Kennebunk girls down Yarmouth, earn a dose of state game revenge

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Yarmouth senior Lilly Watson tries to get past a Kennebunk defender during the Rams’ 9-5 win Tuesday night in a rematch of last year’s state final.

Photos courtesy Pat McDonald / Journal Tribune.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Kennebunk 9 Yarmouth 5

Y- 2 3- 5
K- 4 5- 9

First half
21:57 K H. Schwartzman (unassisted)
15:33 K Bush (Sandler)
9:58 Y Lunt (Watson)
8:18 Y Langenbach (free position)
2:26 K Bush (Sandler)
1:42 K Koch (H. Schwartzman) 

Second half
21:19 K Bush (K. Schwartzman)
19:10 K Fogg (K. Schwartzman)
17:53 K Sandford (K. Schwartzman) (MAN-UP)
16:32 Y Langenbach (Kirk) (MAN-DOWN) 
11:06 Y Antolini (Lunt)
7:13 K K. Schwartzman (Sandford)
4:41 Y Then (unassisted)
1:57 K K. Schwartzman (free position) 

Goals:
Y- Langenbach 2, Antolini, Lunt, Then 1
K-  Bush 3, K. Schwartzman 2, Fogg, Koch, Sandford, H. Schwartzman 1

Assists:
Y- Lunt 2, Watson 1
K- K. Schwartzman 3, Sandler 2, Sandford, H. Schwartzman 1

Draws (Kennebunk, 10-6)
Y- Lane 5 of 12, Then 1 of 2, Kirk 0 of 2
K- Bush 8 of 13, Sandford 2 of 3

Ground balls (Yarmouth, 35-28)
Y- Antolini 7, Then 6, Lane, Lunt 5, Harrison 3, Kirk, Langenbach, Watson 2, Corey, Dorsett, Gunville 1
K- Oakman 7, Bush, Sandford, H. Schwartzman, K. Schwartzman 4, Koch 2, Gorton, Parent, Sandler 1

Turnovers:
Y- 16
K- 16

Shots:
Y- 13
K- 21

Shots on cage:
Y- 10
K- 14

Saves:
Y (Gunville) 5
K (Kudas) 5

KENNEBUNK—While Kennebunk’s girls’ lacrosse team came into Tuesday night’s showdown against Yarmouth with the mindset that the game wasn’t about revenge, it certainly felt bigger than your typical regular season contest.

In a rematch of last year’s epic Class B state final, won by the Clippers in overtime, the host Rams staked yet another claim to being the best team in Maine by controlling play much of the way.

Kennebunk jumped to a quick 2-0 lead behind goals from sophomore Hallie Schwartzman and senior standout Jenny Bush, but Yarmouth settled down and responded like the champion it is and hopes to be again, pulling even when juniors Eliza Lunt and Cory Langenbach tickled the twine in a 1 minute, 40 second span.

Rams coach Annie Barker called timeout and her charges finished the first half strong, going ahead to stay on a Bush goal with 2:26 left, then taking a 4-2 lead to the break when senior Kristen Koch scored 44 seconds later.

Kennebunk appeared primed to run away when Bush, junior Gabby Fogg and senior Olivia Sandford all scored (with senior standout Kyra Schwartzman setting up all three goals) early in the second half, but again, the Clippers responded.

Goals from Langenbach and junior Ella Antolini cut the deficit to three and after Kyra Schwartzman answered, sophomore Eva Then scored unassisted with 4:41 left, to pull Yarmouth within 8-5.

But Lunt was robbed by Rams senior goalie Bella Kudas on a bid to draw the Clippers closer and with 1:57 remaining, Kyra Schwartzman put it away with a free position goal and Kennebunk went on to a 9-5 victory.

The Rams got three goals from Bush, two goals and three assists from Kyra Schwartzman and improved to 10-0, ended the Clippers’ win streak at eight and dropped them to 8-2 in the process.

“We talk about taking steps on a mountain and we’re stepping up,” Kyra Schwartzman said. “Before the game, we talked in the huddle about this year being a different team and a different struggle. It was one of our tougher games and we were really pumped up to play them. It feels good to beat a good team and that’s what it’s about for us.”

“I’m proud of how we’re growing and learning,” said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “We just had some unfortunate turnovers at unfortunate times.”

Highly anticipated

Entering the 2016 season, the short list of Class B favorites read Kennebunk, Yarmouth and Falmouth in some order and the Clippers and Rams have not disappointed.

Yarmouth opened with an 8-7 home loss to York, then got things going with wins at Cape Elizabeth (11-6) and at home over Freeport (15-4). The good times continued with wins at NYA (13-3), at home against Greely (10-4), at Scarborough (12-6), at Lake Region (15-7) and at home over Waynflete (4-3) and Brunswick (16-1).

Kennebunk came out of the gate red-hot, toying with visiting Fryeburg Academy (17-1) and York (14-2). The Rams then made a powerful statement when they romped at Waynflete, 13-3. After holding off visiting Greely, 11-8, in its closest game to date, Kennebunk dominated visiting Cape Elizabeth (14-2) and defending Eastern A champion Messalonskee (15-2), romped at Freeport (17-1), won at Lake Region (10-3), then Saturday, again turned heads with a decisive 15-5 win at defending Class A champion Marshwood.

The teams have met sporadically over the years, but have they ever produced some memorable games, none more notable than the showdown last June 20 at Fitzpatrick Stadium, when the Clippers shot to a quick 3-0 lead, held an advantage most of the way and after the Rams rallied to force overtime, Yarmouth captured the title, 11-10, on then-junior Lilly Watson’s goal.

The Clippers also beat Kennebunk in the 2002 state game (there was just one class back then) and again in the 2007 Class B Final. 

The Rams had taken the previous two regular season encounters, both in Yarmouth, including a 10-7 decision last May, but entering Tuesday’s game, the Clippers held an 8-5 edge in the series dating back to 2002 (see sidebar, below).

This time around, on an overcast 55-degree evening, in 81 minutes of real time, Kennebunk got its revenge and took another step closer to the pinnacle.

Bush won the opening draw and the Rams had a couple golden early chances, but Hallie Schwartzman had a shot saved by Yarmouth junior goalie Mary Kate Gunville and Kyra Schwartzman hit the crossbar.

With 21:57 to play in the first half, Hallie Schwartzman opened the scoring with an unassisted goal.

After Gunville robbed Bush on a free position, Bush finished a feed from senior Carly Sandler with 15:33 to play before halftime.

“Our goal was to come out pumped tonight,” Bush said.

After Gunville denied a Koch shot, the Clippers settled down and started to run their offense.

With 9:58 left in the half, Lunt took a pass from Watson and beat Kudas to break the ice.

With 8:18 remaining, Langenbach earned a free position and found the net to tie the score, 2-2.

Kennebunk coach Annie Barker called timeout, but Yarmouth almost went ahead on the other side of it, when Then had a good look, only to be denied by Kudas.

With 2:26 to go before the break, Bush passed to Sandler, then got the ball back on a perfectly executed give-and-go and beat Gunville to put Kennebunk ahead to stay.

“We weren’t ready for a team that was going to come out on us that tough,” Kyra Schwartzman said. “We were caught on our heels at the beginning. Coach called timeout and we refocused.”

Bush won the ensuing draw and with 1:42 left, Hallie Schwartzman threw the ball to Koch in traffic and after making a tough catch, Koch finished for a two-goal lead.

In the waning seconds, Kyra Schwartzman almost tacked on another goal, but Gunville stopped it to send the game to the break 4-2.

In the first half, Bush won six of seven draws and the Rams enjoyed a 12-5 advantage in shots in goal. The Clippers were hindered by eight turnovers.

Yarmouth had a chance to draw closer in the first minute of the second half, but senior Sophia Harrison passed up a free position shot and instead passed to Watson, who had her shot denied by Kudas.

With 21:19 remaining, Kennebunk extended its lead, when Kyra Schwartzman fired a pinpoint pass to Bush for a 5-2 advantage.

With 19:10 to go, Schwartzman delivered another assist, this one to Fogg to make it 6-2.

Holt called timeout, but it didn’t help, as with 17:53 left, playing man-up after Yarmouth sophomore Greta Elder was given a yellow card, the Rams extended their lead to five, as Schwartzman set up Sandford.

“We’ve emphasized trying to get an assist on every goal this year,” Kyra Schwartzman said. “We work on that in practice. We’re always looking for each other. We all trust each other.” 

The Clippers could have buckled, but they fought to the end and made things interesting.

With 16:32 to play, in transition, Lunt set up Langenbach for a man-down tally, which ended the Rams’ 5-0 run and a 16 minute, 46 second drought.

After Kudas denied Antolini on a free position, Antolini had the last laugh, when she got a pass from Lunt in transition and finished to cut the deficit to 7-4.

Kennebunk didn’t allow Yarmouth to get any closer, as with 7:13 to play, Kyra Schwartzman discovered it was as good to receive as it was to give, as she finished Sandford’s feed for an 8-4 advantage.

The Clippers again cut the deficit to three with 4:41 showing, when Then ran in unguarded from midfield and scored, but out of a timeout, Kudas made her biggest save, denying Lunt to preserve the advantage.

The Rams then ran time off the clock until 1:57 remained, when Gunville was called for making contact with Kyra Schwartzman and Schwartzman didn’t just get a free position as a result, she also was able to shoot on an open net as Gunville had to step back and Schwartzman didn’t miss, icing the victory with the goal. and Kennebunk went on to a 9-5 triumph.

“We didn’t play our best, but it shows we can win even when we don’t,” Bush said. “Last year was tough, but we’re not thinking too much about last year. We just wanted to come out and play the game we’ve played all season. We did that, so I’m happy.”

“We were a little rattled in the beginning, but we talked about stuff we worked on in practice,” Barker said. “We had to take our time on offense. We couldn’t throw the ball away after the defense worked so hard to get it. They took away our fast break, which I expected. We had to pass the ball around the periphery.” 

The Rams got goals from six different players, as Bush scored three times, Kyra Schwartzman had two goals and Fogg, Koch, Sandford and Hallie Schwartzman all tickled the twine once. 

Seven of Kennebunk’s nine goals were assisted. Kyra Schwartzman had a game-high three, Sandler added a pair and Sandford and Hallie Schwartzman both finished with one.

“Almost all of our goals this season have been assisted,” Bush said. “That’s helped us a lot. Our goal is to work together. We have seven attackers who can score and that’s one of our biggest threats. All of our attack has played together since fifth grade. We have telepathy and we know where each other will be.”

Kudas made five saves.

The Rams had a 10-6 edge in draws, as Bush won 8 of 13 chances and Sandford went 2 for 3. 

“I work in the offseason a lot on draws,” Bush said. “I’ve gotten in the flow of winning it to myself or Olivia winning it to me.”

Kennebunk’s unheralded defense also came up big, limited Yarmouth’s opportunities, forcing turnovers and scooping up ground balls (junior Marran Oakman was especially active and tied for game-high honors in game balls with seven).

“Our defense has kept us in many games,” Kyra Schwartzman said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be the team we are. We have seven great defenders in the zone back there.”

“Marran and (senior) Cara (Small) played very well,” Barker said. “We know if we have to get the ball out of there, we can do it.”

The Rams committed 16 turnovers, but enjoyed a 21-13 shots advantage (14-10 on cage).

Learning experience

Yarmouth got two goals from Langenbach and one apiece from Antolini, Lunt and Then. Lunt assisted on two goals and Watson had one assist.

Gunville made five saves. 

The Clippers had a 35-28 advantage in ground balls as Antolini collected seven and Then had six.

Yarmouth was frustrated by 16 turnovers.

“We’re still learning,” Holt said. “We’re young and (Kennebunk’s) seasoned. They should play like that. They’re a great team. I’m not unhappy at all. Our girls showed poise and control. They didn’t hang their head. We knew it would be a challenge and we were ready. I’m so proud of the way we played. It could have turned quickly, but the defense played great. Mary Kate made some great saves.”

Eye on the playoffs

Kennebunk (which is closing in on wrapping up the top spot in the Class B South Heal Points standings) has another stern test Thursday afternoon, when it travels to Falmouth, a team the Rams beat in last year’s regional final.

“We’re ready for Falmouth,” Bush said. “We’re excited for another challenge on our road. We’re really looking forward to it.”

“Falmouth’s another tough team,” Kyra Schwartzman said. “We’ll practice hard and keep preparing and go out and play as hard as we can. We’re playing better and better each game. We’re focused.”

Kennebunk closes at home versus NYA next Wednesday.

“It’s good to play these top teams at the end,” Barker said. “Yarmouth riding us so hard tonight was great for us. We’ll gain confidence from this.”

Yarmouth (now third behind St. Dom’s and Morse in Class B North) hopes to bounce back when its hosts Cape Elizabeth on its Senior Night Thursday. The Clippers then close with a showdown at Falmouth Wednesday of next week.

“We have a couple more tests,” Holt said. “We’ll keep doing our thing. I have a great group of girls. This is the exciting part of the season. The girls are ready.”

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

Yarmouth senior Lauren Bartlett tries to slow Kennebunk senior Jenny Bush, who scored three times in the Rams’ win.

Yarmouth junior Cory Langenbach keeps a wary eye on Kennebunk senior Kyra Schwartzman.

Yarmouth sophomore Eva Then runs up the field.

Kennebunk junior Gabby Fogg looks to pass as Yarmouth senior Lauren Bartlett defends.

Yarmouth sophomore Eva Then, left, and senior Campbell Dorsett battle Kennebunk junior Gabby Fogg for the ball.

Yarmouth junior Ella Antolini scoops up a ground ball.

Recent Yarmouth-Kennebunk results

2015
Kennebunk 10 @ Yarmouth 7
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 11 Kennebunk 10 (OT) 

2014
Yarmouth 9 @ Kennebunk 6
Kennebunk 8 @ Yarmouth 6

2009
Kennebunk 8 @ Yarmouth 7

2008
Kennebunk 9 @ Yarmouth 5

2007
Yarmouth 12 @ Kennebunk 11 (OT)
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 7 Kennebunk 5

2003
@ Kennebunk 13 Yarmouth 8
@ Yarmouth 9 Kennebunk 8 (OT)

2002
@ Yarmouth 10 Kennebunk 5
Yarmouth 7 @ Kennebunk 6
State Final
Yarmouth 13 Kennebunk 8

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.