Freeport’s field hockey team mobs junior goalie Katelyn Rouleau at the conclusion of the Falcons’ 3-2 home win over Yarmouth Tuesday afternoon. Freeport beat the Clippers for the first time since 2013.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
FREEPORT—Freeport’s field hockey team has been searching for a signature victory.
Tuesday afternoon at Hunter Road Fields, the Falcons found it.
At the expense of one of their biggest rivals.
And as a result, Freeport has now ascended up the ladder and has cemented its status as a top contender in Class B South.
Hosting a Yarmouth squad which hadn’t only beaten them five straight times, but had done so by a composite 16-0 margin, the Falcons came out with great energy and were rewarded just 3 minutes, 41 seconds in when freshman Ally Randall rattled the cage.
Freeport clung to a 1-0 lead at halftime and after keeping the potent Clippers off the board during several penalty corners early in the second half, the Falcons got a little breathing room with 20:07 to go, as freshman Hannah Groves found the goal.
To no one’s surprise, Yarmouth refused to go quietly and when senior Maggie Gunville scored with 11:06 on the clock, the Clippers appeared poised to come back, but Freeport didn’t panic, returned to the attack and when junior Natalie Anderson scored with 3:26 to play, the hosts had some breathing room.
They would need it, as Yarmouth again drew within a goal on a strike from junior Kyaira Grondin with 1:55 remaining, but the Clippers never got a good look at drawing even and the Falcons were able to run out the clock on an inspirational and confidence-building 3-2 victory.
Freeport got goals from three different players, 13 saves from junior goalie Katelyn Rouleau and improved to 6-2-1, beating Yarmouth for the first time since 2013 and dropping the Clippers to 7-2 in the process.
“It’s a fabulous win,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “Much needed. They’re our rivals. We get fired up for them. It’s our biggest win by far. To come out and score first was huge and we were able to hold them.”
Both teams expected to be in the Class B South hunt this fall and in the first half of the season, neither disappointed.
The Clippers opened with home wins over Poland (3-1) and Fryeburg (2-0). After falling at York, 3-1, Yarmouth blanked visiting Lake Region (1-0), rallied to beat host Greely (2-1) and handled visiting Gray-New Gloucester (7-0) and Cape Elizabeth (4-1) in what proved to be Amy Ashley’s final game as coach before she left to become the athletic director at Cheverus. Friday, in the first game after Ashley’s departure, the Clippers rolled at North Yarmouth Academy (6-1) under new coach Andrea Musante.
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 York (3-0).
Entering play Tuesday, the teams had met nine times since the start of the 2010 season with Yarmouth prevailing on eight occasions (see sidebar, below), including a pair of 5-0 victories a year ago.
This time around, on another sizzling (78-degree) day, the Clippers looked to stretch their win streak over the Falcons to six, but instead, Freeport handed Yarmouth a loss in the series for the first time since Oct. 5, 2013.
The Falcons came out with great intensity and after junior Kerry Lefebvre had a rush broken up and a pair of corners resulted in a shot by senior Grace Schnyder that went just wide, the game’s first goal came with 26:19 left in the first half.
Lefebvre set it up by passing to Randall and the freshman beat Clippers junior goalie Cayte Tillotson for a quick 1-0 lead.
That goal proved to be an emotional spark.
“We just felt it today,” said Freeport junior midfielder Alexa Koenig, who was a force all over the field. “York was big for confidence. They’re amazing. That showed us we could be competitive and we just had to feel it and believe it. We knew if we got a goal early, we could sustain it and keep our intensity up.”
Rouleau made a pair of saves to preserve the lead, then denied a shot by Yarmouth junior Lydia Guay and senior Emilie Martin had a shot blocked.
Freeport had a chance to extend its lead, but couldn’t convert a corner and at the other end, Guay shot wide, Guay had a shot denied by Rouleau and Martin fired a shot which Rouleau got a piece of before it bounced off the post.
The Falcons took a 1-0 lead to halftime, but knew they had to keep the intensity going in the second half.
Not surprisingly, the Clippers came out strong in the second half, as senior Sophie McGrath got a great look in front, only to see Rouleau made the stop.
Yarmouth then earned five corners in four minutes, but couldn’t generate a good shot, as Koenig and senior Maya Bradbury got in the way.
“We just weren’t hungry enough on corners,” Musante said. “We weren’t moving our feet fast enough.”
Then, with 20:07 remaining, Randall set up her classmate, Groves, for the game’s second goal and Freeport had some breathing room.
“It’s been amazing having the freshmen on the team,” Koenig said. “They bring fresh legs. They’re improving every single game and it’s great to watch them.”
“Our freshmen are wonderful,” Anderson said. “As an upperclassman, it’s amazing to see.”
“Our first two goals were from freshmen,” Wood added. “They’re reliable. I know I can put them in.”
Rouleau protected the lead by denying Guay on the doorstep and robbing Guay again. Freeport then turned away three more Clippers’ corners.
Finally, with 11:06 on the clock, seconds after Rouleau denied Martin, Martin sent a long hit into the box and Gunville tipped it past the goalie and into the cage to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But instead of getting defensive and sitting on the lead, the Falcons looked to respond and after earning a corner and having Anderson robbed on a rush, Anderson delivered the all-important insurance goal with 3:26 left, falling, getting up, then weaving through the defense before beating Tillotson for a 3-1 advantage.
“Any good team will come back and we’re notorious for losing in the last few seconds, but I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” Anderson said. “It was a breakaway, I hit it over, there was a rebound, I dribbled back in and took a shot.”
Out of a timeout, Yarmouth again made things interesting, as on its 10th corner, McGrath backhanded the ball in front and Grondin tipped it in to again make it a one-goal game.
The Clippers never would get the ball back in the circle, however, and the Falcons were able to run out the clock and celebrate their 3-2 victory.
“It’s exciting,” Koenig said. “This means so much. They’ve been our rivals and they’ve always been a team we’ve looked up to. It was tough at the end. They have some great dribblers and great drives. We had to focus on beating them to the ball as best we could and keep them contained.”
“This win brings most of what we’ve been working on all season together,” Anderson said. “We’ve needed to beat a top team and it hadn’t happened. This was a legit win. It feels fantastic.”
“We had hype when we were 5-0-1, then we had that beating by St. Dom’s, but we buckled down and played well against York,” Wood added. “Today, we had to get something. Luckily, I have a deep bench. (Junior) Brooke Toothaker had a phenomenal game coming off the bench. Alexa and Maya are our fliers. Grace played a great game as well. When we play together, we’re darn good.”
Rouleau made 13 saves.
“Katelyn made the saves she had to make,” Wood said.
Yarmouth had an 15-8 edge in shots on cage, 10-5 advantage in penalty corners and got five saves from Tillotson, but couldn’t quite catch up.
“There were some bright spots out there, but not enough,” Musante said. “It just wasn’t our day. We talked a lot about time and score and I think the girls learned some hard lessons about what they can accomplish in a short period of time. We have to do it sooner.
“Playing on grass is a difference. We play primarily on turf. We were both playing on the same surface, but it was a factor. I knew this was going to be a really tough matchup, the biggest challenge we’ve seen in awhile. They came out fighting. They wanted it. You could tell by their energy and we couldn’t match that. I’d rather learn that lesson now.”
Both teams figure to be a factor in the postseason next month and both are chasing as many victories as possible to earn a top seed.
Yarmouth (second to York in the Class B South Heal Points standings) goes home Thursday to meet Wells. Monday brings a home showdown versus York.
The Clippers then close at Lake Region, Cape Elizabeth and Poland.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Musante said. “This will definitely refocus us. You can learn more from a loss than a win. It will fire the girls up quite a bit. I’m excited to see what we do next.”
Freeport (which moved up to third in the Class B Heals with Tuesday’s win) hopes to continue to click Thursday when it faces a tough test at Poland. The Falcons then play their final four games at home, versus Cape Elizabeth, Fryeburg Academy, Gray-New Gloucester and Greely.
It’s safe to say that for Freeport, the sky is the limit.
“We’ll take our momentum from this into Poland,” Koenig said. “We need to keep working on our passing and we want to get on the board first. We’re competitive with everyone.”
“This will push us to know we can beat other teams,” Anderson said.
“We know we can play with everyone,” Wood added. “Now, when we’re down, I can talk to them about this big win. Hopefully we’ll keep building. It’s very exciting.”
Yarmouth senior Emilie Martin and Freeport senior Grace Schnyder reach for a loose ball.
Freeport junior Kerry Lefebvre is denied by Yarmouth junior goalie Cayte Tillotson.
Yarmouth senior Sophie McGrath drives the ball.
Yarmouth senior Sophie McGrath and Freeport senior Grace Schnyder fight for the ball.
Yarmouth junior Kyaira Grondin (11) is congratulated by her teammates after scoring a late goal.
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