough. We’re continuing to get the girls working together to use the whole field and communicate with each other.”

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

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