Falmouth continues surge with win over Cape
FALMOUTH—Good luck convincing the Cape Elizabeth field hockey team that the Falmouth Yachtsmen haven't been superb from start to finish this season.
The Yachtsmen beat the host Capers, 3-0, way back on Sept. 1 and captured their first three games, but then went five games without a win. Falmouth has returned to form, however, and got the better of Cape Elizabeth again Thursday night, this time on its home turf.
The Capers, coming off pivotal victories over Greely and Fryeburg, didn't have the energy or ability to match the Yachtsmen's early intensity and Falmouth grabbed a 1-0 lead on junior Mikey Richards' goal just over 10 minutes into the game.
Junior Jillian Rothweiler added to the lead with just over 8 minutes to play before halftime and the Yachtsmen's defense did the rest, bottling up Cape Elizabeth's explosive scoring senior Lauren Steidl and the rest of the Capers en route to a 2-0 triumph.
Falmouth improved to 7-4-2 with its fourth victory in five outings and dropped Cape Elizabeth to 7-6, as the Capers' win streak ended at three.
"We're playing better," said Yachtsmen coach Robin Haley. "You hope to peak at a certain time. The league has been so close. One goal games. Cape was coming off a big win over Fryeburg. I think that got the energy going for us to see what we can do. I'm proud of (the girls). They did a great job. Great energy all the way through. I thought we played well as a team tonight."
Peaking at the right time
Cape Elizabeth didn't make the playoffs in 2011, but has improved dramatically this fall. The Capers dominated host Gray-New Gloucester, 8-0, in their opener, then, after a 3-0 home loss to Falmouth and a 1-0 home setback to York, downed host Wells (5-1) and visiting Traip (6-0). After a 3-2 double overtime loss at Lake Region, Cape Elizabeth beat host Greely in a scoring fest, 5-4. Frustrating 1-0 losses at Fryeburg and York (in overtime) followed, but the Capers turned it around with impressive home wins over Wells (5-0), Greely (2-0) and Fryeburg (3-0).
Falmouth looked like world beaters when it opened with a 3-0 home win over Greely, a 3-0 victory at Cape Elizabeth and a 4-0 triumph at Yarmouth. Then, the Yachtsmen's offense went cold and they lost 1-0 (in overtime) to visiting Lake Region, 1-0 at nemesis York and 2-1 at home to Fryeburg. After rallying to tie host Greely (2-2), in a game shortened by lightning, Falmouth settled for a 2-2 home draw versus York. The wins returned at Gray-New Gloucester (3-0) and Wells (1-0), but Saturday, the Yachtsmen were vanquished by Fryeburg again, this time, 3-1, on the road. Monday, Falmouth earned a 1-0 home victory over two-time Class C state champion North Yarmouth Academy.
That momentum from that win carried over into Thursday's game in which it was clear from the outset, the Yachtsmen intended to make a statement. They did and beat the Capers for the fourth straight time.
In the early going, Falmouth tested Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Julianne Ayers as junior Leika Scott and Rothweiler both fired blasts off penalty corners that Ayers was able to deny.
The Capers had their first penalty corner 10 minutes in, but barely got the ball over the end line before it was cleared. The Yachtsmen transitioned to offense and it led to a goal as Scott sent a long pass ahead to sophomore Elle Fitzgerald, who fed Richards. Richards took the pass, went one-on-one with Ayers, eluded the goalie and sent the ball into the cage for a 1-0 lead.
"It was a great long ball by Leika Scott," said Richards. "She's great. She moves the ball a lot. She knows where the ball needs to go. She sees the field. Elle Fitzgerald made a great pass to me. I saw the goalie approach, hit it and hoped it went in. It's a nervewracking situation, but it's fun. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's great. I had time to settle, which was nice."
Falmouth kept the pressure on as Richards shot just wide and on a penalty corner, three good shots resulted in three Ayers saves, but on the next Yachtsmen corner, they doubled their lead.
With 8:02 to go in the half, senior Sarah Sparks sent the ball in to Rothweiler, who was able to settle it before shooting it past Ayers to make it 2-0.
"When the ball was inserted, Sarah Sparks made a shot, Jillian got a stick on it and hit it in," said Richards.
The way Cape Elizabeth can score goals, a 2-0 halftime lead was nice, but not insurmountable and Falmouth made sure it kept the pressure on in the second half.
The Capers finally tested Yachtsmen junior goalie Hillary Nash with 26:30 to play, but Nash made the save.
Falmouth appeared to go up 3-0 with 22:17 to play, but the goal was waved off.
Rothweiler looked to make it 3-0 midway through the half, but Ayers made another save.
Steidl had her best look with 13:53 remaining, but her tough angle shot hit the side of the cage.
Cape Elizabeth almost got on the board with 25.8 seconds left, when junior Abby McInerney got the ball in the close, but her back-handed bid was denied by Nash and that was that.
Falmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0.
"This means everything," said Yachtsmen senior captain Bri Hughes, who along with classmate Katie Cooleen and others helped clamp down defensively. "This win keeps us where we are. All we were thinking coming out for the second half was we want it. We had to keep our heads up and fight for it. Our team has always been close. I don't know what the funk was, but whatever we're doing now seems to be working."
"We knew Cape's a very different team," Richards said. "We keep up on the scores. We knew they'd be fired up after beating Fryeburg. We knew if we kept our heads in it, we had a chance."
Haley paid tribute to her defense.
"(Cape has) four players that we had to make sure we knew what they were doing," Haley said. "We did a nice job containing. We double teamed when we had to and that took them out of synch a little bit."
Cape Elizabeth coach Darci Holland admitted after the game that the week had taken a toll on her team.
"It was very tough to bounce back," Holland said. "It's frustrating to see them play like that since we played so well against Fryeburg yesterday. Between that game and Greely Monday, I think the girls were exhausted tonight. Mentally and physically. It was awesome to beat Greely and Fryeburg. I feel like we were coming off a high today and crashed. Not that that's an excuse because Falmouth played very well tonight. They had great passing. They were stopping shots. We just couldn't make things happen. We just didn't get it going. We didn't cut to the ball. They stopped everything. Defensively, we couldn't seem to get our sticks on the ball either, unfortunately."
Cape Elizabeth (seventh in the Western Class B Heal Points standings at press time) closes its regular season at home versus Yarmouth Wednesday of next week.
The Capers could host a playoff game for the first time since 2008.
"I know I have a good team," Holland said. "Beating Fryeburg was proof right there. Hopefully we'll host. We're very capable. We'll pull ourselves back together next week."
Falmouth (sixth in Western B) also finishes Wednesday at home, versus Wells. After a disappointing quarterfinal round playoff loss to Spruce Mountain last year, the Yachtsmen are hoping for bigger things this postseason.
"I think we're heading in the right direction," Richards said. "We had that slump, but now we have momentum and heart and we want it. Hopefully we go far in the playoffs."
"We can't say we're going to be number one, but that's our goal right now," said Hughes. "We practice and work hard every day. I'm going to be so sad when it ends."
"I'm guessing we'll be sixth," Haley added. "I'd rather be playing at home. It's sink or swim right now. Hopefully, we'll have good practices and this game will carry momentum. We know it's one and you're done. Last year is certainly a reminder."