CAPE ELIZABETH—Five days after scoring goals seemingly at will, Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team learned that it isn’t always going to come so easily.
Wednesday at Hannaford Field, the Capers, the two-time defending Western B champions, hosted a York squad that hasn’t gotten its due this fall, residing in the minds of many behind Cape Elizabeth, Greely and Yarmouth in the regional pecking order.
Rest assured that the Wildcats have now made their presence felt.
While York’s defense was bottling up the Capers’ potent attack, its offense broke through in the 29th minute when sophomore Payton Humphrey placed a perfect shot over the head of Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Tessa Goldstein.
With 2:47 to go before halftime, the Capers’ deficit grew, as on a corner kick, Humphrey’s serve was steered home by senior Shannon Todd.
Cape Elizabeth tried to answer in the second half, but the Wildcats weren’t about to give them life and York went on to a 2-0 victory.
The Wildcats improved to 2-0, served notice to the rest of the league, dropped the Capers to 1-1 in the process and sent them back to the drawing board with plenty more big games to come.
“York will be a tough team to beat,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Craig Fannan. “They were super organized. We had good buildup and got the ball in good areas, but we couldn’t break them down or get behind them. It was frustrating.”
The newly named Southern Class B is loaded this fall. Not only does Cape Elizabeth have to deal with traditional rivals Greely and Yarmouth, but York also stands in the way. It will make for a compelling postseason, but the regular season is still in its infancy.
After losing, 1-0, in overtime, to Waterville in last year’s Class B state final, the Capers lost standout Kathryn Clark (now playing at Babson), but returned several other terrific players who have been key cogs in the machine since they were freshmen.
Cape Elizabeth, not surprisingly, got off to a sizzling start with a 9-1 win at Freeport Friday.
York, a perennial contender, wasn’t given a lot of attention in the preseason, but opened by downing visiting Lake Region, 5-0.
Last year, the teams split, as the Wildcats won at home, 3-1, and the Capers answered with a 1-0 victory on their turf.
Wednesday, York came to Cape Elizabeth and never let the Capers breath.
The Wildcats got the first look at the goal in the seventh minute, but after taking a pass from Humphrey, junior Madeline Amidon shot just high.
In the 15th minute, York freshman Peyton Nickerson sent a ball through to junior Tayla Bando, but Goldstein got to it first.
At the other end, Cape Elizabeth finally got a shot, but senior Montana Braxton’s bid was just wide.
Humphrey then had a shot from the side saved by Goldstein, junior Kate Marshall fired two shots, one off a feed from Humprhey on a corner kick which went high, and the second, a low bid, which Goldstein saved.
After Todd broke up a promising pass from Braxton to senior Katherine Briggs, the Wildcats returned to offense and broke through.
The goal came with 11:30 left in the first half, as junior Cara Smith found Humphrey and Humphrey, with some space, wound up and launched a shot from 25-yards out which sailed over Goldstein and into the net. It was perfectly struck and gave York a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t get out wide enough in the midfield and (Humphrey) got locked in and took a great shot,” Fannan lamented.
After Goldstein saved an Amidon shot, the Wildcats doubled their lead.
With 2:47 remaining, on a corner kick, Humphrey launched the ball into the box and Cape Elizabeth didn’t clear it. Todd was in the right place and finished to make it 2-0.
“That was a gift, a frustrating one,” Fannan said. “When they get a foot on the ball in the box, that means we missed a header somewhere. Giving them a 2-nil lead made it hard for us to get back in it.”
The Capers looked to get back into the game in the second half and pushed the play, but couldn’t strike.
With 34:21 left, Braxton sent a nice through ball to senior Kate Breed, who appeared primed to score, but York senior goalkeeper Kelsey Cole came out to kick it away at the last moment.
Three minutes later, Cape Elizabeth senior Sarah O’Connor shot just wide.
After Goldstein stopped a shot by Wildcats sophomore Halee Bando, Braxton again set up Breed, this time with space, but Breed’s first touch was just a little too strong and Cole was able to get to the ball and break up the play.
The Capers’ last chance came with 20:37 to go, as junior Caroline Paclat passed ahead to freshman Presli Piscopo, but Todd got back to break up the chance.
York clamped down from there and went on to the 2-0 victory.
“We had some chances down 2-nil and if we scored, the game could’ve changed, but it just didn’t work out for us today,” Fannan said. “I thought we worked hard. We carried play a little bit. We just couldn’t get the break we needed to get back in the game. It took us awhile to figure them out. (senior back Sierra Swasey) did a great job screening the ball from our forwards and (Todd) was just a rock. Nothing got past her. They have good supporting players around that.”
The teams meet again Oct. 17 in York. Both have a lot to work on first.
The Wildcats are home Saturday against Kennebunk as they look to stay unbeaten.
Cape Elizabeth has to go to Yarmouth Saturday to face a Clippers’ squad it eliminated from last year’s playoffs.
Fannan feels his team will rebound nicely.
“We were in the same position last year, losing a game at York,” Fannan said. “We figured it out and put it together. We have a lot of good players on this team, so we’ll figure it out before we get to the really important games. It doesn’t get any easier. Yarmouth will be a very good team. That will be a good game. It’s a chance for these girls to put it right. We have a big target on our backs still. The best thing about this team is we have a lot of experience and a lot of character.”
Cape Elizabeth senior Sierra Aceto and York freshman Peyton Nickerson compete in the air for a ball during the Wildcats’ 2-0 win Wednesday evening.
Mike Strout photos.
Cape Elizabeth freshman Tory McGrath kicks the ball away from York senior Sierra Swasey.
Cape Elizabeth junior Mariah Deschino races up the field.
Cape Elizabeth senior Montana Braxton boots the ball away from York senior Charlotte Reilly.
Cape Elizabeth senior Kate Breed shields the ball from York sophomore Payton Humphrey.
Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Tessa Goldstein prepares for a shot from York junior Kate Marshall.