CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s defending Class B girls’ soccer champion had ample reason to be fired up for Tuesday evening’s battle against Yarmouth at Hannaford Field.

For starters, earlier in the month, the Capers lost at the Clippers by a goal.

If that wasn’t enough incentive, Cape Elizabeth was coming off a three-goal home loss to Greely and not only wanted to get back on track, the Capers wanted to remind the rest of the region that they’re still a legitimate title threat.

For one night at least, mission accomplished.

After an even first half which saw both squads miss out on promising opportunities, Cape Elizabeth pounced quickly in the second half and took the lead when junior Montana Braxton set up sophomore Mariah Deschino for a goal.

The Capers’ defense and junior goalkeeper Tessa Goldstein did the rest, keeping the dangerous Clippers off the board and Cape Elizabeth held on for a 1-0 victory.

The Capers improved to 5-3 and dropped Yarmouth to 3-3-1.

“We’ve targeted Yarmouth, York and Greely, who beat us,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Craig Fannan. “We wanted to get back even with them. We’ve got one down. I definitely feel a lot better today than I did last Tuesday.”

Too close to call

Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth have played their share of close and memorable games in recent seasons (see sidebar, below).

Last year, the teams played to a 1-1 draw in Cape Elizabeth and went to overtime again at Yarmouth, where the Capers rallied for a 2-1 victory on Katherine Briggs’ score in the second extra session.

A hoped-for third meeting in the playoffs was derailed when Freeport upset the Clippers in the quarterfinals and of course, Cape Elizabeth went on to capture the Class B crown.

This fall, both teams have had their struggles, but have also shown glimpses of excellence.

Cape Elizabeth got off to a fast start with a 5-0 home win over Freeport, then crashed to earth with losses at York (3-1) and Yarmouth (2-1). The Capers then hit their stride, dominating visiting Lake Region (10-0) and host Poland (8-0) and winning at Falmouth, 3-0. Last Tuesday, however, Cape Elizabeth was blanked, 3-0, by visiting Greely.

The Capers made a point of quickly putting that loss behind them.

“We had a really fun practice the day after,” Fannan said. “We wanted to take the pressure off a little bit. We talked about what soccer is about. It’s about having fun. The girls were just lifted. (Greely) was a game that just didn’t go for us.”

The Clippers opened with a 2-0 home loss to Greely. Yarmouth got its first victory, 2-1, over visiting Cape Elizabeth, then came from behind to win at Freeport (4-2) and blanked visiting Poland 6-0. The Clippers then let a late lead slip away in a 1-1 home tie versus York and stumbled at Kennebunk last week, 1-0.

Tuesday, there was little separation over 80 minutes, but the Capers did manage to find the net one time, which was one more than the Clippers.

The first scoring chance came six minutes in, but Yarmouth sophomore Gretchen Barbera shot wide.

At the other end, Cape Elizabeth senior standout Kathryn Clark looked to get to a through ball from Braxton, but Clippers junior defender Lauren Bartlett broke up the play.

Yarmouth’s strong defensive play continued in the 15th minute when junior Lilly Watson cleared a cross from Deschino which landed in the box.

After Braxton was wide on a long shot, Clippers senior Emma Torres had a great look in the 22nd minute, but it whistled just wide of the far post.

With 16:58 to play in the half, it appeared the hosts grabbed the lead, when junior Kate Breed set up Clark for a goal, but the officials ruled Clark offsides and it was waved off.

Yarmouth then went back on the attack, but Barbera’s feed to junior Eavan O’Neill was headed just wide and a long shot from freshman Hannah Corey was saved by Goldstein.

After Clark took a pass from Deschino and shot just wide, Watson broke up a feed from Briggs to Clark and Clippers sophomore Ella Antolini did the same on a Montana pass to Breed.

Late in the half, Deschino put a shot on net, but Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon made the save.

Corner kicks and saves were even in the first 40 minutes, while the Clippers had a 7-5 edge in shots.

Early in the second half, Cape Elizabeth took advantage of a good opportunity and that proved to be the difference.

A minute in, in transition, Braxton, as she does so often, delivered a perfect ball to Deschino on the left side. Deschino went one-on-one with Fallon and beat the goalie with a perfectly placed shot and the Capers were on top, 1-0.

“We played a different formation than last time and that helped,” Deschino said. “Montana dribbled and put the ball through the defense, just like we’ve been practicing. Kathryn and Kate made runs to open it up. I had options and just went for the goal. I wasn’t as good and strong last year. I didn’t know how to play. This year, I know I have to step up and help out the forwards. Kathryn and Kate are so strong.”

“We’ve done a lot of work on forward movement,” Fannan said. “Our through balls were dangerous in the first half, but we were a little too deep. Our big focus is beating defenders. It’s good our goal came from that. Mariah has been coming through. She’s assumed the center-forward role. She leads the line so well. She found her spot. She’s going to be a frightening forward for the next two years.”

The visitors were stunned.

“We had a little mix-up at the start of the second half in formation,” said Clippers coach Rich Smith. “They capitalized and had a great play and came in and scored.”

Yarmouth would have its chances to answer.

The first came with 34:49 to go when Barbera sent a shot on net, but Goldstein made the save.

Goldstein then broke up a feed from sophomore Cory Langenbach to O’Neill.

With 26:03 remaining, a cross from sophomore Eliza Lunt was just slightly too high for Torres at the far post.

Two minutes later, Torres chased a through ball as Goldstein came out. The girls collided and the ball came loose, but Cape Elizabeth’s defense was able to clear it, setting up a corner kick.

With 12:42 to go, a rush from Yarmouth sophomore Katie Clemmer was broken up by Capers senior Brette Lennon and a resulting shot from sophomore Abby Condon was saved by Goldstein.

With 9 minutes left, the Clippers earned a corner kick, but it didn’t result in a shot.

Yarmouth had one final chance with just over a minute left, but O’Neill’s cross was snared by Goldstein and Cape Elizabeth was back in the win column.

“We knew (Greely) was a tough loss and that we had to get right back it,” said Deschino. “We’ve had tough losses before, so we knew what to do. We just had to play like we’re used to playing.”

“We’re getting back in the groove of things,” Goldstein said. “We spent the last week working on a lot of attack. Through balls and how to break down defenses. We had some good opportunities tonight. Emotionally, (Greely) was a tough loss, but it put our heads in the game. We want to go back and get another state championship.”

“We had some good practices leading up to this one,” Fannan added. “A lot of the girls have been there and have done it.”

The Clippers finished with a 10-8 edge in shots, but the Capers put six on frame to just four for the visitors. Goldstein made four saves.

“They had some scary chances, but Tessa made saves,” Deschino said. “I think she’s doing incredible.”

“Tessa has been outstanding,” said Fannan. “She just goes out and does it. She made some big saves today.”

Goldstein, who replaced Mary Perkins in goal this fall, deflected praise to her teammates.

“Our defense did great tonight,” said Goldstein. “They tracked every run. Our outside wings kept coming back. (Being the starter is) a challenge. Mary was amazing. I feel like it’s my time to shine. I’m ready.”

Yarmouth got five saves from Fallon and had a 4-2 advantage in corners, but couldn’t tickle the twine as it has now gone over 232 minutes without a goal.

“Cape’s a quality team,” Smith said. “They play hard. I thought we had equal opportunities. We just missed. I feel like it’s going to happen. A step here or there and we’d have three or four goals. We’ll keep working and fighting. As long as we stay positive, we’ll be fine.”

Second half push

Yarmouth’s road gets no easier, with road being the operative word. The Clippers (currently sixth in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) visit Falmouth Thursday, go to Wells Saturday, then play at York Wednesday of next week. If Yarmouth survives that crucible, it will play three of its final four at home, as Kennebunk, Gray-New Gloucester and Falmouth come calling. A trip to Greely also remains.

“We have to get everybody healthy and headed in the right direction against quality opponents,” Smith said. “We’ll have to battle through. We have a lot of good teams to play. We have to score goals. We’re doing other things well. We’re passing well and playing solid defense. It’s a long season.”

Cape Elizabeth (fourth in Western B) is home for its next two: versus Kennebunk Thursday and Falmouth Tuesday of next week. After going to Greely and Fryeburg, the Capers host York, then go to Kennebunk to finish up the regular season.

“We have to play as a team, talk and pass,” Deschino said.

“This should give the girls confidence,” said Fannan. “We’re excited.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth results

@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 1

@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)

@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1

@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 0

Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 0

@ Yarmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 1

@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)

@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)

@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 1

Cape Elizabeth junior Montana Braxton races up the field with Yarmouth sophomore Cory Langenbach in hot pursuit. Braxton had an assist on the game’s lone goal.

Cape Elizabeth junior Kate Breed tries to keep the ball away from Yarmouth sophomore Ella Antolini.

Cape Elizabeth senior Kathryn Clark traps the ball as Yarmouth sophomore Abby Condon defends.

Yarmouth sophomore Katie Clemmer plays the ball up the sideline as Cape Elizabeth junior Sarah O’Connor gives chase.

Yarmouth sophomore Cory Langenbach and Cape Elizabeth senior Emma Landes fight for a loose ball.

Cape Elizabeth senior Melissa Rudberg kicks the ball as Yarmouth senior Emma Torres looks on.

Sidebar Elements

Cape Elizabeth senior Kathryn Clark jumps into the arms of junior goalkeeper Tessa Goldstein as (from left) junior Tori Diaz, senior Brette Lennon and senior Melissa Rudberg join in the celebration after the Capers hold off Yarmouth, 1-0, Tuesday night.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

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