Cheverus junior Caroline Taylor and Falmouth sophomore Natalie Howard battle for a ball in the air during the Stags’ 2-0 victory Saturday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
FALMOUTH—Playing without two captains, including its top scoring threat, Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team wasn’t having much luck solving the strong defense of host Falmouth Saturday afternoon.
But after a scoreless first half, the Stags, playing without senior Tholia Hallett and junior speedster Emma Gallant, dug deep and took advantage of a set piece opportunity to propel themselves to a clutch road victory.
With 21:48 to play in regulation, off a corner kick, sophomore Lily Paszyc fought her way through the defense and banged home the serve of sophomore Mia Kratzer to give Cheverus the only goal it would need.
The Stags’ defense slammed the door from there and the visitors got a little breathing room with 1:05 on the clock, when Paszyc set up freshman Julia Kratzer for the clincher as Cheverus went on to a 2-0 victory.
The Stags won for the fifth time in six outings and dropped the Yachtsmen to 1-2-1 in the process.
“It was tough because we knew we were controlling play, but after we settled down, we realized we had to up the intensity and then we were able to capitalize,” said Paszyc.
Cheverus blanked Kennebunk, 2-0, in its first game, then won at Portland (3-0) and at home against Massabesic (4-0). After a 1-0 home loss to Gorham Monday, the Stags bounced back Wednesday by erupting for nine goals in a 9-1 home win over Massasbesic.
“We knew Gorham would be a hard game, but ever since, we’ve wanted it more at practice,” Paszyc said.
Falmouth started with a 1-0 home loss to Scarborough, then edged host Sanford in overtime (1-0) and settled for a scoreless home draw versus Noble.
The teams met in the regular season for the first time last fall, a 2-0 home win for the Stags (the Yachtsmen won a 2014 Western A prelim by a 1-0 score).
Saturday, on a very pleasant late-summer afternoon, Cheverus found enough offense to earn a victory.
Neither team had many chances in the first half, as the Stags and Yachtsmen each only mustered two shots on frame.
Falmouth had an early corner kick and sophomore Izzy Dyer fired a long shot which Cheverus sophomore goalkeeper Neve Cawley saved and at the other end, the Stags either couldn’t solve Yachtsmen freshman goalkeeper Jordan Wolf, or shot wide.
Cheverus started to take control early in the second half, but a Julia Kratzer rush was broken up by Wolf, junior Lauren Jordan was just wide on a ricochet off a corner kick and Paszyc had a shot denied by Wolf.
Finally, with 21:48 to go, the Stags earned successive corners and on the second attempt, Mia Kratzer’s kick came to Paszyc near the far post and Paszyc directed the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
“I’m just thinking I really want to get any touch on the ball,” Paszyc said. “I had to work hard and make a big run on that. It felt good to score.”
“We talked at halftime about how we couldn’t score if we didn’t shoot,” said Cheverus coach Craig Roberts. “We took too many touches around the 18. We talked about the types of movement and runs we had to make. I thought (freshman) Riley O’Mara and (sophomore) Helena Bolduc did a great job of spreading Falmouth our wide so Julia and Lily had more room in the middle.”
“We defend pretty well, but we gave up a set piece goal,” lamented Falmouth coach Andrew Pelletier. “I think we just lost (Paszyc). You could kind of feel it coming.”
The Yachtsmen hoped to answer, but despite some forays into the Cheverus zone, couldn’t solve the Stags’ defense or unleash a shot on Cawley.
Then, with 1:05 to play, with Falmouth sending everyone forward, the Stags counter-attacked, as Paszyc sent a long pass ahead to Julia Kratzer, who cut back, eluded a defender, then beat Wolf just inside the far post for a 2-0 lead.
“The defense was amazing and they held it together and made opportunities for us,” Paszyc said. “Julia is an amazing freshman addition. She was able to make an amazing run. I was just able to find her.”
Cheverus then ran out the clock and celebrated another impressive win.
“I thought for some of our younger players, the Gorham game was too big for them.,” Roberts said. “We were hitting the ball without purpose. I talked today about compartmentalizing and I thought they did it well. Hayley Jordan had to play outside back and in the midfield. That’s hard for a freshman. Lily, same thing. She focused. She’s the one who hustled on the corner kick, then she and Julia had good movement up front and Julia put away a second goal there. Our back four were more organized than against Gorham. (Senior) Zoe Mazur and Mia Kratzer can play 80 minutes.”
The Stags had to find a way to score without Gallant (who missed the game due to illness) and ultimately did so.
“Playing without Emma puts pressure on,” Paszyc said. “She’s amazing. It makes us want it more.”
“When I found out Emma wasn’t going to be able to play, I had to change my pregame speech, but the girls responded,” Roberts said.
Cheverus had a 6-2 edge in shots on frame and enjoyed a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks. Cawley stopped both shots she faced.
For Falmouth, Wolf made four stops, but for the third time in four outings, the Yachtsmen couldn’t find the net.
“It’s weird,” Pelletier said. “We scored 18 goals in the preseason and now we have one goal in four games.”
Falmouth’s quest for offense and victories gets no easier as it goes to Marshwood Thursday, then hosts undefeated Gorham next Saturday and resurgent Bonny Eagle two days later.
“We have a tough schedule, but thankfully, we have a couple days to figure it out and try and put something together,” Pelletier said.
Cheverus visits Westbrook Wednesday, plays host to Thornton Academy Friday, then travels to Bonny Eagle for a showdown the following Wednesday.
“I think we’re doing really well,” Paszyc said. “We definitely have a good chance this year.”
“We’re trying to write a story where we’re one of the teams that can be there at the end,” Roberts said. “We have good opportunities to get better each game.”
Cheverus sophomore Helena Bolduc shields the ball from Falmouth senior Olivia Paysse.
Falmouth sophomore Allie Cunningham and Cheverus freshman Hayley Jordan go for a header.
Falmouth junior Aimee Muscadin tries to slow Cheverus sophomore Mia Kratzer.
Cheverus sophomore goalkeeper Neve Cawley comes out to break up the rush of Falmouth sophomore Lexi Bugbee.
Cheverus freshman Julia Kratzer plays the ball as Falmouth sophomore Devin Quinn closes in.
Cheverus junior Julia Ryan and Falmouth sophomore Lexi Bugbee try to play the ball while lying on the ground.