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Greely girls' soccer deals Cape Elizabeth's playoff hopes a serious blow, 2-0

Sports

Greely girls' soccer deals Cape Elizabeth's playoff hopes a serious blow, 2-0

CAPE ELIZABETH—After starting the 2009 season 5-1-2, the Cape Elizabeth girls' soccer team now finds itself in danger of missing the playoffs.

Tuesday evening at a frigid Hannaford Field, the Capers played well for large stretches of time, but surrendered two first half goals in an 86-second span and dropped their fifth game in a row, 2-0, to visiting red-hot Greely.

Cape Elizabeth is now 5-6-2 and will need help to make the postseason.

The Rangers, meanwhile, improved to 10-1-2 behind goals from junior Kelly Burrell and senior Taylor Hicks.

"We conceded two goals, but there was still plenty of soccer to play," said Capers coach Gary Newell. "The
second half was an indication of how good we can be. We dominated and
they went into a shell. We played with poise and determination. I'm
pleased. I wish there was more of the season left."

Diverging fortunes

When Cape Elizabeth blanked visiting Poland 1-0 Sept. 29 to improve to 5-1-1, the Capers belonged in the discussion of top Western A contenders. The next night, however, they couldn't hold a halftime lead and lost 3-2 at Greely. Setbacks against defending Class B state champion Falmouth (5-1), ascendant York (4-0) and Yarmouth (1-0) followed.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have excelled from the get-go this autumn. Greely (which beat Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals before losing to Gorham in the semifinals in 2008) was unbeaten in its first 10 games, lost 3-2 at York, then bounced back with a 6-0 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester.

Tuesday, the longtime regular and postseason rivals met in a game that was much more important to the hosts, but the visitors came out strong and eventually took a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

After a few close calls, the Rangers went 1-0 with 28:52 to go in the first half when Burrell eluded a defender, moved to her left and launched a 20-yard blast that went over the head of Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Lexi Weatherbie into the top left corner of the net.

"It's nice to score fast like that," Burrell said. "I was excited. I decided to turn
around and I thought I should shoot. I knew I had the right angle. It
had a really good spin. I wanted that this whole season. I haven't
gotten a good goal like that."

With 27:26 left in the half, Hicks got in on the fun, taking a pass from Burrell before floating a 30-yard rainbow from the side over Weatherbie's head and into the goal to make it 2-0.

"Typically, we do score quick like that," said Greely coach Michael Kennedy. "We were down a bunch of
players tonight. This has been a tough stretch for us, but we played
really well. We executed beautifully in the first half. Our possessions
were absolutely perfect."

Capers junior Anna Darling and Karyn Barrett (who scored twice in the teams' first meeting) both had good looks later in the half, but couldn't answer.

Four minutes into the second half, the explosive Barrett hit a rocket that went over Greely senior goalkeeper Jamie Moody's head, but ricocheted off the top of the crossbar.  In the 50th minute, Barrett took a shot from the side, but it went wide. With 17:06 to play, Barrett sent a corner kick on net, but Moody punched it away. Moody then twice broke up scoring chances in the waning moments and the Rangers got out of town with the 2-0 victory.

"We have nine shutouts for the season," Kennedy said. "We have a great goalkeeper, but
we've done it with a lot of role players. None of our starters on
defense tonight started there at the beginning of the season. We've
developed our bench tremendously. They've gotten a lot of experience. We
made a switch to put Audrey (Parolin), who's actually our striker, at
center-back. She matches up well with Karyn, but she left the game
early. I told them if we don't let Karyn score, we have a good chance
to win."

Even in the midst of a crucial defeat, Newell raved about his team's effort.

"This is a defining moment for these players," he said, of the Capers' play in the second half.

Cape Elizabeth was 11th in the Western Class A Heal Points standings entering the contest. Only the top 10 teams will qualify for the playoffs. The Capers have just one game left, at home versus Freeport next Tuesday, and it won't be worth many points, so they'll have to hope to squeak into the postseason party. If they do, they're capable of doing damage, as last year's squad did with a preliminary round upset of Scarborough.

"We have a little break, then we get Freeport here," Newell said. "We have to beat them and
hope. I'm confident going into that game. When we play like we did in
the second half, we are awesome. We just have to cash in our
opportunities."

Greely was fourth in the Western A Heals and closes Monday at Yarmouth. The Rangers continue to improve and look capable of being a legitimate title contender.

"We won't look past Yarmouth," Kennedy said. "They had a good game with these guys. I
don't think we can get above No. 2. Probably 3 or 4. We're happy with the
girls' effort and being in the playoffs. They're a fun group. We still
have work to do."

"Last year, we did all right," Burrell added. "This year, we have a stronger and better team. It feels good to have this much talent. We're playoff ready. I'm positive we'll have a good playoff start."

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