Friday, March 7, 2014
CUMBERLAND — Michael Kennedy, the girls' soccer coach at Greely High, says that sometimes people underestimate the toughness of teams from the Western Maine Conference, a league known for its technical skills.
Well, Tuesday night, Kennedy's Rangers toughed one out, both physically and mentally, in a Western Class A quarterfinal game with Portland.
Third-ranked Greely withstood sixth-ranked Portland's physical game, and turned back several Bulldog challenges in the second half, to gain a 1-0 victory. The Rangers (12-1-2) will play No. 2 Thornton Academy in the semifinals. The time and date of that game will be determined today.
''A lot of people think the SMAA is a little more physical,'' said Kennedy. ''But when you play York, Falmouth and Yarmouth and Cape twice in a season, they're all physical teams. We tend to be a little more technical but I think we matched the physicality of the game very well. We didn't let it get us off our game.''
Sophomore Audrey Parolin scored the game's only goal, with 16:42 left in the second half, off a Portland defensive miscue. Both goalkeepers were superb, with Portland freshman Mashale Nabi making several sparkling saves in the first half -- ''She stopped five shots that would have been goals against any other keeper we've played this year,'' said Kennedy -- and Greely senior Jamie Moody making a momentum-turning save just five minutes before Parolin's goal.
After a scoreless first half, Portland (8-5-2) took control in the second half and kept the Rangers off balance. Then, with just over 21 minutes remaining, Portland's Nancy McAdam broke down the right side and got off a hard shot toward the far corner.
''I knew she was going to shoot it, so I got myself set,'' said Moody. ''And I knew she wasn't going to miss the net if I didn't tip it. I dove, and I didn't think I was going to get it. But I did move the ball that little inch that made the difference.''
Five minutes later, Parolin scored her goal. Taylor Hicks made a crossing pass to Maggie Johnson, who got off a weak shot that bounced wide of the goal. But the Portland defense hesitated to clear it, and Parolin kicked the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
''There was some miscommunication and as a striker, when I see that, I know that the defender's going to hesitate a little bit to see if the keeper's going to come get it. And that's when the striker comes in to hit it,'' said Parolin, who finished on defense.
''We just couldn't catch some breaks that we've caught in the past'' said Portland Coach Dave Levasseur.
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: