FREEPORT—Freeport’s field hockey team is coming of age and Wednesday afternoon at the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field, the Falcons aged quickly.

Hosting rival Greely, Freeport, which had scored just one goal in three previous games, needed less than three minutes to break the ice, as senior Kyla Havey, one of the squad’s few veterans, scored off a penalty corner.

With 8:51 left in the first quarter, junior Sasha Nevins added a goal and 40 seconds later, Nevins struck again for a stunningly fast 3-0 advantage.

The Rangers settled down and responded with 3:46 to go in the second period, as Leyla Rabbat scored on a rebound, but a mere 53 seconds later, after a series of dazzling moves, Havey struck again to make it 4-1 at halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, Greely made it interesting in the fourth, getting a goal from Marisa Crowley with 7:03 to play. The Rangers then had five penalty corner opportunities down the stretch, but couldn’t convert to get any closer and Freeport was able to go on to a 4-2 victory.

Havey and Nevins both scored twice as the Falcons improved to 1-3 and in the process, dropped Greely to 1-4.

“It’s pretty exciting and I’m very proud of us,” said Havey. “We’re slowly putting it together. I’m one of the seniors on the team and I’m trying really hard to help the girls gain confidence and get excited. This win will help.”

Beating the storm

Freeport and Greely both expect to be far different teams in October than they were at the start of the season.

The Falcons, who have been an elite contender in Class B South the past few years, have been decimated by graduation and began the 2021 campaign by losing at home to perennial powerhouse York (4-0), at Yarmouth (2-1) and Saturday at resurgent Cape Elizabeth (5-0).

The Rangers started with three one-goal losses, 1-0 to visiting Lake Region, 2-1 at Fryeburg Academy and 1-0 to visiting Yarmouth. Greely then got in the win column Saturday, 2-1, at North Yarmouth Academy/Waynflete.

Last year, Freeport eked out a 2-1 home win over the Rangers.

Tuesday’s game was moved up an hour to beat the forecasted bad weather and on a 74-degree afternoon under threatening but dry skies, Greely hoped to beat Freeport for the first time since Oct. 10, 2017 (2-1, in double-overtime), but instead, the Falcons beat the Rangers for the sixth straight meeting.

Freeport took over possession from the start and with 12:19 to go in the opening stanza, off a penalty corner, Havey had a shot saved by Greely goalie Savanna Harvey, but Havey got to the rebound and sent it into the cage for a quick 1-0 lead.

“Sometimes, you just have to get that first (goal) to get going,” said Falcons coach Marcia Wood.

With 8:51 left in the first quarter, in transition, senior Ava Gervais set up Nevins for a second goal.

Then, just 40 seconds later, on a rush, Nevins scored again to make it 3-0.

“That was very surprising, in a good way,” said Havey, of her team’s fast start. “I knew we could do it. It was communication and learning how to use the width of the field.”

“I knew Kyla would be a big scorer this year, but it’s nice to see Sasha get in there and score too,” Wood said.

After holding a 7-0 shots advantage in the first quarter, Freeport found itself in a battle in the second, as the proud Rangers fought back.

First, the Falcons threatened to add to their lead, but a shot from junior Chloe White was denied by Harvey and a rebound shot from Havey was swept aside by defender Olivia Stewart.

With 10:02 to play before halftime, Greely registered its first two shots on goal, from Caitie Frost, but Freeport senior goalie Victoria Balla turned both away.

Off a penalty corner, the Rangers threatened again, but Balla denied both Crowley and Meredith Brubaker.

After Frost missed just wide, the visitors finally broke through.

With 3:46 left in the quarter, Julia Brubaker had a shot saved by Balla, but Rabbat was there to knock home the rebound to cut the deficit to two.

But the Falcons needed only 53 seconds to get the goal back, as Havey weaved through at least five defenders before firing a shot past Harvey for a 4-1 lead.

“My brain just tells my hands to do things,” said Havey. “I’ve been told that I have quick reflexes. Scoring a goal like that is very satisfying.”

“Kyla has been there since her freshman year,” said Wood. “I felt badly she’s had to live in the shadow of the seniors for so long, but look how much they taught her. She told me at school today that she really wanted to win. She brings leadership. She knows my drills and my expectations. She tells the girls what I expect. She was quiet the past few years and seeing her take initiative this year is nice. I’m really proud of her this year.”

Late in the half, Harvey robbed Havey and at the other end, as time wound down, Greely earned a penalty corner.

By rule, after time expired, the Rangers should have been allowed to play out the corner, but the officials ruled the half was over.

Just before the start of the second half, however, the officials and coaches conferred and agreed that Greely should have played that corner and before the third quarter commenced, the Rangers got the opportunity. Sophia Bisson managed a shot on goal, but Balla made the save.

The second half then officially began, but it produced only one truly good scoring opportunity, when Nevins had a one-timer which Harvey denied.

Down three entering the final stanza, the Rangers could have rolled over, but instead they made the Falcons sweat until the final horn.

After Harvey kept the score 4-1 by robbing Havey in front, Greely pulled within two with 7:03 on the clock, as Grace Belanger set up Crowley for a goal.

With 3:49 remaining, the Rangers came within inches of making it a one-goal game, as Bisson sent a shot that appeared goal-bound, but Falcons senior defender Carlee Pontau swept it out of harm’s way at the last instant.

With just over a minute left, Bisson sent a shot just wide and seconds later, she had a shot saved by Balla.

After killing one more Greely penalty corner, Freeport ran out the clock and celebrated its 4-2 victory.

“I was just waiting for the ball to get out of the circle at the end,” said Havey. “We were trying so hard to clear it.”

“We’re young and we’re small and I knew at the end it was going to get a little tiring,” Wood said. “We’re young and new and we needed to have a win, so I can compare how it felt after this game.”

The Falcons finished with a 14-12 shots advantage and got 10 saves from Balla.

The Rangers got 10 saves from Harvey and had a 12-4 edge in corners, but couldn’t overcome the sluggish start.

“I would have loved to take back the first seven minutes and I wish I could have taken a timeout,” lamented Greely coach Burgess LePage. “I think we underestimated a little bit how (Freeport would) come out. They rocked us at the beginning, then we found ourselves. They did everything we talked about doing and we weren’t ready for it, but I’m really proud of how we adjusted and came back from 3-0. We’ve had so few offensive opportunities the first few games. We’re still struggling going from grass to turf and we’re still figuring out corners. We’re filling in for 11 seniors who graduated, plus a starter who moved out of state. We’re working on leadership and communication.”

Steady improvement

Greely’s schedule is daunting in the days to come, as the Rangers host Fryeburg Academy next Tuesday, then go to Cape Elizabeth Sept. 23 and host York Sept. 27.

“We have a lot of talent and passion and it’s starting to come together,” LePage said. “We’re just recognizing that we have to make sure to go out there and have fun. This game was a testament to the girls’ mental tenacity. It was very exciting for me to see them push through.”

Freeport is back in action Friday at Fryeburg Academy. The Falcons then go to Poland next Tuesday.

“We need to communicate more on the field,” Havey said. “We talk but we need to be louder and more enthusiastic.”

“We get better every game,” said Wood. “Grass games are just tough, especially with a young team. I want the girls to understand the game. I just want to keep improving.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.