CUMBERLAND—With all eyes on the dynamic triumvirate of undefeated Cape Elizabeth, perennial powerhouse Waynflete and explosive Falmouth in the Western Class B girls’ lacrosse playoffs, perhaps it’s time to pay attention to the Greely Rangers.
Wednesday afternoon, the fourth-ranked Rangers hosted No. 5 York in a quarterfinal and completed their recent rise with their first playoff victory since 2008.
Greely led most of the way, but the lead never got comfortable. Three first half goals apiece from senior Audrey Parolin and junior Julia Mitiguy gave the Rangers the jump, but it was a freshman who played the biggest role in preserving the lead in the second half as goalie Mary Morrison stopped seven shots in the final 25 minutes, many from point blank range as Greely held on to win, 12-10.
The Rangers improved to 7-6 on the year, ended the Wildcats’ season at 5-8 and advanced to play at top-ranked, 12-0 Cape Elizabeth in the Western B semifinals Saturday at 5 p.m.
“We came to play today,” said Mitiguy, who led all scorers with five goals. “It was a team effort. Everyone had a positive effort and kept it going.”
Greely has long been one of the top contenders in girls’ lacrosse, but in 2010, the Rangers won just once in 12 outings.
Last spring, however, under new coach and former standout Sara Dimick, Greely won six games and almost sprung an epic upset before falling, 12-11, at then two-time defending Class B state champion Waynflete in the semifinals.
This spring, the Rangers have been competitive, even if the wins haven’t come as often as hoped.
After a 19-8 loss at Cape Elizabeth to get things started, Greely edged visiting York, 11-9. The Rangers then lost at Massabesic (9-5), at home to Freeport (12-11, in a game which saw them blow a 10-3 lead) and 8-7 at Cape Elizabeth. After falling at home to Waynflete, 12-5, Greely beat visiting Windham (13-5) and Wells (12-3) and after falling, 9-8, at York, closed with wins over visiting North Yarmouth Academy (13-5), host Fryeburg (18-3) and host Freeport (15-10) to earn the No. 4 seed.
Greely and York had no playoff history entering the game.
Wednesday’s game, like the two regular season meetings, was close throughout, but the Rangers wouldn’t be denied.
The Wildcats did score first, going up 1-0 when junior Ruby Cribby scored 1 minute, 7 seconds in.
A mere 29 seconds later, Greely drew even on a free position goal from Mitiguy.
Parolin got in the scoring column with 19:57 to go in the first half, scoring unassisted to give the Rangers their first lead.
York made it 2-2 on an unassisted goal from junior Victoria Stocks with 18:26 left before halftime, but at the 17:06 mark, a Parolin free position goal put the hosts ahead to stay.
Two unassisted goals in 21 seconds from Mitiguy and Parolin made it 5-2 Rangers with 13:05 remaining.
“I think that the girls had a nice long warmup and it kind of helped them get in the moment and be prepared for the game,” Dimick said. “We’re already athletic. To have that extra time was a big help today.”
As expected, the Wildcats rallied back and made it 5-4 on goals from Stocks (off a pass from Cribby) and Cribby (unassisted).
Greely stretched its lead back to three goals, 7-4, as sophomore Cameron Keefe scored unassisted after a nice move at 5:50 and Mitiguy scored unassisted 11 seconds later after grabbing a ground ball off the ensuing draw and racing in to finish.
York again cut the deficit to one as senior Shelby Spencer and sophomore Courtney Cole both scored unassisted, but as time wound down before halftime, Rangers junior Paige Tuller got to a loose ball in front of the Wildcats’ goal and swatted it home hockey-style for an 8-6 advantage at the break.
When Mitiguy scored a pair of unassisted goals early in the second half, Greely’s lead was up to 10-6.
Again, York responded.
With 14:31 left in regulation, sophomore Elizabeth Wagner set up sophomore Renee Dervishian for a goal and with 13:11 to go, after Cribby hit the crossbar with a shot, Cole scored unassisted to make the score 10-8.
The Wildcats then threatened to make it even closer, but Morrison stepped up, turning away a pair of shots before the Rangers transitioned and Parolin scored unassisted with 10:47 to play, pushing the lead to 11-8.
“At halftime, I thought about what I had to work on,” Morrison said. “Keeping my eye on the ball and staying on the balls of my feet. It helped in the second half. Usually when I come out of the crease, I get a lot of energy and get excited. Confidence is a big part. Giving up goals, I can get down on myself, but my teammates are really supportive. When I make big saves, everyone’s cheering. It’s a team effort.”
“One of her saves we just knew it would ignite that fire within her,” Dimick said. “All of sudden, she was mentally in it and ready to go. She came out of the crease. She was originally a field player. Coming out of the crease, pumps her up as a goalie and pumped up the defense.”
With 6:26 remaining, a Keefe free position goal gave Greely even more of a cushion, which loomed large as York got unassisted goals from junior Alexa Bando and Stocks.
The Wildcats would get no closer, however, and the Rangers were able to celebrate the 12-10 win.
“We expected a close game,” Mitiguy said. “It’s never over. You have to play the whole game.”
“It’s taken a few years to get here,” said Parolin. “We were very close last year. Thinking about last year’s game, it’s wonderful to do this senior year.”
“It was really exciting,” said Morrison. “We played as a team. We had fun.”
“We knew it would be a nailbiter to the very end,” Dimick added. “York’s a great team. It was a very exciting game, for sure.”
Mitiguy had a stellar offensive performance, tickling the twine on five occasions. Parolin had four goals, Keefe two and Tuller one.
“We have a lot of great scorers and players who can assist,” said Dimick. “I stress to them that I don’t care who it comes from. It just has to be a team effort.”
Morrison made nine saves, most in the second half when she dazzled with the game still in the balance.
Greely won 13 of 24 draws, as Tuller went 10 of 16, Mitiguy 2 of 5 and Parolin 1 of 3.
The Rangers had a 45-35 advantage on ground balls. Mitiguy led all players with 11. Parolin had seven. Tuller and sophomore Teal Otley each collected six.
Greely committed 21 turnovers and was outshot 30-19 (19-17 on cage), but managed to hold on.
For York, Bando, Cole, Cribby and Stocks all scored twice, while Dervishian and Spencer each had one goal. Cribby and Wagner had assists. Junior goalie Amanda Kasbohm saved five shots. Cole won 10 of 18 draws, while Cribby went 1 of 6. Cribby also led the Wildcats with eight ground balls. York had 14 turnovers.
Greely dropped both regular season meetings to Cape Elizabeth, 19-8 and 8-7, but the second one saw the Rangers rally and almost tie it at the end. Greely (which took the lone prior playoff meeting between the schools, 9-6, in the 2002 quarterfinals) will take its chances Saturday.
“We had that one-goal game,” said Parolin. “We had a last shot the last second. I really think the third time’s a charm.”
“We’ll hopefully give them a great game,” said Dimick.
Greely sophomore Teal Otley blows past a York defender.
Greely juniors Etta Copenhagen (left) and Meg Finlay battle York junior Ruby Cribby for a ground ball.
Greely junior Meg Finlay tries to keep the ball away from a pair of York defenders.
Despite taking a shot from York senior Caroline Patterson, Greely junior Etta Copenhagen manages to keep possession.
Greely sophomore Sara Pioworski defends York sophomore Taylor Simpson while sophomore Eliza McKenney looks on.
The Greely Rangers celebrate their first playoff win since 2008.
Greely senior Audrey Parolin looks to make a move on York senior Andrea Mountford during the teams’ Western B quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon. Parolin had four goals to help the Rangers advance with a 12-10 victory.
More photos below.