BOX SCORE

Freeport 8 North Yarmouth Academy 7

NYA- 4 3- 7
F- 5 3- 8

First half
23:51 F K. Tracy (free position)
21:00 NYA Holt (Jackson)
13:28 F S. Tracy (Driscoll)
12:27 NYA Yilmaz (Holt)
11:21 F K. Tracy (Driscoll)
10:27 F S. Tracy (Driscoll)
7:50 NYA Holt (unassisted)
2:42 NYA Sharp (Tran)
1:28 F K. Tracy (free position)

Second half
15:51 NYA Holt (Tran)
13:19 NYA Tran (Holt)
8:52 NYA Sharp (Yilmaz)
7:42 F K. Tracy (free position)
5:50 F S. Tracy (DiRusso)
5:38 F K. Tracy (unassisted)

Goals:
NYA- Holt 3, Sharp 2, Tran, Yilmaz 1
F- K. Tracy 5, S. Tracy 3

Assists:
NYA- Tran 2, Holt, Jackson, Yilmaz 1
F- Driscoll 3, DiRusso 1

Draws (Freeport, 11-6)
NYA- Holt 6 of 16, Tran 0 of 1
F- S. Tracy 8 of 13, K. Tracy 3 of 4

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Ground balls:
NYA- 39
F- 35

Turnovers:
NYA- 18
F- 20

Shots:
NYA- 22
F- 20

Shots on cage:
NYA- 13
F- 13

Saves:
NYA (Gee) 5
F (Williams) 6

FREEPORT—A month ago, Freeport’s girls’ lacrosse team went to North Yarmouth Academy and enjoyed a relatively easy victory.

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Fast forward to Saturday afternoon at the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field, where the Falcons got a much tougher test from the Panthers.

But still had enough to eke out a pivotal victory.

NYA served notice that the rematch would be a vastly different story as senior Maggie Holt scored a pair of goals to make it anyone’s game at halftime, but Freeport, behind three goals from junior Kate Tracy and two more from senior Savannah Tracy, clung to a 5-4 lead.

The Panthers then seemingly took control of the game in the second half, as Holt scored to tie it and junior Vy Tran and senior Emma Sharp added goals for a 7-5 advantage with under 10 minutes to go.

But pushed to the brink, the Falcons responded like the champions they hope to become, as Kate Tracy snapped a long scoring drought with a free position goal, Savannah Tracy tied it, then Kate Tracy put Freeport on top with 5:38 to go.

NYA had its chance to answer in the waning moments, but couldn’t convert and the Falcons held on for a palpitating 8-7 victory.

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Kate Tracy scored a game-high five goals, Savannah Tracy added three and Freeport improved to 8-2, dropping the Panthers to 5-5 in the process.

“We’ve been watching NYA and we knew they’d been improving throughout the season, so this was a feel-good win,” said Kate Tracy.

Soaring highest

After falling a single goal shy of a championship last spring, losing to Waynflete in the Class C Final, 9-8, Freeport’s attitude is state title or bust in 2022 and the way the Falcons have played of late, with one recent exception, they’ve established themselves as the favorite.

Freeport opened with a 12-6 victory at North Yarmouth Academy, then blanked visiting Fryeburg Academy, 12-0, before falling at Class B power Greely, 6-5. The Falcons then bounced back with wins at Gray-New Gloucester (15-3), at home over Lake Region (9-8), at home over Traip Academy (16-2), at Waynflete in a state game rematch (6-4) and at home over Brunswick (15-7), then lost at York Wednesday (14-9).

NYA’s season began in dramatic style with a 10-9 overtime home win over reigning Class C champion Waynflete. The Panthers then lost at home to Freeport (12-6) and at home to Greely (10-5). After beating visiting St. Dom’s (11-1), NYA fell at home to York (20-4), but then downed host Lake Region (10-9), host Gray-New Gloucester/Poland (12-1) and host Gardiner (17-10). Thursday, in the rain, the Panthers lost at home to Class A contender Cape Elizabeth (14-7).

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In the teams’ first meeting, April 21, senior Megan Driscoll and Savannah Tracy both scored four goals to pace the Falcons, while Holt had three goals and two assists for the Panthers in defeat.

Saturday, under cloudy but comfortable skies, the Panthers sought to beat the Falcons for the first time since a 17-16 overtime victory in the 2019 playoffs, but instead, Freeport did just enough to make it four in a row in the series.

NYA junior Vy Tran, left, and Freeport junior Kate Tracy fight for a loose ball as Panthers senior Emilia McKenney looks on during the Falcons’ 8-7 victory Saturday. Hoffer photos.

The Falcons struck quickly, just over a minute into the game, as Kate Tracy earned a free position and fired a shot past NYA senior goalie Acadia Gee for a 1-0 lead.

The Panthers quickly answered, as after senior Lila Jackson had a shot denied by Freeport junior goalie Piper Williams, Holt finished a feed from Jackson with 21 minutes to go in the first half.

NYA then had several chances to go on top, but Sharp missed wide, Holt hit the crossbar, Sharp sent a free position shot wide and Holt was denied by Williams.

With 13:28 left in the half, the Falcons returned to their scoring ways, as Driscoll set up Savannah Tracy for the lead, but Holt found senior Alev Yilmaz for the tying tally with 12:27 on the clock.

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Freeport would retake the lead with 11:21 to go, as Driscoll found Kate Tracy for a goal.

A mere 54 seconds later, on the fastbreak, Driscoll set up Savannah Tracy for another goal and a 4-2 advantage.

But the Panthers didn’t panic and after Holt scored on a rebound with 7:50 remaining, Tran set up Sharp for a transition goal with 2:42 left and the game was tied again.

With 1:28 to go, a Kate Tracy free position put the Falcons back on top and they clung to a 5-4 halftime advantage.

There wouldn’t be much separation in the second half either.

Freeport senior Megan Driscoll races toward the goal as NYA junior Erin Reid gives chase.

NYA came out on fire, looking for the equalizer, but initially, the Panthers were frustrated, as Tran hit the crossbar, Holt had a goal waved off due to a charging call and Yilmaz missed just wide.

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Then, with 15:51 to go, Holt took a pass from Tran and finished to make it 5-5.

NYA then went ahead for the first time with 13:19 showing, as Holt found Tran at the near post and Tran beat Williams with a tough-angle shot.

The Panthers didn’t relent and kept the pressure on and after Williams saved a shot from Tran, Yilmaz set up Sharp for a goal with 8:52 on the clock and the lead was two, 7-5.

But that would be NYA’s highwater mark, as Freeport would settle down and roar back.

With 7:42 remaining, Kate Tracy scored the Falcons’ first goal in 18 minutes, 46 seconds, on a free position, to turn momentum.

“I think it’s an energy thing,” Tracy said. “Once we put one in, we feed off the energy and the adrenaline kicks in.”

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Holt then raced in off the ensuing draw and threatened to get the goal back, but she was robbed by Williams.

At the other end, Gee denied a shot from Kate Tracy, but with 5:50 left, freshman Lana DiRusso fed Savannah Tracy for the tying goal.

And 12 seconds later, Freeport struck again and went ahead for good, as Savannah Tracy won the draw to Kate Tracy, who weaved her way through the defense before beating Gee to make it 8-7.

“We played against backers before and we know it’s hard to get 1-v-1 goals and I knew the team was tired, so people don’t really want to cut,” Kate Tracy said. “I knew I had to go to net and take the first chance I got.”

Out of a timeout, Savannah Tracy won the ensuing faceoff and Freeport managed to milk three minutes off the clock before finally turning the ball over.

The Panthers then had their chances to pull even, but it wasn’t to be.

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First, Holt had a good look blocked by a defender.

Then, Sharp missed just wide.

NYA then had one final look, but Yilmaz missed wide and the Falcons were able to hold on and celebrate their 8-7 victory.

Freeport celebrates at the final horn of Saturday’s 8-7 triumph.

“We communicate well with each other,” said senior midfielder Kyla Havey. “We have a strong bond on and off the field. It was a very tiring and very hectic game. We were just trying to keep possession and stay away from the end line at the end. It was very scary, but our defense has improved a lot.”

“We have a really strong defense,” Kate Tracy said. “As a midfielder, you get to understand the importance. Especially in a game against high scorers like Maggie and Vy, we knew they were coming, but to shut them down was a good feeling for our team.”

“The girls just love to give me gray hairs,” Freeport coach Marcia Wood added. “We’re coming to the realization that we have no room for let-ups. We were still a little sloppy today. There are still things we need to clean up. The defense has been doing well. I thought we caused a lot of turnovers in the midfield, which was helpful. We were able to hold the ball on attack.”

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Kate Tracy had herself a day, scoring five goals.

Savannah Tracy had the other three goals and helped Freeport win 11 of 17 draws.

“Kate’s been playing phenomenal,” Wood said. “We have her and Savannah and Megan as our main goal scorers. but we need more people being a threat. Kate is so tenacious. When Kate and Savannah are in a crowd, one of them will come up with a ground ball. Savannah just has her nose to the ball all the time. She knows when she makes a mistake and she’ll redeem herself.”

Driscoll finished with three assists and DiRusso added one.

Williams made six saves.

Kate Tracy collected 10 ground balls, Savannah Tracy came up with nine and Havey had six.

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“Kyla had a great game today, getting ground balls, knocking balls down, making things happen,” Wood said.

The Falcons overcame 20 turnovers.

NYA was led by Holt, who had three goals and an assist. Sharp added two goals, while Tran and Yilmaz had one apiece.

Tran also had two assists, while Jackson and Yilmaz both finished with one.

Gee, in her first start, made five saves.

“Acadia’s new in goal and she did amazing,” said NYA first-year coach Molly Moss-Stokes. “We needed someone to step up and she did.”

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The Panthers had a 39-35 edge in ground balls (Holt had a game-high 11) and a 22-20 shots advantage.

NYA committed 18 turnovers.

“It was an exciting one,” said Moss-Stokes. “Such a battle. Freeport is a great team. I’m proud of how the girls played. They executed the game plan exactly how we wanted. We communicated and played great defense. When we played earlier (this season), we were still figuring out our style of play and getting the defense together. We took it to the end and it was frantic. I’m happy with the effort.”

Looking to move up

NYA (currently fourth in the Class C state Heal Points standings) hopes to snap its skid Tuesday at home versus Traip Academy. The Panthers then close their regular season at Wells.

“A lot of teams are close, so it’ll be anybody’s tournament,” Moss-Stokes said. “We just have to finish strong and see what’s ahead.”

Freeport (second to Maranacook in Class C) is home with Wells Wednesday, then closes at Cape Elizabeth June 1. The Falcons hope to finish in the top two in Class C to ensure they’ll stay home until the state game.

“Homefield is important,” Kate Tracy said. “Having a fan base feels good.”

“I really think we have what it takes,’ said Havey. “We have things that we can still pick up on, but we’re pretty solid.”

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

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