FALMOUTH—Cheverus’ juggernaut field hockey team is dangerous enough playing on its grass field.

But when you put the dynamic, explosive Stags on turf, they put on a show unlike any we’ve seen in these parts.

Tuesday evening, undefeated, reigning Class A champion Cheverus took its high-flying act to Falmouth for a playoff rematch and in a matter of 17 minutes, completely put the game away.

Navigators junior goalie Jenna Nunley was able to hold the Stags off the scoreboard for over six minutes, but on a penalty corner, sophomore sensation Lucy Johnson took a feed from her sister, junior standout Lily Johnson, and fired home a blast to put Cheverus ahead to stay.

Freshman Joey Pompeo scored on a rebound off a corner with 4:04 on the clock, but Falmouth appeared poised to stay within hailing range until the Stags struck twice in the final minute of the first quarter to put it out of reach.

First, senior star and captain Taylor Tory scored her first goal, from Lily Johnson, with 51 seconds left.

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Then, off a penalty corner played out after time expired, Tory banged home a loose ball to make it a 4-0 game.

Tory finished her hat trick 29 seconds into the second quarter, rebounding a Lucy Johnson shot, then junior Mackenzie Cash’s rebound goal made it 6-0 at the half.

The Navigators finally registered their first shot in the third period, which Stags senior goalie Logan LeFevre saved, then Lucy Johnson scored on a rebound and Lily Johnson, off a pass from sophomore Sophia St. John on a corner, finished to extend the lead to 8-0.

Lucy Johnson’s third goal, off a Lily Johnson feed on a corner, then brought the curtain down and produced a 9-0 victory.

Cheverus improved to 4-0, won its 26th consecutive game over the past three seasons, has now outscored the opposition by a composite 37-2 margin this fall and in the process, dropped Falmouth to 2-2.

“I think it’s hard knowing that we have a target on our back, but we’re always motivating each other and as long as we’re on the same page before every game and we take it one game at a time, I think we’ll be very successful,” said Lucy Johnson, who hasn’t lost a field hockey game in high school.

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Simply sensational

Cheverus, a longtime contender, broke through in a major way a year ago, winning all 18 games and capturing the Class A state title for the first time, thanks to a stunningly emphatic 4-1 victory over perennial champion Skowhegan in the final game.

The Stags have an abundance of talent back this fall and have some key additions as well and haven’t skipped a beat in the early going of the 2022 campaign, dominating visiting Thornton Academy (8-0), host Windham (9-1) and visiting Bonny Eagle (11-1).

Falmouth, which got to the semifinals in 2021, began this season by edging host South Portland/Westbrook (2-1) and visiting Kennebunk (3-0), before falling at Biddeford (5-0).

Last year, the teams only met once, in the Class A South semifinals, a decisive 7-0 Cheverus victory.

Tuesday, on a comfortable evening (67 degrees at the start), which saw the rain hold off, the Navigators sought their first win over the Stags since moving up to Class A in 2017, but Cheverus clicked on all cylinders and continued to stake its claim as an all-time great team.

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The Stags controlled play from the onset, but couldn’t break through until 8:53 remained in the 15-minute first quarter.

Off a penalty corner, Cash inserted the ball to Lily Johnson, who set up her younger sister and Lucy Johnson ripped a shot that Nunley couldn’t stop to break the ice.

“That was a good start,” said Lucy Johnson. “After that first goal, we were hyping each other up. Playing on turf was very exciting, because we usually play on grass.”

After Nunley robbed Lucy Johnson, Cheverus doubled its lead with 4:04 remaining in the frame, as after Nunley stopped a couple shots, the ball sat free and Pompeo, the younger sister of former program standouts Sophia and Lucia Pompeo, banged home the rebound.

If Falmouth had been able to escape the opening stanza down just two, it would have been encouraged, but instead, the Stags scored their third and fourth goals with time winding down.

With 51.9 seconds showing, Tory got in the scoring column, finishing a feed from Lily Johnson.

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Cheverus then earned a late penalty corner and by rule, was able to play it out after the horn.

The Navigators weren’t able to clear the ball and out of a scrum in front, Tory sent it into the cage for a commanding 4-0 advantage.

“We work on that often,” said Tory. “Coach (Theresa Arsenault) says you have to play through it and keep the ball in the circle and I was just waiting for the rebound.”

“We dedicate a little bit of every practice to those corners,” said Arsenault. “They’re a big part of the game. We work hard to produce off of them. Having a ton of options, girls who are good reading the defense, helps a lot in those situations.”

A mere 29 seconds into the second quarter, Tory completed her hat trick with her third goal in 80 seconds, as she rebounded a Lucy Johnson shot to make it 5-0.

“Taylor just keeps getting stronger every year,” Arsenault said. “She’s great cleaning things up in front of the goal. She’s also great at distributing. I think a lot of it is her tenacity and focus. She does whatever she can to help the team.”

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With 13:08 remaining in the first half, after Nunley denied Lucy Johnson, then saved a rebound bid from Cash, Cash got another chance and finished to make it 6-0.

“It’s a sense of relief knowing if we send the ball in, we’ll get a tip or rebound or something,” Tory said. “Someone’s going to be there for an opportunity and it’s a really good feeling having that trust.”

While Cheverus out-shot Falmouth, 20-0, and took nine corners to the Navigators’ nine in the first half, the score remained 6-0 at the break.

Early in the second half, Nunley denied two shots from Lily Johnson and another from Lucy Johnson.

Then, with 8:20 to go in the third quarter, Falmouth mustered its first shot on cage, from sophomore Allison Sweetser, which was stopped by Stags senior goalie Logan LeFevre.

Cheverus then transitioned to offense and ended a 21-minute scoring drought, as Lucy Johnson had a shot saved, couldn’t convert on the rebound, then refused to be denied and sent a third shot into the cage to make it 7-0.

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After Nunley robbed Tory and a Lily Johnson shot deflected up and off the post, the Stags struck off a corner again, as Lily Johnson finished a feed from St. John with 51 seconds to go in the third.

Cheverus’ final goal came with 9:07 to play, as off another corner, Lily Johnson again set up Lucy Johnson.

Falmouth managed a couple shots and corners late but couldn’t put the ball in the cage and the Stags closed out their 9-0 victory.

“I think having basically all our returners helped build our connection and team play,” Tory said. “We just work well as a team.”

“I think a lot of this year’s group’s success started in the summer,” Arsenault said. “We have some newcomers and veterans and them being able to connect over the summer is showing heading into the season. We have a lot of leadership on this team. Not just with our captains and seniors, but throughout the team. They bring special qualities along with their skill. Something great about this team is when you look at the field, you can’t really tell what grade anybody’s in. That goes a long way.”

Cheverus finished with an overwhelming edge in shots (32-3), had a 14-2 advantage in corners (scoring on five of them) and got three saves from LeFevre, who was ready when her opportunity came up late.

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“Logan is amazing,” said Tory. “We love her so much. She’s grown so much. It’s hard for a goalie to stay in a game when she doesn’t get much action, so we’re proud of her for being ready.”

“We’re working on our defense and we want to have a strong defense,” Arsenault said. “It’s hard for a goalie to have to focus on a couple shots after not seeing many. When we come to that big game and it’s a one- or two-goal game, we’ll trust in Logan and our defense.”

For Falmouth, Nunley dazzled with 23 saves.

“Jenna made a lot of saves,” said longtime Navigators coach Robin Haley. “She got hit a lot and took it and did a really good job.

“(Cheverus is) excellent. They move the ball around very well. They’re 100 percent in synch with each other. They’re a fun team to watch, but not a fun team to play. Despite the score, we’re a better team as a result of playing that game. We played right to the end and didn’t give up and I’m really proud of this group.”

Can anyone stop this train?

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Falmouth returns to action Thursday at Gorham. The Navigators then host Massabesic Monday.

“It’s a long season,” Haley said. “We saw what a very talented team does and that’s what you aspire to. We have players who are hungry. We have some underclassmen who got some valuable minutes and we’re trying to build on this.”

The Stags, meanwhile, return home Thursday to take on Kennebunk, then visit Marshwood Monday. Cheverus could be tested by Scarborough and/or Biddeford in back-to-back road trips (Sept. 23 and Sept. 28), but the way the Stags are playing right now, good luck to any team that lines up across from them.

“It would be fun to have a close game, especially on turf, but as long as we take it one game at a time and make sure we work together and stay humble, we’ll be fine,” Lucy Johnson said.

“We can improve on communication,” Tory said. “Sometimes we lack that. That’s an easy thing that doesn’t require any skill, but otherwise, our team as a whole has been doing really well.”

“We really look to take it one game at a time,” Arsenault added. “I know Kennebunk is our next game and I couldn’t tell you who we play next week. There’s a lot of good teams out there. We’re trying to have the mindset going in that we don’t know what the other team will bring because there will be bigger tests ahead of us. We’re working on our communication and transitioning as a group. With some new players out there, we’re still creating bonds on the field. We won’t get overconfident. We’ll focus on the small things it takes to get (to states). It’s about putting that effort in.”

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

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