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NYA fights off Greely's upset bid in triple OT

Sports

NYA fights off Greely's upset bid in triple OT

YARMOUTH—It took 58 minutes, 24 seconds of game time and 140 minutes of real time and it was worth every second for the North Yarmouth Academy boys' lacrosse team.

"It" was a 10-9 triple overtime win over visiting upset-minded Greely Wednesday afternoon, the Panthers' first victory of the 2011 season.

In a taut, back-and-forth affair, NYA rallied from a goal down to take the lead early the fourth period, only to see the Rangers tie the score with 2:49 to go, forcing overtime.

One four-minute "sudden victory" session wasn't enough and neither was a second.

Finally, in the third OT, less than a minute after Greely hit the post in a bid to win the game at one end, the Panthers finished things in transition as sophomore Oliver Silverson set up senior Matt Kibler for the winner, leaving both teams 1-1 on the young season.

"It could have gone either way," Kibler said. "We were lucky to pull it out. It's a relief. We were out here a long time."

Marathon men

North Yarmouth Academy was ousted by Yarmouth in the Eastern B semifinals in 2010, winding up 6-8. This year, the Panthers hope to leapfrog the Clippers in the region, but they opened with a 6-2 home loss to Yarmouth on April 15.

Greely was 6-7 last season, losing to Falmouth in the Western B semifinals. While the Rangers are in the regional shadow of arguably the two best teams in the state, defending state champion Cape Elizabeth and powerhouse Falmouth, they expect to seriously contend and got off to a great start Monday with a 9-2 victory at Wells behind four goals from Brendan Trelegan, three goals from Nick Rotondi and five assists from Paul Witte.

It's unclear if Greely has ever beaten NYA, but entering Wednesday's game, since the epic 2001 regional final between the schools (where NYA rallied from a goal down in the final minute to win, 10-9), the Panthers had downed the Rangers in all 13 meetings, by an average score of 13-5.

Last year, NYA was victorious, 10-7.

This time around, Greely had a great chance to make a powerful statement, but fell agonizingly short.

The Panthers opened the scoring 1 minute, 49 seconds into the 12-minute first quarter when junior captain Forrest Milburn scored on a rebound.

The Rangers then came to life, scoring three straight as Spencer struck unassisted, Jake Eustis scored on a rebound and Rotondi set up Witte to make it 3-1.

Late in the first, NYA answered as senior Finn Hadlock set up sophomore Jacob Scammon with 3:03 to go and the same combination struck with 54.2 seconds showing to tie the score after one.

After nearly six scoreless minutes at the start of the second period, the Panthers went back on top, 4-3, when senior Timmy Millett scored unassisted. After Rotondi set up Witte for the tying score with 5:45 left before the half, Kibler fed Milburn for a goal 25 seconds later to put NYA back on top, 5-4.

With 3:41 showing, Milburn scored unassisted to give the Panthers their biggest lead, 6-4, but with 1:30 left, Trelegan batted home a rebound of a Spencer shot that Panthers freshman goalie Weston Nolan had initially saved and it was a 6-5 contest at halftime.

After 11 goals in the first 24 minutes, the teams would only combine to score eight over the next 34-plus.

Greely tied the score 1 minute, 46 seconds into the third quarter when Witte fed Cooper Allen for a goal after a turnover.

NYA answered and went back on top, 7-6, when sophomore Isaac Lipton's long shot deflected off a defender and eluded Rangers goalie Griffen Demick.

With 7:58 left in the quarter, Rotondi scored unassisted to tie it and 58 seconds later, playing a man-up, Witte set up Rotondi for the goal which made it 8-7 Greely, a lead the visitors would carry into (what we thought would be) the final period.

The Panthers pulled even again with 10:35 to play when Milburn (from Kibler) scored a man-up. Milburn almost gave NYA the lead 41 seconds later, but his bid hit the post.

Then, with 8:55 to go, sophomore T.J. Daigler somehow corralled Scammon's low pass and beat Demick with a shot to make it 9-8 Panthers.

The Rangers pushed hard for the equalizer and finally got it with 2:49 to play as Witte found a cutting Trelegan for a shot right in front that Nolan had no chance to save.

With 1:22 left in regulation, Milburn was denied in close by Demick. Millett had two looks in the final minute, but Demick saved them both and it was on to overtime.

In Maine high school boys' lacrosse, teams play four minute periods of first-goal-wins, or as it's sometimes called, "sudden victory."

That victory would take awhile to claim.

In the first extra session, Greely won the faceoff, but lost possession. Millett had a look at a winner, but was denied by Demick. At the other end, Nick Robinson looked to win it for Greely, but his shot was wide. Neither squad got a good bid the rest of the way and it was on to overtime number two.

There, the Rangers again won the faceoff and this time, Spencer got off a shot, but it was high. Millett and Hadlock attempted to win it at the other end, but both shots were wide. Before the four-minute stanza was exhausted, Trelegan (twice), Eustis and Rotondi all shot wide for Greely, while junior C.J. Davis was off target for the hosts.

The game finally ended in the third OT.

The Rangers had the first possession, but Spencer's bounce shot went high. After the teams traded turnovers, Greely came within inches of ending it as (in a mirror play from the game-tying goal) Witte fed a cutting Trelegan in front, but this time, the shot clanged off the post.

The Rangers then turned the ball over and NYA raced down and won it.

Millett got the transition started by winning a ground ball and passed to Silverson, who found Kibler in front. Demick had no chance on his point-blank shot and the Panthers finally were able to celebrate the 10-9 triumph.

"Tim Millett had a ground ball at the other side and he did a great job beating everyone down the field," said Kibler. "He dished it to Oliver and Oliver gave me the ball. I couldn't miss from there. I had a good look. (This game) went on a long time. I thought it was a great effort by both teams. They played us tough last year, so we knew it would be a good game."

"We needed that," added Panthers coach Chris Carpentier. "The guys showed me a lot of character today. They laid it on the line. It could have gone either way. From my standpoint (if we lost), it would have hurt. It would have been a demoralizing loss. I knew Greely would be stronger than in previous years, but I wasn't expecting them to come out like that. They have good players over there. Hats off to them. I'm sure they'll have a good season."

The Rangers were disappointed, but put their effort in perspective.

"We played really hard," said Nick Witte, who filled in as coach Wednesday for Casey Abbott, who was out of town. "We didn't win, but we took a big step forward today. We really hoped to get this one. We knew that if we stayed out of the penalty box we could play with these guys 6-on-6. If we kept mistakes to a minimum, we could play with them. We had some great chances, but couldn't quite cash it in. I wanted to get the ball to Paul, our playmaker, in overtime. He had the hot hand today. NYA went into a special defense against him."

NYA was paced by Milburn's four goals, Scammon had two, while Daigler, Kibler, Lipton and Millett all scored one. Kibler added two assists, while Hadlock, Scammon and Silverson each added one. Nolan finished with six saves. Hadlock led the Panthers with 13 ground balls, while Lipton grabbed a dozen.

For the valiant, vanquished visitors, Rotondi, Trelegan and Witte all scored twice, while Allen, Eustis and Spencer had one goal each. Witte assisted on three goals, while Rotondi set up a pair. Demick made nine saves. Spencer led all players with 14 ground balls. Allen and Witte each had seven.

Team statistics (not surprisingly) were close.

NYA had a 13-12 edge in faceoffs, a 74-66 advantage in ground balls, a slim 39-37 edge in shots and a 19-15 advantage in shots on frame. The Panthers turned the ball over 44 times, to 48 for the Rangers.

Next up

Greely hopes to bounce back Friday when it has a crossover game at Lincoln Academy. The Rangers visit regional rival Waynflete Tuesday. The Rangers won't see NYA again this season, but have huge tests looming versus Cape Elizabeth (May 10 at home), Falmouth (on the road May 25) and Yarmouth (June 1 at home).

Look for this team to only improve as the season progresses.

"We're definitely a work in progress, but at the same time, I think we're improved," Witte said. "We haven't played our best lacrosse. We have better things down the road. We have a lot of guys back from last year. We're still working with those guys to come together as a team.  We hope to build on this. I think we have a good season ahead of us. We wanted this one today, but it's not really about today. It's about playing the best we can today and looking down the road."

NYA goes to Oak Hill for its crossover Saturday, then gets right back into the meat of its brutal schedule, visiting Falmouth Tuesday and defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth May 7. The Panthers play the Capers, Yachtsmen and Yarmouth twice this year and also have a home tilt against defending Class A champ Scarborough.

"We have a lot of work to do, but this is a good feeling," Carpentier said.

"We know with our schedule that this had to be a win," Kibler added. "It's tough to make the playoffs with our schedule. I don't think it was our best effort today, but we did a good job staying with it. If we stay composed, we can be dangerous. We have a big week coming up."

                Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net and followed on Twitter @foresports