Yarmouth dominates Waynflete in Senior Night shocker
YARMOUTH—The Yarmouth girls' lacrosse team couldn't have asked for a better Senior Night experience than the one that transpired Wednesday evening.
You could say the Clippers' seniors were on key from their en masse pregame singing of the National Anthem through 50 minutes of superb lacrosse against the team that sets the bar for excellence in the state.
Hosting perennial powerhouse Waynflete, Yarmouth never trailed, played with poise from the get-go and pulled away in the second half for a surprisingly easy 13-8 triumph.
Yarmouth finished 11-1 behind four goals from senior All-American Danielle Torres, two goals and five assists from emerging senior star Natalie Salmon and a smothering defensive effort, led by senior Devin Simsarian.
The Clippers will be the top seed for the upcoming Eastern Class B playoffs, while Waynflete (10-2) is ranked first in Western B.
"It feels amazing," Torres said. "It was the perfect Senior Night. I'm just so proud of every single person on our team. It was such a team effort."
Cream of the crop
While anything can happen in the playoffs, there's little question that Waynflete and Yarmouth represent the gold standard in girls' lacrosse this season.
The Clippers, sick and tired of being Eastern B runners-up (three years running), made an immediate statement in 2011 thanks to impressive and decisive victories at defending Class B champion North Yarmouth Academy (16-9), defending Class A champion Scarborough (16-11) and Cape Elizabeth (16-6). After being bested by a goal at Waynflete, 11-10, Yarmouth bounced back with home wins over York (18-10), Freeport (17-7), Marshwood (6-2), Falmouth (13-12) and NYA (8-5), before cruising at Falmouth (13-8) and Greely (17-8).
It hasn't all been a cakewalk for these Clippers as they've played most of the year without senior defensive leader Kate Dilworth and lost Torres, one of the state's premier players, for almost three games with an ankle injury. Emerging junior Olivia Conrad was also sidelined.
The Flyers, meanwhile, keep on keeping on. The state's signature franchise, with eight state titles since the Maine Principals' Association began sanctioning the sport in 1998, was upset by NYA in last year's state game (7-3) and faced plenty of question marks coming into 2011 after graduating a pair of standouts, Amy Allen and Morgan Woodhouse.
Waynflete has been able to come of age faster than expected, however, has gotten superb contributions from everyone on the roster and only stumbled once prior to Wednesday.
The Flyers opened with an impressive 18-10 victory at Falmouth, then, were upset at home by longtime rival Kennebunk, 12-10. Waynflete didn't stumble again, rolling at Freeport (18-3), then registering impressive back-to-back home victories over Yarmouth and NYA (12-10). The Flyers then disposed of visiting Greely (22-11), in a game that unexpectedly proved to be their home finale, before rolling at Cheverus (10-6), Cape Elizabeth (13-6), Falmouth (12-8), NYA (17-4) and York (16-7).
The games versus the Capers and Yachtsmen were moved to Cape Elizabeth's and Falmouth's turf fields respectively, due to poor field conditions at Waynflete. The Flyers' romp at NYA was misleading as the Panthers were playing without the core of their team, which was suspended for a post-Prom party.
Regardless, Waynflete had proved nothing short of dazzling and perseverant heading into Wednesday's showdown.
This game, however, would star Yarmouth's unique band of seniors and they would sparkle in their final regular season game on their home turf.
Prior to the contest, both Waynflete and the Clippers' seniors were recognized.
Then, the 12 Yarmouth seniors gathered to sing the National Anthem.
"I've been wanting do this for the past four years," said Torres. "We've said on our Senior Night, we'd all sing it together. We said we'd do it in soccer, but we didn't. We thought this was the perfect year with the 12 seniors. We rehearsed a little bit before the game. It was a good beginning to the game."
Yarmouth then took the field with seniors manning every position save one as Dilworth wasn't cleared to play (she should be back for the postseason).
It took all of 82 seconds for the Clippers to go ahead as senior Lindsey Purpura, from senior Mariah Lanfer, in transition, fired a shot past Flyers sophomore goalie Katherine Torrey for a 1-0 lead.
The visitors answered right back as senior Scout Haffenreffer scored on a free position six seconds later, but with 21:46 to go in the 25-minute first half, Torres made a nice catch of a pass from Purpura and shot past Torrey to make it 2-1.
After Yarmouth nearly stretched its lead 23 seconds later (a shot from senior Becca Bell hit the post), the game settled down until Waynflete tied the score with 15:38 to go when underrated senior Mica Thompson fired a free position shot past Clippers senior goalie Stephanie Moulton.
With 15:21 remaining, Yarmouth went ahead for good as Torres again made a nice catch of a pass (this time from Salmon), then shot past Torrey for a 3-2 lead.
Exactly a minute later, Bell got on the board, taking a pass from Simsarian before scoring. With 12:20 showing, Bell (this time from Salmon) scored and it was 5-2 and Flyers coach Cathie Connors took a timeout.
It didn't work as Waynflete continued to struggle possessing the ball, often getting it stripped on checks from Simsarian.
With 5:46 to go in the half, Salmon once again fed Torres for a goal and a 6-2 advantage.
"I think the fact that (the Flyers) play a zone and sit back gives me more room to assist," Salmon said. "Our midfield and high attack make perfect cuts. They make it easy for me. They get wide open and I just give them the ball."
Torres suggested that Salmon wasn't giving herself enough credit.
"It takes the perfect pass and (Natalie's) filled that feeder role for us," Torres said. "She's stepped right into that role. We trust her so much. Sometimes we don't know we're open and she has a good read."
Connors called her second and final timeout of the game following that goal (the first time she's used her allotment in the first half of a game in her 19 seasons, she said after the contest) and this time, Waynflete was able to respond.
With 4:42 left before halftime, sophomore standout Martha Veroneau took a pass from Haffenreffer and tickled the twine to cut the deficit to 6-3, which proved to be the score at the break.
In the first 25 minutes, Yarmouth (led by Bell) won seven of 10 draws, had a mind-boggling 38-12 advantage in ground balls and forced 15 Flyers turnovers. Only the clutch play of Torrey (nine saves) kept the score respectable.
At the half, the Clippers focused on staying strong, knowing Waynflete was more than capable of rallying.
"Coming in to the second half, we knew (Waynflete would) up their intensity, so we knew we needed to match that," said Torres. "I would say we wanted to get more goals to secure the lead."
With 21:15 remaining, the visitors got back within two when Haffenreffer scored unassisted.
That set the stage for the pivotal stretch of the contest.
Less than a minute later, after a Flyers draw win, Haffenreffer was awarded a free position. Had she scored, it would have been a one-goal game and Waynflete might have ridden its momentum and completed a comeback.
Instead, Moulton robbed Haffenreffer point blank and the score stayed 6-4.
Then, Yarmouth got its offense back in gear and pulled away.
With 18:32 to play, Bell took a pass from Salmon, executed an unstoppable spin move and beat Torrey to make it 7-4.
Just 28 seconds later, Salmon assisted yet again, this time on senior Claudia Lockwood's goal, and the Clippers could exhale, up 8-4.
"We had to work really hard," Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt said. "This game was not over. They scored quickly. We got two goals off transition and that was key. That's what it took."
A little over a minute later, with 16:45 showing, Salmon finally got in the scoring column, unassisted, for a 9-4 lead.
"You feel the stress when the game is close," Salmon said. "That causes you to drop balls and make turnovers. When you get breathing room, you can relax and do what we do best, move it around and score and build the lead."
If that wasn't enough, a mere 48 seconds later, Torres took a pass from Bell and scored for a 10-4 advantage.
"We had four different girls score in a row and everyone was assisting," said Torres. "It was just an amazing feeling. We've really been working on our composure on the field. It's a challenge for us, because we're an offensive team. We like to go, go, go. This game showed how far we've come in that aspect."
Waynflete ended the run with 15:09 to go when Veroneau passed to senior Liv Chap, who scored.
Holt called timeout and it stemmed the tide.
With 11:19 remaining, Simsarian got in the scoring column with a free position strike. Eighteen seconds later, Purpura passed to senior Anne Ryan, who spun not once, but twice (a double pirouette dagger, if you will), before shooting past Torrey to make it 12-5.
The Flyers came right back with a pair of goals in less than a minute from sophomore sharpshooter Sadie Cole to cut the deficit to 12-7, but with 9:13 remaining, Salmon scored unassisted again.
Finally, with 5:52 showing, Veroneau set up Thompson for a goal to make it 13-8.
From there, Yarmouth milked the clock and showed great poise and when the final horn sounded, the Clippers exulted in their first win over Waynflete since a 12-5 home triumph on May 24, 2007.
"It's a great win," said Simsarian. "It just means so much on our Senior Night. We worked so hard. It's so great that we have 12 seniors. Unfortunately, Kate couldn't start, which was a bummer, so we were playing for her and all our underclassmen. We wanted to be there for them. We got more confident. I think our intensity level was really high, which was great. We all played with our heart."
"We've definitely had some good games, but this was so special to the seniors because everyone on the team gave their all," Salmon said. "Multiple people scored and assisted. Steph had an incredible game. Offense, midfield, defense, everyone gave it 110 percent. I think it'll help us going into playoffs, knowing we have the capability to not just beat, but handle a good team and play our game."
"It was our best game," Holt added. "This is the time we need to start stepping up our game and that's what we did today. We've been working a lot on our transition and it showed today. We've worked hard on ground balls. I think our defense stepped up big.
"I have to give these girls credit. It takes a village to beat Waynflete and it's been awhile. This is a great way to start our playoff run. It's a nugget for them to put in their pocket and stow it away. These kids have never beaten Waynflete. They wanted it and it showed."
Bell, Salmon and Torres led the offensive onslaught.
Torres led all scorers with four goals. Bell scored three times and had an assist. Salmon finished with two goals and five assists. Lockwood, Purpura, Ryan and Simsarian had one goal each, meaning all 13 were scored by seniors.
"It's the fearsome threesome and Natalie, but it wasn't just three or four people," Holt said. "It was our defense and our attack."
Purpura had two assists, Bell and Lanfer one each. Simsarian had a game-high 11 ground balls, most coming in the first half, when she consistently frustrated Waynflete, seemingly singlehanded.
"All of my younger years, when I was a freshman and sophomore, I started at defense," Simsarian said. "I've always loved defense. It's always what I loved to do. I've never been the most offensive player. I like to focus on defense sometimes and let the other middies focus on offense."
"My midfielders play offense and defense," said Holt. "Everyone takes their turn. Devin stepped up big."
Bell had eight ground balls, senior defensive standout Sam Fochler (who left the game late with a shoulder injury) and junior defensive stalwart Jeanna Lowery, along with Salmon and Torres, had six each.
Moulton, as has been the case all season, didn't make a high quantity of saves, but the quality of her seven was indisputable.
The Clippers continued to impress in the draw circle, taking 13 of 23. Bell won 10-of-17 opportunities, Torres 2-of-5 and Simsarian her only chance.
"We mixed up the draw a little bit," Holt said. "Becca won off the circle. Danielle did a nice job stepping in."
For Waynflete, Cole, Haffenreffer and Thompson each had two goals. Chap and Veroneau scored once apiece. Haffenreffer and Veroneau each had one assist. Veroneau led the team with eight ground balls. Torrey made 12 saves.
Cole went 5-of-9 on draws. Haffenreffer won 3-of-7 and Veroneau was 2-of-7.
"It's not a bad thing," Connors said, of the loss. "It just wasn't our day. Yarmouth played a much better game than we did. It just wasn't there for us. We need to take from this that we don't want to feel like this again or walk off the field feeling like we didn't play our game. Not to take anything away from Yarmouth. Yarmouth played an excellent game. We just didn't have it. We struggled with our passing. We struggled on defense."
Yarmouth wound up forcing 23 turnovers (giving the ball away 21 times), outshot the visitors, 31-16, and put 25 shots on cage to 15 for Waynflete.
As the playoffs dawn, both storied programs can take a minute and appreciate what they've accomplished since late April.
Waynflete did its legacy proud with many inspirational wins.
"I'm super-psyched to go 10-2," Connors said. "I did not see that coming. They pulled together and realized they needed to. I saw a lot of little things that they fixed that no one else can see and that makes me happy."
Now, the Flyers look to bounce back from this loss and go all the way once again. Waynflete, the top seed in Western B, is idle until Saturday, June 11, when it hosts resurgent Greely (6-6) in the quarterfinals. The teams have played many playoff games over the years, some of them epics, but every game save one has ended with a Flyers' victory.
"After today, it matters," Connors said. "Today, we learned from what we didn't do right and we'll get better."
Yarmouth had its best regular season since its last title year of 2007.
"We had a really good season," said Simsarian. "We all worked really hard. Now, we'll work that much harder to get ready for playoffs."
"This has been an incredible season so far," Torres said. "I've had four really great years in lacrosse at Yarmouth. This year is definitely the best. The 12 seniors, it's such a compact group of leaders. The underclassmen support us and trust us, which is really important. It's a really unique team and I'm really proud of everyone."
"We had a tough schedule," Holt added. "Going 11-1, I'm really happy and so our they, but now comes what we're working hard for."
The Clippers aren't content with finally beating Waynflete or earning the top seed in the East. This crew wants to finally play on the Fitzpatrick Stadium turf come June 18 and leave the field a champion. The first step in that title quest comes June 11, when Yarmouth will host No. 4 Morse (8-4). The teams didn't meet in the regular season.
Barring a seismic surprise, NYA looms once again in the regular finale.
"We need to have confidence," Salmon said. "Obviously, not too much of it. We need to remember we have our own style and play our game. We need to stay composed and keep our eye on the goal and we'll be successful. We'll be home and wearing white."
"I think Dorothy's really good mixing it up for us, since 10 days (of practice) in a row can be pretty brutal," Torres said. "We'll mix it up for sure and we'll look to continue to go uphill."
Holt suggested that Yarmouth might not have seen the last of Waynflete.
"We have to work hard," Holt said. "We have big games coming up. NYA will be a force. If we get by them, we'll see these guys again and they'll be stronger and faster. We still have quite a bit to work on. We showed we can definitely compete with them."