CUMBERLAND—The Greely girls’ soccer team completed the regular season Tuesday night with yet another victory.
The Rangers, who were 2-3 on Sept. 22, finished the year on a 7-0-2 surge, capped by a 1-0 win over visiting Yarmouth, the top-ranked team in Western B.
On Senior Night, Greely got the game’s lone goal from senior Kelly Burrell in the 57th minute and held on to improve to 9-3-2, dropping the Clippers to 11-2-1 in the process.
“Yarmouth’s a very good team,” said Burrell. “I’m proud of how our team played. We didn’t give up and we got a win. We wanted it badly, especially on Senior Night, and we got it.”
Greely and Yarmouth are longtime powerhouses who have lived up to billing in 2010.
Last year, the Rangers excelled, but were upset in the Western A semifinals by Thornton Academy. This year’s squad was untested and struggled early, dropping three straight games (including a 2-1 overtime decision at Yarmouth Sept. 20) before turning it on with a vengeance, winning six times and tying York twice prior to Tuesday.
The Clippers, semifinalists in Western B a year ago, won their first 11 games this autumn, then tied host Falmouth and lost, 1-0, at nemesis York, the defending Class B champion.
Tuesday night, both teams would have their chances in an entertaining affair.
In the sixth minute, Yarmouth’s promising sophomore Tess Merrill hinted at a big night to come when she won possession down the left sideline and sent a cross toward the goal that was cleared out of bounds, setting up a corner kick.
Five minutes later, Merrill went at it again, beating a defender into the box before crossing the ball to junior Mo Mcnaboe, who couldn’t quite reach it with Greely junior goalkeeper Lindsey Arsenault (one save) out of position.
With 24:58 to play in the 40-minute first half, the Clippers got another corner. The ball was played back to senior Becca Bell who sent it on frame. Arsenault bobbled the shot and Yarmouth senior Jeanna Lowery was able to get a shot off in front, but it was high.
The best scoring chance for the hosts in the first 40 minutes came with 4:05 to go when sophomore Sammi Toorish took a pass from Burrell and fired a shot from a tough angle that Clippers freshman goalkeeper Olivia Smith saved.
The action picked up in the second half.
In the second minute, Toorish broke in, but Smith (five saves) knocked the ball away. It sat free momentarily in the box, but Yarmouth sophomore Megan Decker cleared it at the last second. A minute later, Greely sophomore Holly Rand took a pass from Toorish and shot just high.
At the other end, Mcnaboe crossed to Merrill, but she couldn’t quite reach the pass. The ball then came out to junior Ricki Pierce, but her shot was blocked. With 24:38 to play, Clippers senior Devin Simsarian bent a shot that just went wide.
With 23:12 left, the Rangers broke through.
Junior Audrey Parolin managed to get a pass through to Burrell, who turned and fired a rocket with her left foot past Smith and into the right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
“I got a ball from Audrey, who’s an amazing player,” Burrell said. “It was kind of crazy in the middle. I got the ball on my left foot. The goalie was off-balance and I shot it and hoped for the best that it would find the corner and it did. I had opportunities in the first half, but I knew I had to keep working.”
“It was a great shot,” added Greely coach Michael Kennedy. “I’m glad Kelly got it.”
Five minutes later, the hosts almost doubled their lead, but junior Sara Schad was robbed by Smith, who then denied Parolin on the rebound.
The Clippers had two final chances to tie.
With 14:31 to play, Merrill sent another cross into harm’s way, but the ball trickled through and was ultimately sent out of bounds, leading to a corner, that produced nothing.
Then, with time winding down, the speedy Simsarian won possession on the right wing and raced in. With the clock showing 11.1 seconds, she fired a contested shot that to the relief of the home team and its fans, sailed wide right.
The clock ran out and Greely was able to celebrate its win.
“We’re still figuring it out,” said Kennedy. “We’re in a good groove. Tonight, we moved the ball really, really well. Offensively, we were dynamite. Our wings were great. Our defense was solid. We played really good soccer. When we play within ourselves, we’re a great team.
“In the middle and offensive thirds, I was pleased athletically how much we wore them down. We’re skilled, but also athletically gifted. Yarmouth’s a really good team. They’re a lot better than the first time we played. We had some chances on the doorstep. It took awhile. We’re happy with a win. Our goal is always to score three goals. We had 15 shots. That’s a good number against a quality team.”
Yarmouth finished with nine corner kicks to just four for the Rangers.
“I normally don’t like to see that many corners,” Kennedy said. “That’s never good. We have to work on that.”
The Clippers, who were playing without key injured senior stars Courtney Barker and Natalie Salmon, went down fighting.
“Greely’s an excellent team,” said Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. “They pass the ball well. We played hard and had a good game. We had some chances, but couldn’t quite finish. Their goalie came out and got our crosses and we missed a couple.”
The Clippers, by virtue of York’s 0-0 tie at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday, will retain the top seed in Western B and will have homefield advantage for the upcoming playoffs. It’s the first time Yarmouth’s finished first since its last championship season of 2003. The Clippers return to action next Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
“It was an excellent (regular) season,” Smith said. “It’s nice to be home on our turf. We’ll take our chances. I like my team.”
The Rangers (who avenged all three losses from earlier in the season) are in a close battle with Thornton Academy for the No. 2 seed behind Scarborough. They’ll await the release of the final standings and after hosting a quarterfinal next Tuesday, they’ll look to potentially be home for the semifinal round.
“I think we’ll do pretty well if we play like we did today,” Burrell said.
“It’s the same drill for us,” Kennedy added. “Half the kids have never been there before. Last year’s team had been there. If we prepare well and play within the system, I think we’ll do fine. These last nine games were so important for us. It’s important to get home playoff games. It’s a nice field and a good surface for us. We definitely have an advantage here.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Greely senior Alicia Rost and Yarmouth sophomore Olivia Conrad battle for possession.
Yarmouth sophomore Tess Merrill spent much of Tuesday night speeding past Greely defenders, in this case Rangers senior Ali Waterman.
Yarmouth sophomore Tess Merrill plays the ball ahead while Greely senior Alicia Rost gives chase.
Yarmouth senior Danielle Torres and Greely senior Maggie Johnson duel over a 50-50 ball.
Yarmouth senior Becca Bell does her best to keep possession while Greely junior Sara Schad closes in.
Yarmouth senior Becca Bell boots the ball away a split second before Greely senior Kelly Burrell can reach it.
Greely senior Kelly Burrell (center) gets a congratulatory hug from senior Alicia Rost (11) an freshman Leah Young after her second half goal. That was the only score of the game as the Rangers edged Yarmouth, 1-0, Tuesday night.
More photos below.