Greely senior Izzy Hutnak leaps into the arms of freshman Anna DeWolfe at the final horn of the Rangers’ 2-1 win over Yarmouth in Saturday’s Class B South semifinal.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
CUMBERLAND—Once was a wakeup call.
But there was no way it was happening twice.
Greely’s top-ranked girls’ soccer team, two weeks removed from a surprising loss at Yarmouth that ended its undefeated run, hosted the fourth-seeded Clippers in Saturday’s Class B South semifinal and utilizing lessons learned from the last meeting, ensured it moved on to the regional final for the third year in a row.
The Rangers dominated early, but Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Meredith Lane stood tall. After the Clippers threatened to get the crucial first goal only to fall short, Greely pounced, as junior Ellie Schad got behind the defense and struck in the 31st minute for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, senior Izzy Hutnak finished after a tremendous individual effort to double the lead.
Yarmouth tried to rally, but sophomore Sara D’Appolonia hit the crossbar and the game remained 2-0 at halftime.
In the second half, the Rangers were unable to extend their lead, keeping the door open a crack for the Clippers, who took advantage with 2:28 remaining, when junior Katie Clemmer was taken down in the box and classmate Cory Langenbach converted the ensuing penalty kick.
That’s as close as Yarmouth would get, however, as a Clemmer shot in the final minute was handled by Rangers senior goalkeeper Maddie Cyr and Greely went on to a 2-1 victory.
The Rangers improved to 14-2, ended the Clippers’ season at 7-6-3 and advanced to host second-ranked York (10-3-3) in the Class B South Final Wednesday at a time to be announced.
“We put it all out there today,” said Hutnak. “That was the plan. We were confident today. We knew if we played our game, we’d win.”
Greely and Yarmouth have been among the state’s finest girls’ soccer programs for years, but until Saturday, they never met in a postseason game. Prior to 2013, the teams were in different classes and each of the past two seasons, the Clippers were ousted before they would have been able to face the Rangers.
Both teams had their moments during the regular season (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).
Yarmouth struggled with goal-scoring much of the season, but found a way to hand Greely its first loss in the season’s penultimate game, which helped the Clippers shoot up to fourth in the region and avoid a preliminary round contest.
Tuesday, in the quarterfinals, Yarmouth got three goals and blanked No. 12 Fryeburg Academy to advance.
The Rangers won their first 12 games this season and looked to be a team without peer, but Greely closed with losses at Yarmouth and York. Regardless, the Rangers earned the top seed in the region and had no trouble with No. 9 Lincoln Academy in the quarterfinals, romping, 7-0.
Saturday, Greely came out and did what a top seed is supposed to do, set the tone and take advantage.
In the first five minutes, the Rangers had a couple great chances, but a shot from Hutnak was collected after an initial bobble from Lane and Lane leaped to snare a corner kick.
In the 14th minute, Greely junior Allison Coon fired a shot which was deflected to Lane, who made the save.
A minute later, after a steal by sophomore Courtney Sullivan, Sullivan fed Hutnak, who tried to one-time a shot into the goal, but she shot just wide.
Yarmouth then got some looks, but Clemmer sent a blast just high, a long floater from junior Ella Antolini was saved by Cyr, a free kick from D’Appolonia was cleared and a long bid from sophomore Hannah Corey was saved by Cyr.
After Rangers senior standout Jocelyn Mitiguy shot just high and freshman sensation Anna DeWolfe had the same result, Greely broke through.
With 9:19 to play in the first half, the Clippers weren’t able to clear the ball and Schad pounced, getting behind the defense before shooting past Lane for a 1-0 lead.
“Ellie was very pumped and ready,” said Rangers coach Josh Muscadin. “That was a nice goal. It was great to start that way.”
Greely didn’t sit on its lead and after three corner kicks didn’t result in a goal, the hosts added to the lead when Hutnak got the ball, deked one defender, got past two others and from the right of the box, shot toward the far post and got the ball to ricochet in for a 2-0 lead with 6:28 remaining in the half.
“We were frustrated early,” Hutnak said. “Yarmouth’s an excellent team and they were playing with five defenders, which got in our heads. I got a beautiful pass and that set me up nicely. It was more of a cross than a shot, to be honest.”
“Izzy was determined to get a goal today,” Muscadin said. “She had several chances.”
A minute later, the Clippers had a great chance to cut the deficit in half, but a promising bid from D’Appolonia hit the crossbar and was cleared from harm’s way and Greely took a 2-0 advantage to halftime.
“Sometimes in soccer, you need a little luck,” Muscadin said.
The Rangers had an 11-5 shots advantage in the first half (7-2 on frame), held a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks and got two saves from Cyr, while Lane made five stops.
Just over a minute into the second half, Greely almost extended its lead and almost lost one of its best players in the process when Hutnak rushed in only to have Lane get to the ball first and after a collision, Hutnak stayed down momentarily before coming off.
At the other end, junior Gretchen Barbera tried to set up Clemmer with a cross, but Cyr got there first.
With 34:34 to play, Barbera got the ball to senior Eavan O’Neill, but she shot high.
Yarmouth then had a pair of corners, but had nothing to show for them.
After Lane denied Schad at one end, Clemmer fed freshman Olivia Feeley, but Feeley couldn’t get enough foot on the shot for it to be a dangerous bid.
After a free kick from senior Lilly Watson was cleared and D’Appolonia had a header saved by Cyr, Hutnak twice had great looks, but couldn’t finish and Mitiguy shot high.
With 21:45 to play, D’Appolnia shot just wide of the near post and seconds later, a long shot from Corey was saved by Cyr.
The crossbar then did the Clippers a favor with 18:30 remaining, as a 30 yard free kick from Mitiguy hit the underside of the bar and after the ball came to Sullivan in front, she headed it over the bar to keep the score 2-0.
Late in regulation, after a corner which led to a Clemmer shot which was saved, Clemmer got free again and with 2:28 to play, she was clearly taken down in the box and the officials stopped play to award Yarmouth a penalty kick.
Langenbach did the honors and fired a blast just past the outstretched arm of Cyr to the upper right portion of the goal, cutting Greely’s lead to 2-1.
As time wound down, the Rangers turned up the defense and only allowed one shot, a long bid from Clemmer which resulted in an easy Cyr save with 36.4 seconds showing.
Greely ran out the clock from there and celebrated its 2-1 victory.
“That (loss at Yarmouth) was the one game we really struggled all season,” Hutnak said. “We got negative in that game, but we’ve picked it up since then. We learned we have to always come out and play our game. We can’t let other teams’ formations get in our heads. The last minute counted the most tonight. It was about believing in ourselves and we came together and showed we could do it.”
“We lost to them last time and Yarmouth usually gives us a good fight,” Muscadin said. “It wasn’t like a revenge thing. It was more us having to play our game and our style and we did. Losing that (previous) game wasn’t a bad thing at all. That particular loss, we didn’t play the way we usually play. Yarmouth just came out strong and did a great job.”
Greely finished with a 20-14 edge in shots (14-9 on frame). The Rangers had a 6-3 corners advantage and got eight saves from Cyr.
Yarmouth got 12 saves from Lane, but it wasn’t enough.
The Clippers improved steadily as the year went on, but ultimately couldn’t advance any deeper than they did in 2014.
“We hung in until the end,” Yarmouth coach Rich Smith said. “We gave up two in the first half and it could have gone either way. We asked the girls one final time for 40 minutes and they went out and didn’t quit. U thought Meredith played great. Katie Clemmer created opportunities. Finally she got the PK. Sara hit the crossbar. Lilly and (senior) Lauren (Bartlett) and Ella were great in back. They did all they could to hold off a dangerous offense with great scorers.
“I’m really proud of the girls for the way we fought. The senior leaders were awesome. We had a lot of up and down things that happened this year. A lot of injuries.”
The Clippers graduate four players, Bartlett, O’Neill, Watson and forward Ambrosia Klenda, but return everyone else, suggesting they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.
“We have a lot of good, talented soccer players coming back,” Smith said. “There’s a lot to look forward to.”
Greely has lost in the regional final each of the past two seasons (to Cape Elizabeth) and now looks to go beyond that round and reach the state final for the first time since 2004. The obstacle this time is a York squad the Rangers split with during the regular season, winning 2-0 at home Oct. 2 and losing to on the road, 1-0, 18 days later in the finale.
The teams have only met once in the playoffs, a 1-0 Greely win in the 2013 semifinals.
The Rangers are ready to take that final step and advance to meet either Oceanside (14-0-2) or Hermon (14-0-2) in the Class B state final Saturday at 3 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
“This is the first year we’ve really believed it’s our year,” Hutnak said. “We’re planning for our season to end November 7th. We have to come out like we did today. I believe in winning warmups. You have to come out and have a good warmup and that’s how you know you’ll start strong.”
“We have to take the monkey off our backs,” Muscadin said. “That’s the bottom line. It’s up to the girls to go out there and step up. The whole idea is to go out and perform.”
Despite the best effort of Yarmouth senior defender Lilly Watson, Greely junior Ellie Schad scores the first goal of the game.
Greely senior Allison Coon shields Yarmouth sophomore Hannah Corey from the ball.
Greely senior Susannah Jacobson defends Yarmouth senior Eavan O’Neill.
Yarmouth sophomore Sara D’Appolonia and Greely junior Ellie Schad chase the ball.
Yarmouth junior Cory Langenbach buries a penalty shot past Greely senior goalkeeper Maddie Cyr late in the contest to cut the deficit to 2-1.