YARMOUTH – The Yarmouth girls’ lacrosse team made its opener a memorable one Tuesday.

Becca Bell scored seven goals to lead the Clippers to a 16-9 victory at North Yarmouth Academy in one of the earliest scheduled meetings of the crosstown rivals in recent history.

“We’ve learned the value of healthy competition on the field at practice,” said Bell, whose team just returned from a training trip to Florida.

“We’re working harder than ever before and it’s great to have so many returning players.”

Yarmouth’s speed, transition game and shooting ability stood out on the turf on a cold, foggy afternoon.

By halftime the Clippers, a preseason favorite, led 6-2. They opened the gap to 10 goals before holding off a late flurry of goals by NYA (1-1).

“I think we match up pretty evenly. It’s clear we’re both still working things out,” said Yarmouth Coach Dorothy Holt.

“That’s a first game, a little sloppy, but we had to focus and capitalize on mistakes, and not force things.”

Yarmouth took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Claudia Lockwood at 18:37. Lilly Wellenbach countered 22 seconds later for NYA.

Then, with Yarmouth’s season not 15 minutes old, Bell scored three goals in a span of 1:05: scoring off a free possession at 14:15, again at 14:01 by winning the draw and sprinting downfield alone, and a third through traffic to make it 4-1 at 13:10.

“We always look forward to playing NYA,” said Bell. “I definitely expect they will grow as a team by the time we face them again.”

Katie Cawley scored on a free possession for NYA at 11:31 before Yarmouth’s speedy Danielle Torres knocked in a pair back-to-back at 7:23 and 2:58.

The teams traded goals three times to start the second half before Yarmouth went up 12-5 with 11:54 to play.

Wellenbach scored her third to make it 12-6 before the Clippers scored four more to build a 16-6 lead, starting running time on the scoreboard.

Molly Strabley scored three straight to end the game for NYA, but it was in hand for Yarmouth.

“With all the nerves, thank God this game is over,” said NYA Coach Julia Sterling. “It’s a big rivalry. They’re a tremendous team and my girls worked their hearts out, but a lot of things need to be picked up.”

Sterling’s team hasn’t had much access to its field with the rainy, cold spring.

“We’re still working out a lot of kinks,” said Wellenbach, who suspects her team will peak later in the season. “They’re a really, really skilled team but we can’t focus on a loss. We want to be improving day by day.”

The teams won’t play again until May 19.

Yarmouth got seven goals from Bell, four from Torres, three from Devin Simsarian, and one each from Lockwood and Natalie Salmon.

Goalie Stephanie Moulton came up with several big saves.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: jm[email protected]