Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod (9) is congratulated by her teammates after scoring one of her two goals in Wednesday’s 5-0 home win over Freeport.

Joe Carpine photos (365digitalphotography.com).

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—From the ashes of a gutwrenching and controversial loss, Yarmouth’s field hockey team is hitting its stride.

Saturday evening, the Clippers lost at home to Falmouth when the Yachtsmen scored as time expired in the second and final overtime (or after the horn, from Yarmouth’s perspective). 

That’s become a distant memory, as the Clippers got a bounce-back win Monday at Cape Elizabeth and Wednesday, they downed visiting Freeport as they continued to position themselves for a playoff run.

Yarmouth got the jump in the second minute, when senior Ally MacLeod scored her latest big goal, on a rebound, for a 1-0 lead.

Later in the first half, with 6:16 to go, junior Maggie Gunville scored on a rebound off a penalty corner to give the Clippers a 2-0 advantage at halftime.

The Falcons came out with more intensity to start the second half, but couldn’t score, then Yarmouth ended all doubt.

MacLeod and senior Abby McDowell produced goals just over a minute apart to break the game open.

With 3:38 remaining, junior Sophie McGrath scored one final goal, on a rebound off a corner, and the Clippers went on to a 5-0 victory.

Yarmouth beat Freeport for the fifth straight time, improved to 7-4 and dropped the Falcons to 4-5-1 in the process.

“At practice yesterday, we talked about getting tougher and second efforts,” said Clippers first-year coach Amy Ashley. “It was great seeing that take place on the field today. We’ve been too pretty at times and waiting for a perfect ball, but we created today.”

In control

Freeport opened with a 4-1 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester, then enjoyed a 4-0 victory at Cape Elizabeth. After settling for a 1-1 tie at North Yarmouth Academy, the Falcons lost at home to Kennebunk (7-2), beat visiting Lake Region (3-0), lost at home to Poland (2-1), won at Gray-New Gloucester (1-0) and lost at home to Yarmouth (5-0) and at York (5-0).

Yarmouth opened with a 3-2 overtime loss at Falmouth, then won at Wells (7-1) and Lake Region (6-0), before giving visiting York a battle only to lose, 3-1. After a 2-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy, Yarmouth dropped a frustrating 1-0 overtime decision at Kennebunk, then blanked host Freeport, 5-0. Saturday, the Clippers lost in the most agonizing way possible, dropping a 3-2 home decision to Falmouth.

“That was a great game Saturday,” MacLeod said. “It was tough to lose, but it was one of our best games and it made us want to work harder for the rest of the season and playoffs.”

Monday, Yarmouth got back on track with a 3-0 win at Cape Elizabeth. 

Entering play Wednesday, the teams had met eight times since the start of the 2010 season with Yarmouth prevailing on seven occasions, including the win last Thursday (see sidebar, below).

Wednesday, on a cloudy and chilly day, the Clippers did it again.

The Clippers got the only goal they would need just 1 minute, 49 seconds in and it came out of a scrum as several players got a stick on the ball before MacLeod was able to send it into the cage.

Little happened the next 15 minutes until Yarmouth cranked up the offense again and eventually was rewarded.

After McDowell had a shot saved by Freeport senior goalie Megan Seymour off a penalty corner and MacLeod sent the rebound wide, McDowell was denied again.

With 6:16 to go in the half, the Clippers doubled the lead, as on a corner, they ball came to Gunville in front who was denied once, but stayed with it and finished the rebound for a 2-0 lead.

In the second half, Freeport came out strong, earning a penalty corner a little over a minute in, but the Falcons couldn’t muster a shot and Yarmouth went back on the attack.

With 26:14 to play, off a penalty corner, junior Emilie Martin rocketed a blast off the post and MacLeod was there to put home the rebound for a 3-0 lead.

“We fight for everything,” MacLeod said. “Coach tells us to play with our heart and we weren’t necessarily doing that in the first half. We came out stronger in the second half. As long as we fight until the end and work together, we’ll keep hitting the ball until someone finally makes it.”

“Ally is our go-to girl in big games,” Ashley said. “She’s come up big. She’s a quiet competitor.”

Not long after the echo of that goal announcement faded, McDowell put home a rebound with 24:51 to go, extending the advantage to 4-0.

The Clippers defense came up big a minute later, clearing a loose ball from in front of the goal, 

Down the stretch, Seymour denied a Martin backhanded flip with a nice glove save, Seymour saved another Martin shot and MacLeod’s bid for a hat trick was kicked away by the goalie. 

Then, with 3;38 to go, off another corner, McGrath knocked home a rebound.

“Sophia has done an excellent job,” Ashley said. “She’s stepped up and made some things happen.”

That brought the curtain down on Yarmouth’s 5-0 victory.

“I was really pleased with the second half,” Ashley said. “We were a little flat at the beginning, but it was nice to see us pick us up and have some different scorers. We’re hoping (the Falmouth) game makes us tougher. Today, especially our circle play, has changed since that loss.”

Yarmouth had a 16-2 shots advantage and took six corners to Freeport’s three. Four different Clippers rattled the cage and Ralph made two saves.

“It’s great we have a lot of girls who have a variety of abilities,” MacLeod said.

The Falcons got 11 saves from Seymour, but couldn’t close the gap between themselves and the Clippers.

“Yarmouth’s a good team,” said Freeport coach Marcia Wood. “I’m disappointed that we can’t compete with them more. I think that’s my biggest frustration. We’re just not executing or finishing. It’s not only frustrating for me, but for the girls. We have talented players, but we’re not executing the little things.”

One week left

The postseason isn’t far off and both teams have some work to do to wind up where they want to be in mid-October.

Freeport (eighth in the Class B South Heal Points standings, where 10 teams qualify for the playoffs) has the daunting task of hosting Falmouth Friday. Next week, the Falcons host Cape Elizabeth Tuesday, go to Fryeburg Academy Thursday, then close at Greely Saturday.

“It doesn’t get any easier having Falmouth Friday,” said Wood. “We’ve had a tough stretch. It’s tough to keep the girls motivated and upbeat. We hope to find some wins.” 

Yarmouth (fifth in Class B South) could finish as high as third in the region if all goes well. The Clippers welcome Greely Friday, have a key home showdown versus Kennebunk on Senior Night Wednesday of next week, then close at Gray-New Gloucester Oct. 10.

“It’s important that we didn’t peak at the beginning of the season, because we want to take the lessons from our losses and go as far as we can in the playoffs,” MacLeod said. “We think we have a good shot. We’re a strong team. I’m excited.”

“We’re definitely doing better, but I’d still like to see us improve even more,” Ashley added. “Not necessarily stick-skills, but mental toughness. Kennebunk will be another great test for us. We’re just trying to stay healthy as a small team and set ourselves up well for the playoffs. No matter where we finish, we want to be tough and hope that teams won’t want to play us.”

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

Yarmouth junior Maggie Gunville plays the ball on a penalty corner. Gunville had a goal in the victory.

Freeport senior goalie Megan Seymour can only watch as Yarmouth junior Sophie McGrath scores a goal.

Yarmouth senior Ally MacLeod races up the field as Freeport sophomore Kerry Lefebvre tries to keep pace.

Yarmouth senior Abby McDowell keeps an eye on the ball.

Yarmouth junior Sophie McGrath looks to play the ball.

Recent Freeport-Yarmouth results

Yarmouth 5 @ Freeport 0 

@ Yarmouth 2 Freeport 0 

Yarmouth 2 @ Freeport 0 

@ Freeport 3 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 2 Freeport 0

@ Yarmouth 1 Freeport 0

Yarmouth 2 @ Freeport 1

@ Yarmouth 1 Freeport 0

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