Cape girls rally to stun Yarmouth in OT
YARMOUTH—After producing nearly 177 minutes of exciting, almost dead-even soccer over a nine-day span, one can only hope that the Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth girls' teams meet once more in the playoffs.
Saturday evening at Yarmouth High School, eight days after battling to a 1-1 draw at Cape Elizabeth, the Capers and Clippers again needed more than 80 minutes to decide which squad was better and this time, there was resolution.
For much of the night, it appeared as though the precocious and rapidly-improving Clippers would be the team earning a statement victory, as they carried play most of the way and took a 1-0 lead when freshman sensation Katie Clemmer finished with 32:36 left in regulation.
Explosive Cape Elizabeth finally came to life down the stretch, however, and sophomore Katherine Briggs, who sparkled all evening, set up senior scoring machine Kathryn Clark for the equalizer with 9:38 left.
Then, after the game went to overtime and remained 1-1 after a first five-minute session, 1 minute, 51 seconds into the second OT, Briggs took a lead pass from sophomore Sarah O'Connor and buried the game winner, giving the Capers a palpitating 2-1 victory.
Cape Elizabeth improved to 8-1-1 with the triumph and dropped Yarmouth, which deserved a different result, to 4-3-2.
"I'm glad we managed to sneak out of here with a win," said first-year Capers coach Craig Fannan. "It's the first time ever I sat the girls down at halftime and told them off. I wasn't happy at all with how we played. We made simple mistakes. Yarmouth was the better team for the first 60 minutes of this game."
Saturday early evening special
Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth entered Saturday's contest among the top teams in Western Class B.
After losing their opener at Greely, 3-0, the Clippers defeated visiting Freeport (1-0), host York (1-0), host Kennebunk (5-0) and visiting Wells (4-0), before settling for a 1-1 tie at Cape Elizabeth. A 3-1 home loss to Falmouth and a scoreless home tie against York came earlier this week.
The Capers opened by blanking host Freeport, 5-0, then beat visiting York, 1-0, and visiting Poland, 6-1. Falmouth then came to town and registered a surprisingly decisive 2-0 win. Cape Elizabeth bounced back with a 2-1 win at Greely, then downed host Lake Region (4-0). After rallying for a 1-1 home tie against Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth handled visiting Kennebunk Monday, 5-0, then avenged their lone loss with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Falmouth Wednesday.
Entering Saturday's contest, dating to 2001, the teams had met 23 times, with Yarmouth prevailing 10 times, Cape Elizabeth six and seven other games ending in draws (please see sidebar, below).
The Clippers went 9-0-3 against the Capers between 2005 and 2010, but Cape Elizabeth won the lone meeting in 2011, then swept Yarmouth last fall, 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the road.
This time around, the teams were as even as could be and produced myriad highlights.
Both sides had their moments in the first half, but couldn't score.
The Capers almost struck in the first minute, but a Clark rush was broken up by Yarmouth senior defender Abby Belisle-Haley.
In the third minute, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Kate Breed lofted a shot which landed on top of the goal netting. Seconds later, sophomore Montana Braxton fired a 25-yard shot just high.
The Clippers' first chance came in the 11th minute, when Clemmer had a shot saved by Capers' senior goalkeeper Mary Perkins.
A minute later, Perkins made another save, on a free kick from Yarmouth sophomore Lilly Watson.
The hosts kept the pressure on and freshman Gretchen Barbera shot just high and a minute later sent a cross in from the side which Perkins snared. Freshman Eliza Lunt then had another look, but she shot wide.
Later in the half, Cape Elizabeth's promising freshman, Mariah Deschino, made her presence felt. Deschino had a rush broken up by Clippers sophomore defender Lauren Bartlett, sent a cross into the box which sat loose before it was cleared, had another rush broken up by Bartlett, then fired a shot which tipped off the top of the crossbar.
In the first minutes, Yarmouth outshot the Capers, 7-3, but Perkins' five saves kept the game scoreless.
At the break, Fannan let his displeasure be know.
"At halftime, Craig really laid into us," said Clark. "That got us to snap back into it. We realized that just because we beat Falmouth, we have to play our best and get to every ball."
"I think when we walked off at halftime, we were a little concerned," Briggs said. "We really wanted this game. We came back feeling confident, ready to win."
"We told the girls to not feel sorry for themselves," Fannan added. "It's not always going to work out."
Instead, Yarmouth came out sizzling in the second half and it soon resulted in a goal.
After junior Emma Torres had a left-footed shot saved, the Clippers earned their first corner kick. Watson sent the ball into the box where Perkins bobbled it, but she was able to retrieve the ball before further damage was done. After Clemmer had a shot in front go just wide and Watson had a shot from the side saved, the hosts broke through.
The goal came on a pretty give-and-go between Clemmer and fellow freshman Cory Langenbach. Clemmer got the ball back and one-timed a low shot past Perkins to make it 1-0 with 32:36 left in regulation.
"(Katie's) got a really nice touch on the ball and has really good skills," said Yarmouth coach Rich Smith.
The Capers eventually came to life and began to press for the equalizer.
Braxton created some chances, having a shot blocked, sending a rebound high and having a left-footed shot saved by Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon.
After Fallon preserved the lead by coming out to get a pair of loose balls, she made a save on a 30-yard blast from Cape Elizabeth senior captain Addie Wood.
Deschino then got back into the act, rushing in only to be stopped by Fallon, later shooting wide, then firing again and having the shot deflected, only to have Fallon make the save.
With 10:02 to play and their chances dwindling by the minute, the Capers created a chance as a Deschino cross sat loose in the box, but Fallon got to the ball.
But just when hope appeared lost, the quick-strike "Killer K" tandem of Briggs and Clark came through.
With 9:38 showing, Briggs slipped a pass ahead to Clark on the left flank. Clark, who had a step on a defender, lunged to get a foot on the ball and managed to get enough on it to send it into the net to tie the score, 1-1.
"With 10 minutes left, I was extremely nervous," Clark said. "We weren't connecting. Unlike the Falmouth game, we weren't winning the 50-50 balls. Yarmouth outplayed us. We were a different team for 60 minutes. I kind of put my foot out there and hoped for the best."
"I saw (Kathryn) quickly and everything kind of slowed down," Briggs said. "I think as a team we really rely on each other. We rely on the positive attitudes that everyone on the team and Craig bring. We build off each other's attitudes to pull it together. It shows a lot about our team and our character. Yarmouth gives us good games because they play a different style, especially on defense. It requires us to think more and play to our strengths."
"We did enough to keep ourselves in the game," Fannan added. "We kept fighting and chipping away. We kept believing and throwing bodies forward and it finally worked out for us."
Late in regulation, Deschino was denied by Fallon, Fallon beat Clark to a feed from Braxton and at the other end, Clemmer almost won it with a lofting 25-yard shot, but Perkins made the save, and Clemmer almost won it again when she headed a corner just wide.
It was on to overtime, where teams play two five-minute, "sudden victory" sessions and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie.
That wouldn't be the case in this Saturday Night Special.
Yarmouth had some chances in the first OT, but a free kick from Belisle-Haley couldn't be redirected in the box, Barbera was knocked down in the box with no call made and a shot from Langenbach was blocked.
Early in the second overtime, it appeared as if the teams would settle for a deserving draw, but instead, Cape Elizabeth broke the Clippers' hearts.
O'Connor got the ball outside the box and served it toward the left side where Briggs had a step on the defense. Briggs collected the ball, took a touch and had time to calmly place it past Fallon, to the goalie's right, into the twine to win it, 2-1.
"I just had to think about it," Briggs said. "It just fell right to my chest. It was a beautiful ball. I just had to place it and not hit it too hard. I didn't want to shank it. Once it fell to my feet it was an easy finish. Nothing compares to this. This game taught us that even when we're down, we have to fight to come back. It's a good reminder that even though we're a good team, we'll be scored upon and we have to fight back."
Briggs sometimes doesn't get the attention she deserves playing on such a talented team, but did she ever play the role of the star in this one.
"Katherine's an unbelievable player," Clark said. "She was definitely the best player tonight. She came through with the passes and goals we needed."
"Katherine's a powerhouse," Fannan said. "She's going to be a fantastic footballer. She has raw ability. She was a little nervous at the start of the season. She just needed to relax. It's nice to see her rewarded. She works hard."
The Capers knew they dodged a bullet.
"We switched it on after we tied it," Clark said. "That's something we have to work on. Everyone started to pick up our game. We started sprinting to balls. I'm very happy with overtime. Sometimes we're not confident, sit back and play defense, but this was a great result."
"Yarmouth defended so well in the first game, but today they also were very dangerous on offense," Fannan said. "They played a great game."
Yarmouth was left stunned and a little angry over having nothing to show for such a great effort, but Smith was thrilled with his girls' performance.
"I thought it was the best game we've played all year," Smith said. "My girls played much better than we did at Cape. We matched up well and played them hard. I feel badly for the loss, but I'm excited about how well we're playing and developing. Our captains have done a great job of getting everybody involved, making the freshmen feel welcome and cheering for them. Abby and (senior) Julia (Primeau) and Emma's leadership has spread through the team. They believe they can get better."
Shots finished 16-12 in favor of the Clippers. The Capers had a 4-3 edge in corner kicks. Perkins made eight saves to six for Fallon.
See you again?
Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth have never played in the postseason, but that could happen this season, now that the Capers are in Class B.
Before either squad can even entertain thoughts of the postseason, however, they close the regular year with multiple tests.
The Clippers (now fifth in the Western B Heal Points standings) hope to bounce back Tuesday, but it won't be easy as they go to nemesis Falmouth. After hosting Kennebunk Friday and Greely (on Senior Night, Oct. 16), Yarmouth closes at Poland and Gray-New Gloucester.
Cape Elizabeth (first in Western B) is back in action Tuesday, at Kennebunk. The Capers have a big home test versus Greely Saturday, then play host to Fryeburg two days later in their Senior Night contest, before closing at York.
"The whole season is about learning and the playoffs are about winning," Clark said. "This was a great experience. We hope to go into playoffs feeling strong and healthy."
"I try not to look at the Heal Points," Fannan said. "We haven't had easy games. We're looking for a break, but there just isn't one. Kennebunk has had good results. That won't be easy. Then Greely, Fryeburg and York."
Back to that possible third Capers-Clippers matchup come playoff time. One team is all for it. The other isn't so crazy about the idea.
"I hope not," Fannan said. "They play well against us."
"I told the girls I don't think (the Capers) want to see us again," Smith said. "They're a really good team. So are we. We know we're as good as anyone in (Class) B. We're getting there."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
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