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CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s field hockey team had a lot to play for when it took to the turf at Hannaford Field to face Falmouth Wednesday night.
Not only did the Capers need to restore some confidence after back-to-back losses, but their playoff standing was still very much up in the air and most of all, they had a chance to sweep a rival which has been a thorn in their side in recent seasons.
Most of all, Cape Elizabeth wanted to win for eight special players who have given so much to the program and who have returned it to prominence.
Eight players who were honored in a Senior Night ceremony with their families prior to the contest.
Even with all that incentive, the Capers didn’t muster a single shot in the first half, but behind senior goalie Mary DiPietro, they managed to hold the Yachtsmen at bay as well.
Then, right out of the second half gate, Cape Elizabeth got its offense cooking.
With 27:42 to play in regulation, senior Taylor Herrera set up classmate Michaela Pinette for not only the first goal of the game and the only goal the Capers would need, but also the first goal of Pinette’s career.
After DiPietro helped hold dangerous Falmouth senior Elle Fitzgerald and her teammates at bay, senior Aubrey O’Meara set up junior Megan Nicholson for an all-important second goal with 16:31 remaining.
The Capers weren’t going to be denied from there and went on to a pivotal 2-0 triumph, improving to 6-5 and dropping the Yachtsmen to 7-4 in the process.
“We all had a ton of energy tonight,” said the ever-boisterous DiPietro, who made eight clutch saves. “We were blasting music in the locker room, trying to get everyone amped up. To the seniors, this game really meant a lot. Falmouth’s a huge rival. We wanted to go out and let everyone know we’re serious about the season.”
Both teams believe they can be factors in the upcoming playoffs and each has shown glimpses of greatness during the regular season.
Cape Elizabeth opened with a 1-0 home win over Gray-New Gloucester, then sprung a minor upset with a 2-1 victory at Falmouth. The Capers weren’t able to enjoy prosperity, however, losing at home to Poland (2-1) and at Fryeburg Academy (4-0) before bouncing back with a 2-1 home win over Lake Region and holding off visiting Greely, 1-0. After a 2-0 loss at Freeport, Cape Elizabeth beat visiting Kennebunk in double overtime, 2-1, but the Capers then fell at Yarmouth (2-0) and Kennebunk (3-0).
Falmouth, meanwhile, handled host Fryeburg Academy in its first 2014 outing, 5-1, then lost at home to Cape Elizabeth, 2-1. The Yachtsmen then won at Greely (1-0) and at home over Kennebunk (2-0) before falling at home to York (6-0), Falmouth got back on the right track with a 2-0 home win over Lake Region and won at Freeport, 3-1. A 1-0 victory at North Yarmouth Academy was followed by a 5-0 setback at York, but Monday, the Yachtsmen outlasted visiting Fryeburg Academy in overtime, 3-2.
Prior to the Sept. 6 meeting, Falmouth had beaten Cape Elizabeth six straight times.
Tuesday, the Capers were looking to make it two in a row over the Yachtsmen and more importantly, to get back on track. It didn’t come easily, but they managed to do so.
There were only two good scoring chances in the first half and Falmouth had both of them.
With 18:48 to go, sophomore Sydney Bell had a decent look, but her shot was turned aside by DiPietro.
With 7:51 remaining, Fitzgerald backhanded a cross through the crease, but junior Keunjoo Kim couldn’t quite reach it.
The Yachtsmen had the only two first half shots and the only first half penalty corner.
Cape Elizabeth, responding to the oratory of coach Darci Holland, then came out a new and inspired team in the second half.
The Capers pressured Falmouth’s goal immediately, earned a penalty corner and almost scored, but senior Caroline Garfield’s shot was tipped wide.
Cape Elizabeth’s next chance resulted in the only goal it would need.
With 27:42 left, Herrera got the ball to Pinette and Pinette finally realized a longtime dream, rattling the cage to give the Capers a 1-0 advantage.
“I’m not usually a forward,” Pinette said. “I just got moved up because Darci wanted to switch things up. It’s my first varsity goal. I just really, really wanted to score. I had that drive and I got excited. We just wanted to be really aggressive and get a goal in. We really get along well. There’s not really a star player. We have to have a lot of teamwork.”
“I switched Michaela at the Kennebunk game,” Holland said. “I was looking for something different on the forward line. She plays with heart and soul on the field. I felt the intensity she brings would help our forward line.”
Cape Elizabeth had risen to the challenge.
“Darci’s talks really get to us and get us fired up,” DiPietro said. “She told us it came down to us.”
Not surprisingly, Falmouth turned up its intensity and sought the equalizer.
With 23:48 to play, Fitzgerald found some room and rushed in, but under pressure, she shot wide.
Three minutes later, Yachtsmen senior Dayna Vasconcelos had a good look on a corner, but DiPietro made the save and she stopped Vasconcelos’ rebound attempt as well.
With 16:31 left, Fitzgerald got a good look on a corner, but again DiPietro stood tall.
“It got nervewracking, but we composed ourselves and played our game,” DiPietro said. “Elle’s a firecracker. She’s a good friend. She always gives a tough time. I kept telling everyone, ‘Mark up on (number) 1 because she has an incredible shot.'”
Cape Elizabeth then cranked up the offense again and got some breathing room.
With 14:58 to play, on a corner, O’Meara sent a shot on target, which Nicholson deflected past Falmouth senior goalie Caroline Dyhrberg for a 2-0 lead.
Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley called timeout in an attempt to stem the tide, but she couldn’t coax a goal out of her charges.
DiPietro made a save on a Fitzgerald blast, then denied Kim’s rebound. After Falmouth sophomore Devon Sarazin sent a blast just wide, Fitzgerald had a good look on a corner, but she too shot wide.
Finally, with 4:17 remaining, Bell fired a shot which Fitzgerald deflected, but the ball went wide.
The Capers ran out the clock from there (a Falmouth goal at the horn was waved off) and celebrated their 2-0 victory, giving them their first season sweep over the Yachtsmen since 2010.
“We just got really amped up,” Pinette said. “We really wanted to beat Falmouth. They’re a big rival.”
“The girls are pretty pumped and I’m super-pumped as well,” Holland said. “We’ve had a hard time scoring. The girls made it happen tonight on every front. The girls realized if they wanted to beat Falmouth, they had to pick up the intensity and get balls in the circle. It doesn’t just have to be forwards taking shots. Mids can take shots as well.”
Cape Elizabeth’s seniors earned a special memory in one of their final contests.
“The seniors are just a great group of kids,” Holland said. “They’re hard workers. They’re committed players. You don’t usually get eight of them like that at one time.”
DiPietro made eight saves and got plenty of help from her defense.
“We’re a defensive team,” Pinette said. “Mary’s awesome.”
“Having Mary back there is comforting,” Holland said. “She’s ready to play. She does a great job commanding the game and telling people where to be.”
Falmouth finished with a 12-2 shots advantage and had a 5-3 edge in corners, but wound up with nothing to show for it.
“It didn’t go our way tonight and sometimes that happens, but I’m proud of the poise and composure we showed,” Haley said. “We kept putting pressure on the goal, but we couldn’t finish it off. I don’t think we got outplayed tonight, which maybe we did in the first game. It is frustrating. I thought the girls played hard. It was a game we wanted to get back.”
Each team has three games left and is hoping to improve its seeding for the playoffs.
Falmouth (second to Scarborough in the Western Class A Heal Points standings at press time) hosts Poland Thursday, then welcomes Greely Monday before closing at Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday of next week.
“We have to work on minor adjustments,” Haley said. “Hopefully that will make a difference going into the next few games. We want to finish in a top spot. These games become must-wins for us to maintain a high seed.”
Cape Elizabeth (second to York in the fluid Western B Heals) plays host to Fryeburg Academy Friday, visits Greely Tuesday, then closes at York Thursday of next week.
“We need to clean up our defense because we do sometimes play from behind,” Pinette said. “We have to stop breakaways.”
“We have to get up in the Heal Points,” DiPietro said. “I hope the girls take into consideration that it shows when we come out hard. We need to stay confident.”
“I think we have a run in us,” Holland added. “I just hope the girls know that. It’s been a roller-coaster ride. We need to be consistent. I hope we can bottle this up and take it into our next games.”
Falmouth sophomore Sydney Bell tries to get around Cape Elizabeth senior Taylor Herrera.
Falmouth senior standout Elle Fitzgerald winds up for a shot. Fitzgerald had several good looks Wednesday, but couldn’t solve Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Mary DiPietro.
Cape Elizabeth senior Caroline Garfield plays the ball away from Falmouth senior Morgan Allen.
Falmouth senior Kate Lannon tries to hold Cape Elizabeth senior Taylor Herrera in check.
Cape Elizabeth senior Lily Jordan knocks the ball past Falmouth junior Keunjoo Kim.
Cape Elizabeth senior Aubrey O’Meara stymies Falmouth senior Morgan Allen.
Falmouth sophomore Maddie Rouhana plays the ball away from Cape Elizabeth sophomore Hannah Bosworth.
Falmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (2 OT)
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Falmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
Falmouth 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Falmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Falmouth 2 (OT)
@ Falmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1 (2 OT)
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie)
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Falmouth 0
Western B Southwest Division preliminary round
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Falmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth senior Julia Ginder fires a shot during Wednesday’s 2-0 home win over Falmouth on Senior Night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.