BIDDEFORD—On Sept. 10, Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ soccer team found itself at an early crossroads.

The Capers, who went undefeated in winning the 2018 Class B state championship, suffered a 2-1 loss at Yarmouth in their second outing this fall, but they overcame it and haven’t skipped a beat since.

Wednesday evening at Waterhouse Field, Cape Elizabeth battled the Clippers in the Class B South Final and thanks to a smothering defensive effort and timely scoring from a pair of seniors, punched its ticket to the state game yet again.

After being held in check most of the first half, the Capers got the only goal they needed with 4:56 remaining, as off a corner kick, senior Olivia Cochran headed the ball into the net.

With Cape Elizabeth preventing Yarmouth from responding, senior Karli Chapin, last year’s state game hero, produced some breathing room with 17:20 to go, as she redirected sophomore standout Maggie Cochran’s cross for a 2-0 advantage.

Chapin would strike once more, after a dazzling individual move with 1:15 left, and the Capers went on to a 3-0 victory.

Cape Elizabeth won its 15th game in a row, improved to 16-1, ended the Clippers’ season at 13-3-1 and advanced to battle Hermon (17-0) in the Class B state final Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Falmouth High School.

“After that (first Yarmouth) game, we really came together,” Olivia Cochran said. “We had a big team meeting where we assessed what we wanted this season. We wanted the Gold Ball and that’s what we’ve been going for.”

Undeniable

Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth meeting in the regional final didn’t come as a huge shock, but the Capers earning the top seed was surprising to some.

Cape Elizabeth lost some top-notch talent, most notably standout Prezli Piscopo, to graduation, but developed into a juggernaut again this fall.

The Capers beat visiting Greely in their opener, 5-2, then suffered their first loss in 20 games, 2-1, at Yarmouth. Cape Elizabeth didn’t lose again and conceded just four goals the rest of the way, bouncing  back with shutout wins over visiting Wells (8-0), host Gray-New Gloucester (3-0) and visiting Freeport (1-0), then handling visiting Waynflete (6-1), visiting York (2-0), host Greely (2-0), visiting Yarmouth (4-1), host Lake Region (5-0), visiting Poland (8-0), host Fryeburg Academy (10-1), host Freport (3-0) and host York (2-1) to finish atop the Class B South heap again.

In the quarterfinals, the Capers took it to No. 9 Greely, advancing by a 6-0 score, and in Saturday’s semifinals, Cape Elizabeth blanked visiting No. 4 Freeport, 4-0.

Yarmouth, which gave Cape Elizabeth a scare in last year’s semifinals, welcomed new coach Andy Higgins this fall and with the exception of a couple stumbles, was a powerhouse in its own right.

The Clippers  started with a 4-1 home victory over York, then settled for a 1-1 home tie versus Lake Region before downing visiting Cape Elizabeth, 2-1, and beating visiting Greely, 7-2. After a 1-0 home loss to Freeport, Yarmouth rolled at Fryeburg Academy (10-1), Poland (5-0) and York (4-0) and downed visiting Gray-New Gloucester (5-1). The Clippers lost at Cape Elizabeth (4-1), but they closed on a four-game win streak, beating host Freeport (1-0), host Greely (3-1), host Gray-New Gloucester (2-1) and visiting Wells (7-0) to earn the No. 2 seed in Class B South.

After beating No. 7 York, 2-0, in the quarterfinal round, Yarmouth shutout No. 6 Medomak Valley by the same score in Saturday’s semifinals to advance.

In the teams’ first meeting, Sept. 10 in Yarmouth, the Clippers got an “own goal” early and a tie-breaking strike from sophomore Katelyn D’Appolonia late (Maggie Cochran scored for the Capers). In the rematch, Oct. 5 in Cape Elizabeth, Maggie Cochran had three goals and also assisted on sophomore Caroline Gentile’s goal in a 4-1 win (freshman Ava Feeley scored for Yarmouth).

The teams had split four playoff meetings over the previous five seasons, with last year’s 2-1 Capers’ victory in the semifinals the most recent.

Wednesday, on a chilly, 36-degree evening, Cape Elizabeth took awhile to hit its stride before producing another victory.

Neither team could generate anything most of the first half.

In fact, the first corner kick didn’t come until the 15th minute (the Capers took it and had the ball cleared) and the first shot didn’t come until the 23rd minute, when Chapin tipped Olivia Cochran’s long shot on target, but it was collected by Clippers’ junior goalkeeper Kate Siegel.

After Maggie Cochran missed just high, Yarmouth got its best chance in the 27th minute, when junior Gabby Thibodeau passed to Ava Feeley on the left side, but Feeley’s low, left-footed shot rolled just wide of the far post.

After Chapin had a shot saved by Siegel, the first goal final came.

Cape Elizabeth earned a corner kick and with 4:56 left before the break, junior Laura Ryer served the ball in and Olivia Cochran got her head on it and sent it past Siegel for a 1-0 lead.

“Laura puts beautiful balls into the box,” Cochran said. “We’ve practiced corner after corner. We know our runs and where the ball will go. She put a beautiful ball in front and I just had to go get it. I just wanted to put it on frame. That gave the team energy and we carried it into the second half.”

“It was a great goal,” Cape Elizabeth coach Graham Forsyth said. “It came at a really good time. Liv gives us so much more than goals and assists. She’s the heart of the team. It was amazing to see her get her reward tonight.”

“She ran hard and we missed a mark and that happens,” Higgins lamented.

The Capers had a 4-0 shots advantage and a 2-0 edge in corner kicks, but had yet to put the game away.

That would come in the second half.

First, Siegel denied Maggie Cochran and junior Abbey Agrodnia, then robbed Chapin on a breakaway, but Chapin doubled the lead with 17:20 left, as Maggie Cochran crossed the ball in and Chapin got her shoulder on it and sent it past Siegel for a 2-0 advantage.

“The first half, we started slow and I didn’t have a good first half personally,” Chapin said. “It could have been my last game and I obviously didn’t want that, so I was going to do whatever I could do to help the team win. I just went and attacked the ball.”

Yarmouth tried to answer a minute later, but a left-footed shot from Feeley sailed just high.

After Siegel robbed Dyer, the Clippers earned their lone corner kick, but senior Audrey Goessling missed high.

Chapin then ended all doubt with 1:15 on the clock, completely faking out one defender, taking a touch, then sending the ball past Siegel.

“I saw the defender committed to the tackle, so I slipped by and the goalie came out and I got it past her,” said Chapin.

“I’ve never really seen a play like that,” Forsyth said. “It was great to watch.”

“We didn’t change a lot in the second half, but after they got the second one, we had to put numbers forward,” Higgins said. “It wasn’t enough.”

The Capers ran the clock out from there and at 8:12 p.m., celebrated their 3-0 victory.

“We had a lot to work on at the start of the season,” Forsyth said. “(Our success is) all because of the girls and their heart. The attitude and desire they have turned it around and all the credit goes to them. The seniors have stepped up. They’re unbelievable role models. When things aren’t going your way, you need players to step up and (Liv and Karli) did tonight. I’m so proud of them.”

Cape Elizabeth had an 11-0 advantage in shots on frame and took six corner kicks to Yarmouth’s one. Junior goalkeeper Katie Haines didn’t have to make a save.

“We’ve conceded more than last year and we’ve scored more too, but so far in playoffs, we haven’t conceded at all,” Forsyth said. “We’ve locked it down at the right time.”

End of the line

Yarmouth got eight saves from Siegel, but just couldn’t find a way to generate offense.

“Cape’s tough,” Higgins said. “We got bogged down and they frustrated us with their pressure and we couldn’t get anything going. That’s tough to swallow at this point.

“You look at the big picture, these seniors had three coaches in four years and they came back and fought every day. They’re tremendous role models and tremendous young ladies. They left a major mark on Yarmouth girls’ soccer. I’m proud of all of them.”

The Clippers will be one of the top contenders again in 2020.

“It’s going to be awkward next year with the nine seniors not there,” Higgins said. “This (loss) will be motivation for the kids who are back. The feeling that stings right now will hopefully drive us in the offseason and in August when we get things rolling again.”

Repeat opportunity

The Capers last went back-to-back as champions in 1996 and 1997. Cape Elizabeth is 7-2 all-time in state finals and will seek its eighth Gold Ball Saturday, but it won’t come easily against an undefeated Hermon squad which went to overtime to beat Waterville in its regional final Wednesday.

The Capers and Hermon have never met in the playoffs.

“It’s exciting,” said Olivia Cochran. “We learned a lot last year going into states. We took Presque Isle for granted (before winning, 2-1, in overtime). We were really, really confident. This year, we know we have to play the same way we’ve played all season. We’re feeling good.”

“Every year, our team has the same goal,” Chapin said. “Only one team gets to celebrate at the end and luckily, it’s been us. Hopefully that will be us again.”

“We just have to play our own game,” Forsyth added. “We’ve got an identity. We’ll stick to it and hopefully, we’ll get another Gold Ball Saturday.”

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

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