NYA, Falmouth field hockey pass first playoff test; Freeport, Greely ousted
The North Yarmouth Academy field hockey juggernaut took an emphatic step toward a repeat Class C state champion Saturday with a 10-0 quarterfinal round home romp over Dirigo.
Falmouth also advanced, downing Leavitt 2-0 in the Western B quarterfinals.
Freeport and Greely saw their seasons come to an end. The Falcons lost 7-0 at Livermore Falls in the Western C quarterfinals, while the Rangers were defeated 2-0 at Maranacook in the Western B quarterfinal round.
Yarmouth, which went 0-14 this fall, did not qualify for the postseason.
NYA has been sensational this fall in its repeat bid and earned the top seed in Western C with a 14-0 mark. The Panthers were so dominant that only two teams (Gray-New Gloucester and Old Orchard Beach) stayed within three goals.
Saturday, NYA opened the playoffs at home against No. 8 Dirigo and continued its offensive brilliance. The Panthers led 5-0 at halftime as sophomore Katherine Millett (from classmate Kylie Dalbec) got the scoring started and senior standout Lianna Hachborn erupted for four straight goals. In the second half, Dalbec, freshman Hannah Hearn, senior Ashley Salerno, senior Katie Paige and Salerno again rattled the cage to give NYA an emphatic 10-0 triumph.
"We dominated the whole way," said Panthers coach Julia Sterling. "They were an inexperienced team. It made me feel good at the end when their coach said, 'Good luck in the championship. We'll root for you. You have such a great team.' "
NYA advanced to meet No. 5 Jay (11-4 after a quarterfinal round win over Sacopee) Wednesday at home in the semifinals. The Panthers don't play the Tigers in the regular season, but the teams do often meet in October. Last year, in the regional final, NYA squeaked out a late 1-0 win over Jay.
"Jay only beat Sacopee 1-0 and we beat them 9-2 and 6-0," said Sterling. "That gives me an indication we might be all right, but tournament play is different and everyone rises to the occasion. It will be fun to be on our turf field one last time."
If the Panthers were able to advance, they'd see No. 2 Telstar (15-0) or No. 3 Livermore Falls (12-3) in the regional final Saturday at Scarborough High (time to be determined). NYA didn't play either team this year. Last fall, the Panthers defeated the Andies, 1-0 in the semifinals. The last time NYA faced Telstar was in the 2007 regional final (a 3-0 loss).
"If we do get Telstar, I believe we can beat anybody," said Sterling. "We've risen to every challenge. We might be without goalie Hayley Bright (mono) and Lianna (ACT testing), but if we have to move people around, I think we can do it. (Sophomore) Mariah Farrell can play goal."
Falmouth has shown glimpses of greatness this fall, but lost twice each to top-ranked York and No. 2 Wells and finished the regular year 9-4-1, good for the No. 4 seed in Western B. Saturday, the Yachtsmen hosted No. 5 Leavitt, a squad they don't play in the regular year and one they'd never before met in the postseason.
Falmouth got a first half goal from junior Stephanie Gramse and a second half tally from senior Nicole Foley and rode steady defense and staunch goalkeeping from junior goalie Kelsey Freedman to a 2-0 win.
"Leavitt really dominated the first half offensively," said Falmouth coach Robin Haley. "Kelsey kept us alive coming up with two critical breakaway saves in the first half. Our defense handled the pressure well from Leavitt. We came out strong in the second half. Our midfielders played a great game with Victoria Bridges leading the way."
Next up for Falmouth is a trip to its personal house of horrors: York. The Yachtsmen lost 1-0 at the Wildcats Oct. 6 (and also fell 2-0 at home Sept. 15). Last year, Falmouth was 2-1 loser at York, falling after three sets of penalty corners in the regional final. The Yachtsmen were also eliminated at the Wildcats in the 2004 and 2005 semifinals.
"I don't see it as a rematch," said Haley. "Sure they are the defending state champions and we lost to them last year. At this point in the season it's anyone's game any day. We did come up short in both games this season against York. Certainly one could look at all of that as a distinct advantage for York. There have been few 'easy' games for us this year, which I think has prepared us well for playoffs. We are just excited that we are playing in the semifinals again."
If Falmouth could spring the upset, it would meet either No. 2 Wells (12-3) or No. 3 Maranacook (10-4-1) in the regional final Saturday at Scarborough High (time to be determined).
Greely wasn't able to completely put it together this fall and wound up 8-6 and sixth in Western B, setting up a quarterfinal round trip to Maranacook, a team the Rangers don't face in the regular season. Three years ago, Greely won 1-0 at Maranacook in the quarterfinals. This time around, the Rangers weren't as fortunate.
The Black Bears scored twice in the first half. Greely answered with a vengeance in the second half, earning several penalty corners and getting off some good shots, but none of them found the cage and the Rangers' season ended at 8-7 with a 2-0 setback.
"It was a great game, we just couldn't put the ball in the net," said Greely coach Kristina Lane Prescott. "We had a great season and a lot of fun. We are losing five key seniors from the team, but have some strong, talented girls that I am confident will step up."
Freeport won its final three regular season games to finish 9-4-1 (a six-win improvement from 2008) and sixth in Western C. The Falcons had to travel to No. 3 Livermore Falls Friday and were quickly ousted as the Andies scored four times in the first half and added three goals in the second to win 7-0. Despite 25 saves from standout senior goalie Hannah Schuchert, Freeport's season ended at 9-5-1.
"I feel my players played hard, they just were unable to connect on the field together," said Freeport coach Sara Dimick. "It was absolutely an off day for our team and unfortunately it happened during the most crucial part of the season. They, however, should be very proud of what they accomplished as a team this season and should be proud about how far they have come since last season."
The Falcons will have some holes to fill in 2010, but should be back in the mix.
"If anything, this playoff experience was a stepping stone for next season," Dimick said. "The girls experienced the difference in intensity level which is useful for next season. We are graduating seven seniors, including our goalie, which I think many coaches will be relieved about."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com