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Greely girls rally to end hex, stun Cape

Sports

Greely girls rally to end hex, stun Cape

CAPE ELIZABETH—In six games over a three-year span, the Greely girls' soccer team was frustrated by rival Cape Elizabeth.

Saturday afternoon at Hannaford Field, in a showdown rife with playoffs and Heal Points implications, the Rangers appeared destined for another defeat at the hands of their nemesis, but luckily for them, a secret weapon was waiting on the bench.

After Cape Elizabeth shot to a 2-0 halftime lead, courtesy goals from sophomore Tori Diaz and senior captain Addie Wood, Greely controlled the final 40 minutes, as sophomore Izzy Hutnak stole the show.

Less than four minutes into the second half, just after entering the game, a Hutnak goal gave the Rangers life.

With 22:12 remaining, Hutnak struck again and Greely drew even, delivering a little bit of doubt to the confident and talented hosts.

Then, with 10:29 to go, Hutnak completed her natural hat trick, burying freshman Ellie Schad's cross and the Rangers, improbably, had the lead.

While Cape Elizabeth had some golden chances to answer down the stretch, even hitting the post on one bid, this time around, the potent Capers couldn't produce the equalizer and Greely held on for a 3-2 victory.

The Rangers demonstrated the depth of their skill and heart, earned their first win over Cape Elizabeth in seven tries and left both teams with records of 9-2-1 as the regular season nears its completion.

"We made some adjustments," said first-year Greely coach Josh Muscadin. "We watched a little in the first half. The second half was much better. I'm proud of them. They gave everything they had."

Top two

Entering Saturday's game, Cape Elizabeth sat first in the Western Class B Heal Points standings, while Greely was second.

The Capers, a regional finalist last fall, who welcomed Craig Fannan as their new coach this season, opened 2013 by blanking host Freeport, 5-0, then beat visiting York, 1-0, and visiting Poland, 6-1. Falmouth then came to town and registered a surprisingly decisive 2-0 win. Cape Elizabeth bounced back with a 2-1 win at Greely, then downed host Lake Region (4-0). After rallying for a 1-1 home tie against Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth handled visiting Kennebunk, 5-0, then avenged its lone loss with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Falmouth, before avenging its tie with a stirring, come-from-behind 2-1 double overtime victory at Yarmouth. Tuesday, the Capers extended their unbeaten streak to seven with a 5-0 triumph at Kennebunk.

As for Greely, which made it to the quarterfinals last fall, only to lose to Cape Elizabeth, 3-0, it welcomed Muscadin as its new coach and opened with a home shutout of Fryeburg (2-0) and a blanking of host Yarmouth (3-0), then won at Gray-New Gloucester (5-3) and at home against Kennebunk (4-1). After a 2-1 home loss to the Capers, the Rangers won at Freeport, 2-0. A frustrating 2-1 home loss to Falmouth followed, but Greely blanked visiting York, 3-0, won a high-scoring affair at Kennebunk, 5-4, got revenge at Falmouth, 3-0, and Tuesday, settled for a 0-0 tie at York.

Entering Saturday's contest, Cape Elizabeth had gone 5-0-1 in the previous six meetings between the longtime rivals (please see sidebar, below). Greely hadn't beaten the Capers since Oct. 5, 2010 (4-0 at home) and hadn't won in Cape Elizabeth since a 2-0 victory, Oct. 13 2009.

This time around, the Rangers appeared destined for another loss at the hands of the Capers, but they produced their best comeback effort of the season instead.

Cape Elizabeth almost broke the ice in the second minute, as sophomore Montana Braxton forced Greely senior goalkeeper Elyse Dinan to make a sprawling save.

A minute later, Capers junior finisher extraordinaire Kathryn Clark managed to send a shot on target while falling, but that too was saved.

Greely's first chance came in the sixth minute, when junior Kristina Volta sent a pass into the box intended for Schad, but Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Mary Perkins got to it first.

With 33:17 to play in the first half, a long shot from Rangers sophomore Jocelyn Mitiguy landed on top of the goal.

Dinan then denied feeds from Braxton to sophomore Katherine Briggs, senior captain Lizzy Raftice to Briggs and sophomore Sarah O'Connor to sophomore Kate Breed, but with 22:24 showing in the half, the hosts broke through.

While Clark usually finishes goals, this time, she set one up, beating three defenders, racing down the right flank, then crossing the ball in front to the unheralded Diaz, who banged the shot past Dinan for a 1-0 lead.

After Cape Elizabeth senior captain Elise Flathers blocked a shot by Mitiguy, a Rangers' corner went for naught and Schad shot way high, the Capers made it 2-0.

The second goal came with 12:12 to play before halftime. The play started with a corner kick, the ball came to Breed, who headed it on goal, but it was cleared away right to Wood at the top of the box, who one-timed a beauty past Dinan to seemingly put Cape Elizabeth in great shape with a two-goal advantage.

A mere 17 seconds later, the Capers almost put it away, but a left-footed blast from freshman Mariah Deschino was punched away by Dinan, setting up a corner kick, which didn't result in a shot.

In the final minute, Wood shot just high and the game went to halftime with Cape Elizabeth on top, 2-0.

The hosts enjoyed a 10-4 shots advantage and a 3-1 edge in corner kicks in the first 40 minutes.

Thoughts immediately turned to the teams' first meeting, when the visiting Capers led 2-0 at halftime, but had to hold on for dear life.

The Rangers were able to use that experience to build confidence and they came out a different team for the second half.

Largely due to a key addition.

Hutnak.

Just 3:49 into the second half, Hutnak changed the complexion of the contest, beating two defenders before firing past Perkins to make the score 2-1.

"We knew at halftime what we needed and wanted to do and we accomplished it," said Hutnak. "We started slow, but we had the right mindset going into the second half. That boosted our intensity."

"Some people put their heads down at halftime, but we had to bring each other up," Mitiguy said. "Once we got one goal, that's exactly what happened. It got everyone back into the game and we were ready to go."

"Izzy's been injured," Muscadin added. "She got hurt in the last game and didn't practice for a couple days, so I had to slowly bring her back."

Now playing with confidence, Greely pushed for the equalizer.

After Briggs headed away a Rangers' corner kick, Greely sophomore Maggie Reed just missed on a kick from the side, Mitiguy shot wide, then Perkins came out to break up a Volta rush resulting in a point blank save. The rebound came to Schad, but she shot high, keeping Cape Elizabeth on top.

But not for long.

After Perkins bobbled but saved a free kick by Mitiguy, the Rangers kept the pressure on and Hutnak managed to arrive at a loose ball at the same time as Perkins and wouldn't be denied, getting it past her and the defense, then calmly tucking it into the net to make it 2-2 with 22:12 to play in regulation.

"I think the goalie might have had a bad touch and couldn't get to it," Hutnak said. "I got past her and finished. I just went on instinct."

"Hutnak completely changed the game when she came on," lamented Fannan. "We had other players in other 2-1 wins who settled us back down, but no one stepped in that role today. We talked about that after the game. It's about someone saying, 'Relax. It's still 2-1,' and settling us down. That's football. It happens."

Now reeling, the Capers looked to restore order, but a Braxton free kick was saved and off a corner, Deschino just missed a one-timer.

Greely returned to the attack and after a long shot by Mitiguy was saved and a Mitiguy free kick sailed high, Hutnak struck again.

With 10:29 left, Schad got the ball on the right side and sent it into the box. Perkins came out for it, but Hutnak directed it past her into the net and stunningly, the Rangers had completely turned it around to lead, 3-2.

"I just had to poke it in," Hutnak said. "It was a nice feed."

Before Greely's celebration even died down, the hosts almost tied it, as Breed broke in from the right side and sent the ball past Dinan, but luck on this day was on the Rangers' side and the shot hit the far post square and bounced back out, where it was cleared.

"We can trust our defense, but sometimes we need some luck," Mitiguy said.

With 6:55 left, a long shot by Braxton went wide.

Breed got another good look a minute later, but her shot was deflected and rolled wide.

In the final minute, a Briggs feed went out of bounds and as time wound down, one final look from Breed sailed wide and that was that.

Somewhat improbably, Greely had itself a 3-2 triumph.

"It was not easy," said Hutnak. "They played a very good game. We knew we wanted to win and needed to win. It's a huge deal for us. It will be a very nice bus ride home."

"It feels really good," Mitiguy said. "We just had to keep the ball settled and play our game and not play their game. We just had to keep our composure."

"Last time provided confidence," Muscadin added. "We didn't want to be in the same situation. We know what it's like to be behind. Once we went ahead, we finished it off. We also had some luck."

Final shots were 18-15 in Cape Elizabeth's favor (8-7 on frame). The Capers finished with six corner kicks to four for the Rangers. Dinan made six saves, while Perkins stopped four shots.

Cape Elizabeth was left stunned and searching for answers.

"It's a game of two halves," Fannan said. "The first half was easy. We controlled the game. I thought the game was all in their half. We passed well and created good chances. They must have spoken long and hard at halftime. They came out and pressed us hard and clearly wanted it more than we did in the second half. We made a couple errors we haven't made in the back so far and they took advantage of it. I was completely disappointed in our lack of discipline in the second half. In the first half, we played our football and deserved that two-nil lead, if not more. They came out hard in the second half and scored. The first goal was a nice goal. The second and third were miscommunciations. I think our girls got caught up in the emotion of the game. We turned it too much into individual battles in the field. We didn't play our football."

Act three?

There's a very good chance Cape Elizabeth and Greely will square off once more in the crucible of the playoffs, but that's at least a couple weeks away.

"We know we'll probably have to beat them again," said Hutnak. "They're a very good team. They're the biggest game of our season."

"They're one of our biggest rivals," said Mitiguy. "They'll be coming for us in the playoffs."

"There's a good chance we'll see Cape again in the playoffs," Muscadin added. "It's a good little rivalry."

In the meantime, both teams are looking to finish strong and wind up as high in the standings as possible.

The Capers' home finale is Monday against Fryeburg. Cape Elizabeth (now second in the Western B Heals) then finishes at York Wednesday.

With this valuable lesson learned, the Capers will look for a strong finish, then will embark on what they hope will be their first title run since 1999.

"I spoke to the girls and said we've won the conference championship two seasons in a row, but didn't come home with a state championships and maybe this is the year we win the state championship," said Fannan. "It's a good lesson. We're already in the playoffs and we'll be top two or three. We'll play anybody. We'd like to see (Greely) in the (Western Maine) final. That would be a good one. Hopefully we get this out of the way now and move on with Fryeburg Monday and York Wednesday."

The Rangers (who have moved into first in the region) have a tough tilt at home against Yarmouth Wednesday, then close at home versus Lake Region Saturday.

Greely, which has quietly put together a strong season, might just be the best team standing when all is said and done.

"I like the way things are going," said Mitiguy. "Everyone's adjusted well. We just try to stay positive."

"There are still some big games to come," Muscadin said. "Every time we step on the field, you never know who comes to play."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Photo: Michael Strout

Greely junior Mia Lambert attempts to get a step on Cape Elizabeth sophomore Sarah O'Connor.

Photo: Michael Strout

Greely senior Allie Morrill skies to head the ball away from Cape Elizabeth sophomore Montana Braxton.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth senior captain Lizzy Raftice heads the ball away from Greely junior Kristina Volta.

Photo: Michael Strout

Greely sophomore Jocelyn Mitiguy shields the ball from Cape Elizabeth sophomore Tori Diaz. Diaz had the Capers' first goal.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth senior captain Phoebe Shields stretches to knock the ball away from Greely sophomore Allison Coon.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Kate Breed turns the corner on Greely sophomore Maggie Reed.

Photo: Michael Strout

Always-dangerous Cape Elizabeth junior Kathryn Clark shows her shooting form.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Sierra Aceto and Greely sophomore Izzy Hutnak duel over a 50-50 ball.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Greely meetings

2013

Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Greely 1

2012

Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Greely 0 (tie)

Western A quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Greely 0

2011

@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 0
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0

2010

@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1
@ Greely 4 Cape Elizabeth 0

2009

@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 2
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2008

Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 1
Western Class A quarterfinals
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 1

2007

@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 2 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2006

Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (OT)
@ Greely 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)

2005

@ Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0

2004

Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Greely 2
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth
Western Class A semifinals
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 0

2003

@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Western Class A quarterfinals
@ Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

2002

Greely 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 2 (tie)
Western Class A semifinals
@ Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

2001

@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1