CUMBERLAND—The Greely girls’ soccer team found itself in uncharted waters Wednesday night: playing from behind.
The Rangers were victimized twice by Cape Elizabeth junior standout Karyn Barrett in the first half and were down 2-1 after 40 minutes, but tied the score 61 seconds into the second half, then got a goal from sophomore Audrey Parolin in the 67th minute to stay undefeated with a 3-2 victory in a fast-paced, back-and-forth, entertaining affair.
“It was really intense,” Parolin said. “Cape really pushed us. They came out strong and surprised us.”
Greely and Cape Elizabeth meet three times in a season more often than not. The rivals play home and away in the regular year and in 15 of the past 24 years have squared off in the Western Class A playoffs as well (with the Rangers holding a 10-5 edge).
Last year, Greely swept its rival, winning 1-0 in Cape Elizabeth, 2-1 in Cumberland and 2-1 again in the Western A quarterfinals.
So far this autumn, both teams have impressed. The Rangers have won easily over Freeport (6-0), Wells (6-0), Lake Region (7-2), Poland (3-0) and Fryeburg (4-0), edged York (1-0) and Yarmouth (2-0) and played defending Class B state champion Falmouth to a 1-1 draw (a game which saw Greely face its only previous deficit when the Rangers trailed for all of three-plus minutes).
The Capers (who were 2-5 at the midway point last season) have enjoyed their fastest start since 2003, entering the contest 5-1-2 after wins over Gray-New Gloucester (2-1), Fryeburg (2-0), Wells (8-0), Lake Region (2-1 in overtime) and Poland (1-0), a 3-1 loss to York and a pair of ties against top contenders Falmouth (2-2) and Yarmouth (0-0).
Wednesday, the action was fast and furious in the first half.
In the ninth minute, the hosts broke the ice on a goal you rarely see. Senior Taylor Hicks’ left-footed corner kick eluded everyone bunched in front of the goal and bent past Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Lexi Weatherbie into the cage for a 1-0 lead.
The Capers then scored twice in seven minutes to momentarily stun the hosts.
With 21:43 to go in the first half, Barrett broke past the defense, Greely senior goalkeeper Jamie Moody came out to deny her, but could only deflect Barrett’s shot which found the net to tie the score.
Exactly seven minutes later, Cape Elizabeth senior Kristin Kerney sent a pass toward the goal. Barrett and Moody raced for it, but Barrett got there first, flicking a shot over the prone keeper and into the goal to make it 2-1.
The Rangers pushed for the equalizer before the half, but Hicks’ floater hit the top of the crossbar in the 28th minute and senior Abby Diehl’s shot on a corner kick was saved by Weatherbie in the 34th. With 1:05 to go in the half, Capers senior Meredith Riker’s free kick looked promising, but Moody punched it away to keep it a 2-1 game.
At the break, Greely didn’t panic.
“We talked at halftime about keeping our focus,” said Rangers coach Michael Kennedy. “I thought we outplayed them in the first half and possessed
well and moved the ball well. We had great scoring opportunities and did
everything we wanted to do, we just made a couple mistakes and they
have a great finisher. Karyn’s a great player. She’s dangerous and can
hit it from anywhere. We tightened it up at halftime and played good
soccer. I told them at halftime we’d score two goals and win 3-2.”
Early in the second half, the hosts pulled even. Junior Kelly Burrell’s free kick appeared ticketed for the upper half of the goal, but Weatherbie jumped and punched at the ball. Problem was, the ball went straight up and landed near the left corner of the cage where Diehl was in position to bang it home and make it 2-2.
Both teams then had chances to go ahead.
With 30 minutes to play, Barrett sent a cross toward Kerney, but it was just out of reach. A minute later, the Capers had their first corner kick of the game, but couldn’t convert. With 26:32 left in regulation, Burrell had the ball trickle to her in front, but her point blank shot was saved by Weatherbie.
The winner came with 13:44 to go and Parolin did the honors, turning from 20 yards and floating a left footed shot over Weatherbie and into the goal to make it 3-2 Greely.
“I didn’t really see the goal, but I went for it,” said Parolin. “I kept cutting the ball
and shot it with my left foot and it went in. I made good contact. In the second half, we just wanted to put our heart out. Possession and heart. That’s what we do.”
“Audrey’s worked really hard on her left foot,” Kennedy said. “She was on varsity last
year, but she’s a completely different player this year. Now she can
hit those shots. She’s a hard worker and a great athlete.”
Cape Elizabeth’s last good chance came in the 77th minute, but Barrett’s left footed shot in the box was blocked. Greely’s defense held the Capers at bay from there and the Rangers improved to 8-0-1 with the victory.
“Jamie has been having so many shutouts that when they got a first goal, we
thought that was it, but when they got a second, we knew we had to push,” Parolin said. “We
pulled through. We
have so many players who can play. We keep progressing. I feel like
all our effort is being put into the season.”
“It was good soccer,” Kennedy added. “Cape came out a lot harder than I thought.”
The Capers (now 5-2-2 and seventh in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) felt like they let one get away.
“It was exciting,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Gary Newell. “I’m obviously disappointed in the result. We feel
it’s a game we could have had. We had chances. It came down to
capitalizing on opportunities. We did in the first half. The girls
showed resilience by coming back from their early goal. I’m proud of the girls. They worked well and showed we
can beat anybody. Karyn gave everything she’s got tonight. On the road, we always want to try and walk with something.
Tonight, we walk away thinking we should have won.
“Greely’s a good
squad. We’ll see them again. So far, we’ve faced Falmouth, Yarmouth and Greely. We’ve had a
good look at everybody. We’ll make some adjustments. Hopefully they’ll
The Capers host Yarmouth Saturday night and go to Falmouth Tuesday of next week. Cape Elizabeth also has home games against York, Greely and Freeport remaining.
The Rangers (fifth in the Western A Heals) are halfway through their grueling four-challenging-games-in-nine-days stretch. After playing host to Falmouth Friday night, Greely is at York Tuesday of next week. It also has games remaining at home against Gray-New Gloucester and Yarmouth and at Cape Elizabeth.
“We’re doing well,” Parolin said. “We still have tough games left. We call this our tough week. We had Yarmouth, Cape and next Falmouth. That will be a tough one. Then we have York. It’s a brutal stretch.”
“Friday will be like this,” Kennedy added. “Every team we play now, it’s their biggest game.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com