It's Yarmouth-NYA again; Falmouth, Freeport, Greely ousted from girls' lax playoffs
Stop me if you've heard this before, but the final two remaining teams in Eastern Class B girls' lacrosse are once again the two who know each other all too well.
Wednesday afternoon (too late for print, see Web for full game story), the Yarmouth Clippers hosted the North Yarmouth Academy Panthers with a trip to Saturday's state final and a likely date with defending state champion Waynflete on the line.
Yarmouth, the top seed, eliminated No. 4 Freeport in the semifinals Saturday, while NYA, ranked second, dispatched No. 3 Morse in its semifinal tilt.
In Western B, No. 5 Falmouth upset No. 4 Greely in the quarterfinals, then put up a valiant effort before losing at top-ranked Waynflete Saturday in the semifinals.
Here we go again
For seven of the past eight years (Brunswick being the exception in 2003), either NYA or Yarmouth has won its region. The Panthers won crowns in 2004, 2005 and 2008, while the Clippers didn't just win Eastern B, but also won the state championship in 2006 and 2007.
In each of the past five seasons, the rivals have squared off in the regional title tilt, with the home team winning on every occasion.
That would seem to bode well for Yarmouth, which rode its epic 12-11 overtime win over NYA May 27 to a 10-2 mark and the No. 1 seed.
The Clippers drew a Freeport team that was riding high after last Thursday's 15-3 quarterfinal win over visiting Mountain Valley. The Falcons (6-6 during the regular year) cruised past the Falcons from Rumford, thanks to a balanced attack (nine different goal scorers) and solid play from junior goalie Hannah Goodenow (10 saves).
Freeport would have no answer for Yarmouth, however, as the Clippers rolled to a 16-3 win, ousting the Falcons from the playoffs for the fourth time in four tries. Junior Molly Curry scored four times, while senior Tess Beem and sophomores Becca Bell and Danielle Torres added three goals apiece.
"Freeport scored first, but after that, we were in control," said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. "Everybody played."
The Falcons' season ended at 7-7.
"I was very pleased with how our season went," said Freeport's first-year coach Karin Kurry. "It was a rebuilding year with very low numbers, so to make it to the semifinal round was wonderful. The girls improved all season and really played as a cohesive team.
"We lose two seniors to graduation and two freshmen who will be moving away, but our core is returning. I hope with incoming eighth graders to improve our numbers and to make it back to the playoffs."
NYA met Morse for the second time in three years in the semifinals. Two years ago, the Panthers won 17-3. This time, it was slightly closer, but NYA was never threatened in its 15-3 triumph. Junior standout Courtney Dumont led the way with six goals.
"We took care of business," said Panthers coach Julia Littlefield. "It was nice to be able to play some players who hadn't played all season."
And that left NYA and Yarmouth to meet for the regional crown.
No introductions necessary.
"I think it's going to be a great game," said Holt. "Both teams will step it up. We're equally matched. Both goalies are fabulous. The intensity will be up. We have fun playing each other. It's nice to be at home."
"My team likes to play there," said Littlefield, who was the longtime coach at Yarmouth before coming to NYA. "It's anybody's game. Dorothy's a great coach. She has a great crew. We have to be at our best. I'm very excited. It'll be fun. We'd love to go to states again."
Yarmouth lost 8-6 at home to Waynflete June 1. The most recent playoff meeting between the Clippers and Flyers came in the 2006 Class B Final, a stunning 12-5 win for Yarmouth.
NYA fell 12-3 at Waynflete on May 30. Last year, in the state game, the Flyers rallied to beat the Panthers (who are still seeking their first championship), 12-8.
The Class B Final is Saturday at 5:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
Wait til' next year
In Western B, Falmouth and Greely squared off in the playoffs for the third straight season and in a direct contrast to Yarmouth-NYA, the road team has dominated.
The Rangers won their final three games of the regular season to finish 4-8 and earn the No. 4 seed, while the Yachtsmen (4-8) fell to No. 5, thanks in large part to a 14-8 home loss to Greely on June 2.
Two years ago, Falmouth won at Greely in the quarterfinal round. Last spring, the Rangers were a road winner over the Yachtsmen in the semifinals.
That trend continued last Thursday as Falmouth got three goals from junior Meredith Quirk to win, 12-9, ending the Rangers' season at 4-9.
"It was a hard-fought game," said Greely coach Peter Wiles. "We were really neck and neck with them. It was a good end to our season to get into the tournament. I felt like things started to jell at the end. It was a young team. It'll be good to have a lot back next year."
Saturday, Falmouth went to Waynflete for a first ever playoff meeting with the undefeated Flyers. The Yachtsmen lost 16-7 at Waynflete on May 1 and made things very interesting in the semifinal.
Falmouth came out with much more intensity and had some great offensive looks in early going, but couldn't convert. The Flyers then woke up and scored the game's first five goals before the Yachtsmen got one back from senior Nicolette Sipperly. When Waynflete closed the first half on a 3-0 run, however, Falmouth appeared doomed. Instead, the Yachtsmen erupted for three unanswered goals to start the second half (senior Haley Jordan, junior Emma Sipperly, and sophomore Jess DiPhillippo) to make a game of it. Falmouth would get no closer and the Flyers finally closed it out with four unanswered goals to win 12-4, ending the Yachtsmen's season at 5-9.
"It was a great effort," said Falmouth coach Robin Haley. "It's a disappointing loss, but it was a great way to finish. If we could have executed a couple shots early it might have been different. It wasn't easy for (Waynflete). We had more energy and made it interesting, but they're a great team with a lot of talent. They're undefeated for a reason.
"I'm happy with our season. It wasn't the record we hoped for, but I'm glad we were able to get that far. Each year, we add another dimension to our game.
"We graduate seven seniors, five starters. We return a lot. We have a nice core group coming back. After Saturday, they're excited to get back into it. For the first time, they feel they can play at that top level."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org