Cape girls down Falmouth in impressive fashion
CAPE ELIZABETH—Not many programs can survive the loss of two Division I-caliber talents, but the Cape Elizabeth girls appear to be perhaps the most complete and dangerous Class B team so far in the 2014 season.
The Capers welcomed Falmouth to Hannaford Field Wednesday evening and quickly seized control, thanks in large part to spectacular play from junior goalie Kate Bosworth, who made 10 first half saves, and a potent offense, led by a special player making her season debut.
Senior Hannah Newhall, a standout athlete who played a supporting role the past couple seasons, burst onto center stage by scoring five goals and the scary thing for the rest of the state is that she's not even 100 percent physically.
Newhall scored four times in the first half as Cape Elizabeth opened up a 7-3 lead and the Capers scored the first four goals of the second half before settling for a 12-5 victory.
Senior Abby McInerney added three goals and Bosworth finished with 16 saves as the Capers improved to 2-0 and handed the Yachtsmen a loss in their season opener.
"The players who came before pushed these guys and they're excited that it's their time," said Cape Elizabeth coach Jeff Perkins. "They're going out and playing and having fun."
Why not us?
After graduating standouts Talley Perkins (now playing at Boston University) and Lauren Steidl (now playing at Princeton University), Cape Elizabeth was expected by many to take a step back this spring, but the Capers have plenty of talent in reserve and in a season where all the top contenders have question marks, this might be the best team around come June.
Cape Elizabeth decimated visiting Fryeburg in its opener, 21-2, back on April 17.
Falmouth, a regular contender of late, welcomed Kait Johnson as its new coach this spring and also has high hopes.
Entering Wednesday's contest, Cape Elizabeth had beaten Falmouth on four straight occasions, including twice last spring (18-5 in Falmouth and 17-10 at home), and had captured 13 of 17 meetings dating back to 2002 (please see sidebar, below).
The Yachtsmen were hoping to end that skid and win at Cape Elizabeth for the first time in program history, but the Capers simply had too much.
Both teams struggled to score early, as McInerney hit the post and Bosworth denied a bid from Falmouth's Julia Spugnardi.
Finally, with 19:28 to go in the first half, McInerney scored unassisted.
The Yachtsmen tied things up with 17:43 left, as Spugnardi took a feed from talented freshman Sydney Bell and beat Bosworth.
With 15:35 remaining, McInerney, while falling to the turf, passed to sophomore Sophie Hewitt and Hewitt sent a shot past Falmouth goalie Sarah Hutcheon to put Cape Elizabeth on top to stay.
After Bosworth preserved the lead by robbing Spugnardi on a breakaway, Newhall got in on the action, scoring unassisted.
Junior Kirsten Rudberg added a goal on a free position for a 4-1 lead, but the Yachtsmen responded on an unassisted goal from Bell and a tally from Elle Fitzgerald (set up by Devon Sarazin).
After Newhall countered with a free position goal, Bosworth robbed London Bernier and Spugnardi to frustrate Falmouth.
"I got my first varsity season out of the way last year and didn't come in with the nerves this season," said Bosworth. "The shots (I faced) were mostly high, which was awesome. A couple bounce shots got me, which I'll have to work on, but my defense pushed them to low angles, which was awesome. My defense is confident. They know where the ball is and they talk really well. A lead took the pressure off me."
Bosworth's play rubbed off on her teammates and left her coach speechless.
"We go crazy every save," Newhall said. "We scream, 'Yeah, Kate!' It's amazing. She's been working so hard and gets it done. You can see it on the field, obviously."
"I don't know if I've seen anything like that," Perkins said. "I've seen (Kate) have good games before, but not like that. I never even saw (former standout goalie) Elin (Sonesson) have a game like that. She was on fire. That gave the team confidence."
After a turnover, Newhall raced in for a goal and a 6-3 lead at the 5:21 mark and with 51.7 seconds to go before the break, Newhall scored her fourth goal of the game, unassisted, and Cape Elizabeth had a four-goal bulge.
The Yachtsmen actually had a 16-12 shots advantage (13-12 on frame) in the half, but Bosworth ensured the Capers would stay on top.
Any Falmouth comeback hopes were dashed quickly in the second half.
Newhall scored the first goal of the new half, as she raced three-quarters of the field, as only she can, before beating Hutcheon to make it 8-3.
Newhall's performance was even more impressive when you consider it was her first action of the spring, preseason or regular season.
"I got my second collarbone injury in two years," Newhall said. "I broke it again in February. Eight weeks later, I'm back and ready to go. I have been able to run."
"Hannah's been out all preseason and it took her a little while," Perkins said. "Probably the first part of the first half for her to get her feet back under her, but you could see her eyes light up and she was off the races. She showed her athletic skill, which has always been her biggest attribute. Her size and athleticism make her tough to cover. She's a joy to watch."
With 16:35 to play, Rudberg won a ground ball in front, then fired home a shot for a 9-3 lead.
After a Yachtsmen timeout went for naught, McInerney set up senior Liz Robinson for a goal and a 10-3 advantage.
Then, with 13:55 showing, McInerney eluded the Falmouth defense and finished to give the hosts their biggest lead.
The Yachtsmen snapped a 24 minute, 45 second drought when Bell set up Fitzgerald with 10:18 to go, but it was far too little, too late.
With 3:49 left, senior Sabrina Smithwick (from Angie Diphilippo) scored in transition, but Falmouth would draw no closer.
An unassisted goal from McInerney with 1:04 to play brought the curtain down on the Capers' impressive 12-5 triumph.
"We had some trouble with their defense in the beginning, but we figured it out and got it through the midfield," Newhall said. "We have fast players who were able to zing it up the field. Pass, pass, pass. We just outran them.
"Because we don't have two D1 players on our team, it's more about playing as a team this year. We'll play a little differently and other teams will have to expect a completely different team than in past years."
"I feel better about how the defense played in the second half," said Perkins. "We didn't give up anywhere near as many shots. We're still trying to knock rust off from vacation. It was good to go out and run the field."
Newhall had five goals to lead all scorers. McInerney added three goals, to go with a pair of assists. Rudberg scored twice, while Hewitt and Robinson both tickled the twine once.
McInerney also excelled in the draw circle, winning 11 of 17 opportunities.
Bosworth wound up denying 16 shots.
Junior Rhoen Fiutak led the Capers with four ground balls, while McInerney, Robinson and Rudberg each collected three.
Cape Elizabeth committed 19 turnovers, but had a 22-21 edge in shots on frame.
Falmouth's production was paced by Fitzgerald, who had two goals. Bell added a goal and two assists. Smithwick and Spugnardi also scored, while Diphilippo and Sarazin both had assists.
The Yachtsmen had a 31-24 advantage on ground balls, thanks in large part to Bell and Fitzgerald, who each collected 10. Hutcheon made 10 saves.
Falmouth only turned the ball over nine times and outshot Cape Elizabeth, 30-25.
"We got beat on fastbreak goals and their goalie kind of shut us down," Johnson said. "That's a testament to her and the fact that we kept shooting high. We didn't fake the goalie out. We did get frustrated, but I'm proud of the team. It was a good, solid start. We're very young, but they all busted their butts until the final whistle. It felt like a nail-biter."
Friday fun day
Falmouth will seek its first win Friday, but it won't come easily, as the Yachtsmen have to go to two-time defending Class B champion Waynflete,which just had its 20-game win streak snapped Wednesday at Yarmouth (11-4).
"I'm excited for the rest of the season," Johnson said. "It was such a short preseason. We still have a lot to learn and work on. The girls are awesome. They're responding well to my style. They're eager. We're still trying different people in different places."
Cape Elizabeth is at always-competitive and now-back-in-Class-B Kennebunk Friday. The Rams are coming off a big win at Greely Wednesday.
"I think we can be better than last year," Bosworth said. "We're going to be just fine. We're working well together. We saw Kennebunk in a play-day. They'll be tough."
"(Kennebunk's) a grass team," Newhall said. "Grass is always tough for us. We're definitely a turf team, but if we can play like we did tonight, we can win."
"We haven't played them in years," Perkins added. "I have no idea what to expect. We'll go out and play as hard as we can and hope it goes our way."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth meetings
Cape Elizabeth 18 @ Falmouth 5
@ Cape Elizabeth 17 Falmouth 10
@ Falmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 8 (OT)
Western B semifinals
@ Falmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 10
Cape Elizabeth 16 @ Falmouth 10
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Falmouth 7
@ Falmouth 8 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Falmouth 5 (OT)
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Falmouth 9
Cape Elizabeth 14 @ Falmouth 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Falmouth 5
West Region preliminary round
@ Cape Elizabeth 16 Falmouth 6
Cape Elizabeth 14 @ Falmouth 3
Northwest Division preliminary round
@ Cape Elizabeth 14 Falmouth 2