Gray-New Gloucesterdidn’t have that problem, striking early and often in tallying four first-half goals en route to a 4-0 win.

The victory gives the Patriots a 1-1 mark, with a visit to Lake Region slated for Saturday, while the Falcons fell to 0-2 and plays host to Wells on Saturday.

The start of this one set the tone for the first half. The Patriots jumped on top 1-0 just 3:46 in when Bryce Hayman’s direct kick snuck into the left corner of the goal. A mere four minutes later, Gray-New Gloucester doubled its lead as Evan Plummer turned and let loose a hard shot from 25-yards out that slipped under the dive of Freeport goaltender Joey Burke.

“They wanted to win a lot more than we did, and they would dump the ball in the box and go after it while we stayed flat-footed and got it by us,” Freeport coach Joe Heathco said.

“I don’t think you can write it up any better,” Patriots coach Andy Higgins said. “The start settled us in a bit. We needed to get some points today, and it the start of the game gave us a boost.”

Freeport managed to push back a bit from there. Patriots goaltender John-Henry Villanueva stopped a hard shot by Falcons midfielder Nate Smail, and came up big on a dive on a low rocket from Jack Davenport to keep the Falcons off the board.

Gray-NG made it a 3-0 contest with 15:51 left until halftime when Ben Rogers took a pass from Nick McCann, side-stepped a pair of Freeport defenders and slipped a shot past Burke.

The lead was pushed to four goals late in the half as Rogers gathered a throw-in from defensive standout Nathanial Brindley and found the right corner of the cage for a 4-0 halftime lead.

“You can talk Xs and Os, and I just thought we were not working together as a group in that first half,” said Heathco. “It is about intensity and desire, and we are in a weird place right now. We have try to get it worked out.”

Second-half push

Freeport began the second half with intense pressure on the Patriots’ defense. The Falcons sent four shots toward Villanueva’s net, with the goaltender making two stops and watching two other attempts sail high.

Back came the Patriots as Brady Darnell found room and sent a shot that appeared to be heading into the cage. But, Burke made a diving stop with his left hand to prevent a fifth Patriots goal, and moments later stopped Liam Stewart from point-blank range.

As a light drizzle of rain began to fall midway through the second frame, Villanueva made his best stop of his nine saves, stuffing Smail again from in close. From there, Patriot defenders Brindley, Robert Fernandez, Nick Chandler and Plummer took over, keeping the Falcons wide and walking off with a well-earned 4-0 win.

“Our most experienced group is on the defensive side of the ball, and I think we have to defend, and when we defend well we do well,” Higgins said. “I knew Joe would adjust and Freeport came out harder. It was nice to see these guys come together today.”

Freeport finished with a 16-15 shots advantage and owned a 5-2 edge in corner kicks (4-1 in the second half). For Freeport, Burke had five saves.

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