FREEPORT’S TIA PETERSON chases down Caitlin Wolff of Kennebunk during a girls high school soccer match in Freeport on Thursday. Kennebunk won the Western Maine Conference duel, 2-0.

FREEPORT’S TIA PETERSON chases down Caitlin Wolff of Kennebunk during a girls high school soccer match in Freeport on Thursday. Kennebunk won the Western Maine Conference duel, 2-0.

FREEPORT

It’s tough to win when you hardly have the ball.

The Freeport High School girls varsity soccer team was faced with that challenge on Thursday against Kennebunk, and despite withstanding loads of pressure throughout, the Falcons’ chances were numbered.

OLIVIA GREUEL strikes a ball for Freeport during the Falcons’ 2-0 setback to Kennebunk in Freeport on Thursday.

OLIVIA GREUEL strikes a ball for Freeport during the Falcons’ 2-0 setback to Kennebunk in Freeport on Thursday.

The Rams took advantage of the ball control, poking in a pair of goals and taking the Western Maine Conference match, 2-0.

“They move the ball well,” Freeport coach Elayna Girardin said of Kennebunk. “They do a great job of their players making runs all the time, timing their runs well and then using those runs. Because they play that nice give-and-go two-touch ball, it’s hard to set up a defense on them. That definitely was difficult for us.”

Kennebunk (4-1) started with the ball on the opening tap and made it clear immediately that it didn’t plan on letting it go. The Freeport (2- 1) back line was on its heels and fending off attacks for over 15 minutes before the Rams earned their first corner. By the time they scored a few minutes later, the ball had only been in their defensive half for a few quick spurts.

Hallie Schwartzman curled in a ball on the visitors second corner of the game and senior Sarah Thill was waiting for it. The midfielder darted into the sixty-yard box and headed the ball into the ground past Freeport goalie Jordan Randall to make the score 1-0.

“We’ve really lucked out with a player like Sarah Thill,” Kennebunk coach Shannon Cavanaugh said. “She has a nose for goal, she is phenomenal out of the air, so any time we have those opportunities, we get her in and find a way to get her head on the ball.”

“Usually I’m inside the box either making the back post run or the run right towards the goalie — just trying to get a head on it. Everyone’s making a run, we’re all organized and just trying to get something on it.”

Despite no shots on the other end and constant backtracking, the Freeport defense held on until the break. Girardin said “a team can pass all they want, but if they don’t score, it doesn’t matter” — if not for breaking just once on a set piece, the score might have been even after 40 minutes.

The Kennebunk possession game wasn’t just an effective tactic — it also wore the Falcons out. Girardin was rotating subs in and out of the game frequently, but they struggled to keep the ball moving.

“I think in this particular game, the formation Freeport allowed us time to possess in the back and in the midfield because we had that space, we had that time out there.” Cavanaugh said.

“We’re really focusing on trying to switch the point of attack from one side of the field to the other,” Thill said. “Just trying to find feet, not really turning the ball over.”

Still, what the numbers suggested and what actually happened were two different things. Freeport absorbed the pressure well and eventually strung a few passes together that led to fouls and free kicks. The hosts came close on two different set pieces outside the danger area (49th and 44th minute) and finally got some shots off.

In the final minute of the game, one last free kick missed narrowly over the bar and the shutout remained intact.

“We know that their center mid’s very strong,” Girardin said. “Our goal was to try to pressure high and try to prevent them from getting it to those centers who do a great job of getting it forward. We starting playing our wing backs a little higher and trying to get over the top and locking it in. They’re a good team and that seemed to help.”

Ultimately, the high pressing left the Falcons vulnerable in the back and Mia Murray tacked on a second goal for Kennebunk with less than four minutes to play. The Rams tallied 15 total shots and took three corners. Freeport had just three shots (all on free-kicks) and didn’t earn a corner.

That said, Girardin’s high pressing was “risky” and left the door open for far more goals than two. She said against a good, solid possessing team like Kennebunk, it’s hard not to get impatient and frustrated.

It certainly wasn’t a match the Falcons dropped with poor play.

“There are games you’re going to lose because you didn’t play well and there are games you’re going to lose when the other team does a great job of finding your weakness and exploiting it,” Girardin said. “I thought Kennebunk did a great job finding our weakness. It’s just a good chance to see what we need to work on to keep competing with the higher-level teams.”

Kennebunk 2, Freeport 0

At Freeport High School

Kennebunk 1 1 — 2
Freeport 0 0 0

Goals—(K) Sarah Thill, Mia Murray. Assists — (K) Hallie Schwartzman, Miranda Duncan. Shots — Kennebunk 15, Freeport 3. Saves — (F) Jordan Randall 6. Corner kicks — Kennebunk 3, Freeport 0. Records — Kennebunk 4-1, Freeport 2-1. Up next for the Falcons — Saturday at home against Wells, 11 a.m.


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