FALMOUTH—It turns out you can shut down the powerhouse Cheverus field hockey team.

For three quarters maybe, but not four.

Monday evening at Falmouth High’s Stadium Field, the host Falmouth Navigators frustrated the Stags, thanks to a superb defensive effort and strong goalkeeping from senior Adele Gamage, making her first start of the season.

Cheverus had some golden scoring opportunities, including penalty corners after time expired, in each of the first three periods, but the Stags couldn’t break through.

And then, in the fourth quarter, Cheverus came to life and returned to its prolific scoring ways.

Junior Zoe Radford broke the ice 37 seconds in and sparked a four-goals-in-nine-minutes surge.


Junior standout Lucy Johnson scored twice, then junior Sophia St. John rattled the cage one final time and the Stags went on to a 4-0 victory.

Cheverus won its 11th game without a loss this fall and made it 43 consecutive regular season victories, while valiant Falmouth fell to 8-3.

“This was awesome,” said Stags coach Theresa Arsenault. “It’s fun. This is why you play sports, for this kind of competition. We had some tough situations. It was a test of how the girls will respond and I’m very proud of my girls to play like they did.”

Test passed

The Stags began with a 5-0 home victory over Biddeford, then rolled at Scarborough (7-1), before blanking host Gorham (4-0) in a season-opening gauntlet. Cheverus then had no trouble with visiting Marshwood (11-0), Massabesic (8-0) or Thornton Academy (7-0) and beat both host Biddeford (6-0) and visiting Scarborough (5-1) for the second time before blanking visiting Noble (4-0) and Saturday rolling at Windham, 7-0.

Falmouth, meanwhile, has quietly put together a very strong season. The Navigators opened with 3-0 home wins over South Portland/Westbrook and Kennebunk and after a 4-1 setback at Biddeford, beat visiting Noble in overtime (2-1), host Sanford (1-0) and host Windham (3-2), giving longtime coach Robin Haley her 250th victory with the program. After a 2-1 overtime loss at Marshwood, Falmouth bounced back to blank visiting Massabesic and Bonny Eagle by 3-0 scores before shutting out host Portland/Deering Friday, 7-0.


Last fall, Cheverus rolled to a 9-0 regular season victory over Falmouth, then beat the Navigators again by the same score in the Class A South quarterfinals.

Monday, on a chilly evening that saw the temperature at the start of game read 54 degrees, then dip into the high-40s, the Navigators sought their first win over the Stags since moving up to Class A in 2017, but instead, Cheverus made Falmouth its latest victim.

But nothing came easily for the Stags.

The Navigators came out with playoff intensity and made a quick statement, thanks to a strong defensive effort, sparked by senior Macy Bush, who broke up an early rush by Lucy Johnson. Radford also missed just wide.

Midway through the first quarter, Falmouth produced its lone shot on goal, a one-timer from junior Elizabeth Brown, which was denied by Cheverus sophomore goalie Ellie Skolnekovich.

The Navigators earned a penalty corner as well, but couldn’t produce a shot.


After Lucy Johnson was robbed on the backhand by Gammage and senior Lily Johnson’s rebound shot was saved as well, Arsenault called timeout with 4:46 left in the frame, but couldn’t inspire a goal.

First, Gammage saved a shot by freshman Sydney Brunelle and turned aside senior Mikayla Talbot’s rebound as well.

The Stags got to play out a penalty corner after time expired and Lily Johnson had a nice look saved, which led to another corner, which saw Lily Johnson hit the post before the ball was cleared from harm’s way.

The second period saw Cheverus earn several more great chances, but the visitors couldn’t break through.

In the first minute, Lucy Johnson had a rush broken up by Falmouth sophomore Violet Westburg.

Seconds later, Gammage robbed Lucy Johnson with a pad save.


The Stags kept the pressure on and senior Mackenzie Cash had an initial shot saved, then her rebound bid was also denied.

“Adele came in and did absolutely amazing,” Haley said. “She played lights-out. I’m so impressed with how she played. She played with so much poise and made some great saves.”

After Bush broke up a Lily Johnson rush, Cheverus again earned a penalty corner as time expired and could do nothing with it, meaning the Stags were held scoreless in a first half for the first time this year.

Cheverus had a commanding edge in shots on goal (9-1) and corners (8-1), but Gammage’s nine saves kept the contest 0-0.

The Stags spent most of the third quarter in the Navigators’ end, but again, couldn’t break through.

First, Lucy Johnson shot wide on a corner.


With 9:35 on the clock, Lucy Johnson’s shot after a rush hit the side of the cage.

After Bush came up with a timely clear, St. John took a pass from sophomore Joey Pompeo and missed wide, then Pompeo missed wide as well.

Cheverus played out the period with another corner that again couldn’t produce a goal and the game went to the final stanza still deadlocked.

But not for long.

Just 37 seconds into the fourth, the Stags created a scrum in the circle and the ball rolled free to Radford near the far post. Radford got to the ball and sent it past Gammage and in for a 1-0 lead.

“The ball was rolling, I grabbed it, pulled it back and I stuck it behind the goalie,” Radford said. “It was a relief to get a goal. Once we get a spark, it’s just a wave of energy.”


“Zoe’s awesome,” said Lily Johnson. “She has really improved her stick skills. She was there at the right time and executed.”

“Zoe just keeps working,” Arsenault added. “She got a little frustrated at one point, but we told her, ‘Next play’ and she did exactly that. She has great positioning on the field.”

That opened the floodgates, as with 12:25 on the clock, off a penalty corner, junior Lillian Magda fed Lucy Johnson, who flicked the ball into the cage to double the lead.

With 7:10 to go, Lily Johnson set up her younger sister and Lucy Johnson got around a defender and ripped a long shot that Gammage couldn’t stop, making it 3-0.

“When we got going, we execute really well,” Lily Johnson said. “Once we get one goal, our momentum picks up and we get excited. That leads to other scoring opportunities.”

“It took us a little bit to settle in, but once we did, we picked it up,” Arsenault said. “I felt like it was going to come. The girls recognized that we needed to keep working and keep the next-play mindset. It’s been great to see multiple players producing and working well together up front.”


Cheverus struck once more with 5:23 remaining, as St. John finished.

The Stags didn’t allow Falmouth an opportunity to answer and ran out the clock on their 4-0 victory.

“It was really exciting,” Lily Johnson said. “There was a lot of adrenaline. We just had to stay positive and confident in our play and not getting caught up in the what the other team’s doing. Wearing the bullseye is something we embrace. We’re used to it.”

“I don’t think we had much concern,” said Radford. “We believed in ourselves. We got frustrated at some points, but we fought through it. Their defense is really strong. They were good at cutting to the ball and stepping in front of us and their goalie made some big saves.”

“Falmouth played awesome,’ Arsenault added. “They worked well as a team.”

Cheverus out-shot Falmouth, 17-1, got one save from Skolnekovich and took 14 penalty corners to the Navigators’ one.


Gammage impressed with 13 saves for Falmouth, but despite a fabulous effort, the Navigators weren’t able to pull off the upset.

“I’m thrilled with all of it,” said Haley. “I’m very proud of my team tonight. We just focused on playing our game and what we know we’re capable of doing. This is a very close team. The girls trust each other and they’re willing to work for each other. That made a difference for us.”

Finish strong

Falmouth (now ranked fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) closes the regular season with three tough tests: Wednesday at home versus Scarborough, Friday at Thornton Academy and Tuesday of next week at Gorham.

“Tonight I think showed our team what they’re capable of and this was a big game, so now we have to regroup and get ready for Scarborough, a very talented team,” Haley said. “We’re capable of doing big things on any given day.”

Cheverus (which has the top spot in Class A South locked up for the third year in a row) welcomes Sanford Wednesday, goes to South Portland/Westbrook Friday, then closes at Noble next Monday.

“We have to keep working hard,” Radford said. “Tonight was a learning experience. It will get us ready for the rest of the season.”

“I feel like we just have to play our best each game and we can’t think about games beyond of that,” Lily Johnson said. “We’re very confident. Our defense has gotten a lot better and our offense works well together.”

“We can’t get content,” Arsenault added. “We have to keep pushing and growing every day.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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