Prezli scores three and Cape upsets Greely in the semifinals

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Cape Elizabeth sophomores Karli Chapin (7) and Prezli Piscopo jump for joy, as senior Eleanor Roberts (23), junior Grace Gillian (20) and senior Sarah Knupp join in the celebration of the Capers’ first goal in Tuesday’s 3-2 win at Greely in a Class B South semifinal. Piscopo had all three goals as Cape Elizabeth advanced to meet Yarmouth in the regional final.

Joe Carpine / photos.

More photos below.

CUMBERLAND—Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team hasn’t played a traditional postseason schedule, but while the Capers have had to wait for their opportunities, they’ve also made the most of them. 

Tuesday afternoon at Glenn Hutchins Field, the seventh-ranked Capers paid a visit to No. 3 Greely in a weather- and power-delayed Class B South semifinal and after 80 highly entertaining minutes, Cape Elizabeth advanced to play at least one more game. 

The Capers, who had their quarterfinal postponed three separate times and their semifinal pushed back a day, hit the post in the eighth minute and making matters worse, fell behind, 1-0, seconds later, when the Rangers countered and junior Anna DeWolfe set up classmate Julia Martel for the game’s first goal.

But Cape Elizabeth controlled the majority of the rest of the first half and sophomore standout Prezli Piscopo first made her presence known by burying a 25-yard free kick in the 14th minute. Piscopo then added a goal on a rebound with just over 10 minutes left in the first half to give the Capers a 2-1 lead at the break.

Greely came out on fire in the second half and after several near-misses in the early going, drew even with 25:26 remaining in regulation, when DeWolfe’s shot led to a hand ball in the box and DeWolfe drilled the ensuing penalty kick.

The Rangers never were able to regain the lead, however, and with 8:40 on the clock, off a corner kick, Piscopo delivered the strike of her young life, bending a shot into the side netting, just inside the far post, for the lead.

Cape Elizabeth’s defense was able to hold on from there, with a little luck mixed in, and the Capers were able to prevail, 3-2.

Cape Elizabeth improved to 11-6, snapped Greely’s win streak at eight, ended the Rangers’ season at 12-4 and advanced to visit top-ranked, defending state champion Yarmouth (16-0) in the Class B South Final Thursday at 5 p.m.

“I feel like it’s always a hard game against Greely,” said Piscopo. “They came out as strong as we did. We needed to show what we had and we did.”

Rain, rain, go away

Mother Nature has wreaked havoc the past week and no team has taken more of the brunt of the rain than Cape Elizabeth.

The Capers, who had an up-and-down, 8-6 regular season (see sidebar, below, for previous game stories), ousted 10th-ranked Gray-New Gloucester, 3-1, in the preliminary round Oct. 20, then had to wait a week and had three potential games postponed before finally returning to action Friday at No. 2 Oak Hill. Cape Elizabeth made quick work of the Raiders, 6-0, in the quarterfinals, then turned their attention to Greely in a game that was supposed to be played Monday night, but bad weather and the lack of power moved the contest to Tuesday.

“We practiced on Sunday and I told the girls that we’ve done everything we needed to do,” said Capers coach Craig Fannan. “We just had to pass the time. We only practiced 30 minutes yesterday because it was so windy.”

Greely started the season 4-3, but won its final seven contests to earn the No. 3 seed in Class B South. The Rangers then handled No. 6 Freeport, 4-0, in the quarterfinals last Tuesday before having to sit idle for a week.

The teams split in the regular season, with Cape Elizabeth winning, 3-2, Sept. 19 Piscopo had two goals and sophomore Karli Chapin had the winner late) in Cumberland (Greely’s last loss) and the Rangers holding off the host Capers, 4-3, Oct. 5 (as junior Skylar Cooney had two goals to neutralize a pair from Piscopo).

Tuesday’s encounter was the 19th all-time postseason meeting between the ancient rivals (dating to 1985). Cape Elizabeth had won three straight, including a 2-1 (4-2 on penalty kicks) victory in the 2014 Western B Final, but Greely held a 10-8 lead in the series.

This time around, on a chilly (55-degrees) and overcast afternoon, with no power in the vicinity, the Capers and Rangers produced plenty of fireworks in yet another memorable back-and-forth postseason affair.

After the teams traded early corner kicks with no shots, Piscopo sent a nice cross through the Greely box, but no one was there to touch it.

The Capers then got a second corner, followed by a third and on that corner kick, the visitors came oh-so-close to scoring, as Piscopo served it in front and junior Tory McGrath had a promising header that rang off the crossbar. A rebound bid from Chapin was deflected and corralled by Greely freshman goalkeeper Camille Clement.

If that wasn’t bad enough for the visitors, what happened next was even more demoralizing for them and exhilarating for the Rangers.

The ball got sent out to DeWolfe, who sent a long pass ahead to Martel on the right flank. With a teammate breaking free to her left, Martel kept the ball and when Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalkeeper Lilia Membrino came out to challenge her, Martel fired a low shot past the keeper to her right and into the net for a 1-0 lead with 32:17 left in the first half. 

Greely nearly doubled its lead two minutes later, when Martel fired a long shot on goal, but after Membrino bobbled it, DeWolfe touched the rebound just wide.

Play was then stopped for 20 minutes with 28:25 on the clock, when Greely junior Erin Clancy injured her elbow and had to come off on a stretcher.

When play resumed, Piscopo raced in with a chance to tie it, but Clement came way out to boot the ball away at the last second.

Piscopo got another chance with 26:15 on the first half clock and this time, she finished.

On a free kick from the side, about 25-yards out, Piscopo struck the ball squarely and sent it over the hands of the leaping Clement and into the side netting just inside the far post to tie it, 1-1.

“When they got the first goal, we were upset, but we got it out of our heads,” Piscopo said. “That showed we wanted it badly. I was a little nervous the wind would take it where I didn’t want it, but it wound up top left, right where I wanted it.”

Undaunted, Greely pushed to go back on top, but after a steal, DeWolfe’s left-footed shot rolled just wide.

In the 19th minute, the Capers nearly went on top when Piscopo got past a defender and got around Clement, but by the time she caught up to the ball, she had no angle and shot just wide.

After DeWolfe twice shot high and Membrino saved a bid from Rangers sophomore Sophia Koutsikos, Cape Elizabeth returned to the attack.

After a Chapin header was saved by Clement and McGrath missed just high, the visitors went on top with 10:24 remaining in the half, when McGrath set up Piscopo for a shot that Clement blocked with her foot, but the rebound sat free for Piscopo to bury and put the Capers ahead, 2-1.

“We had a good through ball, it bounced off the defender, then off the keeper and I just kicked it,” Piscopo said.

Greely had its chances to draw even before the break, but DeWolfe had a shot saved by Membrino, Membrino beat Rangers senior Courtney Sullivan to a loose ball in the box and the hosts had a pair of corner kicks, but couldn’t convert. 

Cape Elizabeth had a 7-6 edge in first half shots and a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks and both goalies made five saves.

In the second half, Greely reasserted control, but Piscopo and the Capers would have the last laugh. 

Just 72 seconds in, DeWolfe’s shot from the side was saved by Membrino.

With 38:21 to go in the game, Sullivan beat a defender and was about to go one-on-one with the goalie, but she lost her footing and couldn’t get much on a shot that Membrino saved.

Sophomore Brooke Obar then got a chance, but at the last second, Membrino broke up the chance.

With 35:41 to play, Martel took a pass from sophomore Sawyer Dusch and headed the ball but it hit the outside of the net.

Seconds later, DeWolfe set up Obar for a great chance to tie it, but Membrino dove to make the save to preserve the lead.

“If we continued our first half pace, I thought we could run away with it, but credit to Greely, they came out strong,” Fannan said. “The first 10 minutes of the second half, I haven’t seen a team play that well against us.” 

After a pair of Cape Elizabeth corner kicks didn’t generate anything, Greely went back on the attack and DeWolfe fired a shot which forced Membrino to sprawl to make the save.

The Rangers did manage the equalizer with 25:26 to play, as a DeWolfe shot wound up hitting the hand of a Capers defender in the box and a penalty kick was awarded.

DeWolfe did the honors and she fired a low shot to the right of a diving Membrino and into the net to tie the game, 2-2.

Greely wasn’t content to be level and looked to go on top, but a long shot from Koutsikos sailed just high, a Koutsikos cross bounced around but was grabbed by Membrino, a long free kick from senior Katie Steinberg went wide and a bid from junior Logan Pray was high.

Cape Elizabeth then went back on offense and earned three corner kicks.

And the third one was the charm.

With 8:40 on the clock, Piscopo took the corner to Clement’s right and her bending shot was promising off her foot and as it got closer to the goal, it picked up the wind and curled right into the net, just inside the far post. Piscopo couldn’t have placed the shot better had she ran up and thrown the ball into the net and just like that, she had her hat trick and the Capers had regained the lead, 3-2.

“The wind took it,” Piscopo said. “I wasn’t trying to shoot it in, but I got pretty lucky. It felt amazing.”

“Prezli is incredible,” Fannan said. “When she shows up and wants to play, there’s no one who can keep up with her. She’s strong with her right foot, she’s strong on her left foot. She’s fast and knows where the goal is. Her next progression is finding a level of consistency where she does it week-in, week-out.”

Greely wasn’t about to go quietly and got some looks late.

First, Membrino beat DeWolfe to a feed from Koutsikos with 6:54 remaining.

With 3:38 to go, Koutsikos missed just wide.

With 2:24 on the clock, DeWolfe chipped a shot on target, but Membrino came up with it.

The Rangers’ best opportunity came with 1:15 to play, as the ball got sent in to the box, got batted around and with Membrino off her line, the ball came to Obar, who sent the ball just over the bar.

“We knew they have talented girls who will give everything, so we dropped Karli back and it was all hands on deck,” said Fannan. “I thought we handled it well. We had some blocks, Lilia made a save. We deserved some luck when they missed at the end.”

One last Koutsikos rush was broken up and Cape Elizabeth was able to run out the clock and celebrate its 3-2 victory.

“We tried to keep possession at the end and we didn’t rush,” said Piscopo. “We had to calm down and relax. We tried to kick the ball into their half when we could. We couldn’t take any chances.”

“Every game against Greely is like this,” Fannan said. “The girls know each other so well. We showed up ready today. I thought we were outstanding in the first half and I thought they were unbelievable in the second half. We had to stay in the game, then we got some magic from Prezli.

“We’ve been through a lot this season. We went four games without winning and we’ve been through delays. We know what it’s like to be up against it. We’re mentally tough. We know if we stay in games, we have girls who can win it.”

The Capers had a 9-8 edge in corner kicks and got 11 saves from Membrino.

Greely finished with a 13-9 edge in shots on frame and got six saves from Clement, but still fell painfully short.

“It was a tough one,” lamented Rangers coach Josh Muscadin. “I didn’t want to give them any treats on Halloween, but they got one. The way we came out in the second half, we had chance after chance and that can come back to bite you. When you play teams like Cape or Yarmouth or York, that rivalry keeps the game fun.

“I’m very proud of how the girls turned it around. It’s been very positive this season. The girls started to jell. That’s when you know you have a good team. It was great how they came along. I’m very proud of all of them.”

Greely loses Steinberg, Sullivan and Bridget Roberts, but everyone else will return in what promises to be a successful 2018 season.

“I’m sad for my seniors,” Muscadin said. “Next year, the other girls have to pick up the baton and go right back at it again.

Yarmouth looms

Barring something unexpected, this time, Cape Elizabeth will only have one day between games before visiting powerhouse Yarmouth in the regional final Thursday.

The Clippers swept the Capers this fall, rolling to a 7-0 home win in the first meeting, before holding on for a 1-0 victory at Cape Elizabeth.

The teams met twice prior in the playoffs, with the Capers winning, 1-0, in the 2014 semifinals and Yarmouth prevailing, 3-1, in last year’s semifinal round.

The Clippers will be rightly viewed as the favorite, but with Cape Elizabeth clicking unlike it has all season, you can’t write the Capers off. 

“The first game wasn’t good, but the second game was 1-0 and that was a really good match,” Piscopo said. “I feel like it’ll be a really good match this time. We have nothing to lose.”

“We have belief in ourselves and we have all season,” Fannan said. “We knew it would take some time to put it together. We didn’t think it would take quite this long, but it’s a good run.

“We’ll have our hands full against Yarmouth. We’ll go in and do what we did last time. We have to play a perfect game. Prezli could be the difference-maker.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Karli Chapin and Greely junior Julia Martel fight for the ball.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalkeeper Lilia Membrino leaps to make a save as junior Grace Gillian looks on.

Greely sophomore Sawyer Dusch heads the ball away from Cape Elizabeth sophomore Prezli Piscopo.

Greely junior Julia Martel and Cape Elizabeth junior Riley Dall battle for possession.

Greely freshman goalkeeper Camille Clement leaps in vain to try and stop Cape Elizabeth sophomore Prezli Piscopo’s first half free kick which tied the game, 1-1.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Prezili Piscopo sends a shot past Greely freshman goalkeeper Camille Clement and sophomore back Katherine Clancy into the goal for a 2-1 Capers’ lead in the first half.

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Yarmouth 4 Greely 0

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Previous Cape Elizabeth stories

Season Preview

Freeport 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

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Previous Cape Elizabeth-Greely playoff results

Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1 (4-2 PKs)

Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 2

Western A quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 3 Greely 0

Western A quarterfinals
Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 1

Western A semifinals
Greely 2  Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A quarterfinals
Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A semifinals
Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A Final
Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A semifinal
Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0 (OT)

Western A quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1

Western A quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 0

Western A semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0

Western A semifinals
Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A Final
Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1 (2 PKs)

Western A semifinals
Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A semifinal
Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0 (OT)

Western A semifinal
Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

Western A quarterfinal
Greely 2  Cape Elizabeth 0

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