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Yarmouth and Falmouth girls play to scoreless draw

Sports

Yarmouth and Falmouth girls play to scoreless draw

YARMOUTH—After watching their respective boys' teams battle to a draw Saturday afternoon, the Falmouth and Yarmouth girls' soccer teams went out and did the same thing, in slightly different fashion, Saturday night.

In a game that was a tale of two halves, the visiting two-time defending Class B state champion Yachtsmen had numerous golden opportunities in a frustrating first half, but simply couldn't convert.

Then, in the second half, the rising Clippers took over and nearly went ahead on a couple of occasions.

Overtime settled nothing and the squads settled for a 0-0 tie, which was Falmouth's first blemish of any kind in seven games and left Yarmouth 1-3-2.

"It's a good tie," said Clippers coach Rich Smith. "I thought we played well. Falmouth's a very good team. We gave them everything they could handle tonight."

Throw out the records

Falmouth and Yarmouth are always among the top contenders in Class B and when the rivals meet, the games are almost always down to the wire, regardless of the teams' place in the standings.

The Yachtsmen entered the game riding high. Falmouth opened its 2012 season with a 2-1 win at Cape Elizabeth. The Yachtsmen then downed host North Yarmouth Academy (5-0), visiting Poland (2-0), host Greely (1-0), host Gray-New Gloucester (3-1) and visiting Freeport (3-0).

The Clippers reached the quarterfinals a year ago, but with a young nucleus have struggled to hit their stride this fall. After opening with a 2-0 home win over NYA, Yarmouth lost at Lake Region (2-1) and Cape Elizabeth (2-0), battled host York to a scoreless tie, then fell at home to Cape Elizabeth (2-1, in overtime).

Falmouth has had the better of the rivalry in recent years, but last fall, the teams split in the regular season, as the Yachtsmen triumphed 1-0, in overtime, at Yarmouth, while the Clippers prevailed, 1-0, at Falmouth. They squared off again in the Western B quarterfinals (the teams' fifth playoff meeting since 2002), where the host Yachtsmen erupted for a 4-0 win en route to the championship.

Saturday, Falmouth came out sizzling, but just couldn't put the ball in the net.

In the third minute, senior Alex Bernier, who scored the OT winner at Yarmouth last year, fired a long shot from the side, forcing Clippers sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Fallon to make a leaping save.

Seconds later, Yarmouth senior Megan Decker had to clear away a loose ball in the box.

Bernier had another chance in the seventh minute, when she took a long pass and broke in, but her low shot hit the outside of the far post.

In the 11th minute, junior Mary Catherine Kowalsky had a good look, but her shot was saved by Fallon.

In the 20th minute, a rush from promising Falmouth freshman Tyler Spence was broken up at the last minute by Clippers senior Ali Merrill.

Spence had a great look five minutes later on a breakaway, but with Fallon out of the goal, she sent a shot just wide.

A Yachtsmen rush in the final minute was also broken up and the game went to the half still scoreless.

A minute into the second half, Falmouth had its last good look, but Kowalsky, alone in the box, couldn't make solid contact on a shot.

The hosts then began to push offensively and almost broke through.

The Clippers' best chance came with 26:10 to play when junior Alexa Sullivan had a great look in front, but Yachtsmen senior goalkeeper Caroline Lucas came up huge with a point blank save.

"Caroline always comes up huge," said Falmouth coach Wally LeBlanc. "We don't think twice about her. We love what she does. She's a hardworking young lady and we thank her for that."

Seconds later, Yarmouth freshman Eavan O'Neill then had a look, but her bender sailed just wide of the far post.

In the 58th minute, senior Julia Kameisha fired a low shot that Lucas saved.

With 11:38 to go, a shot by sophomore Emma Torres was deflected wide, leading to a corner kick on which the ball sat free momentarily in the box before being cleared.

Neither team got a good look again and it was on to overtime.

In Maine high school regular season girls' soccer, teams play two five-minute "sudden victory" sessions. If no one scores, the game results in a draw.

Neither squad had a shot in the first overtime.

The only chance in the second OT came midway through when Falmouth earned a corner kick. The Yachtsmen chose to play it short, the ball was cleared and neither squad sniffed the goal from there and the game ended, 0-0.

Both coaches found positives in the deadlock.

With Falmouth being down senior standout Caitlin Bucksbaum, last year's Gatorade Player of the Year, who was spending the weekend at Villanova University, where she'll play next year, and losing junior midfielders Megan Miller and Taylor Russell to injury, the Yachtsmen managed to split Heal Points.

"You want to finish the opportunities we had," said LeBlanc. "Certainly we had opportunities, but I wouldn't focus on that. I'm glad we played a 0-0 game against a good Yarmouth team. They really started pressing us in the midfield in the second half and put the ball behind our defense. It got us frustrated a little bit. It's something to learn off of. It's just communication. We got some girls getting some valuable playing time. Obviously you want to come out on top when you have opportunities, but I'm not displeased. We played hard as a team. They played hard as a team. It was a typical Falmouth-Yarmouth game. We held our own."

Smith liked his team's intensity and the way they got better throughout.

"I thought we played better as the game went on, which was good," Smith said. "We had some good opportunities in the second half. I'm definitely encouraged. We dodged some bullets. They sent it long and shot it wide once, hit the post once. I felt our defense learned from it and we adjusted to it at halftime. We took those away in the second half. We have depth on defense. That led to the ball not going over our head and us having to turn and chase. We played the ball quicker. We played more one-and-touch soccer. We had possession time."

Each team had four corner kicks. Fallon and Lucas both made seven saves.

Long road ahead

Yarmouth is back in action Monday at Wells. The Clippers visit Greely Thursday, then have a return match at Falmouth Saturday afternoon. Yarmouth also has pivotal games remaining at home against Greely and York.

Smith thinks his team will be a factor the rest of the way.

"I feel like our record isn't great, but we played Falmouth and York to ties and those are supposed to be the two best teams in (Class) B," Smith said. "We played Cape Elizabeth hard. We have gotten better every game. We need to score some goals. Hopefully that will come."

Falmouth plays host to Wells Thursday before Yarmouth pays its visit. The Yachtsmen still host York, Cape Elizabeth and Greely and go to York before the regular season ends.

Falmouth's goal of a first-ever three-peat is very realistic.

"I'm pleased," said LeBlanc. "To say we're 6-0-1 halfway through is nice. We still have seven tough games to go."

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

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Falmouth senior Cassie Darrow beats Yarmouth junior Julia Primeau to the ball.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth senior Olivia Conrad knocks the ball away from Falmouth senior Cassie Darrow.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Fallon goes airborne to make a save.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Two promising young players, Falmouth freshman Tyler Spence and Yarmouth sophomore Sarah Myers, get up close and personal as they look for possession.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth junior Abby Belisle-Haley defends against Falmouth junior Mary Catherine Kowalsky.