Freeport senior goalie Piper Sherbert and senior captain Rachel Harmon celebrate, with their teammates rushing to join in, at the final horn of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Poland in an early season field hockey battle. Hoffer photo.

FREEPORT—Freeport’s field hockey team might have a new look this fall, but the Falcons remain every bit the offensive juggernaut they were a year ago, when they enjoyed their finest season in a generation.

Saturday morning at the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field, Freeport, which scored five times in a season-opening win over Greely, needed just 46 seconds to go on top against visiting Poland, as junior Ally Randall scored on a rebound.

The rest of the first half saw the Falcons dominate possession but fail to finish and the score remained 1-0 at the break.

Freeport finally kicked its offense back in gear midway through the second half when junior Aynslie Decker scored and sophomore Kyla Havey followed with two goals in a 39-second span to put it away as the Falcons went on to a 4-0 victory.

Freeport didn’t allow a shot and opened a season with successive wins for the first time since 2016.

“It’s surprising how many girls are scoring,” said Falcons coach Marcia Wood. “Our passing is beautiful. I think we’re very good. The girls complement and know each other so well. They play well together.”

Rematch

A year ago, Freeport enjoyed a 4-0 home win over Poland in the regular season, but in the rematch, in the Class B South quarterfinals, the Falcons dug a 2-0 hole and had to rally with three second half unanswered goals to advance, 3-2. Freeport eventually made it to the regional final for the first time since 2000 before losing to York, 1-0.

The program was then hard hit by graduation, with multiple players going on to play at the college level, but despite expectations of many that the Falcons would come back to the pack, that hasn’t been the case.

Wednesday, in the opener, Freeport blanked visiting Greely, 5-0.

Poland, meanwhile, opened with a 4-0 home win over North Yarmouth Academy.

Saturday, on a chilly (57 degrees) and breezy morning, the Falcons carried play throughout, but weren’t able to relax until well into the second half.

Freeport won possession immediately and 46 seconds into the game, after Knights standout senior goalie Ashton Sturtevant saved a bid from junior Autumn Golding, Randall fired the rebound past Sturtevant and into the cage for a quick 1-0 lead.

The rest of the half was one of frustration for the hosts, due in large part to Sturtevant’s brilliance.

First, Sturtevant dove to deny Golding. After Golding was robbed again, she tried on the doorstep, but Sturtevant made the save before Golding sent the rebound just wide.

With 13:54 left in the half, Sturtevant dove to make a save on a Golding shot.

“(Sturtevant) is an amazing goalie,” Wood said.

Later in the half, Randall had two bids denied and junior Hannah Groves sent a blast just wide.

In the first 30 minutes, Freeport had a 9-0 shots advantage and took five penalty corners to none for Poland, but the score remained 1-0 at the break.

Freeport junior Hannah Groves plays the ball as Poland sophomore Ellen Marquis-Boutin defends. Hoffer photo.

The Knights looked to answer to start the second half when senior Autumn Willis (who scored in last year’s playoff contest) raced in, but the Falcons’ defense knocked the ball away at the last minute.

With 18:07 to go, Poland freshman Abby Bsullak sent a promising pass ahead to junior Emma Kilton, but Kilton couldn’t quite reach it in the circle.

Then, with 13:17 on the clock, off a penalty corner, the Falcons doubled their lead, as Groves passed to Decker, who one-timed a shot past Sturtevant and into the cage for a 2-0 advantage.

“We’re moving the ball well and we picked it up in the second half,” said Decker. “We had a lot of chances in the first half and were frustrated. I was in front of the goal and just tipped it in. I wasn’t expecting anything.”

Havey then took over, scoring unassisted goals with 10:29 and 9:50 on the clock respectively and Freeport closed out its 4-0 victory.

“Our first half play was better, but we couldn’t capitalize,” Wood said. “We were a little flat and sloppy in the second half, but that’s when we got the goals. (Junior) Amelia Ferrin and Ri (junior Rianna Tomm) have done a great job in the midfield. Hannah and Aynslie play well together in the center and the wing. I find myself watching on the sideline saying, ‘Wow, that’s really pretty.'”

The Falcons enjoyed a 16-0 edge in shots and took eight corners to Poland’s one as they continue to dominate despite many new names and faces.

“We were nervous going into the season about those players leaving affecting our game, but it hasn’t happened,” Decker said. “All of the juniors have played Styx (Maine Styx premier field hockey) and we’ve all improved. We want to get back (to the regional final) again. It was a great feeling last year.”

“Our junior class is huge and they were with me as freshmen,” Wood said. “Then, they were scared and just gave the ball to Nat (Natalie Anderson) or Alexa (Koenig). Now, it’s their turn.”

Tough week

While Poland looks to return to the win column Monday at Sacopee Valley, Freeport travels to Fryeburg Academy for a playoff rematch. Wednesday, the Falcons host Lake Region.

“We just need to use our big drives and make it less complex on corners and we’ll be fine,” Decker said.

“We’re a turf team and Fryeburg is on grass, so that will be tough,” Wood said. “Lake Region is playing well too.

“It’s been a good start, but we have to keep our heads and stay aggressive.”

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

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