Greely girls blank Yarmouth
CUMBERLAND—Greely's girls' soccer team has gone one step forward, one step back this autumn, but finally, the Rangers have a little winning streak going.
Thursday afternoon, against a visiting Yarmouth squad just as eager to get a positive string going, Greely shot to a quick lead on a goal from freshman Izzy Hutnak, doubled it in the 12th minute on a tally from sophomore Kristina Volta, then in the second minute of the second half, senior Holly Rand scored just her second varsity goal to provide some breathing room.
The Rangers' defense slammed the door for 80 minutes and Greely improved to 5-3 with a 3-0 triumph, dropping the Clippers to 2-4-2 in the process.
"It's nice to get two in a row," said Greely coach Michael Kennedy. "To have a shutout and get three goals, that's what we need to do."
Both Greely and Yarmouth were ousted in the quarterfinals a year ago.
This fall, the Rangers got off to a good start with a 3-1 home win over Freeport. After falling at home to two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth, 1-0, Greely blanked host Poland, 2-0. After a 1-0 loss at York, the Rangers downed visiting Fryeburg, 2-0, but lost at home to Cape Elizabeth, 1-0. Tuesday, Greely continued its win-one-lose-one stretch with a 3-0 triumph at Gray-New Gloucester.
The Clippers earned a 2-0 home win over North Yarmouth Academy in their opener, then lost at Lake Region (2-1) and Cape Elizabeth (2-0), tied host York (0-0), fell at home to Cape Elizabeth (2-1), battled visiting Falmouth to a scoreless tie, then got back in the win column Tuesday at Wells, 2-1.
Yarmouth hadn't won at Greely this century (please see sidebar, below) and the rivalry had been lopsided in the Rangers' favor. Since 2001, Greely had won 14 times and tied twice out of the past 21 encounters.
Form held Thursday.
In the first minute, the Clippers had an opportunity to strike, but after going one-on-one with Rangers senior goalkeeper Caton Beaulieu, Yarmouth senior Tess Merrill shot wide.
In the sixth minute, Greely's first good chance saw Hutnak break in and fire a high shot that Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Fallon had to knock over the crossbar, setting up a corner kick which senior Julia Mitiguy headed over the goal.
The next opportunity resulted in a tally.
With 32:51 remaining in the first half, junior Teal Otley sent a ball on goal that Fallon couldn't corral before Hutnak raced in and banged it home for a 1-0 lead.
"It was a good cross and I was able to receive the ball," Hutnak said. "It almost went in, but I had to give it one tap to be sure."
Hutnak has immediately made her mark on this program. For that, she credits her teammates.
"I was very intimidated at first, but the team's really welcoming," said Hutnak. "We have three amazing captains, Holly, (senior) Gabby (Morris) and (senior) Julia (Mitiguy).
"(Izzy's) been great for us," said Kennedy. "She's fast, she cleans up things well. She plays much bigger than her size. I don't think she realizes how small she is. Her finishing has been great. She's been a wild card for us. Someone who can create havoc up top."
A little more than four minutes after taking the lead, Greely doubled it.
With 28:35 left in the half, in transition, sophomore Mia Lambert fed classmate Kristina Volta and Volta beat Fallon for a 2-0 advantage.
The visitors would have a couple chances before the half, but would be left frustrated.
In the 22nd minute, Merrill fed sophomore Sarah Myers, but Myers' blast was tipped away by Beaulieu.
With 5:47 remaining before halftime, Merrill rushed in, but Beaulieu came out and deflected the ball. Freshman Margaret Hatch cleared it, but Yarmouth sophomore Emma Torres came up with the ball only to shoot high.
The Rangers put it away just 96 seconds into the second half, courtesy Rand.
On a corner kick, the ball came to junior Mykaela Twitchell, who passed it out front to Rand, who had space, touched the ball, then fired. Fallon appeared to be in position to make the save, but couldn't handle the blast and the ball trickled into the net for a 3-0 lead.
"The corner came in and Mykaela just dropped it to me," said Rand, a defensive stopper when she isn't tickling the twine. "We've been working on that. I just shot it. It looked like the goalie bobbled it and it went in. It was very exciting."
Yarmouth only had one good look in the second half, but freshman Lilly Watson's free kick sailed just high.
The Greely defense did the rest and the Rangers were able to celebrate a 3-0 win.
"We work very well together on defense," Rand said. "We're very connected. If one person steps, the other two know to drop. Our defensive center-mid always drops in too. Caton's very strong. She's always there for us when we need her to come through."
"We have a great goalie and we have a great defense," Kennedy said. "We're going to press. A lot of times we might defend with two defenders, but we're OK with that. For us, it's more about defensive rotations than limiting shots."
Kennedy was much more pleased with the defense than his offense.
"We could have played better offensively," Kennedy said. "It was a chaotic game. (Yarmouth) wanted to change the tempo of the game. We fell into their game instead of playing ours. It wasn't our smoothest game."
Beaulieu made nine saves. Fallon stopped three shots for the Clippers.
Yarmouth is back in action Saturday afternoon at Falmouth. The Clippers go to Freeport Tuesday, then close the regular season with home games versus Gray-New Gloucester, Fryeburg, Greely and York.
Greely hopes to make it three straight Saturday when it welcomes York. The Rangers go to Cape Elizabeth Tuesday. They still have a home game against Waynflete and road tests against Yarmouth, Falmouth and Lake Region.
Greely looks to keep improving.
"I'm very excited for those games," said Rand.
"We've been really good with talking to each other on the field," Hutnak said. "The people on the bench have been positive too, which helps. It gets us going, but we have to keep a positive attitude to keep going."
"We're going in the right direction," Kennedy added. "The team aspect has evolved over time. I think the girls are buying in and bonding well. On the soccer side, they're getting into a good groove. This is the kind of game we need to replicate Saturday and Tuesday. I think we can compete with the top teams. Defensively, I think we can compete with any team. Offensively, it's kind of evolution. We have to do it from game to game. That's the big challenge."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Greely-Yarmouth meetings
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1 (OT)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0 (OT)
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 2 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 5 @ Yarmouth 1