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Yarmouth returns to home winning ways versus Cheverus

Sports

Yarmouth returns to home winning ways versus Cheverus

YARMOUTH—There's little doubt that the end of a record, mindboggling win streak brought disappointment to the Yarmouth boys' lacrosse program Friday night.

But the best thing that could have happened to the Clippers occurred Saturday evening when they got to return to their turf field where they promptly went out and started a new streak.

Less than 24 hours after a 14-5 loss to Falmouth ended the 73-game, nine-year run, Yarmouth used a seven-goal second quarter surge to defeat Cheverus, 10-4, its fifth win in seven games this spring.

Junior Bart Gallagher scored three goals, senior Kyle Groves added two and seven different players tickled the twine as the Clippers returned to form, dropping the Stags to 2-6 in the process.

"We just wanted to show the other teams how resilient the Yarmouth program is," said Groves. "We're always willing to jump right back in the saddle."

Pride

Yarmouth eclipsed Cape Elizabeth as the state's premier program by the middle of last decade and won state championships in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Last year, the Clippers fell just short, losing, 7-6, to the Capers in the Class B state final. After losing some big-time firepower to graduation and seeing the brilliant era of coach Craig Curry come to an end, Yarmouth entered 2011 with a new coach, Steve Moore, and a lot of question marks.

While the Clippers have been more mortal this spring, they've also improved mightily, as Moore has shown great enthusiasm for his opportunity, battled gamely and of late, shown signs that they'll be very tough to beat come June.

Yarmouth opened 2011 with a 6-2 home win over rival North Yarmouth Academy. The Clippers then took care of visiting York (9-4) and host Brunswick (10-2) before suffering their first loss, 13-2, at Cape Elizabeth. Yarmouth got back in the win column Tuesday with a 9-3 triumph before its historic loss to Falmouth.

The Clippers immediately put that setback in perspective.

"You learn a lot more in defeat than you do in victory," Groves said. "It highlighted what we need to work on. In the end, it's better for the program. The intensity was there. We knew we had them for three quarters. We couldn't pull it together in the fourth quarter. We hope the next time we play them and (if we play them in the state final), we can put together four quarters."

Cheverus hoped to be a top Eastern A contender this year, but the Stags have suffered some tough losses. After edging visiting Biddeford, 6-5, in overtime in the opener, Cheverus fell in triple OT at South Portland (7-6), at home to Scarborough in the rain (4-1), to visiting Messalonskee (6-3) and at Thornton Academy (6-5). After bouncing back with a 9-1 triumph at Marshwood, the Stags fell in triple overtime to visiting Westbrook, 7-6.

Last year, Yarmouth had no trouble beating Cheverus in Portland, 13-2.

This time around, it took the Clippers awhile to get going, but the offense eventually made its presence felt and another home win was in the books.

Only one goal was scored in the first period, as sophomore Nick Ronan gave Yarmouth the lead for good with an unassisted tally with 6:26 to go.

The second quarter was much different as Yarmouth demonstrated just how dangerous its attack can be.

With 10:14 to play in the first half, Gallagher scored his first goal, unassisted. Groves got on the board with an unassisted goal at 9:13. Thirty-five seconds later, freshman Max Watson took a pass from Gallagher and beat Cheverus senior goalie Evan Jendrasko for a 4-0 lead.

In a sixty-one second span, junior Sam Torres and Groves struck unassisted. With 4:17 to go in the half, Gallagher scored an unassisted goal for a 7-0 advantage.

With 41.9 seconds showing, the visitors got on the board when junior Spencer Amberson scored an unassisted goal. The hosts got the momentum right back, however, with 15.1 seconds to go as junior Anders Overhaug (from senior Matt Murphy) tickled the twine to make it 8-1.

The only goal of the third period came with 3:59 left when Murphy (from Gallagher) scored man-down for a 9-1 lead.

Gallagher scored unassisted with 5:31 remaining for Yarmouth's final goal.

The rest of the game featured the athleticism of Jendrasko, who jumped at any chance to race upfield with the ball, and three Stags' goals which made the final score closer.

With 4:46 to go, Amberson set up sophomore Warren Murphy for a goal. Thirty-five seconds later, senior Stephen Ambrose scored. Then, with 2:13 to play, junior Brian Whalen tickled the twine to account for the 10-4 final score.

"We got back on the horse," said Moore. "It's one of those things after a game like that with the emotions, we had a good, solid game. We came out here and leave feeling good about ourselves. The monkey's off our back."

Yarmouth's offense was all about balance as Gallagher had three goals, Groves two and Murphy, Overhaug, Ronan, Torres and Watson one each. Gallagher assisted on two goals, Murphy on one. Junior goalie Alex Kurtz made seven saves in his three-quarters-plus appearance. Torres and senior faceoff man extraordinaire Billy Clabby both grabbed seven ground balls.

For Cheverus, Amberson, Ambrose, Murray and Whalen scored, while Amberson had an assist. Jendrasko made 13 saves.

"That was awesome," said longtime Stags coach Deke Andrew. "We just had a letdown in that second quarter. They had seven goals. Ouch. We caused a lot of problems with their clearing, which was excellent. In the second half, I thought we did well. We're athletic, we just don't have anyone who's especially experienced. Thank goodness, we have athletes from other sports to fill in the gaps."

Playoff stretch

Cheverus' quest to extend its playoff streak to 12 seasons is in jeopardy. The Stags are eighth in the latest Eastern Class A Heal Points standings, but only six teams make the postseason cut. Cheverus hosts Noble Wednesday and Windham Saturday. It plays a makeup game at Bonny Eagle on May 23 and closes at Gorham June 1.

"We've got to look forward and play hard," Andrew said. "Every day I go to practice, the guys are smiling and excited to be there. When you're 2-6, that's what keeps you going. We've had three one-goal losses. We're in a unique situation. Our skill players are inexperienced. Our best athletes have never played before. It's an unusual combination. Obviously, our defense is pretty strong. We need to develop a little offensively. I'd love to make the playoffs. We just want to get there."

Yarmouth is in a battle with St. Dom's and Gardiner for the top spot in Eastern B (as of Sunday afternoon, the Clippers were second to the Saints in the Heals). After hosting NYA Wednesday, Yarmouth plays at Falmouth Friday. Home games versus dangerous Freeport and Cape Elizabeth and a trip to Greely finishes the regular portion of the slate.

"I feel like this program is only going up," Groves said. "We had our lull and now we're looking up."

"We have a big one Wednesday against NYA and we'll start prepping for that," Moore said. "Then we have Falmouth Friday and Cape again. We'll take it one game at a time. We look to be in the final game and be where we want to be at that point."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.