Freeport’s girls’ soccer team celebrates a goal during its 1-0 victory over Cape Elizabeth in Friday’s season opener. The Falcons beat the Capers for the first time this century.

Adam Birt photos.

More photos below.

FREEPORT—Emotions were at a fever pitch for Freeport’s girls’ soccer team during Friday afternoon’s regular season opener versus Cape Elizabeth at Hunter Road Fields.

The Falcons started out hopeful, as they were able to hang tough with a Capers squad they weren’t expected to compete with, thanks in large part to strong play from freshman goalkeeper Carly Intraversato.

Just before halftime, however, Freeport’s hopes took a jolt when one of its pivotal players, junior inspirational leader Abbi King, suffered an apparent concussion and have to leave in an ambulance.

The Falcons then showed tremendous resilience, taking the lead with 25:11 to go in regulation, when sophomore Catriona Gould somehow maneuvered through a pair of defenders before scoring the game’s lone goal.

Freeport then had to hold on for dear life down the stretch and thanks to Intraversato coming up big a few more times, was able to do so and that led to a pent up release of joy, in honor of a 1-0 victory that was much more than just a season-opening triumph, but one which also marked the first time (in this century at least) that the Falcons had ever beaten the Capers.

“Cape is strong and will get some wins, so this will help us with Heal Points and will help us get in the playoffs,” said Freeport coach Elayna Girardin. “We needed to step up and we did. This is a great outcome.”

Chasing Yarmouth

After each team finished 8-6-2 in 2016, both Cape Elizabeth and Freeport expect to be competitive this fall.

The Capers got to the Class B South semifinals last year, but lost, 3-1, to eventual champion Yarmouth. This year’s team boasts many key returners.

The Falcons lost, 3-1, to Greely in the quarterfinals. This year’s team hopes to make a run at the top echelon.

The teams had met annually since 2005 with the Capers winning every encounter.

Cape Elizabeth took last year’s meeting, 2-0, in Freeport.

This time around, on an unseasonably cool (62 degrees) and breezy (17 miles per hour) afternoon, the Falcons dug deep and turned the tide.

The Capers demonstrated their pinpoint passing ability just seconds into the contest, as a nice sequence moved the ball down the field and set up junior Prezli Piscopo for a shot, but Intraversato was able to catch it for her first save.

“Seeing a shot early was good,” said Intraversato. “It made everything real. I was pretty nervous, but once I got on the field, I knew I just had to play my game. I knew I had to make saves and keep my team going.”

Cape Elizabeth kept pushing for a quick first goal, but Piscopo hit the side netting, sophomore Karli Chapin had a rush broken up by Freeport sophomore Tara Migliaccio and Intraversato made saves on bids from junior Grace Gillian, Chapin and Gillian again.

Freeport then got its offense in gear and nearly took the lead in the 16th minute, as Gould took a pass from senior Becca Cameron and drew Capers sophomore goalkeeper Lilia Membrino out before shooting just wide of an open net.

Seconds later, Migliaccio served the ball into the box right to senior Taylor Rinaldi in front, but Rinaldi couldn’t get her foot on the ball.

In the 17th minute, Rinaldi rushed into the box, but had her bid broken up at the last second.

After Intraversato denied a long shot from Cape Elizabeth junior Tory McGrath, Rinaldi had another look with 20:14 left in the first half. She lofted a long shot over the outstretched hand of Membrino, but the ball rolled just wide of the left post.

The Capers’ frustrations then continued, as senior Sarah Knupp was robbed by Intraversato and a one-timer from sophomore Liv Cochran hit the near post.

After sophomore Darcy Cochran shot wide on a rush, Cape Elizabeth earned a corner kick where the ball was batted out by Intraversato to senior Catherine Morrissey, who shot high.

With 9:05 to go before halftime, on a seemingly innocuous play, King was run into from behind and hit the ground hard and didn’t get up. Play was stopped for several minutes as officials, coaches and medical personnel tended to King, who was eventually moved off the field of play.

King’s teammates could have been pre-occupied in the wake of the injury, but Freeport continued to battle and nearly scored in the 33rd minute when junior Allison Greuel got a look, only to see Membrino made the save.

Late in the half, a cross from Piscopo danced through the goalmouth untouched, a long shot from Migliaccio was saved by Membrino, Piscopo eluded a defender then was denied by Intraversato, Cameron missed wide and Piscopo hit the side netting, sending the game to halftime still scoreless.

Cape Elizabeth had an 8-2 advantage in shots and took four corner kicks to none for Freeport in the first half.

Prior to the start of the second half, play was again delayed as an ambulance came to take King from the facility.

The teams then continued to create chances until the hosts finally broke through.

Less than two minutes into the second half, Migliaccio was denied by Membrino.

At the other end, a long shot by Gillian was saved by Intraversato.

With 34:37 to play, a shot from the side off the foot of Knupp was saved, but the rebound came to Piscopo, who sent the ball into the side netting.

Finally, with 25:11 on the clock, the Falcons broke through.

Gould made it happen with individual intensity, getting around a pair of defenders before beating Membrino with a blast for a 1-0 lead.

“I took the ball out of the air and was able to beat one defender, saw another and got past her, then I shot for the corner,” said Gould. “It felt great.”

“Cat did a great job breaking free and did a great job shooting,” said Girardin.

Cape Elizabeth wasn’t about to go quietly and would have chances to counter.

But Intraversato protected the lead.

After twice denying Gillian, Intraversato had to make her most clutch save with 19:03 on the clock, as freshman Laura Ryer sent the ball to Chapin right in front. Intraversato didn’t hesitate, came out to cut off the angle, then blocked Chapin’s game-tying bid.

“I don’t think much, I just do what I can to make the saves,” said Intraversato. “I love my teammates. They put their bodies on the line for me and I put my body on the line for them. They really support me.”

“Carly made huge saves,” Girardin said. “It’s hard to be in that role as a freshman, but she’s an experienced premier player. She didn’t play like a freshman. Cape had shots that in some other games would have gone in, but she stepped up.”

After Piscopo shot just high on a long bid with just over 12 minutes to go, she sent a cross off the top of the crossbar with 5:44 on the clock.

Seconds later, Knupp crossed the ball toward the goal, but Freeport sophomore Abby Brier headed it out of harm’s way.

With 2:45 left, Intraversato raced over to reach Liv Cochran’s feed to Knupp at the last second.

The Capers earned a corner kick with 1:15 on the clock, but a violation prevented a shot.

Then, as time wound down, Liv Cochran tried one last shot, but Intraversato easily made the save and at 2:29 p.m., the Falcons made history and celebrated their 1-0 victory.

“It’s amazing,” Gould said. “I feel really good about the win. We were able to possess the ball and made great passes and Carly played phenomenal.”

“It’s a great way to start the season,” Girardin said. “It’s a statement for Freeport. The pressure wasn’t on us to win against Cape. They’re a powerhouse. Our girls just rose to the occasion. It’s easier sometimes to come in as an underdog. We just played with our hearts and had fun. It wasn’t luck. We played well. Abbi is a leader. We talked at halftime that we had to accept it and move on and luckily, the girls did that. That helped fire us up. It was so stressful trying to run out the clock. We don’t have experience doing that against a team like Cape.”

The Capers had a 14-4 advantage in shots and a 7-1 edge in corner kicks, but couldn’t put the ball in the net.

“We were probably one pass off,” lamented Cape Elizabeth coach Craig Fannan. “We possessed the ball and played through the thirds, but we could have been a step quicker in the midfield. We had multiple shots that hit the back of the net in the preseason. Unfortunately, they hit the goalie’s hands today or went off the bar. Credit to Freeport. They had a good game plan. Disciplined in the back, dangerous on the break. It’s a good win for them.”

Membrino made three saves for the Capers, while Intraversato stole the show for the Falcons, stopping all 14 shots that were on cage.

“Carly had a couple nervous bobbles, but she was excellent,” Fannan said. “She saved everything that needed to be saved. Lilia played a little bit last year. She’s been around the varsity team. Everything she had to do, she did well. She didn’t have a chance on the goal.”

Tough sledding

Cape Elizabeth hopes to get in the win column when it plays its first home game Tuesday against Gray-New Gloucester. 

“It will be nice to get home on the turf and we’ll try again,” Fannan said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Freeport’s brutal opening stretch continues with visits to Greely Thursday of next week followed by a game at Yarmouth two days later. The Falcons will enter those games confident, however, thanks to a season opener that won’t soon be forgotten.

“This makes us feel good about ourselves,” Gould said. “We just have to keep working hard in practice and keep it up.”

“We played really well today,” Intraversato said. “This gives us confidence going into our next two games.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Freeport freshman goalkeeper Carly Intraversato makes one of her 14 saves in her debut Friday.

Cape Elizabeth junior Grace Gillian and Freeport sophomore Sarah Gray fight for the ball.

Cape Elizabeth junior Tory McGrath shields the ball from Freeport senior Johanna Bogue-Marlow.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Karli Chapin beats Freeport senior Taylor Rinaldi to the ball.

Freeport sophomore Catriona Gould kicks the ball away from Cape Elizabeth senior Catherine Morrissey. Gould scored the game’s lone goal.

Freeport junior Abbye Koenig plays the ball.