CUMBERLAND—On the first truly chilly day of the fall sports season, the Greely field hockey team’s playoff hopes were placed in a deep freeze.
Hosting rival/nemesis York Monday afternoon, the Rangers needed a win or a tie to increase the program’s postseason appearance streak to 16 seasons, but despite a valiant effort, it wasn’t to be.
After the Wildcats scored a quick goal to take an early lead, Greely bounced back 21 seconds later and drew even on a blast from senior Jess Wilson, but with 10:32 to go before halftime, York went back on top and never looked back. The Rangers had their chances in the second half, but couldn’t answer and fell to 2-9-2 with a 2-1 loss to the Wildcats, who improved to 9-3-1.
“This is symbolic of the season, unfortunately,” said Greely coach Kristina Prescott. “We had plenty of chances. It was a great game. Both teams were very skilled. We needed this game to make playoffs. Unless there’s some big upset, I don’t see us going on.”
Greely made it to the semifinals a year ago before losing to eventual regional champion York and despite losing a lot of key players to graduation, was viewed as a top contender entering 2012.
The Rangers lost at Falmouth in the opener, 3-0, then fell at home to Fryeburg (3-1) and at York (2-1) and two-time defending Class C champion North Yarmouth Academy (3-0). Greely got in the win column with a 4-0 home triumph over Gray-New Gloucester, then fell at Fryeburg, 3-1. After a 4-1 victory at Wells, the Rangers couldn’t hold a 2-0 halftime lead and tied visiting Falmouth, 2-2, scored four times but still lost by a goal to visiting Cape Elizabeth, settled for a 3-3 draw at home against Yarmouth, dropped a 4-1 decision at undefeated Lake Region and were vanquished at Cape Elizabeth, 2-0.
York has been the region’s premier team since 2004, reaching the state game on six occasions, winning it all once, in 2008. The Wildcats lost twice to Lake Region and once to Fryeburg and also tied Falmouth, but won their other games coming into Monday.
York had beaten Greely nine straight times (dating to a 2-0 Rangers win in Cumberland Oct. 3, 2008) and would make it 10, even though the Rangers had their chances.
In the fourth minute, Greely senior Freyja Victory looked to put the hosts on top, but her shot was saved by York goalie Amanda Kasbohm.
The Wildcats took the lead with 22:21 to play in the first half, when, after a failed clear, Allie Jones found herself behind Rangers senior goalie Leah Dixon and banged the ball into the cage to make it 1-0.
Greely got right off the deck, played the ball up the field and with exactly 22 minutes to go before the break, Wilson launched a rocket that eluded Kasbohm and rattled home to make it 1-1.
The Rangers had a couple looks to go ahead, but Wilson shot just wide in the 12th minute and two minutes later, senior Sarah Holmes sent a shot that Kasbohm had to save.
With 10:32 left before halftime, York went on top to stay, thanks to a pretty individual effort from Taylor Simpson, who eluded several defenders before sending a shot past Young into the cage.
The Wildcats had a 4-0 advantage on penalty corners in the first half.
Greely had several chances in the second half to pull even, but couldn’t do so.
With 28:50 to play, a shot from Wilson went just wide.
At the 19 minute mark, Wilson send a feed into the box which no teammate could reach.
With 10:39 remaining, a breakaway by junior Mimi Lyon-Edmonson was broken up by Kasbohm. The players collided on the play as the ball trickled out of bounds, but the whistle didn’t blow.
With 6 minutes to go, the Rangers earned their first penalty corner, but couldn’t get a shot on goal.
As time wound down, Greely got the ball into the York zone, but the Wildcats defense stiffened one final time and before the Rangers could unleash a final, desperation shot, the whistle sounded.
York 2 Greely 1.
Another frustrating setback was in the books.
“We have a ton of skill and speed, but in the end, the mental aspect of the game outweighs that,” Prescott said. “The girls need more confidence in themselves and need to trust their abilities. We were lacking in that department. That’s been the challenge. I can coach ability all day long, but to make the player have the gut reaction that they want the ball more than the player on the other team is hard to teach. First person to the ball wins. That’s true in every sport. We can’t seem to get that.”
While York (third in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) finishes its regular season Wednesday at home versus Gray-New Gloucester and will go on to yet another postseason, Greely is 12th in Western B, but only the top 11 squads make the playoffs.
The Rangers host Wells in the regular season finale Tuesday, but the Warriors are even lower in the standings and won’t be worth enough to allow Greely to leapfrog No. 11 Poland and avoid missing out on the postseason for the first time since 1996.
Look for the Rangers to return with a vengeance in 2013.
“We lose 14 seniors, but our JV has demolished every other team,” said Prescott. “Same with our first team. This won’t happen again. We hope to finish strong tomorrow. Having this many seniors and knowing them as well as I do, it’s tough to not see them succeed and make their goals.”