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Greely survives Portland's challenge to win Western A girls' soccer quarterfinal, 1-0

Sports

Greely survives Portland's challenge to win Western A girls' soccer quarterfinal, 1-0

CUMBERLAND—The Greely girls' soccer team edged Portland 1-0 in the
Western Class A quarterfinal round Tuesday night, then the news really
got good.

Moments after the victory, the Rangers learned that top-ranked
Scarborough had been upset by No. 9 Marshwood, meaning if Greely can
win at Thornton Academy in the semifinal round this weekend, it would
host the regional final next week.

Greely got all it could handle from the red-hot Bulldogs, fending
off some serious threats in the second half before sophomore Audrey
Parolin scored the only goal of the game in the 64th minute, which held
up for the Rangers to improve to 12-1-2.

"It's playoff soccer," said Rangers coach Michael Kennedy. "Whether you win 1-0 or 4-0, you have to win. I
told them at halftime we'd played really well. Typically, we wear teams
down in the second half. That team didn't wear down. They kept coming.
They had some opportunities in the second half."

Good test

Greely quietly put together one of the most impressive seasons in the state
this fall. The Rangers stumbled just once, 3-2 at York Oct. 6, and played
Falmouth to a pair of ties (1-1 and 0-0). Otherwise, Greely's offensive acumen and staunch
defense led to 11 wins by a composite 42-4 margin.

The Rangers earned the No. 3 seed in Western Class A and hosted No.
6 Portland, which won its final five regular season games to enter the
playoffs 8-4-2. Greely beat the Bulldogs twice in previous playoff
matchups (1-0 in the 1993 regional final and 1-0 and the 1998
preliminary round).

Early on, it appeared as if it was only a matter of time before the hosts got on the scoreboard.

Ten minutes in, Parolin couldn't quite get to a cross from freshman
Sammi Toorish. A minute later, Toorish's free kick was tipped over the
crossbar by Portland freshman goalkeeper Mishale Nabi, leading to a
corner kick. With 27:59 to play in the first half, Nabi made a
sprawling save with two Rangers closing in. With 21:18 left in the
half, a Toorish rush was broken up and the ball came to Parolin, but
her shot went high. Toorish then had a pair of good looks that Nabi
saved. Finally, with 5:25 remaining before halftime, Toorish crossed to
Parolin, but she couldn't get much on her shot and Nabi made the save.

Greely had a 5-2 edge in corner kicks and a huge territorial
advantage over the first 40 minutes, but the game was scoreless at the
break.

The Bulldogs then came out strong in the second half.

With 33:53 left in regulation, senior Nancy McAdam's shot was
deflected wide, leading to a corner kick. Two minutes later, the
Rangers looked to strike, but senior Jessie Reade's cross to Parolin
was juggled and finally saved by Nabi. With 21:08 left, McAdam fired a
blast on the dead run that Greely senior goalkeeper Jamie Moody got her
fingertips on, setting up a corner kick. 

The Rangers finally took the lead with 16:42 left on a rather
innocent looking play. After senior Taylor Hicks crossed the ball,
junior Maggie Johnson attempted a shot that was deflected. Then, a
momentary lapse and a failed clear by the defense allowed Parolin to
pounce and put her team up, 1-0.

"It started with Taylor's cross, which is what she does all the
time," Parolin said. "Then, Maggie got the ball and she tried to shoot
it, but it got
deflected. There was a miscommunication between the keeper and the
defender. When that happens, a lot of times the defender will back off
a little bit. That's when a striker can go in. I got all giddy. I
thought I'd shank it, send it way over the net, but I made good
contact."

Greely then simply had to hold on, which it did by playing its
brand of stellar defense. The Rangers ran out the clock and advanced
with the 1-0 win.

"I did get nervous," Parolin said. "The defense was hitting us hard. A lot of us got
nervous, but we have that confidence in ourselves that we could get a
goal. Everyone worked their hardest and we got it."

"I haven't seen (Portland) play before, but they're gritty," Kennedy
said. "I'm not surprised
they played us tough. We're down two strikers. (Junior) Kelly (Burrell)
and (senior) Abby Diehl are
out.  I think we'll be healthy for the next game. It was a really good
effort. A lot of people filled in. We have a versatile team. A lot of
people can play different positions. Jamie did a good job. Audrey
finally scored a goal, then played center-back and helped clear balls."

Bulldogs don't hang heads

Portland finished 8-5-2 and was proud of its effort.

"We wanted to come up and play 80 minutes and we did," said Bulldogs
coach Dave Levasseur. "(The Rangers) have the technical skills and
played a strong game, but my girls never gave
up. We just didn't catch any luck. We had a couple chances, I thought.
We couldn't convert on corners (five attempts) at all, which has been a
strength this
year. Mishale played a great game in goal. Their goal was the right
place at the right time. That's what good teams do. I'm happy for the
kids in the sense that we played them toe-to-toe. To do that up here is
tough.

"This was actually the first time this year that we had our true
starting lineup. It's been a great group of seniors. Eight of them have
been with me since they were freshmen. They had a nice high school
career. Now they're off to bigger and better things."

Despite the graduation hit, Portland should once again be in contention in 2010.

"Three freshmen started tonight and did well," Levasseur said. "Robin Bernsten, Ashley
Frank and Mishale are all defenders. That's something to build on for
next year."

Moving on

Greely will visit No. 2
Thornton Academy (13-1-1, after a 2-1 quarterfinal round win over Sanford Tuesday) in the semifinal
round either Friday or Saturday. The Rangers didn't play Thornton Academy this year. The Rangers downed the
Golden Trojans 3-0 in the 1994 regional final.

"I'm excited to play TA," Parolin said. "I've heard a lot about them. They've done
really well. This is our chance to prove to people that we can be the
best team."

"I've seen TA play a couple times and they're strong," Kennedy
added. "We'll take it one game a time. They're 2, we're 3. It should be
a good game."

If Greely can reach the regional final, it will host either No. 4
Gorham (12-2-1), the four-time defending regional champion, or No. 9
Marshwood (8-5-3) Wednesday of next week. The Class A Final is
Saturday, Nov. 7, at either Scarborough High School or Hampden Academy.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net