FREEPORT—Last fall, when Freeport won in overtime at Fryeburg Academy in the Class B South semifinals, Eliza Thorne wasn’t even in high school.

It’s safe to say that the Falcons wish she hadn’t matriculated into the ninth grade this year.

Thorne, now a freshman, scored twice in the teams’ Class B South semifinal round rematch Saturday afternoon at the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field, including the decisive tally in the second overtime to stun Freeport and bring the Falcons’ memorable season to a bitter close.

Freeport, the No. 2 seed, took a quick 1-0 lead less than three minutes in when junior Aynslie Decker scored on a rebound off a penalty corner.

The Falcons had opportunities to extend the lead before the half, but junior goalie Bailey Richardson of the third-ranked Raiders stood tall.

Then, in just over a seven-minute span of the second half, offense went from being at a premium to being non-stop.

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With 27:21 left in regulation, Thorne scored unassisted to tie the score.

Five minutes later, Decker’s second goal put Freeport back on top, but with 20:14 remaining, sophomore Camden Jones scored for Fryeburg Academy to tie it again.

The Falcons nearly won it late in regulation, but sophomore Kyla Havey’s shot hit the post and the game would go to overtime.

After one scoreless eight-minute OT session, the Raiders won it 87 seconds into the second, as Thorne beat Freeport senior goalie Piper Sherbert for a 3-2 victory.

Fryeburg Academy improved to 11-4-1, advanced to meet top-ranked, defending regional champion York (16-0) in the Class B South Final Wednesday at Sanford High School at a time to be announced and in the process, ended the Falcons’ fine season at 10-4-2.

“We’d experienced the thrill of overtime and the agony of overtime,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “We battled and they battled back. It could have gone either way.”

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Always a struggle

The Falcons and Raiders are well-acquainted.

In last year’s semifinal round, Freeport won, 1-0, at Fryeburg, on Alexa Koenig’s overtime goal.

This fall, the teams played to a 1-1 tie Sept. 9 in Fryeburg, then the Falcons prevailed at home, 3-1, 10 days later. That was part of a stellar 9-3-2 regular season enjoyed by Freeport, which started with wins over visiting Greely (5-0) and Poland (4-0). After tying host Fryeburg Academy (1-1) and falling at home to Lake Region (1-0) and at York (2-1), the Falcons got back on track with a 3-1 victory over Fryeburg Academy, then blanked host Yarmouth (4-0) and dominated visiting Wells (7-2). The toughest loss of the season then ensued, as Freeport surrendered a tying goal to visiting York on a penalty corner after time expired, then lost in overtime, 2-1. The Falcons responded in fine form, however, winning at Greely (4-1), at Cape Elizabeth (4-0) and at St. Dom’s (4-2). After a 0-0 tie at Poland, Freeport closed with a 3-2 home win over Yarmouth.

As the No. 2 seed in Class B South, the Falcons hosted No. 7 Leavitt Wednesday in the quarterfinals and one goal in each half spelled a 2-0 victory.

The Raiders also won nine regular season games, tied Freeport and lost to York (twice), Freeport and Lake Region in the regular season.

In Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Fryeburg Academy held off visiting No. 6 Yarmouth, 2-0.

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Saturday, on a raw, breezy, 55-degree afternoon, the teams remained as even as could be, but someone had to emerge victorious and it would be the Raiders who wound up celebrating, surviving and advancing.

The Falcons produced early pressure and earned a penalty corner, which resulted in the game’s first goal. Junior Amelia Farrin inserted the ball to junior Autumn Golding, who passed to junior Hannah Groves, who crossed the ball in front to Decker. Decker’s initial shot was saved by Richardson, but Decker got to the rebound and sent it home for a 1-0 lead with 27:09 left in the first half.

Sherbert denied Jones and senior Abigail Hewes midway through the half and late in the half, Freeport had its chances to get some breathing room.

First, off a corner with 2:24 on the clock, Golding had a great look, but her shot rolled just wide.

The Falcons then earned another corner just before the end of the half and by rule, were allowed to play it out after the horn sounded. Both junior Ally Randall and Havey had good looks, but Richardson made saves and the Raiders were only down one goal at the break.

The teams combined for only six first half shots, but the drama would ratchet up dramatically in the second half.

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After Freeport senior defensive standout Rachel Harmon broke up a Hewes rush, the ball came out to Thorne, who dribbled in on the right side, went one-on-one with Sherbert and sent the ball into the cage to tie it, 1-1, with 27:21 remaining in regulation.

The Falcons countered with 22:40 to go, as for the second time, Decker was in the right place at the right time to score for a 2-1 advantage.

Again, back roared the Raiders, as with 20:14 on the clock, on a rush, sophomore Juliette Albert set up Jones for a shot Sherbert couldn’t stop and the contest was tied for a second time, 2-2.

Neither team scored the remainder of regulation, but both had chances.

With 15:24 to play, a Groves shot deflected just wide and an ensuing Freeport corner didn’t result in a shot.

After a Havey rush resulted in a shot denied by Richardson with 9:22 to go, Richardson (seven saves) stopped a shot from Randall with 6:37 left.

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The Falcons then earned three straight penalty corners, but couldn’t produce, as Richardson saved a Golding shot, then Golding missed just wide.

Freeport came within inches of winning it with 51 seconds on the clock, when Havey got a great look in close, but her bid rang off the post and after a last-second Fryeburg Academy rush was broken up, the contest went to overtime even at 2-2.

In high school playoff field hockey, teams play up to two eight-minute, “sudden victory” OT sessions and if no one scores, penalty corners decide a winner.

That extreme wouldn’t be necessary, as a Raiders’ freshman made sure her team would advance.

Early in the first overtime, Harmon denied a Jones rush.

Freeport then earned a penalty corner, but couldn’t register a shot.

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With 2:20 on the clock, Fryeburg Academy got a corner and Thorne had a good look, but Sherbert made the save.

With just under a minute left, the Raiders earned another corner and this time, a shot attempt by Hewes was blocked by Falcons’ junior defender Meredith Feller.

With 18.1 seconds remaining, senior Kirsten Wentworth set up Hewes for a blast, but Sherbert turned it aside and a second OT would be necessary.

Early in the new session, Harmon again broke up a Jones rush, but Fryeburg Academy stayed aggressive and was rewarded with 6:33 left.

It would be Thorne playing the hero, as she came on to the field to relieve a fatigued Jones, then got the ball on the right side and as she did way back at the start of the second half, Thorne managed to get past the defense and race in on Sherbert before firing a shot the goalie couldn’t stop and at 2:37 p.m., when the ball smacked into the cage, the Raiders were able to celebrate their 3-2 victory.

“I just went for it,” Thorne said. “I looked up and tried to focus. I wasn’t really thinking. I saw the ball go in and it felt good. It’s awesome.

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“It’s really cool because all the seniors are really supportive and nice. They always have my back. I’m so glad we won for them. Coach is very motivational. Our parents cheering and our captains motivating us, that all helped.”

“We dominated the first overtime and when it ended, I felt we were spent,” said Fryeburg Academy coach Dede Frost. “Before Eliza scored, I pulled Cam Jones off and put her on. That goes to show what fresh legs will do. Cam has more experience, but Eliza had fresh legs. She’s been a great addition to our team. She adds a spark.

“We’d already played (Freeport) twice, so we’re no strangers to double overtime. We’re familiar with what the other team is capable of. It’s two very good teams. They had a little homefield advantage because we don’t play on turf, but when it came down to it, that was overcome. We’ve had our share of tough losses. We’ve been very competitive in every single game all season, but we couldn’t quite finish, so today it was nice to finish. We were down a starter today (senior captain Kaylee Emery) and I think mentally, we needed to overcome that and realize it didn’t matter. What matters is showing up and giving 110 percent and no matter what the scoreboard says, that makes you a winner. That was my message. Every year, we’ve been in the playoffs, but it’s always the semifinals that seems to be the end of our ride. It’s nice to win this year, especially for this amazing group of seniors.”

Looking ahead to the regional final, Fryeburg Academy fell twice to York in the regular season, with both losses coming in double-overtime: 2-1, at home, on Sept. 5 and 3-2, at York, Oct. 3.

Regardless, the Raiders hope their magic will continuel Wednesday.

“This means that Kaylee can play and that’s so awesome,” Thorne said. “It’s so big for our team to get to the regional final. We’ve worked hard all year. We have to focus and think positive. We have to believe we can do it. It’s really exciting.”

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“It’s all about extending the season,” Frost said. “One thing York has that we don’t have is the tradition. We have a tradition of making the playoffs. They have a tradition of winning states or being there. That’s an amazing legacy. When you believe you can’t be beaten, that’s magic in itself. We need to realize that we’re there for a reason. We just have to believe.”

So close

Freeport, which had a 9-7 edge in shots on cage and a 7-3 advantage on corners, came within a whisker of playing in a regional final in consecutive seasons for the first time this century.

“We worked on overtime all week in practice, so it wasn’t for a lack of being prepared,” Wood said. “We were all over the place. We’re so even. It was whoever got their stick on the ball and whoever outran someone and got the last touch. I really enjoy the Fryeburg coach. There’s a ton of mutual respect. If it’s not us, I’m glad it’s them.

“It was another great season. We accomplished a lot. Going number two and hosting a semifinal game and seeing the youth program here and being excited, we just hope to build on that.”

The Falcons graduate Harmon and Sherbert, as well as Faith Cleaves, Amy Ulrickson and Lucy Whittaker, but they’ll have a strong nucleus returning in 2020.

“A lot of the juniors have been with me since freshman year,” Wood said. “Now they’ll be seniors and hopefully that will be (the year).”

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

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