CAPE ELIZABETH—The roster lists her as Grace Gray, but you can go ahead and call her Grace Great.

The junior standout of the Cape Elizabeth field hockey team put on a show Saturday afternoon at a rainy Hannaford Field, helping her second-seeded squad make history in the process.

Hosting No. 3 Yarmouth in a Class B South semifinal, the Capers went on top to stay late in the first quarter, when Gray buried a one-timer from the top of the circle.

Gray’s second goal came midway through the second period, again on a blast, this time off a penalty corner.

Early in quarter number three, Gray completed her hat trick with an unassisted goal and while she didn’t score in the fourth period, sophomore Piper Rickman did, and Cape Elizabeth went on to a decisive 4-0 victory.

The Capers improved to 13-2-1, ended the Clippers’ season at 9-5-2 and advanced to take on either top-ranked York (16-0) or No. 5 Leavitt (13-3) in the Class B South Final Wednesday at Freeport High School at a time to be announced.

“It’s very exciting for our team,” Gray said. “It was important get out to a fast start because we knew Yarmouth’s a tough team to beat. We’re excited to go as far as we can, so we wanted a fast start so feel more comfortable throughout.”

History makers

Cape Elizabeth surged out of the gate with home victories over Wells (11-0) and Freeport (5-0) before edging visiting Lake Region (2-1) and tying host Yarmouth (1-1). The Capers then blanked visiting Gray-New Gloucester (8-0) and Greely (4-0) before surviving scares from visiting Fryeburg Academy (5-4, in double-overtime), host Lake Region (1-0, in two OTs) and host Freeport (3-2, in double-overtime). After suffering its first loss, 3-0, to visiting York, Cape Elizabeth blanked host Poland and Gray-New Gloucester by 5-0 scores then lost again to York, at the Wildcats, 3-0, before closing the regular season with a 1-0 victory at Greely.

The Capers had a tough time with No. 7 Morse in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, but senior Camden Woods’ goal was the difference in a 1-0 victory.

Yarmouth had a strong season too.

The Clippers opened with a 4-3 home loss to St. Dom’s, then turned things around with a 2-1 home win over Freeport and blanked host Greely (1-0), host Wells (3-0) and visiting Gray-New Gloucester (4-0), before edging visiting Poland, 2-1, in double-overtime. After a 1-1 home tie versus Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth fell at home to York (5-0) and won at Poland, again in OT, 1-0, then downed host North Yarmouth Academy/Waynflete, 4-1, lost at Fryeburg Academy (2-1), tied host Lake Region (0-0), beat host Freeport for the second time by a 2-1 score, then closed with a 3-1 home loss to Fryeburg Academy.

Wednesday, in the quarterfinals against No. 6 Freeport, the Clippers fell behind early, but rallied behind two goals from senior Ari Rustad spelled victory, 2-1.

In the teams’ first meeting, sophomore Izzy Gilbert gave Yarmouth an early lead, but Woods scored with just over six minutes left to tie it. The teams prepared to go to overtime, but thunder and lightning in the area ended the contest prematurely in a draw.

Cape Elizabeth won both prior playoff meetings, 1-0, in overtime, to win the 2000 Western B title, and 2-1 (on seven rounds of penalty corners) in the 2007 Western B preliminary round.

Saturday, the Capers needed no such dramatics.

Cape Elizabeth senior Leah Lindenau drives on Yarmouth freshman Lauren Hallee during first half action.

Gray’s first two shots resulted in saves by Yarmouth’s fine senior goalie Cassie Walsh, but with 2:50 to go in the first quarter, Gray took a pass from junior Abbie Homicz and fired the ball into the cage to put Cape Elizabeth ahead for good.

“That quick lead was something we talked about,” said Capers coach Maura Bisogni. “We didn’t want to give them any space to get in the game. We had that tie against them and we knew they had momentum coming off their win over Freeport. We didn’t want to put ourselves in a frantic situation in the third and fourth quarters, which we’ve done in other games, and have to score at the last minute.”

Gray struck again with 7:58 remaining in the second quarter, this time off a penalty corner, as the ball squirted free to her at the top of the circle and she unleashed a blast that Walsh couldn’t stop, making it 2-0.

“Our whole team really came together,” Gray said. “We’ve worked a lot on corners and we’ve been practicing so we can just get the ball in the goal.”

“Grace definitely stepped up,” Bisogni said. “She’s a great player. She’s an awesome teammate who always looks to pass, but she’s so good that we want her to take the ball to goal when she can. She’s scored some big goals for us this year.”

Walsh kept the Clippers in the game by saving a shot from senior Haley Hemeon, then robbing Gray with time winding down.

Gray then effectively ended any Yarmouth comeback hopes with 11:33 to go in the third quarter, when she completed her hat trick and scored her 24th goal of the year, unassisted, after beating a defender to a loose ball and firing.

Late in the period, the Clippers earned a pair of corners and finally got a shot, from senior Cat Jordan, but it was deflected wide.

Early in the fourth quarter, Walsh robbed senior Camden Woods, then made a save on a high shot from Gray, denied a rebound from Hemeon and kicked away a bid from junior Kaitlyn McIntyre.

“Cassie is a wall back there for us,” said Yarmouth coach Molly Saunders. “She’s very aggressive, very strong and poised under pressure. All four of their goals were just beautiful shots.”

But with 3:54 to go, Cape Elizabeth struck again, as McIntyre sent a beautiful backhanded cross to Rickman at the far post and Rickman tucked it home.

The Capers ran out the clock from there and celebrated their 4-0 victory.

Cape Elizabeth rushes sophomore goalie Zoe Burgard at the conclusion of Saturday’s victory.

“We were more determined,” Gray said. “We didn’t want a tie again like the first time we played (Yarmouth).”

“This is huge for us,” said Bisogni. “Maintaining our No. 2 seed throughout the tournament is hard. It’s great to play at home, even in this weather. I’m really proud of the girls.”

The Capers finished with a commanding 13-1 shots advantage, got one save from sophomore goalie Zoe Burgard and took eight penalty corners to the Clippers’ two.

Cape Elizabeth excelled on defense as well.

“We have a really strong defense and a really strong goalie,” said Gray. “Someone is always on-ball and we have good stick skills. They’re really good at communicating.”

“Everyone just played defense,” Bisogni said. “We wanted to be on our offensive half as much as possible, especially in this weather.”

Yarmouth got nine saves from Walsh in her swan song and just couldn’t generate any offense.

“We came out a little flat and they came out and played hard,” Saunders said. “We fought until the last minute and didn’t give up. Losing 4-0 isn’t easy and our six seniors didn’t give up one minute. They have strong forwards and they know how to put some spice behind their shots. We didn’t expect to come this far this season. This was going to be a big rebuilding year, but we kept coming and kept fighting.”

The Clippers lose six seniors, but could be even stronger in 2022.

“We’re ready to hit the ground running coming summer-time,” said Saunders. “A bunch of girls are playing club winter. Putting in the time during the winter really helps when they season starts.”

York next? Possibly

The York-Leavitt semifinal was postponed to Monday due to bad weather.

Cape Elizabeth didn’t face the Hornets this season. The teams have played seven previous times in the playoffs, with a 2-1 Capers win in 2004 Western B preliminary round the most recent.

Cape Elizabeth had no luck with York during the regular season, losing at home Oct. 6 and at the Wildcats 12 days later, both by 3-0 margins. The Capers are 5-2 all-time versus York in the playoffs, but those five wins came in the last century. In the most recent encounter, in the 2004 Western B quarterfinals, the Wildcats prevailed, 2-1.

Cape Elizabeth will be ready for either potential foe, but expects to see York standing on the other side of the field Wednesday.

“We’re excited,” Gray said. “It’s been a really long time since Cape has had such a strong team. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I’d have a great year with the team, having fun and trying our best.

“We can’t let York get in our heads. We have to do what we did today, playing as hard as we can and having fun.”

“This is huge for this team, which stuck with it for four years,” said Bisogni. “It’s huge for the program in general, because we’ve been up-and-down. I’ve heard from a lot of alums too. I hadn’t really heard from alums or parents of alums before. I think this is re-energizing the field hockey base in Cape.

“I think we’re in a great spot. The first time we played (York), I think we were almost too ready to go. The second one, it was hard to go down there and play them on their Senior Night. I think they’re the team to beat and we’ll have nothing to lose. It’s going to be a neutral site and I think if we play like this, it will be a really good game.”

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


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