SACO – Kayla Rose went from team manager to star in one year.
Last season the sophomore forward was a manager for a North Yarmouth Academy field hockey team that captured the Western Class C state title.

Tuesday afternoon Rose scored twice to lead the second-seeded Panthers back to the state championship game with a narrow 2-1 victory over the top-seeded Sacopee Valley Hawks in the Western Class C final played at Thornton Academy.

The Panthers will face Winthrop, the Eastern Class C Champion on Saturday at Yarmouth. The game will feature a pair of No. 2 seeds after the Ramblers beat top-seeded Dexter 1-0 on Tuesday.

Rose’s game-winner came 12 minutes in the second half off a corner. Katie Millett played the ball in to Olivia Madore who sent a shot to the front of the goal. Rose was there for the tip and a 2-0 advantage.

“We have been practicing the whole season, tipping the ball,” said Rose, who had four goals coming in to the game. “Olivia (Madore) made really perfect passes right to me.”

“Kayla does great skill work on the left side,” said NYA Coach Tracy Quimby.

“She does a great job of tipping and she’s been working it the last couple of weeks. She puts two goals in because she’s there in the right place and the girls know to pass to her.”

Instead of cruising to a successful defense of their regional title from a season ago, the Panthers were forced to hang on as Sacopee Valley came back hard to try to gain back the ground they lost.

The Hawks got to within one with 71⁄2 minutes left in regulation when they finally orchestrated a successful corner, their 12th of the game. Ally Allard redirected Chelsey Burnell’s hard shot off the pass in for the goal.

Four more corners in the final seven minutes kept the pressure squarely on North Yarmouth Academy.

“It was really scary and when they scored their goal because I was worried they were going to come back,” said Panthers freshman goalkeeper Elizabeth Coughlin. “I was really happy with the defense. They took that goal against and they knew what they had to do, they couldn’t let them score again.”

Sacopee Valley all but dominated the first half but it was North Yarmouth Academy that came out on top.

With just over two minutes remaining in the half, Millett recovered a ball on her side of midfield and took off on a 60-yard run toward the Sacopee goal. When the senior forward arrived at the goal, she collided with a Sacopee defender and a charging goalkeeper Ashley Pingree.

The ball caromed free to the front where Madore had a chance before Rose found the back of the net for a 1-0 Panthers halftime lead.

Two of Sacopee Valley’s best chances in the first half came off corners awarded in the opening 10 minutes of the half. Elizabeth Moulton played the ball in on both occasions but each subsequent shot, one by Paige Shortsleeves and another by Allard, went wide. Burnell also had a point-blank chance that was kicked aside by Coughlin, representing her only save of the half.