Tue, Jul 22, 2014 ●
BathHarpswellTopshamBrunswickCumberlandNorth YarmouthFalmouthFreeportPortlandCape ElizabethScarboroughSouth PortlandChebeague IslandYarmouth

Greely's offensive balance overwhelms Falmouth, 5-1

Sports

Greely's offensive balance overwhelms Falmouth, 5-1

CUMBERLAND—Every foe of the Greely girls' soccer team focuses on slowing the Rangers' dynamic scoring tandem of senior Audrey Parolin and junior Sammi Toorish.

As it turns out, Greely goes quite a bit deeper.

Monday evening, the Rangers hosted longtime rival Falmouth in a showdown of two of the state's best squads, but this one was all Greely.

After the Yachtsmen grabbed the lead with a goal in the eighth minute, the Rangers controlled possession for most of the remainder of the game.

Greely tied the score midway through the first half, went ahead to stay when Toorish set up Parolin in the 56th minute, then put it away late with three more tallies.

The Rangers improved to 7-1 and dropped Falmouth to 5-1-1.

"We know it's a long game," Toorish said. "Eighty minutes is a long time. Going down early isn't the best thing in the world, but we're a strong team and we knew we could come back. We had to stay composed. Possession is our strength."

Two powers

Falmouth won the Class B state title a year ago and has impressed in 2011, winning five times (the most recent a 1-0 overtime decision at Yarmouth Saturday) and tying once.

Greely, meanwhile, lost to Thornton Academy in the semifinals for the second straight season in 2010, but has also dazzled in the early going, winning six of its first seven, falling only at Cape Elizabeth. The Rangers were coming off a 5-1 home triumph over Yarmouth.

Historically, these two teams produce goals and drama when they go head-to-head. Since the start of the 2001 season, heading into Monday night, the Yachtsmen held a 12-5 advantage, with three ties, a disparity built largely behind a six-game win streak in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Last fall, Falmouth eked out a 1-0 win in Cumberland before Greely beat the Yachtsmen for the first time since 2005, 5-0, in Falmouth.

Monday proved to be another offensive explosion for the Rangers, even if they started sluggishly.

Greely did hint at things to come in the third minute when Toorish's pretty through ball to junior Julia Mitiguy was just long and Yachtsmen junior goalkeeper Caroline Lucas booted it away.

Falmouth grabbed a 1-0 lead with 32:06 to play in the 40-minute first half.

Junior Alex Bernier, the hero of the Yarmouth win, sent a ball into the box. Junior Cassie Darrow beat a defender to the bouncing ball and headed it past Rangers junior goalkeeper Caton Beaulieu.

But instead of giving the Yachtsmen a boost, the goal served to awaken the sleeping Greely giant.

In the 11th minute, a through-ball from senior Sara Schad was cleared by Lucas. Two minutes later, Toorish fed Parolin, but her tough angle shot was saved by a sprawling Lucas.

With 19:24 left before halftime, the Rangers struck and Schad was rewarded for her hard work. Racing after a long pass from freshman Kristina Volta, Schad broke in on goal, shot and after Lucas deflected the ball to her right, Schad corralled the rebound and guided the ball into the open net to make it 1-1.

"It was sort of a through ball," Schad said. "I had a long touch and shot it toward the net, the keeper deflected it away and I finished it.

"Things picked up as the game went on. We kind of had a rough first five or 10 minutes. More like 15. That's the first time since our loss at Cape a few weeks ago that we've been down. It shook us up a little bit. We weren't used to it. We wanted to come out and win this. The goal really woke us up. We got subs in, reorganized things and came back out harder. "

Greely pushed for the go-ahead goal, but couldn't get it by halftime.

With 18:30 left in the half, Toorish's cross was barely handled by Lucas. In the 24th minute, a left-footed shot from senior captain Libby Thomas went wide. Three minutes later, Toorish had a free kick, but Lucas made an easy save. With 9:54 to go before halftime, Toorish took a pass on a short corner kick and fed the ball on goal. Thomas raced in to head it, but couldn't quite get there and the shot scooted wide.

With just 11 seconds remaining, Falmouth almost retook the lead when junior Caitlin Bucksbaum got loose for a shot, but Beaulieu made the stop.

"In the first half, I think we came out, I wouldn't say scared, but we were scattered," said Parolin. "There were a lot of long balls we don't usually do. After the goal, we possessed and played our game."

"The first couple minutes were not good," added Greely coach Michael Kennedy. "It was a good test for us. I'm actually glad they scored that goal. One of the things we have to work on a little bit is having someone hit us. We don't necessarily turn up our aggression and assertiveness. I think the goal woke us up a bit and after that, we controlled the game."

The second half would be all Rangers.

Greely had a couple chances early as Toorish was high on a long shot and Parolin (off a Toorish feed after a nice 50-50 ball win by Volta on the sideline) was just wide with a left-footed shot.

With 25:42 to go, Bucksbaum shot high for the Yachtsmen and less than a minute later, sophomore Mary Catherine Kowalski fired a low shot that Bealieu bobbled before saving.

Then, with 24:06 to go, the Rangers went ahead to stay.

The terrific twosome of Toorish and Parolin got the job done as Toorish took a pass up top and found herself with some room. Her initial inclination was to attempt a shot, but instead she saw Parolin was in perfect position and tapped a through ball to the tri-captain, who finished with her left foot for a 2-1 advantage.

"Usually, I take a shot, but sometimes, your teammate's in a better spot and you're comfortable giving the ball to them," Toorish said. "I know Audrey's a great player. I know she can put them away. It's not about the glory. You have to give it to your teammate if they have a better chance of scoring. It's a numbers game. As soon as I saw her, I saw she had more space and I knew it was hers."

Five minutes later, with 19:11 showing, Toorish would get in the scoring column, lofting a free kick from the left side over Lucas' head for a 3-1 lead.

"On the side, I usually to try to bend it a little bit because it throws keepers off sometimes since they're usually looking for you to go far post," Toorish said. "When it looks like it's going far post and it bends back to the middle, a lot of keepers can't deal with it."

Greely wasn't done.

With 6 minutes to play, Volta again set up a goal, this time passing to Mitiguy, who finished to make it 4-1.

"Kristina's an incredible athlete," Schad said. "She's so fast. She's stepped right in and isn't afraid to get the ball and run and score."

"Kristina has been a little nervous in games, but she's really coming into her own," Toorish said. "She's a great utility player. She can play multiple positions. She can use both feet. It's great for our offense."

"Kristina's getting better every game," Kennedy added. "She had a fantastic summer. I had to cool my jets a little because she's like a daughter to me. She's blossomed as a player and a young lady. She's the fastest person on a team with a lot of speed. She makes things happen for us. I'm glad she got on the board in a big game. When I put her in, something good happens."

Volta said that she's happy to be a part of a strong team with solid role models.

"It was a fun game to play," Volta said. "(The upperclassmen are) really nice. They help a lot. They're really supportive. I feel like I've learned a lot from them. I didn't think I'd play this much. It's great. We're all pretty equal up top. We've definitely improved a lot."

In the 75th minute, Schad scored again, taking a pass from Toorish, and the lead was up to 5-1.

"Sammi hit it over the top," Schad said. "We've worked on diagonal runs from the strikers. I just took a few touches and shot it lefty, hoping it would go in. It worked out really well. Our goal for each game is to have three goals. Having five exceeded that. It's good to have everyone scoring."

"Sara played very well tonight," Kennedy said. "She leads by example. She always gives 100 percent and works hard. She's a positive role model. As she goes, we typically go. She and Libby are our quiet, unsung heroes. They have engines that never stop. They have the intangibles you need on a team."

The Rangers ran out the clock from there and celebrated their emphatic victory.

"When I was a freshman and sophomore, we couldn't even beat (Falmouth) and every game was a bloodbath," Parolin said. "Last year, we beat them 5-0 and that was probably the highlight of my high school season. Tonight, beating them by four is amazing. It feels really good."

"I didn't expect to beat them 5-1," Kennedy said. "That's a good team. We possessed the ball the way I want. We've worked on some new things offensively. Three of the five goals came from things we work on in practice. We're starting to get it. To score 10 and give up two in the past two games is the exciting part. I'm proud of them."

Too many weapons

Four different players scored goals and Toorish and Volta each had two assists.

Now that's balance.

"This is what I was hoping would happen," said Parolin. "A lot of people have man-marked me and Sammi or double-teamed Sammi. We have other players who are outstanding and they're starting to shine. You can see that from the number of people who scored tonight."

"The great thing about this year is I think teams get preoccupied with Audrey and I," said Toorish. "We have five other players who can score goals."

"We are incredibly deep," Kennedy added. "I would say we have our three starting strikers and behind them are three strikers who could start on any varsity team in the state. If you look at our production, we're very balanced across. Sammi probably has seven or eight goals, then it goes, six, six, five, five, four. It allows us to keep throwing waves of attacks at the other team. We're going to wear teams down. The Libby, (junior) Gabby (Morris), Sammi thing in the middle really works. We possess everything through them and our strikers are dangerous."

Falmouth took its first loss in stride.

"Greely's a fantastic team," said first-year Yachtsmen coach Wally LeBlanc. "We knew that. We hoped to play intelligent defensive ball and look for counterattacks. I felt that as the game went on, Greely got more confident and we got a little hesitant. I think the game plan wasn't good enough. There's room for improvement. We didn't figure out how to deal with their ball possession. I felt like when they saw a weakness in us, they picked it up a step. They had intelligent runs off the ball. Their passes found those runs. Two or three times they got the ball behind us and that's really difficult to defense. The way to stop that is to have more intelligent marking up top and we just couldn't figure that out.

"I welcome adversity. Our tough opponents make us better. It reveals our weaknesses and allows us to work on them. I'm not thrilled with the loss, but I'm OK with the loss to use it as a learning tool."

See you soon

Greely goes to Falmouth Friday for a rematch and expects a tougher test.

"It was a hard-fought game tonight and I'm excited to see how we play on (Falmouth's turf field)," Parolin said. "It's going to be interesting."

"We look forward to playing them again Friday," Schad said. "It's always a good game."

"It will be a big game," Toorish said. "We've had 10 goals in our two games (against Falmouth), so they'll be looking for us."

"Friday's going to be interesting," Kennedy added. "If we come out flat like we did tonight, we'll be in trouble. We have to be focused. It'll be fun though. We love playing these games. The girls are laid back and love to play and train together. I hope it continues."

First, the Yachtsmen (third in the latest Western Class B Heal Points standings) host Fryeburg Wednesday. Falmouth also has tests remaining against visiting Yarmouth and at York and Cape Elizabeth.

The Rangers (fourth, but due to move up in Western A) host Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday. They also play at Fryeburg and North Yarmouth Academy and host Lake Region and Cape Elizabeth to close out the regular season.

"We have a great defensive line and they cover for each other well," Toorish said. "We're going to be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs."

"There's always room to improve," Parolin said. "We've worked on our offense and different ways to move the ball around. We're starting to really connect up top, but there's always room to get better."

"We're pretty happy with where we are now, but we'll try to keep improving as a team," said Schad. "We need to make sure we take it one game at a time and work at practice. We can't get overconfident."

"We always are going to strive to get better," Kennedy added. "Offensively, I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to how we play. We need more consistency. We don't lack for confidence, but we're not cocky. Sometimes we kind of go out and start games wanting to string together 15 passes in the middle of the field instead of being attack-minded. We have to continue to improve defensively. We're doing a good job, but we can always do better."

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