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No time, no problem: Greely rallies to shock Freeport in OT

Sports

No time, no problem: Greely rallies to shock Freeport in OT

FREEPORT—The old sports adage claims that "it's never over until it's over."

The Greely field hockey team, to its everlasting joy, and the Freeport Falcons, to their utter agony, discovered that to be the truth in an entertaining contest Friday afternoon at Freeport High School.

In a game crucial for Western Class B playoff positioning, the Falcons took a 1-0 lead late in the first half on a goal from junior Hannah Williams and protected it deep into the second half.

The Rangers had a great chance to pull even with 7:45 remaining, but Freeport sophomore goalie Morgan Karnes robbed Greely senior Kristin Dugas on a penalty stroke and as time wound down, it looked as if the Falcons would hold on and remain red-hot.

But in the waning seconds, Greely earned a penalty corner and even after time ran out, it had to be played to its fruition. After a transgression on the hosts gave the Rangers a second extra chance, they pounced and senior Cassie Demick tied the score out of a scrum.

The game went to overtime and after each squad had a breakaway bid denied, Greely won it with 3:07 left, as senior Mimi Lyon-Edmondson raced up the field and fired a shot which Karnes couldn't stop and the Rangers had themselves a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.

With the win, Greely improved to 4-7-1 and dropped Freeport to 5-8 in the process.

"This was a huge boost for us,' said Rangers coach Kristina Lane Prescott, who got a very sweet birthday present about six hours early. "Freeport's stepped it up this year. They did a great job. I wouldn't say it was one of our strongest games. We talked about hustling to the ball and not watching it. We have 10 seniors and we have to get to playoffs and this will help."

Rarely acquainted

Prior to Friday, Freeport and Greely had played exactly once this century, a 6-2 Rangers' road win on Sept. 17, 2010.

This year, both squads got off to slow starts, but are eyeing the playoffs with legitimate hopes.

Freeport, under first-year coach Marcia Wood, had a brutal draw in its opener and fell at home to Western B powerhouse York, 6-0. After a 3-0 home loss to Kennebunk, the Falcons fell at Fryeburg, 8-1. Freeport got in the win column with a 5-1 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester (the game was played on Falmouth High's turf), then beat host Poland, 5-2. After losses at Cape Elizabeth (2-0) and Falmouth (4-0) and a 2-1 home loss to Lake Region, Freeport edged visiting Poland, 1-0. A 4-1 setback at Kennebunk followed, but the Falcons then stunned visiting Yarmouth, 3-2, and prevailed at Gray-New Gloucester, 3-1, Thursday.

Greely opened with a 5-0 home loss to Lake Region, downed visiting Poland, 5-0, then lost in a weather shortened game at Falmouth, 1-0. After a 2-1 overtime home loss to Cape Elizabeth, the Rangers won at Gray-New Gloucester, 4-1. Losses to visiting York (5-0) and host Lake Region (5-0) followed. Greely then beat visiting Waynflete, 4-1, and tied visiting Kennebunk, 1-1. Losses at York (7-0) and Cape Elizabeth (2-0) ensued.

Friday's game ultimately defied the realities of time and proved the value of perseverance.

The Rangers had the better of the chances early, but couldn't convert any of their four first half corners or any of their five shots, as Karnes stood tall.

Late in the half, Freeport began to pressure and with just under six minutes left, earned a penalty corner. Out of the ensuing mass of humanity, Williams was able to bang the ball past Greely sophomore goalie Sabrina Thompson for a 1-0 lead.

"Hannah's my aggressive forward line player," said Wood. "She just goes, goes, goes for that ball."

Demick almost tied the score a minute later, but Karnes made the save.

At the other end, Williams was just wide on a bid which could have put her team up by two.

A last second Greely cross trickled wide and the Falcons took a 1-0 lead to the break.

First half shots were even, 5-5. The Rangers had four corners to Freeport's three, but Karnes made four saves to Thompson's three.

The second half wouldn't be anywhere near as balanced, as the Falcons tried to hold on for dear life, while Greely needed every second (and then some) to finally earn the equalizer.

Five minutes in, a shot off a Rangers' corner deflected just wide.

With 17:32 to play, senior Kat Bower set up Lyon-Edmondson for a great look, but Karnes made the save.

Six minutes later, Greely had a protracted scrum in front of the Freeport goal, but it didn't result in anything but frustration.

With 10:19 showing off a corner, junior Sophie McMonagle shot just wide.

Then, with 7:45 remaining, during another scrum, a Rangers shot appeared on target, but it was stopped by Falcons junior Kristi St. Pierre. Problem was, St. Pierre had her foot in the goal, which by rule, gave the Rangers a penalty stroke.

Prescott chose Dugas to take it and Dugas attempted to go high, only to see Karnes swat the ball away as if she was dismissing a mosquito, keeping Freeport on top by a goal.

Wood called timeout to settle her team, but Greely kept pressuring.

With just over three minutes left, the Rangers got consecutive corners, but couldn't finish.

With 2:02 showing, Bower shot just wide.

"It was very frustrating because the ball went over the end line multiple times," Demick said. "Coach always says to never let it go over the end line. We just had to keep our sticks down and keep our focus and play our positions."

Greely never let Freeport clear the ball and with 15 seconds to go, earned a corner.

While the Rangers set up, the clock ticked down to zero, but they knew they had a chance to play it out.

The Falcons prevented a shot, but a foul was called, giving Greely yet another life and this time, the visitors took advantage.

The ball was worked toward the goal as Freeport tried desperately and futilely to clear it. Finally, Demick got her stick on the ball, knocked it in and the Rangers erupted with joy and the Falcons looked on with disbelief as the game was tied, 1-1, and heading to overtime.

"I just really wanted it," Demick said. "I felt like I had to bring energy to the last corner and the last seconds. We don't give up. We never give up, even if we're losing, 6-0, we're always on the ball and trying our hardest."

"We're such a defensive team, but you can't win a game relying on defense the whole time," Prescott said. "We had to finish. That was just following the ball and not giving up and pushing and pushing. To score that way, that was beautiful."

In Maine high school field hockey, teams play two eight-minute, "sudden victory" overtime sessions, with seven players on each side. If no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie, but that wouldn't be the case Friday.

Just over three minutes in, Greely junior Maura Perry broke in on Karnes with a chance to end it, but Karnes denied her and stopped a rebound bid to boot.

Back came Freeport the other way and Williams broke in on Thompson, but she was robbed and senior captain Olivia Bubar's rebound shot was also saved.

Then, the Rangers got the ball to Lyon-Edmondson and she put on a clinic of dribbling up the right side, eluding a defender and suddenly Greely had three attackers running ahead of the pack with several Falcons in pursuit.

Lyon-Edmondson had her options, but when she crossed into the circle, she never wavered, winding up and firing. Karnes couldn't get a pad on the rocket and it banged into the net with 3:07 left in the first OT.

Greely 2 Freeport 1.

"When I came to a defender, I changed my speed," Lyon-Edmondson said. "A lot of times, I feel like I whiff the ball, but that time, I got really low and I hit it really well. I just did my best. I felt like we were a lot more focused going into overtime. Once we tied it up, momentum just changed."

"That was the sweetest thing in the world," Prescott said. "I keep telling (Mimi) to take it herself. She took it down and scored it herself."

Greely wound up with a 17-9 shots advantage and a 13-3 bulge in corners. Thompson made seven saves.

Freeport got 13 saves from Karnes, but it ultimately wasn't enough to fend off a gutwrenching defeat.

"It's really, really painful," Wood said. "Hand it to Greely for going out there hard and playing hard. They outworked us at the end. It's a lesson in always having to give your all. The second you kind of relax or think someone else has it, they don't. We had tears after regulation, but I told them, 'We're not done. We have to keep going." They were nervous. They hadn't played real overtime before. Morgan's upset, but she played a great game. She stopped that stroke. There's only so much you can ask of people. We just fell short."

Uncertainty

Freeport has one game left, at Yarmouth Tuesday. The Falcons (seventh in the Western B Heals at press time) hope for a win to ensure they don't fall to the ninth and final playoff spot, which would mean a preliminary round game on the road.

"Each game we're learning more and playing harder," Wood said. "Next year's team understands my expectations. The first Yarmouth game was just beautiful. We do play a lot better on turf. I don't know where we'll end. We're fighting for prelims or quarterfinals. Either way, we'll have another game after the end of the season. We might see (Greely) again."

Greely (ninth in Western B at press time) hosts Falmouth Saturday afternoon, then closes at Fryeburg Tuesday. After missing the playoffs for the only time this century a year ago, the Rangers are looking forward to getting back, possibly hosting at least one game and making some noise.

"I definitely feel like we can do well in the playoffs," Lyon-Edmondson said.

"We've gotten a lot more positive and focused," said Demick. "We really connect on the field and off and that really helps."

"We could still move up," Prescott added. "(Falmouth's) really big. We played them tough the first time. It's our Senior Game. I hope that will help too."

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

Photo:

Freeport junior Hannah Williams and Greely junior Mikela Nolin fight for possession late in the game. Williams had the lone Falcons' goal.

Photo:

Freeport junior Taylor Schenker and Greely junior Maura Perry give their all to win a 50-50 ball.

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Greely senior Kristin Dugas backhands the ball as Freeport junior Dani Foster defends.

Photo:

Freeport sophomore goalie Morgan Karnes, who had a terrific afternoon, stopping 13 shots, kicks away a bid from Greely senior Cassie Demick as sophomore Lexi Peacock looks on.

Photo:

Greely senior Kristin Dugas tries to get the ball from Freeport senior captain Emily Sturtevant.

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The scoreboard and celebration tell the story after Greely completes its thrilling comeback.