PORTLAND—Longtime Windham girls’ soccer coach Deb LeBel said prior to Thursday’s regular season opener against Cheverus at Boulos Stadium that she’s cautiously optimistic about her perennially strong Eagles team this year.

After an 80 minute display of excellence, it’s safe to say that LeBel can omit the word cautiously.

It took less than three minutes for Windham to get the only goal it would need, as sophomore Marley Jarvais finished, and just before halftime, junior Kyla Harvie added some insurance and the Eagles, who allowed just one shot on frame for the game, went on to an impressive and confidence-building 2-0 victory.

“It’s a good start for us,” said LeBel. “Cheverus is always a great matchup. They always come out strong. It was a good test. We’ll take it.”

Quick strike

Cheverus put together a fine season a year ago, winning 10 games against the regular schedule, then downing Kennebunk and Marshwood in the playoffs before finishing 12-5 by virtue of a 2-1 loss at eventual state champion Scarborough in the Class A South semifinals.


Windham, which won Class A in 2021 in perfect fashion, wasn’t able to repeat as champion last fall, instead finishing 13-3 after a 1-0 loss to Gorham in the semifinal round.

The Eagles won last year’s encounter, 2-1, at home.

Thursday, on a beautiful last day of August (sunny and 71 degrees at the start), the Stags looked for their first win over Windham since a 1-0 home triumph Oct. 8, 2019, but instead, the visitors made it three straight in the series.

Cheverus sophomore Rachel LaSalle boots a free kick in the first half of the Stags’ 2-0 home loss to Windham Thursday. Hoffer photos.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to set the tone, as with 37:20 to go in the first half, Jarvais ran down a long ball, raced in and instead of passing, launched a high rocket that leaping Cheverus junior goalkeeper Evelyn Rush got a fingertip on but couldn’t stop and the ball tickled the twine for a 1-0 lead.

“We’d talked about trying to come out strong and set tingthe tone,” said LeBel.

“We had a defensive lapse,” lamented longtime Stags coach Craig Roberts. “We couldn’t do that in our formation. We did and they got that first goal. It’s almost like we forgot how to play to be successful against a top team.”


Cheverus had a great chance to answer in the sixth minute, but after taking a pass from freshman Maddie Smith, junior Annie Vigue sent the ball just high.

In the 22nd minute, Smith attempted a shot from the side, but Windham senior goalkeeper Alejandra Hidell made the stop.

Rush then kept the Stags alive by denying junior Emily Talbot and robbing sophomore Neve Ledbetter on the doorstep.

Cheverus wasn’t able to get to the half with the deficit just one, however, as with 3:21 on the first half clock, Harvie got the ball up top, spun and fired a low shot that a diving Rush got a hand on but couldn’t keep out of the goal, making the score 2-0.

“I felt like we were having trouble finishing, so that second goal was huge,” said LeBel.

Windham junior Kyla Harvie defends Cheverus junior Annie Vigue.

The Eagles hoped to add to their lead in the second half, but Rush wasn’t having it, saving shots from Talbot, a rebound bid from Ledbetter after a Talbot shot hit the post, Jarvais, junior Stella Jarvais, freshman Mackenzie Delewski and Talbot again.


The Stags did earn a corner kick, which didn’t result in a shot, and freshman Addy Rush missed wide.

Windham ran out the clock from there and prevailed, 2-0.

“We lost some key players and we’re young,” said LeBel. “This makes us really excited about the season to come.”

The Eagles outshot the Stags, 13-1, and got one save from Hidell. Windham also had a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks.

Cheverus got 11 saves from Rush, but couldn’t generate many chances.

“I thought Evelyn was excellent, especially in the second half,” Roberts said. “She got to some shots and held on to the ball and cut down the angle. She was excellent. She’s a good leader. We’re happy to have her. (Sophomore) Kate Prestes, a JV player last year, we put her in at outside back and I thought she did a tremendous job of keeping the status quo. (Sophomore) Chloe Durkin, who was on varsity last year but saw limited minutes, she played center-mid and center-back and played really well in the middle of the field. Those two players and Evelyn and (senior captain) Reese (Belanger), what can I say about her? I don’t take her for granted. They stepped up in the game and showed us something.


“We needed a little more of a sense of urgency and purpose when we possessed. Credit to Windham. They won a lot of first and second balls. To possess and get the ball to the final third to make the runs, you have to play together as a unit and play for each other. We played a little too much as individuals today, especially our veteran players. That was hard to recover from.

“It was a tough first game. Windham’s good, but in our home opener, I was hoping for a better showing.”

Game two

While Windham returns to action Wednesday, at Sanford. The Eagles play their first home game Sept. 9, versus Portland.

“We have a great schedule this year,” LeBel said. “We’re still here. Gorham’s still here, TA. We’ll give (Scarborough) everything we have when we see them. There’s a lot to clean up, but this was a great first step.”

Cheverus, meanwhile, hopes to get in the win column Wednesday at South Portland.

“We’ll get back at it tomorrow,” said Roberts. “We have 13 more opportunities to fix what we need to fix and improve on what we’re already doing well.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: