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Freeport senior goalie Katelyn Rouleau is mobbed by her teammates at the final horn of the Falcons’ 4-3 win over defending Class C champion St. Dom’s Tuesday afternoon.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
FREEPORT—It was historic, redemptive and palpitating.
Oh my, was it ever palpitating.
Tuesday afternoon, Freeport’s field hockey team, which last Sept. 20, lost 9-0 at eventual Class C state champion St. Dom’s, got another shot at the Saints at the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field and this time, the Falcons didn’t just avenge that indignity.
They produced one of the biggest regular season wins in program history.
Thanks to phenomenal efforts from every girl who took the field.
Freeport made an immediate statement less than three minutes in, when senior standout Alexa Koenig set up the teams’ leading scorer, senior Natalie Anderson, who rattled the cage for a 1-0 lead and along with it, a big dose of confidence.
St. Dom’s roared back just 35 seconds later, tying the game on senior Caroline Johnson’s goal, but again, the Falcons rose to the occasion, as Koenig scored off a penalty corner for a 2-1 lead with 23:52 still to play in the first half.
The Saints tied the game for a second time, when Johnson scored her second goal, with 9:09 on the first half clock and the game remained 2-2 at the break.
Six minutes into the second half, sophomore Ally Randall one-timed a feed from Koenig and Freeport had the lead again.
This time, the Falcons held it for a long time, dodging a few bullets along the way, and they had several chances to extend their advantage, but couldn’t do so and finally, with 7:30 left in regulation, Johnson set up senior Kylie Leavitt for a goal that tied the game for the third time.
Just when St. Dom’s appeared to have momentum in hand, however, Freeport showed just how far it has come from a year ago, as 31 seconds later, in a quick-hitting sequence, Koenig got the ball and passed it to senior Kerry Lefebvre, who finished to finally put the Falcons on top to stay.
Freeport’s defense slammed the door from there and earned its biggest regular season win in years, 4-3.
The Falcons won their fifth game in a row, improved to 6-1, beat the Saints for the first time in 11 years, handed them their first loss since 2016 and in the process, dropped St. Dom’s to 5-1 on the year.
“It’s got to be our biggest regular season win in a long time,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “I’m so proud of the girls for keeping their heads up and fighting. We were nervous, but knew we could hang. The girls kept going and persisting.”
St. Dom’s has long been a field hockey powerhouse and last fall, the Saints went 18-0, downing Winthrop, 3-2, in double overtime, in the Class C state game to win a championship for the first time.
This fall, St. Dom’s continues to roll through the opposition, beating visiting Traip Academy (8-1), host Sacopee Valley (6-0), host Wells (6-0), visiting North Yarmouth Academy (4-1) and visiting Sacopee Valley (5-0) for a composite 29-2 goals advantage.
Freeport has been pretty impressive as well, winning at Greely (5-2) in the opener, then, after a 2-1 home loss to Fryeburg Academy, downing host Lake Region in a playoff rematch (2-0), host Cape Elizabeth (5-0), host Gray-New Gloucester (8-2) and visiting Traip Academy (8-0).
Last year’s contest was the teams’ first meeting in eight years. Tuesday, on a 76-degree afternoon, the Falcons turned the tide from a year ago and earned their first win over the Saints since Oct. 4, 2007 (2-0 at home).
St. Dom’s showed its explosiveness in the second minute, as it raced up the field and Leavitt got a good look, but she sent a shot just wide of the Freeport goal.
The Falcons then went on the attack and were rewarded with 27:11 left in the first half.
After Anderson shot just wide, the Saints tried to transition the other way, but Koenig stole the ball, then sent it on goal where Anderson was waiting to backhand it past Saints’ junior goalie Simone Long for a quick 1-0 lead.
“Scoring first in any game boosts your confidence so much,” Koenig said. “The fact we could do it against St. Dom’s, which is an amazing team with everything going for them, showed us we could score and we did it again and again and again.”
“If it was the other way around, I think we might have lost our confidence, but (that goal) let us know we could win,” Lefebvre said.
“We never even got in the circle against them last year, so to score was huge,” Wood added.
Before Freeport was even done celebrating its first goal scored against St. Dom’s since 2008, the Saints answered.
It would be Leavitt racing in and setting up the goal, passing to sophomore Charlotte Gastonguay, who touched the ball over to Johnson, who sent it past Falcons’ senior goalie Katelyn Rouleau to make it 1-1 with 26:36 on the clock.
Then, it was Freeport’s turn to again to rattle the cage.
With 23:52 remaining in the first half, the Falcons scored off a penalty corner, which was set up by a great rush by Lefebvre up the right side, who eluded four defenders.
On the corner, Lefebvre crossed the ball into traffic and it bounced out to Koenig who fired it into the cage for a 2-1 advantage.
After Saints senior Paige Cote sent a pair of shots just wide, Freeport looked to build on its lead, but Anderson sent a shot wide, sophomore Hannah Groves was denied by Long and a Randall bid off a corner was saved and the rebound was cleared.
St. Dom’s took a timeout, but it didn’t help initially, as Groves had a shot saved on a corner, Koenig’s seemingly sure goal off a corner was swept off the line by Leavitt and Randall tipped a Lefebvre shot just wide.
Then, with 9:20 left before halftime, the Saints earned their first penalty corner and took advantage, as Cote inserted to Johnson, who fired a shot that Rouleau couldn’t stop and the game was tied for a second time, 2-2.
Just before the half, Anderson had a shot saved and the Falcons earned a corner they were allowed to play out after time expired, but they couldn’t generate a shot and after 30 minutes, the game remained deadlocked.
Freeport had a 7-2 advantage in shots and took six corners to St. Dom’s’ one, but despite a fantastic effort, the Falcons only found themselves tied.
The second half was back-and-forth as well before Freeport found a way to close out its thrilling win.
The Saints had the first chance of the second half, but Rouleau robbed Johnson point blank on a corner.
With 26:24 remaining, Leavitt, for the second time, swept a sure Koenig goal off the line off a Falcons’ corner.
Then, 25 seconds later, Koenig appeared to score off a subsequent corner, with sophomore Amelia Farrin getting the assist, but the goal was waved off due to a dangerous shot.
Just when it appeared the Falcons would never be rewarded for their hard work, Koenig set up Randall for a one-timer with 24:06 to play and a 3-2 lead.
After Rouleau preserved the lead by denying Johnson and Cote, Freeport did its best to double its lead, but Anderson had three shots saved and Groves was denied as well.
With 15:04 remaining, Cote raced in and fired a shot to the far post, but it trickled inches wide.
Then, with 7:30 on the clock, St. Dom’s drew even, as in transition, Johnson got the ball to Leavitt and Leavitt beat Rouleau to make it 3-3.
At that point, it appeared as if the Falcons wouldn’t get their fairy tale ending and that they’d run out of gas and lose, or perhaps tie, but that was dispelled a mere 31 seconds later.
Again, Koenig set up the goal, this time quickly getting the ball to Lefebvre up top and Lefebvre turned and fired a backhanded bid into the cage to make it 4-3 Freeport.
“I didn’t want to go into overtime with them,” Lefebvre said. “I didn’t have any energy, but I got back to make that shot. I was looking for a pass. I just needed to get the ball toward the goal. Honestly, it was just luck. My brain just exploded. I was so happy.”
“No matter what, we don’t give up,” Koenig said. “We won’t fold. It’s a new season and we’ll come back stronger than ever. I have to give it to my teammates. We have so much communication. We depend on each other a lot. It was actually a really nice passing sequence. It was a simple goal, but it was great.”
“I was nervous when they made it 3-3,” Wood added. “In the past, we’ve given up late goals, but this time, we showed our grit, heart and hustle.”
The Saints would pressure again to equalize, but this time, the Falcons’ defense held them in check and didn’t allow another shot and at 5:18 p.m., after one final clear, Freeport rushed the field and celebrated its 4-3 victory.
“We know we need to have confidence when we go out on the field and we had it today,” said Koenig, who was in the first grade the last time Freeport beat St. Dom’s. “We showed them what we can do. We came out on top and I’m really proud of everyone. I was on the verge of tears. To win felt so good.”
“I’m so excited,” Lefebvre said. “Last year, we were so upset to lose by that much, so it really means a lot to beat them. It shows we’ve improved so much. We showed our resilience. I was really tired and everyone on the team was tired, but we did really well stopping the ball. I was tingling (at the final horn). It was amazing.”
The Falcons finished with a 14-6 shots advantage and a whopping 13-2 edge in corners. Rouleau made three saves.
“They’re not even in our class, but we knew they graduated a lot and we knew we had to take care of their top three girls and we did a fabulous job doing that,” Wood said. “(Sophomore) Rianna Tomm marked up (Cote). Amelia Farrin was in there doing great and ‘Lex was doing her ‘Lex things’ and everyone in the front line finished. It was pretty. Everyone did their role.”
Long made eight saves and Leavitt stopped a pair of shots for the Saints.
The Saints look to bounce back when they visit Traip Academy Wednesday. St. Dom’s is home with defending Class B South champion York Saturday.
Freeport, meanwhile, will be tested again at York Thursday, then goes to Yarmouth Saturday. The Falcons host Poland Monday.
The prospect of having to avoid a letdown at York would be unthinkable under normal circumstances, but after Tuesday’s result, Freeport finds itself in that enviable situation.
“I feel like we can go so much farther in the playoffs,” said Lefebvre. “We have tough games all week, but after this win, we have the confidence to win them.”
“I think we have confidence and skill and I think we’ll be up there with all the other teams,” said Koenig. “At the end of the day, we have to believe we can beat them.”
“It says a lot for what’s to come,” Wood added. “We have a big week. Nothing will be easy. Hopefully this confidence boost will ride us through those games. This team deserves it.”
Freeport senior Alexa Koenig shields the ball from a St. Dom’s defender. Koenig scored one goal and assisted on three others while making big plays all over the field.
Freeport senior Natalie Anderson, who scored the game’s first goal, dribbles ahead of the St. Dom’s defense.
Freeport sophomore Amelia Farrin, left, and senior Natalie Anderson stretch for the ball in front of St. Dom’s goalie Simone Long.
Freeport sophomore Ally Randall sends a shot just wide.
Freeport sophomore Aynslie Decker races in on St. Dom’s goalie Simone Long.
Freeport senior Reilly Lefebvre tries to get past a defender.
Freeport senior Natalie Anderson, left, is congratulated by sophomore Ally Randall after scoring the game’s first goal.