Freeport’s Catriona Gould tallied the lone goal in a 1-0 W for the Falcons over visiting Lake Region on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 13.
“It was a scary game, at times, because [Lake Region] had some good chances,” said Freeport head coach Elayna Girardin. “But so did we. Those are the nailbiters, and that’s what makes it fun to coach.”
“They did a good job of man-marking Kristen (Huntress),” said Lakers head coach Peter Webb, asked what kept his girls from converting, “and our other starting forward (Lauren Jakobs) has been out for four games. So without her, it was a little bit tougher trying to change it up and put somebody in there that’s not typically a scorer…We just didn’t have any long-range shooting capability, or we didn’t take advantage of any of it.”
For the majority of the game, the action ebbed and flowed fairly evenly. The Falcons assembled a 10-minute attack stretch late in the first half, and the Lakers pressed particularly hard for several minutes at the start of the second, but otherwise play ping-ponged up and down the field.
“We have large chunks of time where we play great,” said Girardin. “And then we back off; for some reason, we question ourselves. And then we go forward again … It can be frustrating during the game, but in the long run it’s a great thing.”
Girardin elaborated: “They’re learning; they’re trying to learn,” she said of her girls. “They’re asking great questions, they’re playing with things, and that’s how we get the program better.”
Gould struck midway through the first half. Pushing forward up the right side of the field, she beat her Lake Region defender fair and square near the top corner of the box, then sliced inward for an off-angle one-on-one with Lakers goalie Madison Rock. Gould fired near-side and low, besting Rock with ease.
“I’m pretty positive she’s our leading goal-scorer,” Girardin said of Gould. “Today, especially, she had a great game – this one, last Lake Region, Traip, and other games too. But what she’s done a really good job of is reading their defense: knowing when to pass and when to dribble. When she knows when to dribble, she is determined and has gotten through.
“She’s a freshman; she’s playing around with it, seeing what she can do against different teams and figuring it out. When she has it figured out, she’s very dangerous … It’s been great watching how dangerous she’s becoming as the season’s gone on.”
Both squads created chances across the course of the game. Gould herself nearly had a second point when she earned an even cleaner breakaway culminating in an even more direct faceoff with Rock with 6:30 to play in the first half – but she knocked the ball just a hair high of the cage.
For their part, Lake Region had, among other opportunities, a pair of direct kicks from dead-center at the top of the box. Neva Leavitt took both, and rang the first off the crossbar while sending the second just a foot too high.
“We tried attacking the flanks with Freeport,” said Webb of the Lakers’ overall approach, “but they did a goob job. [Coach Girardin] kept six girls back all the time, so she really packed it in, in front of the net, which was a good strategy for her. We had trouble getting in behind their defense. I have to credit Freeport.”
“I knew they’d be man-marking Kristen,” said Webb. “So I figured I’d start out with her up front, and see if she could shake loose. At home when we played them, they did the same thing. So we figured we’d try that, and it wasn’t effective, drop her back to a midfield position.”
Girardin remarked on the challenge of covering Huntress. “They have a player, No. 9, Huntress, who’s extremely good,” she said. “She’s very dangerous. She does a great job playing the ball to their, especially, No. 6 (Leavitt), who’s really fast. So we were man-marking Huntress. And their coach did a really good job of moving her around, so we had to move our player around and shift some things around. So our shape was a little different than normal and that was tough for us.”
“It was a chess match,” Girardin said of having to adjust the Falcons’ formation on the fly to compensate for Huntress’s movements around the field. “It was just about who was going to make the right move and who wasn’t going to make the right follow-up. And I thought that’s why it was a 1-0 game; we were both making the right move and following up well. Huntress is a great player, and Abbi King did a great job marking her and not giving her any space.”
The win capped Freeport’s regular season at 7-5-2. The Falcons enter the postseason ranked seventh; they host No. 10 Maranacook (6-6-2) on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m.
Lake Region, meanwhile, dropped to 5-8. The Lakers faced off with Waynflete on Saturday the 15th, falling 4-2. They finish the autumn ranked 14th, outside the playoffs bracketing.
Laker Neva Leavitt blasts a ball ahead at Freeport on Thursday.
Laker Danica Chadwick wards off a Freeport opponent, digging to escape the corner.
The Falcons’ Catriona Gould drives toward the Lake Region net; Laker Aisley Sturk defends.
Freeport’s Catriona Gould pulls the trigger on her game-winning shot.
Freeport’s Tia Peterson unwinds into a kick at home on Thursday.
Freeporter Taylor Rinaldi and Laker Kristen Huntress vie for control.
Freeporter Becca Cameron keeps a step ahead of a pair of Lakers opponents.
Lake Region’s Chandler True lofts a ball forward on the attack.
Meldoy Millett charges through midfield.
Lake Region’s Kaylyn Jordan cuts away from a Freeport defender.