Freeport juniors Izzy Masison (24) and Maya Egan (12) hug classmate Chloe Davidson after Davidson converts a first half penalty stroke during the Falcons’ 4-1 home win over Gray-New Gloucester in the season opener Wednesday afternoon.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
FREEPORT—While it didn’t erase the sting of a painful result from last October, Freeport’s performance in its field hockey opener Wednesday afternoon certainly provides optimism that a promising season is in store.
Freeport hosted Gray-New Gloucester, a team that twice a year ago beat the Falcons by one goal, including in double overtime of the Class B South preliminary round, and this time around, the Falcons were in command throughout, displaying a tenacious offense and kicking their season off in style.
In the game’s eighth minute, senior Bailey Coffin rattled the cage to get things started. Coffin struck again midway through the first half and just before halftime, junior Chloe Davidson converted a penalty stroke to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead.
The Patriots tried to rally in the second half and got a goal from senior Arianna Sapuan with 13:22 to play, but Freeport’s defense slammed the door from there and sophomore Alexa Koenig iced it with an unassisted tally with 5:49 to play and the Falcons went on to a 4-1 victory.
Three different players scored as Freeport won its season opener for the second year in a row.
“When the girls saw (Gray-New Gloucester) was our first game, I didn’t need to motivate them,” Falcons coach Marcia Wood said. “It doesn’t take the sting out (of last year), but it helps. It gives us confidence because we scored four goals and probably could have had a few more.”
Freeport went 6-8 last year, then was eliminated at Gray-New Gloucester in dramatic and heartbreaking fashion, 3-2, in the preliminary round of the playoffs.
The Falcons lost some key players to graduation, including all-state goalie Morgan Karnes, but expect to contend again this autumn.
Gray-New Gloucester was a 7-7 team in the regular season in 2015 and after knocking off Freeport in the Class B South preliminary round, was ousted by eventual repeat state champion York in the quarterfinals.
In addition to last year’s playoff meeting, the teams played in the regular season where the Patriots prevailed, 4-3.
Wednesday, on an overcast afternoon to start to the new sports season, the Falcons earned their first victory over Gray-New Gloucester since Sept. 29, 2014 (1-0 in Freeport).
The Patriots held possession the first couple minutes before the Falcons went on the attack.
In the sixth minute, it appeared the hosts were going to go ahead when a blast from Koenig off a penalty corner deflected off Gray-New Gloucester sophomore goalie Alicia Credit and sat free, but no one was there to finish the opportunity.
With 22:27 to play in the first half, Freeport did get a goal and went ahead to stay.
After junior Lauren Schenker and junior Maya Bradbury both sent shots in, only to have them sent back out, Koenig fired a blast that Coffin redirected into the corner and the Falcons had a 1-0 lead.
Falcons senior first-year goalie Megan Seymour only saw one shot in the first half and she preserved the lead with 20:29 remaining before halftime by denying a shot from senior Cara Waltz on a corner.
After Credit robbed Coffin on a cross from Bradbury, she denied Schenker point blank, but with 15:34 to go before the half, Coffin had a shot turned aside before pouncing on the rebound and putting it into the cage to double Freeport’s lead.
“We have five people in the circle and more power in the circle has made us stronger on offense,” Coffin said.
“It’s always Bailey,” Wood said. “She’s done it since freshman year. She keeps her stick down. She might be quiet on the field, but she scores the goal. I’m not sure everyone knows who she is, but she’s finishing. It’s nice that she’s under the radar.”
Late in the half, Falcons senior defender Ireland Hall came up big, breaking up a rush by Sapuan.
“Ireland just started playing her sophomore year,” said Wood. “She has one move, but she’s perfected it. She puts her stick down and stops them. She’s been big (on defense). She was phenomenal today. We graduated our goalie and a lot of our defense. That’s what we’re trying to fix.”
Wood then called timeout because she didn’t want a recurring problem from last season carrying over into this one.
She got the Falcons to avoid a letdown and with 3:13 to go in the half, after a Gray-New Gloucester defender stationed on the goal line kicked out a sure goal, Davidson took the ensuing penalty stroke and lofted a blast high into the net past Credit to make it 3-0.
“I saw them getting a little tired and not hustling back, so I called the timeout,” Wood said. “Last year, whether it was the end of the first half or the end of the second half, we let up a ton of goals. I gave them a break so they could go back out hard.”
In the first half, Freeport enjoyed a 13-1 shots advantage and had a 4-1 edge in penalty corners. Only 10 saves from Credit prevented the Patriots from falling further behind.
Koenig almost got her first goal a little over three minutes into the second half, when on a corner, she weaved her through the defense and unleashed a shot, but Credit made the save.
That galvanized Gray-New Gloucester, which finally broke through with 13:22 remaining, as a shot from sophomore Madison Post was saved and the rebound was sent home by Sapuan, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
Undaunted, the Falcons never gave the Patriots a sniff at drawing closer and after a goal was waved off for being kicked in, the hosts brought the curtain down on the victory when Koenig beat Credit with a backhanded shot with 5:49 to play.
“Last year, once we got a goal against us, we were deflated and couldn’t get back,” Wood said.
Freeport ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 4-1 victory.
“It feels pretty good to finally beat them,” Coffin said. “It feels good to come back after last year.”
The Falcons finished with an 18-6 shots advantage, got five saves from Seymour and enjoyed a 7-3 edge in corners.
The Patriots got 14 saves from Credit.
Gray-New Gloucester is back in action Friday when it hosts Greely.
Freeport’s next contest is Tuesday, when the Falcons visit Cape Elizabeth. This group is hoping to build on its fast start.
“Our defense needs to get a little stronger, but I think we’re doing well so far,” Coffin said. “I think we’re doing well right now and I think we’ll go far this season.”
“These guys are motivated,” Wood said. “We’ll continue to do what we do and hope to keep everyone healthy.”
Freeport senior Bailey Coffin scores to put the Falcons ahead, 2-0, in the first half.
Freeport junior Chloe Davidson buries her first half penalty stroke.
Freeport junior Alexa Koenig and Gray-New Gloucester senior Emma MacCallum fight for possession.
Freeport sophomore Kerry Lefebvre sends a shot on goal.
Freeport sophomore Natalie Anderson lines up a shot.
Freeport sophomore Alexa Koenig backhands home a shot for the game’s final goal.