Freeport junior Alexa Koenig sends a backhanded shot toward the goal during Monday’s home game with Fryeburg Academy. Koenig’s goal 83 seconds into overtime gave the Falcons a 3-2 victory.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
FREEPORT—Redemption is a beautiful thing.
So is victory.
Especially sudden victory.
Freeport’s field hockey team had to deal with a little of everything Monday afternoon at Hunter Road Fields against visiting Fryeburg Academy and one Falcon in particular, junior standout Alexa Koenig, ran the gamut of emotions.
As the first half expired, Freeport, which took a 1-0 lead when junior Natalie Anderson scored on a rebound in the 12th minute, had a golden opportunity to double its lead, as off a penalty corner as time expired, a penalty stroke was awarded and Koenig took it, but her bid rang off the crossbar.
The Falcons shook that off and went up by two goals just over a minute into the second half, as a Koenig shot was tipped home by junior Kerry Lefebvre.
The Raiders, who are much more competitive than their record suggests, roared right back to tie it with two goals in a 1-minute, 42-second span, as Katie Emery and Kirsten Wentworth did the honors.
The game would go to overtime, where Freeport salvaged a much-needed triumph, as 83 seconds in, Koenig finished a feed from Lefebvre and scored off a penalty corner to win it, 3-2.
The Falcons improved to 8-3-1, won eight games in a regular season for the first time in six years, dropped Fryeburg Academy to 4-8 and in the process, took another step closer to locking up a top seed for the upcoming postseason.
“This was exciting,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “We lost last week to Poland in overtime after losing a two-goal lead and I was having deja vu. The girls were so heartbroken from that one, so I didn’t have to tell them anything. This is the first year we’ve been able to beat (Fryeburg). They play teams close.”
Freeport came into the season with high expectations and while there have been a few stumbles, the Falcons have largely lived up to billing as one of the top contenders in Class B South.
Freeport started with a 1-1 tie at Greely, then rattled off five straight victories: 1-0 over visiting Lake Region, 1-0 at Fryeburg Academy, 4-1 at Cape Elizabeth, 7-1 at Gray-New Gloucester and 5-0 at Traip Academy. The Falcons then lost at St. Dom’s (9-0) and at home to three-time defending Class B state champion York (3-0). After earning a 3-2 home win over Yarmouth, Freeport dropped a 4-3 OT decision at Poland, but Saturday, the Falcons handled visiting Cape Elizabeth, 4-1.
Fryeburg Academy didn’t score a goal in its first three games, losing 1-0 decisions at Lake Region and at home to Freeport and a 2-0 game at Yarmouth. After a 2-0 win at Gray-New Gloucester, the Raiders fell, 2-0, at Poland. The shutouts continued at Wells (a 2-0 win) at home versus York (a 1-0 loss). Fryeburg Academy then lost at home to Greely (3-1), blanked visiting Cape Elizabeth (4-0) and host Lake Region (1-0) before falling at home to Poland Saturday (3-0).
In the first meeting, Sept. 9, Falcons senior Lauren Schenker had the lone goal.
Monday, on a beautiful early October afternoon (67 degrees at the start), the Falcons did just enough to sweep the season series.
Freeport came out determined and carried play in the early moments, earning three penalty corners in the first five minutes, but managing just one shot, by freshman Ally Randall, which was saved by Fryeburg Academy goalkeeper Bridget Fahey.
After Randall missed wide on a shot, Koenig had a good look on a corner, but was denied by Fahey.
With 19:46 to play in the first half, Koenig sent a long pass ahead to Anderson, who was robbed by Fahey and on an ensuing penalty corner, Koenig had a shot blocked.
With 18:21 remaining in the half, on their seventh corner, the Falcons broke the ice.
The ball got played in front of the goal and Fahey made an initial save, but Anderson was there to knock home the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
Freeport then came within inches of a second goal at the end of the half.
As time expired, the Falcons earned a corner, which by rule, is played out even with the clock reading 0:00. The ball came to Koenig, whose shot was saved by Fahey, but on the rebound, Fahey trapped the ball and a penalty stroke was ruled.
Koenig stepped to the line and tried to beat Fahey high, which she did, but unfortunately for the hosts, the shot was too high and bounced squarely off the crossbar, keeping the score 1-0.
“I’ve been practicing strokes,” Koenig said. “I wasn’t even nervous. It was just one of those things that didn’t work out, but it made me want to work even harder to get a goal.”
“When (Alexa) does them in practice, it’s picture perfect every time,” Wood said. “(When she missed) I thought, ‘It figures.’ There’s a ton of pressure on the shooter, but it was a beautiful shot.”
Anyone expecting momentum to change as a result of the missed stroke had to be surprised by how well Freeport began the second half as well, as with 28:48 to play in regulation, a Koenig got a look up top and her bid was tipped into the cage by Lefebvre to make it 2-0.
“After halftime, we knew we had to score and keep momentum,” Koenig said. “We knew they’d be tough in the second half.”
But just when it appeared the Falcons were well on their way to victory, the Raiders rose off the deck with a vengeance.
With 22:07 to play, Abigail Hewes’ shot was tipped home by Emery to cut the deficit in half.
Then, with 20:25 remaining, off a penalty corner, Hewes had another shot tipped home, this one by Wentworth, and the game was deadlocked, 2-2.
“They came into the circle strong,” Koenig said. “Once we realized what was happening, we shifted gears.”
Fryeburg Academy then pressed for the lead, but Hewes just missed on a corner.
After Wood called timeout with 14:13 on the clock, Freeport returned to the attack.
With 10:46 to go, an Anderson rush was broken up at the last moment.
Down the stretch, both squads earned two corners, but couldn’t put a shot on cage, and regulation ended, 2-2.
“Things just stopped clicking (early in the second half),” Wood said. “We talk a lot about communication all through the game, but the defense was running into each other. We had to fight through it. I’m happy we were able to get the game into overtime.”
The game would go to OT, which consists of teams playing 7-on-7 for two, eight-minute, “sudden victory” periods until a winner is determined, or the game goes in the books as a tie.
It didn’t take long for the Falcons to end it.
Freeport earned a corner just 40 seconds into the first OT, but two shots from senior Maya Bradbury were saved.
The Falcons then got another corner and this time, executed it perfectly.
Bradbury inserted the ball to Lefebvre, who crossed it in front to Koenig, who one-timed a blast that found the target.
“We weren’t lucky with the corners most of the day, but that time, we executed,” Koenig said. “Kerry passed it to me. I tried my best. I was hoping and praying it would go in. I went for the corner and luckily it went there and went over the goalie’s foot. I heard the sound and it was an amazing rush and turned to hug all my friends.”
“(Alexa) redeemed herself with that goal,” said Wood. “It was pretty.”
Freeport then celebrated its first overtime victory since Sept. 12, 2009.
“It’s amazing,” Koenig said. “We’ve been in overtime a couple games and we’ve lost in overtime, so we understood what was at stake. We wanted to work hard and push through and win the game.”
The Falcons had a 10-7 edge in shots on cage, a 12-7 advantage in penalty corners and got five saves from junior goalie Katelyn Rouleau.
Fahey stopped seven shots for the Raiders.
Fryeburg Academy (which is clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in Class B South), goes to York Wednesday and closes the regular season Tuesday of next week at home versus Sacopee Valley.
Freeport (fourth in the Class B South Heal Points standings) hosts Gray-New Gloucester Friday and finishes up the regular season Tuesday of next week with a pivotal contest against visiting Greely.
The Falcons last won nine games in a regular season in 2009 and last captured 10 wins in 2007.
“This reassures us that we are competitive,” Koenig said. “It proves to us we can keep progressing and get better. There’s a lot at stake for us. We want to keep improving. It’s been so fun. We’re so close this year. It feels so good to know we can do this.”
“I’m hoping we can win out and finish as high as (the three seed),” said Wood. “That would be fabulous. The girls aren’t afraid. Some of them want York again. This year is so wide open. It could be anyone. It’s really exciting.”
Freeport junior Natalie Anderson weaves through the Fryeburg Academy defense. Anderson had the Falcons’ first goal.
Freeport senior Maya Bradbury fires a shot in traffic.
Freeport senior Grace Schnyder is defended by a pair of Raiders.
Freeport freshman Hannah Groves plays the ball up the sideline.