Freeport tops G-NG in season-opener

Freeporter Alexa Koenig pulls the trigger on a shot vs. visiting G-NG.

Freeport’s playoff hopes grinded to a heartbreaking halt in double-OT at Gray-New Gloucester last year. So to kick off their 2016, the Falcons no doubt craved a little revenge – and Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 31, they got it. Senior Bailey Coffin notched two goals in a back-and-forth game vs. the visiting Patriots, ultimately leading her girls to a 4-1 W.

“It was interesting, ending with them last season and coming in here to start this season,” said G-NG Head Coach Christa Roddy. “I think we were a little nerved up.”

The first half began as a back-and-forth, though Freeport eventually seized control of the attack: It took the Falcons almost eight minutes to work out their start-of-season jitters and convert, but convert they finally did with Coffin scoring out of a scramble at 22:27.

The remainder of the half belonged to Freeport as well, in part because they held the midfield and the high defensive zone so staunchly. The Falcons repelled a number of G-NG offensive forays, pouncing on would-be Patriots attackers they could ever get set up.

Freeport Head Coach Marcia Wood praised senior Ireland Hall’s defense in particular. “Ireland did a wonderful job stuffing people going up the field,” she said. “It’s nervewracking; if she doesn’t make that stuff, there’s these one-on-ones. It’s conditioning. You’ve got to be able to get back and play, and right now we’re not conditioned enough.”

Roddy observed that her girls’ attack looked disorganized. “We noticed,” she said, “that the times when we seemed to not have anyone where they needed to be, if they got a breakaway or if they stopped us too soon … what players go where? Who needs to fill in that space? How do you make passes around them, coming to the ball.”

Coffin scored her second at 15:34. Assisted by Alexa Koenig, Coffin fired across from close on the left side of G-NG keeper Alicia Credit. At 2:48, Freeport tallied another, Chloe Davidson driving a penalty shot beautifully to the top-left corner of Credit’s cage.

“Thank God in our preseason scrimmages the refs actually called a few [penalty shots],” Wood said. “Chloe actually completely shanked the one she did during a scrimmage. But it worked out – get that nervousness out, because she did a beautiful stroke today.”

With the clock winding down on the first half, the Patriots did manage to penetrate deep into Falcons territory. Freeport successfully fended off the advance, but Wood called timeout anyway.

“I saw them kind of getting a little tired, not hustling back,” Wood said of her girls. “Last year, whether it was the end of the first half or end of the second half, we let up a ton of goals. Right in the last five minutes. I was like, ‘Now I’m giving you your break, so you can go out hard for the last seven minutes and not let anything up.’”

Trailing 3-0 at the break, the Patriots scurried to change up their approach. Their adjustments worked well, as the second half of the game proved much more balanced than the first. G-NG managed to take control of the attack for several minutes to begin the stretch, but couldn’t capitalize until 13:22, when Arianna Sapuan scored out of a scrum.

“We talked about bringing it back to basics, forgetting our nerves,” Roddy said of her team’s half-time changes. “Going back to moving our feet, moving to every ball, talking to each other – those things sort of slipped away a little bit in the first half. Once those came back, we were in it and it was a different game.”

Roddy remarked on Sapuan’s goal. “We’ve been working on our strength in the circle, getting the initial strong shot off – they were really shutting us down with that initial shot, all day today,” she said. “Once we were finally able to get around them and make our next move, it was about just putting the pressure. We kept the pressure that time, and that’s what ended up allowing us to get the goal.”

In the end, however, the Patriots’ surge was too little, too late. Freeport capped the game with a final point, Koenig beating Credit on a pretty, near-side reverse shot for the 4-1 final.

Wood applauded a handful of her other players in addition to Hall, including sophomore Reilley Lefebvre. “Chloe’s been injured for the past few weeks, so I didn’t know how much time I could get her in, but her sub today was Reilley, and she did a great job in there holding her own against the varsity group for her first start.”

“Freeport’s always a tough team, a team we have to come out strong against,” said Roddy. “They have a lot of skill and a lot of talented girls and a really strong coach.”

Freeporter Alexa Koenig pulls the trigger on a shot vs. visiting G-NG.

Freeporter Izzy Masison fires forward.

G-NG’s Val Sanborn pushes through the midfield on Wednesday.

Freeport’s Grace Schynder clashes with G-NG’s Arianna Sapuan.

Freeporter Alexa Koenig earned a goal and an assist in the Falcons’ season-opening home win over G-NG.

G-NG’s Skye Conley and Freeport’s Chloe Davidson – Davidson in possession of the ball – race upfield in the season opener last week.

G-NG’s Emma MacCallum defends against heavy Falcons pressure in close.

Patriot Jordan Burham and Falcon Grace Schnyder vie for control.