YARMOUTH – The North Yarmouth Academy girls’ lacrosse team came back together for the first time in three games after seven players were suspended, and sophomore Molly Strabley said the team played more unified Saturday in a 16-4 win over Gardiner.

The second-seeded Panthers (5-8) advanced to the Eastern Class B final at top-ranked Yarmouth (12-1).

Several upperclassmen were among the 17 students caught drinking at an after-prom party May 21.

“Missing those players brought our team together. It made us stronger. We went through a tough time but other people rallied,” Strabley said. “Coach wanted us to pass a lot, to be quicker, to play like we were getting ready for the next game.”

Strabley scored six goals and Megan Fortier had four against the third-seeded Tigers (8-5).

Strabley scored the first three goals in the first three minutes. And after Lilly Wellenbach added an unassisted goal 3:57 into the game, Strabley scored from in front off a Fortier assist to make it 5-0 with just 4:19 gone.

The Panthers scored three more unanswered goals to make it 8-0 at the half. Then Fortier opened the second half with a goal off an Olivia Madore assist and Wellenbach made it 10-0 seconds later.

After Caitlin Ham scored the first goal of the game for Gardiner with 17:59 left, the Tigers showed signs of life.

After Strabley answered with a goal, Ally Day of Gardiner scored unassisted with 13:49 remaining and came back with a goal off a Caitlin Phillips assist five minutes later.

After another Fortier score, Day made it 14-4. But the Panthers kept rolling.

“We played a lot crisper, but they were very aggressive. And they played really good defense,” Day said.

The Panthers also received three goals from Wellenbach, two from Abby McKelvy and another from Kate Millett.

Sally Lapointe added an assist, Fortier added two and Strabley had one.

“They missed three huge games. I think it’s important that they hold their heads high,” said Panthers Coach Julia Sterling, who has won three state titles in 17 years as a varsity lacrosse coach. “They paid their dues, they suffered through it and they were forgiven by the underclassmen. And they had to get their blessing.

“This game brought us back together,”

Panthers goalie Francis Leslie got the win. For the Tigers, Shawna Moulton and Maddy Cutler each gave up eight goals. 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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