CAPE ELIZABETH—After sitting idle for a week, Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team got off to a fast start in Tuesday’s showdown versus Yarmouth.

While the Capers played with a lead most of the way, the ending was nervewracking as the Clippers rallied to make things very interesting right up until the final horn.

Cape Elizabeth senior Kate Breed put her team on top in the 14th minute and she added a second goal, off a nice feed from junior Mariah Deschino, with 35:29 to play, but Yarmouth roared back and after junior Katie Clemmer scored on a rebound with 15 minutes left, the Clippers had some golden opportunies to force overtime, but the Capers, thanks in part to a fortuitous bounce off the crossbar, managed to hold on and prevail, 2-1.

Cape Elizabeth improved to 5-2, beat Yarmouth for the fourth straight time and dropped the Clippers to 4-4 in the process.

“For a team with experienced players, we were stretched in the last 10 minutes,” said Capers coach Craig Fannan. “For whatever reason, we panicked. We allowed crosses and shots. We stumbled across the finish line.”

Chasing Greely

Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth (along with Greely and York) are part of a compelling four-team race for Class B South supremacy this fall.

The Clippers opened with a 6-0 victory at Poland, then lost at Greely (6-3) and home to Cape Elizabeth, 3-0. After blanking visiting Freeport, 3-0, Yarmouth lost at York, 2-1, then turned around and downed host Kennebunk, 6-2, and visiting Wells, 3-0.

The Capers, the two-time defending regional champions, rolled at Freeport in the opener, 9-1, then were blanked by visiting York, 2-0. Cape Elizabeth got back on track with shutout wins over host Yarmouth (3-0), visiting Poland (2-0) and visiting Falmouth (1-0) before losing at Greely last Monday, 1-0.

The Capers then made the most of their time off.

“I have to say that I think our (time off) was positive,” Breed said. “I came back in fresh.”

“It was nice to have some time off, then have some light practices and ramp it up.” Fannan said. “Any chance we get to rest and recuperate, I’ll take.”

This rivalry has been streaky over the years. From 2003 through 2010, Yarmouth won 10 meetings, six others ended in ties and Cape Elizabeth didn’t muster a single victory. That all changed in 2011 with a 4-0 win by the host Capers. Over the past nine meetings, including one 17 days ago, Cape Elizabeth has seven victories to just one for the Clippers with one other game ending in a draw.

Tuesday, with rain falling intermittently, the Capers made it four straight in the series.

Just barely.

The Deschino to Breed combination almost produced a goal 61 seconds in, but Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Meredith Lane made the save. 

After Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Tessa Goldstein made her first save, on a cross from Clippers junior Gretchen Barbera, the visitors had a corner kick and senior Eavan O’Neill’s shot in the box was blocked. Yarmouth then got another corner and sophomore Hannah Merrill headed a shot just wide. Moments later, Barbera set up Morrill again and again, she just missed.

The Capers then struck with 26:01 to play in the first half on a seemingly innocent play.

After Yarmouth failed to head the ball out its zone, Deschino flicked the ball up ahead to Breed, who got some room between defenders and with Lane playing out, Breed one-timed a shot over the goalie and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“Scoring the first goal was important for momentum,” Breed said. “I think the goalie came out and I just happened to get a good touch on a volley and it went right over her.” 

“That goal was kind of out of nothing,” Fannan said. “She just stumbled on to that ball.”

Yarmouth looked for the equalizer, but Clemmer sent a left-footed shot just high, Goldstein made a terrific save on a low blast from sophomore Sara D’Appolonia which skidded on the wet turf, and late in the half, Barbera’s shot hit the side netting.

The first good chance of the second half resulted in the game’s second goal.

This time, Deschino sent a through ball to Breed, who got behind the defense. The only question was whether or not Breed could reach it before Lane and she managed to one-touch the ball past the goalie and into the net for a 2-0 advantage with 35:29 remaining in regulation.

“It was just a through ball, the goalie came out and I flicked it past her,” said Breed. “Mariah’s very good setting people up. She’s not just good at finishing. I love playing up top with her. She finds me really well with a really nice diagonal ball.”

“That was the best play of the game,” Fannan said. “A nice combination with Mariah. Kate did what she wanted to do. It was a fantastic finish.”

To no one’s surprise, the Clippers didn’t quit and they wouldn’t make things very interesting down the stretch.

After Goldstein broke up a feed from senior Lauren Bartlett to Clemmer, sophomore Eva Then shot wide. Cape Elizabeth had a chance to put the win on ice, but Deschino shot just over an open net and Yarmouth’s turned its new life into a goal. 

With 15 minutes left, the Clippers got the ball into the box and out of a scrum, Clemmer got a good look and finished to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Two minutes later, Yarmouth almost drew even as Clemmer again got the ball in good position, but a defender managed to block the shot and a subsequent rebound.

After Lane made a nice save on a high Dsechino shot that could have clinched it for the Capers, Yarmouth got a blast from the side from Barbera which almost produced the equalizer.

Goldstein got a hand on the ball, but couldn’t handle it cleanly and to Cape Elizabeth’s horror, the ball bounced toward the goal. Luckily for the hosts, it kissed off the crossbar and Goldstein grabbed the carom, protetcting the lead.

“I just kind of read the angle wrong,” Goldstein said. “I came out too soon, but thankfully it hit the crossbar. They had a ton of great shots. They’re such a strong team. We pushed everybody back and went into defensive mode to protect the lead.”

In the final 90 seconds, the Clippers got two more chances, but Barbera’s shot was saved and a final bid from freshman Olivia Feely, which showed great promise off her foot, sailed just high.

Then and only then could Cape Elizabeth exhale and celebrate its 2-1 win.

“A 2-0 lead is pretty scary,” said Breed. “We knew Yarmouth was a really good side. We knew we had to go into defensive mode.”

“I think this helps us out in Heal Points,” said Goldstein. “We’re keeping Yarmouth behind us.”

“Credit Yarmouth,” Fannan added. “They don’t give you a second. When they smell blood, they go after it. It’s hard to defend against them.”

The Capers had an 8-7 edge in shots on frame. Goldstein made six saves.

The Clippers had five corners kicks to three for Cape Elizabeth and got six saves from Lane, but suffered a frustrating loss.

“We did get close at the end and had some good opportunities,” said Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. “They took advantage of their opportunities. They’re really good at being opportunistic. When they get chances, they finish. They’re a very good team.”

Fight to the finish

Yarmouth’s upcoming schedule gets no easier, as Falmouth pays a visit Saturday and York comes to town Tuesday. After hosting Kennebunk and going to Gray-New Gloucester, the Clippers (now 12th in the Class B South Heal Points standings) close with games at home versus Greely and at Falmouth.

“The girls have a good attitude and they’re playing hard.” Smith said. “We’re getting better as a team. Our good fortune will come. Hopefully Saturday. Falmouth’s playing everybody tough. I’m sure we’ll be evenly matched.” 

Cape Elizabeth (fifth in Class B South) plays at Lake Region Thursday, then goes to Falmouth and hosts Greely next week. After welcoming Fryeburg Academy and Gray-New Gloucester, the Capers close with games at York and Kennebunk.

“I feel really positive,” Breed said. “We have a very good team.”

“I think we need to link up a little more,” Goldstein said. “We have a shot to go all the way. We really want it. We have so many seniors who deserve it. We just want to win.”

“We need to find a little composure across the field,” Fannan added. “I think the girls are feeling the pressure and they try to over-perform. I trust them to play their best in the big games.”

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

Cape Elizabeth senior Kate Breed (right) is congratulated by junior Mariah Deschino after one of her two goals in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Yarmouth.

Mike Strout photos.

Yarmouth senior Eavan O’Neill plays the ball as Cape Elizabeth senior Sierra Aceto defends.

Cape Elizabeth freshman Tory McGrath boots the ball as Yarmouth sophomore Sara D’Appolonia looks on.

Cape Elizabeth senior Katherine Briggs shields Yarmouth junior Ella Antolini from the ball.

Yarmouth sophomore Sara D’Appolonia tries to get past Cape Elizabeth senior Tori Diaz.

Two of the state’s premier midfield talents, Cape Elizabeth senior Montana Braxton and Yarmouth sophomore Sara D’Appolonia, square off.

Yarmouth junior Katie Clemmer and Cape Elizabeth senior Sierra Aceto go for a header.

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