Falmouth junior Madison Wolf plays the ball during the Yachtsmen’s 1-1 home draw with Windham Friday afternoon.
FALMOUTH—With the Class A South girls’ soccer field deeper and more talented than ever, every game is magnified.
With the regular season coming to a close, every Heal Point is precious and as a result, after a 90-minute battle Friday afternoon, Falmouth and Windham weren’t brokenhearted about Heals after settling for a tie.
In the schools’ first countable meeting this century, neither squad could score in the first half, but just 93 seconds into the second half, freshman sparkplug Lexi Bugbee set up senior Amelia Waite for a goal to give the Yachtsmen a 1-0 lead.
Falmouth held that advantage for 13 minutes before the Eagles answered on a gorgeous shot from freshman Rylee Pepin.
Neither squad could score from there and the game went to overtime.
In the first five-minute, “sudden victory” session, Windham had three fine opportunities, but couldn’t finish and in the second and final OT, the Yachtsmen came agonizingly close to winning it, but they too couldn’t score and contest ended in a 1-1 draw.
Falmouth extended its unbeaten streak to three games, is now 4-6-1 on the year and the Eagles are now 6-3-2.
“They’re a good team and it’s a good result,” said Yachtsmen coach Andrew Pelletier. “They have great players, we’ve got great players. It was a fun game, like a playoff game.”
“I was a little nervous,” said Windham coach Deb LeBel, who a decade ago coached Falmouth to three Class B state championships in four seasons. “Falmouth is a very good team. I thought our energy was flat, but it picked up in the second half and I was pleased. We came back and that was another good thing.”
Falmouth and Windham used to square off when both were part of the Western Maine Conference, but Friday’s encounter was the first countable meeting between the teams this century.
Both teams have shown promising glimpses this fall, but both have suffered tough losses as well.
Falmouth opened with a 2-1 loss at Scarborough, then defeated visiting Sanford (3-1) and Maine Girls’ Academy (9-0) before losing at Noble (2-1) and Cheverus (2-0), at home to Marshwood (2-0), at defending regional champion Gorham (3-0) and at Portland (3-2). After a 1-0 home victory over South Portland, the Yachtsmen rolled at Massabesic Wednesday, 5-1.
Windham began by shutting out visiting South Portland (2-0) and Massabesic (7-0). After a 2-0 loss at Bonny Eagle, the Eagles won at Deering (3-1), at home over Maine Girls’ Academy (9-0) and at Portland (4-3). After settling for a 1-1 tie at Noble, Windham downed visiting Thornton Academy (2-1), lost at Sanford (1-0) and Wednesday, lost at home in overtime to Kennebunk (2-1).
Friday, on another pleasant (67-degree) afternoon, each team had their moments, but after 90 minutes, there was no resolution.
The Eagles got the game’s first shot, but freshman Julia McKenna was denied by Falmouth sophomore goalkeeper Claire Winkeler.
In the fifth minute, a shot from the side by Yachtsmen freshman Devin Quinn was grabbed by Windham senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Roberts a split second before she was bumped by Falmouth senior Cali Wiberg. Roberts was shaken up on the play and had to momentarily leave the game in favor of junior Erin Elder.
Elder was immediately tested, as with 34:18 to play, junior Madison Wolf passed to Wiberg, who one-timed a left-footed blast to Elder’s left. It appeared the ball was heading into the net, but it hit the post instead.
Roberts then returned to the game just in time to save another Wiberg bid.
In the 18th minute, Eagles senior Maggie Symonds had a shot saved by Winkeler.
Roberts made her finest save with 9:15 left in the half, as Falmouth sophomore Gabi Esmond broke in alone, but Roberts came out and smothered the shot to keep the game scoreless.
Late in the half, a shot by Bugbee went through Roberts’ hands and rolled to the goal line, Roberts lunged back to grab it a split second before it went over and while the Yachtsmen were adamant it should have been a goal, it wasn’t awarded and the game remained 0-0 going into the half.
In the first half, Falmouth had a 6-2 edge in shots on frame and a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks.
The Yachtsmen would finally break through early in the second half.
With 38:27 to go in regulation, Bugbee beat a defender in the box, dished the ball off to Waite and before Roberts could respond, Waite fired the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
That goal wound up galvanizing the Eagles every bit as much as the hosts and eventually, they pulled even.
After senior Maggie Lloyd had a shot saved by Winkeler, Lloyd took a free kick from 35-yards out which Winkeler bobbled before recovering just in time.
Then, with 25:08 on the clock, junior Meghan Hoffses passed to Pepin on the right flank and from just outside the box, Pepin struck the ball perfectly, sending it over Winkeler and into the net just inside the far post to tie the game, 1-1.
Pepin had a chance to give Windham the lead with 16:05 on the clock, but her free kick from just outside the box sailed high.
Down the stretch, Waite shot wide, Waite had a shot saved by Roberts and Yachtsmen freshman Sarah Wuesthoff missed high, sending the game to overtime.
The Eagles had some great chances in the first five-minute OT, but couldn’t finish.
Just 44 seconds in, a low shot from junior Allison Kirby forced Winkeler to go to her knees to cradle.
Then with 2 minutes to go, the ball squirted free to Hoffses in the box, who had a great look at an open net, but she sent the ball high.
Another bid by Kirby forced Winkeler to make a save and the game went to the second extra session.
There, Falmouth almost won it as just seconds in, Waite had multiple chances on the doorstep, but had two shots blocked and another saved by Roberts.
From there, the Eagles had one final look when Lloyd got into the box, but Winkeler broke it up and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
“It felt very nostalgic (today),” LeBel said. “I was hoping some of the success I had here would carry over. We have to finish when we get opportunities.”
“This result was a good step forward,” said Pelletier. “I thought in the first half we were unbelievable. In the second half, after we scored, they were much better than us and they created opportunities.”
Falmouth finished with a 9-7 edge in shots and a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks. Roberts stopped six shots, as did Winkeler.
“Claire has stepped in for us and she’s stepped up,” said Pelletier.
Both teams have work to do in their quest to move up the playoff standings in the final days of the regular season.
Windham (now seventh in the Class A South Heal Points standings) hosts Gorham Wednesday, then closes with games at Westbrook and at home versus Scarborough.
“We’re jelling and we have a couple tough ones to finish up, but I like to have tough ones at the end of the season to get ready for the playoffs,” said LeBel. “Now we just have to do the little things. It’s a talented top-to-bottom league.”
Falmouth (11th in Class A South) is home for Senior Night Wednesday against Westbrook, then finishes up at Thornton Academy and Kennebunk.
“I think we’re getting there,” said Pelletier. “We’re excited. We’re getting to the point where we’re jelling. We hope we can finish strong.”