GUILFORD -- Ask any soccer coach and they'll tell you that penalty kicks are a roll of the dice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. This time, it was Portland that rolled the Lucky Seven.

Notre Dame-Fairfield's magical season is over. On a chilly, foggy night at Guilford High School, the Lancers lost to the defending Class S co-champions on penalty kicks 4-3 in a game that left the ND players in tears.

"You take your chances with penalty kicks. We've had it go our way and today it wasn't our way," Notre Dame coach Wayne Mones said. "But it wasn't about PKs, we just couldn't finish our opportunities and didn't create enough opportunities. That was the key. We had a very hard time creating against their defense. They were very tough to get through."

Notre Dame finishes with a 15-6-1 record, the best mark in program history. Considering that the Lancers had never had a winning season, let alone qualify for the CIAC tournament, the season was an incredible success, something Mones made sure he told his team.

"The foundation that's been laid is incredible," Mones said. "All the girls played their hearts out and the seniors Tekarah (Coward) and Emily (Wonsiewicz) really showed up tonight and played 100 percent. We just didn't get any dangerous chances."

Emilie Hernandez, AnnaRose Zampano, Sarah Donahue and Courtney Cote made their penalty kicks for the Highlanders, while Samantha LaValle, Bryanna D'Arcangelo and Brianna Kydes scored for the Lancers.

Portland did its best to make sure that LaValle, who came into the game with 10 goals in three CIAC games, got limited touches. Not that it was the game plan for coach Sandy Booth, but he asked his defense to do its best to keep her under control and it did.

"We were aware of her, she's a very good scorer," Booth said. "We didn't really mark her but we asked our defense not to allow any shots. They have a lot of strong strikers from 30 (yards) and in and I told them that we couldn't let them get any shots off and we just defended like crazy."

Portland, was the last seed (29th) in the Class S tournament at 6-9-1, but the Highlanders upset No. 4 seed Parish Hill, No. 20 seed Terryville and No. 12 seed East Hampton to reach the semifinals. Now, they're in the final again.

"This is our third time in the finals and I think that really helped us," Booth said. "We have a lot of experience and we knew what we had to do."

Both sides had solid chances to score. Midway through the first half, LaValle headed a pass from Wonsiewicz off a corner kick that appeared to go into the net, so much so that LaValle raised her arm in celebration. But the ref whistled off the play, saying the ball did not go over the line. And with just over three minutes left in the half, Portland's Alina Pontano fired a shot that ND keeper Sierra Chavez ooked to deflect over the goal but missed. Luckily for the Lancers, the ball hit the crossbar and went back into play.

Two 10-minute overtimes left the team's still scoreless, so PKs were the decider.

"In a game like this, you want to see it won on the field," Booth said. "You hate to go to PKs. Both teams played their hearts out, we both had chances. At the end, we were able to score."

"All the credit to (Portland)," Mones said. "My girls played their hearts out. We had to fight for everything we got. They kept our big offensive powers in check in the midfield. It was a back and forth game. They didn't have too much on us offensively and again, defensively it comes down to PKs and that's always a roll of the dice."

PORTLAND 0 0 0 0--0

NOTRE DAME 0 0 0 0--0

Portland wins 4-3 on penalty kicks

Records: ND-Fairfield 16-5-1, Portland 9-10-1. Penalty kicks: ND--Samantha LaValle, Bryanna D'Arcangelo, Brianna Kydes; P--Emilie Hernandez, AnnaRose Zampano, Sarah Donahue, Courtney Cote.