YARMOUTH—It’s been quite a week for the Yarmouth field hockey team with three games in four days.
But one mattered more than the others.
The Clippers played Monday and Wednesday afternoons, but they couldn’t help but look ahead to who awaited them Thursday.
Their crosstown rival and recent nemesis North Yarmouth Academy Panthers.
After losing three times to the Panthers a year ago, including in the playoffs, Yarmouth had some unfinished business to take care of Thursday and while it took 60 intense minutes, the Clippers were able to avenge their playoff loss and beat NYA for the first time this century.
After a first half which saw Yarmouth carry play, but have nothing to show for it, thanks to a strong effort from the Panthers defense and their stellar senior goalie, Elizabeth Coughlin, the Clippers finally broke through in the second half.
With 21 minutes, 12 seconds to play, off a penalty corner, a blast from senior Kallie Hutchinson was redirected by sophomore goalscoring machine Molly Wilson and Yarmouth had its first goal against NYA in nearly three full games.
But the lead didn’t even last four minutes.
On their only penalty corner of the game, the undermanned Panthers, playing without a single substitute and without any margin of error, drew even, as sophomore Kiersten Marr scored on a rebound with 17:25 remaining and suddenly the Clippers’ best laid plans were in jeopardy.
But Yarmouth features one of the state’s transcendent players in Hutchinson and she wasn’t about to lose to NYA again.
Just 82 seconds after the Panthers drew even, Hutchinson untied it with a powerful shot from up top and the Clippers had a 2-1 advantage.
Yarmouth’s defense slammed the door from there and made it four victories in four outings this autumn, dropping NYA to 3-1 in the progress.
“(Beating NYA) means everything,” Hutchinson said. “This is the only team we were afraid of in the past. We knew it would be a tough game. Both teams are completely different teams from last year. Not knowing what to expect from them helped us today. Yes, we wanted to win this one badly.”
Both NYA and Yarmouth impressed in their first three outings, but knew they wouldn’t truly get a measure of where they stood until they went head-to-head.
The Panthers, who have a dramatically different look this fall after being hard hit by graduation and transfer, opened by blanking host Wells (1-0) and Traip (2-0) and visiting Old Orchard Beach (5-0).
The Clippers, meanwhile, have embraced their new role of favorites as opposed to the team sneaking up on the favorites like they were a year ago, and handled host Old Orchard Beach (7-0) and visiting Waynflete (7-0), before eking out a tough 3-2 decision at Sacopee Wedensday on a late goal from senior Fiona Clarke.
“Yesterday was a test,” Hutchinson said. “Sacopee has a very different field than what we’re used to. We’re not a grass team. We needed to be tested like that. I’d much rather have 10 3-2 games than 10 7-0 games.”
Prior to the 2013 season, the neighboring schools didn’t have an active field hockey rivalry, but that changed in a heartbeat when host NYA rallied late to tie, then won, 2-1, on Olivia Madore’s overtime goal in the first of three encounters last fall.
The second game saw the Panthers win, 1-0, at Yarmouth and in the third meeting, in the Western C semifinals, NYA won again, at home, 2-0, ending the best Clippers’ season since 2000 in the process.
The Panthers would go on to edge Lisbon in penalty corners in the regional final before suffering a tough 1-0 loss to Foxcroft Academy in the state game.
Thursday, on a gloomy, occasionally drizzly afternoon, Yarmouth sought its first win over NYA this century and even though it didn’t come easily, the Clippers managed to achieve it.
Yarmouth had the ball in the Panthers’ zone most of the first half and had some good looks, but couldn’t finish.
In the fourth minute, a cross from Clippers sophomore Abby McDowell was tipped away by Coughlin.
Two minutes later, Hutchinson appeared to score on a backhanded shot off a corner, but her shot was ruled too high and the goal didn’t stand.
In the seventh minute, a pass from junior Cara Ricciardi to sophomore Taylor Robison was redirected just outside the post.
After Hutchinson took a pass from McDowell and had a shot blocked off a corner, Wilson was denied and Coughlin also managed to get in front of a tip by McDowell off a Wilson drive.
In the waning seconds, a Yarmouth corner was broken up sending the game to the half, 0-0.
The frustration continued early in the second half when a McDowell shot was saved by Coughlin, but with 21:12 to play, the Clippers earned another penalty corner and this time, they converted.
Junior Bre Morrill inserted the ball to Hutchinson, who sidestepped a defender, then shot. Wilson managed to get her stick in the way and the ball deflected past Coughlin for a 1-0 lead.
The goal was the fifth for Wilson so far this young season, a pretty impressive total considering she was on the junior varsity team in 2013.
“We were optimistic we’d score,” Wilson said. “The team pumps me up to get the goals. The coaches pumped us up at halftime. I just tipped in (Kallie’s) shot. My stick was in the right place. It felt good.”
“I’m proud of Molly,” Hutchinson said. “She’s worked hard. Preseason was good for her. She’s a great player. She deserves what she’s getting. I have so much confidence this year in our underclassmen. They have a lot of energy and they want to score.”
“I think we knew it would be a challenge to score,” Yarmouth coach Mandy Lewis added. “Coughlin’s a talented goalie, but our offense has shown a lot of growth this season. We knew we’d have to work hard in the circle to make it happen. Having Molly and Kallie and Bre working together has done a lot for our offense. Molly has great intensity. She keeps her stick nice and low and her reaction time is excellent.”
Moments later, McDowell almost doubled the lead, but Coughlin made the save and NYA transitioned to offense and earned a corner, which resulted in the equalizer.
After Yarmouth junior defender Samantha Middleton blocked a shot by Panthers senior Marina Poole, the ball came to Marr, who managed to steer it past Clippers junior goalie Tori Messina and just like that, the score was 1-1.
Yarmouth quickly regrouped with Hutchinson delivering a pointed message.
“I was a little nervous we wouldn’t be able to pick it back up,” Hutchinson said. “I brought the girls in and said, ‘Look. We still have 17 minutes. Yesterday, we scored in the last two minutes. We need to take a deep breath and calm down. We’ve dominated and we have the skills.'”
The Clippers immediately transitioned back to the offensive end and retook the lead.
The ball came to Hutchinson up top and she found some operating room, eluding a defender, then firing the ball.
Over the past couple seasons, Hutchinson has had several great bids denied by Coughlin, but this time, the shot whistled past the goalie and rattled the cage for a 2-1 lead.
“I knew it would be tough to score on Coughlin,” Hutchinson said. “I can’t just hit directly from the top. I knew I had to do something different. She didn’t see it coming. I got lucky.”
“We were a little concerned when they tied it, but we fired up our bellies,” Wilson said.
This time, Yarmouth didn’t give the lead back.
In fact, the Clippers had some great chances to make it 3-1, but Coughlin saved shots from Morrill and Robison.
With just under seven minutes to go, NYA hoped to answer, but a rush by junior Keeley Bartolini was broken up by Yarmouth senior Meaghan Gorman.
After Middleton and Morrill stopped Panthers’ forays, Hutchinson broke up a Marr rush with just over a minute to play and the Clippers brought the ball back to their offensive end.
At 5;22 p.m., the horn sounded and it was official.
Yarmouth 2 NYA 1.
“It’s hard to hold on at the end,” said Hutchinson. “I wanted an insurance goal. All in all, I’m proud of how we held on. Sixteen minutes is a long time. It was hard at the beginning of the week, trying to focus on the week as a whole, but I think everyone was focused on today. We came out strong, worked hard and were ready to play. We tried some different things and tried to execute some different things. I’m impressed with the maturity level of the girls.”
“It was a great game,” Lewis said. “It was intense. We expected a challenging game from NYA. Sacopee Valley was a good challenge for us. It was a great experience to come back from being scored on. That was invaluable for today.W e know we’ll face challenges as a team. How we handle those challenges will define how our season will be. We tried to take this week one day at a time. We knew we had to be ready for Waynflete Monday. We weren’t sure what to expect from Sacopee yesterday. Then, as soon as that game ended, we talked about preparing for today.”
NYA got seven saves from Coughlin, but it wasn’t enough.
“We fought hard,” said Panthers coach Tracy Quimby. “(Yarmouth) just outplayed us today. We got tired at some points, but I don’t think that got us today. They were an excellent team. We had momentum, but they came back and that second goal kind of deflated us.”
See you in October
Both teams will have an eye on the rematch, Oct. 3, at NYA, but the Clippers and the Panthers have plenty of tests to pass in the interim.
NYA returns home Monday to play improved Waynflete. A trip to Sacopee and a home game versus Traip also awaits next week. The Panthers host Western A power Falmouth Sept. 24.
“We don’t have huge numbers, but we’re making it work and we’re very proud of the girls for doing that,” Quimby said. “We’re moving several different players into one, two or even three positions. We’ll get there.”
Yarmouth (which is atop the Western Class C Heal Points standings at this early juncture) is back in action Monday at Wells. The Clippers then host Traip and Old Orchard Beach later next week. A home showdown versus Western B contender Cape Elizabeth also looms (Sept. 23).
“I’m happy with our start,” Wilson said. “We have to keep up our intensity.”
“We have to utilize our speed on our turf,” said Hutchinson. “We need to work better on spacing, timing and passing. With the athleticism of this team, I’d be surprised if we don’t go far.”
“We have another big week coming up,” Lewis added. “We hope to keep building. When I see all the new players and how much they’re jelling already, I think we have some exciting things to come as long as we continue to focus day by day.”
Yarmouth senior Kallie Hutchinson drives the ball. Hutchinson scored the winning goal with 16 minutes to play.
NYA junior Alex Barnes takes a swing at the ball as Yarmouth sophomore Abby McDowell closes in
Yarmouth sophomore Georgia Giese dribbles the ball up the field.
Yarmouth sophomore Gracie Griffin takes a swing at the ball.
Yarmouth senior Kallie Hutchinson and NYA senior Charlotte Eisenberg stretch out to gain possession.
Yarmouth sophomore Gracie Griffin defends NYA senior Anna Laprise.
Yarmouth sophomore Abby McDowell fires a shot while NYA senior goalie Elizabeth Coughlin stands tall.
Yarmouth junior Samantha Middleton tries to keep NYA sophomore Kiersten Marr in check. Marr scored the Panthers’ lone goal.
NYA senior Marina Poole prepares to whack the ball with her backhand.
Yarmouth sophomore Molly Wilson is congratulated by junior Bre Morrill after scoring the game’s first goal.
Recent NYA-Yarmouth results
@ NYA 2 Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)
NYA 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Western C semifinals
@ NYA 2 Yarmouth 0
@ NYA 3 Yarmouth 2 (2 OT)
@ Yarmouth 4 NYA 4 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 1 NYA 1 (tie)
A celebration years in the making ensues after Yarmouth’s field hockey team holds off rival North Yarmouth Academy, 2-1, Thursday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos
More photos below.