North Yarmouth Academy senior Amber Rose races upfield with St. Dom’s junior Mia-Angelina Leslie in hot pursuit during the Saints’ 3-1 victory Friday afternoon.

Joe Carpine / photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—North Yarmouth Academy’s field hockey team was on the defensive for much of Friday afternoon’s home contest at Lewis Field against defending Class C state champion St. Dom’s, but the Panthers played valiantly and even ended the game in style, only to fall short.

The Saints came out sizzling and in the fourth minute, went ahead to stay when senior Caroline Johnson banged home a rebound off a penalty corner.

With 14:14 to go in the first half, St. Dom’s doubled its lead, as senior Paige Cote scored on the backhand, but thanks in large part to 10 saves from senior goalie Kylie Rogers, NYA stayed within hailing range.

When Johnson scored for a 3-0 lead just over two minutes into the second half, the Panthers could have folded, but they battled throughout and were rewarded, as off a penalty corner as time expired, junior Katie Larson scored to get NYA on the board as the Saints prevailed, 3-1.

The Panthers fell to 4-6 on the year and St. Dom’s improved to 7-2 in the process.

“I am happy with the effort,” said NYA’s first-year coach Annika King. “The girls really played together today and that was impressive.” 

Measuring stick

St. Dom’s, the defending Class C state champion, entered play Friday with just two blemishes this fall. The Saints started with wins over visiting Traip Academy (8-1), host Sacopee Valley (6-0), host Wells (6-0), visiting North Yarmouth Academy (4-1) and visiting Sacopee Valley (5-0). After a 4-3 setback at Freeport, St. Dom’s lost at home to reigning Class B South champion York, 3-2. Wednesday, the Saints got back on track with a 5-0 win at Traip Academy.

NYA has been competitive throughout this season. The Panthers started with a 3-0 setback at York, then downed visiting Sacopee Valley, 5-1. After a 5-4 overtime home loss to Poland, NYA defeated host Traip Academy, 4-1. Losses at St. Dom’s (4-1) and Yarmouth (3-2) followed before the Panthers handled visiting Wells (7-2) and host Sacopee Valley (3-2, in overtime). Wednesday, NYA was beaten by visiting Lake Region, 4-1.

In the teams’ first meeting, Sept. 12, freshman Emilia McKenney scored for the Panthers, but two goals from sophomore Charlotte Gastonguay and one apiece from Cote and Johnson led the Saints to victory.

Friday, on a seasonable (62-degree) afternoon, NYA sought its first win over St. Dom’s since Oct. 9, 2008 (3-0 at home), but the Saints made it five straight victories in the series.

The Saints came out pressuring from the get-go and after Rogers denied both Cote and Johnson in diving fashion, St. Dom’s scored on its second penalty corner opportunity.

With 26:21 to play in the first half, after Rogers stopped a shot by senior Kylie Leavitt, Johnson got to the rebound and sent it into the cage for a 1-0 Saints’ lead.

Four minutes later, in their best chance of the first half, the Panthers earned a corner and there was a scrum in front of the goal, but NYA couldn’t get a shot off.

With 14:14 on the clock, Cote scored in highlight reel fashion, lifting a back-handed blast high and into the net to make the score 2-0.

In the first half, St. Dom’s enjoyed a 7-1 edge in corners and a 12-0 shots advantage, but Rogers made 10 saves.

The Saints opened it up further with 27:46 to play, as Johnson weaved through three defenders before scoring for a 3-0 lead.

The Panthers then began battling back, as senior Amber Rose had a shot off a corner that was saved, Rose missed just wide, a Rose shot off a corner was saved off the line by a St. Dom’s defender and a bid from sophomore Marina Piehl on a corner was saved as well.

Finally, with just seconds left, NYA was awarded a corner and by rule, got to play it out even after the final horn sounded. After Rose had a shot saved, Larson was there to bang home the rebound and that accounted for the 3-1 final score.

“The girls didn’t give up one second and the end of the game really showed that,” King said.” As a coach, that’s all I can ask for.

“It’s been a great first year. The girls have really adapted to my style of coaching. They’re ready to go and as a coach, I can’t ask for more than that.”

The Saints finished with a 23-6 edge in shots and took 14 corners to the Panthers’ six. Simone Long made five saves for St. Dom’s.

Rogers stopped 20 shots for NYA.

“Kylie is a big player for us,” King said. “She really works hard. She doesn’t disappoint and always comes ready to practice and play.”

Looking to move up

St. Dom’s is now fifth in the Class C South Heal Points standings. The Saints are home against Cape Elizabeth Saturday, then go to Traip Academy and host Poland next week before closing the regular season with home games versus Sacopee Valley and Wells.

NYA (seventh in Class C South) goes to Wells Tuesday, then plays Traip Academy twice at home (Oct. 6 and Oct. 10) to close the regular season.

“We want to win,” King said. “Playoffs is absolutely a goal for us. We hope we can get to that point.”

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

NYA junior Katie Larson tries to get a shot off on the back-hand. Larson scored the Panthers’ lone goal as time expired.

NYA senior Maggie Larson eludes a St. Dom’s defender.

NYA senior goalie Kylie Rogers makes one of her 20 saves as senior Hannah Gagne looks on.

NYA freshman Emilia McKenney tries to keep up with a St. Dom’s ball-carrier.

NYA freshman Mary Parker handles the ball.

St. Dom’s senior Paige Cote (6) is congratulated by junior Mia-Angelina Leslie after scoring a first half goal.