YARMOUTH— On a chilly, rainy Wednesday night that was anything but pretty, longtime rivals North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth produced nearly 57 minutes of beautiful girls’ lacrosse.
Fifty minutes of back-and-forth regulation wasn’t enough to decide it, nor was six minutes of overtime. It took 32 seconds of another OT, this one “sudden-victory,” before the host Clippers were able to exult.
Yarmouth, which twice let leads slip away in the waning seconds, earned a measure of revenge against the team which ended their 2008 season when senior Lanier Bolmer took a pass from junior Nalini Robbins, raced in and fired a shot past NYA’s valiant senior goalie Abigail Moss to give the Clippers a 12-11 triumph and bring the curtain down on what was easily the finest game of the year.
“Oh my God!” said a bruised, drenched, but delirious Bolmer. “I can’t even describe it. Typical NYA-Yarmouth, going back and forth. It feels great. I can’t stop smiling.”
Both programs have enjoyed plenty of success in recent seasons. In fact, Yarmouth and NYA have a monopoly on representing the East region in the state game for each of the past five years.
The Panthers won the region in 2004, 2005 and 2008, but lost each time to Waynflete in the state game. The Clippers won the 2006 and 2007 regional and Class B state championships.
Last year, the rivalry was elevated when longtime Yarmouth coach Julia Littlefield took over the NYA program. The teams split in the regular season, each winning on the other’s turf, then battled in a classic regional final which saw the Panthers rally to win 10-9.
NYA was viewed as the favorite entering 2009, but the Clippers have been right there with them. The Panthers won their first eight games, but had trouble closing out games in the second half and they’ve dodged their share of bullets. Yarmouth, meanwhile, fell 8-7 at home to Kennebunk May 12, but downed its eight other foes with relative ease.
Entering Wednesday night, NYA was ranked first in the Eastern Class B Heal Points, while the Clippers were second. In the coaches’ poll, the Panthers were third while Yarmouth was fourth, but The Forecaster’s poll had the Clippers second behind Waynflete, with NYA third.
Yes, the teams are that close and reminded everyone why this rivalry is so special in the first of what figures to be two passion plays this spring.
The pace was relatively tame in the first half as the squads struggled to hold on to the ball in the rain. With 19:42 to play, Yarmouth broke the ice when sophomore Becca Bell, playing her best game to date, scored unassisted.
The visitors answered with 13:34 to go when junior standout Courtney Dumont set a tone for things to come when she scored unassisted, beating Clippers senior goalie Kelley Kasper.
With 11:50 left in the half, senior Hannah Coleman scored for the hosts, but with 7:29 to go, Dumont answered with an unassisted goal. With 1:52 to play, sophomore Danielle Torres put Yarmouth ahead, 3-2, when she took a pass from senior Tess Beem and beat Moss. Then, with 18.7 seconds left, Bolmer scored unassisted to give the Clippers a 4-2 lead.
Yarmouth won six of seven draws and had an edge in shots (12-9) and ground balls (29-19). Both goalies came up big (Kasper had six saves to Moss’ five) to keep the scoring in check.
“Kelley was our team at that point,” Bolmer said. “That was wonderful to see. We hadn’t quite clicked yet. It was intense from the start. We tried not to get too emotionally into it. We knew if we played our game, we’d have success.”
For most of the second half, the Clippers threatened to pull away, but they never could deliver the knockout blow and the Panthers rallied to set up the memorable ending.
It took Dumont just 13 seconds to score her third goal (unassisted) to make it 4-3, but a little over a minute later, Bell answered to push the lead back to two. Dumont struck again at the 21:05 mark with another unassisted goal, but with 15:58 to play, Robbins (from Coleman) scored, then after Bolmer hit the post, Beem fired through a crowd to tickle the twine and make it 7-4 with 13:06 to play.
Littlefield called timeout and just 18 seconds later, Dumont had her fifth unassisted goal and the Panthers were back within two, 7-5.
Yarmouth would come right back, however, taking an 8-5 lead on Bolmer’s unassisted tally with 11:50 to play. Then, the Clippers had three good looks at going up four goals and essentially putting the game out of reach, but each time, Moss came up big and the score remained 8-5.
“Abigail made some big saves to keep us in the game,” Littlefield said.
The visitors then took momentum and scored three times in three-and-a-half minutes to draw even.
With 8:20 to go, Dumont scored her sixth unassisted goal of the game, but the next two came from different players. With 4:59 remaining, sophomore Lilly Wellenbach took a pass from senior Rachel Darby and scored. Just 10 seconds later, senior Lucy Gerrity fed junior Rebecca McKelvey and the game was deadlocked.
“We got off the deck,” Littlefield said. “We were slow getting into it the first 10 or 15 minutes. I called a timeout and we improved our energy and pulled it together. We were relying on Courtney a little bit, but other kids pulled it together.”
Neither team could take advantage the next four minutes before Yarmouth appeared to seal the deal when Bell scored (from Bolmer) with just 32.1 seconds to play.
Undaunted, NYA came right back, winning the draw and pulling even when Dumont set up Wellenbach for a score with 13.9 seconds to play.
“Lilly was so clutch,” Dumont said.
Just like that, the teams were headed for overtime.
In girls’ lacrosse, teams play two three-minute overtime periods, then, if the game remains tied, go to “sudden victory.”
Midway through the first overtime session, Dumont scored her seventh goal, off a free position, to give the Panthers their first and only lead of the game, 10-9.
NYA won the draw to begin the second session, but turned the ball over and with 1:11 to go, Yarmouth (a player-up after Darby was sidelined three minutes with a yellow card) tied the score when Bolmer fired home a free position.
The Clippers again appeared to clinch the victory when Beem set up Coleman for a goal with 34.3 seconds left, but again, NYA promptly answered when Wellenbach caught the draw, raced in unhindered and beat Kasper to make it 11-11.
Yarmouth had one final chance when Torres was awarded a free position, but her bid with 3.7 seconds left was high and it was on to sudden victory.
Considering the explosiveness of the two offenses, combined with the fatigue factor, most figured the team winning the draw would win the game.
That’s exactly what happened.
The Clippers gained possession and Coleman took a shot that was just wide. Then, the ball came to Robbins to the left of the goal and she calmly hit Bolmer up top. Bolmer found room in front of the goal, stepped in and fired a shot that Moss had no chance to stop.
Yarmouth 12 NYA 11.
Pandemonium (or agony, depending on your rooting interest) resulted.
“It just all clicked,” Bolmer said. “It was great. I love my team. I need to go give Nalini a huge hug. I was just going for whatever worked. It was fun. I think my face has a bruise on it from the pileup.
“NYA is just amazing. They gave us a great game. They’re our rival. Same town. Half those girls used to come to our school. It’s a huge win. I think this game will help determine which house we play at. To have a chance to play at home is just wonderful. Last year, we played there and lost 10-9. When I looked up in overtime and saw they had 10 and we had nine, I said, ‘Guys, we have to win. I can’t have that deja vu.'”
“Wow!,” added Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt. “We needed that. We had to play our game. We had a ton of turnovers and have to work on that. Getting scored on twice in the final 30 seconds of a game is tough to take, but the kids stepped up. I’m proud of them. Win, lose or draw, I’m proud of them.
I told them to step in front and win the draw and slow it down and play our game. That’s what they did. It was just a great game on both sides. It could have gone either way. I’m proud of the girls on both sides.
“If we had lost it, it would have been hard to recover from. By winning it, we showed we mean business. We’re young, but we’re tough.”
Bolmer led the Clippers with four goals (and one assist). Bell had three goals, Coleman scored twice (and had an assist), while Beem (two assists), Robbins (one assist) and Torres all had one goal. Kasper made 11 saves.
“Kelley made a ton of big saves,” Holt said. “She’s peaking. She just keeping better and better. She likes the big games the best. That’s where she shines.”
“It’s unreal,” Kasper said. “The big thing was draw controls. The first half was excellent. Our heads were in the game. After that, maybe we got a little distracted. This says a lot about our character. It’s huge. This gives us so much confidence. We really deserved it since we were ahead most of the game. It would be really hard to come off this with a loss.”
For NYA, Dumont had seven goals (and one assist).
“I definitely feel this game was a huge step for us,” Dumont said. “Even though we lost, we played so well. We can make the shots and passes when it counts. We were so composed as a team. We pulled together as a team and made it happen.”
Wellenbach added three goals, while McKelvey had the other. Darby and Gerrity also had assists. Moss stopped 12 shots.
“The girls totally came through,” Littlefield said. “To come back from 8-5 was great. To play in overtime, sometimes people fold. We never gave in. That says a lot about the girls.”
Yarmouth had a slight edge in the final stats, winning 15 draws to 12 by NYA, outshooting the Panthers 42-30 and winning 60 ground balls to 45. Coleman and senior defensive standout Lexi Wing both had 10 for Yarmouth. Dumont had a dozen for NYA. The Clippers had 20 turnovers, one more than the Panthers.
Before NYA and Yarmouth can square off again, both teams have some heavy lifting to attend to.
The Panthers are at undefeated Waynflete in a state final rematch Friday, play host to York Monday and welcome Falmouth in the regular season finale Wednesday of next week.
“Yarmouth is very good, and very, very well coached,” said Littlefield. “We’re excited we played with them. We probably can beat them. We think we may be ready for Waynflete. We had to show how good we were and we did that today.”
The Clippers now have an inside track to that all-important homefield advantage, but have another huge test Monday night when they host Waynflete. Yarmouth then closes the regular year at York next Wednesday.
“Julia’s ready to get us in the playoffs, but we’re step by step,” Holt said. “We’re just thinking the next game. We have Waynflete coming up. It doesn’t get any easier for us.”
If local girls’ lacrosse fans are lucky, the teams will meet again somewhere in the town of Yarmouth on June 17 with a berth in the Class B state final at stake.
“(Tonight) was so exciting,” Dumont said. “It felt like playoffs, especially with the new schedule, only playing them once. I can’t imagine what playoffs will be like this year. If we do face them, it will be so intense.”
“Here or there it doesn’t matter,” said Littlefield. “It’s the same town. We don’t mind playing (at Yarmouth). We’ll see what happens in the tournament. It’s exciting.”
The Clippers had similar thoughts.
“We want to play them here,” Kasper said. “I think we have so much talent. This made us realize that. We showed NYA who we were.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/mhoffer
Senior Lanier Bolmer and sophomore Becca Bell, who enjoyed a breakout game, celebrated a second half goal for the Clippers. (Jason Veilleux photo)
Yarmouth junior Molly Curry and NYA junior Hayley Bright got up close and personal Wednesday. The Panthers and Clippers battled for almost 57 minutes before the hosts won, 12-11. (Jason Veilleux photo)
NYA junior standout Courtney Dumont beat Yarmouth senior goalie Kelley Kasper for one of her seven goals. (Jason Veilleux photo)
Yarmouth senior Lanier Bolmer sent a shot through traffic that found the net for one of her four goals on the night. (Jason Veilleux photo)
The Yarmouth Clippers celebrated after their exhausting and thrilling 12-11 overtime win over North Yarmouth Academy Wednesday night. (Jason Veilleux photo)