Yarmouth girls edge Greely in finale, enter playoffs as the favorite

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Greely sophomore Anna DeWolfe heads the ball away from Yarmouth junior Hannah Corey during the teams’ regular season-ending showdown Monday night. The Clippers prevailed, 1-0, and will be the top seed for the upcoming playoffs.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s girls’ soccer team tasted defeat for the first time this season Saturday and 48 hours later, the Clippers responded.

Like the champions they hope to become.

Hosting defending Class B champion Greely in the teams’ regular season finale, Yarmouth, on its Senior Night, was frustrated much of the way, but with 37:32 to play in regulation, on its 10th corner kick, it found the net, as junior Callie Decker redirected sophomore Olivia Feeley’s serve with a perfectly timed volley.

The Clippers couldn’t add to the lead, but they didn’t give the Rangers many chances either and a strong defensive effort, led by senior Ella Antolini, slammed the door as Yarmouth held on to prevail, 1-0.

The Clippers finished the regular season 12-1-1, set a new program record for wins in a regular season, locked up the top seed for the upcoming Class B South playoffs, swept Greely for the first time this century and dropped the Rangers to 10-4 in the process.

“All we needed to do was keep our composure and play Yarmouth soccer and I think that’s what we did,” Antolini said. “We came out a little slow, but we never faltered. We stayed composed.”

Regional final preview?

As expected, the Clippers and the Rangers have both been among the best teams in the state all season.

Yarmouth, a semifinalist in 2015 and the favorite this fall, opened with a 5-1 win at Cape Elizabeth, then, after a 1-1 home draw against York, the Clippers blanked host Lake Region, 4-0, pulled away to win at Falmouth, 4-1, then downed visiting Gray-New Gloucester (4-1) and Cape Elizabeth (3-0). After a 4-0 home victory allowed Yarmouth to sweep Falmouth, it handled visiting Fryeburg Academy (2-0) and won at Greely (4-1) and Gray-New Gloucester (4-0) and at home over Wells (8-0) before Saturday’s 3-1 loss at York.

Greely hasn’t been as dominant as last year’s title team, but has remained very competitive. The Rangers began with a dramatic 3-2 overtime win at Falmouth, then defeated host Kennebunk (3-0) and visiting Fryeburg Academy (4-1). After losing at Cape Elizabeth, 2-1, Greely won at home over Waynflete (4-0), then lost at home to Falmouth, 1-0. Home wins over Cape Elizabeth (2-1) and Lake Region (3-0) and a thrilling overtime victory at York (3-2) were followed by a 4-1 home loss to Yarmouth. The Rangers then blanked visiting Kennebunk (3-0), won at Poland (3-1) and shut out host Gray-New Gloucester (2-0). 

Entering play Monday, Greely held a 20-6 (with five ties) advantage since the start of the 2001 season (see sidebar, below), but Yarmouth had won three of the past five meetings, including the one on Oct. 1, when junior Sara D’Appolonia scored twice and seniors Gretchen Barbera and Katie Clemmer had one goal apiece (junior Courtney Sullivan had the Rangers’ goal).

This time around, the Clippers won again, but it was much closer.

The tone was set in the first five minutes, as Yarmouth earned four corner kicks, but the Clippers couldn’t put a shot on frame.

The first shot on goal came in the seventh minute, when Feeley’s long blast was caught by Greely junior goalkeeper Molly Matthews. 

In the 10th minute, Clemmer fired a bid just wide.

The Rangers’ first shot came with 29 minutes to play in the first half, as junior Katie Steinberg’s 35 yard free kick was on target, but Yarmouth junior keeper Meredith Lane made the save.

In the 15th minute, Clemmer almost scored on a corner, but she headed Feeley’s serve just high.

After senior Ellie Schad sent a blast high for Greely, Clemmer had three straight chances, but she shot wide, was denied by Matthews after taking a pass from freshman Caroline Grant, then missed wide.

After Rangers sophomore Skylar Cooney shot wide, Clippers junior Eva Then had a chance with Matthews out of the net, but a defender deflected the ball out.

After Clemmer shot just high, D’Appolonia sent a pinpoint cross right in front, but Feeley couldn’t quite reach it.

Late in the half, Feeley and junior Sophia Harpool both had shots saved by Matthews, keeping the score 0-0 at the break.

Yarmouth had a 4-1 edge in shots and a 7-1 advantage in corner kicks in the first 40 minutes, but didn’t have anything to show for it.

The goal finally came early in the second half.

Greely got the first good chance after halftime, but Sullivan’s header on a Steinberg free kick was snared by Lane.

After a promising Clemmer shot was headed out by Rangers freshman back Katherine Clancy, the ensuing corner kick, number 10 on the night, proved to be the charm.

Feeley served the ball in front and Decker waited for it, timed it perfectly and volleyed it past Matthews for a 1-0 lead with 37:32 to play.

“I was getting a little frustrated, but the key was to get people in the box and get a foot on the ball,” Decker said. “We were hoping a goal was coming. It was a beautiful cross by Olivia. It was all her. I was just in the right place at the right time. I just got a foot on it and it happened to go in. It felt really good.”

“I was hopeful we were going to get a goal,” said Clippers first-year coach Josh Thornton. “The majority of play was in their end and we had the majority of opportunities. (Callie’s) really good in the air attacking the ball. Most players can’t do that, but she can. It was a really nice goal.”

Less than two minutes later, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to tie it, as Yarmouth turned the ball over and Greely sophomore Anna DeWolfe lined up a shot with Lane coming out of the goal. DeWolfe couldn’t get the shot on target, however, and it sailed wide, as the Clippers dodged a bullet.

With 32:44 to play, DeWolfe had a better shot, but Lane made the save.

After Clemmer just missed for Yarmouth, Cooney had a shot deflected wide and a bid from DeWolfe in the box was blocked, setting up a corner kick which Clippers senior Cory Langenbach headed out of harm’s way.

With 24:24 left, Feeley appeared primed to double the lead, when she took a pass from Langenbach and shot, but Matthews made her finest save of the night, going all out to keep the ball out of the net.

With 18:35 to go, Schad got into the box, but Antolini broke up the chance. 

“Ella saved us a bunch of times today,” Thornton said. “The back line has been great. They stay calm back there. It’s not easy to score against us.”

With 12:53 remaining, DeWolfe sent a long shot on target, but Lane made the save.

Greely got another opportunity with 6 minutes to go, as Clancy’s free kick wasn’t cleared and DeWolfe managed a shot which went just high.

After Matthews kept her team alive by denying D’Appolonia, the Rangers had one final chance with 1:08 to play, but Lane denied DeWolfe.

Yarmouth’s defense didn’t allow another shot and the Clippers celebrated their 1-0 victory.

“We had to come into this game being confident and it worked out for us,” Decker said. “York shook us up a little bit, but it was an important loss. It’s hard to go into the playoffs undefeated.”

“(Greely’s) a really good team, but we have such a deep bench which we haven’t had before,” Antolini said. “We have so many solid defenders who are confident and keep us composed in the back. We’ve matured as a team and we’ve realized that we have to stay composed and collected.”

“(York) got our attention because it’s important for the girls to know that they can lose,” Thornton added. “We didn’t have time to train in between, so it was good to see us bounce back. When the girls stay confident and trust each other, they’re a great group to watch.”

The Clippers’ 12 victories this fall eclipsed 1996 and 2010 squads’ 11.

“This team was packaged for a good season,” Thornton said. “The league is hard, having to play Greely twice, Cape twice, York twice, Falmouth twice. It’s great for this great group of seniors to have such a great season.”

Yarmouth finished with a 15-3 advantage in corner kicks, a 9-6 edge in shots on frame and got six saves from Lane.

The Rangers got eight saves from Matthews, but couldn’t generate any offense as they were shut out for just the second time all year.

“When you play a team like Yarmouth, I tell my players, ‘Don’t let them get corner kicks,'” said Greely coach Josh Muscadin. ” We’ll have to go back to the drawing board on that. We also had some scoring chances, but we couldn’t do it.”

Thinking gold

Greely was ranked second in the Class B South Heal Points standings at press time, but could wind up third, depending if York beats Falmouth Tuesday.

Regardless of their seed, the Rangers are ready for another deep playoff run.

“Hopefully we’ll see (Yarmouth) again when it counts,” Muscadin said. “We adjusted what we need to do and I think the girls know what they’re up against. When you are the defending champs, everyone looks to knock you down. Now, there’s a new sheriff in town. We want to show them what we’re capable of. We have to worry about our game and not the other teams. We have to execute. The fun begins now. Now the season actually starts.”

Yarmouth will be the top seed for the first time since 2010. The Clippers know they wear the bulls-eye, but they welcome it.

“We’re super-excited going into playoffs,” Decker said. “We have homefield advantage and we’re hoping for a good outcome. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and it should work out well for us.”

“We have to play our game and hope for the best,” Antolini said. “We have strength and confidence. The six seniors have played together spring and fall for so many years. We’ve known this is our year since we were freshmen.”

“The girls still want more,” Thornton added. “We get to stay on our field and we love being at home. Now, it’s up to the girls. I think if we play well, we should win, but the reason we love the sport is that anyone can beat anyone on a given day. Every team will play hard against us, but that’s good. We know we have a good team.”

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

Yarmouth senior Katie Clemmer shields the ball from Greely junior Katie Steinberg.

Greely freshman Brooke Obar plays the ball as Yarmouth senior Cory Langenbach defends.

Yarmouth junior Sara D’Appolonia heads the ball as Greely freshman Katherine Clancy looks on.

Greely junior Courtney Sullivan goes up high to kick the ball while Yarmouth senior Cory Langenbach defends.

Greely senior Ellie Schad plays the ball in space.

Yarmouth sophomore Olivia Feeley and Greely sophomore Skylar Cooney fight for possession.

Yarmouth junior Eva Then tries to fight off Greely senior Ellie Schad.

Recent Greely-Yarmouth results

Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 1 

@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 3 
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
Class B South semifinal
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 0

@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 1

@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1 (OT)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0 (OT)

@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 2 (tie)

@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)

@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1

Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)

@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)

Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1

@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 5 @ Yarmouth 1

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