YARMOUTH – North Yarmouth Academy went into the Eastern Class B girls’ lacrosse final against Yarmouth with a worse record, more underclassmen on the field, and a season hampered by suspensions.

But for the first half of Wednesday’s championship game, the Panthers looked like they might win their fourth straight regional title.

Then top-ranked Yarmouth scored a momentum-changing goal just before halftime and three more in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Lindsey Purpura delivered two huge goals in the final minutes as the Clippers pulled out a 6-5 victory.

It was Yarmouth’s first Eastern Maine championship in four years, and for 12 seniors, it was a long-awaited payback to their rivals, who beat the Clippers in each of the previous three regional finals.

Yarmouth (13-1) will play Waynflete (12-2) in the state final at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“This was the goal all season and it kept us really close. We had to work for it. We wanted to play in the state game,” Purpura said.

North Yarmouth Academy (5-9) was the defending state champion, but by Panthers Coach Julia Sterling’s estimation, they were the underdogs. Yarmouth outshot NYA 22-12 and dominated offensively despite Panthers goalie Frances Leslie’s quick stick work throughout the game.

“I’m proud of my girls. We had really inexperienced kids pop into the varsity. It was a tremendous game,” said Sterling, whose team finished the game with six underclassmen on the field.

“I’ve seen girls crying at the end of games. There were no tears today because they knew they gave it their heart and soul.”

NYA took the lead on a goal by Molly Strabley just 1:55 into the game. Lilly Wellenbach made it 2-0 with 7:56 left in the first half, and Katie Cawley put the Panthers up 3-0.

But Yarmouth’s Danielle Torres scored with 15 seconds left in the half to make it 3-1, then opened the second with an assist to Natalie Salmon, who converted to pull Yarmouth within a goal.

Devin Simsarian’s unassisted goal tied it with 20:10 left, and less than four minutes later, Olivia Conrad scooped a Rebecca Bell rebound past Leslie to make it 4-3.

After Wellenbach weaved past three defenders to tie it again with 14:51 to go, Purpura put Yarmouth back in front, scoring with 7:26 left.

“My offense picked up in the second half. They took control. They just slowed the pace down,” said Yarmouth Coach Dorothy Holt.

Wellenbach tied it again a few minutes later, but Purpura answered with a score from a scramble in front of the net, giving Yarmouth a 6-5 advantage.

NYA’s Caroline Bowne dropped in front of the goal with an injury but Purpura never lost focus, sending in the winner with 1:45 on the clock.

“I was terrified to shoot it. I was terrified I was going to turn it over,” Purpura said. “The difference was when we started scoring. We knew if we didn’t win this, that was it.”

Stephanie Moulton had seven saves for the Clippers.

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

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