YARMOUTH—A perfect bounce spelled the end of the quest for a perfect season in a gem of a field hockey game Friday afternoon.
Undefeated Yarmouth made the very short trip to rival North Yarmouth Academy and appeared en route to its 11th straight win when senior standout Kallie Hutchinson scored on a penalty corner before the game was five minutes old, but the Panthers would answer.
NYA got the confidence-boosting and momentum-turning equalizer with 2:08 to go before halftime, when senior Marina Poole scored on the Panthers’ first corner to make it 1-1.
After NYA’s stellar senior goalie, Elizabeth Coughlin, kept the game scoreless with five second half saves, including a pair on Hutchinson corner blasts, the contest went to overtime, where the Panthers, who were down a player due their small roster all afternoon, finally had equal numbers as teams went 7-on-7.
It didn’t take long to finish this one, as NYA got possession and sophomore Kiersten Marr fired a long shot which appeared primed to either go wide or go in (and not count since it was outside the circle), but fate was on the Panthers’ side as the ball struck the right post squarely, died in front of the goal and Poole calmly tucked it home for a 2-1 victory.
The win lifted NYA’s record to 9-2 and dropped the Clippers to 10-1 in the process.
“It’s a little bit surreal,” said Poole. “I don’t have words to describe it. We really wanted it. We definitely came out to play today.”
Since this rivalry was renewed last fall, the Clippers and Panthers have made the most of it and fans of the sport have been the ultimate winners.
In 2013, NYA won all three meetings, one in overtime, and another in the regional semifinals, but on Sept. 11, Yarmouth earned its first win over the Panthers this century.
That 2-1 victory, on a late goal from Hutchinson, was part of 10 straight wins to start the season. The Clippers started by downing host Old Orchard Beach (7-0) and visiting Waynflete (7-0), before scoring late for a 3-2 win at Sacopee Valley. After the long-awaited NYA victory, Yarmouth blanked host Wells (6-0), visiting Traip (4-0) and host Old Orchard Beach (7-0). After a pivotal 2-0 home win over Cape Elizabeth, the Clippers eked out a 1-0 win at Waynflete Monday, then had to go to double overtime Wednesday before outlasting visiting Sacopee Valley, 1-0, on sophomore Abby McDowell’s winner.
NYA, meanwhile, opened by blanking host Wells (1-0) and Traip (2-0) and visiting Old Orchard Beach (5-0) and losing at Yarmouth, 2-1. The Panthers then survived back-to-back overtime games, beating visiting Waynflete (1-0) and host Sacopee (2-1). After blanking visiting Traip (3-0), NYA lost at home to Falmouth (1-0), then won at home over Wells (3-0) and at Old Orchard Beach (2-0).
Friday, the Panthers were fired up to hand the Clippers their first loss and didn’t disappoint the home folks, even if it took a little longer than normal.
Yarmouth struck quickly, on a penalty corner in the fifth minute.
Junior Breanne Morrill played the ball in to Hutchinson, who didn’t hesitate, rocketing a shot past Coughlin for a 1-0 lead with 25:06 still to play in the first half.
“They took it to us early,” Panthers coach Tracy Quimby said. “I wished I had changed our format from the get-go. We had to get more offensive.”
The Clippers appeared to have the momentum and had they scored a second goal, they may have been home free, but NYA stepped up its defense.
After a Morrill feed to sophomore Georgia Giese was just long, the Panthers earned their first good look, but a pass from senior Charlotte Eisenberg to junior MacKenzie Sangster resulted in a shot that went just wide.
Late in the half, an Eisenberg rush was broken up by Yarmouth senior Meaghan Gorham, a Sangster shot was saved by Clippers junior goalie Tori Messina and the rebound was cleared.
After Coughlin denied a Hutchinson shot on a corner, NYA earned a corner of its own and drew even.
With 2:08 to go in the half, Poole played the ball in and it worked its way back to her. Poole then shot past Messina and the game was deadlocked, 1-1.
“I felt a little down at the beginning, but that goal before halftime was helpful,” Poole said. “It was a pass up to MacKenzie, who missed it, then it went to (junior) Linnea (Hull), who crossed it, then I just had to put it in.”
Just like that, momentum had switched.
“We needed that goal,” Quimby said. “That put us on equal footing.”
NYA had a 4-3 shots advantage in the first half, while Yarmouth had a 2-1 edge in corners. Both goalies made one save.
Things remained taut in the second half, which didn’t produce a goal.
The visitors had a good chance with just over 27 minutes to go, but Morrill’s feed to McDowell was just off the mark.
With 13:39 to play in regulation, the Panthers almost went ahead, but Marr’s one-timer was tipped just wide.
After Sangster had a shot saved, the Clippers controlled play the rest of regulation, but Coughlin made sure they were held at bay.
With 9:31 left, Yarmouth sophomore Taylor Robison got off a shot on a corner, but it was saved. The ball then came to Hutchinson, but her shot was also turned aside.
The Clippers earned a corner with 8 minutes to go, but a Hutchinson blast was denied by Coughlin.
“(Kallie’s) a great player and she has a great shot, but I was ready for it,” Coughlin said. “They’re very good at screening, but I tried to stand tall and clear the ball.”
“(Hutchinson) has a great drive on those corners, but it was just a matter of ‘Coughy’ being able to see them,” Quimby said. “We’ve worked on her being able to see. If she sees it, she’ll stop it.”
“We knew (Coughlin’s) one of the strongest goalies in the state,” said Yarmouth coach Mandy Lewis.
With 4:13 remaining, Hutchinson set up Giese for a redirect, but Coughlin made the save.
With 1:48 left, the tandem tried again, but this time, Giese’s shot hit the side of the cage.
With time winding down, Hutchinson got another look, but again, Coughlin made the save and it was on to overtime.
Teams play two eight-minute “sudden victory” overtime sessions and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie, but that’s not how this one would wind up.
Going into OT, NYA found itself even on more than just the scoreboard.
“We were excited (going into overtime),” said Quimby. “We love 7-on-7. The girls know they have subs.”
The Panthers would settle matters quickly.
Often, overtime goals are the result of a breakaway or a protracted attack, but this game-winner would result from either a fluke or a miracle, depending on which side of Route 1 you reside.
The Panthers went on the attack and Marr sent a long hit up the field. The ball was goal bound, but even if it went in, it wouldn’t have counted and most on hand exhaled.
Yet, instead of going wide or into the goal, the ball somehow smacked off the post and that meant the ball was live.
With the ball behind her, Messina couldn’t react as Poole, who was in the right place at the right time, got an early birthday present. All she had to do was tap home the prone ball to end the game and she wasn’t about to miss out on her magical moment.
Poole rattled the cage and 1:34 into overtime, that was that.
NYA 2 Yarmouth 1.
“Kiersten hit the post and I was just in the right place,” Poole said. “It was a very lucky shot. I just tapped it in. I had a little knot in my stomach (going into overtime), but once the ball started moving, it went away.”
For the Panthers, jubilation reigned.
“I was watching it and was hoping that Marina was going to hit it in,” Coughlin said. “It was amazing. It was exciting. There’s nothing I wanted more than to beat (Yarmouth). I knew it would be a fight, but we were ready. I thought it could go either way, but I knew we had what it took.”
“Marina was smart,” said Quimby. “She followed it in and she got it. That’s where that captain-ship comes in handy. She’s had several big games in a row. She’s in her element right now.
“That was fun. That’s the way field hockey’s supposed to be played.”
Yarmouth was staggered, not just by its first loss, but by the improbable manner in which it occurred.
“It was certainly not the way we expected the game to end, but (NYA) played a good game,” Lewis said. “We started strong. We had some great opportunities and then we had a hard time reacting to the intensity they brought back at us. They had a lot of energy. They played the 50-50 balls well. We knew it would come down to 50-50 balls.”
The Clippers outshot the Panthers, 9-7, and had a 5-2 edge in corners. Messina made three saves, but Coughlin denied six shots and earned the admiration of her teammates and coach.
“She always comes out to play and we really love that,” Poole said. “We’re happy to have her. She makes a difference.”
“She’s great,” Quimby said. “Her clears were incredible today too.”
Coughlin feels that her team has grown to pride itself on excelling even though it’s undermanned.
“It’s hard, but we’ve adapted,” Coughlin said. “We get along well, so on the field it’s easy. We don’t use it as an excuse. We just play our game with what we have.”
Yarmouth (second to Oak Hill in the Western Class C Heal Points standings at press time) will look to bounce back when it plays its home finale versus Wells Tuesday. After playing at Traip Academy Thursday, the Clippers finish at Freeport Oct. 15.
Rest assured, Yarmouth will quickly respond to its first setback.
“It’s been a long week and I think we’ve learned a lot about who we are as a team,” Lewis said. “If we’re going to lose, we might as well lose now before a playoff run. It’s OK to be disappointed with a loss, but we have to come back tomorrow and get back at it. We still have three games left. We’re hoping for a long playoff run. I wouldn’t be surprised to see (NYA) again in the playoffs and if so, we’ll be ready for them.”
NYA (fourth in Western C) is back in action Tuesday at Waynflete. After hosting Sacopee Valley Friday of next week, the Panthers finish at Western B powerhouse York Oct. 15.
With championship time drawing nearer, NYA is in a familiar spot.
“We have the perseverance and the will and the skill to do whatever we want,” Poole said. “I really think that this will give us confidence going into the last part of the season. I think we’ve gotten used to it. We’ve definitely meshed. We’re a tight-knit group of girls.”
“This proves we can compete with top teams in the conference,” said Coughlin. “We’ll move on and try to play this hard in our other games. We hope to have another run.”
“We’ve got some challenging games ahead,” Quimby added. “Waynflete and Sacopee are doing great, then we have York. We look forward to it. Those are challenges you need going into the tournament. I feel good. Fingers crossed, everyone stays healthy.”
@ NYA 3 Yarmouth 2 (2 OT)
@ Yarmouth 4 NYA 4 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 1 NYA 1 (tie)
NYA senior Alex Barnes knocks the ball away from Yarmouth sophomore Molly Wilson.
NYA’s outstanding senior goalie Elizabeth Coughlin kicks away a shot.
Yarmouth senior Kallie Hutchinson sends the ball up the field.
NYA sophomore Kiersten Marr fights Yarmouth sophomore Nicole McDowell for possession.
NYA senior Marina Poole (19) is congratulated by sophomore Kiersten Marr after tying the game late in the first half.
North Yarmouth Academy senior Marina Poole (stick upraised) celebrates her overtime goal which gave the Panthers a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten crosstown rival Yarmouth Friday afternoon.
Brian Beard photos.
More photos below.