‘Second season’ has been good for Portland field hockey team

SANFORD — The second season – a.k.a. the playoffs – is a time when the hopes of the first season are either fueled or crushed.
After all, what would the postseason be without an upset or two.
The Portland field hockey squad, seeded seventh in Western Class A, provided the first one of the fall playoffs this week when they toppled No. 2 seed Sanford in a regional quarterfinal tilt.
They did it pretty convincingly, too, besting the Redskins 3-1 at Goodall Park.
“We wanted to go out there,” said senior Raechel Allen, one of the Bulldogs’ three goal getters, “especially since they were a top seed. Everyone has looked at us for the past 10 years as (just) an OK team. But now we’re winning.”
How much of an upset was it?
Consider this.
Portland had never before won a quarterfinal tilt, much less advance to a regional semi.
As well, Bulldogs coach Beth Arsenault had never beaten her opposite number, Sanford’s Diana Walker, in her 11 years of trying.
That elusive first win couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Yeah,” said Arsenault, whose team didn’t meet the Redskins during the regular season. “This is very exciting. I told Diana that I think we had the benefit in that they were a bye team. They didn’t see us, and didn’t know what we could bring. We always know what to expect when we play  Sanford. They’re going to be strong, and they’re going to be skilled. We can’t always brag about those things.”
That Portland can brag about it now is something of an accomplishment.
The Bulldogs barely squeaked past No. 10 Thornton Academy, 3-2,  in the preliminary round, in an overtime contest that took four rounds of penalty corners to settle.
Allen said that the ‘Dogs drew heavily from that close call.
“I definitely think so,” said Allen. “I think the TA game, since it took so long to finish, was invigorating. We were so happy. That we wanted to just pound it.”
They pounded it, all right.
All the way to Saturday’s semifinal with another upstart, No. 6 Westbrook, which ousted No. 3 Cheverus, last year’s Western champions.