YARMOUTH – The No. 1 ranked North Yarmouth Academy girls’ lacrosse team returned to form Saturday after a two-week layoff.

The Panthers dispatched Morse 17-2 at home to advance to the Eastern Class B final on Wednesday.

NYA will host second-ranked Yarmouth, which routed No. 3 Gardiner 22-4.

Adding to the excitement of the win was the return of Coach Julia Sterling. Sterling left the team because of an undisclosed illness last month.

“It’s so great to have her back,” said junior Lilly Wellenbach, who scored three goals. “She brings so much spirit to the team.”

Sterling said she is feeling stronger by the week and is proud of her girls.

“I’ve really seen a huge improvement,” said Sterling. “It’s pretty hard for a head coach to be away. It’s amazing what can happen when things go awry.”

NYA started strong and got an unassisted goal out of the gate by Molly Strabley. Courtney Dumont went in for her own goal at the 21-minute mark, and Strabley struck again 37 seconds later to make it 3-0.

The Panthers reached a 10-0 lead before Morse attack Lindsay Watts broke the shutout with a score off a pass from Ali Miller.

NYA dominated possession throughout, outshooting the Shipbuilders 23-6, and collected 23 of 29 draws.

Morse got on the board one last time in the second half when Watts struck with 17:04 to play to make it 12-2.

“These girls are no fools. They know what it’s like to play NYA,” said Morse Coach Linda Levesque. “We wanted to play hard and together. We had a lot of heart.”

NYA got four goals each from standouts Dumont and Strabley, who is a freshman, and three from Wellenbach and sophomore Kaite Cawley. Katherine Millett, Moira Lachance and Kyle Dalbec each added a goal.

Levesque said her team will be stronger for the experience next year. She has 13 sophomores on her team, and graduates just two.

Sterling, who started joining the team for practices a week ago, said she thought some downtime was good for her team.

The Panthers’ last game before Saturday was May 28. The break enabled them to deal with school exams and an emotional season.

“I think it really was to our advantage,” she said. “A lot of things needed to settle. I think we needed a little rest.”

NYA finished shy of the state championship a year ago as runner-up, but the players say they are more focused than ever.

“I feel like we’re ready for Wednesday,” said Wellenbach.”


Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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