Field Hockey: Freeport pulls away from G-NG in a second-half flurry

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FREEPORT—Gray-New Gloucester hung with the Falcons for much of the teams’ contest on Thursday night, Oct. 4: Jaida Patterson even balanced the scoreboard at 1-1 after Freeport initially seized a lead. But the Falcons pulled away from the determined Patriots in a flurry of second-half goals, Amelia Farrin adding one and Hannah Groves adding two for a 5-1 result.

The matchup was a road bout for G-NG, and thus took place on Freeport’s gorgeous new turf.

“We’re still working on trying to get the passes, trying to open up the field, see field,” G-NG head coach Christa Roddy said. “It’s still a work in progress. Definitely a younger team that’s still new to working with each other. As we get to the end of the season, it’s getting a lot better.”

Freeport pressured early: The G-NG defense – including their goalie, freshman Mackenzie Baston – stood strong through long minutes of insistent battery, but the Falcons eroded their way onto the scoreboard in due course. With 18:46 on the clock, Natalie Anderson tallied a redirect point, knocking an Alexa Koenig feed past Baston at the left side of the Patriots’ cage. 1-0.

“We haven’t played since last Friday,” Freeport head coach Marcia Wood said. “And this week, with the rain, there were some days we didn’t practice, or didn’t practice long enough. So it’s kind of our thing: We need to have better warmups, because we’re taking the game to do our warmup. Once we hit one, then it kind of gets going.”

Roddy called timeout.

“We talked about what was working and what we needed to adjust,” Roddy said. “Whenever we get that first goal (against us), I try to get in their heads before they can get in their own heads, and talk about, ‘It’s not over. One goal is one goal, and we have time to get it back. Let’s adjust and refocus.’ I think it worked.”

Less than 90 seconds after returning to the field, G-NG fought back: The Patriots earned a corner. Sydney Garcia took the insertion, and in the ensuing melee, Patterson scored the team’s only goal of the night on a redirect at the left side of the Falcons’ net. 1-1.

“We were where we needed to be,” Roddy said, asked what worked for her girls on the goal. “Eyes on ball. We had a strong send from the top of the circle, and the perfect touch on post, which is something we practice over and over – I think any team practices over and over, but when it works, it’s like, ‘Thank goodness.’”

“They stepped up their game and we did not,” Wood said. “I was kind of disappointed, because what we said at that timeout, they went back out and didn’t do it. The basic thing was just communicating. ‘You’re too quiet out there. The communication will help the bunching, will help you running into each other, will help the bad passes.’ I liked how we were spreading out the field, trying to make passes back, or flat, but we have to make sure we’re ready for them.”

“When they scored, we just started getting into our head, because ‘We’re not playing our game, we’re not playing our game. What are we doing?’” Wood said. “But once we got one or two more goals, we started to find our click. We were making better passes, better options.”

Freeport soon regained the upper-hand. Farrin inserted on a corner, with Groves picking up the ball. Groves shoveled laterally to Koenig, who pulled the trigger on a cannon-blast of a shot from the top-left of the arc, beating Baston easily. 2-1.

“Alexa, oh, my God. She’s awesome,” Wood said. “We work on sending that out to her and her getting that shot off. Being able to take the shot and finish it on the first try was – that’s what we want out of corners, and we haven’t been full executing corners recently.”

The Falcons never looked back. Though G-NG dogged them through the remainder of the uphill half and deep into the downhill, Freeport ultimately sealed the deal with a rat-a-tat-tat trio of tallies. With 14 minutes to play and following a corner, Farrin notched from inside a scramble; Baston performed admirably here, throwing herself into a dive, but she couldn’t secure the ball, which rolled home.

A minute and a half later, Groves struck on an assist by Anderson; another minute and a half after that, the duo teamed up again in almost exactly the same way. 5-1.

“We got tired,” Roddy said, asked about Freeport’s scoring blitz. “We’ve been working on some new things in practice, and they had utilized that for a majority of the game, and as we got tired, we started to fall away from those. That’s when we saw that little bit of break in our play.”

G-NG did recover their composure as the game wended toward its conclusion – but the damage was done.

“The last 10 minutes, they managed to come back from that, and stay strong,” Roddy said. “Which was nice – to be able to take the goals, swallow them, and try to keep playing on.”

Roddy took a moment to applaud a handful of her players, beginning with Baston. “Mack is young; she’s really focusing on ‘Eye on ball. Am I on-angle?’ On using her voice – once she gets pumped up, she’s on fire…She’s doing great this season. She’s all-heart. She just was on it today, for a majority of the time – which is what we ask for.”

“All those girls that were out on the field played well,” Roddy said. “I know that’s so cliché, but they really did. We always go to Madelyn Cote; she’s a strong player. She plays year-round. She gives us a lot of power. We had really nice cuts and ball-movement from Trizzie Ha and Tiffany Ha, and who play in our midfield and can generate some plays from there. But really, across the board. Madie Post, out of the back, was huge, keeping her stick low, eyes on ball, moving forward. The team did well.”

G-NG slipped on the loss to 3-9 this season. The tenth-ranked Patriots have picked up Ws thus far over Cape Elizabeth (12th place, 0-12),  Wells (ninth place, 5-6-1) and Traip (eighth in C South, 1-11). A number of their losses, it’s worth noting, have been quite narrow. The team fell just 1-0 to No. 1 Fryeburg (9-2-1), for instance, 3-2 to No. 5 Greely (10-3) and 1-0 to No. 8 Yarmouth (6-6). So G-NG are valid contenders in many of the battles they ultimately drop; their next goal in building the program is no doubt to flip those defeats.

The Patriots sit outside the postseason as of now. With one matchup left on their docket, they’re unlikely to reach the bracketing, especially as their final opponent is the Capers, worth no Heal points. That game is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Freeport, meanwhile, improved to 10-2-1 on the autumn. The third-ranked Falcons are real contenders for the crown this year. The team’s two losses have come against Freyburg and York (No. 2, 9-3). They’ve also tied the Raiders, though, and clearly no squad is unbeatable, so Freeport is likely to find themselves in another tight outing or two before their season concludes. The last contest on their regular schedule is a home bout vs. Greely on Wednesday the 10th.

“It’s exciting,” Wood said of her girls’ excellent slot in the standings. “We had a bye this week, so we’re kind of just sitting and waiting for other teams to play, so we can figure out where we’re going to be in playoffs.”

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Brooke Toothaker cuts across the top of the offensive zone in Freeport’s win on Thursday night.

Falcon Kerry Lefebvre clashes with a Patriots opponent along the sideline.

Amelia Farrin fires forward for the Falcons.

Patriot Madelyn Cote and Falcon Ally Randall race along the sideline.

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