Bell tolls; Falmouth survives Greely and the elements
FALMOUTH—You never know what might transpire when the Falmouth and Greely field hockey teams square off and indeed another bizarre chapter to the rivalry was added Tuesday evening.
The first half featured Yachtsmen dominance, but a failure to capitalize on multiple golden opportunities gave the hosts (along with everyone else on hand) plenty of time to think about their inability to score when lightning in the area stretched halftime from its usual seven minutes to 45.
When the game resumed, Falmouth continued to be frustrated, but then, with 14:54 to go in regulation, an unlikely hero, freshman Sydney Bell, rattled the cage to put the Yachtsmen on top.
With 11:50 left, thunder was heard and the officials decided to call a night, giving Falmouth a 1-0 victory. The Yachtsmen improved to 3-0 on the young season and dropped the Rangers to 1-2 in the process.
"It was kind of nervewracking, but (during the delay) we just encouraged each other and talked about how we'd play in the second half," Bell said. "It got frustrating at one point, but we knew we'd pull through."
Greely went 8-2-1 against Falmouth between 2001 and 2007 (please see below), but since then, the Yachtsmen have had the better of the series, going 5-3-2 in the past 10 meetings, four of which went to overtime.
Last fall, Falmouth dominated visiting Greely in the opener, 3-0. In the rematch, at Cumberland, the Rangers raced to a 2-0 lead, but the Yachtsmen rallied to tie before a thunderstorm ended the game prematurely, 2-2.
Falmouth, which was ousted by eventual state champion Leavitt in the Western B quarterfinals a year ago, is now in Class A for playoff purposes, but continues to play a Western Maine Conference schedule. The Yachtsmen got off to a fast start this autumn with a 5-0 home win over Fryeburg and a dramatic 1-0, double overtime triumph at Cape Elizabeth Monday.
Greely, which missed the playoffs last season for the first time this century after winning just twice, lost its opener, 5-0, to visiting Lake Region, but got in the win column Saturday, 5-0, over Poland. The Rangers played that game (and Wednesday's) without coach Kristina Lane Prescott, who just gave birth to a daughter, Audrey. Longtime assistant Becki Belmore is filling in.
Wednesday, Falmouth had ample opportunities to take control of the game (at least on the scoreboard) by halftime, but couldn't do so and as a result, victory was delayed.
Bell had the Yachtsmen's first good chance, in the ninth minute, but she shot just wide of the cage in transition.
Later in the first half, Greely goalie Sabrina Thompson denied Falmouth senior Jillian Rothweiler and Bell, Falmouth senior Leika Scott shot just wide and a feed from Rothweiler to sophomore Keunjoo Kim was just off the mark.
Falmouth had a 7-0 advantage in penalty corners in the first 30 minutes, but the game remained 0-0.
Distant lightning was seen off and on in the first half and at the break, Falmouth athletic director Cooper Higgins met with the officials and they decided to hold off the start of the second half until conditions improved.
It took 45 minutes, but the teams returned to the field and for awhile, it was more of the same.
Scott had a couple great looks on corners, but just missed.
Then, finally, with 14:54, the Yachtsmen struck.
Senior Mikey Richards got things started, sending a pass to Scott, who got her stick on the ball. It came to Bell and she scored the first varsity goal of her career at the most opportune time for a 1-0 advantage.
"Mikey passed up to Leika and Leika tipped it off her stick to me and I shot it and it went through," Bell said. "It felt really good."
Belmore called timeout with 13:26 left to try and inspire her charges, but the Rangers never got a chance to answer.
With 11:50 remaining, thunder was audible and the officials ruled the game was over and that Falmouth was the 1-0 victor.
"I think Greely was really impressive tonight," said Falmouth coach Robin Haley. "They challenged us in every facet. I'm not sure we were ready for that. It's always a fun competition. It's a healthy rivalry. I wish we could play on a night when we don't have weather conditions. This is a game we look forward to."
The Yachtsmen had a 13-0 edge in corners when all was said and done.
"It was frustrating," Haley said. "We have things we need to improve on, in terms of execution."
Belmore was happy with her team's effort.
"It's always interesting when we come to Falmouth," she said. "I'm really proud of the girls. They held tough and stayed strong. Some things really have come together for us. We always have a great rivalry with Falmouth. Very competitive and cordial. It's fun to come here. It's not a disappointing result. I told the girls Coach Prescott would be super proud of them."
Greely has two more huge tests coming up, but both are at home. The Rangers host York Friday, then welcome Cape Elizabeth Tuesday. Prescott could be back on the sidelines for either contest.
"We're making progress," said Belmore. "We had a huge turnover of players, graduating 14. The new seniors have stepped up and meshed really nicely. The team atmosphere this year has been great."
Falmouth goes to Kennebunk Friday (for its first game versus the Rams since Sept. 30, 2002 (a 3-1 home win for the Yachtsmen). Tuesday, the Yachtsmen vsiit York. They then go to Lake Region and before September ends, play host to Western C power North Yarmouth Academy and York.
While 3-0 is a nice start, Falmouth knows it can still get better.
"We need to communicate and definitely score more goals," Bell said. "Keep working hard and working on corners. We can do it."
"The schedule doesn't get any easier," Haley said. "\We don't get a break. Kennebunk and York will be tough. Our expectations are getting higher, but we still have work to do. It'll come."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Falmouth-Greely results
Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1 (OT)
Falmouth 2 @ Greely (2 OT)
@ Falmouth 5 Greely 1
Falmouth 2 @ Greely 1 (OT)
@ Greely 2 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0
Greely 1 @ Falmouth 0
@ Greely 1 Falmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Falmouth 1 (OT)
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 1
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 2 (tie)
Falmouth 4 @ Greely 0
@ Greely 2 Falmouth 1 (OT)
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 2 (Western B quarterfinal)
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 0
Greely 1 @ Falmouth 0 (OT)