Freeport junior Kerry Lefebvre tries to get the ball past Greely junior goalie Kylie Rogers during the teams’ contest Tuesday afternoon. The Rangers pulled out a 2-1 victory in overtime.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photo.
More photos below.
FREEPORT—Greely’s field hockey team has demonstrated that on a given day, it can beat anybody.
And as the regular season winds to a close, the Rangers are learning how to play with consistency every day and that could spell doom for the rest of the Class B South playoff field.
Tuesday afternoon at Hunter Road Fields, Greely meet a Freeport squad enjoying its best season in a decade and as is its wont, fell behind early, 1-0, when Falcons junior Kerry Lefebvre scored in the 15th minute.
Freeport was then hindered when junior standout Alexa Koenig left with an injury late in the first half and the Rangers would control play most of the rest of the way. They pulled even with 21:19 remaining, when freshman Delia Knox scored.
Greely had the majority of possession and shots, but couldn’t get another goal the rest of regulation or in the first eight-minute, “sudden victory” overtime, but just 17 seconds into the second and final OT, senior Sydney Meredith-Pickett set up classmate Ella Novick and the Rangers earned a pivotal 2-1 victory.
Greely improved to 7-5-1 and ended the Falcons’ regular season at 9-4-1 in the process.
“I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” said Rangers coach Becki Belmore. “We’ve talked about competing and keeping our composure and we kept it together as a team and we finished it off with an exclamation point.”
When Freeport and Greely last met, the date was August 31st, the temperature was in the 70s and both teams had high hopes for the season ahead.
Neither team could earn a victory on that day, as they settled for a 1-1 tie, but both squads have produced their share of drama since.
After dropping a 1-0 (double-overtime) decision at Cape Elizabeth, Greely blanked visiting Gray-new Gloucester (5-0) and won at three-time defending Class B champion York, 2-0, to end the Wildcats’ 58-game win streak. The Rangers then fell at home to Yarmouth (2-1) and Poland (3-1) and at Lake Region (1-0), before roaring back to beat host Fryeburg Academy (3-1), visiting Traip Academy (5-0), visiting Cape Elizabeth (1-0) and host Gray-New Gloucester (6-1). Greely’s four-game streak came to a close last Wednesday with a 2-1 setback at Sacopee Valley.
As for Freeport, it followed up the season-opening tie with 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). After earning a 3-2 home win over Yarmouth, Freeport dropped a 4-3 OT decision at Poland, then handled visiting Cape Elizabeth, 4-1, visiting Fryeburg Academy (3-2, in overtime) and visiting Gray-New Gloucester (6-1).
Tuesday, on another shake-your-head-in-disbelief gorgeous October afternoon (76-degrees at the start), the Falcons hoped to finish with 10 regular season victories for the first time since 2007, but instead, Greely won at Freeport for the first time since Oct. 11, 2013.
It was the Falcons’ Senior Game and the contest began with injured senior Izzy Masison hitting the ball in ceremonial fashion before being replaced.
The Rangers earned a couple early penalty corners, but their best chance saw junior Maddy Perfetti, who scored Greely’s goal in the first meeting, have a shot blocked by Koenig.
That play foreshadowed a more painful encounter later in the half.
The Rangers continued to press for the first goal, but Knox shot just wide.
After Freeport had a corner go for naught and Koenig was broken up by Meredith-Pickett in front, the hosts went ahead with 15:50 to go in the first half, as Koenig sent the ball in and after it sat free, Lefebvre banged it home for a 1-0 lead.
Greely looked tried to equalize, but Falcons junior goalie Katelyn Rouleau denied senior Lizzie Brown, Knox missed just wide, Rouleau stopped a shot by Novick and on a corner with 5:05 to play before halftime, Koenig blocked a shot by Perfetti.
That block came with a heavy price, however, as Koenig was hit hard on the leg with the ball and had to leave the game.
She wouldn’t return.
“Losing Alexa hurt,” Freeport coach Marcia Wood said. “She got a bruise and can’t walk. It was hard for the girls to adjust without her.”
The Rangers earned a couple more corners in the half, but a shot from Perfetti was saved by Rouleau and Meredith-Pickett blasted a shot just wide.
In the final minute, Freeport earned a corner, but a shot from freshman Hannah Groves was saved by Greely junior goalie Kylie Rogers and the hosts took a 1-0 lead to the break.
In the first half, the Rangers had a 3-2 edge in shots and a 5-2 advantage in corners, but the Falcons held the lead.
Greely would eventually catch up.
Early in the second half, Novick missed wide and Meredith-Pickett had a shot blocked, then cleared.
After Freeport had a pair of corners fail to produce a shot, Perfetti was denied at the other end.
Finally, with 21:19 on the clock, Novick sent the ball in from the side to freshman Hannah Perfetti, who passed to Knox, who beat Rouleau to tie the score.
“Delia is an amazing player,” Meredith-Pickett said. “We’re so lucky to have her. Usually the other team scores first, but that usually motivates us and brings up our intensity.”
“Normally we start out flat-footed,” Novick said. “We got back up to speed in the second half.”
“Delia has stepped up,” added Belmore. “She scores goals and gets assists. She’s quite an addition to the program this year.”
The Rangers nearly went on top a minute later, but Rouleau made a great pad save on Knox.
After Meredith-Pickett was denied by Rouleau, at the other end, Falcons junior Natalie Anderson, who scored her team’s goal in the first meeting, fed Lefebvre for a good look, but Rogers made the save.
Down the stretch, Rouleau dived to rob Knox, Brown missed just wide and a Freeport corner didn’t result in a shot, sending the game to overtime.
Greely had three good looks in the first overtime, but Rouleau denied Meredith-Pickett with her pad, Novick missed just wide and Knox missed wide as well.
The Rangers then brought the curtain down quickly in the second OT.
Meredith-Pickett raced up the field and got into the circle. She then sent the ball on goal and it deflected right to Novick in front, who buried it into the cage to give Greely the sudden 2-1 victory.
“I envisioned it in my head,” said Meredith-Pickett. “We had played enough overtime. I was really tired and I just went for it. I took that backhand shot and Ella was there to save me. Ella is the best tipper on our team.”
“I was waiting for the rebound,” Novick said. “We take so many shots. I had to be there to finish it. It felt amazing.”
“We wanted to keep our composure, react to the ball and keep possession of the ball,” Belmore added. “Sydney had the shot and Ella had the follow-up. That’s two seniors right there. They were ready when they were called on.”
Greely finished with a 13-3 shots advantage and a 6-5 edge in corners. Rogers made two saves.
Freeport got 11 saves from Rouleau, but still suffered a painful loss.
“The momentum shifted and you could tell,” Wood said. “No excuses, we just didn’t play well. They outplayed us from one end of the field to the other. They obviously wanted it more. Overtime is about who wants it the most. It’s disappointing, but now we’ll refocus on go on to playoffs.”
Freeport will likely wind up fourth in the region and will open the playoffs at home next week (the Falcons last hosted a quarterfinal in 2011, but that game was played on Yarmouth High’s turf due to bad weather).
“We accomplished a lot,” Wood said. “Two of our losses were in overtime and could have gone either way. I’m happy for the girls and proud of them. Hopefully I’ll see a different team than I saw today in the playoffs. We want to get past the first round.”
Greely (currently sixth in the Class B South Heal Points standings) closes the regular season at home in a makeup game versus York Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m excited to see York again,” Novick said. “We had a great game the first time and I’m excited to play the same game again.”
“This is a nice confidence boost,” Belmore said. “The girls believe they can compete with everyone in the league. We beat them the first time and coming off of this, our confidence will be substantial.”
The Rangers (currently sixth in Class B South) have the potential to finish strong and move up the playoff ladder with a victory.
“We have to keep playing Greely field hockey,” Novick said. “I know we can do it. It’s just a matter of doing it.”
“I think it’s awesome that there’s no standout teams this season, so I’m excited to show people what Greely can bring to the tournament,” Meredith-Pickett said.
“The league is wide open and we knew it was going to be,” Belmore added. “We’ll see how far we can go.”
Greely junior Maddy Perfetti drives the ball.
Freeport freshman Ally Randall tries to get past Greely senior Isabelle Bachelder.
Freeport junior Katelyn Rouleau makes a save as junior Reilly Lefebvre shouts encouragement.
Greely senior Ellie Novick fights her way past Freeport senior Grace Schnyder. Novick had the game-winner in overtime.
Freeport junior Kerry Lefebvre tries to slow down Greely senior Isabelle Bachelder.
Freeport freshman Hannah Groves, left, congratulates junior Kerry Lefebvre after a first half goal.