Greely junior Stephanie Bruder drives the ball as York sophomore Lexi Brent (1) and senior Ashley Carney look on during the Wildcats’ 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon. Hoffer photo

YARMOUTH—Just like last year, Greely’s field hockey team gave York fits when the squads met in an early season showdown Saturday afternoon.

But unlike last year, the Rangers weren’t able to find a way to upset the defending regional champion Wildcats.

In a game played on the turf at North Yarmouth Academy, York carried play in the first half, but couldn’t solve Greely sophomore goalie Savanna Harvey.

Early in the second half, however, the Wildcats went on top when junior Christina Dargie scored on a rebound.

The Rangers finally generated some offense for the first time this fall with 17:43 on the clock, as senior Megan Beaulieu tipped home a shot, but just over two minutes later, York went back ahead to stay, as sophomore Lexi Brent scored and this time, Greely wasn’t able to recover, as the Wildcats held on for a 2-1 victory.

York improved to 2-0 on the young season and in the process, dropped the Rangers to 0-2.

“It was fun to play Greely on turf,” said Wildcats coach Nora Happny. “They look strong again this year. It was good to play them early in the season.”

Fight to the finish

A year ago, Greely beat York at home for the first time in a decade, 1-0, but in the rematch, the Wildcats protected their home field, 1-0.

The Wildcats went on to the Class B state final, which they lost, 3-2, to Gardiner.

The Rangers were knocked off by Lake Region, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round.

York opened its season with a 2-1 double-overtime win at Fryeburg, on Dargie’s goal.

Greely started with a 5-0 loss at Freeport.

The contest was scheduled to be played in Cumberland, but predicted bad weather moved it to NYA’s turf where the Rangers fought hard, but fell short.

In the first half, the Wildcats had a 9-0 shots advantage and had five penalty corners to Greely’s one, but couldn’t break through, as Harvey made nine saves.

“Savanna had (around 20 saves the first game) and today, she was clutch with athletic plays,” said Greely coach Chelsea Morley. “She’s the anchor of our team and we’re glad to have her.”

York finally solved Harvey early in the second half, as with 28:38 to go, on a rebound, Dargie steered the ball past Harvey into the cage for a 1-0 lead.

Harvey kept the deficit at one with a highlight reel sprawling save on a blast off the stick of senior Bailey Oliver, then with 17:43 remaining, the Rangers rattled the cage for the first time.

The goal was set up by junior Delia Knox, who sent the ball to freshman Haley McAuslin, whose shot was tipped by Beaulieu past Wildcats senior goalie Katlyn Nowell.

“We’ve put a lot of work into finishing on the post,” said Morley. “We have a lot of speed, it’s just putting pieces together and finishing.”

Happny called timeout and it paid dividends, as with 15:10 on the clock, York retook the lead for good.

The goal was set up by a long blast from freshman Abigail Armlin which Brent managed to tip past Harvey for a 2-1 lead.

“Our biggest obstacle so far is figuring out how to get the ball fully in the cage,” Happny said. “I was happy when we did, but Greely answered right back. I took a timeout and told the girls it was time.”

After a late Morley timeout, Greely had one final chance, but the Wildcats’ defense cleared the ball at the last second and York went on to a 2-1 victory.

“These girls are fighters,” Happny said. “It’s a young group, but they really want it. They don’t let up at all.

“I think we just have a long history of success. The girls know what they have to do. A number of girls have gone to states and have done well. If I tell them they have to step it up, they just do it.”

The Wildcats outshot the Rangers, 16-2, and had a 10-2 edge in corners.

Greely got 14 saves from Harvey.

“It doesn’t matter what year it is, what class their players are in, York always has talent,” Morley said. “They’re fast and skilled, but with that said, I’m incredibly proud of the game my players put forward. We don’t practice or play on turf, but we played with heart and played together. We took a risk at the end there and changed our formation a little bit. We had an opportunity, but we couldn’t capitalize on it.”

Long season

York welcomes St. Dom’s Monday, then goes to Yarmouth Wednesday. A home showdown versus Freeport looms Sept. 17.

“We’ve got a tough schedule,” Happny said. “I’m excited to get Freeport at home. We just need to pass better, score more and continue to come together as a team.”

Greely hopes to get in the win column Wednesday when Fryeburg Academy pays a visit. The Rangers also host Traip Academy Friday.

“We have to get more comfortable playing with each other and working on ball movement, both with and without the ball,” said Morley.

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

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