Yarmouth senior Sara D’Appolonia, right, is congratulated by freshman Parker Harnett after scoring a second half goal during the Clippers’ 4-0 win at Greely Tuesday.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

CUMBERLAND—Graduation has taken its toll, there are new faces in new places and a new coaching staff is in place, but despite it all, early in the 2017 season, the Yarmouth girls’ soccer team still looks like the team to beat in Class B.

Tuesday evening at Glenn A. Hutchins Field, the Clippers visited rival Greely and put on a display of scoring balance and finishing skill that the hosts couldn’t match.

After a few close calls, Yarmouth got the only goal it would need midway through the first half, as senior Ellie Purgavie finished after a nice individual effort.

A perfectly placed direct kick from junior Olivia Feeley doubled the lead in the 29th minute.

The Rangers had an opportunity to cut into their deficit early in the second half, but couldn’t convert and when Clippers senior standout Sara D’Appolonia scored in the 60th minute, the visitors were firmly in control.

With 6:50 to play, after being taken down in the box, senior Hannah Merrill buried a penalty kick and that brought the curtain down on Yarmouth’s 4-0 victory.

Four different players scored and the Clippers were pretty impressive on the defensive end too as they started the season 2-0 and dropped Greely to 1-1 in the process.

“It was a great performance from the girls,” new Yarmouth coach Chris Coleman said. “One thing we wanted to improve on was our final product near the goal area. We made sure to hit the target. We want as much creativity and decision-making in the final third as possible. We have so many attack options.”

Clash of champions

Greely was the dominant team in Class B in 2015 and rolled to the state title, beating Yarmouth en route in the semifinals.

Last fall, the Clippers were clearly the state’s finest team and for the first time, they beat the Rangers three times in one season, including a 3-1 decision in the regional final, en route to a 3-1 win over Waterville in the Class B state final for their first Gold Ball since 2003.

This season, Greely and Yarmouth are viewed as the teams to beat again.

The Clippers started with a 2-0 home win over Gray-New Gloucester, while the Rangers opened with a 3-0 home victory over York.

Entering play Tuesday, Greely held a 20-8 (with five ties) advantage since the start of the 2001 season (see sidebar, below), but Yarmouth had won five of the past seven meetings.

This time around, on a muggy evening (76 degrees with a dew point of 65), the Clippers made the most of their chances and the Rangers weren’t able to capitalize on their opportunities to get back in the contest.

It took just 28 seconds for the visitors, more to the point, D’Appolonia, to create a chance, as the standout eluded two defenders and shot, but Rangers senior goalkeeper Molly Matthews made the save.

Greely’s first chance came in the third minute, as junior Julia Martel took a pass from classmate Anna DeWolfe, then was just high on a rush, due in part to a fine defensive effort from Yarmouth sophomore Ella Caruso, who cut off her angle.

The Clippers then put on the pressure and eventually broke through.

After sophomore Adriana Whitlock had a shot blocked, Whitlock had a left-footed shot saved.

After sophomore Ashlyn Feeney’s shot was wide, Yarmouth broke through with 20:04 remaining, as Purgavie got the ball on the right side of the box, fought her way through a defender, then sent a low shot past Matthews into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“Ellie has a natural knack for the net and she found it,” D’Appolonia said. “That was a great play by her.”

The Clippers didn’t let up and soon had a second tally.

After Olivia Feeley had a shot saved by Matthews, Rangers sophomore Katherine Clancy launched a 30-yard free kick on target, but Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Meredith Lane made the save.

Then, after a D’Appolonia shot was blocked by Clancy in the box and a header off a corner kick by sophomore Ehryn Groothoff was just high, the Clippers earned a free kick and with 11:24 on the clock, Feeley blasted the ball just under the crossbar and it deflected off Matthews’ hands and into the net to make it 2-0.

“I was looking to put it on frame,” Feeley said. “I hit it where I wanted to. I was afraid the goalie would make the save, but she didn’t, so I’m happy.”

“Olivia has quite the foot,” D’Appolonia said. “Anytime you put her on the ball, you know she’ll do something with it.”

“Liv is a tremendous athlete,” Coleman added. “She’s a natural leader on that back line.”

That was the end of Matthews’ day, as she was replaced by freshman Camille Clement.

Yarmouth had more chances moments later, but Clement denied sophomore Hannah Dwyer and Dwyer shot high.

After DeWolfe forced Lane to sprawl to make a save at one end, D’Appolonia shot wide. 

After Olivia Feeley broke up Greely senior Courtney Sullivan’s rush in the box, Clippers freshman Parker Harnett shot high after a nice rush.

Greely looked to cut the deficit in half, as DeWolfe had a long shot saved by Lane and Clancy’s long shot was deflected out for a corner kick, on which DeWolfe’s header went just wide.

In the first 40 minutes, Yarmouth had a 7-4 shots advantage and a 3-1 edge in corner kicks.

In the second half, the Clippers survived a couple Greely near misses, then put it away.

After D’Appolonia started the second half the way she began the game, by creating an opportunity, she shot just wide 24 seconds in.

Sullivan then shot high, Sullivan served the ball to DeWolfe, whose header was saved by Lane and with 35:16 left, Martel had a golden chance in front, but she shot just high.

Yarmouth almost extended its lead in the 49th minute, but on a cross from Merrill, Greely senior back Bridget Roberts cleared the ball off the line at the last second.

Martel then got another great chance, but Lane made the save at the last second, knocking the ball out for a corner kick which Lane snared.

D’Appolonia then looked to get in the scoring column herself and after she shot just high and had a shot knocked away at the last second by Clement, D’Appolonia took a pass from Whitlock and finished with 20:22 left for a 3-0 lead.

“We’ve been trying to jell as a team and finishing has been our key goal,” D’Appolonia said. “We’ve had a hard time with finishing, but it’s coming together slowly. We just have to keep shooting. I kept shooting and I knew eventually it would come.”

“Sara is tremendous in many ways,” Coleman said. “She’s a real leader. She wants to win and play well. She wants to get goals and assists and the team follows her.” 

The Clippers kept coming and after senior Eva Then shot high, senior Hannah Corey had a shot saved and Harnett was denied after an impressive rush, Harnett stole the ball at midfield, fed Whitlock and Whitlock  passed ahead to Merrill, who was brought down in the box. Play was stopped and a penalty kick was awarded.

Merrill did the honors and with Clement leaning to her left, Merrill calmly flicked the ball into the left corner of the goal to extend the lead to 4-0.

Clement did make one final impressive save with time winding down, robbing junior Isabel Brennan, but Yarmouth was able to celebrate its second straight victory in Cumberland.

“It’s been a good start to our season so far,” Olivia Feeley said. “We’ve utilized our wide players a lot better. We’ve worked on building out of the back and using our (midfielders) and communicating. That’s been a plus for us. We’ve been communicating really well on defense. We have athletic players who work really well together.”

“Coming to Yarmouth has been incredible,” Coleman said. “The girls on varsity and junior varsity have been great. (Boys’ coach) Mike (Hagerty) has been great showing me the ropes. It’s been very enjoyable.”

The Clippers outshot the Rangers, 13-8 (9-4 on frame), and took four corner kicks to Greely’s three. Lane made four saves. 

Clement made six saves and Matthews stopped three shots for Greely.

“We definitely learned a lot,” said Rangers coach Josh Muscadin. “My kids need to be able to communicate with each other. We knocked the ball around the middle, but when we got to the top, our first touch was our worst enemy. We had chances, but we didn’t put them away. If we did, it could have been a completely different game. Sometimes you need a little luck. Luck wasn’t with us and we didn’t play to our expectations. Yarmouth is very good. If you make mistakes against them, they’ll put it away.”

Long way to go

Before meeting up again Sept. 16 in Yarmouth, both teams face some stern tests. 

Greely is home versus dangerous Freeport Thursday and hosts Poland Friday. The Rangers then travel to Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday of next week for their first road test.

“We still need to work on communication,” said Muscadin. “Staying with our mark. We have to take everyone seriously.”

Yarmouth stays on the road for its next game, Thursday at Fryeburg Academy. The Clippers then host Freeport and York.

The bulls-eye will remain in place, but Yarmouth is confident it can handle the pressure.

“We’re just taking it game by game and focusing,” Olivia Feeley said. “We have the right mindset and play our best game because every team wants to play well against us.

“Things are looking good,” D’Appolonia said. “It’s been a transition, but the new coach knows a lot of us from club (soccer). That makes things easier. The younger kids are filling positions great. It’s a little different this year. Teams are coming for us. We’re the team to beat, but we just have to play our game.”

“We still have to work on transition and decision-making,” Coleman added. “We’re a different team on turf. As long as we keep scoring goals and keeping clean sheets, we’ll be dangerous.”

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

Yarmouth junior Olivia Feeley boots the ball away from Greely junior Skylar Cooney.

Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Meredith Lane sprawls to make a save.

Greely senior Courtney Sullivan and Yarmouth junior Olivia Feeley battle for the ball.

Greely sophomore Ellie Holt plays the ball.

Greely freshman goalkeeper Camille Clement watches in vain as Yarmouth senior Sara D’Appolonia scores the Clippers’ third goal.

Recent Greely-Yarmouth results

Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 1 
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0
Class B South Final
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 1

@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 3 
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
Class B South semifinal
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 0

@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 1

@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1 (OT)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0 (OT)

@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 2 (tie)

@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)

@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1

Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)

@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)

Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1

@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 5 @ Yarmouth 1

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