FREEPORT — The Freeport High School boys’ varsity soccer team clinched a playoff spot after the Falcons’ 3-0 win against Poland on Thursday. The Falcons (4-7-1) came into the game holding on to the No. 12 spot, while the Knights (3-9-1) were sitting at No. 13.

“I’m psyched,” Freeport coach Joe Heathco said. “It was the No. 12 and 13 teams and 12 get in so it was critical that we get this win and try to hold that last playoff spot.”

The first 20 minutes were back-and-forth with each team registering a couple shots, but nothing each goalkeeper couldn’t handle.

Just six minutes into the game, Poland had one of its only good looks in the first half, but the shot went right of Freeport goalkeeper Joey Burke. Burke had two first-half saves.

With 29 minutes remaining, the Falcons put a shot on goal, but Poland’s keeper, Trevor Saunders, was there to make the stop. Saunders had seven first-half stops and 16 total for the Knights.

At 20:14, Caiden Shea started the scoring off a Josh Spaulding pass. Saunders made the first save before Spaulding found Shea to make it 1-0.

With 12:50 remaining in the first half, the Falcons increased their lead when Saunders made the first save, but never had full possession, and Bryce Schmidt was there to kick in the rebound, making it 2-0 in Freeport’s favor.

“I didn’t feel like we stepped on the field read to play. That was pretty obvious,” Poland coach Kris Wright said. “It took us a long time to get into any kind of flow and by then it was too late. We were battling up hill and that’s a hard spot to come back from.”

The Falcons outshot the Knights 23-9 in the game, but Poland had some second-half chances off three straight corner kicks 12 minutes into the second half.

However, the Falcons’ defense defended all of them, clearing the ball out of bounds before taking possession on the third corner.

“We’ve actually had pretty good fortune on our corner kicks this year,” Wright said. “But the Freeport team did a nice job defending. They got a lot of bodies in the box and made it difficult to get a clean look at the net.”

The Knights had their fourth corner around the 24-minute mark, but it was again well defended by Freeport.

“You’re going to give up opportunities. They’re a good team,” Heathco said. “But we were excited that we were able to hold it down, and our goalie didn’t really get tested today because of the defensive effort.”

The Falcons added their third goal with 16:30 remaining in the game when freshman Eriksen Shea scored his first varsity goal. Yacob Olins found Shea with a nice through pass.

“We needed to have more energy, and to pressure the ball better defensively,” Wright said. “I felt like we kind of sat back and let the play come to us, rather than going out and meeting it.”

The Knights had a good look against Burke with nine minutes left, but the shot went right into Burke’s hands. He finished with four saves.

Later, Poland had a nice cross but Caleb Rice was there to clear it for Freeport. Rice played well defensively for the Falcons.

“We still have two more to play and there’s a ton of points and we could move up even more,” Heathco said. “So we want to solidify the playoff spot, but it’s not just getting in that’s our goal. We want to go all the way, we want to win, so we want to be playing really organized soccer going into the playoffs.”


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