Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Cammie Wood is congratulated by junior Paige Long (3) and the rest of her teammates after the Capers’ 9-8 win at previously undefeated Freeport Saturday. Hoffer photos

BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 9 Freeport 8

CE- 5 4- 9
F- 5 3- 8

First half
16:15 F Whittier (unassisted)
13:42 F S. Tracy (Feller)
12:41 CE McDonald (unassisted)
12:12 CE McDonald (unassisted)
10:07 F Driscoll (S. Tracy)
9:09 F K. Tracy (unassisted)
8:56 CE Olsen (unassisted)
6:01 CE Johnson (Graham)
4:07 CE Ryer (McDonald)
1:31 F Feller (unassisted)

Second half
20:33 CE Ryer (Graham)
16:33 CE McDonald (free position)
13:00 F S. Tracy (Decker)
11:05 CE Ryer (Graham)
9:47 CE Ryer (Frankwicz)
5:31 F K. Tracy (unassisted)
32.7 F S. Tracy (Driscoll)

Goals:
CE- Ryer 4, McDonald 3, Johnson, Olsen 1
F- S. Tracy 3, K. Tracy 2, Driscoll, Feller, Whittier 1

Assists:
CE- Graham 3, Frankwicz, McDonald 1
F- Decker, Driscoll, Feller, S. Tracy 1

Draws (Cape Elizabeth, 11-8)
CE- McDonald 11 of 19
F- S. Tracy 7 of 17, Groves 1 of 2

Ground balls:
CE- 48
F- 40

Turnovers:
CE- 28
F- 21

Shots:
CE- 21
F- 25

Shots on cage:
CE- 17
F- 16

Saves:
CE (Wood) 8
F (Williams) 8

FREEPORT—Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ lacrosse team is starting to figure it out.

And that is bad news indeed for the rest of Class B.

Saturday afternoon at the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field, the Capers earned their biggest win of the season to date and in the process, knocked the host Freeport Falcons from the ranks of the unbeaten.

The Falcons, who had yet to be seriously tested this spring and who see themselves, rightly so, as a top contender in Class C, grabbed an early 2-0 lead behind goals from juniors Ellie Whitter and Savannah Tracy, but Cape Elizabeth roared right back, as junior Claire McDonald scored twice in a 29-second span.

After Freeport retook a two-goal lead on goals from junior Megan Driscoll and super sophomore Kate Tracy, the Capers answered again, as goals from seniors Sami Olsen, Hannah Johnson and Laura Ryer produced a 5-4 lead.

Late in the half, the Falcons drew even, as senior Meredith Feller scored on a rebound and the game was tied at the break.

Cape Elizabeth then went on top to stay with just over 20 minutes to play, as Ryer scored for the second time.

After McDonald and Savannah Tracy traded goals, Ryer scored twice more to give the Capers a seemingly safe 9-6 advantage, but Freeport refused to suffer its first loss quietly.

First, Kate Tracy scored on a breakaway.

Then, with just 32.7 seconds remaining, Savannah Tracy made it a one-goal contest, but Cape Elizabeth was able to run out the clock and prevail in a good one, 9-8.

Ryer scored four goals, McDonald added three and the Capers improved to a misleading 2-5, while dropping the Falcons to 5-1 in the process.

“We’ve had some tough losses and reflected on those games and we’re coming back,” Ryer said. “This win was a big deal for us.”

Just getting started

Cape Elizabeth won Class B state titles in absolutely epic fashion in both 2018 and 2019, beating Yarmouth in overtime both seasons. The Capers would have had a great shot at a three-peat had there been a 2020 season, but it didn’t happen and this spring’s squad is young, but is putting it together.

After a 13-12 loss at York in the opener, Cape Elizabeth fell at home to Kennebunk (13-2), Windham (13-3) and Yarmouth (9-3). After getting in the win column, 15-10, at Berwick Academy, the Capers sat idle for a week-and-a-half before losing at two-time reigning Class A champion Falmouth Wednesday, 10-5.

Freeport came into the year believing it could contend for a Class C championship and the Falcons have done nothing to change that opinion.

After opening with a 13-8 home victory over Lake Region, Freeport didn’t play a countable game for three weeks before winning at Gray-New Gloucester (18-5), Maranacook (9-4) and Lake Region (11-9). Wednesday, the Falcons returned home and handled visiting St. Dom’s, 19-7.

In the teams’ last meeting, May 1, 2017, the Capers won in Freeport, 13-7.

Saturday, on a sensational mid-May afternoon (64 degrees with a light wind at the start), Cape Elizabeth did it again, but it took all 3,000 seconds to close it out.

Both teams needed awhile to get their offense going as turnovers were prevalent both ways in the early going.

It took nearly five minutes for the first shot on goal, a bid from McDonald, while Falcons sophomore Piper Williams saved.

Freeport then broke the scoring ice with 16:15 go go in the first half, as Whittier earned a free position and beat Capers senior goalie Cammie Wood for a 1-0 lead.

Cape Elizabeth junior Mia Ramsden goes way up to catch the ball as Freeport senior Hannah Groves looks on.

With 13:42 remaining, after Feller rang a free position shot off the post, Savannah Tracy got the rebound and finished for her first goal and the Falcons appeared on their way.

But then Cape Elizabeth’s offense, with McDonald dominating in the draw circle, awakened.

The visitors got on the board with 12:41 to go before halftime, as McDonald scored unassisted.

McDonald then won possession on the ensuing draw, got the ball and after a nice move past a defender, beat Williams to tie the score, 2-2, with 12:12 left.

“We’re used to getting down a couple goals at the beginning, then flipping the switch,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Alex Spark. “It’s important to fight through and find ways to get the ball in the back of the cage.”

Freeport coach Marcia Wood called timeout and it paid dividends, as after Cammie Wood robbed Whittier, Savannah Tracy set up Driscoll for the go-ahead goal with 10:07 on the clock.

Williams then preserved the lead by robbing Johnson.

Then, with 9:09 to play in the half, Kate Tracy scored unassisted and for the second time, the Falcons had a two-goal advantage, 4-2.

It didn’t last, however, as off the ensuing draw, McDonald won the ball to Olsen, who raced in and finished with 8:56 showing.

With 6:01 to go in the half, Cape Elizabeth drew even again, as senior Charlotte Graham set up Johnson for the equalizer.

Then, with 4:07 to go, Ryer got involved for the first time, getting open in front and taking a pass from McDonald before finishing to put the Capers up for the first time, 5-4.

Freeport would rally to draw even with 1:31 left, as Kate Tracy had a shot saved by Cammie Wood, but Feller swatted home the rebound, hockey-style.

After a late Savannah Tracy free position went wide, the game went to halftime deadlocked at 5-5.

McDonald won eight of 11 first half draws, but 13 Cape Elizabeth turnovers allowed the Falcons to have a 14-10 shots advantage.

The game remained close in the second half, but the Capers did what it took to escape with a victory.

Two minutes into the second half, Savannah Tracy threatened to give Freeport the lead, but Cammie Wood saved her free position shot.

After Williams robbed McDonald, Ryer scored with 20:33 on the clock, finishing a feed from Graham, and Cape Elizabeth wouldn’t look back.

After Cammie Wood robbed Kate Tracy, McDonald scored on a free position with 16:33 left and the Capers held a 7-5 advantage.

Cape Elizabeth junior Annaliese Rudberg races up the field as Freeport senior Aynslie Decker tries to keep pace.

After Cammie Wood made the save on another free position, this one from senior Myah Jensen, the Falcons did get their first goal of the second half, as in transition, senior Aynslie Decker passed to Savannah Tracy, who scored with exactly 13 minutes to go to make it a one-goal game.

Cape Elizabeth never let Freeport catch up, however, as Graham found Ryer for an insurance goal with 11:05 to play and with 9:47 left, Ryer scored her fourth and final goal, this one from senior Greta Frankwicz, making it a 9-6 contest.

‘I think our feeding was brilliant today,” Ryer said. “We possessed the ball really well. We didn’t force any shots. Our patience was key.”

Marcia Wood called timeout and the Falcons again responded.

First, Williams had to make a key save on a shot from Johnson.

Then, with 5:31 remaining, Decker spotted Kate Tracy behind the defense and Tracy took off and when Kate Tracy takes off, no one is going to catch her. Cammie Wood was the last line of defense, but Tracy beat her with a shot to cut the deficit to 9-7.

“Kate Tracy is unbelievable,” Marcia Wood said. “She’s 4-foot-nothing, but she’s amazing.”

The Capers still appeared to have the game in hand, as they possessed and ran time off the clock, but after a turnover, Feller got free for a shot. Cammie Wood made the save, but Driscoll pounced on the rebound, then fed Savannah Tracy, who scored to make things very interesting with just 32.7 seconds left.

Cape Elizabeth didn’t panic and after McDonald won the ensuing draw, junior Mia Ramsden was able to take off down the sideline, then run around behind the Freeport goal until the final horn sounded, allowing the Capers to celebrate their 9-8 victory.

“That final minute was nerve-wracking,” Ryer said. “Getting loose balls was key. We kept possession at the end. This was the closest game we’ve had so far. It’s a rebuilding process. It’s been a rough schedule, but we’re doing well. We haven’t backed down. We’ve stayed positive.”

“It’s a nice win for us,” Spark said. “It was a gritty game. We were happy to come out one goal on top. It was very dramatic. Freeport hustled. They were rallying. They have kids who are really fast. Their transition fast break was beautiful.

“The girls can feel we’re getting better. Our team attack and team defense have come so far since the start of the season until now.”

Ryer had a breakout game, scoring a game-high four goals.

“Laura’s a senior captain and that’s exactly what she should be doing,” Spark said. “She’s our fire-starter.”

McDonald did a little of everything, scoring three goals, setting up another goal, winning 11 of 19 draws and collecting four ground balls.

Johnson and Olsen also tickled the twine, while Graham had three assists and Frankwicz added one.

Wood made eight saves.

“Cammie was amazing,” Ryer said. “She made some really big saves. (Freeport’s) transitions were difficult, but she did amazing on those saves.”

The Capers had a 48-40 advantage in ground balls (Olsen and Ryer led the way with seven, while Johnson and junior Ellie Gange had six apiece), held a 17-16 edge in shots on frame and overcame 28 turnovers.

Savannah Tracy led Freeport with three goals. Kate Tracy added a pair, while Driscoll, Feller and Whittier had one each.

Decker, Driscoll, Feller and Savannah Tracy all had one assist.

Williams made eight saves.

Kate Tracy had a game-high 15 ground balls.

The Falcons had a 25-21 edge in shots and turned the ball over 21 times.

“The girls felt their goalie was intimidating,” Marcia Wood said. “You can’t shoot high on her. We had to shoot low for a better percentage.

“This is what I wanted, a great game. We were our own worst enemy for a 10-minute chunk of panic-city. We haven’t played a team as skilled as Cape, or a team that rides like them in the midfield. I wanted to keep it close, so I’m glad we did. I hope this proves to the girls that we can hang with these top teams if we put it all together. Down by three, we didn’t give up. I’m super-proud of how we fought back.”

Murderer’s row

Both teams have their hands full the rest of the way.

Freeport is back in action Wednesday when red-hot Waynflete pays a visit. After hosting Morse, the Falcons are at North Yarmouth Academy, St. Dom’s and Greely, then close with a home game versus Yarmouth.

“There are glimmers of great things, but you can see our inexperience,” Marcia Wood said. “We still panic under pressure. It’s correctable. I’m glad it’s happening now. Now our schedule gets tougher. I just want to keep everything a game. We can see what to work on.”

As for Cape Elizabeth, two huge home tests loom next week, Lake Region Wednesday and Massabesic Friday. After going to Yarmouth and Greely, the Capers close at home versus Waynflete.

“As long as we keep positive and as long as we can stay confident, I think we’ll do well,” Ryer said.

“It’s always nice to get a ‘W,’ but our schedule doesn’t get any easier,” said Spark. “It’s great to measure ourselves against great teams. We’ll take the positives out of this game, then it’s a fresh start Monday heading into a big week.

“We trend forward throughout the season and we’re definitely getting better every game. We’re learning a lot. We’ll be playing our best lacrosse at the end.”

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

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