Freeport girls impress at NYA
YARMOUTH—While it's the goals that tend to get all the attention, winning a lacrosse game involves much more than scoring.
And Thursday afternoon at North Yarmouth Academy, the Freeport girls' team did all the little things that add up to victory.
The Falcons won the majority of draws, forced 26 turnovers and had a more than 2-to-1 advantage in ground balls as they enjoyed a big edge in time of possession.
Four first half goals from junior Lizzie Martin helped Freeport open up a 7-3 lead and the Falcons never let up in the second half, shutting the Panthers out, as they went on to a 12-3 victory.
Martin led the way with four goals, junior Julia Dearden added three and Freeport improved to 2-0 on the young season, handing NYA's its second loss in as many days and dropping the Panthers to 0-3.
"That's what we've been working on, forcing turnovers, draw controls, loose 50-50 balls," said Falcons coach Karin Kurry. "It's encouraging. We're very excited."
Freeport burst on to the scene in 2012, when it won a surprising Eastern B title, the first in program history. Last year's team might have been even stronger, but the Falcons were ousted by Yarmouth in the semifinals.
The 2014 squad returns almost everyone and opened with a 16-2 romp over Fryeburg.
NYA has missed the playoffs the past two seasons, but this year's team showed positive signs when it took two-time defending Class B champion Waynflete to the wire in Saturday's opener, before falling, 6-5. Wednesday, the Panthers struggled at York, losing, 14-3.
Until 2012, Freeport had never beaten NYA in girls' lacrosse, but the Falcons entered Thursday's game having won two of the past three meetings.
Last year, Freeport won in Yarmouth, 13-8. The Panthers then won in Freeport, 8-7.
Thursday, the Falcons got the jump and never looked back.
Freeport took the lead for good 3 minutes, 13 seconds in when Martin won a ground ball in front and fired a shot past NYA junior goalie Scout Fischman.
Martin doubled the lead a minute later, when she took a pass from junior Emily Johnson and finished.
"We attacked the goal," Martin said. "We had good passing. We did a good job seeing the cutters."
The Panthers got their first goal with 19:01 to play in the first half, as senior Abby McKelvy set up sophomore Alex Wahlstrom for a shot that Falcons senior goalie Molly Lane couldn't stop.
NYA never could catch up, however, as it regularly turned the ball over and Freeport took care of business in the draw circle and collected loose balls.
An unassisted tally from Dearden made it 3-1 with 14:57 to play in the half, but 90 seconds later, Wahlstrom set up senior Olivia Madore for a goal.
A free position goal from Martin and an unassisted tally from Johnson pushed the lead to 5-2, but with 1:40 left in the half, Wahlstrom assisted on another Madore goal and it appeared that the Panthers would only be down two at the break.
Instead, Freeport seized control by halftime.
With 55.5 seconds showing, Martin scored on a free position.
Then, as time wound down, sophomore Courtney Broderick spotted Dearden and Dearden finished for a 7-3 advantage.
"That was good to get a little bit more of a lead," Martin said.
In the first 25 minutes, the Falcons enjoyed an 8-3 advantage in draws and a whopping 31-11 edge in ground balls. Freeport forced a dozen NYA turnovers and had a 19-6 shots advantage, but while the Falcons had some breathing room, they didn't sit on their lead.
"The kids aren't used to being in the lead," Kurry said. "We talked about what that meant and that they had to keep playing."
Freeport did just that.
After Lane preserved the four-goal lead with a save on a free position from NYA senior Jen Machin, the Falcons added to their lead, as senior Meredith Broderick scored on a free position with 14:09 left.
Broderick scored again with 9:35 to play and the lead was 9-3.
Freeport kept pushing and scored three more times: Courtney Broderick (from Dearden) at 4:28, Courtney Broderick again (unassisted) at 2:50 and Dearden (unassisted) 22 seconds later and the Falcons closed the door on their 12-3 victory.
"We talked about having a good second half," Meredith Broderick said. "We didn't want to let up. We came out like was 0-0."
"The score doesn't show that it was a close game," Kurry said. "I had no idea what to expect coming in today. None."
The final stat sheet favored the Falcons in a big way.
Martin paced Freeport's offense with four goals, but she got plenty of help, as Dearden had three, both Brodericks finished with two and Johnson had one. Courtney Broderick, Dearden and Johnson added assists.
Lane had seven saves.
Freeport had an 11-6 edge in draws, won 49 ground balls to 23 for NYA (Meredith Broderick had a game-high 12 and Martin collected eight).
"It helps being on turf," said Meredith Broderick. "I like playing on it. Turf's awesome. We have a bumpy field. I had to get low and get a hand low on the stick to control the ball."
The Falcons turned ball over 19 times, but forced 26 giveaways.
"The defense has worked together for three years," Kurry said. "They know each other well. They communicate well."
Freeport outshot NYA, 28-10 (23-10 on frame).
"The draws were a big part of it and ground balls too," Martin said. "We learned a lot from last year. Since we only lost a few players, it's basically the same team. That's a good thing."
The Panthers' offense included two goals from Madore and one from Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom also had two assists, while McKelvy finished with one. Machin led NYA with six ground balls. Fischman made 10 saves and sophomore Keeley Bartolini, who entered the game late, had one stop.
"We've had a rough couple days," Panthers first-year coach Lucy Gerrity said. "It's hard when you have a off-day then don't have any practice time. We had another off-day today. We had no time to fix it because we didn't have practice. When we had settled possession, we scored. That showed what we can do. We just need to have time together on a field where we're challenging each other and have time to think about it and adjust."
Wait is over
NYA is right back at it Friday, when it makes the long trip to Fryeburg, seeking win number one.
"It's a long week," Gerrity said. "Trips to York and Fryeburg. I feel like once we get that one (win), we'll be fine. It's just getting that one. It will take work to get there."
Freeport, meanwhile, finally gets a chance to avenge last year's playoff loss when it hosts Yarmouth Monday afternoon.
"Yarmouth is a big nemesis," Martin said. "We won't have any trouble getting fired up for that game."
"We'll treat every team like a threat," Meredith Broderick said. "I think we have a lot of potential. We have a lot of motivation to go all the way this year. We need to perfect our offense and make sure we have control of the ball. We need a more cohesive attack."
"We're still moving people around, trying to find the right spots," Kurry said. "We're just as competitive this year, a little more mature. Less frantic. Yarmouth just beat Waynflete by a lot, so we know it will be a good game. There will be a lot of close games this year."