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Cape hands Falmouth first loss

Sports

Cape hands Falmouth first loss

FALMOUTH—The Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth girls' soccer teams got the regular season off to a memorable start with a thrilling 2-1 Yachtsmen victory back on Opening Day.

The teams met against Tuesday night at Falmouth and once again, the rivals put on a show.

The Capers controlled play in the early going, but failed to convert some golden opportunities, even hitting the post on one occasion. The Yachtsmen then went ahead, 1-0, on freshman Tyler Spence's goal in the 24th minute, but five minutes later, Cape Elizabeth managed to draw even as sophomore Kathryn Clark finished. With 53.4 seconds to go in the half, the Capers took the lead as Clark's cross was poked home by freshman Katherine Briggs.

The second half was full of fireworks, both on the field and the sidelines. The Yachtsmen carried play for the most part and after a controversial ruling, almost tied the score on an indirect kick, but junior Mary Catherine Kowalsky's header off senior Caitlin Bucksbaum's feed was denied in diving fashion by Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Mary Perkins to keep it a one-goal game. Then, in the 78th minute, the Capers got a gift goal, credited to senior Talley Perkins, and went on to a 3-1 victory, improving to 10-1-1, dropping Falmouth to 9-1-1.

"We earned so many Heal Points from (Falmouth) since they're the number one team in Class B," said Clark. "It also gives us a confidence boost going into playoffs. We know if we can beat Falmouth, we can beat so many teams."

Playoff quality

Cape Elizabeth bounced back from its loss to Falmouth in the opener with eight successive victories before settling for a scoreless tie versus visiting Greely last Tuesday. The Capers returned to their winning ways Friday with a 4-1 triumph at Freeport.

Falmouth, the two-time defending Class B champion, built on its season opening win by capturing five more games in succession. After a 0-0 tie at Yarmouth, the Yachtsmen downed visiting Wells (7-0), Yarmouth (3-1) and York (1-0).

Historically, entering the contest, Falmouth has had the better of Cape Elizabeth, going 11-3 against the Capers since 2001 (with eight games ending in ties, please see sidebar).

Tuesday's game, under dry, but very chilly skies, was similar to the season opener with the teams' playing opposite roles. The 80 minutes certainly weren't dull.

The tone was set in the second minute when Cape Elizabeth junior Addison Wood had a good look, but shot wide.

The Capers' first great chance came in the fifth minute, as Clark broke in free, but her shot was directly at Yachtsmen standout senior goalkeeper Caroline Lucas, who knocked it away. The ball came to Wood, who sent a shot that Lucas couldn't reach, but luckily for the hosts, the ball hit the left post and rolled out of harm's way.

A minute later, Cape Elizabeth freshman Montana Braxton's rush was broken up by Falmouth senior back Angie Mallis, setting up the Capers' lone corner kick of the first half.

With 31:40 to go in the first half, Talley Perkins sent a cross that resulted in a loose ball opportunity for Wood, but Wood's shot was denied by a sprawling Lucas.

Three minutes later, Wood had a good look, but shot wide.

In the 13th minute, a serve from Braxton saw Wood and Lucas meet at the ball. It squirted free, but a Yachtsmen defender sent it away.

Falmouth finally transitioned to offense and after junior Taylor Russell twice headed corner kick serves from senior Caitlin Bucksbaum away from the frame, the hosts got a break and drew first blood.

With 16:20 to go before halftime, Spence served a nice shot on goal from 25 yards out, but it appeared Mary Perkins was in line to make the save. Instead, Perkins couldn't handle the ball and it got through her, went into the net and the Yachtsmen were up, 1-0.

It took less than five minutes for Perkins' teammates to pick her up and tie the score.

With 11:24 left in the half, Clark got to a pass from senior Maddie Riker, fought off two defenders, then pounded the ball past Lucas to make it 1-1.

"After I missed two shots, I didn't put my head down and kept playing," said Clark. "It worked out."

Less than a minute later, the Capers almost went ahead, but Clark's rush was broken up by Falmouth senior defender Bri DiPhillippo.

With 8:43 remaining before halftime, Riker had a good look in close, but there was plenty of traffic in front of the goal and Riker's shot hit a teammate. Riker went for the rebound, but was knocked down and the ball came to Wood, who fired a shot that Lucas denied in sprawling fashion.

In the final minute, Cape Elizabeth went ahead for good.

After eluding a defender, a nice run by Clark down the right wing set up the go-ahead tally. After being met by a defender near the end line, Clark, while sliding, managed to cross the ball on net, where Briggs collected it and sent it into the goal for a 2-1 advantage.

The second half wouldn't feature as many scoring chances, but there was still plenty of drama.

Early on, the Capers looked to extend their lead, but Talley Perkins' long floater was knocked away by a leaping Lucas and after a failed clear, Perkins had another look, but shot just high and wide with her left foot.

The Yachtsmen then pushed for the equalizer and had several opportunities.

With 27:01 to play in regulation, Mary Perkins beat Yachtsmen sophomore Georgia Babikian to a cross. The ball then came out to Bucksbaum, who scored both goals in the first meeting. Bucksbaum sent a 20-yard blast on target, but it wasn't high enough to get over the goalie and Perkins made the stop.

With just over 22 minutes to play, controversy ensued and the tying goal almost did as well.

As Cape Elizabeth junior Lizzie Raftice went down with injury, Falmouth kicked the ball out of bounds. When play resumed, the Yachstmen were given an indirect kick from the side, infuriating Capers coach Luke Krawczyk, who felt it should have been ruled a throw in from the side. Failing that, Krawczyk wanted the Yachtsmen to give the ball back, but Falmouth was allowed to play on and Bucksbaum served a perfect ball that senior Cassie Darrow leaped for and headed on target. What appeared to almost certainly be the tying tally instead produced the save of the game as Perkins dove to her left and managed to knock the ball just wide of the post, keeping the score, 2-1.

"I just kind of went for it," said Perkins. "I didn't know what was going to happen. I watched it not go in and it put a smile on my face. It was really exciting."

"It's difficult playing on these surfaces, but (Mary) recovered really well with a great save at the end," Krawczyk said.

Krawcyzk took issue with the rule itself.

"It's a silly rule," Krawczyk said. "It's a high school rule. If a player gets injured, it's a free kick for the team who had the ball. It's a silly rule because a team can take advantage of that. If my player is running with the ball in front of the penalty area, I could tell someone to go down injured and we'd have the ball with a free kick. It's not fair and it's something the (Maine Principals' Association) needs to look at. It's not fair to the referees. It puts the coaches in a bad position because everyone wants to win. I can't blame them for wanting to play it in. They almost got a goal out of it. They need to change the rule. It would nice they'd have the common sense to change it before playoffs."

Falmouth coach Wally LeBlanc felt his team handled the situation in a sportsmanlike fashion.

"Their girl got hurt, our girls noticed it and we said, 'kick the ball out of bounds,'" LeBlanc said. "We kicked it out of bounds. That's good sportsmanship. The official gave an indirect kick to us since we kicked it out of bounds. (Krawczyk) wanted our girls to give it back to them. I wasn't going to tell the official something to support them. That's for them to do. We encouraged our girls to kick it out of bounds in the first place. In my opinion, he was caught up in the heat of the moment. I don't like the accusation in front of a bunch of people we were poor sports."

The contest was far from over and the hosts kept pushing.

With 13:48 to play, Bucksbaum shot wide.

A minute later, Bucksbaum looked to feed Russell, but Perkins got to the ball first.

In the 71st minute, the Capers went back on the attack and Talley Perkins' rush was broken up by Lucas.

Falmouth came the other way and with 8;38 to go, Bucksbaum eluded two defenders and appeared primed to score or assist the tying goal, but before she could do damage, Riker stole the ball.

Cape Elizabeth would score once more with 2:29 remaining on a bizarre sequence.

A long feed appeared to go out of bounds over the end line and while many were waiting for a ruling on whether it was a goal kick or corner kick, the ball was cleared by a defender, somehow wound up in the Falmouth net and after consultation, the officials ruled that the ball had never gone out, that play was live and that the goal, which was credited to Talley Perkins, stood.

"I didn't really see it because I'd turned," Perkins said. "I didn't see any space between the ball and the line. It was one of those 'play to the whistle' things. It was hard because the ref was on the other side and there were a couple posts in his way."

"It was down on the line and I was shouting, 'It's gone out,' but (assistant coach) Andy (Strout) was shouting, 'It hasn't gone out,'" Krawczyk said. "I thought it was our corner. Andy was adamant it never went out. The poor kid kicked it across and it rolled in the corner. It was a goal. It was still 2-1 at the time. It definitely made the last two minutes easier for us."

"I'll respect the officials' decision," LeBlanc said. "The lead official didn't blow the whistle. The far official, the girls said he signaled it was out, but when the lead official talked to him, he said the ball was on the line. That's a tough call to make. The girls have to play through the whistle."

The Capers ran out the clock from there and celebrated their 3-1 win.

"Adrenaline got us going when we tied it," Mary Perkins said. "Then, the second goal came. We were pumped. It feels good to beat them. It was a long 40 minutes trying to hold the lead, but we're determined."

"Falmouth's always a big game for us," said Talley Perkins. "It's a big rivalry. It doesn't matter what sport. If you have the lead, it's more motivation for the other team. You have to keep the momentum up."

"We put them under a lot of pressure," Krawczyk added. "The girls played very well, especially the first 10-15 minutes. It always worries you when you play that well and don't score. We need to be more composed in front of the goal. The pleasing thing is the girls keep getting chances. They'll score the chances eventually. I'm happy with the way they're creating more chances.

"Most importantly, with all the adversity, we're two good programs. Wally's done a good job with his girls. We shook hands afterwards. There's a lot of respect between the two programs."

Mary Perkins was able to bounce back from the early Falmouth goal and played well down the stretch. Her performance was even more impressive when you consider this is her first season as the starting varsity keeper.

"I was kind of a last resort," Perkins said. "I took on the role. I have a good goalie coach to teach me. I played in sixth grade and occasionally on JV. Coach mentioned it to me. It just kind of happened. I've learned to like it a lot."

The Falmouth Express hit a bump in the road, but the Yachtsmen will treat the setback as a learning experience and will be even stronger going forward.

"I honestly feel Cape looked like the better team in the first half," said LeBlanc. "They possessed the ball. They were intelligent. They played really smart soccer and we felt the pressure. We had a nice counterattack goal. It was kind of a fluke goal, but credit to our girls for following through on it. What I'm proud of is the second half adjustments and that we fought for it and almost got the equalizer. We had the ball in the final third for a good 15-20 minute spurt. I like that we changed the momentum of the game against a fantastic team. When we change momentum against a quality team, that's a good lesson for us. I welcome adversity. I really do. Games like tonight are what help us grow. When you cruise through the season and everything goes right, you just think it will. Let's face it. In the playoffs, anything can happen."

While the Yachtsmen fell short, the stellar play of Lucas shouldn't be overlooked.

"Caroline was brilliant," said LeBlanc. "She really kept us in the game."

Eyeing the top spot

Falmouth goes to Poland Thursday, hosts Greely in a pivotal contest Saturday and closes the regular season at York Tuesday. The Yachtsmen are battling Morse for the top seed in Western B and would love to have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Falmouth still has its work cut out before it can even think about the postseason.

"Poland's a much improved team," LeBlanc said. "Greely's playing great soccer now. York at York will be tough. We have a haul. I hope we get through this, stay healthy, have some good learning lessons like tonight and see what happens."

Cape Elizabeth's success this fall has caught most by surprise. While the 2011 Capers had a superb record and enjoyed playoff success, this year's squad has more balance.

"Last season, we didn't play well as a team," Clark said. "We had one player who scored 25 goals and we just played it to her. "

"We had to change our style of play this year," said Talley Perkins. "Last year, we didn't pass as much. We realize this year passing does win games. We're definitely a closer group this year. The younger players are definitely helping. Being closer and trusting each other has helped us. We can't let up now."

Cape Elizabeth is back in action Saturday, when it hosts Gray-New Gloucester. The Capers go to Waynflete Monday. Cape Elizabeth (third in the Heals at press time) hopes to wind up third or fourth to ensure a home playoff game in both the preliminary and quarterfinal rounds.

"I think we have a run in us," said Mary Perkins. "We're dedicated and ready to go."

"Hopefully, we can keep picking up points and scrape into the third position," said Krawczyk. "We have two tough games. Hopefully we can get through them and build on this performance."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Photo: R. Steven Sharp / For The Forecaster

Falmouth senior goalkeeper Caroline Lucas beats Cape Elizabeth sophomore Kathryn Clark to a loose ball as Yachtsmen junior defender Megan Miller looks on.

Photo: R. Steven Sharp / For The Forecaster

Cape Elizabeth junior Phoebe Shields heads the ball as Capers junior goalkeeper Mary Perkins and Falmouth junior Taylor Russell look on.

Photo: R. Steven Sharp / For The Forecaster

Falmouth senior goalie Caroline Lucas sprawls to make one of her several saves.

Photo: R. Steven Sharp / For The Forecaster

Cape Elizabeth junior Addison Wood plays the ball with her head.

Photo: R. Steven Sharp / For The Forecaster

Falmouth junior Mary Catherine Kowalsky plays the ball up the sideline.

Photo: R. Steven Sharp / For The Forecaster

Falmouth senior Angie Mallis heads the ball away from Cape Elizabeth sophomore Kathryn Clark. Clark scored the Capers' first goal and assisted on the second.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth meetings

2012
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2011
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
Falmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth (OT)

2010
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Falmouth 0 (2 OT)

2009
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
@ Falmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 1

2008
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2007
Falmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Falmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 1

2006
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)

2005
@ Falmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie)

2004
@ Falmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 2 (tie)
Falmouth 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2003
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)

2002
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Falmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Falmouth 0

2001
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0