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Greely junior Brendan Carrell, center, is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a second half in the Rangers’ 2-0 win at Freeport Thursday. Greely’s victory gave longtime coach Mike Andreasen his 200th with the program.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
FREEPORT—For two decades, Greely’s boys’ soccer team has responded to the leadership of its coach, Mike Andreasen, and has won games by any means necessary.
Whether the Rangers are state title favorites or are scrambling to make the playoffs, they are always opportunistic, hard working and are better in October than in September and those program hallmarks were on display again Thursday afternoon against Freeport at Hunter Road Fields as Greely earned another victory.
And not just any victory.
After the Rangers hung tough in the first half and got some key saves from senior goalkeeper A.J. Eisenhart, Greely broke a scoreless tie with 38:19 to play, when senior striker Hazael Tshituka finished a feed from sophomore Silas Cunningham.
Then, with 31:55 remaining, sophomore Matt Kramlich set up junior Brendan Carrell and that was more than enough of a lead for the Rangers’ defense to protect and they went on to a 2-0 triumph.
Greely improved to 6-5-1, dropped Freeport to 6-6 and in the process, gave Andreasen his 200th victory with the program.
“I asked the offense to get us two (goals) and the defense was good today,” said Andreasen. “We had chances in the first half, we just needed to make a play. This was a big game. We had to have someone step up.”
While Thursday’s contest had historic implications, it meant even more to both squads in terms of Heal Points and playoff positioning.
Freeport entered the season confident it would be in contention and the Falcons haven’t disappointed.
After falling at Cape Elizabeth, 1-0, in the opener, Freeport defeated host Lake Region, 7-0. Another one-goal loss, 3-2 at Greely, followed, but the Falcons turned around and defeated host Fryeburg Academy and North Yarmouth Academy by 4-0 margins. After a 4-0 home loss to York, Freeport bounced back to blank host Poland (7-0) and edge visiting Waynflete (2-1). After a 6-1 home loss to three-time defending Class B champion Yarmouth and a 3-0 home setback to Cape Elizabeth, the Falcons won, 5-1, at Wells in their last outing a week ago.
Greely has had some ups-and-downs, but like always, appears to be hitting its stride when it matters most.
The Rangers started with a 3-2 home loss to York and a 5-3 home setback to Yarmouth, then defeated visiting Freeport (3-2) and Gray-New Gloucester (3-0). After a 5-0 loss at Yarmouth, Greely settled for a scoreless tie at Cape Elizabeth. Following wins over visiting Lake Region (8-1) and host Poland (8-0), the Rangers lost at York (5-0) and at home to Cape Elizabeth (2-1). Saturday, Greely got back in the win column, 4-1, over visiting Wells.
In the first meeting, Sept. 9 in Cumberland, Tshituka, senior Quinn Molloy and sophomore Andy Moore all scored for the Rangers, while junior Caleb Arsenault and senior Joe Ashby tallied for the Falcons.
That win was Greely’s 13th in a row in the series, dating to the 2006 season (see sidebar, below).
Thursday, on a crisp and windy 58-degree day, Freeport sought its first victory over the Rangers this century, but Greely got the job done once again.
Just 75 seconds into the contest, the hosts nearly got the jump off a corner kick, as junior Shea Wagner got his head on sophomore Jake Dumont’s serve, but Eisenhart made the save.
After Molloy had a long shot saved by Falcons junior goalkeeper Atticus Patrick, Freeport had an even better chance, as a low blast from sophomore Jesse Bennell forced Eisenhart to dive to barely tip the ball out of harm’s way.
In the 11th minute, off a Rangers’ corner, Tshituka got his head on the ball, but sent it just high.
After Eisenhart stopped a shot by Falcons sophomore Will Winter, Winter got his head on a cross from junior Eriksen Shea, which Eisenhart had to knock out of bounds for a corner kick, which led to a header by Bennell, which was saved.
With 22:27 left in the first half, Tshituka eluded the defense and appeared bound for a goal, but Patrick made a sprawling save.
Eisenhart’s best save came in the 27th minute, when a pass from Freeport senior Joe Ashby to Bennell deflected off a defender, allowing Bennell to break in free, but he was stopped cold.
The Rangers got a corner kick in the final minute and Molloy managed to send a shot on goal, but Patrick made the save, sending the game to the break scoreless.
In the first half, Freeport had a 7-3 edge in shots and a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks, but seven Eisenhart saves kept the score, 0-0.
Greely then got its offense going in the second half.
Just 38 seconds in, Tshituka crossed the ball to Carrell, whose shot forced Patrick to go to his knees to stop.
The Rangers then regained possession and Cunningham served a perfect ball to Tshituka, who one-timed it past Patrick and into the net for a 1-0 lead with 38:19 to play.
“Hazael is tough,” Andreasen said. “We’ve worked with him and he’s worked so hard. He’s so dangerous and strong.”
“(Hazael’s) super-dangerous and we had everything we could do to stop him,” Freeport coach Joe Heathco said. “He didn’t get shots until that one ball got dumped in and he barreled through.”
The Falcons looked to counter, but Winter sent a shot high.
Then, with 31:55 on the clock, Kramlich passed to Carrell, who had room and beat Patrick to make the score, 2-0.
“Both goals were off great service,” Andreasen said. “The ball had to go from point A to point B and they were easy shots.”
Freeport wouldn’t go quietly, but never managed to cut into the deficit.
The Falcons got looks from junior Shea Wagner (a low blast that went just wide), Shea (who shot wide), Wagner again (a shot that was saved), Dumont (whose shot was denied) and Shea (who had a great look, but shot wide).
Greely slammed the door from there and prevailed, 2-0.
“We started slowly, but after halftime, we did what we needed to do,” Molloy said.
The Rangers were outshot, 10-8, but got 10 saves from Eisenhart and had a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.
Freeport got six saves from Patrick, but were left frustrated.
“For some reason, we came out a little overly emotional and we were a little flat,” Heathco lamented. “I felt like we couldn’t quite muster the energy we needed. I think we’re a better team than the way we’ve been playing, which is frustrating as a coach. We’ve shown we can possess and create opportunities, but yet, we had a couple breakdowns and gave up two goals. The lack of focus got us and it was a different game.”
Andreasen started coaching Greely in 1998 and won a Class A title that first season. Class A titles followed in 2004 and 2007 and the Rangers won Class B in 2013. Along the way, he coached his sons, Ben and Matt (now the Cheverus varsity boys’ coach) and has become a grandfather.
Andreasen’s 50th win came Sept. 26, 2003 at Cape Elizabeth (1-0). Number 100 came in a 1-0 victory over Windham in the 2007 Western A preliminary round, en route to the championship. Andreasen’s 150th victory was secured Oct. 13, 2012 (1-0 at Falmouth).
Greely has missed the playoffs just twice in Andreasen’s 19 previous seasons and the Rangers have gotten to at least the semifinals in 13 of those 17 postseason trips.
Andreasen also spent six years coaching the Greely girls (winning 81 games and leading them to the 1994 Class A title) and one season coaching Gray-New Gloucester’s girls’ soccer team (going 2-12)
Andreasen is a soccer official and has also enjoyed a highly successful run as Gray-New Gloucester’s girls’ basketball coach, leading the Patriots to their first state title last winter.
Following Thursday’s victory, Andreasen reflected on the magnitude of 200 victories.
“It hasn’t been ebbs and flows for us,” Andreasen said. “We really had our heyday in the early 2000s. Every year, our teams are competitive and we get better at the end. Over the years, kids have bought in. We’re not the most glitzy program. We go do our business and let the results fall where they may.
“We still play the toughest conference schedule. We’re doubling with Yarmouth and Cape and York. Falmouth until this year. In the SMAA, you only play teams once. It’s nice too going against coaches (like Falmouth’s Dave Halligan and Yarmouth’s Mike Hagerty) who are over 200 wins. It’s like a brotherhood. We get along. We’re not here today, gone tomorrow. It’s not easy to coach or win in this league. The best team wins more often than not in basketball, but not always in soccer. We also have ties, so (accumulating wins) takes longer.
“The kids from 1998 to now, they have been great. I’ve been asked when I’m going to get done and I say, ‘When it’s not fun anymore.’ The kids make it fun. They work every day. It’s nice to see them come full circle.”
Molloy, who was four when Andreasen first saw him play, paid tribute to his coach.
“It’s pretty special,” Molloy said. “We had a lot of great players before who worked hard and helped get us here and showed me the ropes of Greely soccer.”
Heathco also tipped his cap.
“Greely has a great tradition and that goes a long way,” Heathco said. “I played against them when I was in high school. They were good then. I remember beating them (2-1, in overtime, in the 1984 Western A quarterfinals) and it was one of the biggest wins Edward Little ever had.”
Each team has two games left and each is looking to find consistency before the postseason begins.
Freeport (now eighth in the Class B South Heal Points standings) welcomes Poland Saturday, then hosts Fryeburg Academy on Senior Day Monday afternoon.
“We have to figure out how to focus for 80 minutes and put things together,” Heathco said. “We feel like we can compete with anybody. We just have to make it work.”
Greely (which moved up to sixth in Class B South with the win) is at NYA Saturday, then closes at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday.
“We always play our best game at playoff time and I think that will happen again,” Molloy said. “We hope to play some of our rivals again. We have a great group of guys this year. We’re young, but everyone is figuring out their role.”
“We hope this will put us in 6, so we can avoid York and Yarmouth, not that Cape isn’t tough,” Andreasen said. “It’s still a young team. I have two starters from last year. The kids are learning as they go. It’s a bigger maturation process this year.”
But as always, the Rangers are getting there.
Greely sophomore Matt Kramlich launches the ball.
Greely sophomore Silas Cunningham hops over Freeport junior Wes Goodwin to maintain possession of the ball.
Greely senior Hazael Tshituka gets past the Freeport defense and scores the game’s first goal.
Greely senior goalkeeper A.J. Eisenhart punts the ball.
Greely senior Hazael Tshituka gets his head on the ball on a corner kick.
Greely junior Brendan Carrell scores the game’s second goal.
Greely coach Mike Andreasen is all smiles after receiving the game ball in honor of his 200th victory with the program.
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