PORTLAND—Don’t sleep on the Deering boys’ soccer team.

The Rams might not always play up to their potential for 80 minutes, but when they turn it on, they’re very tough to stop.

The host Cheverus Stags learned that painful lesson Wednesday afternoon at Boulos Stadium in a midseason showdown of teams who are hoping to be in the mix all year.

After a rather uneventful first half, Cheverus took a 1-0 lead six minutes into the second half, on a header from senior Emmet Scheule.

But then, Deering roared to life.

Two minutes later, in transition, junior Chandrel Mangele Laza set up junior Jeannot Ndayishimiye for the tying goal.

Then, with 5:58 to play, off a Laza throw, senior David Kita turned and fired a perfect shot to put the Rams on top and they went on to a 2-1 victory.

Deering improved to 4-2-1 and in the process, dropped the Stags to 2-4-1.

“Our energy was horrible the first half,” said Rams coach Joel Costigan. “It was reminiscent of our (loss) against Gorham (last week). We were flat, but we made some adjustments a couple minutes into the second half.”

Ups and downs

Cheverus and Deering have each enjoyed some big wins this season, as well as other games where things didn’t go as well as hoped.

The Rams started with a 2-0 loss at Scarborough, then defeated host Noble (3-1), visiting Kennebunk (7-1) and visiting Marshwood (2-1) before falling at home to Gorham, 4-1. Monday, however, Deering went to reigning Class A champion Falmouth and played the powerhouse Navigators to a 1-1 tie.

The Stags, meanwhile, started with a 2-0 home loss to South Portland, then earned a 2-1 victory at Portland, lost at home to Marshwood (3-1), blanked visiting Massabesic (7-0), fell at home to Gorham (5-0) and Saturday, settled for a scoreless draw at Kennebunk.

Last fall, Deering won both games, 5-1 and 4-1, erupting in the second half each time to pull away.

Entering Wednesday’s contest, since the start of the 2004 season, the Rams had won 12 meetings, the Stags seven and two others ended in draws (see below for recent results).

This time around, Cheverus sought its first win over Deering since the 2018 season, but despite holding a second half lead, couldn’t finish it off.

The Stags had a chance to go on top in the third minute, but junior James Baur had a shot denied by Rams senior goalkeeper Mohammed Turki.

Bauer had another chance in the eighth minute, but again, Turki made the stop.

Deering’s lone shot on frame in the first half came in the 19th minute, but senior Abdulla Al Taee’s left-footed blast was saved by Cheverus junior keeper Wyatt Roy.

Late in the half, the Rams had a pair of shots blocked in the box, as both junior Saker Al Akash and Al Taee were frustrated.

The Stags had a couple near-misses as well, from senior Brady Hoglund and junior Carter Hoglund.

Action picked up in the second half and the goals began to come.

After Brady Hoglund had a long free kick headed out of harm’s way and Hoglund missed just wide, Roy saved a free kick from Deering junior Adilson Vidal.

Then, with 33:58 to go in regulation, Cheverus struck and took the lead, as Baur crossed the ball to Scheule, who headed it past Turki for a 1-0 lead.

But the Stags couldn’t build on their lead, as senior Kyle Lamberson just missed with a header off a free kick from Schuele.

Then, the Rams ran their transition game to perfection, as Laza raced up the left side, then sent the ball toward the far post where the streaking Ndayishimiye was waiting to tap it home to make it 1-1.

“I knew we could come back,’ Kita said. “We weren’t passing in the final third and taking too many touches in the first half.”

Deering then pushed hard for the go-ahead goal, but junior Haytham Ramadan missed wide, Carter Hoglund knocked the ball away from Kita in front of the goal, Kita was robbed by Roy, Vidal had a shot blocked by Lamberson and junior Patricio Mowa had a long free kick headed out.

Midway through the second half, Cheverus nearly retook the lead, as Brady Hoglund sent a long free kick into the box which bounced and was tipped out by Turki for a corner kick which resulted in a shot from sophomore Anton Behuniak which Turki saved.

After Lamberson headed a shot wide and senior Odan Strock had a shot saved by Turki, the Rams returned to offense and eventually were rewarded.

After Kita was just wide in transition, Mowa had a free kick headed away and a corner kick skipped through the box untouched.

Then, suddenly, with 5:58 on the clock, Kita, a defender who moved up for the second half, struck for the lead.

The play started with a throw from the side by Laza. The ball bounced in front of Kita, who was marked, but turned, took a touch, then from about 20 yards out, ripped a low shot to the left of the diving Roy and in for a 2-1 advantage.

“My mind told me I should go up top and I went and it was a good move,” Kita said. “The ball took a bounce, I just took a touch, turned and I shot. I knew I had to score and I did. It felt good off my foot.”

“David’s very good,” said Costigan. “I’m glad he’s the one who scored that goal. That was a great goal. Not like the goals he usually scores, on the run. He asked me to go play up top or go wide and I gave him the opportunity. He’s one of our best defenders and we had to balance whether to leave him in the back or put him up top because he’s unbeatable with his speed in space.”

The Rams nearly got another goal, but Vidal sent the ball off the top of the crossbar with 3:36 to play.

Deering’s defense put the clamps on from there and didn’t allow another Cheverus shot as the Rams closed out their 2-1 victory.

Deering finished with an 8-6 edge in shots and got five saves from Turki.

The Stags had a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks and got six saves from Roy, but fell short.

“This is our first game all season with our whole squad between injuries and close contact on the COVID stuff and I thought we carried the play the first 50, 55 minutes,” said Cheverus coach Bill LeBlanc. “Our better players need to finish and they know it. We should have been up 3-0, but it was 1-0, then we got a little bit complacent. ”

On the road

Cheverus hopes to bounce back, but has another tough test Saturday, at Falmouth. The Stags then visit Bonny Eagle Wednesday of next week.

“We’ll be fine,” LeBlanc said. “I like where we’re at. We’re learning how to deal with adversity, but I like our team. We’re solid in the back. We’re good enough to possess the ball more. We just need to finish more and get our fitness up more. We’ll be ready to play Saturday at Falmouth.”

Deering is back in action next Wednesday at Biddeford. The Rams then return to Memorial Field to host Bonny Eagle next Friday.

“We can still get better,” Kita said. “We have to keep our heads in the game and want it more to come out on top.”

“This is encouraging, but we still have a lot of work to do with the intangibles and I hope that can continue,” Costigan said.

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

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