Yarmouth plays nemesis York to scoreless draw

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Yarmouth junior goalie Cayte Tillotson makes a save in overtime to help preserve the Clippers’ 0-0 home draw versus three-time defending Class B state champion York Monday night. Tillotson made 14 saves, many of them of the highlight reel variety.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s field hockey team has closed the long-standing, frustrating gap between itself and three-time defending Class B state champion York.

And Monday evening, on Senior Night, the host Clippers came within inches of their first win over the Wildcats in 15 seasons.

But when all was said and done, Yarmouth and York split Heal Points, leaving the Clippers hopeful they’ll get one more shot at the Wildcats later this month in the postseason.

York entered the contest on a 19-game win streak in the series, but couldn’t take the lead in the first half, as in a sign of things to come, Yarmouth junior goalie Cayte Tillotson stopped the Wildcats cold.

Then, in the second half, after Clippers senior captains Emilie Martin and Sophie McGrath were both denied on good looks by York junior goalie Juliana Kiklis, the Wildcats put the hosts on their heels, earning a dozen penalty corners, but York couldn’t get the ball in the cage and the game went to overtime.

In the first eight-minute, “sudden victory” OT, Yarmouth junior Lydia Guay had a great look to win it, but shot just wide.

Then, in the second and final overtime, both teams had chances, but after one final acrobatic series of saves by Tillotson, the game ended in a 0-0 tie.

York’s long win streak against the Clippers came to an end and both teams are now 8-2-1 on the season.

“I feel really good about the game,” said Yarmouth coach Andrea Musante. “We feel like the girls played a complete game, no letdowns. The girls were really pumped for Senior Night and we knew it would be a tough match. It was fun.” 

Fit to be tied

Yarmouth and York were the last two teams standing in Class B South in 2016 and might be headed for an encore this fall.

The Clippers opened with home wins over Poland (3-1) and Fryeburg (2-0). After falling at York, 3-1, Yarmouth blanked visiting Lake Region (1-0), rallied to beat host Greely (2-1) and handled visiting Gray-New Gloucester (7-0) and Cape Elizabeth (4-1) in what proved to be Amy Ashley’s final game as coach before she left to become the athletic director at Cheverus. The Clippers then rolled at North Yarmouth Academy (6-1) in their first game under Musante. After a 3-2 loss at Freeport, Yarmouth bounced back with a vengeance Thursday, blanking visiting Wells, 10-0.

York started with a 9-0 win at NYA, then downed visiting Poland (4-1), Yarmouth (3-1) and Lake Region (2-1) before being stunned at home by Greely (3-1). The Wildcats then got back on track, downing visiting Cape Elizabeth (3-1), host Fryeburg Academy (1-0), host Freeport (3-1) and host Gray-New Gloucester (5-0), before losing an overtime thriller Saturday at home to St. Dom’s (1-0). 

Yarmouth last beat York back on Oct. 14, 2002 (2-1, in York). Since then, prior to Monday, the Wildcats had won 19 consecutive meetings by a composite score of 65-7.

Last fall, York came to Yarmouth and won the regular season meeting, 3-1, then held off the Clippers’ upset bid in the Class B South Final, 2-1, en route to its third consecutive state title.

On Sept. 11, the Clippers got a goal from senior captain Emilie Martin, but still fell two goals short at York.

This time around, on a pleasant early October evening (60 degrees at game time), Yarmouth pushed the Wildcats to the brink, but couldn’t produce the goal that would have spelled a seismic victory.

Neither team could generate much in the first half, but the visitors nearly took the lead in the 11th minute, only to see Clippers senior defender Anna Wiebus sweep the ball off the line at the last second.

“It was a great group effort,” Tillotson said. “Anna saved me on that one. It was great. I was so proud.”

Off a corner, York junior Katie Donovan ripped a shot just wide and Guay had a couple of looks late in the half, sending a rebound of a long hit just wide, then backhanding a shot after a turnover which was denied by Kiklis.

The Wildcats ramped up the attack in the second half and produced ample chances to score the game’s first goal.

With 25:15 to go in regulation, Tillotson had to make a pair of saves in a scrum in front of the goal.

After Yarmouth earned its first two penalty corners, the second of which resulted in a shot from junior Kyaira Grondin which was saved, York went back on offense and got three quick corner opportunities, only to have nothing to show for it.

With 16:45 on the clock, Martin weaved through the defense and had a great look at the goal, but Kiklis made a terrific save to preserve the tie.

The Wildcats got two more quick corners in succession, which forced Tillotson to make two more saves.

With 10:33 remaining, McGrath was robbed by Kiklis on the backhand and York would pin Yarmouth in its defensive zone for nearly the duration of regulation.

After Tillotson denied Wildcats senior Sydney Bouchard, Donovan just missed on a corner, another corner saw Tillotson make two more saves and another corner led to a shot from sophomore Bailey Oliver, which Tillotson saved as well.

“In my mind, I was saying there was no way (the ball) was going in the goal,” Tillotson said. “That was my mindset throughout the game. That’s what I said to the defense on every corner. I do whatever it takes to not let it in. That’s my nature. If I’m going to make a mistake, I’d rather make an aggressive mistake.”

With 2:23 on the clock, Tillotson showed off her athleticism, making a kick save on one shot, then, on the rebound, sprawling to knock away another bid.

In the final minute, Martin was denied by Kiklis at one end and at the other, Bouchard was stopped by Tillotson, sending the game to overtime.

Early in the first OT, a scrum in front of the Yarmouth goal almost ended the game, but the Clippers managed to clear the ball away at the last minute.

Grondin then rushed in hoping to end it, but Wildcats junior back Emlyn Patry broke it up.

Tillotson then knocked the ball away from Bouchard before she could shoot.

At the other end, senior Cate Ralph had a chance to win it for Yarmouth, but shot just wide.

The Clippers’ best opportunity came with 1:59 on the clock, as Ralph fed Guay behind the defense. Guay made a move to the left to get around Kiklis and for a split second, had an open cage to shoot at, but her backhanded bid was barely wide to the left and hit the outside of the near post.

The contest would go to a second overtime and the back-and-forth excitement continued.

Just 25 seconds in, after a steal, Guay had another chance, but Kiklis denied it.

At the other end, senior Jessa Smith tried to cross the ball in front to Bouchard, but Bouchard couldn’t reach it to tap it home.

After a York corner didn’t result in a shot, Grondin had a look for the hosts, but Kiklis saved it.

Bouchard looked to end the game on a breakaway with 4:55 to go, but Tillotson came out to cut off the angle and Bouchard couldn’t get a shot off.

Yarmouth sophomore Tessa Piker then saved the day with a defensive save.

After McGrath had a rush broken up, the ball came to Martin, who hoped to deliver a victory, but her shot was saved by Kiklis.

That proved to be the Clippers’ final offensive chance.

The Wildcats got one more with 27 seconds on the clock, but Tillotson stopped junior Audrey Grimes, then gave up her body to turn away Grimes’ rebound bid.

With that, the final horn sounded and the teams reluctantly settled for a 0-0 draw.

“Obviously, we wanted the win, but we’re not disappointed with a tie,” Tillotson said. “We won’t be pleased until we get that win against York.”

“It was a hard-fought game,” Musante said. “York came to play. It was fun to watch. The girls really dug deep. We asked a lot from them today. Conditioning has been a focus for us and it paid off for us today. Our passing game has gotten stronger, but we couldn’t convert it into a goal.”

York had a 16-8 edge in shots and had a commanding 18-3 advantage in corners, but had nothing to show for it.

That was due mostly to the presence of Tillotson, who backed up Ralph last year before becoming the starter this fall.

Tillotson made 14 saves to steal the show.

“Cayte had 14 saves and every single one was 100 percent effort,” said Musante. “Our defense in general was terrific. I’m pleased with our defense’s composure. They cleared (the ball) out wide and worked together.”

Kiklis stopped eight shots for the Wildcats.

Top seed wanted

York remains the top seed in Class B South. The Wildcats close with games at home versus Fryeburg Academy Wednesday and at Greely Monday and Lake Region Tuesday of next week.

Yarmouth (second in the region) will go to Lake Region Wednesday and Cape Elizabeth Friday before ending the season at Poland Tuesday of next week. That contest might determine the No. 2 seed.

“I think we’ll keep going up and up,” Tillotson said. “We still have a long way to go. It’s going to be a fun postseason.”

“This is a positive result,” Musante said. “We have things to learn, but the experience of taking York to overtime is a confidence builder. We’re moving in the right direction. We have a tough schedule to finish.”

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

Yarmouth senior Emilie Martin plays the ball between York sophomores Cassie Reinertson, left, and Bailey Oliver.

Yarmouth senior Anna Wiebus, who made a critical defensive save early in the game, drives the ball up the field.

Yarmouth senior Sophie McGrath tries to knock the ball away from York sophomore Cassie Reinertson.

Yarmouth freshman Lizzie Guertier knocks the ball past York freshman Christina Dargie.

Yarmouth junior Kyaira Grondin and York junior goalie Julianna Kiklis chase after a loose ball.

York sophomore Bailey Oliver knocks the ball away from Yarmouth senior Maggie Gunville.

In the first overtime, Yarmouth junior Lydia Guay lines up a shot on goal with York junior goalie Julianna Kiklis out of the play. Guay’s shot hit the post.

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