NYA falls in semis to Cinderella Lisbon

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YARMOUTH—The door to another regional final was open, but North Yarmouth Academy’s field hockey team couldn’t walk through it in a Class C South semifinal Saturday afternoon against Lisbon.

The fifth-ranked Panthers, who earned an unexpected home playoff game after beating Mountain Valley in a quarterfinal Tuesday, while the eighth-seeded Greyhounds were upsetting top-ranked Dirigo, fell behind in the first half when Lisbon junior Chase Collier scored on a rebound, but after failing to convert on seven penalty corners, they made good on their eighth, as freshman Emma Cohen buried a shot.

Despite ample opportunities to win it in regulation, NYA couldn’t do so and the game would go to overtime and eventually a second overtime, where, with 3:15 to go before penalty corners would have been needed to decide a winner, Collier scored on a breakaway, giving the Cinderella Greyhounds a 2-1 victory.

Lisbon, the defending regional champion, improved to 7-9, advanced to meet No. 3 Oak Hill (11-5) in Tuesday’s Class C South Final and in the process, snapped the Panthers’ win streak at eight games and ended their season at 11-5.

“I feel like we were the better team at some points,” said NYA coach Julia Sterling. “At more points. They had a couple fast players and we probably ran out of gas, but I can’t say enough about the girls and the whole season. I’m really, really proud of them.”

No strangers

Saturday’s meeting was the fifth in eight seasons between the programs, who don’t play in the regular season.

Lisbon started the season 1-4, but gradually racked up wins again several top teams as the year progressed. The Greyhounds’ 5-9 record didn’t turn any heads, but they felt they could make some noise as the playoffs started. In Tuesday’s quarterfinals, Lisbon upset top-ranked Dirigo, 1-0, to advance.

NYA, which welcomed Sterling back as coach, then started its season 3-4 before winning its last seven games to go 10-4 and earn the No. 5 seed. Tuesday, at No. 4 Mountain Valley, the Panthers prevailed, 1-0, in double overtime on senior Mackenzie Sangster’s goal to earn one more home playoff game than they had planned.

NYA had won three of the past four playoff meetings, including the 2013 regional final, 2-1, in three rounds of penalty corners, but this time, Lisbon found a way to keep its improbable run going.

The only two shots of the first half resulted in the Greyhounds first goal.

After a bid from senior Charlotte Mooney was blocked by Panthers senior goalie Bairu Chen, Collier pounced on the rebound and finished for a 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, NYA earned three penalty corners in a minute, but had nothing to show for it.

After another failed corner, the Panthers finally drew even with 19:08 to play in regulation when senior Callie Sturgeon set up Cohen for a blast which Lisbon sophomore goalie Mikaylia Harnden couldn’t stop.

After the goal, NYA had three corners and the Greyhounds two, but neither could convert.

In the waning moments of regulation, Lisbon had a blast from Mooney go wide and after a rush, Collier shot just wide and it was on to overtime.

There, Sterling replaced Chen in goal with junior Savannah Shaw, who helped deny an early Greyhounds corner.

Midway through the first of two eight-minute, “sudden victory” overtimes, Panthers junior Kiersten Marr had a look, but Harnden made the save. As time wound down, NYA had a corner (its 12th, to just four for the visitors), but couldn’t finish and it was on to a second overtime.

There, Lisbon finished it off.

After Collier had a shot tipped wide and Mooney had a shot saved with Collier sending the rebound wide, Collier got the ball behind the defense and while Panthers senior Linnea Hull did everything she could to get back and break up the play, Collier managed to shoot (just the sixth combined shot of the game) past Shaw for the winner with 3:15 remaining and the Greyhounds prevailed, 2-1.

“Everyone was definitely dead,” Collier said. “We just kind of pushed through mentally. We all really wanted to win today, because people underestimate us.”

“(Chase)  has a lot of pressure on her,” Lisbon coach Julie Petrie said. “She’s aggressive and she’s fast. She’s a key player. I said, ‘Look, when you’re ahead of the pack like that and it’s you and the goalie, take a second to slow your feet down and pick the placement.’ I’m glad we had that conversation.”

NYA was left disappointed, but Sterling put things in perspective.

“We went further than we expected,” Sterling said. “It’s an unusual team. A couple 13-year-olds, a couple 15-year-olds, a couple 19-year-olds, we didn’t really have a goalie all season. People played in various positions on the field and with just one sub, I couldn’t ask for more. These kids played with heart. We thought we were going to Dixfield and we weren’t even sure we’d get past Mountain Valley. It could have been us today, but it’s Lisbon, so congratulations to them.”

The Panthers listed 12 players on their varsity roster and six of them are seniors, so there will be some major holes to fill in 2016.

“We lose a lot,” Sterling said. “It will very much be a rebuilding process.”

Sun Journal staff writer Kalle Oakes contributed to this story.

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

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Previous NYA stories

Season Preview

@ NYA 1 Sacopee Valley 0

Previous NYA-Lisbon playoff results

2013 Western C Final
NYA 2 Lisbon 1 (3 PC)

2012 Western C Final
Lisbon 1 NYA 0 

2011 Western C semifinal
NYA 1 Lisbon 0 (3 PC) 

2008 Western C quarterfinal
NYA 6 Lisbon 0 

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.