Cape, Greely girls play to scoreless tie
CAPE ELIZABETH—Something had to give Tuesday evening at Hannaford Field when two girls' soccer teams riding winning streaks did battle in a pivotal late-regular season showdown.
But in the end, neither the visiting Greely Rangers or host Cape Elizabeth Capers could dent the scoreboard.
Greely wasn't able to capitalize on its scoring chances and the hosts were held at bay by Rangers senior goalkeeper Caton Beaulieu, who consistently came way out of the goal to prevent breakaway opportunities.
The deadlock left Cape Elizabeth 8-1-1 and Greely 6-3-1.
"That's a great result for us," said Rangers coach Michael Kennedy. "A win would have been great. It was a hard fought game. Two teams with different styles. We're OK with a tie."
Cape Elizabeth was a semifinalist a year ago, posting a dozen victories, but heading into 2012, many felt the Capers would come to the pack after losing last year's leading scorer, Melanie Vangel, to prep school.
Instead, Cape Elizabeth has resorted to its balance and different-hero-every-night mentality to stay near the top of the heap.
The Capers did lose their opener, 2-1, to visiting two-time defending Class B state champion Falmouth, but they almost rallied to win it and heading into Tuesday, hadn't stumbled since.
Cape Elizabeth beat eight straight opponents by a composite 24-1 margin, downing host Fryeburg (4-0), visiting Yarmouth (2-0), host York (1-0), visiting Wells (6-0), host Yarmouth (2-1), host Greely (1-0), visiting Lake Region (6-0) and visiting York (3-0).
Greely, which was ousted for a third straight postseason by Thornton Academy a year ago, this time in the quarterfinals, began the 2012 campaign with inconsistency as a theme.
The Rangers started with a 3-1 home win over Freeport. After falling at home to two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth, 1-0, Greely blanked host Poland, 2-0. After a 1-0 loss at York, the Rangers downed visiting Fryeburg, 2-0, but then lost at home to Cape Elizabeth, 1-0. Greely started a win streak with a 3-0 triumph at Gray-New Gloucester and extended it with a 3-0 home win over Yarmouth and a surprisingly easy 4-0 home triumph over York Saturday.
For most of this century, Greely had its way with Cape Elizabeth, winning 18 times (and tying three others) in 22 meetings between 2001 and 2009, but after splitting in 2010, the Capers won twice last fall, 2-0 at home and 1-0 at Cumberland. Cape Elizabeth made it three in a row over the Rangers for the first time this century with its win last month.
Tuesday, the Capers hoped to do it again, but neither team was able come away with a win.
The tone was set for this one in the second minute when a through ball from Capers senior Maddy Riker was played by Beaulieu.
In the 10th minute, sophomore Kathryn Clark was on the verge of a breakaway, but again Beaulieu came out to break up the play, setting up a corner kick.
In the 15th minute, Greely sophomore defender Samantha Kennedy cleared a loose ball in the box.
In the 20th minute, Capers junior Addie Wood fired a shot that was deflected by Rangers senior Holly Rand, but Beaulieu came up with the loose ball.
With 17:27 to play in the first half, Cape Elizabeth senior Talley Perkins sent a cross on goal that Beaulieu knocked away. The ball came to junior Elise Flathers, who shot high.
The play proved costly to Greely, which lost Rand to a leg injury.
The Rangers' best first half chance came with 14:22 remaining when a shot from junior Leah Young was mishandled by Capers junior goalkeeper Mary Perkins, setting up a corner kick, which was headed away by Cape Elizabeth junior Lizzie Raftice.
The second half would be more of the same.
Early on, Beaulieu came way out to clear a long pass and denied a cross from Capers freshman Montana Braxton.
With 30 minutes to go in regulation, a free kick by Greely senior Julia Mitiguy forced Perkins to come way out to break up the play.
Moments later, Braxton twice tested Beaulieu with low shots, but the goalie stopped both.
With 24:31 to play, Braxton got it done on the defensive end, blocking a shot by Mitiguy.
Two minutes later, on a Cape Elizabeth corner kick, the ball sat free momentarily in the Greely box, but it was cleared at the last second by a Rangers defender.
With 21:35 remaining, a Raftice free kick went wide. A minute later, Wood sent a low shot on goal that Beaulieu denied. The ball came to sophomore Kathryn Clark, whose shot forced Beaulieu to make a sprawling save.
The visitors had a good bid with 12:01 left when a cross from junior Allie Morrill was bobbled, but just before Mitiguy could finish, Perkins got to the ball.
With 7:26 remaining, a Mitiguy through ball intended for sophomore Kristina Volta was just a bit long and Perkins got to it first.
A minute later, a Volta header was saved by Perkins.
The last bid of regulation came with 4:01 to go when Mitiguy's low free kick was saved.
The game went to overtime and the first of two five-minute, "sudden victory" sessions only produced one chance, another low Mitiguy free kick that Perkins saved.
With just 2 minutes to go in the second and final OT session, another Mitiguy free kick went just wide.
Greely earned a corner kick as time wound down, but Cape Elizabeth cleared it away and the game ended, 0-0.
Greely had a 13-9 advantage in shots and a 7-5 edge in corner kicks and was pleased to split Heal Points with the higher-ranked Capers.
"It's another positive step for us," said Kennedy. "This was a defining stretch for us. We could have gone backwards. We went forward."
Beaulieu stole the show with her 11 saves.
"We have a high line, so I always have to be up and ready to clear any through balls," Beaulieu said. "We know Cape has quick girls up top, so I had to be ready. If I stay back, that's when I get in trouble. It's frustrating because everyone worked so hard. It would have been nice to have a 'W.' A goal would have been great for everyone's confidence."
"That's how we play," Kennedy said. "We play a high line. We're very aggressive. We have the utmost confidence in Caton. She loves to play high and play with her feet. (Cape's) very much a through ball team so you have to have a keeper like that. They didn't have a single breakaway because she did a great job."
The Rangers managed to persevere without Rand.
"Holly's always been our rock," Beaulieu said. "She's been on varsity four years. It was difficult not having her in. (Freshman) Margaret (Hatch has) played the position a few times. I was comfortable with her in. I knew she'd get the job in and she did."
"(Holly was) a huge loss, obviously" Kennedy said. "She's a four-year starter. She's not just the anchor of our defense, but of our team. We did a great job adjusting mid-game to that, which is hard for teams like ourselves, who are kind of evolving and growing. Margaret Hatch stepped in at center-back, with (junior) Mykaela (Twitchell), a three-year starter. We had to use a freshman on the outside back as well. I tell the kids they have to be ready for their chance."
Cape Elizabeth's win streak ended, but coach Luke Krawczyk wasn't unhappy with his team's effort.
"There weren't many chances," Krawczyk said. "You saw two teams who are defensively strong. I'm proud of the girls. The first game, everyone talked about how we weren't going to score. Our biggest thing is not conceding. We gave up two goals in the first half against Falmouth and just one more since. The girls have worked hard. We've probably scored more than last year. We've created chances."
Krawczyk paid tribute to Beaulieu, with a caveat.
"She was good on crosses and she's good with her feet, but I don't want my goalie (coming out like that)," Krawczyk said. "Technically, it's not good. It worked tonight. She does it well, but it's a risk. I'd have a hard time watching my goalie doing that. "
Greely (eighth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) doesn't play again this week, but has a huge week upcoming, which features games at home versus Waynflete and trips to Yarmouth and Falmouth. The regular season ends Oct. 15 at Lake Region.
"We know what we need to do to succeed," Beaulieu said. "Everyone's confidence has gone up with the last few wins. If everyone plays as hard as they did here, hopefully the goals will come. Everyone needs to stay confident and know we can get the job done."
"Now we have a week off to heal," Kennedy said. "Hopefully we'll get Holly back before we hit the stretch run. This tie will help us. Falmouth is a big game. I'm not as worried about playoff seeds as I've been in the past. It's more about how we defend and put the ball in the net. I feel confident in both after this stretch. Where we fall in the seeds doesn't matter. I'd like to have a home game for these guys to build a little confidence. If we don't, it's OK, because defense wins championships. If we create chances like we've been doing, we'll be OK."
Cape Elizabeth is back in action Friday at Freeport. The Capers close by sandwiching trips to Falmouth and Waynflete around a home game versus Gray-New Gloucester.
"We just need to continue to win," Krawczyk said. "We play some tough teams still. We've got (Heal) Points on the board already. Last year at this time is when we started to drop off."