FREEPORT  — If you were looking for offense with neither team holding more than a two-goal lead at any point, Saturday’s Class C girls lacrosse quarterfinal between North Yarmouth Academy and Freeport at Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field was the place to be. 

Natalie Farrell took a pass from Helen Hamblett and scored the winning goal 1:07 into overtime to lift No. 5 NYA to a thrilling, 17-16 victory over No. 4 Freeport. 

“I heard Helen yell to me, ‘Natalie, just take it!’” said a happy Farrell after helping the Panthers advance to the semifinals where they will play No. 9 Lake Region on Wednesday, 9-6 winners over top-seeded Winslow. 

She was my first option,” Hamblett said. “We pulled it back and I found Natalie and I knew I could trust her. 

The game ended up in overtime after Freeport scored the final two goals in the last three minutes, including a score from Margaret Perrotta with 7.6 seconds remaining in regulation to send it to the three-minute frame. 

As a player yeah, but not as a coach,” NYA coach Molly Climo said about being involved in such a thrilling game. “It was definitely a nail biter. It makes it that much sweeter when you know you worked so hard for something like that. 

With eight different scorers scoring for NYA, it was Farrell’s only point on the day. 

I really couldn’t have done it without my teammates who were there the whole game,” Farrell saidThey kept it a tie game throughout, basically 0-0 until the last second. 

A total of 33 goals, on 55 shots over 53 minutes of play left for a lot of action. Freeport defeated NYA, 13-8 earlier in the season, and Freeport coach Marcia Wood lauded the Panthers of their play, not expecting as much offense as she saw on Saturday. 

“We didn’t expect it after watching game film and the last time we played as we did a good job shutting them down defensively and making them make mistakes,” the Freeport coach said. “They did a nice job this time around protecting the ball with better stick skills, and seeing their open player, we weren’t quick enough.” 

Emma Sharp led the Panthers (8-5) with six goals and two assists, while Hamblett pitched in with five assists and a goal in the win. 

Emma has been working so hard as a lefty and always works on getting open for the girls,” Climo said. “Helen was our team leader in assists, she is always a team player looking out for everyone. That combination worked well for us today. 

Perrotta scored 10 points for the Falcons, netting six goals, including four in the second half, while the senior assisted on four others. Molly Whelan added four goals for Freeport, one off a Perrotta helper. 

We had some great plays that worked today,” junior attacker Whelan said. “Margaret and I have been playing with each other since elementary school. She is my rock out there, she has taught me so much and pushes me to be better. She helps me on the field and in practice, giving me tips and tricks. 

Back-and-forth 

Freeport opened the game with two quick goals, with Perrotta netting the first just 23 seconds in, while Whelan added her first only 19 seconds later.  

But NYA tied the game, the first of 12 ties throughout the contest, with goals from Maggie Larson and Sharp. Sharp gave the Panthers the lead at 20:13 with the visitor’s third goal in the span of 44 seconds. Hamblett assisted on Larson and Sharp’s second goal, while Catherine Reid assisted on the other. 

Freeport tied the score when Meredith Fuller went coast-to-coast and beat NYA keeper Ally White for the score. Hannah Groves gave the Falcons the lead once again off a Perrotta pass at 17:33. 

“We did things on offense that we set out to do,” Wood said. “But in the end, it just wasn’t enough.” 

Each team scored eight goals in the opening half, with six lead changes, each team holding a lead three times, while they were tied six separate times. 

Freeport outshot the Panthers, 19-12 over the first 25 minutes, while holding the advantage in draw controls, 10-7. 

Second-half 

More of the same opened the half, with NYA grabbing a quick two-goal lead after goals from Reid and Sharp. But Freeport senior Allison Greuel notched one back, and Perrotta scored the next two for another Freeport lead. 

“I told them to settle down, Wood said about their halftime talk. “We were just throwing the ball away a little much and we needed to slow it down.” 

But NYA was following some of the same advice, and they weren’t about to go away. 

We’ve practiced all year being down and having to come back,” Hamblett said. “The first time we played them we weren’t selling the ball, so we practiced all week taking our time and not be frantic against them. 

The Panthers tied it, then retook the lead, before Freeport did the same, all in a four-and-a-half-minute span, leaving most everyone spinning. 

That was probably the most exciting game I’ve played in,” Hamblett said. 

With the game tied 13-13 with 10 minutes to play, neither team was going to budge, but after the two teams traded scores, it was NYA that made the first move. 

The visitors took a 15-14 lead at 6:27 when Alev Yilmaz lofted a pass over the Freeport defenders and found Sharp, where the freshman attacker beat goalie Piper Sherbert for the score. 

After another Hamblett to Sharp score, Perrotta pulled the Falcons within one at 2:57 off a pass from Savannah Tracy. 

With 10 seconds left, NYA was called for an infraction, giving Perotta a free position shot, where the senior tied the score, sending it into overtime.  

In the OT, the Panthers won the draw and had one attempt to score but missed the pass in the lane. After retaining possession, Hamblett set up Farrell for the game-winning heroics. 

Freeport put 32 shots on goal, as NYA’s White made 16 saves in the winning effort. The Falcons also held the edge in draw controls, 21-14. 

Sherbert made 6 saves for Freeport in a game that saw 13 lead changes and 12 ties. 

“Freeport played their hearts out today,” Climo said. “I’m so proud of NYA, our girls have been working so hard for this. Coming out on top at the end of the season feels real good.” 

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