YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s field hockey team has a singular focus this postseason and an unfamiliar foe and a steady rain weren’t about to stand in the Clippers’ way Tuesday afternoon.
Hosting Telstar in a Western Class C quarterfinal, the second-ranked Clippers made quick work of the seventh-seeded Rebels, suggesting that their postseason run might not end anytime soon.
In the eighth minute, senior standout Kallie Hutchinson got the scoring started when she finished a feed from sophomore Abby McDowell on a penalty corner.
That would be the only goal Yarmouth would need, but more were coming.
Late in the half, McDowell, in her playoff debut, got in on the fun, finishing a feed from junior Cara Ricciardi to make it 2-0 Clippers.
Then, with just over 10 minutes to play, seconds after returning to the game after suffering an injury, junior Bre Morrill finished a Hutchinson pass and scored on a penalty corner for a 3-0 advantage.
Yarmouth then closed it out, improved to 14-1, ended the Rebels’ season at 7-9 and advanced to host either No. 3 Lisbon or No. 6 Dirigo in the semifinals Tuesday of next week.
“We were confident,” Hutchinson said. “We all had a good day today. We were prepared for what we were going to see. We knew the weather would be a factor, but we didn’t let it bother us. It doesn’t really affect the game too much, other than it’s annoying and freezing.”
A year ago, Yarmouth reveled in its return to prominence and a trip to the semifinals was a just reward. Even though the Clippers were disappointed to lose to rival North Yarmouth Academy, they had so much to be happy about that the sting didn’t last long.
This fall, however, Yarmouth isn’t just happy to be in the postseason. The Clippers view themselves as a legitimate title threat and based on what they did in the regular season, they’re right.
Yarmouth won its first 10 games, suffered an overtime loss at NYA, then won its final three to lock up the No. 2 seed, its best ranking since 1998.
Telstar had an up-and-down campaign, but played some top teams tough en route to a 6-8 mark and the No. 7 ranking. Saturday, the Rebels blanked visiting No. 10 Waynflete in the preliminary round, 3-0.
While they haven’t played in almost two decades, Yarmouth and Telstar have quite the playoff history (see sidebar, below).
The first meeting came in the 1978 quarterfinals, which the Rebels won on penalty strokes. The teams then squared off seven times in 10 seasons between 1987-96. Telstar won the first four meetings, Yarmouth took the next three, including the 1995 Western C Final (2-0) en route to its most recent championship, but the Rebels took the most recent encounter, 3-2, in penalty corners, in the 1996 regional final.
Tuesday, with a steady rain falling, the Clippers controlled play virtually throughout.
Yarmouth had plenty of possession in the early minutes, but didn’t get a chance until earning a penalty corner in the seventh minute. The corner didn’t result in a shot, but a Telstar transgression gave the Clippers another corner and this time, they would get the only goal they would need.
With 22:51 to go in the first half, Morrill inserted the ball to McDowell, who pushed it to her right to Hutchinson, who found herself with an open lane at which to shoot and when you give this sharpshooter that kind of look, you have to know the thud of the ball rattling the cage will ensue and that’s exactly what happened.
Yarmouth 1 Telstar 0.
“We came out strong,” Hutchinson said. “Abby and I clicked with the pass and I had a full, open shot. A first goal is huge. It opens the floodgates.”
“We were pumped,” Morrill said. “We were ready. We’ve practiced hard. We’re better once we get a goal under our belts. It’s a confidence boost. We pick our intensity up. When we get that first goal, they just keep coming after that.”
The Clippers would eventually double their lead, but it would take quite awhile.
Seconds after the goal, Yarmouth sophomore Taylor Robison got a look, but her shot hit the side of the cage.
Moments later, Robison set up sophomore Georgia Giese for a shot, but it was tipped wide by a defender.
Morrill then crossed the ball and it sat free in front of Rebels senior goalie Meg Glover before it was finally cleared.
Finally, with 3:44 left in the half, the Clippers struck again.
After senior Fiona Clarke worked the ball in, she passed to junior Cara Ricciardi and Ricciardi found McDowell, who didn’t get a lot on her shot, but it was enough to elude Glover and Yarmouth was on top, 2-0.
“It was really exciting,” McDowell said. “Cara passed it in and I hit and it kind of bounced a little bit under the goalie. It was a little bit lucky. That made us feel like we could keep scoring. I was nervous today, but I had fun out there.”
“We knew we had the ability to dominate the game, which we did in the first half,” Hutchinson said. “We were much more confident going into halftime with a 2-0 lead. Anytime you have a second goal, it’s like, ‘OK, we can score more than once.’ We had that spell in the middle of the season where we were winning, 1-0, but we have our scoring confidence back.”
After Glover saved a shot from Morrill and a Ricciardi bid hit the side of the cage, Yarmouth took a 2-0 lead to halftime.
In the first 30 minutes, the Clippers outshot the Rebels, 12-0, and had all five of the game’s corners to that point.
Telstar generated a little offense in the second half, but it wasn’t long until Yarmouth put it away.
After Hutchinson had a backhanded shot saved by Glover and Ricciardi sent the rebound wide, Morrill had a good look, but Glover made another save.
Then, with 23:50 to play, the Rebels earned a corner, but after a couple shots were blocked by defenders, the ball was cleared.
Hutchinson then tried three separate times to make it 3-0, but her first shot, a backhander, went just wide, the second, on a corner, went wide and her third, a long bid, was saved by Glover.
Midway through the half, Morrill came to the sidelines seeking ice for an injury. She stayed will athletic trainer Sarah Holmes for several minutes before returning to action just as the Clippers earned a corner.
Morrill inserted the ball to Hutchinson, Hutchinson sent it back to Morrill and Morrill one-timed a blast that Hutchinson had to be proud of, as it got past Glover for a 3-0 lead with 11:12 to play.
“I inserted it to Kallie, then it was a pass back to me and a shot and it went,” Morrill said. “I’ve been battling a shin injury all season. A stick and ball hit the target spot at the same time. A little break helped, then I went out and scored. That was a nice comeback.”
Yarmouth junior goalie Tori Messina was forced to make a save on a shot from Telstar junior Hayley Peterson with 3:30 to play and seconds later, on a Rebels corner, Clippers junior defender Samantha Middleton blocked a shot.
Yarmouth then transitioned to offense and ran out the clock on its 3-0 victory.
“A goal of ours is all season is to come out and play our game and we did that today,” Clippers coach Mandy Lewis said. “We were persistent in the circle. We talked about our strengths and things we know we’re successful at. We talked about our passing game. That was key for us. Having low sticks in the circle, our intensity. Those are things we focused on to prepare. Facing a team we don’t face in the season, there are unknowns, so we focused on what we could control. I’m glad we got the game in. We knew it would be a challenge, but we met the challenge and focused on what we could control.”
Yarmouth had a commanding 24-3 shots advantage and finished with 17 corners to just three for the visitors. Glover made eight saves, while Messina stopped two shots.
Yarmouth will have to wait until Friday afternoon to learn who its semifinal opponent will be. The Clippers didn’t see either Lisbon (12-2) or Dirigo (6-6-2) in the regular season. Yarmouth beat the Greyhounds, 2-1, in the 1999 quarterfinals in the lone prior playoff meeting between the schools. The Clippers are 2-3 all-time against the Cougars in the postseason. The most recent meeting was the 1997 Western C Final (a 2-1 Dirigo victory).
While last year, a first trip to the semifinals in 13 years was met with unfettered joy, this time around, Yarmouth is treating it more as a business trip.
The Clippers don’t want their season to end at the start of the next week. They want it to extend until the state final on November 1st, the end of next week.
“We’re really excited to play at home again next game,” McDowell said. “We’ll prepare as best we can and work hard. It’s a lot of fun. I’m going to be sad when the season’s over. I really want us to keep going.”
“For us to keep it going, we have to play our game and keep improving,” Morrill said. “We haven’t peaked yet. I love playing at home. I know this field better than anyone. It’s my field. I like playing here. I’m excited.”
“We’re very confident on turf,” Hutchinson said. “That’s why taking the second seed was so important. We know whoever we play next will be a grass team. You saw it today with the hits and the stamina. It’s much faster and we were prepared. We know we’ll come out with intensity and drive. Whoever we play will be good and we have to match that.
“It’s all different this year. Megs (senior captain Meaghan Gorman) and I were discussing it. Freshman year, we lost in prelims. Sophomore year, we made it to quarterfinals and lost. Junior year, we made it to semifinals and lost. This year we have the intensity and drive and knowledge. We’ve been through the progression. This year, we’re looking at Westerns and we’re looking at states. That’s where we want to be and that’s where we think we can be.”
“We’ll only look one game ahead, knowing there could be two after that,” Lewis added. “We can’t relax. We have to keep working on our game. We hope it’s a three-game week next week.”
Yarmouth junior Bre Morrill shoots and scores on a penalty corner in the second half.
Yarmouth sophomore Abby McDowell works the ball through the defense.
Yarmouth senior standout Kallie Hutchinson fires one of her patented rockets.
Yarmouth sophomore Georgia Giese races after a loose ball as Telstar junior Olivia York defends.
Yarmouth senior Fiona Clarke fights Telstar junior Hayley Peterson for possession.
Yarmouth junior Cara Ricciardi prepares to smack the ball.
1996 Western C Final
Telstar 3 Yarmouth 2 (first round of corners)
1995 Western C Final
@ Yarmouth 2 Telstar 0
1994 Western C quarterfinals
@ Yarmouth 1 Telstar 0 (OT)
1992 Western C semifinals
@ Yarmouth 1 Telstar 0
1990 Western C Final
Telstar 1 @ Yarmouth 0
1989 Western C Final
Telstar 3 @ Yarmouth 2 (OT)
1987 Western C quarterfinals
@ Telstar 4 Yarmouth 2
1978 Western C quarterfinals
@ Telstar 1 Yarmouth 0 (5 rounds of penalty strokes)
Yarmouth senior Meaghan Gorman hugs junior goalie Tori Messina as the rest of the Clippers race to join in the celebration of Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Telstar in the Western Class C quarterfinals.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.