CAPE ELIZABETH—A year ago, the great Maggie Cochran scored six goals in a tour de force performance as Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer defeated visiting rival Greely.
Saturday evening, against the same foe at Hannaford Field, the Northeastern University-bound Cochran scored just twice, but her performance was every bit as memorable as she and her teammates did what they always seem to do.
After being held in check in a scoreless first half by the improved Rangers, the Capers got their offense going eight minutes into the second half when Cochran demonstrated her unrivaled vision by setting up senior Caroline Gentile for a 1-0 lead.
Cochran then took center stage with 18:42 to play, scoring one of the most dazzling goals you’ll ever see for some breathing room.
Then, 10 minutes later, Cochran finished a gorgeous feed from freshman C.C. Duryee and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 3-0 victory.
Cochran played a role in all three goals as the Capers improved to 3-0, made it 26 straight victories over the past three seasons and in the process, handed Greely its first loss in three outings.
“We’re still two or three levels from where we want to be and where we know we’ll get to,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Graham Forsyth. “We’re still not 100 percent, which is a scary thought for other teams.”
The beat goes on
Forsyth said in the preseason that the Capers would be chasing Yarmouth in 2021, but so far, Cape Elizabeth remains the class of Class B. After opening with a 2-0 home win over the Clippers, the Capers defeated visiting Wells, 3-1, Thursday.
Greely, under new coach and one-time program standout Rachel Williams, started by blanking visiting Poland, 8-0. Friday, the Rangers shut out visiting Freeport, 3-0.
Last year, Cape Elizabeth blanked Greely twice, 5-0 in Cumberland and 8-0 at home, in the game Cochran scored six times.
Saturday, on a pleasant 66-degree evening, The Rangers sought to beat the Capers for the first time since Oct. 5, 2017 (4-3 in Cape Elizabeth), but instead, the Capers made it nine straight in the series.
While Greely didn’t register a first half shot on frame, the Rangers did earn three corner kicks as they produced some early pressure.
It was only a matter of time before Cape Elizabeth got its offense going and the Capers had several good chances in the first half.
But they all went for naught.
After senior Emily Supple twice missed high, Cochran took her first shot in the 12th minute, but Greely junior goalkeeper Elise Ekowicki sprawled to make the save.
In the 17th minute, off a free kick, sophomore Evelyn Agrodnia’s bid was tipped out by Ekowicki for a corner kick.
Two minutes later, off another corner kick, Agrodnia served the ball to Cochran at the back post, but Cochran’s redirect was saved by Ekowicki.
After Duryee missed wide on an open net, Supple was denied by Eckowicki and a late Cochran left-footed chance was tipped out by Eckowicki, keeping the score, 0-0, at the half.
The Capers had an 8-0 edge in shots in the first 40 minutes, but had nothing to show for it.
As soon as halftime began, Forsyth went directly to Cochran to talk to his star and whatever he said got through.
Early in the second half, after Eckowicki kept the game scoreless by denying Duryee, Greely bid for the lead, as sophomore Kylie Crocker sent the team’s first shot on goal, but it was saved by Cape Elizabeth senior keeper Elise Branch.
With 32:02 to go, the hosts finally broke through.
Cochran won the ball in the midfield and the Capers transitioned to offense. With the defense focusing on Cochran, she passed ahead to Gentile, who appeared at first en route to a breakaway. Instead, two defenders got back, but Gentile got around them, then shot with her left foot and beat a diving Eckowicki for a 1-0 lead.
“We don’t normally have zero goals at halftime, so that shook us up a little bit,” Gentile said. “We wanted to put our best foot forward and get goals in the second half. Originally, I thought I’d have an easy shot, but I had to cut back. The ball was on my left foot and I knew I had to shoot it. I didn’t want to take another touch, I just went low with it. It’s such a good feeling when you know it’s a perfect shot.”
“I saw the opening,” Cochran said. “The defense had a hard time getting back in time because (Caroline) made a perfect run. She has great composure and I knew she’d (score).”
“That was a great ball through,” added Forsyth. “Caroline was excellent. She had to beat two defenders, then twisted and turned and it was a great finish.”
After Eckowicki denied Supple, Cochran doubled the lead with the early-season leader for goal of the year.
The play began with Cochran trying to make a run at the goal, but she was surrounded by defenders, so she dribbled out of the box, then tried again to get through, couldn’t, stepped back, then, with 18:42 to play, she looked up and from about 25 yards out, blanketed by multiple defenders, launched a rocket with her left foot into the top right corner of the goal, beyond the lunging Eckowicki’s reach, to make the score 2-0.
“When we go against top teams, five or six defensive players get back and it’s hard to get around them,” Cochran said. “It was hard for me to find space. At some point, I had to turn and put my head up and shoot it. I could feel it (was good) when I hit it.”
Cochran’s teammates and coaches marveled at the goal, with longtime assistant coach Andy Strout giving Cochran the “We’re Not Worthy” salute.
“It’s so fun to play with Maggie,” said Gentile. “She wants you to do great. She’s great at sharing and giving opportunities and we know when we need her, she can score.”
“She’s a beautiful player,” said Williams. “That was the best high school goal I’ve seen. She earned every bit of that.”
“I genuinely think it’s a top three goal in her high school career,” added Forsyth, who has witnessed some beauties. “To get the ball, dribble out of the box, into the box, back out, then back in and still have the awareness to know where you are and who’s around you, take a touch on your weaker foot and smash a ball top corner diagonally cross-goal, that’s just crazy, but that’s what Maggie Cochran does. It’s the first time she’s looked herself. She took over in the second half.”
Forsyth said Cochran needed some encouragement at halftime and that paid off.
“Everyone double-teams, triple-teams, quadruple-teams Maggie and it’s about getting her to believe in herself,” Forsyth said. “She wasn’t anywhere her high standard against Yarmouth or Wells. She had to get back in the mindset that she’s a special player.”
Greely hoped to answer on a long free kick from senior Ally Martin, but Branch made the save.
Then, with 8:13 to go, the Capers delivered the coup de grace, as Duryee made a run down the left side, then crossed the ball perfectly to the far post where Cochran waited to tap it home to make it 3-0.
“That was pretty easy for me because C.C. had a great pass,” said Cochran. “She was fighting the whole game. I knew she’d get through at some point. It was a great ball.”
“We’ve struggled with injuries and C.C. has bad shin splints, but she plays through it and that’s a testament to the heart she’s got,” Forsyth said. “That cross was first-class. That ball was amazing. The tap-in looked easy, but (Maggie) had to get her body the right way.”
Cape Elizabeth slammed the door from there and went on to a 3-0 victory.
“The second half tonight was the first time we’ve had the identity we want,” said Forsyth. “The passing and moving is what we want.”
The Capers out-shot the Rangers, 14-2, on frame and got a pair of saves from Branch. Cape Elizabeth also had an 8-5 edge in corner kicks.
Greely got 11 saves from Eckowicki and earned some confidence despite the result.
“We can compete with them,” said Williams.
More rivalry games
Greely has a home showdown versus Yarmouth Tuesday, then visits Lake Region Friday.
“I’m so excited about my team,” Williams said. “The girls are positive and excited to play. We’re learning a lot and learning fast. We’re looking forward to competing the rest of the season. We just need to play quicker and be a bit more confident and remember it’s the next phase of Greely soccer.”
Cape Elizabeth goes on the road next week for the first time, visiting York Tuesday and playing at Freeport Friday.
“We just need to say confident and believe in ourselves,” said Gentile.
“We know we lost some really good players, but we still have a lot of good players with us now,” Cochran said.
“We have two tough games against good opponents,” Forsyth added. “I’ve watched them several times. I know what they’ll try to do. We’ll see how we respond.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.