SOUTH PORTLAND—The Freeport girls’ lacrosse team continues to do what it’s done so well over the past year, embrace its overlooked status and pounce on the opposition.
The unheralded Falcons improved to 5-3 Saturday afternoon with a stellar start-to-finish effort in a crossover game at Martin Memorial Field, staggering the host South Portland Red Riots with a 7-1 run to start the game.
The Red Riots had no answers for Freeport seniors Aubrey Pennell (the assister) and Jocelyn Davee (the scorer) as the Falcons essentially ended it by halftime, leading, 10-3.
South Portland played even in the second half, but could never make a serious run and Freeport went on to a 15-8 victory.
Davee led all scorers with seven goals, Pennell added six assists and junior Meredith Broderick scored four times as the Falcons continued to impress and dropped the Red Riots to 3-3 in the process.
“Our passing was working today,” said Pennell, who had to sit out the 2012 season with injury and watch as her team made a first appearance in a state final. “This game, we really passed it up and it worked well. I’m very content setting up goals. As long as we win. I don’t care how we do it, if I’m passing it, someone else is passing it, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to go back to states and have a chance to win it.”
Freeport made a surprise run to the state game last spring, shocking defending state champion Yarmouth in the regional final before losing to Waynflete on the big stage, 16-5.
This spring, the Falcons opened with a 13-8 win at North Yarmouth Academy. After a 13-4 setback at explosive Cape Elizabeth, Freeport handled visiting Windham, 9-6. A 10-8 loss at Greely followed, but the Falcons edged visiting York (4-3, in overtime), then handled visiting Fryeburg, 15-6. Tuesday, in a state game rematch, Freeport became the first team to lead Waynflete all season before going down to a 13-7 defeat at the Flyers.
The performances against Waynflete and Cape Elizabeth (when the Falcons hung tough for a half) built confidence.
“Those games helped us a lot, so we knew we could compete,” Davee said. “We didn’t blown out like we did at states last year. I think no matter what people think, we know we made it last year. It means a lot to us. We know we can do it again.”
“Playing so well against Cape and Waynflete was an awesome confidence boost,” said Freeport coach Karin Kurry.
South Portland, which lost to Kennebunk in the Western A quarterfinals last season, enjoyed an 11-4 home win over Sanford to start, then lost, 8-5, at home to Thornton Academy and 15-1 at three-time defending Class A state champion Scarborough. The Red Riots then romped at Noble (18-8) and won at Westbrook (10-5).
The teams met last year in Freeport, where South Portland prevailed, 8-5, but Saturday, the Falcons quickly ended all doubt.
Just 47 seconds in, the dynamic Pennell-to-Davee tandem set the tone and Freeport had a 1-0 lead.
The Red Riots pulled even with 20:09 to play in the first half, when junior Shae O’Brien took a pass from senior Jackie Merrill and beat Falcons junior goalie Molly Lane, but 29 seconds later, Pennell found Davee for another goal and Freeport was ahead to stay, 2-1.
Pennell assisted on a third goal, this time to Broderick, with 16:31 to go and then had a fourth assist, again to Davee, 70 seconds later to make it 4-1.
With 14:25 left in the half, Broderick got in on the assisting fun, setting up sophomore Emily Johnson, forcing South Portland coach Bill Fenton to call timeout.
It didn’t help.
Off the ensuing draw, won by Davee, Broderick scored unassisted to make it a 6-1 game.
With 8:05 left before halftime, Pennell was the beneficiary of someone’s else’s largesse for a change (freshman Nina Moore) and beat Red Riots sophomore goalie Lily SanGiovanni to make the score 7-1.
“It’s really fun,” Pennell said. “I really missed playing last year. It took a little while to getting used to passing and catching, but it came back quick.”
An unassisted goal from senior Lani Edwards at the 6:21 mark snapped a 13 minute, 48 second drought and a 6-0 run, but Pennell set up Davee again 48 seconds later to make it 8-2.
After Edwards scored unassisted, Davee did the same and Moore delivered the dagger with a free position goal with just 3.4 seconds showing before the break for a commanding 10-3 advantage.
O’Brien opened the second half scoring with an unassisted goal, but Pennell scored unassisted, then set up Broderick to make it 12-4.
After Merrill scored on a free position, Broderick and Davee both scored unassisted goals to give Freeport its biggest lead, 14-5.
O’Brien (from senior Jenna Wing) and Edwards (on a rebound) countered for the hosts before Davee, off a draw win, scored her final goal (unassisted) with 2:43 to play.
An unassisted goal from Edwards in the final minute brought the curtain down on the 15-8 Falcons’ triumph.
“We seem to come out strong,” Kurry said. “The question is can we continue it and today, we held on to it. Our transition looked really good. The passes were good. We’re not used to the big, physical game. I think the SMAA plays a more physical game than the Western Maine Conference finesse game.”
Davee erupted for seven goals, while Broderick had four, Pennell two and Johnson and Moore one apiece.
Pennell had six of Freeport’s eight assists.
“Aubrey set me up for most of my goals,” said Davee. “I just had to finish. She’s really good at being smart with the ball. That’s really helpful, when we need to settle on offense and look for a good shot. She has the skill to settle down.”
“Aubrey is a playmaker,” said Kurry. “She’s unselfish and has all the assists. She’s grown as a player. It shows on the field.”
Broderick and Moore had the other assists. Lane made six saves.
For South Portland, Edwards scored four times, O’Brien three and Merrill tickled the twine once. Merrill and Wing each had one assist. SanGiovanni made 13 saves.
“It was over pretty quick,” said Fenton. “Our passing wasn’t good. We’ve worked on that. We were wide open, but didn’t have good passes. Freeport was good at getting more possession than we did. We beat them last year, but they’re a lot better now.”
South Portland hopes to bounce back Tuesday at McAuley. A makeup game with Biddeford, home tests with Windham and Portland and trips to Deering and Bonny Eagle also remain.
“We have work to do, big time, especially on defense,” said Fenton. “We have to shut down the middle. We need to win some games. We want to get (into the playoffs) and see what happens from there.”
Freeport (third behind Gardiner and Yarmouth in the Eastern B Heals) hosts NYA Tuesday. The following Tuesday brings a trip to York and the Falcons close the regular season at home versus Wells and Greely.
“I’m happy so far,” said Kurry. “We’re watching Heal Points.”
“We need to win our next few games and get home playoff games,” said Pennell. “I think we just need to bond more as a team. The teams out there that win a lot are really close. If we can work together, I think we have a chance to go back to states.”
F- 10 5- 15
SP- 3 5- 8
24:13 F Davee (Pennell)
20:09 SP O’Brien (Merrill)
19:40 F Davee (Pennell)
16:31 F Broderick (Pennell)
15:21 F Davee (Pennell)
14:25 F Johnson (M. Broderick)
14:04 F Broderick (unassisted)
8:05 F Pennell (Moore)
6:21 SP Edwards (unassisted)
5:33 F Davee (Pennell)
2:49 SP Edwards (unassisted)
1:07 F Davee (unassisted)
3.4 F Moore (free position)
19:47 SP O’Brien (unassisted)
18:27 F Pennell (unassisted)
17:48 F Broderick (Pennell)
15:49 SP Merrill (free position)
13:37 F Broderick (unassisted)
5:04 F Davee (unassisted)
4:40 SP O’Brien (Wing)
2:55 SP Edwards (unassisted)
2:43 F Davee (unassisted)
56.6 SP Edwards (unassisted)
F- Davee 7, Broderick 4, Pennell 2, Johnson, Moore 1
SP- Edwards 4, O’Brien 3, Merrill 1
F- Pennell 6, Broderick, Moore 1
SP- Merrill, Wing 1
F (Lane) 6
SP (SanGiovanni) 13