FREEPORT—Freeport field hockey coach Marcia Wood has believed all season that her team is capable of doing special things.
Thursday afternoon, the Falcons showed why and if they continue to improve, they could make some serious noise as the month rolls on.
Hosting Greely, the Falcons took a 1-0 lead with 11:09 to go in the first half, as off a penalty corner, freshman Alexa Koenig set up sophomore Chloe Davidson for a goal.
Freeport’s defense did a terrific job stymieing the Rangers’ attack and after some near misses, the Falcons’ offense put the game away as junior Emily Randall, on another corner, put the ball in the cage for some breathing room.
The Falcons then slammed the door on a much-needed 2-0 victory, improved to 4-6 and dropped Greely to 3-7 in the process.
“Greely’s very comparable to us,” Wood said. “Last year, we didn’t play our best game against them and they rolled us. I’m hoping the girls see that this is the team I thought we could be in the preseason. We can scare someone when we put it all together.”
Both teams have had their ups and downs this fall, but both would be in the postseason if it started today.
Freeport rolled in its opener, blanking visiting Cape Elizabeth, 6-0. After losing at Gray-New Gloucester (4-3) and at home to Kennebunk (3-0), the Falcons beat visiting Old Orchard Beach (5-0), then lost at Yarmouth (2-0), at home to Poland in overtime (1-0) and at Lake Region (2-1). Freeport bounced back with a 5-0 home win over Sacopee Valley, then was blanked at defending Class B champion York Monday, 5-0.
Greely got off to a slow start this fall, losing at Fryeburg Academy (4-0), at home to Lake Region (3-1) and Yarmouth (3-2) and at Falmouth (2-0) before getting in the win column (3-0) at Cape Elizabeth and again at home against Traip Academy (2-0). Following a 4-0 loss at York, the Rangers edged visiting Poland, 3-2, and lost at Gray-New Gloucester, 3-2.
Last year, Greely blanked visiting Freeport, 2-0.
Thursday, the Falcons turned that result around.
The first good scoring chance of the game came in the sixth minute, when Freeport earned a penalty corner and senior Bailey Karnes had a good look, but her shot sailed wide.
With 11:50 to go before halftime, Wood took a timeout and her charges responded.
Freeport earned another corner, Karnes inserted the ball to Davidson, Davidson passed to Koenig and Koenig sent it back to Davidson, who fired a shot past Rangers sophomore goalie Lizzie Brown for a 1-0 lead with 11:09 remaining.
“Alexa passed to me and I scored,” said Davidson. “We’ve worked on that play over and over to get it perfect. It helped to have the lead. Normally, when the other team scores first, we get deflated and don’t play our best.”
“We’ve worked on corners,” Wood said. “We’re focusing on executing. That was one our better ones. That’s the second time we’ve scored off that.”
A minute later, the Falcons almost doubled their lead, but Greely sophomore defender Sydney Meredith-Pickett made a critical defensive save.
The Rangers didn’t generate a shot on goal in the first half.
Despite controlling play for the most part, Freeport was far from home free and it would take nearly 20 minutes of the second half to earn some breathing room.
Early in the half, Greely pressured, but a long shot from senior Danita Storey went just wide and after senior Mariah Wilcox set up senior Meredith Dwyer, Dwyer’s shot was denied by Falcons senior goalie Morgan Karnes.
After Davidson shot just wide and Brown twice denied Freeport junior Bailey Coffin on the doorstep, the hosts doubled their lead.
The goal came off a corner, as the ball came up top to Randall, who sent a shot toward the far post. The ball eluded the defense and Brown and rattled the cage and the only question was who had scored as it appeared a teammate might have finished the shot, but Davidson got credit and with 10:14 to play, Freeport was up, 2-0.
“I thought I assisted it at first, but someone said, ‘Emily, you got it,'” Randall said.
The Falcons put on the clamps from there and celebrated their 2-0 victory.
“It was very difficult to hold that lead,” Randall said. “They have some players who are very aggressive and have good stick skills. This puts us closer to playoffs.”
“I had no idea how we’d play because we didn’t practice yesterday,” Wood said. “We’re trying to not be a hit-and-run team. I want to look up the field and see us controlling it the whole time. We’ve had some hit and misses this year, but this one we controlled the majority of it. It’s huge for morale.”
Freeport had a 6-3 shots advantage (5-1 on frame). Morgan Karnes made one save. Brown stopped three shots for the Rangers.
“I don’t know what it was,” said Greely coach Becki Belmore. “We came in feeling confident. I think we had one shot. We just couldn’t get any rhythm going today. No momentum. You can’t get the ball if you don’t move to it.”
Greely (now 10th in the Class B South Heal Points standings) is back home Saturday against the McAuley-Waynflete co-op squad, then welcomes Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday. The Rangers close the regular season with games at Kennebunk and at home versus North Yarmouth Academy.
“We have some opportunities left to hopefully pick up some more wins,” Belmore said. “We should get a few more wins. If we finish strong, we should have a home prelim, which would definitely be an advantage to not have to travel.”
Freeport (ninth in the region) stays home to battle Falmouth Saturday (due to SAT testing, the start time has been changed to 3:30 p.m.). After going to Fryeburg Academy Tuesday, the Falcons welcome Old Orchard Beach in their home finale next Thursday. Freeport closes the season with games at Traip Academy and Wells.
“We need to work on communication, passing sooner and spreading out,” Davidson said.
“Everything counts now,” Wood said. “We want to get into that green spot (which indicates playoff teams) on the (Maine Principals’ Association) website and try to stay out of a prelim. We want to finish strong.”
Freeport’s field hockey team is all smiles after blanking Greely, 2-0, Thursday afternoon.
Bruce Feeley photos.
Freeport sophomore Maya Bradbury watches the second goal of the game go past diving Greely sophomore goalie Lizzie Brown.
Freeport sophomore Chloe Davidson tries to slow Greely senior Alyssa Coyne.
Freeport junior Bailey Coffin tries to no avail to knock the ball past prone Greely goalie Lizzie Brown.
Freeport sophomore Lauren Schenker tries to get past Greely freshman Maddy Perfetti.
Freeport junior Emily Randall tries to hit the open cage as Greely sophomore goalie Lizzie Brown gets over to make the stop. Randall later scored the game’s second goal.