York extends win streak at Yarmouth's expense

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Yarmouth junior goalie Cate Ralph denies York senior standout Lily Posternak during the teams’ showdown Monday evening. Posternak eventually scored one goal and assisted on two others as the Wildcats extended their three-season win streak to 41 games with a 3-1 victory.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s field hockey team wanted to stay close to juggernaut York when the two-time defending Class B state champions paid a visit Monday evening.

And well into the second half, the Clippers and Wildcats were even, but you can only hold York in check for so long and ultimately, Yarmouth ran out of gas.

York, led by its senior Duke University-bound standout Lily Posternak, controlled play most of the way and took a 1-0 lead when Posternak powered home a goal with 9:49 remaining in the first half, but Yarmouth rallied to tie four minutes later when senior Eliza Lunt’s pinpoint cross was directed into the goal by classmate Ally MacLeod.

The Clippers couldn’t generate any offense in the second half, yet kept the game tied thanks to the heroics of junior goalie Cate Ralph, but on a penalty corner, with 16:29 to play, after a Posternak shot was saved, the Wildcats went ahead to stay when senior Isabel Bretz scored on the rebound.

York added one more goal, from junior Sydney Bouchard, with 2:29 to play, then put the finishing touches on its 3-1 victory.

The Wildcats won their 41st straight game over three seasons, improved to 5-0 and dropped Yarmouth to 3-2 in the process.

“I knew we had to score more than two goals today to win,” said Clippers coach Amy Ashley. “You can’t score one goal on York and expect that to be a victory.” 

The gold standard

For over a decade, York has ruled the region and for the past two seasons, the Wildcats have been the best Class B team in the state. This fall has been more of the same, as York defeated visiting Fryeburg Academy (3-1), host Poland (4-0), visiting Kennebunk (rallying for a 2-1 overtime win) and host St. Dom’s (2-1).

Yarmouth has lived up to its preseason billing as well. 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 (Ashley is in her first year with Yarmouth after spending the past eight years at Cheverus).

Yarmouth last beat York back on Oct. 14, 2002 (2-1, in York). Since then, prior to Monday, the Wildcats won 16 consecutive meetings by a composite 57-4 score, including a 1-0 thriller last fall on the Clippers’ turf.

Monday, Yarmouth hoped to end York’s 40-game win streak, which dates to the start of the 2014 season, but instead, the Wildcats kept their victory train rolling.

The Clippers had the first good scoring chance, in the third minute, but off a penalty corner, senior Nicole McDowell’s blast was just wide.

Posternak first made her presence felt in the seventh minute, sending a shot off a corner right to Bretz, who deflected the ball just wide of the mark.

Later in the half, Posternak sent a backhander just over the top of the cage and a shot on a corner from senior Alex Lawlor was saved by Ralph.

With 9:49 to in the half, Posternak got around a defender and this time, she wouldn’t be denied as even Ralph had no chance of stopping the blast and York was ahead, 1-0.

“We just needed to be smarter with the ball and more aware of where Lily was,” said Ashley. “Any time you play a player of that caliber, you’re in shock of  how great she is and you don’t believe you can win. We talked in practice about believing and trying to take her out of the game.”

To its credit, Yarmouth roared right back with 5:44 remaining.

The goal was started by Lunt, who raced up the right side with a defender shadowing her every step of the way. Lunt got enough room to cross the ball in front and MacLeod pounced on it before deflecting it in off Wildcats sophomore goalie Julianna Kiklis to make it 1-1.

MacLeod’s tally marked the first time the Clippers scored a goal against York since Sept. 15, 2008.

“I was proud that we were able to come back in the first half and get that goal,” Ashley said. “That was really huge.”

Just before the break, York earned its sixth corner of the half and almost retook the lead, but a beautiful defensive save from Clippers senior Taylor Robison preserved the 1-1 tie.

The Wildcats then seized command in the second half and eventually finished off their victory.

Just 45 seconds in, Posternak, off a corner, was primed to put her team in front, but Ralph lunged to kick the ball away.

With 25:40 to play, Yarmouth’s lone promising scoring chance of half saw Lunt pass the ball to senior Abby McDowell in the circle, but McDowell couldn’t get a stick on the ball.

After Posternak blistered a backhanded shot just wide, Ashley called timeout, but the Clippers couldn’t respond and with 16:29 remaining, York went ahead to stay.

The goal came off a corner, as Bretz inserted the ball to Posternak and while Posternak’s shot was saved, Bretz, at the near post, pounced on the loose ball and rattled it home for a 2-1 lead.

Ralph then kept Yarmouth’s faint hopes alive by again making a breathtaking save on a Posternak blast and later stopping a Posternak shot and swatting away a rebound.

Then, with 2:29 left, the Wildcats delivered the dagger, as Bouchard took a long pass from Posternak, then finished to account for the 3-1 final score.

“We knew we wouldn’t get a lot of opportunities today and that we’d have to finish the ones we did, but we only had one offensive corner and we didn’t test their goalie in the second half,” Ashley lamented. “In the second half, we were defensive-minded and when you do that, you can’t win. Every time we took a free hit, it went right to 17 (sophomore defender Emlyn Patry). We have to do a better job cutting and getting in the way to get the ball to the forwards. We just couldn’t get across the 50.” 

Ralph, in her first season in goal, was Yarmouth’s bright spot, making 11 clutch saves.

“Cate played great,” said Ashley. “We can take a lot of positives off that. I love that she’s a competitor and she’ll go out and prove me wrong. I love those types of athletes. She’s one of the best athletes in the school. She has a calming and competitive aspect and the girls are so thrilled to have her here. She made unbelievable saves. We haven’t seen saves like that in practice, so we’ll expect even more from her now.”

Hopefully a rematch

York is back in action Wednesday at home versus Falmouth in a battle of unbeatens and hosts Gray-New Gloucester Friday. A trip to Falmouth Sept. 26 is the other remaining daunting date on the schedule.

The Clippers, meanwhile, are hoping to continue to improve to the point where they can take another shot at York in the playoffs, but they have a lot of work to do first. 

Yarmouth looks to bounce back Friday when Fryeburg Academy pays a visit. The Clippers then have a crucial three-game stretch when they go to Kennebunk and Freeport and host Falmouth. A late season three-game homestand versus Freeport, Greely and Kennebunk will also be critical.

“We have a lot of seniors and we hope we learn from this loss,” Ashley said. “We have to work on a lot. We need some tough games where we actually come out with a win. That’s what we’re looking for. There’s a lot of season left. I’m excited.”

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

York junior Sydney Bouchard and Yarmouth junior Emilie Martin fight for possession.

Yarmouth senior Abby McDowell races after the ball as York senior Alex Lawless, left, and junior Sam Dargle give chase.

Yarmouth senior Eliza Lunt pokes the ball away from York senior Michaela Lumia.

Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod fires a shot. MacLeod scored the Clippers’ lone goal.

Yarmouth seniors Eliza Lunt, left, Abby McDowell and Molly Wilson, junior Emilie Martin and senior Nicole McDowell line up to race up the field on a penalty corner. The Clippers faced 13 such situations and only surrendered one goal.

Yarmouth senior Tessa Houston tries to get around York senior Brigitte Spencer.

Yarmouth celebrates its lone goal.

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