The buzz was there from the beginning.

Cheverus’ field hockey team was very good.

But that proved to be an epic understatement.

The Stags weren’t just good, they were phenomenal and the best team in program history made history last week by winning the Class A state title for the first time.

In undeniable fashion.

Cheverus, which was a perfect 14-0 in the regular season, outscoring the opposition, 81 goals to 6, then beat eighth-ranked Kennebunk in the Class A South quarterfinals (5-1) and rolled past No. 5 Falmouth in the semifinals (7-0).

That sent the Stags to Freeport High School last Wednesday to meet No. 2 Scarborough in the regional final, which proved to be the team’s toughest game of the year.

Taylor Tory scored for a the lead in the third quarter, and after the Red Storm answered, Tory scored again with 10:57 remaining to win it, 2-1.

Cheverus’ Taylor Tory, center, throws her arms up after scoring to beat Scarborough. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

“I was just running up, figuring this is going to come to me at any second and I just flicked it in,” Tory said. “My God, this is insane. It’s unbelievable. It’s well deserved, 100%.”

“It was making sure we kept our sticks down and also marking in the circle and we were communicating the entire game if there were girls open and we did really well with that,” said Norah Slattery, a senior defensive standout for Cheverus.

“I had faith in the girls and they really regrouped after Scarborough scored,” said Stags coach Theresa Hendrix. “I think that showed who they are. After (that tying score), they took their play to an even higher level. Since this summer, we knew this was going to be a special group of girls in the way that they came to play every day, and I think it helped them out here tonight.”

Cheverus advanced to the Class A state final for the just the second time to face perennial champion Skowhegan, but instead of being tentative, the Stags took it to the River Hawks from the get-go Saturday afternoon in Augusta.

Cheverus’ Lily Johnson fights for the ball during Saturday’s state game win over Skowhegan. Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal

Cheverus jumped in front quickly when Lily Johnson had a shot that snuck through Skowhegan goalie Lanie Vanedistine’s pads and Olivia McCartney was alone to knock the loose ball home with 8:30 left in the first quarter. Cheverus made it 2-0 with 10:30 left in the second quarter when freshman sensation Lucy Johnson had a shot from just left of the top of the circle that went toward the right post and McCartney was waiting to redirect it home.

“I just try to be as close to the ball as possible,” McCartney said. “It just happened to be there.”

“I’m so proud of her,” Hendrix said. “Olivia’s just worked so hard, she’s super coachable and she was in those spots, ready when she needed to be and she got there through hustle.”

Skowhegan fought back, generating three corners in the last five minutes of the half and eventually getting the goal it needed with 43.9 seconds to go. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Cheverus took over the flow of the game again in the third quarter and got a big goal with 3:44 left in the quarter when Tory scored off of an assist from McCartney.

“We just knew that we can’t let down, just like we did in the Scarborough game,” Tory said. “Just because (Skowhegan) got a goal, that doesn’t mean we play any less. We’ve actually got to bring it up.”

The Stags got an insurance goal with 11:46 left in the game when Lily Johnson scored on her own rebound to make it 4-1 and Cheverus soon celebrated its first title.

Senior Norah Slattery holds the Class A championship plaque after Cheverus captures the title Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal

“(Skowhegan had) won so many titles, we just needed to come in not cocky and just confident in our play and we did exactly that,” Tory said.

“It’s a special group of girls,” Hendrix said. “Between their commitment, hard work and positivity, they’re great players, but they play so well as a team. I think that’s what made them so successful.

“When you walk into the cafeteria at Cheverus, you can look around and see all the banners that represent all the state titles and a field hockey banner can’t be found. These girls wanted the sport of field hockey and their hard work to be represented on those walls. I can honestly say as an alumnae of Cheverus, I appreciate their fight and dedication to not just themselves and each other but to the program.

“This journey started back in June. Commitment, enthusiasm, hard work, positivity and leadership. Those traits weren’t just seen in our captains, but in every member of the team and program. Belief that the process and time put in every day would amount to something great in the future. Consistency in hard work, teamwork and selflessness built relationships and trust in one another. Our motto when the girls showed up at 5:30 a.m., before the sun rose on the first day of preseason, was that they wanted to be the first team playing and the last team playing. Being able to close the season with the 4 p.m. game on Saturday fulfilled the goal. That being said, the goal, winning a state championship, was never the focus. The focus was always on the present moment that we were blessed with.

“Lastly, the community played a big role in our success this season. From family and friends who found creative ways to support the girls, to the fans and the Cheverus community who showed support all season.”

You might as well get used to Cheverus celebrations.

While the Stags graduate Slattery and four others, the majority of this squad’s firepower returns, and now that Cheverus has gotten over the hump, look out.

“We have a lot of young talent, who just got to experience great senior leadership and I look forward to seeing the girls continue to grow as individuals and as a team,” Hendrix said.

Press Herald staff writer Mike Lowe and Morning Sentinel staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this story.

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

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