(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Cape Elizabeth game story, please visit theforecaster.net)
With the month of November upon us, that can mean only one thing in the girls’ soccer world:
The Falmouth Yachtsmen are on the brink of another state championship.
The two-time defending Class B champions took their show to Morse for a regional final battle Wednesday afternoon, hoping to punch their ticket to Saturday’s state final.
Falmouth finished with the No. 2 seed in Western B after a 10-2-2 regular season. The Yachtsmen immediately drew dangerous seventh-ranked Yarmouth in the quarterfinals.
Falmouth was able to prevail, 2-0, behind goals from Angie Mallis (assisted by Caitlin Bucksbaum on a corner kick) and Mary Catherine Kowalsky.
The Clippers, who had downed Oak Hill in the preliminary round, saw their season end at 5-7-4.
“I thought we played a very good game against Falmouth,” said Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. “We moved the ball well and created some really good chances. In the second half, they picked up the intensity and a nice finish on a corner kick and a great shot to the top corner were the difference. We played hard and with a break here or there could have changed the game around.
“I do feel we improved immensely during the year and we were playing our best soccer. We kept the attitude of just keep working and getting better every game right until the end. Strong work ethic and team unity were evident throughout the season and I appreciate the great leadership and positive attitudes. I am proud of the seniors for getting us ready to play and getting the team to bounce back from some tough losses. We played with a lot of heart. There were lots of ups and down this season and our record does not reflect how good we were. We had great leadership and strong team unity which will help us in the years to come. We have a lot of talent coming back next year and a strong group coming in. I think the future is very bright, I can’t wait till summer soccer begins.”
The Yachtsmen hosted No. 6 Gray-New Gloucester in the semifinals Saturday and got a scare. After going up, 1-0, on a goal from Cassie Darrow, the Patriots pulled even and the game remained tied until just over five minutes remained, when Darrow scored again to give Falmouth a 2-1 victory.
“The Yarmouth and GNG wins were nice wins for our program,” said Yachtsmen coach Wally LeBlanc. “They were both very disciplined and hardworking teams who provided us with intense games. These are the type of games that you would like to have prior to the regional final.”
Falmouth and top-ranked Morse (14-1-1) don’t play in the regular season. Last fall, the Yachtsmen rallied for a 2-1 win at the Shipbuilders in the Western B Final.
LeBlanc knows that a repeat performance won’t come easily.
“The Morse game is going to be a battle, just like last season,” LeBlanc said. “They have a high powered offense fueled by a 30-plus goal scorer in Miracle Trimble. It would be a mistake for us to just focus on her, as they have a well balanced attack and use all of their midfielders to unbalance their opponents. Morse also has a solid senior keeper with critical playoff experience. I believe the game will provide everything that you would expect from a regional championship game and am looking forward to all the teamwork and excitement that comes with it.”
If the Yachtsmen advance to their eighth state final in 12 seasons, they would play either Presque Isle (15-1) or Hermon (14-2) in the championship game Saturday at 5:30 p.m., at Scarborough High School.
Falmouth defeated Presque Isle, 2-0, in the 2008 state game and 1-0 a year ago. The Yachtsmen have never played Hermon.
Yarmouth wasn’t the only local team to fall in the quarterfinals, Freeport and Greely were also ousted in that round last week.
The Falcons made the playoffs at 6-7-1 and earned the No. 8 seed in Western B. After a 1-0 preliminary round victory over No. 9 Spruce Mountain, Freeport went to top-ranked Morse last Tuesday and shocked the hosts by leading 2-0 at halftime, behind a penalty kick goal from Jocelyn Davee and another strike from Maddie Squibb. The Shipbuilders came alive in the second half, however, scoring just 20 seconds in. Morse would add three more goals and advanced, 4-2, ending the Falcons’ season at 7-8-2.
The Rangers were the fifth-seed in Western A after a 9-3-2 regular season. Greely handled No. 12 Biddeford, 3-0, in the preliminary round, but met its match at No. 4 Cape Elizabeth last Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
Entering the contest, the longtime rivals had met 15 previous times in the playoffs, dating back to 1985. Greely had won 10 of those encounters, including the most recent, 2-1, in the 2008 quarterfinals.
Late in the first half, the Capers took a 1-0 lead when Kathryn Clark scored. Then, disaster struck for the Rangers with just seconds to go when Katherine Briggs finished a rebound for a 2-0 advantage.
“I didn’t see the second goal as being that big of a problem because if you score right away, it’s 2-1, and they have to play defense the rest of the half and we just have to put one in,” Greely coach Michael Kennedy said. “We still felt very confident at halftime. I didn’t feel it was over by any stretch of the imagination.”
Greely couldn’t generate much offense in the second half and Cape Elizabeth added another Clark goal to go on to a 3-0 win, ending the Rangers’ season at 10-4-2.
“It’s definitely a shocker,” said Kennedy. “I’m a strong believer that when we lose, it’s my fault and when we win, it’s because of (the girls). I didn’t prepare the girls well enough for the game. You have to give (Cape) credit. They took advantage of the opportunities and put it away. We didn’t generate enough offense. That’s the key for us. We knew what they were going to do, we just didn’t play it well. The third goal was the problem. That and us not scoring in the first five minutes of the second half. They did a very good job defensively and we didn’t do a good job offensively.
“It’s a good learning experience. We’re a young team. We made it to the quarters and finished 10-4-2 after losing a lot. I’m proud of the girls for their effort. We had a unique combination of youth and some experienced players. I thought they really improved over the year and learned a lot about themselves. We really came together at the end. We played the right way. We were undefeated in our last nine games and gave up just two goals. It was a good season for us. It’s the best group of girls.”
Greely’s senior class won 45 games, including one in every postseason. Goalkeeper Caton Beaulieu, Molly Fitzpatrick, Julia Mitiguy, Gabby Morris and Holly Rand will be missed.
“Gabby was a rock star tonight,” said Kennedy. “She played really well. That’s how you want to go out. Julia has been our rock. She’s our emotional leader. Caton, I feel bad for. She’s been awesome all season. She’s had a great career. She’ll be a D1 goalkeeper at Northeastern. Molly has been a very solid player for us and Holly, it’s a tough way to go out. She’s been a four-year starter and has been the rock of our defense. It’s a great class. They’ll be hard to replace, not just for their abilities on the field, but off the field as well. It’s a very special group of girls.”
The cupboard won’t be bare for the Rangers in 2013, however. Several younger players saw key minutes and will carry on the program’s tradition.
“I like to cycle in younger players,” Kennedy said. “Izzy (Hutnak) had a great year. She led us in goals with 11 and in assists. (Freshman) Jocelyn Mitiguy got a lot of experience. Our senior class next year will be really good. Mykaela (Twitchell) will be a senior. Allie Morrill will be a senior. Leah (Young) will be a senior. We’ll retool and hope to get it done next year.”
Yarmouth senior Megan Decker heads the ball away from Falmouth senior Caitlin Bucksbaum during the Yachtsmen’s 2-0 victory in last week’s Western B quarterfinal.