SACO – Maybe at the beginning of the season there were doubters. Maybe people thought York High’s defense wasn’t strong enough to hold up this season.

Yet, here are the Wildcats, once again, playing for a field hockey championship.

Sophomore Taylor Simpson scored midway through the first half and the top-ranked Wildcats’ defense made it stand, holding off No. 7 Mountain Valley 1-0 Tuesday night at Hill Stadium for York’s third consecutive Western Class B crown, sixth in the last seven years.

The game wasn’t decided until the final seconds when York goalie Amanda Kasbohm made a point-blank save and the Wildcats cleared the ensuing corner as time expired.

“They’re just tough-minded kids,’’ said Wildcats Coach Barb Marois. “Maybe we weren’t always playing our best hockey at times, but we were able to put the ball in the net and then our defense just battled.

“I have a new core of defenders, either in different positions or new to the team or new to starting positions and they have really grown from day one to today.’’

York (16-1) will play Eastern champion Belfast for the state championship Saturday at Yarmouth High.

The time will be set today.

York’s defense was at the forefront Tuesday night after Simpson’s goal. The Wildcats were continually stymied by Falcons goalie Emily Gallant, who made 14 saves in one of the season’s more spectacular efforts.

But when the Falcons got close, York’s defense rose up, especially senior Caroline Hird.
With about 11:00 remaining, she made a game-saving defensive save at the goal line.

Mountain Valley had a penalty corner, the ball going to Ayla Allen at the top of the circle. She put the ball toward the right post and Kasbohm moved that way. During a wide scramble, the ball squirted through a crowd toward a seemingly open goal.

Suddenly, Hird was there to stick the ball aside and Haley Spencer cleared it from the circle seconds later.

“I was trying to hold the post, make sure no one got a rebound and luckily I was able to save it,’’ said Hird. “At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But I gave everything I had for the team.’’

And the team appreciated it. “Because of what she did,’’ said Simpson, “we won.’’

Simpson had something to do with that too. York came out strong against Mountain Valley, which had never advanced past the regional semifinals.

On York’s fourth penalty corner, Shelby Spencer inserted the ball to Cari Posternak at the top of the circle. But the play was broken up by MV’s Allen. York’s Liz Fiorentino alertly picked up the ball, dribbled to the right and passed to Simpson down low.

“I heard Cari yell, ‘Shoot,’ ” said Simpson. “So I did.’’

And the ball got past Gallant, inside the right post and York lead 1-0 with 14:47 left in the first half.
Gallant made sure the Wildcats wouldn’t score again, making several impressive saves off Posternak alone.

“She had a great streak and kept us in every game,’’ said Mountain Valley Coach Melissa Forbes.

“She’s why we were here today.’’

Kasbohm, who made 11 saves in the shutout, was tested often as well.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH