Falmouth holds off Cape Elizabeth for key field hockey win
FALMOUTH—With the postseason right around the corner, Thursday evening's field hockey showdown between Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth was understandably tense.
Two of the best teams in their respective regions, the Capers and Yachtsmen battled for 60 palpitating minutes with just one goal being scored.
And like so many things this fall, it went Falmouth's way.
With 8:19 to go in the first half, Yachtsmen senior Jillian Rothweiler, who's grown accustomed to playing the hero, scored on a rebound off a penalty corner to put Falmouth ahead to stay.
The Yachtsmen had to hold on for dear life in the second half, but thanks to senior goalie Hillary Nash and a staunch defense, starring senior Hayley Winslow, they managed to do so and went on to a 1-0 win. Falmouth improved to 9-2 and dropped Cape Elizabeth to 8-3 in the process.
"It was definitely a battle," said Rothweiler. "Cape's always a good game. We're so well matched. Watching the clock go down into the single digits is the best and the worst feeling. It's nervewracking, but there's nothing better. Time stands still, but it's awesome."
With Falmouth in Class A for the postseason this year, Thursday marked the final time the Yachtsmen and Capers would square off in 2013.
Both teams came in boasting gaudy records.
Falmouth opened with a 5-0 home win over Fryeburg, then enjoyed a dramatic 1-0, double overtime triumph at Cape Elizabeth and a 1-0 home victory over Greely. After falling at York, the Yachtsmen bounced back to blank Lake Region (2-0), Kennebunk (1-0), Freeport (4-0) and North Yarmouth Academy (1-0, in overtime). Saturday, Falmouth lost at home to York, 4-0, but Tuesday, it responded in style and eked out a 2-1 win at Fryeburg.
"We learned a lot from (the York) game," Rothweiler said. "Every time we play York it's a learning curve."
"We learned our passes have to be spot-on and that our communication has to be positive," Winslow said. "We can only take so much negative in our lives."
The Capers opened 2013 with a 2-1 win at Gray-New Gloucester, then dropped a 1-0 double overtime home decision to Falmouth, before defeating host Poland (3-0) and visiting Fryeburg (2-0). A thrilling 3-2, come-from-behind overtime victory at Greely followed. Cape Elizabeth then blanked visiting Freeport, 2-0, before falling at Kennebunk, 1-0. Again the Capers responded in positive fashion with a 1-0 home win over Yarmouth, a 2-1 overtime victory at Lake Region and a 1-0 home win over Kennebunk.
Entering this meeting, since the teams starting playing regularly in 2003, Falmouth won eight games, Cape Elizabeth five and three other contests ended in ties (please see sidebar, below).
Thursday, Falmouth found a way to wind up on the winning end again.
The Yachtsmen's first good chance came in the second minute, when senior Leika Scott fired a long shot which was saved by Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Mary DiPietro.
The hosts later earned a penalty corner, had a Scott shot blocked, then produced three more corners before finally breaking through.
With 8:19 left in the first half, the ball came to Rothweiler, who redirected it past DiPietro and into the cage for a 1-0 lead. Junior Elle Fitzgerald, who scored the overtime winner in the previous meeting at Cape Elizabeth, was credited with the assist.
"It was kind of a pass from Elle," Rothweiler said. "I was in open space and again, it was right place, right time."
"Jill scores clutch goals," said longtime Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley. 'You scratch your head saying, 'how did she do it?" but she makes it happen and we're really lucky. She's a game-changer for us. She pulled off another one tonight."
While Falmouth carried play in the first half, the Capers had the better of the second half chances, but could never deliver the tying tally.
With 22:51 left in regulation, senior Hailey Petsinger sent a shot into the goal area, where a flurry ensued, but the Yachtsmen managed to clear the ball away.
Seconds later, Winslow blocked a shot.
With 19:56 to go, Petsinger deflected a shot, forcing Nash to make a save.
Four minutes later, Cape Elizabeth had its best chance, as Petsinger sent the ball on cage and sophomore Megan Nicholson tipped it, but Nash managed to make the save.
The Capers kept the pressure on and earned a couple more corners, but had nothing to show for it.
With 14:41 left, Winslow broke up a potential shot from Cape Elizabeth senior Abby McInerney, who later missed the waning moments after suffering an apparent head injury.
With 6:10 remaining, Winslow again cleared the ball from harm's way.
"We make sure that when they're at the 25, that we have a person on every opponent," Winslow said. "We played well. It kind of worked out. Our mindset is to get on the players so they can't take a shot. We know if they do, that Hillary will make the save."
"I think Hayley shut them down every time before they got in the circle," Rothweiler said.
"Hayley does a nice job in the backfield," Haley said. "I rely on her a lot. She came up with some key stops and some key hits. We made a couple of adjustments from a defensive standpoint and I think it paid off for us. We kept them from scoring. I'm happy with that. We don't necessarily want to be challenged in the defensive end, but we need to adapt and be able to play with a calm head and a calm stick."
With 4:53 left, Cape Elizabeth junior Mikayla Pinette had a look, but Nash made her final save.
Then, as time wound down, Rothweilder broke up a Capers' foray and Falmouth was able to finally run out the clock and celebrate its hard-fought 1-0 triumph.
"It was tough, but I'm glad we held on," Winslow said. "We knew deep down inside we could do it."
"I was a little bit concerned with how we'd come out after the tough York loss," Haley said. "You're always concerned with how a team will play after a loss like that. We knew we were playing for (Heal) Points. It was a big deal for us. It was a key game for both of us in terms of possibly getting homefield advantage for the playoffs. I think you saw a great game out there. We played a good, solid team game today. It was back and forth. It could have gone either way."
Falmouth finished with a 6-5 edge in shots. Cape Elizabeth had a 6-4 advantage in corners. Both goalies made five saves. Nash pitched her ninth shutout.
The Capers suffered their third 1-0 loss of the season.
"(Falmouth) played the ball very well," said Cape Elizabeth coach Darci Holland. "They seemed to be everywhere. We had scoring opportunities, but we couldn't get the ball in there. We tried a couple different lineups, moving people around. It didn't seem to work though. It seemed like they marked up on Abby. I tried to move her around. We just couldn't finish tonight. We need to capitalize more on corners, stop the ball and drive the ball."
Cape Elizabeth (now third in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) is back in action Monday at Fryeburg. After hosting Greely Wednesday, the Capers close at home against top-ranked York next Saturday.
"As long as we beat Greely and Fryeburg, we should stay near the top," Holland said.
Falmouth (third in Western A) visits Greely Monday, goes to Poland next Friday, then closes with a home tilt against Gray-New Gloucester Oct. 15.
"We need to continue passing, having positive communication and keeping everyone together," said Winslow. "Our goal is to get homefield advantage. This win definitely helped. I'm going to love playing different teams in the playoffs. It's a good mix for senior year."
"The season's flown," said Rothweiler. "We need to keep working on passing and talking. We're growing every game. We want homefield advantage. We're not a grass team. I'm not a fan."
"We hope to win out," Haley added. "That's our big thing right now. We're going into uncharted territory in the playoffs. Playing at home would give us a little bit of a comfort level to get our feet wet and move forward. We look forward to the challenge. We think it's a great opportunity. It's new and exciting. We want to see how we measure up. We don't know (Class A teams) well and they don't know us well."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth results
Falmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (2 OT)
@ Falmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
Falmouth 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Falmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Falmouth 2 (OT)
@ Falmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
Falmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1 (2 OT)
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie)
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Falmouth 0
Western B Southwest Division preliminary round
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Falmouth 0