CUMBERLAND—It took the Greely girls’ lacrosse team almost the whole season to hit its stride, but the Rangers appear to be rounding into form at the optimal time.
Tuesday evening, three days removed from a breakthrough victory at Kennebunk, Greely hosted Falmouth in its regular season finale and closed with a flourish.
The draw excellence of senior Teal Otley created myriad offensive opportunities in the first half and the Rangers raced to a 6-1 lead. The Yachtsmen then mounted a rally as unheralded freshman goalie Mary Budri frustrated Greely and senior Sabrina Smithwick heated up, pulling Falmouth within two, 6-4, at halftime.
While the Rangers have suffered through their share of good halves followed by bad halves and not being able to get the job done in the clutch, Tuesday, they responded in style, as Otley and senior Cam Keefe each scored twice to open up a 12-5 lead. Senior goalie Krystya Rybka slammed the door late and Greely went on to a 12-7 victory.
Otley had four goals, Keefe added three, Rybka finished with 13 saves and the Rangers stretched their win streak to three games, ended their regular season at 6-6 and dropped the Yachtsmen to 3-8 in the process.
“I think we’re really coming together as a team on both ends,” said Greely coach Becca Koelker. “It’s nice to see. Everyone’s contributing. It really took a team effort both in our last win and this win.”
Teams always want to be peaking going into June, something Greely appears to be doing.
The Rangers tasted a lot of frustration for the majority of the season. After winning the opener, 21-8, at Gould and losing at home to Kennebunk (in a game played on the turf at North Yarmouth Academy), 8-3, Greely then appeared primed to upset host Yarmouth, opening up a six-goal first half lead, but they were blanked in the second half and the Clippers rallied to win, 11-9. After bouncing back by holding off York in an overtime thriller, 10-9, the Rangers registered a 15-10 triumph at Falmouth before losing in the final seconds to visiting Western A champion Massabesic, 7-6. Greely then let a two-goal second half lead slip away in an 11-8 home loss to two-time reigning Class B champion Waynflete. Setbacks at Freeport (7-6) and at home to Cape Elizabeth (9-6) followed, but last weekend, the Rangers won at Gardiner, 15-5, then upset host Kennebunk, 8-6.
That victory was a huge step for a group which had come close so many times.
“That was the greatest game of my life,” said Keefe. “We really needed that. Some people might have been losing hope, but that put into perspective just how good we are.”
“That finally gave the girls confidence that we’re a talented team and if we play as a team, we can pull out the win,” Koelker said.
Falmouth, meanwhile, appeared early on to have the pieces in place to do something special, but the second half of the season has not been kind. The Yachtsmen started with a 12-5 loss at Cape Elizabeth, then shocked host Waynflete, 8-6. After falling at home to Freeport, 8-7, Falmouth won at Thornton Academy (8-6), then lost at home to Greely (15-10), Gorham (11-9) and Kennebunk (9-8) before getting back in the win column at Gould, 17-11. A 17-9 loss at Yarmouth and a 10-7 home setback to Cape Elizabeth ensued last week.
Entering Tuesday’s contest, the teams had met 14 times (see sidebar, below), with Greely winning on 10 occasions, including the victory last month.
This time around, the Yachtsmen sought their first victory over the Rangers since the 2011 season, but after a lengthy pregame ceremony honoring the seniors on both rosters, the Rangers weren’t going to be content with anything shy of a strong finish to their regular season.
It took all of a minute and 44 seconds for Greely to take the lead for good.
After Otley won the opening draw control, the Rangers set their offense and Otley earned a free position, which she buried past Falmouth sophomore goalie Sarah Hutcheon.
After Otley won the ensuing draw, Keefe earned a free position and scored as well and just 2:22 in, Greely had a 2-0 lead.
The Yachtsmen finally got a chance on offense, but a free position shot from junior Elle Fitzgerald landed on the outside of the net, although many on hand though it was a goal.
Falmouth broke through with 16:36 to go in the first half, as Fitzgerald set up Smithwick for a goal.
The Rangers then scored four times in just over six minutes to open things up.
With 14:55 left in the half, Otley scored another free position goal.
Two minutes later, sophomore Jocelyn Mitiguy scored unassisted.
With 12:17 left, 16 seconds after Mitiguy scored, off a draw win from senior Sara Piwowarski, sophomore Maegan Dougherty scored an unassisted goal.
After Rybka denied Smithwick on a free position, freshman Katherine Leggat-Barr scored unassisted with 10:13 showing to make it 6-1 Greely.
“We talked before the game about coming out strong, getting the first goal and putting it away,” Koelker said. “Winning draws was huge for that. I think the first six goals we had was because of Teal’s work off the draws. That’s huge, especially now with just three people in the circle.”
With the game on the verge of getting out of hand, Falmouth coach Kait Johnson replaced Hutcheon with Budri and the Yachtsmen responded.
With 6:06 to go before halftime, playing man-up after Greely sophomore Kelsey Otley was given a yellow card, Falmouth cut into the deficit as sophomore London Bernier set up Smithwick for a goal.
Smithwick scored again 45 seconds later, taking a pass from senior Leigh Bernardy and finishing.
After Budri made her first save, on a Keefe free position, the Yachtsmen transitioned to offense and pulled within 6-4 as freshman Sydney Bell scored unassisted with 2:55 left before the break.
Koelker took timeout to express her displeasure.
“I had to give them a little pep talk,” Koelker said. “We talked about what we needed to be doing.”
While the Rangers managed to take a 6-4 lead to halftime, it wasn’t before some anxious moments.
With 1:28 left, Fitzgerald had a good look, but Rybka made the save.
Then, as time expired, freshman Devin Sarazin fired a free position shot, but Rybka stopped that as well.
Greely held an 8-3 draws advantage and had a 22-19 edge in ground balls in the first half, but Falmouth was still very much in the game.
Budri did her part to allow the Yachtsmen hang around early in the second half, denying shots from both Teal Otley and Keefe, but with 22:07 to go, Keefe scored unassisted to end a 13 minute, 6 second drought.
A mere 23 seconds later, Otley scored unassisted and with 21:14 remaining, Otley fed Keefe for a goal which opened up a 9-4 lead.
“We’ve worked on moving the ball quickly and spreading out and finding the open man on the weak side,” Keefe said. “That really works for us.”
“If we can depend on (Cam and Teal) to get momentum, other people can take pressure off them,” Koelker said. “It was an outstanding performance by both of them today.”
Smithwick (from Bell) got a goal back with 17:31 remaining, but Rybka prevented further damage by saving a shot from Bernier.
“We had to stay on their cutters,” Otley said. “Most of their goals were from cutters. We cleaned that up.”
Greely then surged again, as Dougherty scored on a free position, sophomore defender Maggie Reed went coast-to-coast for a goal and Otley scored unassisted in a four-minute span to make it 12-5.
The Rangers wouldn’t score again in the final 10 minutes, but they had enough of a cushion.
Fitzgerland (from Bell) and Spugnardi (from Bernier, after a turnover) made the score 12-7, but Rybka ensured it would get no closer.
With 5:51 showing, Rybka stopped a shot from Spugnardi. Two minutes later, Spugnardi shot again, but Rybka made the save. Then, with 2:02 to go, Bernier earned a free position, but Rybka stopped that too and Greely closed out its 12-7 triumph.
“We’ve really come together as a team,” Otley said. “We had a lot to work on at the beginning of the season. We knew we had a lot of strong individuals, but it took awhile to figure out how to work together. (Losing) was very frustrating because we came so close, then let it slip away. We had moments of greatness, but it got out of hand.”
Not surprisingly, Otley and Keefe led the way, as Otley had four goals and an assist and Keefe finished with three goals.
Dougherty added two goals, while Leggat-Barr, Mitiguy and Reed all scored once.
Otley also had a team-high seven ground balls (the Rangers held a 42-33 advantage for the game) and most impressively, won 12 of 17 draws, helping Greely prevail on 15 of 21 occasions.
“I just try to pull (the draw) to my attackers,” Otley said. “It either goes there or to myself. I definitely look for a fast break.”
Rybka made 13 saves.
“(Krystyna’s) gotten so much better,” Keefe said. “She’s done a lot of off-season work.”
The Rangers only turned the ball over 13 times and had a 28-26 shots advantage (23-20 on frame).
Falmouth was paced by four goals from Smithwick. Bell, Fitzgerald and Spugnardi each tickled the twine once. Bell and Bernier both had two assists, while Bernardy and Fitzgerald each had one. Bernier led all players with nine ground balls. Bell collected five. Hutcheon made one save before being replaced by Budri, who turned heads with 10 stops.
“She was outstanding,” Koelker said. “She made great, varsity saves.”
The Yachtsmen committed 11 turnovers.
Falmouth closes the regular season at home versus York Wednesday. It appears the Yachtsmen will be the No. 6 seed in Western B and will have to play on the road in the quarterfinals next week, possibly at Cape Elizabeth.
Greely is waiting to see whether it will be the No. 4 or the No. 5 seed, which will determine whether or not it will host a quarterfinal round playoff tilt, probably versus York.
Regardless, the Rangers will be a team that no one wants to face.
“We’re the underdogs,” Keefe said. “We’re underestimated and we’ll take that. We know we could have won all those earlier games. Losing was hard for us, but we’re definitely peaking now. We want to go to states our senior year.”
“We’re not counting on hosting, but we’d love to have a home game,” Koelker said. “I’ll play anybody. I’m ready for anybody. I feel like we’re playing better on defense as a team, not as individuals. Same on offense. The girls know how to put it away now, they have confidence and it’s all coming together at the right time.”
Greely senior Teal Otley and Falmouth senior Leigh Bernardy take a draw. Otley had great success in the circle and the Rangers had a 15-6 advantage for the game.
Two of the area’s fastest players run neck-and-neck as Greely senior Cam Keefe tries to keep up with Falmouth freshman Sydney Bell.
Falmouth junior Elle Fitzgerald gets a step on Greely senior Katie Nicoleau.
Greely senior Maura Kaminow looks to drive on Falmouth junior Angie DiPhilippo.
Falmouth sophomore Marcy Kittredge defends Greely senior Teal Otley.
Greely senior Brennah Martin drives to the goal.
Greely sophomore Jocelyn Mitiguy soars for a shot.
Falmouth senior Sabrina Smithwick fires one of her four goals past Greely senior goalie Krystyna Rybka.
Greely 15 @ Falmouth 10
@ Falmouth 16 Greely 7
@ Falmouth 18 Greely 8
Greely 14 @ Falmouth 8
Western B semifinals
Falmouth 12 @ Greely 9
@ Greely 9 Falmouth 6
Western B semifinals
Greely 9 @ Falmouth 7
@ Greely 8 Falmouth 6
Western B quarterfinals
Falmouth 10 @ Greely 9
Greely 8 @ Falmouth 5
@ Greely 12 Falmouth 6
@ Greely 15 Falmouth 5
@ Greely 14 Falmouth 2
Greely 13 @ Falmouth 2
Greely players celebrate a goal during their 12-7 home win over Falmouth Tuesday.
More photos below.
F- 4 3- 7
G- 6 6- 12
23:16 G T. Otley (free position)
22:38 G Keefe (free position)
16:36 F Smithwick (Fitzgerald)
14:55 G T. Otley (free position)
12:33 G Mitiguy (unassisted)
12:17 G Dougherty (unassisted)
10:13 G Leggat-Barr (unassisted)
6:05 F Smithwick (Bernier) MAN-UP
5:20 F Smithwick (Bernardy)
2:55 F Bell (unassisted)
22:07 G Keefe (unassisted)
21:44 G T. Otley (unassisted)
21:14 G Keefe (T. Otley)
17:31 F Smithwick (Bell)
14:13 G Dougherty (free position)
13:08 G Reed (unassisted)
10:17 G T. Otley (unassisted)
8:30 F Fitzgerald (Bell)
6:31 F Spugnardi (Bernier)
F- Smithwick 4, Bell, Fitzgerald, Spugnardi 1
G- T. Otley 4, Keefe 3, Dougherty 2, Leggat-Barr, Mitiguy, Reed 1
F- Bell, Bernier 2, Bernardy, Fitzgerald 1
G- T. Otley 1
Draws (Greely, 15-6)
F- Bell 3 of 10, Bernardy 2 of 6, Kittredge 1 of 5
G- T. Otley 12 of 17, Piwowarski 2 of 3, Leggat-Barr 1 of 1
Ground balls (Greely, 42-33)
F- Bernier 9, Bell 5, McKeon 4, Sarazin 3, Goodrich, Marsanskis, Sarazin 2, DiPhilippo, Fitzgerald, Hutcheon, Kittredge, Richards, Smithwick 1
G- T. Otley 7, Booth, Kurland 5, Keefe 4, Dougherty, Leggat-Barr, Mitiguy, Schad 3, Martin, Piwowarski 2, Bouchard, Graham, Kaminow, K. Otley, Rybka 1
Shots on cage:
F (Hutcheon) 1 (Budri) 10
G (Rybka) 13