Conspicuous by their absence at the Class B lacrosse state finals Saturday were the Yarmouth boys’ and girls’ teams.
In fact, this spring marked the first time since 2001 that at least one Clippers lacrosse team didn’t vie for a state title.
Not that Yarmouth didn’t come close.
The girls’ squad, the defending Class B champion, made great strides during the season to reach the regional final. The Clippers, who faced the top four teams in the state in their first five games (including Falmouth twice), overcame an 0-5 start by winning six of their final seven games to earn the No. 2 seed in Eastern B.
After handling No. 3 Morse, 17-4, in the semifinals, Yarmouth met top-ranked Freeport, a 16-4 victor over No. 5 Gardiner in its semi, with a trip to the state final on the line.
The teams were schedule to square off Wednesday, but rain and poor field conditions pushed the game back to Thursday, where the Falcons had the last laugh.
This one was tight throughout and even though it appeared like the Clippers had the upper hand in the second half, Freeport roared back to make history.
Grace O’Donnell scored her first goal to put Yarmouth on top, but the Falcons proved they came to play behind goals from Alex Mitch, Meredith Broderick and Jess Hench to go up, 3-1. Goals from O’Donnell, Claudia Lockwood and Mo McNaboe put the Clippers ahead, but Mitch tied the score before Olivia Conrad and McNaboe scored to make it 6-4 Yarmouth at the half.
After O’Donnell and Hench traded goals early in the second half, the Clippers seized a seemingly commanding 9-5 advantage thanks to tallies from Julia Primeau and Jeanna Lowery.
It didn’t last, as Freeport rallied.
A goal from Hench, two from Jocelyn Davee, then another from Bethanie Knighton with just over two minutes to go capped a stirring comeback, tying the score, 9-9.
O’Donnell put Yarmouth ahead once more with a free position goal with 1:09 to play, but 20 seconds later, Knighton rescued the Falcons again, tying the game on a free position, and it was on to overtime.
In Maine high school girls’ lacrosse, teams play six minutes of overtime, three minutes going one way, then three the other. If the game remains tied, it’s on to “sudden victory” OT.
That wasn’t necessary Thursday.
Freeport took its first lead since 3-2 when Hench scored early in the first session, but Lowery tied the score for the Clippers. Then, with just under a second left before the teams switched sides, Davee scored on a free position to give the Falcons the lead for good.
Freeport got possession to start the second portion of overtime and never let Yarmouth get a look at pulling even.
The horn sounded and the Falcons were able to celebrate the biggest win in program history in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era (which dates to 1998), 12-11.
“(Winning) was amazing,” said Freeport coach Karin Kurry. “We were all so excited. The adrenaline rush.”
Hench scored four times, Davee had three goals, Knighton and Mitch had two each and Broderick added one. Molly Lane made 10 saves.
The Falcons went on to lose to Waynflete, 16-5, in the Class B state final (please see story).
Yarmouth got three goals from O’Donnell, two apiece from McNaboe and Lowery and one each from Conrad, Lockwood, Pierce and Primeau. Jordie Brown made 11 saves.
“We had an off day and (Freeport) had a good day,” said Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “We had a few many turnovers and lost draws and unlucky bounces. Freeport got momentum in the second. We had plenty of shots, but fouls killed us.”
The Clippers finished 7-7, but made nice strides as the season progressed.
“I’m so proud of them,” Holt said. “They had to grind it out all season and they worked so hard. It was an up-and-down season, but they did an amazing job. It was impressive to see how hard the girls worked. It’s a tribute to all of them.”
Yarmouth loses seniors Lockwood, Lowery McNaboe, Pierce, Morgan Cahill, Caitlin Crawford and Maddy Wood, but will be starting from a more seasoned position at the start of the 2013 season. Don’t be surprised if the Clippers wind up right back on top in no time.
“We’re losing experience in spots, but we have some good youngsters coming along,” Holt said. “We have others coming up through the ranks. I hope that the schedule changes a little for our benefit next year. We know what we need to do.”
The Yarmouth boys were 7-5 in the regular season, playing top teams like Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth tough, while enjoying a big win at Scarborough. The third-ranked Clippers had no problem downing No. 6 Oak Hill (18-4) in the quarterfinals or second-ranked Gardiner (10-0) in the semis.
NYA was 6-6 in the regular season, earned the No. 4 seed and dispatched fifth-ranked Maranacook/Winthrop (16-5) and No. 1 St. Dom’s (7-6) to set up the 13th playoff meeting in 15 seasons with its crosstown rival (Yarmouth held an 8-4 edge).
After the teams split in the regular season, each winning close decisions at home, it was no surprise the regional final was tight throughout.
NYA clung to a 3-2 lead at halftime and it was anyone’s game down the stretch, but the Panthers, thanks in large part to 20 saves from goalie Weston Nolan, held on to win, 8-7.
T.J. Daigler, Matt Hawkins and Jacob Scammon paced a balanced offense with two goals each.
“We didn’t have a playoff win (at Yarmouth),” NYA coach Peter Gerrity said. “The kids seemed to get really excited playing on that field. We continued our playoff run by executing and running the gameplan.”
The Panthers went on to lose to Falmouth in the Class B Final, 7-4 (please see story).
For Yarmouth, Anders Overhaug bowed out with three goals and Alex Kurtz made six saves in his swan song.
“It was a major disappointment,” lamented Clippers first-year coach David Pearl. “We could just not get the ball into the back of the net. We kept hitting their goalie and I think this gave him some confidence and he started to see the ball really well and he made some great saves. A hot goalie can make all the difference in the playoffs. We tied them in faceoffs until the fourth quarter and then they won faceoffs, 5-0. They scored the game winner on a fastbreak off a faceoff. We were behind by a goal the whole game. We’d tie it up and they’d go ahead. We had shots until the end. NYA’s a good team. Hats off to coach Gerrity. This game gives us a lot of inspiration for next year.”
Yarmouth’s season ended at 9-6, but the Clippers did a nice job bouncing back from a difficult 2011 campaign.
“The season as a whole was a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs,” Pearl said. “The team was lead by a wonderful group of seniors who set a positive tone both in practices and in games. Our senior captains, Anders, Bart Gallagher, Alex and Sam Torres, were incredible leaders. This team has set the standard for future Yarmouth teams.”
While a strong core of seniors graduates, the Clippers figure to be strong again in 2013.
“We have a lot of young players who really developed and improved during the season,” Pearl said. “We look forward to building on the strong foundation laid by this team. The guys saw how far we came, but we still have a ways to go. We left so many cards on the table. We had a freshman, sophomore and junior on defense and sophomore, junior, junior on attack. All are back next year and I know they’re hungry.”