YARMOUTH — The Yarmouth girls’ soccer team went to bed Monday night knowing they’d done something that none of their accomplished predecessors had managed, a 10-0 start.
The Clippers continued their dream season in the past week with hard-fought wins over rivals and neighbors North Yarmouth Academy (1-0), defending Class B state champion York (1-0) and Freeport (2-1).
Although it still has to run the gamut of some of the finest teams in the state on its remaining schedule, Yarmouth finds itself in the catbird seat, with an inside track for homefield advantage for the playoffs.
“It’s really exciting,” said standout senior midfielder Danielle Torres. “Ten wins is really good. We knew we had potential. We have a small team, which makes us really cohesive. We trust each other so much on the field.”
Team for the ages?
Yarmouth won Class B championships in 1995 and 2003 and is a perennial contender (posting winning records in every season but one since 1993), but the Clippers had never won so many games in a row to start a season prior to 2010.
Yarmouth got off to a great start this fall and hasn’t let up. After opening with a 2-1 victory at Freeport and a 3-0 home triumph over Gray-New Gloucester, the Clippers held off rival Falmouth, 3-2, giving Rich Smith, the only coach the program has ever known, his 200th career victory. Victories over Wells (7-0), Greely (2-1, in overtime), Cape Elizabeth (3-1) and Fryeburg (5-0) followed.
Last Tuesday, the Clippers went to NYA and rode an early goal from senior scoring machine Devin Simsarian to a 1-0 victory. It wasn’t Yarmouth’s best effort of the year, but the Clippers could be excused if they were looking ahead to a York squad which has beaten them in four of the past six postseasons, including last year’s Western B semifinals (4-1).
Thursday, Yarmouth got a measure of revenge with a 1-0 win. The Clippers dominated play much of the way and finally broke through on Simsarian’s goal in the 59th minute.
“We were ready to go out and score,” said Simsarian. “We talked at halftime about how everyone had an equal chance to score. We just wanted to go out and do it. We’ve been waiting for this. I love every single person on this team. We bond really well together. I can honestly say that any person on the bench or on the field could take my position. We’re all equal.”
“I was really proud of how we played,” Smith said. “From the back line and the goalie all the way through, we controlled the game. York has a really strong team. They played hard. We kept coming at them. We played to feet more in the second half. Devin had a great game.”
Monday, Yarmouth hosted vastly improved Freeport and got a scare. The Clippers were down 1-0 at the half, but drew even early in the second half when Simsarian scored. Moments later, Torres followed and Yarmouth held on for a 2-1 win, improving to 10-0 in the process.
“Freeport came out really strong today,” said Torres. “We know they’re an athletic opponent. We tried to stay focused and pull off the win in the second half. We came together in the second half and got the goals we needed.”
“(Freeport) played hard and they played well,” Smith said. “There’s no question they’re much improved. We came fighting back and did what we needed to do.”
Plenty of positives
While much of the attention has been focused on Simsarian and Torres, the Clippers’ success has truly been a team effort. Seniors Courtney Barker, Becca Bell, Jeanna Lowery and Natalie Salmon have also been productive on the field and like Simsarian and Torres, tremendous leaders throughout.
The next wave of stars has been something else. Juniors Taylor Hornney, Claudia Lockwood, Mo McNaboe and Ricki Pierce and sophomores Olivia Conrad, Megan Decker, Julia Kameisha, Claire King, Ali Merrill and Tess Merrill provide optimism for the future.
The team’s lone freshman, goalkeeper Olivia Smith, has come up huge time and again as she demonstrates the poise of a much older player.
In addition to the talent, Yarmouth also entered the season with a chip on its shoulder after preseason attention centered on York and Falmouth.
“When we saw the predictions for the top teams and saw we weren’t on it, we used it as inspiration for the rest of the season,” Torres said. “We’ve used it to progress through every game and prove people wrong.”
“I knew we had a lot of talent and I knew we had great senior leadership, but I didn’t expect to jell this early and play this well against Falmouth, York, Greely and Cape,” Smith said. “The girls work hard in practice and get along great. They care about each other and have fun.”
Work to do
The Clippers are first in the Western Class B Heal Points standings and have a chance to stay there and have homefield advantage for the playoffs, but it certainly won’t be easy.
Yarmouth’s final four games are at home versus Cape Elizabeth (Saturday), then at Falmouth, York and Greely.
The last time the Clippers had the top seed (2003), they won a state title. Hosting the likes of Falmouth and York with the season on the line this autumn would be an enormous benefit to this squad.
“We love our field,” Simsarian said. “We’re used to having a lot of space to work with. (Homefield advantage) would definitely help us.”
“It would be huge for us to be on our turf,” said Torres. “We play so well here, especially with support from everyone in town. That would pump us up so much. We’re looking forward to playing these other talented and athletic teams. We’re definitely prepared for the challenges coming up.”
Smith hopes the good times keep on rolling.
“This is definitely the best start we’ve had,” he said. “We’re healthy and we’re playing hard. Now we have the four tough ones left.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yarmouth senior Becca Bell goes all out to win a contested ball during last week’s 1-0 home win over York.
Sophomore Tess Merrill is one of several key newcomers for the undefeated Clippers.