YARMOUTH — Just Friday night, the North Yarmouth Academy field hockey players were practicing tip-in shots. Juju Tardif apparently paid very close attention.
Tardif tipped in two shots in the first half to help the second-ranked Panthers beat third-seeded Yarmouth 2-0 in the Western Class C semifinals Saturday.
It was the third time this year NYA (13-2-1) defeated the Clippers (10-5-1), and it advanced the Panthers to the regional final against top-ranked Lisbon on Tuesday at Thornton Academy in Saco. It will be a rematch of last year’s regional final won by Lisbon, 1-0.
“It’s great to be back against Lisbon,” said Panthers Coach Tracy Quimby. “The girls want this game. Last year it was just a bad game and it wasn’t the right time to have a bad game. So they’re hoping to fix that.”
First the Panthers had to get past Yarmouth, which had lost two one-goal games to NYA in the regular season. So they came out fast.
On the Panthers’ first rush, Kayla Rose took a hard shot just inside the cirle and Tardif, stationed at the left post, redirected it into the net after just 58 seconds.
“That first goal was a tough one,” said Yarmouth Coach Mandy Lewis. “There have been games where we’ve done that to other teams. It sets a tone.”
Tardif said the plan was to come out hard. “I think it raises the energy when we get out strong,” she said.
“It helped give us that edge to keep going,” said Quimby. “We realized we’re one up, what else can we do?”
Yarmouth eventually settled in and controlled much of the first half. Kallie Hutchinson had a great chance off a penalty corner for Yarmouth, but NYA goalie Elizabeth Coughlin came out to make a pad save.
Then Tardif struck again, this time off NYA’s only corner of the first half.
Rose inserted the ball from the left of the goal, to Marina Poole. She passed to her left to Olivia Madore, whose shot was blocked by the Yarmouth defense. The ball went to Rose at the left post. As the Yarmouth defense converged on her, she back-flicked the ball into the air across the goal.
Tardif, at the right post, knocked it out of midair into the goal and it was 2-0 with 6:04 left in the first half.
Tardif credited the hand-eye coordination needed in her other sports — hockey and lacrosse — with her ability to knock the ball in.
Practice also helps.
“We practice them a lot,” said Quimby. “Depending on how much the kids ask, 15 minutes a night if we can. They would do it for a half an hour to an hour if they could because they know how much of a difference it makes.”
Yarmouth also controlled the play for much of the second half. But Coughlin made a big save off Hutchinson, with NYA’s Alex Barnes sweeping away the rebound, and then had two more point-blank stops in the final seconds.
“I thought we played hard,” said Lewis, “but we just couldn’t finish today.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: MikeLowePPH