Yarmouth holds on for dear life to beat Fryeburg Academy

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Yarmouth senior Abby McDowell (8) is congratulated by classmate Eliza Lunt (11) and other teammates after scoring to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead over Fryeburg Academy Friday. Yarmouth went on to a 2-1 victory.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—For six minutes Friday afternoon, Yarmouth’s field hockey team looked unbeatable.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, field hockey games last 60 minutes and for the final 54, Yarmouth did just enough to hold off visiting Fryeburg Academy, but showed that it still has a lot of work to do to get to a top contender level.

The Clippers, who played perennial powerhouse and two-time defending Class B state champion York tough in a 3-1 loss Monday night, grabbed a 1-0 lead just 3 minutes, 33 seconds in when senior Eliza Lunt set up classmate Abby McDowell for a goal.

With 24:18 remaining in the first half, McDowell set up senior Molly Wilson for a second goal and it appeared Yarmouth was en route to an easy victory, but that wouldn’t be the case.

The Raiders controlled possession much of the second half and were rewarded with 5:54 to play in regulation, when senior Janelle Weisemann finished a feed from junior Jade Fox to cut the deficit to one.

Yarmouth did kill seven penalty corners in the second half and a strong defensive effort, paced by seniors Nicole McDowell and Taylor Robison, allowed the Clippers to hold on for a 2-1 victory.

“We didn’t play our way,” said Yarmouth first-year coach Amy Ashley. “We were complacent and it’s very frustrating. We had a great week in practice and I feel like we took a step back today and we were lucky to come out with a win.” 

Great start, tough finish 

After dropping a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker at Falmouth in the opener, the Clippers blanked visiting Poland (2-0), then won at Wells (7-1) and Lake Region (6-0). giving Ashley her 100th career victory, before giving visiting York a battle Monday only to lose, 3-1.

Fryeburg Academy opened with a 3-1 loss at York and a 2-0 home setback to Falmouth, then blanked visiting Cape Elizabeth (2-0) and host Lake Region (3-0) before settling for a 1-1 home tie versus Poland Wednesday.

Last year, the host Clippers eked out a 3-2 home win over the Raiders.

Friday, Yarmouth came out sizzling and was rewarded.

After junior Emilie Martin had a shot saved by Fryeburg Academy junior goalie Kayleigh Rose and Martin shot wide, the Clippers went ahead to stay with 26:37 remaining in the half as Lunt got the ball to Abby McDowell and McDowell blasted it into the cage for a 1-0 lead.

With 24:18 left, Abby McDowell decided it was better to give than receive as she passed to Wilson, who one-timed a shot past Rose for a quick 2-0 lead.

“We took a lot of positives from York,” Ashley said. “It was just the final 20 minutes where we didn’t play with intensity, so we worked hard all week. We talked about needing to come out strong today. We play better when we come out strong, but I’m very disappointed with how we played the other 54 minutes.”

The Raiders had one serious opportunity in the first half ,but on a penalty corner, a backhanded shot from senior Joelie Buzzell, which appeared goal-bound, was swept away by Yarmouth defender Taylor Robison.

With 2:16 remaining, the Clippers had a golden chance to make it 3-0, when off a penalty corner, out of a scrum, Rose fell down and trapped the ball, but Nicole McDowell couldn’t convert the ensuing penalty stroke steering the ball just wide.

“I just missed,” McDowell said. “We practice them and I almost never miss.”

Yarmouth had a 5-1 advantage in penalty corners in the first half.

Those numbers would change in the second half, as the Clippers had little go their way and had to fight to the finish to come out with a victory.

Just 2 minutes, 46 seconds after halftime, Nicole McDowell broke up a Raiders’ corner.

Fryeburg Academy then earned another corner and McDowell blocked a shot by senior Bridget Tweedie.

With 18:52 remaining, Yarmouth junior first-year goalie Cate Ralph saved a shot on a corner and a rebound sailed wide.

“We were on our heels a lot,” Nicole McDowell said  “It was stressful, but we made sure we kept pushing.”

“Our defense stepped up when they had to,” Ashley said. “It’s nice to have Cate see more shots and get more pressure.”

Ashley called timeout with 17:55 to go, but the Clippers couldn’t respond and ice the victory.

After Nicole McDowell broke up another corner, the Raiders broke through with 5:54 left, as Fox got the ball in close to Weisemann, who shot past Ralph to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Fryeburg Academy pushed for the equalizer, but couldn’t generate another shot and with 20 seconds to play, Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod cleared the ball and the Clippers were able to hold on for a 2-1 victory.

Not that Yarmouth was celebrating much afterwards.

“I don’t know what changed,” Nicole McDowell said. “We need to have more energy. It’s been awhile since we’ve played. We were excited to play a game, but I don’t know what happened after that. We were off today, but it’s a win and that’s all that matters.”

“I’m frustrated by our effort, our lack of communication and overall lack of fundamentals,” Ashley said. “We couldn’t get going in the second half. It seemed like the whole team was off, which is bizarre, but at the beginning, we were on fire. We need to pull together a whole game where we play with intensity. It’s nice to have a game where we got tested and it was back and forth and we won.”

Midway point

Fryeburg Academy (ranked eighth in the Class B South Heal Points standings at press time) looks to bounce back Tuesday when it goes to Sacopee Valley. The Raiders then have the daunting task of hosting York Thursday.

Yarmouth (fourth in the region at press time) reaches the midway point of its season Tuesday when it goes to Kennebunk. After playing at Freeport Thursday, the Clippers come home for a showdown with Falmouth next Saturday.

“We’ll try to come out stronger next time and keep it strong the whole game,” Nicole McDowell said. “It’s about intensity. We want to have a game where we’re intense the whole way. That’s the goal.” 

“Next week is a huge week for us,” Ashley said. “If we play to this level, it won’t be the same result (as today). Hopefully this was just a bump in the road and we’ll play better from here on out. We have some soul searching to do to see what kind of team we want to be.”

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

Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod has a shot saved by Fryeburg Academy junior goalie Kayleigh Rose.

Yarmouth senior Eliza Lunt crosses the ball to classmate Abby McDowell for the game’s first goal.

Yarmouth senior Nicole McDowell launches a shot.

Yarmouth junior Emilie Martin keeps the ball away from Fryeburg Academy senior Hannah Frye.

Yarmouth junior Emilie Martin and Fryeburg Academy junior Jade Fox fight for possession.

Yarmouth senior Abby McDowell weaves through Fryeburg Academy senior Taylor Kruger, left, and junior Jade Fox.

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