CUMBERLAND—Yarmouth’s girls’ soccer team has arrived.
And that’s bad news for the rest of Class B.
Friday evening at top-ranked, rival Greely, the Clippers, who have suffered through so many near misses this autumn, produced their best performance at a venue that has been downright cruel to them for ages.
This whole millennium, in fact.
Yarmouth, which played the Rangers tough in the teams’ first meeting, a 2-0 loss, couldn’t take advantage of some good chances in the first half.
Then, in the second, while many were expecting the hosts to strike first and take over, the Clippers broke through with 28:41 remaining, when sophomore Cory Langenbach set up junior Eavan O’Neill for a 1-0 lead.
Instead of sitting on the advantage, Yarmouth kept pushing and was rewarded nine minutes later, when a rebound came to the deadly foot of sophomore Katie Clemmer and Clemmer buried it to make it 2-0.
From there, it was up to the stellar Clippers defense and senior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon to slam the door and they would do so in style.
Yarmouth went on to the 2-0 victory, won at Greely for the first time since before many of the current Clippers were born, improved to 7-3-3 on the year, earned some crucial Heal Points and dropped the Rangers to 10-2-1 in the process.
“It’s a huge win,” said Fallon. “It’s a huge confidence booster going into the playoffs. Greely’s an amazing team. Coming out with a win over them is definitely a big deal. This is going to be really big moving forward.”
Greely wasn’t highly touted entering the season, but the Rangers have been the story in Western Class B this year and it appears as if the road to the regional title will go through Cumberland.
Greely won at Fryeburg (4-0) and Yarmouth (2-0) to start the year, then downed visiting Falmouth (3-1), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (3-0) and host Kennebunk (6-1) before making its biggest statement with a 3-0 victory at Cape Elizabeth in a revenge game from last year’s regional final loss. After a 3-0 home win over Freeport, the Rangers finally stumbled, letting a 2-0 lead slip away in a 3-2 double overtime loss at Falmouth. After settling for a scoreless draw at York, Greely blanked visiting Kennebunk (5-0), beat visiting Cape Elizabeth in a double overtime thriller (2-1) and Tuesday rolled at Lake Region, 6-1.
Yarmouth opened with a 2-0 home loss to Greely, then got its first victory, 2-1, over visiting Cape Elizabeth, came from behind to win at Freeport (4-2) and blanked visiting Poland 6-0. The Clippers then let a late lead slip away in a 1-1 home tie versus York and stumbled at Kennebunk and Cape Elizabeth by 1-0 margins. After a 1-1 tie at Falmouth, Yarmouth romped at Wells (7-0), earned a clutch victory at York (2-1) and after settling for a 3-3 home draw with Kennebunk, beat visiting Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday, 3-1.
Since the start of the 2001 season, Greely had won 18 of the 26 meetings, with Yarmouth prevailing just three times and five other games ending in ties (see sidebar, below). The Rangers hadn’t lost once to the Clippers in Cumberland, even though the 2004, 2005 and 2006 meetings ended in ties and Greely had to go to overtime in to prevail in 2008.
Friday, it was Yarmouth’s turn at last.
Greely’s first shot came in the third minute, when dangerous junior Jocelyn Mitiguy blasted the ball high and wide.
Five minutes in, Yarmouth got the ball to Clemmer in the box, but Rangers junior Kelsey Otley knocked it away. The rebound came to O’Neill, but her shot was blocked.
In the 11th minute, Mitiguy had her first good chance, running down a loose ball and despite being under pressure from Clippers junior Lauren Bartlett and sophomore Ella Antolini, found room for a left-footed bid, but Fallon made the save.
Freshman talent Sara D’Appolonia then sent two floaters toward the goal. The first sailed just high, but the second, in the 14th minute, had to be tipped up in the air, then caught by Greely junior goalkeeper Maddie Cyr.
The visitors almost broke through in the 18th minute, when a feed from Langenbach bounced in the box, then found the head of Clemmer, but she redirected is just wide.
Late in the half, D’Apollonia shot just wide and O’Neill just missed getting to a terrific D’Appolonia cross, while for the Rangers, Mitiguy sent a shot high, a feed from sophomore Riley Soule to freshman Caroline Swaney was collected by Fallon, a shot by Swaney (after taking a pass from freshman Courtney Sullivan) was saved, a Mitiguy shot after a nice move was saved, a Mitiguy shot after she dribbled through two defenders went wide and a shot from senior Mia Lambert sailed high.
Shots were 7-7 in the first 40 minutes.
The game remained relatively even in the second half, but it would be the visitors doing the capitalizing.
Early in the second half, a feed from Yarmouth sophomore Gretchen Barbera skipped through the box untouched and at the other end, senior Emma Torres had to clear the ball from the Clippers’ box.
With 35:11 remaining, Langenbach sent the ball through to Clemmer and Clemmer arrived at it at the same instant Cyr did. The resulting collision knocked the ball loose and O’Neill banged it home, but a foul was called, waving the goal off.
On the play, Cyr was injured and came out. She was replaced by Sullivan.
Sullivan saved the first shot she saw, a low blast from Clemmer with 32:20 to play.
Greely then nearly took the lead.
With 31:46 remaining, Hutnak fired a 20-yard blast that appeared on target, but it sailed just a bit high and ricocheted off the crossbar. The rebound came to Mitiguy in front, but her rushed shot sailed high.
After Clippers senior Lane Simsarian broke up a Mitiguy rush at one end, Yarmouth struck at the other.
The goal came as a result of some nice passing and the buildup led to Langenbach finding O’Neill in space and O’Neill fired a shot past Sullivan high and to the goalie’s left for a 1-0 lead.
“I was very frustrated in the first half,” O’Neill said. “Maybe it was obvious. ‘Smitty’ (Coach Rich Smith) and (assistant coach Rod) Corey gave us words of wisdom at half and I think it pumped us all up. We came out a different team and I came out a different player.
“We were coming up the field. I saw it open up, yelled, ‘Cory, Cory, Cory,’ got the ball and put it into the open corner. Maddie’s such a good goalie. When I saw she went out, I knew we had to jump on it before she came back in.”
“I’m really proud of Eavan, coming back from a catastrophic (knee) injury a year-and-a-half ago,” Smith said. “She flies to the ball. She finds the back of the net in big games.
“We moved our formation around a little bit and the kids were feeling uncomfortable. We told them they had to start being comfortable with being uncomfortable. We tried to adjust to see what we could do. It’s nice when we put the ball in the goal. We were a little unsure until we put one in, then our confidence came back.”
As expected, the Rangers roared back, seeking the equalizer.
Seconds after the goal, Hutnak got into the box, but had a shot blocked at the last second.
With 22:38 left, Fallon made a tremendous athletic play, racing out at the last second to get a foot on a Mitiguy through ball to Hutnak, sending it out of harm’s way.
“I wasn’t really thinking,” Fallon said. “I got a little nervous with her in the box. I felt like I had to come out.”
Yarmouth then struck again.
After the ball was booted around in the Greely box, it rebounded perfectly to the feet of Clemmer and she wasn’t about to miss her best look, as she fired past Sullivan to make it 2-0.
“We’ve been practicing really hard on our first touches and shooting,” Clemmer said. “We knew crosses would make a difference. In the second half, we tried to get to balls. Basically, I was just there. It didn’t need to be a pretty shot, but I just hit it with some body part.”
“Katie puts herself in the right place at the right time a lot,” Smith said. “She’s a big offensive threat.”
At last, Yarmouth could exhale a bit.
“Being up 1-0 is nice, but it’s nice to have some padding, so 2-0 was amazing,” Fallon said.
“When we get one (goal), it feels like part of the weight of the world is off our shoulders, but when we get two, especially against Greely, it really feels like the weight of the world is off,” O’Neill said. “When we finish, we know we’re playing strong.”
“We didn’t want to sit back,” Smith added. “We’ve done that some games and let teams tie us or beat us in the final minutes. We kept attacking to the end.”
Cyr then came back into the contest.
With 14:30 remaining, the Rangers earned their first corner kick of the game and Mitiguy served a perfect ball which sailed low through the box, but unfortunately for the hosts, no one could get a body part on it.
Yarmouth’s defenders then put on a clinic of how to hold off a powerhouse team.
First, freshman Hannah Corey cleared the ball from the box.
Seconds later, junior Lilly Watson blocked a promising pass.
After Bartlett cleared a feed, Hutnak appeared to find space, but her pass was cleared by Watson.
Then, with 3:18 left, Lambert floated a shot toward the goal and Fallon, while sliding, managed to trap the ball with her legs and the Clippers ran out the clock from there on a very impressive 2-0 victory.
“We played a great team,” Smith said. “(Greely has) great offensive players, a solid defense. Our conference is really tough. We’ve played the five best teams in the conference twice and every game’s a dogfight, but I think my girls have come out of it thinking they can play with anybody.”
Yarmouth finished with a 3-1 edge in corner kicks.
Fallon made eight critical saves and credited her defense for its steady play.
“I’ve had some tough games, but tonight was huge for me,” Fallon said. “Our backs communicated really well. Everyone was looking for each other, looking for feet, talking to me. It helped me play better. Lauren did an amazing job as usual, even with an injury in the first half. She came back in and played great. Greely has amazing speed up top. We were focusing on shutting down their two forwards. Our defenders stayed on their marks.”
“Shannon had an awesome game and the defense did a great job,” said Smith. “(Sophomore) Abby Condon and Lane and Lauren, and Lilly and (sophomore) Gretchen (Barbera) on the outside. (The Rangers) have so many dangerous players. We had to be on our game all night. It was a great team effort.”
Greely had a 16-13 edge in shots. Cyr and Sullivan each made one save for the Rangers.
“We had chances, but I have to say, we didn’t play well today,” lamented Greely coach Josh Muscadin. “We hit the crossbar, but that’s part of soccer. We have to put it in. We were off. We couldn’t do anything. Yarmouth deserved the win. I give them credit.”
Both teams close at home, but wins won’t be easy to come by.
Greely has the top seed in Western B locked up, but hopes to return to form Tuesday when it hosts York.
“This is definitely a wakeup call,” said Muscadin. “We have to get back to the level we were.”
Yarmouth (which has shot all the way to second in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) welcomes rival Falmouth Monday on Senior Night (the farewell for Fallon, Simsarian and Emma Torres).
“Falmouth’s very important,” O’Neill said. “It’s Senior Night. We’ll have motivation. They’re such a good team. They beat Greely also, so it’s going to be a good game. We’re excited.”
“We have three great senior captains,” Smith said. “The younger kids are realizing the season goes by quickly and that the seniors put in so much time and effort into making us a good team. They realize you play for each other to create special memories.”
A win would help the Clippers secure optimal seeding and give them even more confidence as a very winnable tournament looms.
“This game was really the turning point for us,” Clemmer said. “We’ve played such good teams that we’re even with. We haven’t been able to finish, but his game set the tone for us to be good in the playoffs.”
“We’ve improved throughout the season,” Fallon said. “Our first touches have gotten better. Our crosses have been great. We’ve been working on finishing. Everyone’s very even in the league. On any given night, any team can win over another. We’ll use the underdog motivation.”
“This is a good confidence builder,” Smith added. “Definitely a lot of Heal Points. Maybe it will get us an extra home game. The girls know they can play with anybody if they play their best.”
Yarmouth sophomore Katie Clemmer gets a step on Greely sophomore Jamie Keisman. Clemmer had the Clippers’ second goal.
Greely junior goalkeeper Maddie Cyr grabs the ball as Yarmouth freshmen Sophia Harpool closes in.
Yarmouth freshman Sara D’Appolonia, who controlled the midfield much of the game, finds some operating room.
Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon comes out to rob Greely junior Allison Coon.
Greely junior Jocelyn Mitiguy chases the ball as Yarmouth sophomore Cory Langenbach tries to keep pace.
Greely junior Izzy Hutnak is defended by Yarmouth sophomore Abby Condon.
Yarmouth senior Lane Simsarian heads the ball away from Greely junior Jocelyn Mitiguy.
Greely freshman Caroline Swaney tries to keep dangerous Yarmouth junior Eavan O’Neill from the ball. O’Neill had the game’s first goal.
Greely freshman Katherine Steinberg heads the ball away from Yarmouth sophomore Abby Condon.
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1 (OT)
@ Greely 1 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
Yarmouth senior Emma Torres (6) joins senior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon, senior Lane Simsarian, junior Lauren Bartlett, sophomore Abby Condon, freshman Hannah Corey and junior Lilly Watson in the postgame celebration after the Clippers’ 2-0 victory at Greely Friday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.