Eleven years in the making...Freeport springs upset at Falmouth
FALMOUTH—What a difference a standout goalie can make.
Two days after a decisive home loss to Yarmouth, the Freeport girls' lacrosse team traveled to Falmouth Wednesday night and was on the verge of giving away a five-goal second half lead.
But Falcons senior Molly Lane wasn't about to let that happen.
With the Yachtsmen nearing the completion of a comeback, Lane came up big time and again with the game on the line and as a result, Freeport managed to beat Falmouth for the first time since 2003.
The Falcons never trailed, got two goals apiece from senior Meredith Broderick, juniors Emily Johnson and Lizzy Martin and sophomore Courtney Broderick, 17 saves from Lane and held on to win, 8-7, improving to 4-1, dropping Falmouth to 1-2 in the process.
"It's so exciting," said Lane, a first-team All-Conference goalie last spring. "We needed to prove ourselves and this is a good team to prove ourselves against. It's good for Freeport. Against Yarmouth, everyone was frantic, but today, everyone just played better, cleaner and more confident. When we're on, we're on. It shows that when we play as a team, we can make tremendous strides."
Teams to watch
Falmouth and Freeport weren't considered title favorites coming into the season, but both have shown positive glimpses in the early going.
The Falcons opened with a 16-2 romp over Fryeburg, beat host North Yarmouth Academy with surprising ease, 12-3, then eked out a 10-9 overtime win at Morse before falling at home to powerhouse Yarmouth Monday, 14-3.
The teams hadn't played since the 2011 season (a 17-7 home win for Falmouth). Entering Wednesday's game, the Yachtsmen held a 9-3 all-time series edge (see sidebar, below), including nine wins in a row.
Freeport last beat Falmouth May 8, 2003 (12-4 at home).
This time around, the Falcons held on for dear life.
Freeport struck first just 90 seconds into the game when Meredith Broderick scored unassisted.
The Yachtsmen managed to tie the score with 20:41 left in the first half, when freshman Sydney Bell set up sophomore London Bernier for a score.
With 15:52 remaining, the Falcons took the lead for good, when Martin shot past Falmouth sophomore goalie Sarah Hutcheon.
Martin scored unassisted again two minutes later and Yachtsmen first-year coach Kait Johnson called timeout.
Her team responded with 10:47 to go, as Bell scored unassisted, but Falmouth couldn't catch up.
With 9:21 remaining, Emily Johnson scored her first goal, unassisted, and two minutes later, Johnson set up Courtney Broderick, who beat Hutcheon to make it 5-2.
Freeport had a big edge in the first half as Hutcheon was staring into the sun.
"We hung our goalie out to dry at times with the sun in her eyes," said Kait Johnson.
The hosts looked to answer late in the half, but Lane made her presence felt by robbing Bell and Bernier and the Falcons took a three-goal lead to the break.
Falmouth won the second half draw, but Lane denied Falmouth freshman Olivia Stucker on the doorstep.
Freeport then stretched its lead as Emily Johnson finished a feed from junior Julia Dearden and Meredith Broderick scored unassisted to make it 7-2.
The Yachstmen wouldn't quit, however.
With 18:18 to go, Stucker finished a feed from Bell, ending a 17 minute, 29 second drought.
Falmouth senior Sabrina Smithwick, who scored five times against Waynflete, produced her first and only goal (from junior Lizzie Goodrich) with 14:06 to play, but Courtney Broderick answered with an unassisted tally with 12:31 showing.
The Yachtsmen got a goal back with 10:15 to go, when Stucker set up senior Julia Spugnardi to make it 8-5.
Lane then took center stage.
She robbed Spugnardi on the doorstep, made a save on a free position shot from senior Leigh Bernardy, influenced Bell to shoot wide, then stopped a free position from Spugnardi.
"It's an adrenaline rush," Lane said. "As a goalie, I think I play better when they're firing shots at me and our defense has to stay on its toes. Saves fire the whole team up. I can see it in their eyes. I've been weak in the past on low shots, so I purposely get lower, but I keep my stick high and make sure the defense crashes."
Finally, with 2:34 to play, Spugnardi scored unassisted to make the score 8-6.
Falmouth got the ball back and kept the pressure on, but Bernardy shot wide on a free position and Lane stopped Smithwick, Bernier and Spugnardi in succession.
With 57.7 seconds remaining, the Yachtsmen finally finished a free position, as Fitzgerald did the honors and for the first time since late in the first half, the hosts were within one, 8-7.
Falmouth had all the momentum on its side, but it couldn't win the ensuing draw. Falcons sophomore Nina Moore scooped up the loose ball and Freeport proceeded to run the clock down to the waning seconds before giving the ball back to the Yachtsmen.
Falmouth tried desperately to move the ball up the field as time wound down, but before it could fire a shot on goal, the horn sounded and Freeport held on, 8-7.
"We told ourselves (after the Yarmouth game) that every season you'll have a bad game and you can't dwell on it," Emily Johnson said. "We got fired up today. We looked for open cutters. We did a good job of being patient. I don't think a lead is ever safe, especially when you play Falmouth. I think we did a good job of staying calm and playing smart. We've been working on offensive plays and defensively, on crashing and I think that showed today."
"I never feel safe," Kurry added. "I knew how good they are. We talked about learning from the (Yarmouth) game. We worked on transition, offensive plays, trying to pick a few of the weaknesses from the Yarmouth game and working on them. This is a big step."
The Falcons had balanced offense, as both Brodericks, Johnson and Martin all scored twice and Dearden and Johnson each had an assist, but the story was Lane and her 17 saves.
"(Molly's) definitely the anchor of the team," said Emily Johnson. "When she's on, everyone else is on. She stopped all those shots and that's what made us win."
"The pressure just fires Molly up and gets her more inspired," Kurry said. "She plays better under those intense situations. I feel good knowing she's our last line of defense. I'm very proud of Molly."
Falmouth was paced by two goals from Spugnardi. Bell, Bernier, Fitzgerald, Smithwick and Stucker each tickled the twine once. Bell had two assists, while Goodrich and Stucker each had one assist. Hutcheon made two saves. The Yachtsmen won 10 of 17 draws.
"It was definitely a letdown," Kait Johnson said. "We dug a hole early. They have a great goalie, but we made her look even better. We struggled finding our groove. Our defense played great. They started on their heels, but they came out and stepped up a ton."
Action heating up
Falmouth looks to bounce back, but it will be tested when it plays a crossover at Thornton Academy Friday. The Yachtsmen host rival Greely Wednesday of next week, then face home tests against Western A contender Gorham and undefeated Kennebunk, which is now part of Western B.
"We're trying to find ourselves," Kait Johnson said. "It's been a roller coaster ride. We have good players, we just have to find what works for us and our style."
Freeport returns to action Tuesday when it plays at Fryeburg. The Falcons then host Gardiner in a pivotal Eastern B contest May 17.
"We have to keep our intensity through the whole game," said Emily Johnson.
"If we keep playing like this, I think we can go far," Lane said.
"We've got more things to work on," Kurry added. "We've had five games in nine days. Now we can practice and rest and work on conditioning. Gardiner will be an important crossover game. We'll build on this."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Falmouth-Freeport results
@ Falmouth 17 Freeport 7
Falmouth 10 @ Freeport 6
@ Falmouth 9 Freeport 4
Falmouth 16 @ Freeport 7
Falmouth 18 @ Freeport 5
@ Falmouth 14 Freeport 3
@ Falmouth 12 Freeport 2
Falmouth 10 @ Freeport 6
@ Falmouth 7 Freeport 4
Freeport 8 @ Falmouth 6
@ Freeport 12 Falmouth 4
@ Freeport 15 Falmouth 4