Opportunistic Greely girls hold off Falmouth, stay perfect

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CUMBERLAND—Greely put its best chances in the back of the net.

Falmouth sent its best looks off the post or wide of the mark.

That, in short, was the difference in the latest chapter of one of the state’s best girls’ soccer rivalries Saturday afternoon at Hutchins Field.

In the game’s fifth minute, Rangers junior standout Jocelyn Mitiguy was denied by Yachtsmen sophomore goalkeeper Adelaide Cooke, but sophomore Ellie Schad was there to tuck home the rebound and the hosts were ahead to stay.

Just over two minutes later, Mitiguy imposed her will on a defender, got past her, then finished for a 2-0 lead.

Falmouth controlled play for most of the rest of the first half, but had nothing to show for it, as two bids hit the post and there were a few other near misses as well.

The Yachtsmen did get on the board with 25:28 to play, when senior Georgia Babikian finished, but before the visitors could even think about pushing for the equalizer, they were called for a foul in the box and Mitiguy was true on the ensuing penalty kick, which essentially took the wind out of Falmouth’s sails and Greely went on to a 3-1 victory.

The Rangers improved to 3-0 on the young season, beat the Yachtsmen at home for the first time since 2011 and dropped Falmouth to 1-1-1.

“Everyone was ready to play,” Mitiguy said. “We were pumped up in the warmup. We had all day to think about it since it’s a Saturday game with no school. Falmouth’s one of our biggest rivals. They’re pretty good this year. We were ready to win.”

Rite of autumn

The Falmouth-Greely rivalry annually produces two close games where homefield advantage is often meaningless.

Entering Saturday’s encounter, since the start of the 2001 campaign, Falmouth held a 14-8 edge (with four ties), but the home team was only 10-12 (with four ties) in that span.

Last year, the Yachtsmen won in Cumberland, 2-1, while the Rangers enjoyed a 3-0 victory at Falmouth.

So far in 2014, each squad had lived up to its perennial powerhouse status as the Yachtsmen opened by winning, 2-0, at Gray-New Gloucester before settling for a 1-1 home draw versus Kennebunk, while Greely won at Fryeburg (4-0) and Yarmouth (2-0) to start its season.

Saturday, the Rangers struck early and didn’t look back.

The first chance of the contest came just 38 seconds in when Falmouth junior Tyler Spence lofted a long shot which Greely junior goalkeeper Maddie Cyr saved with ease.

The Rangers’ first tally came suddenly, as their scores often do.

A long serve from junior Izzy Hutnak was chased after by Mitiguy and a Yachtsmen defender. Mitiguy managed to win the ball, then shot, causing Cooke to dive. The goalie got a hand on the ball, but she wound up on the ground in the process and when the rebound came to Schad, she had a wide open net at which to shoot and Schad buried the shot for a 1-0 lead with 35:04 still to play in the first half.

With 32:55 remaining, Mitiguy again beat a defender and this time, she managed to beat Cooke too with a high shot and the advantage was 2-0.

“Sometimes if you come out like that, ready, it works out,” said Greely coach Josh Muscadin. “Jocelyn is very talented. She has speed. She has quick bursts of acceleration. She can get two steps ahead. She anticipates where the ball will go.”

“Unfortunately, we put ourselves in a huge hole,” lamented Falmouth coach Andrew Pelletier. “I thought we were prepared. We knew what we were getting into. Some of these girls play with Jocelyn year round.”

The Yachtsmen, to their credit, refused to give in and made things very interesting for the remainder of the half, even though they never could put the ball in the net.

In the 17th minute, the first dose of frustration arrived when Spence set up Babikian, but Babikian’s shot hit the post. A Spence rebound shot sailed high.

With just over 10 minutes to play before the break, Cyr punched aside a Falmouth corner kick.

Then, in the 31st minute, the visitors found the post again, as a 30-yard free kick from promising freshman Cali Wiberg hit it and bounced away.

Late in the half, Yachtsmen junior Marcy Kittredge got her foot on a corner kick, but her shot deflected off Greely junior defender Kelsey Otley. The visitors had two more corner kicks without converting them and as time wound down, Cyr stopped a pair of long shots from Wiberg, keeping the Rangers on top at halftime, 2-0.

“I think if we scored on either’s Kali’s free kick or Georgia’s shot inside the 18, it would have been a different result,” said Pelletier. “We had to dig even deeper in the second half.”

Early in the second half, Falmouth junior Emma England twice missed just wide, but with 25:28 to play, the Yachtsmen finally broke through.

The goal was set up by a nice run by Spence through the defense. Spence then passed to senior Emma Van Wickler, who appeared to have an angle on the goal, but she instead passed to Babikian in front and Babikian’s shot glanced off the hand of the diving Cyr and into the net to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Suddenly, the Yachtsmen appeared to have all the momentum, but it wouldn’t last.

With 23:06 remaining, a Falmouth defender broke up Hutnak’s feed to senior Kristin Volta in the box and the officials called a foul and a penalty kick.

Mitiguy did the honors and confidently fired the shot to Cooke’s left for a 3-1 advantage.

“I know what I’m doing (on PKs),” said Mitiguy. “I don’t even look at the goalie. I just put it right in. It’s a free kick. It should go right in.

“Two goals is the toughest lead to hold and we knew that. When they got a goal, we couldn’t let that bring us down. That third goal got our heads up and we were ready to keep going at it.”

That goal swung momentum back Greely’s way and the hosts had several good looks to extend their lead further, but it wasn’t to be.

Mitiguy had five chances to produce her third goal, but after taking a pass from Hutnak, she was robbed point blank by Cooke, after splitting three defenders, she shot just wide, after taking a pass from Hutnak, she shot wide, after taking a cross from Hutnak, she just missed and after receiving a nice pass from freshman Courtney Sullivan, she missed the target.

“We could have put three or four more away,” Muscadin said. “That’s the name of the game. You’ll make some and you’ll miss some. When the opportunity comes, you have to put it away. If not, it comes back to bite you.”

Falmouth almost drew back within one with 5:27 to play, but England, after sidestepping a defender, shot just high with her left foot.

That would be the Yachtsmen’s last, best chance and the Rangers went on to the 3-1 victory.

“Luck was on our side today,” said Muscadin. “The girls played extremely well. They really wanted it and it showed.”

Cyr finished with six saves, while Cooke made three for Falmouth.

The Yachtsmen put the setback in perspective.

“We’re a young team,” Pelletier said. “We were two mistakes away from gettiing a result. We’re down three starters right now. (Junior) Hannah Donovan tore her MCL and we have a couple concussions.”

No breathers

The teams will meet again Sept. 30 in Falmouth, but both will be tested often in the interim.

Falmouth welcomes two-time defending Class C champion Waynflete Tuesday, plays host to defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth Friday, then visits York Tuesday of next week.

Talk about no breathers.

“This conference is crazy so far,” Pelletier said. “There are so many good teams. So many teams that are getting well-coached. Our schedule is so tough. We have to bring it every single day and if you don’t, you’ll be on the wrong side of the result.”

Greely hosts Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and goes to Kennebunk Friday. The following Tuesday brings a showdown at defending state champion Cape Elizabeth, which will be a rematch of last year’s Western B Final.

The Rangers are off to a great start, but they’re more concerned about continuing to improve.

“Our communication and positivity need to be kept up,” said Mitiguy. “When we give up a goal, we can’t let it get to us.”

“We hope to continue,” Muscadin said. “We still have a lot of big games to come. It keeps us on our toes. I want us to improve on our first touch. That’s key.”

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

Recent Greely-Falmouth meetings

2013

Falmouth 2 @ Greely 1
Greely 3 @ Falmouth 0

2012

Falmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Falmouth 1 (tie)

2011

@ Greely 5 Falmouth 1
Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1

2010

Falmouth 1 @ Greely 0
Greely 5 @ Falmouth 0

2009

@ Falmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)

2008

Falmouth 5 @ Greely 1
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 0

2007

@ Falmouth 3 Greely 1
Falmouth 2 @ Greely 1

2006

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 2
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 0

2005

@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0
@ Greely 5 Falmouth 2

2004

@ Falmouth 2 Greely 2 (tie)
Falmouth 2 @ Greely 0

2003

Falmouth 2 @ Greely 1
Greely 1 @ Falmouth 0 (2 OT)

2002

@ Greely 2 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Greely 0

2001

@ Greely 1 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 0

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.