Cape girls ride second half surge past Freeport

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Cape Elizabeth junior Olivia Cochran (4) congratulates senior Prezli Piscopo after Piscopo scores the first goal in the Capers’ 3-0 home win over Freeport Monday night.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

CAPE ELIZABETH—Freeport’s girls were late to the game, but the Falcons showed up at Hannaford Field nonetheless Monday evening.

Cape Elizabeth’s girls were late getting their offense going, but the Capers always find a way to score and after a scoreless first half in the teams’ Class B South showdown, Cape Elizabeth put the ball in the goal three times in the second half as it stayed unbeaten on the 2018 season.

After a Freeport defender was called for a hand ball on a corner kick, Capers senior standout Prezli Piscopo buried a penalty kick with 35:52 to go.

Piscopo then set up junior Karli Chapin for a second goal with 21:50 on the clock and with 13:12 left, sophomore Laura Ryer got in on the fun, scoring on a rebound off a corner kick and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 3-0 victory.

The Capers got a measure of revenge for a loss to the Falcons from last season, improved to 6-0 on the year and in the process, dropped Freeport to 2-2-2.

“At the beginning, it was a tough match, but once we score, we just break other teams down,” said Piscopo.

Living up to billing

Cape Elizabeth came into the season viewed as the team to beat in Class B South, while big things were expected from Freeport as well and neither squad has disappointed in the first couple weeks.

The Capers, under first-year coach Graham Forsyth, started with a 2-1 win at Greely, then edged visiting, two-time defending champion Yarmouth, 1-0, in double-overtime, won at York (5-0) and Wells (3-0) and most recently, downed visiting Gray-New Gloucester Thursday (3-0).

The Falcons, coached this fall by David Intraversato, handled visiting Gray-New Gloucester (5-2) in their opener. After a 2-2 draw at Greely, Freeport beat visiting Lake Region (3-0). The Falcons suffered their first loss, 4-2, at home to Yarmouth, then settled for a 2-2 draw at York Thursday.

The teams have met annually since 2005 with the Capers winning every encounter until last year’s opener, when host Freeport got a second half goal from Gould and 14 saves from then-freshman goalkeeper Carly Intraversato to prevail, 1-0.

“Last year, we went in with the mindset that we’d already won and losing that game was embarrassing,” Piscopo said. “We didn’t want another upset like that.”

Monday’s game started 40 minutes late, as the Falcons’ bus was involved in a minor accident on the Casco Bay Bridge, but once the teams took the field, the conditions were perfect for mid-September (73 degrees).

Freeport sought consecutive wins over Cape Elizabeth, but after a slow start, the Capers went on to another impressive victory.

Piscopo got the game’s first chance in the sixth minute, as junior Olivia Cochran crossed the ball to her, but Piscopo shot just wide.

Gould put the Falcons’ first shot on frame, but Cape Elizabeth freshman goalkeeper Elise Branch made the save.

After Chapin headed a Piscopo corner kick over the crossbar, Intraversato missed just high.

At the other end, Piscopo fired a rocket just high and a cross from freshman Maggie Cochran to Chapin resulted in a header that was saved by Freeport sophomore goalkeeper Leah Rusiecki.

The Falcons then tried to take the lead, but a long shot from sophomore Rachel Wall was saved by Branch and Gould missed just wide on a rush.

Late in the first half, Piscopo had a pair of shots saved by Rusiecki, Chapin missed just wide and a cross by Olivia Cochran skittered through the box untouched.

In the final minute, a rush by Wall was broken up by Capers sophomore back Abbey Agrodnia and a Gould free kick was blocked, sending the game to the half scoreless.

In the first 40 minutes, Cape Elizabeth had a 3-2 edge in shots on frame and had a pair of corner kick chances to none for Freeport, but zeroes were on the scoreboard.

Not for long.

The Capers came out sizzling in the second half, but were stymied initially, as Chapin set up Piscopo on a rush, only to have Rusiecki make a clutch save, Ryer be denied by Rusiecki and Maggie Cochran have a shot deflected wide after a turnover.

Cochran’s shot resulted in a corner kick and with 35:52 to go in regulation, Piscopo served the ball in and it clearly made contact with the hand of a Falcons’ defender in the box and play was stopped and a penalty kick was awarded.

Piscopo did the honors and fired a low shot just to the right of a lunging Rusiecki, just inside the near post, for a 1-0 Cape Elizabeth lead.

“I normally don’t like to take PKs, but I just did it,” Piscopo said. “I try and fake the goalie out and make them think I’m going somewhere else, then shoot.” 

“We can rely on Prezli to get a good cross in the box,” Forsyth said. “If there’s a PK, we obviously look to her. We have a number of girls who are comfortable, but tonight, she finished it.”

“To have something like that happen was a bummer,” said David Intraversato. “I guess (the defender) just went up with her hands in the air and the ball hit her hand. That was a tough break.” 

The Capers weren’t content with a one-goal lead and after senior Tori McGrath missed just wide, Ryer had a shot saved and Piscopo had a cross cleared, Piscopo got the ball from senior Riley Dall, drew a pair of defenders, passed to Chapin and Chapin, after a perfect first touch, settled the ball and fired it past a diving Rusiecki inside the far post for a 2-0 lead.

“My initial thought was to go straight to goal, but I saw two defenders and saw Karli was wide open,” Piscopo said. “I lofted it to her and she finished.”

“We played quick to feet on that goal,” Forsyth said. “It was a great pass from Riley Dall to Prezli, then to Karli and her first touch was excellent and it was a great finish as well. A great team goal.”

Freeport’s lone chance of the second half came with 20:10 remaining, as it earned a corner kick, but even though the ball deflected off Branch, Cape Elizabeth managed to clear it.

After a Piscopo header landed on top of the net, Olivia Cochran was denied by Rusiecki and Maggie Cochran missed just wide, Ryer ended all doubt.

With 13:12 to play, freshman Emily Supple served the ball in off a corner kick. It came to McGrath, whose shot was denied, but Ryer knocked home the rebound.

The Capers slammed the door from there and went on to a 3-0 victory.

“We tightened up a few things at halftime,” Forsyth said. “We’ve set a standard in preseason and the first five games of our season and we didn’t get anywhere near there in the first half. I couldn’t be any more proud of the girls in the second half.”

Cape Elizabeth enjoyed a 13-3 shots advantage and a 5-1 edge in corners. Branch stopped all three shots she faced.

Freeport got 10 saves from Rusiecki, but couldn’t find the net for the first time all season.

“I thought we had a chance tonight and the first half was pretty even, but they have really good girls in the middle who are very good with the ball,” David Intraversato said. “They turned it on a little bit and I think we slowed down.  I think we can play with them at our place. The comeback against Yarmouth instilled confidence and the first half here is good for confidence too.”

Still improving

Freeport hopes to get back in the win column Thursday when Wells pays a visit. The Falcons visit St. Dom’s Saturday.

“It’s going great,” said David Intraversato. “When I first saw the schedule, I thought we’d be 2-4, but we’re 2-2-2 and we have good Heal Points.”

Cape Elizabeth is at Waynflete Thursday, then hosts Greely and York next week.

“I think things are going well, but we have to keep going and not let up,” Piscopo said. “We can’t go into any game thinking it’ll be easy.” 

“We don’t care who we play, we approach it as if it’s the first game of the season,” Forsyth said. “That’s the mentality the girls have. I couldn’t be more proud of their effort so far. We still need consistency. We’ve started a few games slow.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Maggie Cochran races up the field as Freeport junior Grace Abbott tries to keep up.

Cape Elizabeth junior Karli Chapin handles the ball.

Freeport sophomore goalkeeper Leah Rusiecki makes a save.

Cape Elizabeth junior Olivia Cochran boots the ball as Freeport sopohmore Rachel Wall looks on.

Freeport sophomore Carly Intraversato serves up a corner kick.

Cape Elizabeth senior Prezli Piscopo scores the game’s first goal, beating Freeport sophomore goalkeeper Leah Rusiecki with a penalty kick as Falcons’ sophomore Carly Intraversato looks on.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.