CAPE ELIZABETH—After nearly 65 minutes of trying, the Cape Elizabeth girls’ soccer team finally scored a goal and now the Capers get a crack to ruin a neighbor’s season once again.
Friday afternoon, in a Western Class A preliminary round contest, Cape Elizabeth had plenty of chances against the valiant visiting Deering Rams, but weren’t able to convert.
That changed with just under 15 minutes to play, when Capers senior standout Karyn Barrett set up sophomore Maddie Riker for the game’s lone goal. Cape Elizabeth then held off the Rams and improved to 8-5-2 (ending Deering’s season at 8-7), setting up a delicious quarterfinal round matchup at top-ranked Scarborough Wednesday.
“I was worried as long we didn’t cash in our opportunities,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Gary Newell. “We had opportunities, but not that final ball. We got it and it came a little later than I wanted, but it was a great, great goal.”
A year ago, Cape Elizabeth failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The Capers rebounded this season and were competitive throughout, earning the No. 8 seed after tying Class B champion York Tuesday night..
Deering, meanwhile, which lost on penalty kicks to Sanford in last year’s preliminary round, showed great improvement in 2010 and got solid performances from its upper and underclassmen in winning eight of 14 contests to earn the No. 9 seed.
The teams didn’t play in the regular season. Friday was the teams’ seventh all-time playoff meeting (the last was a 2-0 Cape Elizabeth victory in the 2004 preliminary round win in the 2004 postseason).
The tone was set in the 13th minute when Capers junior Abby Houghton shot just high. Eight minutes later, Riker did the same.
Deering’s first foray came with 12:51 to go before halftime when senior Aarika Viola’s rush was broke up by Cape Elizabeth senior Anna Darling.
Late in the half, the Capers got shots from Barrett (wide), Houghton (wide) and Barrett, on which Rams senior goalkeeper Jen Lynch made an impressive save.
“Jen has developed into an excellent keeper,” said Deering coach Kevin Olson. “She was solid all season.”
Both teams would earn opportunities in the second half.
Just 32 seconds in, Barrett beat two defenders, then shot high. With 37:59 left in regulation, off a corner kick, senior Emily Donovan’s header was saved by a leaping Lynch.
Deering then pushed its attack. Freshman Alexis Elowitch sent a cross that just eluded senior Tina Merrill. Moments later, a rush from freshman Cole Spike was broken up.
With 22:02 to play, Barrett was just high from 20 yards. Three minutes later, she shot wide. In the 63rd minute, Barrett set up Riker, who shot just wide.
The next time the two combined, it led to a score.
The goal came when Barrett won the ball in the midfield and sent a perfect through-ball to Riker, who got past the defense, raced in and fired past Lynch.
“I have to give all the credit to Karyn,” said Riker. “She gave me a perfect ball. I was in the right place at the right time. I was nervous and don’t really remember what happened, to be honest. The goalie was really good. I was scared we wouldn’t score.”
The Rams didn’t go quietly.
With 13:37 to play, Darling had to break up a rush from senior Amanda Masse. With 8:59 left, a low shot from Masse was saved by Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Lexi Weatherbie.
With 6:05 remaining, the hosts had a chance to put it away when sophomore Talley Perkins broke in on Lynch, but the goalie stood tall.
With 2:19 left, a rush from Elowitch was broken up by Weatherbie. The ball came to junior Alexis Sivovlos, but she shot wide.
With 1:05 to go, a Deering cross was batted aside by Weatherbie. Masse then shot wide.
From there, Cape Elizabeth ran out the clock and advanced with the 1-0 victory.
“I think we owe a lot of credit to Deering,” said Riker. “They came out really strong. As a team, we stepped it up a lot in the second half. We just needed to step it up mentally. We didn’t want to walk away without a win.”
“Kevin does a nice job with that program,” Newell said. “The girls play well and they have skill all over the field. They have a very good goalie. It’s a pleasure playing them.”
The Rams were disappointed with the result, but proud of their season.
“The girls played the best game we’ve played all season,” said Olson. “Karyn Barrett’s something special, by far the best player I’ve seen this season. My girls played with a lot of heart and passion and didn’t give up. They played the whole 80 minutes. I couldn’t ask for a better game. No regrets. It’s been a phenomenal season. I’m very happy. I’m very proud of my team.
Deering loses Lynch, along with eight others, but with the likes of Sivovlos, Spike, Elowitch and freshman Edie Pallozzi returning, figure to be very strong again in 2011.
“The underclassmen learned a lot from the senior leaders,” Olson said.
Wednesday, at a time yet to be determined, Cape Elizabeth will go to 14-0 Scarborough for the quarterfinals. The teams don’t meet in the regular season, but have squared off four previous times in the playoffs. The Capers are 4-0, which included a stunning upset win in the 2005 quarterfinals on penalty kicks (in a game with similar seeding) and a 2-1 victory two years ago in the preliminary round.
The Red Storm not only won every game this fall, they didn’t surrender a single goal.
“It’ll be good for us,” Riker said. “We have so much confidence, especially after this win. We have nothing to lose. If we go in mentally prepared, it’ll be a good game.”
“I’m excited,” added Newell. “They’re obviously first, undefeated, haven’t conceded a goal. We couldn’t ask for anything more. They’re a skilled team and we highly respect them, but all the pressure’s on them. Anything can happen in one game and it’s a short bus ride.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com