NYA field hockey closes with loss to York
YARMOUTH—The North Yarmouth Academy field hockey team will surely face off against some staunch competition during its playoff run, but unlikely the Panthers will see anyone quite like the squad which paid them a visit Tuesday afternoon.
In the regular season finale, on its Senior Day, NYA welcomed an undefeated York squad, which has been a regular Class B state finalist over the past decade and entered having allowed just one goal all season.
After starting the game strong, the Panthers soon bore witness to the Wildcats' greatness as York scored twice before halftime, then added a pair of second half goals to prevail, 4-0.
NYA finishes the regular year 11-2-1 and will likely be the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Western Class C playoffs.
"We had everything to gain and nothing to lose," said Panthers coach Tracy Quimby. "It doesn't make a difference in the brackets. We wanted to go in, have fun, do our best and see if we could challenge them. We'll come back, practice and get ready for the tournament."
NYA opened with a 5-0 home win over Traip, then escaped host Wells, 2-1, before rallying against visiting Yarmouth to win, 2-1, in double overtime. After edging host Traip, 2-1, the Panthers dominated host Waynflete, 8-0, and held off visiting Sacopee, 2-0. The undefeated run ended with a 1-0 overtime loss at Falmouth, but NYA bounced back to defeat visiting Wells (8-0), tied host Traip (0-0), blanked visiting Gray-New Gloucester (8-0), won a rematch at Yarmouth, 1-0, shut out visiting Waynflete (8-0), then prevailed at Sacopee Valley Friday in double overtime, 2-1.
York, which has appeared in the Class B state final seven times in the past nine seasons (winning it in 2008), won its first 13 games by a composite 62-1 margin, with only Falmouth managing to score. York was tested at Lake Region, but prevailed, 1-0.
The teams had met just three previous times, with the Wildcats taking all three: 2-1 in Yarmouth in 2010, 3-0 at York in 2011 and 2-0 last fall in Yarmouth.
Tuesday, York continued its brilliance, even though NYA played hard throughout.
In the first three minutes, the Panthers pressured the Wildcats' zone, something York hasn't seen much of (not at all in some wins) and with 26:17 to go in the first half, Wildcats coach Barb Marois called timeout.
The ball then resided in NYA zone most of the rest of the half.
York got its first penalty corner a minute later and after freshman Lily Posternak sent a rocket just wide and senior captain Taylor Simpson did something rarely seen, hitting the crossbar with a backhanded shot, the visitors broke through.
The first goal came with 17:55 to play in the first half and came in transition, as sophomore Allie Jones fed Simpson, who sent a shot past Panthers junior goalie Elizabeth Coughlin and into the cage for a 1-0 advantage.
Coughlin then denied Posternak and junior Kayla Kelly, but with 12:07 remaining in the first half, Posternak back-handed a rocket past Coughlin and into the goal to make it 2-0.
"They are very good," Quimby said. "They got two goals before we figured out what to do. They're fast. They have great shots. They took timeout and they fixed it. They may have come in taking it a little too lightly, but they fixed it."
York outshot NYA, 11-0, in the first half and had a 5-0 edge in corners, but Coughlin made six saves to keep the Panthers within hailing distance.
The Wildcats quickly ended all doubt in the second half, as Simpson scored off a corner 4 minutes, 46 seconds in to make it 3-0.
With 19:45 remaining, NYA finally earned a corner, but couldn't get a shot.
At the other end, Panthers senior Abby McKelvy kept it 3-0 with a timely defensive save on a Simpson shot, but with 18:07 to play, Simpson scored on a rebound to complete her hat trick and make it 4-0.
NYA finally got its one shot with just under 10 minutes to go, but sophomore Juju Tardif's bid, set up by senior Olivia Madore, was denied by York junior goalie Livy Golini.
The Wildcats then put the finishing touches on their 4-0 triumph.
"Between them and Falmouth, they're definitely a higher level pace," said Panthers senior Kayla Rose, who had her typically strong game in the midfield. "They had a lot of good passes and hard shots and they have really good skills. We have them too, but we're not used to seeing them as much. We had a tough time stopping them. We tried to keep our intensity high. We knew whether we won, lost or tied, it would be good for us going into playoffs."
York outshot NYA, 20-1, and had an 8-1 advantage in corners. Golini made one save, while Coughlin stopped 11 shots and McKelvy also had a save.
Despite the setback, the Panthers had another stellar season, their eighth straight year with double digit regular season victories.
"I'm very happy," Quimby said. "I wish it were 12-2. That (tie) game against Traip, we just couldn't pull it off. We are growing. We've figured out positions."
Time to get serious
While York will be the number one seed and heavy favorite in Western B, NYA has more obstacles in Western C.
After winning state titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011, the Panthers, the seniors especially, won't settle for anything shy of a championship.
"Last year, the regional final was our bad game, but we'll make sure that doesn't happen again," Rose said. "We expected (to win) last year. Now, as seniors, we can't take it for granted and we have to want it more than ever. The whole team backs us up. We're ready to go. We have a lot of fire."
"We're short on players," Quimby said. "That will be the hardest part. We hope to stay healthy and go from there. We're most likely looking at Telstar to begin. We're excited about that. I'd like to see Yarmouth and Traip play each other. That would be good. It will be a fun few weeks."