No comeback this time; Scarborough fights off Yarmouth in season opener
SCARBOROUGH—Last spring, Scarborough's girls' lacrosse team built a five-goal lead over visiting Yarmouth, then gave it all away and lost.
Suffice it to say that the Red Storm learned a lesson.
Saturday morning/afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, Scarborough hosted defending Eastern B champion Yarmouth in the teams' mutual regular season opener and again raced to a five-goal lead and this time managed to hold on.
But not easily.
Three separate times in the second half, the Clippers managed to pull within two goals, but despite unleashing a barrage on a Red Storm goal, they couldn't solve Scarborough sophomore goalie Jenna Block, who was making her varsity debut.
Block came up big time and again, making 16 saves, many of the clutch variety, as she helped the Red Storm prevail, 9-7.
Scarborough got three goals from senior Ainsley Jamieson, two more from junior Bailey Adams and got its season off to a great start.
"This feels very good," said Jamieson. "Yarmouth's a great team. It's fun to play a Class B team we don't always see. I'm just so proud of my team and how we gutted it out. It was so similar to last year, but I'm glad it went this way and not the other way."
No place like road?
Entering Saturday's contest, Scarborough and Yarmouth had met seven previous times and the road team prevailed on every occasions (please see sidebar, below), including last spring, when the Clippers erupted in the second half to win, 8-7.
Both teams have been among the state's elite for years and have combined for eight championships (four apiece) this century.
Yarmouth got to the Class B state game last year, but lost to Waynflete, 7-4.
Scarborough saw its three-year reign as Class A champion end with an 9-7 loss to Kennebunk in the semifinals.
Both squads see themselves as title hopefuls this season and each had their moments in the opener, but at last, the home team had the upper hand.
The Red Storm struck for three goals in just under two minutes to set the tone.
With 20:33 left in the first half, senior Abby Mills put Scarborough ahead to stay when she finished a feed from Adams.
Just 46 seconds later, Jamieson scored her first goal, unassisted.
Then, with 18:37 to go in the half, Adams scored unassisted and the lead was 3-0.
"Bailey does so much," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "She's everywhere. She's just the smartest player. She's confident and is a leader."
The Red Storm wasn't done.
After Block first made her presence felt by denying Yarmouth senior Molly Maguire on a free position, Jamieson took a pass from sophomore Emma Smith and beat Clippers sophomore goalie Sarah Kirk to make it 4-0.
"We were excited to go," said Wood. "We're done with the preseason and wanted to show our stuff. We had a lot of scoring all around, which was nice. It wasn't one person."
Block kept the score 4-0 by influencing Yarmouth junior Ellie Teare to miss on a free position and making a save on another Maguire free position shot.
Block credited playing time during a preseason trip to Florida and her goalie coach, Lisa Goldberg, for allowing her to feel somewhat comfortable in her first outing.
"It was really scary, but I'm so lucky." Block said. "Being in Florida was so helpful. Goldberg is so amazing and my teammates are so supportive. It was easy to get in there."
Then, with 7:43 remaining before halftime, Smith got a free position opportunity and finished for a 5-0 lead.
Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt called timeout and not surprisingly, the Clippers would come to life.
With 5:54 to go, junior Lane Simsarian had a free position and finally solved Block to get Yarmouth on the board.
Scarborough ensured the visitors wouldn't keep the momentum when junior Kaitlin Prince set up junior Sydney Hersey for a goal 41 seconds later.
Maguire scored on a free position with 2:25 left and after Kirk denied Prince, senior Grace O'Donnell converted a free position to pull the Clippers within three, 6-3.
Prince would get another chance before halftime and this time, she finished a feed from Jamieson and after Block denied junior Shannon Fallon, then O'Donnell on late free positions, the Red Storm enjoyed a 7-3 halftime lead.
And absolutely no one on hand thought it was safe.
Sure enough, Yarmouth kept the pressure on to start the second half.
After Kirk made a save on a Smith free position, Maguire scored an unassisted goal (the Clippers' first in the normal run of play) with 23:30 to go. Then, after Block robbed Fallon off the ensuing draw, Teare set up Maguire for another goal with 22:52 to play and suddenly, the Clippers trailed by only two, 7-5.
Adams restored a three-goal bulge with 20:47 to play, when she scored on a free position.
Yarmouth was then frustrated for several minutes, as O'Donnell was robbed after a steal and Maguire had a shot saved.
Finally, with 12:45 to go, Fallon scored unassisted to make the score 8-6.
The Clippers weren't able to cut the deficit to one and really make things interesting, however, as with 11:25 to play, Jamieson scored unassisted to push the lead back to three, 9-6.
Holt tried to energize her team by calling another timeout, but while Yarmouth would control possession and get good looks, Block almost single-handedly held the Clippers at bay.
First, Block made a save on a Maguire free position. Then, after Fallon hit the post, O'Donnell appeared to have a good look, but her stick was hit as she shot and Block made the save.
After Fallon had two shots saved, freshman Eliza Lunt had a free position, but Block made the save.
With 2:49 to go, Yarmouth's frustrations were compounded as junior Emma Torres hit the post.
O'Donnell earned a free position with 2:11 remaining and had she converted, enough time would have been left on the clock to entertain dreams of a comeback, but again, Block made the save.
"(The Clippers) have a lot of good shooters," Block said. "The hardest part for me is still the (free positions). I was prepared. I'm surprised when I make a save like that. I remember one shot that was by my feet and I was like, 'Did it go in?'"
Block made one final save with 1:51 to go, as she turned aside a Maguire bid.
The Clippers finally tickled the twine again, but only 35.8 seconds remained when O'Donnell finished a Maguire feed.
Scarborough won the ensuing draw and although the hosts turned the ball over, Yarmouth didn't have time to answer and one final Clippers turnover brought the curtain down on the Red Storm's 9-7 triumph.
"I think we were really excited," Jamieson said. "We were screaming and playing music in the locker room. We came out and had an awesome warmup. We were ready for it. Then we sat back on our heels and let Yarmouth back in the game. They're such a good team. So fast and so quick. They have great shooters."
"It was deja vu," said Wood. "The whole time I was thinking, please don't be a repeat of last year. Sometimes I don't think the girls think about last year, but Kaitlin Prince said that she read an article about what happened. I know I (thought about it)."
Scarborough's offense featured three goals from Jamieson and two from Adams. Hersey, Mills, Prince and Smith all tickled the twine once. Adams, Jamieson, Prince and Smith each had one assist.
"This is probably one of the best times we've come together on offense," Jamieson said. "I feel like I knew where everyone was. We jelled. Everyone made the right cuts."
In the end, it was Block who stole the headlines, however. She made 16 saves and was the biggest reason the Red Storm began the season with a victory.
"I'm so impressed and so proud of Jenna," Jamieson said. "We're so happy she stepped up. She kept us in the game."
"She just needed some solid saves early to get her confidence," Wood said. "Free positions are tough, but those saves in the second half were huge. I knew she was feeling the pressure, but she's a hockey player so she's tough. Now that she made the saves, the team is behind her even more. It's a confidence boost. We were nervous coming into a season with two green goalies."
Block (along with sophomore Regan Mars, who will also see time between the pipes) appears to be the answer.
And her presence on the team is a stroke of good fortune.
"I had (Coach) for math last year and (sophomore) Abby Corbin lives in my neighborhood and they talked me into it," Block said.
"(Jenna's) so brand new to the sport," Wood said. "I mentioned last year I didn't have a goalie and she came in the next day and said she'd YouTubed videos on goalies and that she'd try it."
Scarborough's defense, which got the majority of the loose balls and forced a lot of turnovers, also merited praise.
"I switched so many people in and out today," Wood said. "It's probably the most I've subbed in a close game. They all stepped up. I have three senior defenders, Hadlee Yescott, Rachael Wallace and Erin Brady, and they were loud. Then, little Emma Crovo, a sophomore, made her presence felt. The sophomores are really stepping up."
Yarmouth was paced by three goals and an assist from Maguire, who appears poised for a big season.
"Molly had a terrific game today," said Holt. "Everybody knows Grace, Lane and Emma, the 'names,' but it's everybody. All 12 players on the field make the difference. We play a team game. Today was Molly's game. You'll see everyone's name in lights eventually this year."
O'Donnell finished with two goals and Fallon and Simsarian each had one.
Kirk made five saves.
The Clippers put 23 shots on frame, to just 14 for the Red Storm, but couldn't find a way.
"Scarborough's a good team and we had way too many turnovers in the first half," said Holt. "Their goalie came up with some key saves in the second half. We could have won, but they played really well. It came down to shot selection and turnovers for us. I'm proud of the girls for grinding. We just came up a little bit short. I can't ask for anything more from a first game. We didn't quit. It shows we have some things to work to do. You learn about mental toughness in a first game. To come back and win the second half shows we learned. Had we done that in the first half, it probably would have been a different outcome."
Yarmouth plays its home opener Wednesday, but it faces an uphill climb when Waynflete pays a visit in a state championship game rematch. Visiting Greely will pose a challenge Friday.
"It will be a great home opener, then we see Greely, who will be tough," Holt said. "We're psyched. It's going to be a fun season."
Scarborough is back in action Friday at South Portland.
The Red Storm has a long way to go, but appears to have the pieces in place to return to prominence.
"We just need to keep up the intensity and work together," Jamieson said.
"Yarmouth is really good, so this is exciting," Block said. "I'm excited to see what the rest of the season brings."
"We need to work on our consistency," Wood added. "The little things. I want to have a better transition. That will be a focus. It's just game one. We have a long way to go."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Scarborough-Yarmouth meetings
Yarmouth 10 @ Scarborough 7
Yarmouth 14 @ Scarborough 5
Yarmouth 15 @ Scarborough 3