PORTLAND—The first time took a long time, but it was as sweet as can be for Freeport’s girls’ lacrosse team.

Monday morning at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the top-ranked Falcons, who had suffered agonizing playoff losses each of the past two seasons, finally reached the Class C pinnacle, but second-seeded North Yarmouth Academy didn’t surrender its crown easily.

Freeport held a 3-2 halftime lead behind first half goals from sophomore Mia Levesque, senior Kate Tracy and sophomore Emma White, but less than two minutes into the second half, senior Harper Fremont-Smith pulled the Panthers even.

The sluggish Falcons’ offense then came to life, scoring four times in just over three minutes, thanks to goals from Tracy, sophomore Lana DiRusso, senior Maddie Knight and DiRusso again, to get some breathing room.

And Freeport would need it as, NYA senior standout Vy Tran scored twice to pull her team within two with more than five minutes to play.

The Panthers had chances to get even closer, but Falcons senior goalie Piper Williams capped her stellar day with a huge save on a shot from senior Leah Dube and that was enough to close out a 7-5 victory.


DiRusso and Tracy both scored twice, Williams made nine critical saves and Freeport capped the finest season in program history at 16-1, ended NYA’s campaign at 11-6 and won its first-ever championship.

At last.

“It’s so sweet,” said Falcons coach Marcia Wood, who previously guided Scarborough to four Class A championships between 2006-12. “I’m super-proud. I think it’s just that monkey off our back and now we know what it feels like.”

Just enough

A year ago, Freeport appeared bound for the state game, only to be upset in the semifinals by NYA (see sidebar for previous Falcons-Panthers playoff results), which went on to win its first championship in a dozen years.

This spring, it’s been clear from the get-go that Freeport and NYA were the top two teams in Class C again.


The Falcons lost only to eventual Class B champion Greely (by a single goal) and downed everyone else during the best regular season in program history (see sidebar for links to previous game stories).

Freeport earned a bye into the state quarterfinals, then eliminated No. 8 Oceanside with ease in the quarterfinals (18-2) before getting a mighty scare from No. 4 Wells in the semifinals, rallying from an early three-goal deficit to advance, 9-5.

It took the Panthers awhile to hit their stride, as they were just 5-5 after 10 games, but they won their final four outings.

NYA got pushed to the brink by No. 7 Waynflete in the quarterfinals, but Dube’s goal in the second-overtime was the difference in an unforgettable 11-10 victory. The Panthers then had no trouble with No. 3 Lincoln Academy in Wednesday’s semifinals (14-4).

Freeport and NYA played twice this season, which the Falcons prevailing on both occasions. In the first meeting, April 19 in Freeport, the Falcons scored 10 second half goals and won, 12-7, behind five goals from Levesque. In the second encounter, May 20 in Yarmouth, Freeport eked out a 6-5 triumph, as White scored the go-ahead goal with 3:26 left and Williams made 14 saves.

NYA had won all four prior playoff meetings (see sidebar), with last year’s shocker the most recent.


The state final was scheduled to be played Saturday, but poor weather moved it Monday morning.

The Panthers were eyeing their second consecutive championship and third in program history, but the Falcons did just enough to ascend to the mountaintop for the first time.

Dube had the game’s first shot, but in a sign of things to come, Williams made the save.

After NYA freshman goalie Anaya Roundy denied Tracy, NYA broke the ice with 19:30 to go in the first half, when sophomore Gwen Curran rolled the crease and fired a shot past Williams.

Williams then kept the deficit at one by saving a free position shot from sophomore Lyla Casey and saving a bid from Dube as well.

Freeport then broke through with 14:47 on the clock, as Levesque scored on a free position shot.


Forty seconds later, the Falcons took their first lead, as DiRusso set up Tracy, who shot while falling and beat Roundy to make it 2-1.

Casey appeared to tie the score off the ensuing draw, but the goal was waved off due to a crease violation.

After Williams saved a Dube shot, the Panthers tied the score with 12:06 to go, as Fremont-Smith took a free position, faked out a defender, then found the net.

After Williams saved a Casey shot, Freeport went back on top, as Levesque set up White in transition with 9:21 on the clock, but that would be it for first half offense for both squads.

After Williams robbed Casey, the game went to halftime with the Falcons clinging to a 3-2 advantage.

Six Williams saves helped Freeport stay on top.


“I was a little nervous, but our defense played well and our offense kept possession,” Williams said. “That eased my nerves a little bit and got me in the zone. We had a really good bus ride down here and got amped. The energy was really good.”

Knight had a chance to extend Freeport’s lead a minute into the second half, but her free position shot was saved by Roundy.

Then, at the other end, with 23:13 showing, Fremont-Smith’s second free position goal snapped a 13 minute, 53 second scoring drought and tied the game, 3-3.

That goal awakened the Falcons and they embarked on their finest offensive stretch of the contest to seize control.

With 22:17 remaining, Tracy converted a free position to snap a 12:04 drought and put Freeport in front to stay.

“Kate really stepped up her game and had a refuse-to-lose attitude,” Wood said. “Not just her goals, but her ground balls, turnovers. She made plays happen.”


Twenty seconds later, DiRusso got in on the fun, scoring unassisted through traffic.

With 20:01 left, Levesque set up Knight for a 6-3 lead and NYA coach Molly Moss-Stokes took timeout.

It didn’t help, as 56 seconds later, DiRusso buried a free position.

“It was really nerve-wracking, but scoring feels good,” said DiRusso. “I tried to forget it was a state championship and just played my game. As soon as we get a goal, the offense starts flowing. We rode it and kept pushing.”

“It was just a matter of momentum and possession,” said Tracy. “We had a similar problem against Wells. Once we finished shots and got goals, we got rolling. It takes awhile for us, especially because we have a young team. It takes awhile to get in the groove. Once we get there, we’re one of the best teams in Maine. I believe that strongly.”

“We were nervous to not turn the ball over,” Wood added. “We knew we had to be patient. We knew 1-v-1’s would be hard. They did a good job shutting us down in the middle, so we had to change up how we got the goals. Holding on to the ball or trying to get a fastbreak or getting a shooting space call.”


That would be it for the Falcons’ offense, however, and the Panthers were able to chip away at the deficit.

After Roundy robbed Tracy and Levesque sent a free position shot high, Tran scored her first goal, on a free position with 10:04 to go, ending a 13:09 drought.

Williams then saved a shot from Dube, but with 5:43 remaining, Tran scored again, finishing unassisted through traffic to make the score 7-5.

NYA kept the pressure on, hoping to cut the deficit to one and make things most interesting, but Casey missed high on a free position, then with 4:12 to play, Williams came up huge, robbing Dube on a free position.

“I was seeing the ball well and reacting,” said Williams. “My head was really in it today. My defense was great.”

“We’re really confident with Piper back there,” said DiRusso. “She comes up clutch a lot.”


Freeport then milked the clock down to just over two minutes to go and after giving the ball back, Tracy forced a turnover.

With 1:12 on the clock, Levesque had a chance to deliver the dagger, but she was robbed by Roundy.

Tracy then intercepted a pass and after the Panthers got one more chance, senior Skylar MacDonald scooped up a ground ball and at 11:23 a.m., the horn sounded and the Falcons were finally state champions, 7-5.

“It feels absolutely phenomenal,” said Tracy, who will play next year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. “Just on our team alone, we’ve lost a lot of championships in different sports. Doing that so many times made this feel even better. Playing from ahead was important. We wanted to get the first draw and the first goal. We wanted to set the tone. We weren’t up initially, but we pushed the break and got our foot in the door.”

“It feels awesome,” said DiRusso, whose mother, Jenny, was a part of the first Freeport team to ever play in a state game, in 1992. “The seniors have been to states a lot, so I’m happy for them to finally win. I felt nervous, but I think it helped us. As much as we were nervous, we knew if we played our best, we’d be able to win.”

“It’s a great feeling,” said Williams. “I was thinking I was going to get trampled at the end, but it was really nice. It’s a great way to end my career.”


“It feels amazing,” said senior Liv Christensen, who was a ground ball machine and a huge part of the defensive effort. “I’m just so happy hugging my team. It’s so awesome. It means more after losing before. We came in and we were nervous, but we knew it was the last time we were playing lacrosse together, so we left it all out there. I was going to hustle no matter what. I’m a senior and I just wanted to leave it all on the field. (NYA’s) fast and intense and hard to hold them off. We were nervous, but we knew we could do it. It was so fun at the end. Graduation was one thing, but this is the end, to win with my friends.”

“We were ready Saturday,” Wood added. “We had a great practice Friday. Having to wait two more days was painful, but so worth it. The grit of these girls, never giving up. You could hear the captains telling the girls to keep going. We don’t have many girls who played in 2021. We’ve had a lot of girls who have been to a state game this year between field hockey and hockey and even Nordic (skiing). There weren’t many nerves. In years past, there were.

“I kept looking at the clock. Teams can score in seven seconds. It was nerve-wracking, but we caused a turnover. Skylar was supposed to move to Texas to Saturday, so when the game got changed, it was a mad dash to keep her here. Thank God we did. She made some big plays.”

The offense featured five different scorers, as DiRusso and Tracy scored two goals apiece, while Knight, Levesque and White all had one.

Levesque also had two assists, while DiRusso added one.

Williams, who is planning to study mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut next year, was superb in her swan song with nine saves and impressed players and coaches from both teams.


“Piper is absolutely amazing,” said Tracy. “I cannot say enough good things about her. She won this game. The entire season, she’s been one of the best goalies I’ve ever seen. She’s always one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I love her.”

“Having Piper gives us a lot of confidence,” Christensen said. “I play field hockey with her too and she is so amazing. I love her so much. It felt really good to hug her at the end.”

“Piper in playoffs is a different beast and it’s awesome,” Wood said. “She won’t allow her team to lose. In field hockey and lacrosse too. Not just her huge saves, but clears too. She was lights-out when it counted. When she gets excited, she gives herself a little celebration. We call her ‘Happy Feet,’ because she jumps on her feet.”

“I can’t say enough about Piper,” said Moss-Stokes. “She played so incredibly well. I felt like it was us versus Piper a little bit. Our shots just didn’t go.”

Christensen and Tracy shared top honors on the team with six ground balls apiece.

Freeport was able to overcome 23 turnovers.


A strong title defense

NYA got two goals apiece from Fremont-Smith and Tran and another from Curran.

Roundy made six saves.

The Panthers won eight of 14 draws and had advantages in ground balls, 30-27 (Casey had six and Tran five), shots, 22-15 (14-13 on cage), and turned the ball over 18 times.

“The one thing I can’t say enough about these girls is that they do not give up,” said Moss-Stokes. “They drained the tank and kept fighting. I’m really proud of their effort and everything they did this season. I don’t think anyone expected the results we had after what we graduated last year. It’s so great to get back here. This experience is unlike any other. I wanted them to soak it all in. I’m so happy to do it with this group. They worked hard every day and worked hard at being a team. They’re sad to be done and I am too.”

NYA loses eight seniors, who restored the Panthers to the top of the girls’ lacrosse world.


“Coming in as an assistant (to Julia Sterling in 2021), some of these girls were on JV and Vy was only a sophomore. To see their growth is amazing. I’ve officially coached them the longest in my career.”

NYA will remain a top contender in 2024, as its returning group will have extra motivation after falling just short this spring.

“We hope to get back here,” Moss-Stokes said. “We like knowing when our last practice is and when our last game is.”

Ready to repeat

After finally finishing first, Freeport hopes to do it again in 2024, when the Falcons make the move to Class B.

Freeport has to part with nine seniors, several of whom played integral roles this season, but the cupboard won’t be bare next spring.


“I love seeing the underclassmen take our example,” Tracy said. “Freeport’s always been the bottom of the barrel against Falmouth, Greely, Yarmouth, all the really good teams, but we’ve been coming up and I think we’ll be a serious contender in all sports now.”

“I learned a lot from the seniors,” DiRusso said. “They were so welcoming last year when I was a freshman. It was nice to have them to look up to. I think this lights a fire under us. Next year, we’ll come in hot and be ready to go deep in the playoffs again.”

“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to the seniors, but this is how we wanted to say goodbye,” Wood added. “We had a massive team this year. We graduate nine and one is moving. The others know what it takes.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

Previous state game results


Class C
Waynflete 9 Freeport 8


Class B
Waynflete 16 Freeport 5

Waynflete 15 Freeport 9


Class C
NYA 12 Wells 11

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