CUMBERLAND—The best girls’ soccer teams that the Western Maine Conference has to offer have met the Greely Rangers and gone home with a loss.
The York Wildcats were the latest upper echelon contender to suffer that fate Friday afternoon, as host Greely did what it took to earn another victory.
Just 11 minutes in, the Rangers got the only goal they would need as freshman Anna DeWolfe set up sophomore Caroline Swaney for a 1-0 lead.
Greely’s defense and senior goalkeeper Maddie Cyr, now fully recovered from injury, held the Wildcats at bay and with 7:19 to play in the first half, DeWolfe added an unassisted goal for some breathing room. The Rangers put the clamps on from there and went on to a 2-0 victory to stay undefeated in eight contests this fall, dropping York to 5-2-2 in the process.
“I’m very surprised to be 8-0,” said Greely coach Josh Muscadin. “It’s a good win. We played pretty well. I’m happy with how we moved the ball. We had several chances and finished a couple. Every game we play is a learning experience for the girls. Every team is going to be different.”
Greely and York have separated themselves with their play so far this autumn.
The Wildcats, perennial contenders who didn’t get a lot of preseason buzz, started by downing visiting Lake Region, 5-0, then blanked host Cape Elizabeth, the two-time defending regional champion, 2-0. After settling for a 1-1 tie against visiting Kennebunk, York won at Wells (2-0) and at home over Yarmouth (2-1) before playing host Falmouth to a 1-1 draw. After a 5-2 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester, the Wildcats suffered their first loss Tuesday, 2-1, at Kennebunk.
The Rangers blanked visiting Fryeburg Academy, 5-0, in their opener, then impressed with victories over visiting Yarmouth (6-3) and at Falmouth (4-2). The good times kept rolling with wins at Gray-New Gloucester (3-1), at home over Kennebunk (4-1) and Cape Elizabeth (1-0) and at Freeport (4-1)
Last year, the teams played to a scoreless tie in York and the Rangers won in Cumberland, 2-0.
Friday, on a chilly early October afternoon, the Wildcats sought their first win over Greely since Sept. 15, 2012 (1-0 in York) and their first in Cumberland since Sept. 10, 2008 (2-0), but instead, the Rangers improved to 5-0-2 against the Wildcats over the past seven meetings.
Greely pressured York senior goalkeeper Kelsey Cole early, but Cole stood tall, denying DeWolfe, senior Izzy Hutnak and DeWolfe again.
Then, with 28:59 left in the first half, the Rangers broke through.
After the Wildcats failed to clear the ball, DeWolfe got the ball to Swaney, who broke in free on Cole and fired a shot past the keeper just inside the far post for a 1-0 advantage.
“Anna drove it in and it started fumbling around and I got a touch on it,” Swaney said. “I was trying to get in front of the goalie, so I could go to one corner or the other. The first goal was important. Other than Cape, we knew this was going to be one of our biggest games. Getting a goal early really pumped up the team.”
“We have so many girls who are capable of scoring,” Muscadin said. “That’s a good thing. A lot of them are starting to step up.”
The visitors pushed for the tying goal, but junior Kate Marshall had a shot blocked in the box, Cyr punched out a free kick off the foot of sophomore Payton Humphrey and Cyr saved a shot from sophomore Morgan Smith.
Then, with 7:19 left in the half, DeWolfe, who has made a major impact in her freshman season, got some breathing room and with Cole coming out, managed to shoot past her and although the ball seemingly took an eternity to find the net, it eventually did so for a 2-0 lead.
“Anna’s teammates have made her so good,” Muscadin said. “She’s surrounded by players who can dish the ball to her. She happens to be at the right spot at the right time. Her tenacity helps her finish. That pays off. She reads the game well.”
Late in the half, York almost cut the deficit in half, but a rush by junior Carran Smith was broken up by Cyr, Cyr snared a low shot off the foot of freshman Halee Bando and after a cross from junior Sophie Remick deflected off Smith, Cyr managed to pounce on the ball to protect the lead.
“I thought I saw the ball well, but that was just reaction,” Cyr said. “It feels really good to be back. I really missed it. It took me a little bit, but within a week, I was feeling more like myself.”
“We try to minimize our mistakes and having Maddie back is tremendous,” Muscadin said. “It allows the kids to be comfortable in the back.”
Both teams had chances to score in the second half, but couldn’t do so.
With 33:23 to play, Hutnak hit the crossbar and a rebound bid from senior Jocelyn Mitiguy sailed high.
A minute later, Cole robbed DeWolfe on the doorstep.
After Cyr made a save on a Bando shot, Humphrey weaved through the defense and had a look, but Cyr saved that too. Cyr later punched a corner kick out of harm’s way and Humphrey sent a pair of free kicks wide.
Greely ran out the clock from there and celebrated a 2-0 victory.
“We just mesh well together,” said Cyr. “We love each other. We’re best friends. We know we can trust each other.”
The Rangers had a 16-11 edge in shots (12-7 on frame). Cyr made seven saves.
York had a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks and got 10 saves from Cole, but couldn’t tickle the twine.
The teams meet again in the regular season finale Oct. 20 in York, but both have plenty of hoops to jump through first.
The Wildcats (still second in the Class B South Heal Points standings) hope to bounce back Tuesday at Yarmouth. After hosting Falmouth Thursday, York goes to Fryeburg Academy and hosts Cape Elizabeth, then welcomes Greely.
The Rangers (who have a healthy lead in the standings) are back in action Tuesday at Kennebunk. Next Friday, Greely visits Cape Elizabeth. After hosting Falmouth in a makeup game Oct. 12, the Rangers host Lake Region the following day, then close at Yarmouth and York.
“It’s always hard the second half of the season,” Cyr said.
“I think our team dynamics are really good,” Swaney said. “We work really well together. After losing last year, it’s really important to us to win. We really want it this year. We need to keep up communication and keep switching fields. Other than that, we’re doing great. We really want to keep our winning streak going.”
“It’s going to get harder from now on,” Muscadin added. “If we stay focused and keep the attitude we have, we could do great things. We have a lot of games to play and the more we’re up there, the more teams will want to knock us down. We hope to stay lucky.”
Greely sophomore Caroline Swaney leaps to avoid York freshman Peyton Nickerson and play the ball during the Rangers’ 2-0 win Friday afternoon. Greely improved to 8-0.
Bruce Feeley photos.
Greely senior Izzy Hutnak keeps the ball away from York sophomore Morgan Smith.
Greely junior Ellie Schad is stopped by York freshman Peyton Nickerson (left) and senior Sierra Swasey.
Greely freshman Anna DeWolfe eludes York senior goalkeeper Kelsey Cole.
Greely sophomore Katie Steinberg and York freshman Halee Bando fight for possession.
Greely senior Jocelyn Mitiguy sends the ball up the field.
Greely sophomore Katie Steinberg dribbles past York junior Madeline Amidon.