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Cape holds off Yarmouth in midseason field hockey battle

Sports

Cape holds off Yarmouth in midseason field hockey battle

CAPE ELIZABETH—There are times when scoring the first goal of a game can be as much a curse as it is a blessing.

That phenomenon was something the Cape Elizabeth field hockey team had to contend with Wednesday afternoon at Hannaford Field.

Hosting dangerous Yarmouth, the Capers shot to a 1-0 lead just 7 minutes, 42 seconds in on a goal from junior Taylor Herrera, then had the burden of having to protect that advantage for more than 52 minutes.

Which wasn't easy to do.

Despite some anxious moments in the second half, Cape Elizabeth's smothering defense and junior goalkeeper Mary DiPietro held the potent Clippers at bay and the Capers went on to a 1-0 victory, improving to 6-2 and dropping Yarmouth to 3-2-1 in the process.

"It wasn't easy, but our team pulled it out in the end," Herrera said. "I really didn't think the lead would hold up. I thought we'd either get more goals or the score would be even and we'd pull it out in the end."

In the hunt

The last time Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth were both this good in the same season was in 2000, when the Capers beat the host Clippers, 1-0, in overtime, in the Western B Final.

Since then, both squads have had their moments, but gaudy records and dreams of deep playoff runs have been rare.

Until now.

So far this autumn, Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth have turned heads and both project to be top contenders come playoff time.

The Clippers, who posted a winning record last year for the first time since 2000, opened with a 6-0 win at Waynflete. After a 4-0 home triumph over Sacopee Valley, Yarmouth couldn't hold a late lead and despite dominating big swaths of play, suffered an agonizing 2-1 double overtime loss at crosstown rival North Yarmouth Academy. The Clippers bounced back and downed host Wells, 4-0, before settling for a 1-1 tie at Traip Academy.

The Capers, a nine-win squad and quarterfinalist in 2012, opened 2013 with a 2-1 win at Gray-New Gloucester, then dropped a 1-0 double overtime home decision to Falmouth, before defeating host Poland (3-0) and visiting Fryeburg (2-0). A thrilling 3-2, come-from-behind overtime victory at Greely followed. Cape Elizabeth then blanked visiting Freeport, 2-0, but Monday, lost at Kennebunk, 1-0.

Entering Wednesday's contest, the lone meeting between the schools this fall (they can't meet in the playoffs with Yarmouth now in Class C), Cape Elizabeth had gone 7-1-1 since a playoff victory in 2007 (please see sidebar, below). Last year, the Capers eked out a 2-1 home victory over the Clippers in the regular season finale. Yarmouth's last win over Cape Elizabeth came Sept. 17, 2008 (2-0, at home).

This time, the Capers found a way to deny the Clippers once more.

The hosts controlled play in the first half and after a blast off a penalty corner from senior Abby McInerney was turned aside by Yarmouth's first-year goalie, sophomore Tori Messina, Cape Elizabeth broke through.

With 22:18 to play in the first half, McInerney crossed the ball in front of the goal to Herrera, who stopped it and redirected it into the cage, to Messina's left, making it 1-0 Capers.

"It was important to come out and get a goal," Herrera said. "Abby was fighting for the ball on the left, centered it in front, I brought it to the right and pushed it in."

Clippers coach Mandy Lewis immediately called a timeout.

It didn't turn the tide as Cape Elizabeth began to pressure for a second goal.

With 20:55 to go before halftime, McInerney's shot was saved and a rebound was sent just wide.

It took until the 6:09 mark of the first half for the visitors to get a good chance, but a blast from Clippers junior standout Kallie Hutchinson off a penalty corner was swept out of harm's way by Capers junior defender Aubrey O'Meara.

Late in the half, a bid from Yarmouth freshman Taylor Robison hit the outside of the cage and the score remained 1-0 at the break.

In the first 30 minutes, Cape Elizabeth outshot the Clippers, 7-3, and only five saves from Messina kept the game from getting out of hand.

Yarmouth was frustrated most of the half by the Capers' defense, which simply wouldn't let the Clippers set up possession in the Cape Elizabeth end.

"Everything clicked on defense," said junior defender Hannah Preble. "The mids did a good job getting back. This game, we had a lot of support from the mids and even the forwards. That was nice."

"The defenders really understand that they need to get back," said Cape Elizabeth coach Darci Holland.

"Defensively, (Cape has) some great players," said Lewis. "(O'Meara) did a great job clearing. We tried to adjust and tip it around her. We did that better in the second half."

Less than a minute into the second half, Yarmouth looked to tie the game as Hutchinson sent a cross in front of the goal, but it was broken up by Capers sophomore Megan Nicholson.

Cape Elizabeth then went back on the attack and with 27:58 left, had three great looks on a penalty corner to double its lead, but Messina first denied junior Caroline Garfield on a long blast, then twice robbed rebound attempts by senior Hailey Petsinger.

After McInerney sent a rocket just wide, the Clippers went on offense and in a five-minute span, earned six penalty corners and almost tied the game.

With 20:05 to go in regulation, senior Emma Peterson fired a shot off a corner that DiPietro had to kick aside.

Hutchinson then got a look on a corner, launched a blast and the shot deflected off a defender, but again, DiPietro made the stop.

Senior Katie Overhaug then had a look on a corner, but her shot was saved.

Then, with 17:27 to go, Hutchinson teed up yet another shot on a corner, but DiPietro made the save and a rebound bid trickled wide.

"We got really flustered at points and got a lot of corners called on us," Preble said. "The more corners, the more flustered we got, but we did pretty well considering in holding them off. We knew (Hutchinson) was where we had to focus our attention. Our fly went straight to her."

Holland called timeout with 15:45 to go and it settled her team down.

Senior Sammi Altznauer almost made it 2-0 with 10:51 remaining, but her shot off a corner was saved by Messina.

Then, with 9:04 left, Hutchinson backhanded a cross from the right wing and the ball trickled right through the goalmouth, but no Clipper could get a stick on it and it rolled harmlessly away.

Lewis called her final timeout with 7 minutes remaining, but Yarmouth could only muster one final chance.

With 37 seconds showing, Peterson rushed into the zone, but Preble broke up the play and Cape Elizabeth was finally able to celebrate its hard-fought 1-0 victory.

"This does a lot for our confidence coming off a frustrating loss to Kennebunk," Preble said.

"For me, it was very nervewracking," Holland said. "I don't know if the girls realized the intensity of the situation. We seem to have issues scoring right now. It's kind of been that way all season. It's something we need to work on. Unfortunately, we're used to these games. Overall, it was a pretty clean game. We've worked on passing the ball and shooting it when we got it there. We did a better job of that tonight."  

Cape Elizabeth outshot Yarmouth, 14-8, but the Clippers wound up with seven penalty corners to six for the Capers, and certainly had their chances.

"It's hard to have so many opportunities and not be able to finish," Lewis lamented. "I think it was a slow start. One thing that's a struggle for us is that we haven't been on our home turf except for one game. We knew Cape's stick skills were accurate and strong. We came in and wanted to play at that level and we did. We just came out flat. We had success in the second half and played well, we just couldn't get one in. One thing I love about this team is that in a timeout or halftime if we talk about adjustments, they do it."

Messina wound up making nine saves (DiPietro had five).

"Tori has done a great job," Lewis said. "She communicates well and she's aggressive in the goal. That's exciting to see."

Back to business

Yarmouth (now seventh in the Western Class C Heal Points standings) doesn't have much time to dwell on this loss, as it faces several Class C foes over the next couple weeks. The Clippers are back in action Saturday when they go to Sacopee Valley. After welcoming Waynflete Tuesday, Yarmouth is home with Sacopee Valley and goes to Freeport, has a rematch at home versus NYA (Oct. 7), then closes the schedule with home games against Wells, Traip and Freeport.

"Every game is an opportunity to learn and get a step closer to our goal," Lewis said. "We'll get ready for Sacopee."

Cape Elizabeth (now fourth in Western B) has to go to No. 3 Lake Region Friday.

"We need to bring more intensity than we have been," said Preble. "We have stretches when we're good, then lose some of our intensity. We need to work on that."

"Lake Region will definitely be a test," said Holland. "They seem to be doing well."

The Capers have a chance to avenge Monday's loss when they host Kennebunk Tuesday of next week. Games at Falmouth and Fryeburg and home tilts with Greely and York close the regular season. Cape Elizabeth hopes to keep the good times rolling and has a specific goal in mind.

"We want to have our playoff games at home," Herrera said. "We're better on turf."

"We want to get homefield advantage," Holland added. "A turf game is clearly different than a grass game. It's just a much cleaner game. You can pass and do stuff with the ball. Grass hampers that."

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

Photo: Michael Strout

Yarmouth senior Hannah Peters sends a shot on goal.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth junior Taylor Herrera and Yarmouth senior Katie Overhaug battle for possession. Herrera's first half goal was the only score of the game.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth senior Hannah Newhall fires a shot.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth junior defender Julia Ginder knocks the ball away from Yarmouth junior Kallie Hutchinson.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cape Elizabeth senior Abby McInerney gets past Yarmouth senior Olivia Shay.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth meetings

2012
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 1

2011
@ Yarmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)

2010
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1

2009
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2008
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 0

2007
@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (2 OT)
Western B preliminary
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 1 (7th round of penalty corners)

2006
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 1

2005
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2004
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2003
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0 (OT)

2002
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Yarmouth 0

2001
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 2
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1

2000
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0 (OT)