The Cheverus High field hockey team practiced in an unrelenting morning rain earlier this week, running through drills with thoughts of last fall – both the record-setting regular season and the stunning championship game defeat – far from their minds.

Well, not too far.

“I’m super excited, more excited than last year, because we lost,” said sophomore midfielder Joey Pompeo. “Everything happens for a reason. It was meant to happen, so this year we’re just trying to amp it back up and get there again.”

The Stags and other high school teams across the state began official practices this week ahead of the fall season. Cheverus enters the new season with a narrative so similar – and yet so different – from the one at this time last year.

Last August, the Stags were the juggernaut, the defending Class A champion bringing nearly every player back from a team without a peer. The question wasn’t if they were the favorite, it was if anyone could stop them.

And for most of the fall, no one could. Cheverus finished with 140 goals, the third-most of any team all time, and won its first 18 games, dominating teams en route to the Class A final. And then the historic ride crashed to a halt with a 3-2 loss to Skowhegan in the title game.


And that’s where the narrative changes. The Stags are still the team to beat, at least in Class A South. But this time, there’s unfinished business.

“It feels like we have something to prove this year,” said senior midfielder Taylor Krieger. “It’s a good feeling. We want people to see how much we have worked, and how hard we have worked, since that game against Skowhegan, and how good we’ve gotten from where we were.”

Junior forward Lucy Johnson, whose 49 goals last fall were the second most in a season and most ever by a Class A player, said she’s been anticipating the arrival of the season.

“I’ve been waiting for it all summer,” she said. “For our team … we want it more, especially now that we still have a (good) team. … We want it, and we want to get it back.”

Coach Theresa Arsenault said she’s happy to see a little added incentive for what was already a driven team.

“I think there is a little bit of that underlying motivation that comes off of last season, which I think is great. The girls know what it takes to work really hard to get somewhere,” she said. “But I think last year, they did that. Every day they came and they worked hard. … It’s a similar message (this year), and they’ve got that little motivation in their gut along with it.”


When talking about how last year ended, the Cheverus players speak without much regret. They said they didn’t overlook Skowhegan, nor did they crumble under the pressure of completing a dominant, undefeated season.

But they also don’t hide it. The defeat stung.

“It definitely hurt a lot. We had so many people behind us, thinking ‘They’re going to win this,’ even people at school were like ‘There’s no way you’re going to lose,'” Krieger said. “It definitely was heartbreaking when we lost. But I think it made us stronger. Now we really want it. This team, we got past it, and it’s going to be a good year for us.”

Senior midfielder Lily Johnson doesn’t remember when exactly it happened, but she said the team collectively turned the page and focused on using the experience to its benefit.

“Obviously it takes time to, I wouldn’t say heal, but whatever you want to call that,” she said. “I wouldn’t put a day on when we kind of got over it, but we were like ‘You know what? It’s over. It’s in the past, there’s nothing we can do about it anymore.’ Now all we can do is work super hard and get to the point we want to get to, to make it to the state championship again.”

That work started earlier this summer and continued this week with a 5:30 a.m. Monday practice and then a rain-soaked Tuesday session. The Stags are without key pieces this year – Taylor Tory and her 87 goals are lost to graduation, as are defensive leaders Maddie Fowler, Elle Cooney and goalie Logan LeFevre – but there’s still plenty of firepower left. Sisters Lucy and Lily Johnson are two of the state’s best players. Pompeo is a potential game-changer in the midfield. Krieger, Charlotte Miller and Mackenzie Cash are also among those who played key roles last season.

Cheverus opens the season at home against Biddeford on Sept. 1. The Stags are hoping their early work will help carry them back to the state championship game – with a chance to make it a different result.

“We’re so excited,” Pompeo said. “We (couldn’t) wait to get back at it. We just want to do it all over again.”

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