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YARMOUTH—The Kennebunk girls’ lacrosse team got what it came for.
And the Yarmouth Clippers learned a valuable lesson in the process.
Wednesday evening, on Senior Night at Yarmouth High School, many expected the Rams to fall from the top spot in Western Class B, but instead, they locked up homefield advantage for the playoffs.
By doing what seemed impossible.
Slowing the mighty Clippers attack.
Three weeks after dropping a 9-6 home decision to Yarmouth, Kennebunk’s deliberate offense and solid defense frustrated the hosts most of the night and led to a surprising result.
It took over 14 minutes for a goal to be scored and that set the tone. Even though the Clippers led by a goal on three different occasions in the first half, the Rams forged a 4-4 tie when junior Haley Fecko scored unassisted with 23.9 seconds to go before halftime.
Then, Kennebunk never trailed in the second half.
A Fecko goal 7:30 into the second half was countered by one from Yarmouth junior Shannon Fallon, but with 11:55 to play, sophomore Olivia Sandord set up classmate Jenny Bush for the go-ahead score.
The Rams, who had lost their last two games, weren’t about to let this one slip away and tallies from sophomores Carly Sandler and Kyra Schwartzman stretched the lead to three.
Even though Clippers junior Emma Torres scored late, it wasn’t enough and Kennebunk held on for a critical 8-6 triumph.
Bush, Fecko and Sandford all had two goals as the Rams ended their regular season 9-3, snapping Yarmouth’s 10-game win streak in the process and ending the Clippers’ regular year at 10-2.
“This was a big win,” Bush said. “Our biggest of the season. It really gives us momentum going into playoffs. It lifts us up a lot. They’re a great team.”
After not playing for five seasons, Yarmouth welcomed Kennebunk for a second meeting between the powers this spring Wednesday.
Both teams were sizzling when they met the first time, a 9-6 win for the Clippers May 14, in Kennebunk, and a lot has happened since they squared off as well.
The Rams were unstoppable early in the season, opening with a 10-7 victory at reigning Western A champion Massabesic in a rematch of last year’s Western A Final. They then won at Greely, 8-3, held off visiting Cape Elizabeth, 14-11, outslugged visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 18-11, and handled visiting Wells, 16-7. After losing to Yarmouth, Kennebunk romped over visiting Messalonskee, 19-9, rallied late to win at Falmouth, 9-8, then rolled at Fryeburg, 20-2. Last Thursday, the Rams appeared poised to earn a rare victory at Waynflete, leading, 5-1, at halftime, but the Flyers roared back to stun Kennebunk, 7-6, in triple overtime. The Rams were then upset at home by Greely Saturday, 8-6.
Kennebunk, which despite its gaudy record must be recognized as a young team, could have put its head down after those losses, but instead chose to bounce back.
“Waynflete is just a great team, but we played well that day,” said Rams coach Annie Barker. “It was anybody’s game. Greely needed to beat us and with their 12 seniors, they did it. I got my seniors together Monday and told them they had to pull it together and they did.”
Yarmouth, meanwhile, has lived a charmed life since dropping its opener, 9-7, at Scarborough. The Clippers turned things around with a stunningly one-sided 11-4 home victory over Waynflete. After roaring back to down visiting Greely, 11-9, Yarmouth rolled at Freeport, 14-3. After an 18-5 win at Gould, the Clippers eked out close victories at Kennebunk and Cape Elizabeth (11-10), then rolled past visiting NYA, 17-8, and visiting Falmouth, 17-9. Saturday, Yarmouth got pushed the brink at Waynflete, but senior Grace O’Donnell’s overtime goal was the difference in a scintillating 7-6 win. Monday, Yarmouth returned to its decisive ways with a 14-2 home victory over Brunswick.
Wednesday, on a rainy night, Kennebunk was seeking to beat the Clippers for the first time since 2009 and for the first time in Yarmouth since snapping the Clippers’ then 29-game win streak back in 2008 and after a pregame ceremony to honor seniors from both teams, the Rams did just that.
The early going was marked by long Kennebunk possessions and both teams’ unfortunate penchant of hitting the post (they combined for five posts in all in the first half).
Finally, with 10:57 to go before halftime, Yarmouth broke the ice when Fallon set up senior Molly Malone for a goal.
The Rams answered back a mere 12 seconds later, as Sandford scored unassisted.
An unassisted tally from Bush with 8:07 remaining before halftime gave Kennebunk its first lead, but O’Donnell came to life, setting up junior Lane Simsarian for the tying goal at 6:45, then scoring on a free position 59 seconds later to give Yarmouth a 3-2 advantage.
After Kennebunk sophomore goalie Bella Kudas kept the deficit at one by saving a bid from Fallon, the Rams drew even with 4:02 to go, when Schwartzman hit Sandford with a nice pass and Sandford beat Clippers freshman goalie Mary Kate Gunville.
Sixteen seconds later, Yarmouth took its last lead, as junior Caitlin Teare set up Fallon for a goal.
Late in the half, momentum began to swing Kennebunk’s way and the Rams would ride it into the second half.
With just 23.9 seconds showing, Fecko ensured the visitors wouldn’t face a halftime deficit when she scored unassisted.
Kennebunk then dodged a bullet as Clippers junior Mary Coyne raced up the field and fed O’Donnell with 4.2 seconds showing, but O’Donnell’s bid went wide of the target and the score remained, 4-4.
While Yarmouth enjoyed a 7-2 edge in draw controls in the first half, it didn’t have the lead on the scoreboard or an advantage in shots (12-10, Rams).
Kennebunk had fended off the Clippers’ first half charge and was about to assert itself.
Yarmouth had some great looks early in the second half, but Simsarian was wide on a free position, Torres hit the crossbar and O’Donnell shot wide twice.
Then, the Rams went on offense and with 17:30 to play, Fecko broke in free and beat Gunville for a 5-4 lead.
With 14:56 left, in another indication it wasn’t going to be the Clippers’ night, O’Donnell appeared to score on a free position, but the goal was waved off.
If that wasn’t bad enough, O’Donnell received a yellow card on the play for a dangerous follow through and Kennebunk went on the man-advantage.
The Rams almost doubled their lead, but with 14;42 remaining, Sandler hit the post.
Right after O’Donnell returned to action, Yarmouth drew even, as sophomore Lilly Watson set up Fallon for a goal, making it, 5-5, with 12:50 to play.
Again, the hosts appeared to have the momentum, but the visitors stole it right back.
Bush won the ensuing draw, the ball came to Sandford and with 11:55 to go, Sandford set up Bush for the goal which put Kennebunk ahead for good, 6-5.
“Olivia is a great feeder,” said Bush. “I love getting feeds from her because I know they’ll be on target. I just ripped it.”
There was a long way to go and not surprisingly, the Clippers refused to go quietly.
After Kudas robbed Fallon, she denied a potential game-tying bid from O’Donnell.
Then, with 8:07 left, the Rams got some breathing room, as Sandler scored unassisted.
Clippers coach Dorothy Holt then put Torres in to take the draw and she won it to Teare, but Yarmouth turned the ball over.
Kennebunk took a timeout and it worked like a charm.
After Sandford was off target with a free position shot, the Rams got the ball to Schwartzman and she did the rest, cutting through the defense to score with 3:43 remaining and Kennebunk had an 8-5 advantage.
Still, the game was far from over, as Torres won the draw and with 3:17 to play, scored unassisted, cutting the deficit to two, but the Clippers would get no closer.
Bush won the ensuing draw, but Yarmouth gave the ball away.
Inside the final minute, Teare had a look to cut the deficit to one, but Kudas made her final save and the Rams ran out the clock on their 8-6 victory.
“We knew Yarmouth was a tough team and we knew that we needed to come out tough,” said Bush. “We couldn’t come out flat because that would have lost this game. Possession is very important in lacrosse. The game can change in a heartbeat. Especially in a game like this. We had to keep it together and not get frazzled.”
“The girls came to play,” Barker said. “It wasn’t the same game plan as last time. Our defense is a lot tighter now and we knew who their shooters were. My goalie came up big. She had a great day. We won some draws in the second half.”
Kennebunk’s patient, balanced offensive attack featured two goals apiece from Bush, Fecko and Sandford and one each from Sandler and Schwartzman. Sandford and Schwartzman both added an assist.
Kudas made six clutch saves.
“Bella is great,” Bush said. “She’s always been a solid goalie and she really stepped up today.”
The Rams outshot the Clippers, 19-17 (14-12 on frame).
Yarmouth got two goals from Fallon and one apiece from Maguire, O’Donnell, Simsarian and Torres. Fallon, O’Donnell, Teare and Watson each had an assist. Gunville made six saves.
“There’s been a lot of pressure on Mary Kate and she’d done a great job,” Holt said. “(The Rams) have a lot of power shooters.”
The Clippers enjoyed a 10-6 edge in draws.
“I wish we’d won on Senior Night, but now we know what we need to do,” said Holt. “We did a good job, but not a great job. They wanted it more than we did. They made fewer mistakes than we did. Give them credit. Clearly, it meant more to them that it did to us. We had some critical fouls and turnovers in key situations and that’s what it came down to. I think we’re evenly matched. We lost it for a few minutes and they capitalized. They just came out on top tonight.”
Despite the disappointment of the loss, Yarmouth’s regular season accomplishments merited recognition.
“Who’d have thought we’d be 10-2 with the schedule we’ve had,” Holt said.
The road to the Western B title will go through Kennebunk. The Rams will return to action Saturday, June 14, when they host a semifinal, likely against either Greely or York.
“Homefield was our goal,” said Bush. “We wanted to seal first place. We’re really happy.”
“We’re in the right frame of mind now,” Barker said. “We didn’t want to give up the number one seed to go to Waynflete. I didn’t want to. We wanted to play at home and now we get to.”
As for Yarmouth (which long ago wrapped up the top seed in Eastern B), the last time it lost a game, it turned around and won 10 in a row, almost all of them in decisive fashion. Now that the Clippers have been reminded that they’re not invincible and that their ultimate goal of a state title will have to be earned, look for them to be refocused and explosive when they return to action in an Eastern B semifinal (likely against Gardiner or old friend NYA) Saturday, June 14.
“I’d rather lose tonight than in the playoffs, so I’m not unhappy,” said Holt. “This proved to the girls we still have things to work on. Last year, we had to come from a .500 season and we wound up in the finals. Nothing’s guaranteed. Just because you have 10 wins doesn’t mean you’ll make it to the finals. Every team has won and lost. Every team is beatable. We know what we have to do. Now we just have to go do it.”
Yarmouth senior Abby Belisle-Haley looks to pass as Kennebunk senior Samantha Bell defends.
Yarmouth junior Mary Coyne runs past Kennebunk sophomore Olivia Sandford.
Yarmouth junior Shannon Fallon races in on goal.
Yarmouth senior Grace O’Donnell fires a shot on goal.
Yarmouth senior Julia Primeau races up the field and is chased by Kennebunk sophomore Kristen Koch.
Yarmouth junior Lane Simsarian shoots through traffic.
Kennebunk 8 @ Yarmouth 7
Kennebunk 9 @ Yarmouth 5
Yarmouth 12 @ Kennebunk 11 (OT)
Class B State Final
Yarmouth 7 Kennebunk 5
@ Kennebunk 13 Yarmouth 8
@ Yarmouth 9 Kennebunk 8 (OT)
@ Yarmouth 10 Kennebunk 5
Yarmouth 7 @ Kennebunk 6
Yarmouth 13 Kennebunk 8
Yarmouth senior Emma Torres defends Kennebunk sophomore Carly Sandler during the Rams’ 8-6 upset win Wednesday night. The Clippers finished the regular season 10-2 and will be the top seed in Eastern B. Kennebunk went 9-3 and will be first in Western B, meaning the teams might meet again June 21 in the state championship game.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
K- 4 4- 8
Y- 4 2- 6
10:57 Y Maguire (Fallon)
10:45 K Sandford (unassisted)
8:07 K J. Bush (unassisted)
6:45 Y Simsarian (O’Donnell)
5:46 Y O’Donnell (free position)
4:02 K Sandford (Schwartzman )
3:46 Y Fallon (C. Teare)
23.9 K Fecko (unassisted)
17:30 K Fecko (free position)
12:50 Y Fallon (Watson)
11:55 K J. Bush (Sandford)
8:07 K Sandler (unasssited)
3:43 K Schwartzman (unassisted)
3:17 Y Torres (unassisted)
K- J. Bush, Fecko, Sandford 2, Sandler, Schwartzman 1
Y- Fallon 2, Maguire, O’Donnell, Simsarian, Torres 1
K- Sandford, Schwartzman 1
Y- Fallon, O’Donnell, C. Teare, Watson 1
Shots on cage:
K (Kudas) 6
Y (Gunville) 6