Yarmouth edges Kennebunk for key Senior Night victory

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Yarmouth’s field hockey team celebrates during Wednesday’s 2-1 home win over Kennebunk. The Clippers avenged an earlier loss to the Rams and ended their nine-game win streak.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—For more than a month, Yarmouth’s field hockey team has been chasing a signature victory.

Wednesday evening, on their Senior Night, the Clippers got it.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Hosting a sizzling Kennebunk squad which handed it a painful overtime loss last month, Yarmouth came out on fire and 12 minutes in, took the lead when senior Ally MacLeod scored her latest in a series of big goals for a 1-0 advantage.

With 9 minutes to play before halftime, junior Sophie McGrath scored off a penalty corner and the Clippers had a little breathing room.

To no one’s surprise, the Rams roared back in the second half, earning five corners, and with 15:34 remaining, senior Katherine Koch rattled home a shot to cut Yarmouth’s lead to one.

Kennebunk had some chances down the stretch, but the Clippers’ defense and junior goalie Cate Ralph stood tall and Yarmouth held on to prevail, 2-1.

The Clippers won their fourth straight game, improved to 9-4 and dropped the Rams to 10-3 in the process.

“This is huge for confidence,” Yarmouth coach Amy Ashley said. “We’ve had some tough losses, but today we finished strong. We needed a huge win and tonight was a good time to do that.”

Big stakes

Yarmouth and Kennebunk might be the teams best equipped to challenge the seemingly unbeatable York juggernaut in the playoffs, as both have shown glimpses of greatness this fall.

The Rams started with a 2-1 home loss to Falmouth and after a 6-0 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester, let a second half lead slip away in a 2-1 overtime loss at York. Kennebunk then rattled off nine straight victories, defeating Traip Academy, Freeport, Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, Greely, Fryeburg Academy, Poland, Cape Elizabeth and Fryeburg Academy.

Yarmouth opened with a 3-2 overtime loss at Falmouth, then won at Wells (7-1) and Lake Region (6-0), before giving visiting York a battle only to lose, 3-1. After a 2-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy, Yarmouth dropped a frustrating 1-0 overtime decision at Kennebunk, then blanked host Freeport, 5-0. After a 3-2 home loss to Falmouth on a goal which came either at the horn of double overtime (which was the ruling) or afterwards (which was the Clippers’ interpretation), Yarmouth shut out host Cape Elizabeth, 3-0, and visiting Freeport, 5-0, and Friday, downed visiting Greely, 4-1.

In addition to the Rams’ win in the previous meeting, the teams also played to a scoreless tie a year ago.

Wednesday, under very pleasant skies, Yarmouth brought an end to Kennebunk’s win streak.

The Clippers pressured the Rams and senior goalie Olivia Kudas, but weren’t able to break through until 18:02 remained in the first half.

The goal was scored by MacLeod and was assisted by senior Emily Lunt.

“We worked hard yesterday about putting everything in the direction of the goal,” said Ashley. “We knew their goalie was strong and she was going to make the save, but we had to score off the second or third shot. We put everything toward goal. We dominated the first 20 minutes. I was thrilled we were able to jump ahead.”

Yarmouth didn’t rest on its laurels and doubled its lead with 9 minutes to go before halftime, as on a corner, McGrath finished to make it 2-0.

“We wanted to start fast,” said McGrath. “Coach said that when we come out strong, we push for the whole game and that was prominent today. We practiced a new corner yesterday. It came to me across the circle and I just drove it right in.”

“(Ally and Sophie) just have a knack to score,” said Ashley. “It seems like Ally is always the first one to score. She knows where to position herself. That was a new corner we implemented yesterday and it was great for Sophie to score today.”

Yarmouth had a 5-1 edge in corners in the first half, but couldn’t add to its lead.

The second half saw the Rams tilt the field and begin to rally.

After Ralph denied Koch, Kennebunk got consecutive corners and with 15:34 left, the visitors broke through, as Koch took a pass from junior Lindsey Gregoire and blasted a shot past Ralph to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The Rams then looked to tie, but a shot by senior Allie Gregoire on a corner was blocked by Yarmouth senior defender Nicole McDowell and Ralph raced out to break up a follow-up chance.

McGrath almost put the game away with 8:54 remaining, but shot just wide.

Kennebunk wasn’t able to generate another good chance and as time wound down, McDowell cleared the ball and the Clippers were able to celebrate their 2-1 win.

“It’s so exciting to finally be able to get a big win,” McGrath said. “Especially after losing to them in overtime.”

“It was tough to hold them off, but we kept up our momentum,” said senior defensive standout and captain Taylor Robison. “We really wanted this win. This means the world to us. We’ve had some close games. We had to learn how to finish and today we did that. We hadn’t had a big win yet this year. This meant a lot to us to come out with the ‘W.'”

“They’re a good team and we realized that it wasn’t going to end 2-0,” Ashley added. “It was nice to see that even though they tested us, we were able to finish. We bend but we don’t break. Cate is still fairly new, so it was good for her to get some pressure. The defense too. Yesterday was probably the best practice we’ve had and to see them execute the practice and put it into game play is a huge step for us.”

The Clippers outsthot the Rams, 15-6, and got five saves from Ralph.

“Cate’s amazing,” Robison said. “We knew she would be a natural. She’s a great athlete, always moving. I’m just back there to help her out.”

Yarmouth finished with a 10-6 edge in corners.

Kudas made 13 saves for Kennebunk.

The next level

Kennebunk (which will likely be second for the Class B South playoffs) hopes to finish in style Saturday when it plays host to Lake Region.

Yarmouth (third in Class B South at press time) will wrap up its regular season Monday at Gray-New Gloucester. The Clippers hope to remain in the three spot and avoid a possible meeting with York until the regional final.

“We have to keep it up,” McGrath said. “I think we’re doing a great job.”

“Hopefully from here out, we’ll do better,” Ashley said. “We think we’ll see Kennebunk again. As a whole, I think we’re pretty even. We hope to make a run, that’s the goal.”

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

Yarmouth senior Molly Wilson fires a shot.

Yarmouth senior Tessa Houston and Kennebunk freshman Kaylee Gregoire battle for the ball.

Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod rips a shot. MacLeod scored the game’s first goal.

Kennebunk senior Anna Cressey tries to knock the ball away from Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod.

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