Greely senior Maddy Perfetti handles the ball in traffic during the Rangers’ 1-0 home upset of previously unbeaten Fryeburg Academy Thursday afternoon.
CUMBERLAND—Now that’s how you respond to a loss.
By knocking your top-ranked opponent off its undefeated perch.
Thursday afternoon, Greely’s field hockey team, in the midst of a very promising season, earned its biggest win to date at the midway point.
And it’s a victory that will help the Rangers immensely down the road.
Facing unbeaten Fryeburg Academy, a squad which had already downed defending regional champion York and Freeport, Greely found itself on its heels for most of the first half, but kept the Raiders from scoring.
The Rangers then made a statement in the second half, carrying play and earning multiple penalty corners, but they weren’t able to break though.
Until 7:30 remained.
Off its fifth corner of the half and seventh of the game, Greely got the only goal it would need, as senior Maddy Perfetti fired a hard shot that sophomore Delia Knox touched with a piece of her stick, just enough to send the ball into the goal.
The Rangers’ defense and freshman goalie Savanna Harvey slammed the door from there and Greely prevailed, 1-0.
The Rangers improved to 5-2 and in the process, dropped Fryeburg Academy to 6-1.
“That was so much fun,” Knox said. “I knew it would be a tough game, but we pulled through. We knew we could win.”
Greely entered the contest coming off just its second loss. The first time the Rangers were defeated, 5-2, by visiting Freeport in the opener, they bounced right back and defeated host Gray-New Gloucester, 3-2, visiting Cape Elizabeth, 5-0, host Yarmouth (3-0) and host Poland (5-2). Tuesday, Greely lost at home to Lake Region (2-1).
Fryeburg Academy had passed every test to date coming into Thursday’s contest. The Raiders opened with a 2-0 home win over Lake Region. After handing host Freeport a 2-1 setback, Fryeburg Academy defeated visiting Yarmouth (3-0), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (1-0), host York (2-1) and visiting Wells (7-0).
Last season, Greely won, 3-1, at Fryeburg.
Thursday, on a chilly (59-degrees) and cloudy afternoon, the Rangers did it again.
Greely earned a couple early penalty corners, but couldn’t generate a shot and the rest of the half belonged to the Raiders, who were consistently in the Rangers’ zone, but couldn’t generate many chances.
With 16:05 left, Harvey robbed junior Lillian Nylin on the doorstep.
Four minutes later, off a corner, junior Kaylee Emery crossed the ball through the crease, but no one was there to tip it in.
Late in the half, Greely got its lone chance of the half, as Perfetti raced in and set up senior Maggie McCormick, who shot just wide.
In the first 30 minutes, Fryeburg Academy had a 2-1 edge in shots on frame and a 4-2 advantage in corners, but the game remained scoreless.
“Going into the half, 0-0, the girls we fired up because they held Fryeburg,” Rangers first-year coach Chelsea Morley said. “We knew we could win the second half.”
At the break, Greely’s players and coaches formed themselves into a tight circle and passed the ball around for several minutes.
“We never did that before,” Knox said. “Maddy had the idea. It was to work on our passing and communication and get us ready for the second half.”
That little exercise refocused the Rangers, who came back out strong.
Off a penalty corner, both senior Wren Payne and sophomore Hannah Perfetti had shots blocked and seconds later, off a subsequent corner, Knox just missed the target.
Greely nearly took the lead with 13:02 on the clock, but Payne was robbed by Raiders sophomore goalie Bailey Richardson.
Four minutes later, junior Megan Beaulieu had a chance to put the hosts on top, but she couldn’t get her stick on the ball in the circle with a lot of cage to shoot at.
The Rangers finally broke through with 7:30 remaining, just a minute after a Fryeburg Academy timeout.
Greely earned a corner, Knox inserted the ball, it wound its way over to Maddy Perfetti, who had some room, and Perfetti unleashed a rocket that Knox managed to get her stick on, sending the ball up and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“Every time we got close to scoring, we couldn’t and it was frustrating,” Knox said. “Then, Maddy had an incredible shot. I just had my stick in the right place at the right time and it just went off my stick. It felt great.”
“When you get that many corners, one has to fall your way,” Morley said. “It was just a matter of time. It was a beautiful ball by Maddy and Delia got her stick on it.”
Not surprisingly, the Raiders pushed hard for the equalizer.
Fryeburg Academy got the ball into the Rangers’ circle and got a couple looks, but Greely’s defense blocked both.
That led Morley to call timeout with 4;27 to go and she stressed keeping calm and keeping the ball out of the middle of the field.
With 2:35 on the clock, the Raiders earned a corner, but a shot hit a Fryeburg Academy player’s foot and the visitors’ last, best chance to tie had gone by the wayside.
The Rangers clogged things up from there and when Hannah Perfetti cleared the ball one final time, that ran out the clock and Greely celebrated its 1-0 victory.
“It was hard to get over our loss, but we did,” Knox said. “We had a team dinner last night and we bonded.
“We took our timeout and talked about having strong defense. Our cheer was, ‘Defense!’ We worked hard and got back.”
“The last couple days at practice, we’ve built up self-esteem, character and this was exactly what I needed them to do and exactly what they needed to do for each other,” Morley said. “We haven’t had this type of back-and-forth paced game. I only had two subs. A lot of underclassmen stepped up. Fryeburg did a great job blocking our free hits, but I think our middies did a great job cycling back.”
Fryeburg Academy finished with a 4-3 edge in shots on goal and got three saves from Richardson. Each team had seven corners.
Harvey made four saves for Greely.
Fryeburg Academy seeks to bounce back Saturday, as it goes to Cape Elizabeth. After playing at Lake Region Monday, the Raiders compete in their fourth straight game away from home Wednesday of next week, at Poland.
Greely goes to Traip Academy Saturday and visits Cape Elizabeth Monday. Wednesday brings a huge test, when the Rangers host York.
“We’re hoping to keep winning,” Knox said. “We just have to keep working hard in practice and stay a close-knit team. We’re going to keep having fun.”
“We’re going to see York for the first time and we just have to bring it and remember how we played today,” Morley said.