Falmouth girls blank Greely
CUMBERLAND—The Falmouth and Greely girls' soccer teams produced yet another taut and memorable chapter in their long rivalry Tuesday night.
When all was said and done, once again, there was little separation.
After a scoreless first half, the Yachtsmen got the game's lone goal when senior Cassie Darrow struck with 33 minutes to go. Greely had several opportunities to tie the score and even hit the post with 20 minutes left, but never could draw even and Falmouth improved to 4-0 with the 1-0 victory, dropping the Rangers to 1-1.
"The team had a lot of belief in each other," said Darrow. "We trusted each other, I think that was the most important part. When it got hard, we looked at each other and dug deep. I don't think you ever get used to winning hard games. There are always obstacles you have to overcome. We came out with the mentality that they wanted it just as much as we did. It's always a good match between us."
Tough act to follow
Falmouth, the two-time defending Class B champion, opened with a 2-1 victory at Cape Elizabeth before handling host NYA (5-0) and visiting Poland (2-0).
Greely had played just once, a 3-1 home win over Freeport last Tuesday.
Prior to this meeting, dating to 2011, Falmouth had a 12-7 edge over Greely, with three ties (please see sidebar), but the Rangers had won three in a row, including 5-1 and 2-1 decisions a year ago.
Tuesday, the teams took the pitch just minutes after the Falmouth boys had rallied for an epic 3-2 overtime win over Greely, after tying the contest with just 3.4 seconds to go in regulation.
While the girls' game didn't quite have the same amount of drama, it was compelling nonetheless.
The Rangers had some good early chances, but after junior Leah Young was denied by Yachtsmen senior goalkeeper Caroline Lucas, senior Julia Mitiguy and junior Allie Morrill both shot wide.
At the 10 minute mark, Greely senior goalkeeper Caton Beaulieu had to race out to break up a rush by Falmouth freshman Tyler Spence.
Despite the opportunities, the game was deadlocked at halftime, but it didn't stay that way for long.
With 33:14 to go in regulation, the Yachtsmen got an opportunity and they took advantage.
The play started when junior Mary Catherine Kowalsky turned on the jets to beat Beaulieu (six saves) to the ball. The deflection came to senior Caitlin Bucksbaum and eventually wound up on the foot of Darrow, who pushed a shot past Beaulieu and despite the efforts of a pair of Greely defenders, the ball wound its way into the goal for a 1-0 Falmouth lead.
"Mary Catherine had some awesome hustle," Darrow said. "She managed to push through and get the ball. It leaked through to Caitlin, who squeaked it through to me. I just managed to get it in, I guess. I thought the defender would stop it, but I was lucky. It felt good."
"It wasn't necessarily a pretty goal, but it was a nice loose ball scrum," said Falmouth coach Wally LeBlanc. "I thought Greely's keeper played a high line. She won every ball. For us to win a scrum ball in front of her, give credit to our forwards. Cassie is a team player. She likes to succeed for the team. She doesn't mind having those expectations placed on her and trying to realize them. Tonight it came through for her."
The Yachtsmen didn't manage much more in the way of offensive pressure and soon hunkered down defensively to hold on for dear life.
With 26:09 to go, Mitiguy set up sophomore Kristina Volta for a good look, but Lucas made the save. Six minutes later, Rangers freshman Izzy Hutnak got some breathing room, drew Lucas out of the goal, then lofted a shot for the far post. Problem was, it was such a good shot that it hit the post and bounced out allowing Falmouth to keep the lead.
In the 64th minute, Volta shot just high. Five minutes later, freshman Jocelyn Mitiguy fired a shot from 25 yards out that went just wide left. With 6:53 to go, a long shot from was snared by Lucas (seven saves).
As time wound down, the Yachtsmen managed to prevent another good look, but the hosts almost replicated the buzzer beating last second goal from the boys' game when Greely won possession with under 10 seconds to go. A long cross then trickled through the box, certainly causing Falmouth and its fans to hold their collective breath, but no Ranger could reach the ball and it rolled harmlessly away as the horn sounded, signifying that the Yachtsmen's 1-0 triumph was official.
"(Greely) put a lot of pressure on us," said Darrow. "They're a good team. We had to give our all."
"Not a lot of people have talked about Greely, but they're very intelligent and hard working," said LeBlanc. "A quality club. I felt it would be similar to the Cape game where i expected Greely to possess the ball and I was curious to see how we'd react to that. I thought our girls came out fairly strong, then Greely won 50-50 balls and took control of the game. I felt at halftime we made some nice adjustments. It was tough to hold on. They put pressure on us. The worst thing in a one-goal game is to sit back and try to protect it. What I did like was our midfield play and trying to identify how they were changing field.
"I love when we have pressure games. It reveals our weaknesses and allows us to grow. Last year was a tough game to deal with, but it was an important game for us. It wasn't really about revenge. It was about playing on Greely's field and being able to meet the intensity they'd bring our way. Walking out of here, the girls did a nice job with that."
Considering that Greely was playing just its second game to Falmouth's four and that the Rangers have a lot of new faces in new places, coach Michael Kennedy wasn't too distraught over the result.
"This is game two for us, so we're having to learn this on the fly," Kennedy said. "This team is different from last year. We have to replace 40 goals. Although we have a ton of talent up top, putting balls in the net takes time, especially against a quality team. We outshot them, 18-5. In previous years, if we got that many shots, we'd score three or four goals. We had great opportunities. We hit the post. We had a couple really close ones. It'll come. It was a fluky goal down there. We did everything right defensively. Usually, we're OK giving up a goal. We just didn't finish the way we wanted to.
"This is a young team and they want to play. Especially for an offense that's trying to develop an identity. It's hard to do in practice. Especially when you're young and haven't played Falmouth or played under the lights. The schedule isn't why we lost tonight, but it's definitely a factor. We'll play the cards we're dealt. I was very happy with what we did offensively, even though we didn't score. I thought Julia, Allie and Izzy created great opportunities. That will play dividends down the line. Izzy needed to have this experience. She needed to know what it felt like. She almost tied it."
Greely goes to Poland Thursday and visits York Saturday. The Rangers return home Tuesday to face Fryeburg.
Falmouth is back in action Saturday when it visits Gray-New Gloucester. The Yachtsmen play just their second home game Tuesday versus Freeport.
"I think we still have to work as hard as we've been working, keep pushing hard and believe in each other," Darrow said. "We're having a lot of fun. That's what matters."
"We've grown quite a bit, but we have a ways to go," said LeBlanc. "There are things we need to do better and we'll keep working on that. They're figuring out how to work with each other and trust each other more. It's a long season. We'll keep working on it."
The Rangers-Yachtsmen rematch is Oct. 13 at Falmouth.
"Our job is to be better at the end," Kennedy said. "We'll be better at the end. We're not worried about game two. Playing at their place at the end of the season, we'll have it figured out by then."