South Portland got on the board first at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford Friday afternoon – and they got on the board best, too, scoring 19 goals to the Tigers’ one on fiery play by Thomas Leddy, Jack Fiorini and Duncan Preston.
The Red Riots go to 1-0, while Biddeford drops to 1-1. The Tigers took their own season-opener, clawing through Massabesic 9-1.
“This is our first game of the year, we didn’t get a lot of scrimmages in. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of expectations,” said South Portland head coach Tom Fiorini.
“I was just hoping we would pass and catch,” he chuckled.
As for the opposition: “New coach, new program; I thought they played pretty well. Biddeford showed a lot of heart.”
South Portland hashed their first four in under three minutes, before Biddeford managed to go on the attack. Riots middie Chris Mitchell strangled the offensive, though, stealing and slinging the ball upfield to Jack Fiorini, who scored for 5-0.
“My attack looked pretty sharp today,” coach Fiorini said. “All four of my attackmen, I think, put points on the board. The middies do all the work getting the ball to them. My defense, they got into passing lanes and shut down [Biddeford’s] offense.”
With just over four to play in quarter one, the Tigers finally found a groove, assembling a lengthy, coordinated assault. The South Portland D matched them for a stretch, nearly forcing more than one turnover – but Biddeford recovered each time, and eventually Chipper Trottier worked his way inside, fired and beat Riots netman T-Moe Hellier.
That would be it for the Tigers, though. South Portland reboubled their defense, not to mention their offense, allowing just 13 shots total and amassing 43. Andrew Whipple opened the second quarter by feeding Preston from behind the net for the team’s ninth point.
Preston scored again six minutes later, a laser low along the ground from 30 feet out. 10-1 at the half.
“What you try to take out of a game like this,” coach Fiorini said, “is: what did the defense do right? What mistakes did they make? We didn’t have any penalties the first half, we had some the second half. We need to work on that. Penalties, obviously, in a tight game, can kill ya.
“Our offense: most of our goals were assisted. That means we’re moving the ball, we’re looking for each other. Those are the things I’m looking for.”
What about those stretches when Biddeford did manage to seize control and assemble an offense around South Portland’s perimeter? “In those moments, our defense wasn’t getting out, getting in their passing lanes, getting on their hands and shutting them down. So they were able to control the ball,” Fiorini said.
The Riots piled on four more in the third, and five in the fourth. Preston carried in from the left for South Portland’s 17th, and a minute later Jack Fiorini jogged through loose coverage out front – all eyes were on Whipple, behind the net – to catch Whipple’s pass and flip it in, 18-1.
Kam Andrews capped the victory on another Whipple assist from behind the net with just over two minutes remaining. 19-1 the final.
Leddy scored seven in the rout, while Fiorini and Preston each scored four. Ben Bilerback added two, Andrews the one, and Bretty Soucy one as well. Whipple, for all his nimble footwork and stickwork, did not score – merely assisted an impressive six times.
Despite the lopsided victory in his Riots’ favor, coach Fiorini continued to applaud the Tigers: “A really good job by both teams.”
The Tigers rally near the conclusion of a timeout.Biddeford’s Chipper Trottier looks for the pass during the Tigers’ fight with the Red Riots Friday afternoon.Biddeford’s Kyle Rhames and South Portland’s Kevin Conley collide in pursuit of the ball.Red Riot Jordan Susi harasses Tiger Zac Costis as Costis charges upfield with the ball in Biddeford Friday afternoon. South Portland won the bout, 19-1.South Portland’s Trent Lloyd-Rees chases down Biddeford Tiger Patrick Ruck.South Portland goal-scoring machine Duncan Preston outpaces a determined Austin Avery of Biddeford.