Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team celebrates Tuesday’s 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Freeport.

CAPE ELIZABETH—A year ago, as a freshman on Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team, Maggie Cochran embraced the role of play maker, setting up her older teammates for goals en route to a Class B state championship.

This fall, Cochran is heeding Coach Graham Forsyth’s advice and is looking to score and Tuesday evening at Hannaford Field, Cochran scored arguably her biggest goal of the year to date to help knock the visiting Freeport Falcons from the unbeaten ranks.

After a scoreless first half which saw Cochran hit the post and senior Karli Chapin have an apparent goal waved off, the Capers broke through in the second half, as with 32:15 to play, Chapin found Cochran in front of the goal and Cochran finished to break the ice.

Cape Elizabeth’s unheralded defense did the rest, limiting potent Freeport to just a couple of opportunities and the Capers won their third game in a row, 1-0.

Cape Elizabeth improved to 4-1 on the season and in the process, handed the Falcons their first setback in six outings.

“We knew coming in that it was a chance to make a mark,” said Forsyth, who is now 22-1 as Capers’ coach. “We’ve turned the corner. Freeport’s a good team. We knew it would be tough, but I think we deserved (the result).”

Two of the best

Cape Elizabeth was perfect a year ago and is off to another strong start in 2019, but heading into play Tuesday, it was Freeport that was unblemished this time around.

The Falcons blanked host Gray-New Gloucester (2-0) to start the year, then downed visiting Greely (6-2), host Lake Region (4-1), host Yarmouth (1-0) and host York (2-0).

The Capers, meanwhile, beat visiting Greely in their opener, 5-2, then suffered their first loss in 20 games, 2-1, at Yarmouth. Cape Elizabeth bounced back with shutout wins over visiting Wells (8-0) and host Gray-New Gloucester (3-0).

Last fall, the Capers won both meetings, 3-0 at home and 1-0 in Freeport.

Since the teams started playing regularly in 2005, Cape Elizabeth had won every meeting but the 2017 season opener (a 1-0 home win for the Falcons).

Tuesday, on a comfortable evening (69 degrees at kickoff), Freeport looked to stay undefeated and continue its best start in memory, but the Capers did just enough to continue their climb up the standings.

In the seventh minute, Cochran had her first good look, but her shot from the side was saved by sprawling Falcons’ junior goalkeeper Leah Rusiecki.

After Cape Elizabeth sophomore Penny Hayder missed just high, Cochran set up sophomore Caroline Gentile for a shot which Rusiecki had to dive to save in the 17th minute.

With 22:40 left in the first half, Cochran rang a shot off the near post.

With 19:50 to go before the break, Chapin fought her way through the defense and appeared to steer the ball into the goal, but the whole ball didn’t cross the line and the goal didn’t count.

Cape Elizabeth senior Karli Chapin tries to get past Freeport senior Tara Migliaccio.

After Cochran had a shot saved by Rusiecki, then missed just wide, Freeport’s best chance of the half resulted in controversy.

With 8:44 on the clock, senior scoring machine Catriona Gould was on the verge of breaking in on Cape Elizabeth sophomore goalie Elise Branch before being obstructed by a defender. No call was made, however, and instead of a penalty kick which could have opened the scoring, the game remained deadlocked into halftime.

The Capers then controlled play for much of the second half and while they only had one goal to show for it, it was all they would need.

After Rusiecki saved a shot from junior Laura Ryer and Cochran sent a low blast just wide, Cape Elizabeth got on the board with 32:15 left.

Chapin played the ball down the left side, then crossed in front where Cochran waited all alone to send the ball past Rusiecki and into the net for a 1-0 advantage.

“We were frustrated because we’ve worked hard on finishing in the final third,” Cochran said. “In the first half, all we did wrong was not finish in the final third. We got really fired up at halftime and we wanted to finish.

“It’s really fun to set people up and last year was great creating goal opportunities. Karli’s an awesome player and she’s great at setting people up too. She sent it perfectly to me and I just ran in and I just had to tap it in.”

“We had a lot of chances that should have been goals, but we were rushing things,” Forsyth said. “I spoke with Maggie and told her I needed her to be more direct this year. After (all-state standout) Prezli (Piscopo) left, I needed someone else to step up this year. She’s scored six or seven goals already.”

Freeport tried to answer, earning a corner kick which didn’t result in a shot, then getting a free kick from junior Carly Intraversato which was saved by Branch.

After Rusiecki kept the Falcons in the game, denying senior Olivia Cochran by tipping a high shot off the crossbar then catching it, then robbing Cochran again in front off a corner kick, Freeport earned another corner kick, but despite a scrum in front, the visitors couldn’t manage a shot.

Late in regulation, Branch saved a long free kick off the foot of Intraversato and Gould missed high.

Cape Elizabeth slammed the door from there and prevailed, 1-0.

“Our defense was awesome tonight,” Maggie Cochran said. “We knew Catriona is great and our defense did a good job shutting her down. I think (the Yarmouth) loss made everyone kind of open their eyes and see we have to work harder this year.”

“We knew what their game plan would be,” Forsyth said. “We knew they’d be direct and look to play on the counter-attack. We kept them very quiet. That was good to see.”

The Capers had a 10-2 advantage in shots on frame and got a pair of saves from Branch.

Freeport held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks, but couldn’t break through.

“They probably beat us on 50-50 balls,” lamented Falcons’ coach David Intraversato.”Our passes weren’t to feet. We were kind of out of our game a little bit. We like to shoot from outside and we didn’t shoot. We can’t score if we don’t shoot.

“We’ve had a tough schedule with six of our first seven away and Yarmouth, York and Cape back-to-back-to-back, but we know we can play with these guys.”

Rusiecki made nine saves and got a big assist from senior back Tara Migliaccio, who helped stymie the Cape Elizabeth attack.

“Leah made some great saves,” David Intraversato said. “She did well. Tara was tremendous. She’s kind of the heartbeat of the team. I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Wide open region

The teams play again Oct. 19 in Freeport, but both squads will be battle-tested in the meantime.

Freeport looks to bounce back Thursday at Wells. The Falcons then begin a season-ending stretch of six out of seven home games when they host St. Dom’s Saturday.

“I can’t wait to start playing some home games,” David Intraversato said. “We know we can play with the top teams.”

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, stays home to meet Waynflete Thursday, then hosts York Saturday.

“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing,” Maggie Cochran said. “We’re in a good spot right now.”

“We knew it would be tough this year after losing some key pieces, but the girls are learning,” Forsyth said. “If we play our game, no one can play with us. It’s all about having the will to play, no matter how tough the opponent is.”

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

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