Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ soccer team celebrates a goal during its 2-0 home win over Freeport Monday night.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ soccer team has gone toe-to-toe with the best teams in Class B South this season and when the Capers can put the ball in the goal, they’re close to unstoppable.
Monday evening at Hannaford Field, Cape Elizabeth welcomed another top contender in the region, Freeport, and the Capers proved that for one night at least, that they’re the squad best equipped to perhaps end Yarmouth’s long stranglehold on Class B.
After hitting the post in the third minute, Cape Elizabeth got the only goal it would need with 25:28 to play in the first half, when sophomore Archie McEvoy fought his way through the defense and finished.
With 8:21 left in the first half, senior standout John O’Connor added a goal and the Capers were on their way.
While the resurgent Falcons did their best to get back in the game in the second half, Cape Elizabeth defense refused to give them life and the Capers hit the midway point of their year with a pivotal 2-0 victory.
Cape Elizabeth earned some key Heal Points, improved to 4-1-2, handed Freeport its first loss to date and dropped the Falcons to 3-1-2 in the process.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Capers coach Ben Raymond said. “Like every year, we try to get better each and every day, each and every game. We don’t have many year-round soccer players, so it takes time to improve.”
Both teams came into the season believing they had a legitimate shot at a regional title and each squad earned confidence when it went up again the region’s gold standard, four-time defending Class B state champion Yarmouth.
Freeport, under new coach Bob Strong, started with a 4-1 win at Gray-New Gloucester. After settling for a scoreless home draw against Greely, the Falcons won, 9-0, at Lake Region and rallied to tie host Yarmouth, 1-1, getting a result against the Clippers for the first time since 2011 and ending their rival’s three-year, 26-game win streak. Friday, Freeport held off visiting York, 2-1.
Cape Elizabeth started with a scoreless home draw against Greely, then led at Yarmouth at halftime before losing, 2-1. After a scoreless home tie versus York, the Capers got in the win column, 4-0, at Fryeburg Academy. After downing visiting Wells, 6-1, Cape Elizabeth blanked host Gray-New Gloucester, 2-0, Saturday.
“We’ve played well in every game,” Raymond said. “In the two ties we had, we just weren’t dangerous enough. In the Yarmouth game, I think we were dangerous and in the second half, we had as many, if not more opportunities than they did.”
Last year, the Capers won both meetings, 1-0 in Cape Elizabeth and 3-0 in Freeport.
Monday, on a 70-degree evening, the Falcons sought their first win over the Capers since Sept. 26, 2011 (2-1 in Cape Elizabeth), but instead, the Capers made it nine straight in the series.
Freeport had the first chance, as it earned a corner kick in the second minute, but Cape Elizabeth cleared it, then transitioned to offense and with 37:42 to play in the first half, junior Charlie Dall rang a shot off the post.
After McEvoy had a deflected shot saved by Falcons senior goalkeeper Atticus Patrick and Freeport junior Gabe Wagner ripped a shot high, the Capers opened the scoring.
With 25:28 left in the first half, O’Connor got the ball to McEvoy, who fought through the defense before beating Patrick for a 1-0 lead.
The Falcons nearly answered in the 19th minute, but a rush by junior Jake Dumont was broken up at the last minute by Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Harry Baker (Freeport’s coaching staff and fans felt that Dumont was fouled on the play, but nothing was called).
With 15:02 remaining before halftime, Falcons sophomore Will Winter was denied by Baker on a shot from the side of the box, but the rebound sat free until a defender cleared it.
With 8:21 left in the half, the Capers got some breathing room, courtesy O’Connor, who took a pass from junior Ben Payson, turned and one-timed a shot past Patrick and into the goal for a 2-0 advantage.
“It’s important to seize chances when you get them,” said O’Connor. “I’m not really sure what happened on that. It was kind of a free-for-all in there.”
“The first half, we had a lot of good possession and a couple good opportunities and good goals,” said Raymond.
Freeport looked to rally in the second half, but couldn’t solve the Cape Elizabeth defense.
With 25:24 to play, a left-footed shot by senior Wes Goodwin sailed just wide.
Two minutes later, Winter also missed wide.
With 21:32 on the clock, the Capers almost scored again, as senior Nick Aceto lofted a shot on goal, forcing Patrick (six saves) to leap to stop. The rebound came to O’Connor alone in front, but O’Connor booted it over the crossbar.
The Falcons then went back on the attack, but Dumont had a shot blocked and a long free kick by senior Liam Grogan was saved by Baker (three saves).
As time wound down, Baker punched away a Freeport corner kick, Baker saved a shot by senior Shea Wagner and a rush by junior Jesse Bennell was broken up by Baker and Cape Elizabeth was able to celebrate its 2-0 victory.
“Our defense is a strength,” O’Connor said. “We haven’t let up many goals this year.”
“Defensively, we played really well,” Raymond said. “They had more possession than we did in the second half, but we changed a few things and did a great job.
“(Freeport’s) a very good team. They’re organized. They know what they’re doing. They’re really well coached. They have some dangerous players.”
The Falcons, meanwhile, were disappointed they weren’t able to give the Capers a bigger scare.
“Cape frustrated us,” Strong said. “They connected and played aggressive and we couldn’t get in a flow. We had some looks, but it’s not the result we were looking for. We just didn’t finish. We need to control the midfield more. Today, that’s where we broke down and they took advantage. They had us on our heels. If we can control the midfield, we’ll be better off.”
Freeport goes to Wells Thursday and hosts Traip Academy Saturday.
“We need to learn from this and take something away from this to make us to a better team,” Strong said. “We’ve seen the big four teams now. Yarmouth’s still the team to beat, but this group has a great ethic, a lot of heart, they believe in themselves and we’ll see what we can do.”
The Capers are home with Class C South power Waynflete Thursday. Next week, Cape Elizabeth travels to Greely, then hosts Yarmouth.
“We still have a lot to do before the playoffs,” O’Connor said. “Yarmouth’s always going to be good. We always have a shot, but this year, I think we have a really good chance. It would be nice to finally beat them.”
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Gavin Simopoulos heads the ball away from Freeport senior Eriksen Shea.
Cape Elizabeth senior John O’Connor and Freeport senior Wes Goodwin battle for the ball.
Cape Elizabeth junior Charlie Dall tries to get past Freeport junior Gabe Wagner.
Cape Elizabeth senior Harry Baker boots the ball.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Archie McEvoy scores the game’s first goal in traffic.
Cape Elizabeth senior John O’Connor scores the second goal.
O’Connor celebrates as Freeport senior goalkeeper Atticus Patrick can’t make the save.