YARMOUTH—Beware, Class B girls’ lacrosse, the defending champions have come to life.
Thursday evening, in a microcosm of their season, the Yarmouth Clippers got off to a slow start and trailed visiting Greely for almost the whole first half, but they had the Rangers right where they wanted them.
With 18:35 to play, senior Shannon Fallon set up classmate Lane Simsarian for the go-ahead goal and tallies from sophomore Eliza Lunt and Fallon opened up an 11-8 lead.
Greely didn’t quit, however, getting goals from juniors Kelsey Otley and Maegan Dougherty to make things interesting and the Rangers even had a great look to tie the score in the final minute, but Yarmouth sophomore Mary Kate Gunville made her biggest save of the season to date and the Clippers held on to prevail, 11-10.
Fallon scored four times, senior Emma Torres added three goals, Lunt scored twice and Gunville made seven saves as Yarmouth won its fourth game in a row, improved to 5-3 and dropped the Rangers to 3-5 in the process.
“I can’t say enough about this team’s resilience,” said Clippers coach Dorothy Holt. “We kept our composure and played as a team. We’re growing. This is a building block. Every game we get better and better.”
Yarmouth struggled out of the gate, losing at home to Falmouth in the opener, 14-9, then after a two-week break, falling at York, 8-6. The Clippers righted the ship with an emphatic 16-3 win at Freeport, but a 10-7 home loss to Kennebunk dropped them to 1-3. Yarmouth began a win streak with a 14-2 romp at Fryeburg Academy, then turned the corner with home victories over contenders Scarborough (15-12) and Lake Region (19-8).
Greely’s season opener wasn’t resolved for 18 days. The Rangers and host Cape Elizabeth were deadlocked, 5-5, after two overtimes and for some baffling reason, the officials called it a tie. There are no ties in girls’ lacrosse. After beating visiting Gardiner (13-6) and North Yarmouth Academy (12-7) and losing at home to Waynflete (10-7), Greely went back to Cape Elizabeth to complete the “opener” and lost in the third overtime, 6-5. Setbacks at NYA (10-9) and defending Class A champion Massabesic (12-5) followed before the Rangers got back on track Wednesday with a 14-10 home victory over Gould Academy.
Last year’s lone meeting between the neighboring schools was memorable, as Greely shocked the host Clippers by racing to a 9-3 lead. Yarmouth then rebounded and scored the game’s final eight goals to prevail, 11-9.
Thursday, the Rangers sought their first win over the Clippers since May 23, 2005 (8-7 in Cumberland), but instead, Yarmouth made it 11 straight in the series (see sidebar, below) and kept their good times rolling.
The Clippers scored first, when Torres tickled the twine 3 minutes, 6 seconds in, but Yarmouth wouldn’t lead again until the second half.
Greely got on the board with 20:39 to play before halftime when Dougherty finished. Goals from Dougherty and sophomore Katherine Leggat-Barr made it 3-1.
With 17:32 left in the half, Lunt scored her first goal, but Leggat-Barr and freshman Courtney Sullivan answered for the Rangers to make it 5-2.
After Torres scored for the Clippers, Dougherty responded to restore a three-goal bulge, but with 10:02 to go in the half, sophomore Katie Waeldner continued her strong play with a goal and with 6:23 left, Fallon scored for the first time.
“We rushed a lot at the beginning and we knew we had to settle down,” Lunt said. “Our plays were working. We got the ball to Shannon. The draws and dumps were working.”
Greely pushed its lead back to two when sophomore Ellie Schad scored on a free position with 5:44 left in the half. Fallon answered unassisted two minutes later and after Rangers freshman goalie Greta VanCuran robbed Yarmouth junior Lilly Watson, the visitors took a 7-6 lead to the break.
Greely managed to have the lead thanks to a 10-4 advantage in the draw circle as Sullivan dominated.
The Clippers would do a much better job getting possession in the second half and rallied.
Just 36 seconds in, Fallon scored an unassisted goal to tie the score, 7-7.
With 20:33 to play in regulation, Torres scored unassisted and Yarmouth was back on top, 8-7.
The lead didn’t last, as Schad fed Sullivan for a goal in transition with 19:15 remaining, but 40 seconds later, the Clippers showed off their precision passing, as Simsarian took a feed from Fallon and finished to put the defending champions on top to stay.
After Yarmouth went up by two on a free position goal from Lunt with 14:24 left, Greely coach Becca Koelker called timeout and Dougherty got a good look, but Gunville made the save.
Then, with 10:26 to go, Fallon scored unassisted and the Clippers, up, 11-8, appeared in great shape, but the Rangers would make things very interesting down the stretch.
After Gunville made a save on a bid from Greely freshman Nettie Cunningham, Otley scooped up the rebound and finished to cut the deficit to two.
Then, after Gunville denied a Dougherty free position, Dougherty got another chance and finished with 6:03 to play, pulling the Rangers within a single goal, 11-10.
Greely would get two great looks to tie the score late, but couldn’t pull even.
First, with 1:15 to play, Otley earned a free position, but her shot was wide.
The Rangers kept possession and Leggat-Barr earned a free position. Leggat-Barr eschewed the shot and passed down low to Otley, who appeared to have a great look at the goal, but Gunville came up huge, making a pivotal save with 42.1 seconds to go.
“Mary Kate is the most amazing goalie I’ve ever seen,” said Yarmouth senior defender Mary Coyne. “She does what she needs to do. It’s incredible, especially because she’s only a sophomore.”
Yarmouth kept possession from there, getting the ball across midfield, then running out the clock to hold on, 11-10.
“It didn’t look good early on, but we played as a team,” Coyne said. “Dorothy told us to play Yarmouth lacrosse. We didn’t panic. We pulled it together. Our goal was to hold the checks and play a clean game. We wanted to play the defense we play every day and pressure the ball.”
“At the beginning of the season, we struggled a little, but the Scarborough game gave us hope,” Lunt said. “We’re a totally different team this year, but we’re working together. It’s really fun. I’ve played with these girls forever.”
“We managed to come back,” Holt added. “We made silly mistakes and (Greely) did a great job off the draw, but the girls rallied. Give Greely credit, they took it to us.”
Five different Clippers scored. Fallon had four goals, Torres three, Lunt two and Simsarian and Waeldner one apiece. Gunville finished with seven saves.
Greely got four goals from Dougherty, two apiece from Leggat-Barr and Sullivan and one each from Otley and Schad. VanCuran stopped six shots.
The Rangers finished with a 14-9 advantage on draws.
“We have a freshman on the draw and she puts it right where she needs to,” Koelker said. “I’m very proud of Courtney.”
Greely outshot the Clippers, 20-17, but fell one goal short.
“We’ve worked on mental focus this season and I have to compliment my girls for fighting to the end,” said Koelker. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. The growth I’ve seen from the beginning of the season until now, I feel like our momentum gets stronger each game.”
Greely (eighth in the Western Class B Heal Points standings, where only seven teams make the playoffs) needs some quality victories. The Rangers host Freeport Tuesday, go to Falmouth Friday of next week, then close with games at home versus Lake Region and at Kennebunk.
“I really feel like this team has an incredible connection,” Koelker said. “They’re close. We just have to get the people in the right places. I start four freshmen. They had to learn to play at the varsity level. They’re rising to the occasion. I have one senior and the rest are underclassmen. I’m excited about coaching this team. They’re working hard and I have them next year. Everything we do this year is a foundation. It’s exciting to see what they come up with.
“It only matters where we are at the end of the season. We want to peak and I feel like we’re heading in that direction. We have big games coming up. Freeport and Lake Region and Kennebunk and Falmouth, which is doing very well.”
Yarmouth (now first in Eastern B) would love to have the top seed for the playoffs for the second year in a row and has a lot of potential Heal Points at stake in upcoming games. Tuesday, the Clippers go to Waynflete for a rematch of an epic overtime contest from last spring. After hosting Cape Elizabeth in a state game rematch, Yarmouth is at Brunswick and closes the regular season down the street at NYA.
“Losing two college lacrosse players (Grace O’Donnell and Julia Primeau) is really hard for a team,” said Coyne. “We played a different game last year. We’re much younger this year. It’s just readjusting. We’re doing it. It’s working.”
“We have a tough couple weeks,” Holt said. “We’re progressing and doing the things we need to do. We still have things we need to work on. We need to take care of the ball and our transition needs to get better, but it’s getting better every day.”
Yarmouth junior Lauren Bartlett is sandwiched by Greely senior Madison Horwich (16) and sophomore Mariah Belisle.
Yarmouth senior Mary Coyne looks to grab the ball as Greely junior Maegan Dougherty looks on.
Yarmouth senior Shannon Fallon is defended by Greely junior Maggie Reed.
Yarmouth senior Emma Torres tries to get past Greely junior Faith Price.
Yarmouth junior Lilly Watson races up the field as Greely junior Faith Price gives chase.
Yarmouth 17 @ Greely 8
Yarmouth 11 @ Greely 7
@ Yarmouth 15 Greely 10
Yarmouth 20 @ Greely 8
Yarmouth 12 @ Greely 9
@ Yarmouth 13 Greely 12
@ Yarmouth 17 Greely 5
Yarmouth 9 @ Greely 5
@ Yarmouth 13 Greely 11 (OT)
@ Greely 8 Yarmouth 7
@ Yarmouth 10 Greely 3
@ Greely 10 Yarmouth 5
@ Yarmouth 17 Greely 4
Yarmouth 14 @ Greely 7
Yarmouth junior Lauren Bartlett leaps into the arms of sophomore goalie Mary Kate Gunville as senior Sarah Myers (3) and sophomore Gretchen Barbera join in the celebration after the Clippers hold off Greely Thursday night, 11-10.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.