Yarmouth junior Katelyn D’Appolonia plays the ball past North Yarmouth Academy sophomore Erin Reed which Clippers senior Averil Sahagian and Panthers senior Natalie Farrell look on during Yarmouth’s 3-1 victory Wednesday.

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s girls’ soccer team generated offense early and turned to its defense to hold on late to defeat two-time defending Class D champion North Yarmouth Academy, 3-1, in a long-overdue battle between crosstown rivals Wednesday afternoon on Yarmouth’s turf field.

The Clippers, who entered the game having scored just seven goals in five games, scored three in just over four minutes in the first half, as sophomore Ava Feeley produced a pair, then set up senior Parker Harnett for a seemingly safe 3-0 halftime lead.

The Panthers didn’t even generate a shot on frame until 6 minutes remained, but when they did, it was good for a goal, as sophomore Angel Huntsman finished, and NYA almost made things really interesting moments later, but Huntsman’s header was saved and Yarmouth went on to a 3-1 victory.

The Clippers stayed undefeated against the Panthers this century, evened their record at 3-3 and in the process, dropped the Panthers to 4-2.

“(NYA’s) a good team,” said Yarmouth second-year coach Andy Higgins. “It’s fun to see a new team you don’t see all the time. They’re a two-time defending champ and they work really hard and compete and we knew they would. They made it interesting and my blood pressure went up a little bit at the end.”

What might have been

Each team had high hopes for a memorable 2020 campaign and while there is no postseason this fall (due to the season being limited due to COVID-19), each squad has had its share of interesting games.

NYA started by rallying past visiting Waynflete (2-1). The Panthers then fell at Morse (1-0, in a game they out-shot the Shipbuilders, 24-2) before defeating host Lake Region (2-0), visiting Morse (3-1) and visiting Gray-New Gloucester (4-1).

Yarmouth, which reached the Class B South Final in 2019 before losing to Cape Elizabeth, started with a 3-1 victory at Mt. Ararat, then lost at home to Falmouth (1-0), fell at Greely in double-overtime (3-2) and after a 2-0 home win over Freeport, dropped a 2-0 decision at Falmouth Saturday.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first between the neighboring schools since Aug. 31, 2012, a 2-0 victory for the host Clippers.

This time around, on a 54 degree, cloudy and occasionally drizzly afternoon, Yarmouth’s first half scoring burst proved to be enough to prevail.

The Clippers had a great chance to break the ice in the fifth minute when NYA failed to clear the ball from the box and it came right to senior Averil Sahagian in front, but Sahagian’s shot was just high and sailed over the crossbar.

The Panthers tried to counter, but Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Kate Siegel raced out of the goal at the last second to break up a feed from sophomore Erin Reed to junior Maggie Holt

After Feeley’s first shot missed wide and NYA senior captain Natalie Farrell launched a corner kick that glanced off the top of the crossbar, Clippers junior midfielder Katelyn D’Appolonia just missed on a couple of bids, sending them both just wide.

Feeley then produced the game’s first shot, but Panthers senior goalkeeper Hannah Kenney made the save.

With 17:23 remaining before halftime, Yarmouth went on top for good, as senior Anna Wallace set up Feeley for a lofting shot that a leaping Kelley couldn’t reach and the ball sailed just under the crossbar and in for a 1-0 lead.

“It was a really good ball from Anna,” said Feeley. “I just took the shot and it went in. I took some shots before that, so I knew I could angle that in. We came out ready to play. We knew we needed to be strong and focused off the bat.”

“Anna’s play up top was huge for us, her movement up top and creating goals for others,” Higgins said. “Huge shout-out to her.”

After Harnett was denied by Kenney, Feeley struck again with 14:53 left in the half, this time firing a low shot into the net for a 2-0 advantage.

“I knew if I hit it hard, it might skip, so I took the chance,” said Feeley.

“Ava’s skilled and dynamic player,” said Higgins. “When she gets a little bit of space and can hit it, she’s accurate. She scored two big ones for us tonight when we needed them.”

The Clippers weren’t finished, as they got the ball back and after Feeley drew the defense, she passed to Harnett, who hit a shot that took a fortuitous bounce off a defender, making Kenney hesitate before diving to her right a split second too late to keep the ball out of the net.

“(That goal) came from the throw-in,” Feeley said. “I knew Parker is so fast and is such a good player and I knew she’d get on to it.”

“Parker’s just dangerous all the time,” Higgins said. “I’m glad I don’t have to game plan against her. She competes. As good as she is on the field, she’s an even better person.”

In a 3-minute, 51-second span, Yarmouth had staggered NYA to the tune of three goals.

“The pressure we put on early changed the game,” Higgins said. “That’s one of our goals is to win balls as far as we can up the field and make the most of our chances. Fortunately, we had a stretch of a few minutes where we could do that and give ourselves some breathing room. We needed that. We lost a lot of offensive firepower from last year, but kids have stepped up. We needed to put a couple in and get some confidence.”

Holt attempted a long shot which sailed wide late in the half and the Clippers were in command at the break.

NYA tried to answer early in the second half and earned a couple corner kicks, but couldn’t generate a shot.

After Kenney kept the Panthers in it by denying Feeley, D’Appolonia and sophomore Kate Sahagian and Harnett missed just wide, NYA spend the final 15 minutes of the game on the attack.

After Holt sent a corner kick through the box untouched, Huntsman nearly put the Panthers on the board, but her shot hit the post.

Finally, with exactly 6 minutes showing, Hutnsman got another chance, as she redirected a free kick from Farrell past Yarmouth freshman Avery Buchanan, who came on late to replace Siegel, to cut the deficit to 3-1.

That goal gave NYA life and the Panthers kept pressuring.

With 3:45 on the clock, junior Jazzy Huntsman had a promising header off a corner kick, but it went just wide.

Then, with 45 seconds to go, Angel Huntsman’s header appeared goal-bound, but Buchanan reached back at the last instant to snare it.

The Clippers were able to run out the clock from there and celebrate a 3-1 victory.

“I think it was pretty tough to hold them off, but we locked it down in the back,” said Feeley.

“We have a veteran group that’s been through some tough situations and they took care of it,” Higgins said.

Yarmouth ended with an 8-2 advantage in shots on frame and got one save from Buchanan.

NYA got five saves from Kenney and had a 6-3 edge in corner kicks.

The Panthers played hard to final horn, pleasing coach Ricky Doyon.

“We had a hard time giving them a couple easy goals, but we made some adjustments and did better,” Doyon said. “We got sloppy early and didn’t read the game well. Those were costly mistakes, but the girls dug deep and came back.

“Playing a team from a bigger class is a good thing. I was looking forward to the game. Yarmouth’s a bigger school, but we have heart and know how to play. I’d love to play Yarmouth again. They’re very good, but when we play our game, I think we can play with any team.”

End of a good thing

Each team is closing in on the end of its abbreviated season.

NYA is at rival Waynflete Friday, then closes at home versus Sacopee Valley Monday.

“It’s been a good season,” Doyon said. “We’ve played some teams we don’t usually play. The girls want to win out. We think we would have had a good opportunity to defend our title.”

Yarmouth is back in action Saturday at Freeport, then closes with home games against Mt. Ararat Tuesday of next week, Cape Elizabeth (Oct. 29) and Greely (Oct. 31).

“I’m so grateful we get to play,” said Feeley. “We want to make the most of it for our seniors.”

“I tell the girls that this is my therapy to come out here for two hours a day and hang out with them,” said Higgins. “We’re competing like it could be over tomorrow. If it is, we want to make sure we leave it all out there. The girls do everything we ask of them and I couldn’t be prouder. They’ve stuck together and stayed positive. We’re going to keep playing hard and send the seniors out on a positive note and get the underclassmen who will be back next year some minutes. I don’t think any of us want to see it end.”

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

Recent Yarmouth-NYA results

2012
@ Yarmouth 2 NYA 0

2011
@ Yarmouth 3 NYA 0

2010
Yarmouth 1 @ NYA 0

2008
Yarmouth 2 @ NYA 0

2007
@ Yarmouth 3 NYA 1

2006
Yarmouth 3 @ NYA 2

2005
@ Yarmouth 3 NYA 0

2003
Yarmouth 3 @ NYA 1

2002
Yarmouth 8 @ NYA 2

2001
@ Yarmouth 0 NYA 0 (tie)

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