Yarmouth senior Annie Lowenstein battles Kennebunk senior Danielle Gassman for possession of a ground ball during the Rams’ 10-8 victory Friday night. Hoffer photo

BOX SCORE

Kennebunk 10 Yarmouth 8

Y- 4 4- 8
K- 3 7- 10

First half
21:58 K Schwartzman (unassisted)
18:53 K Gassman (free position)
15:06 Y Moll (Thornton)
13:33 Y Lowenstein (Powers)
12:34 Y D’Appolonia (Powers)
31.5 Y Powers (free position)
12.8 K Archibald (free position)

Second half
24:02 Y Lowenstein (unassisted)
21:54 Y Powers (D’Appolonia)
21:02 K Sliwkowski (unassisted)
19:53 Y Bergeron (D’Appolonia)
19:31 K Schwartzman (Sliwkowski)
18:53 K Gassman (Sliwkowski)
17:56 K Schwartzman (Sliwkowski)
14:45 K Schwartzman (Sliwkowski)
6:05 Y Powers (unassisted)
4:30 K Sliwkowski (unassisted)
1:23 K Maloney (Armentrout)

Goals:
Y- Powers 3, Lowenstein 2, Bergeron, D’Appolonia, Moll 1
K- Schwartzman 4, Gassman, Sliwkowski 2, Archibald, Maloney 1

Assists:
Y- D’Appolonia, Powers 2, Thornton 1
K- Sliwkowski 4, Armentrout 1

Draws (Kennebunk, 18-2)
Y- Keaney 1 of 8,, D’Appolonia 1 of 7, Teare 0 of 3, Powers 0 of 2
K- Schwartzman 18 of 20

Ground balls:
Y- 37
K- 35

Turnovers:
Y- 19
K- 21

Shots:
Y- 17
K- 21

Shots on cage:
Y- 13
K- 19

Saves:
Y (Meas) 9
K (Hayes) 5

KENNEBUNK—Lily Schwartzman was tired, soaking wet and caked in mud and dirt at the conclusion of Friday night’s game, but that all took a backseat to her exhilaration and relief.

Schwartzman’s Kennebunk girls’ lacrosse team got pushed to the brink and then some by visiting Yarmouth on a rainy evening and despite twice trailing by three goals in the second half, the Rams showed the heart of the champion they hope to become and they did just enough to remain undefeated in an instant classic.

Kennebunk, which won its first three games by an average of 13 points, got to off to another fast start, as Schwartzman, a senior, and classmate Danielle Gassman scored early goals, but the Clippers, playing just their second countable game, shut down the Rams’ potent offense for over 18 minutes and roared back.

A goal from senior Emma Moll got Yarmouth started and senior Annie Lowenstein tied things up. After junior Katelyn D’Appolonia put the Clippers on top, freshman sensation Aine Powers added a goal with 31.5 seconds to go in the first half, but 19 seconds later, senior Emily Archibald countered with a free position goal for Kennebunk and Yarmouth clung to a 4-3 lead at halftime.

The second half was more of the same.

The Clippers started fast, as Lowenstein and Powers scored for a three-goal lead and after sophomore sensation Ruby Sliwkowski answered for the Rams, D’Appolonia set up sophomore Annie Bergeron for a 7-4 lead with 19:53 remaining.

And then, Schwartzman completely took over, winning every draw the rest of the way and willing her team to victory.

After Schwartzman scored from Sliwkowski in transition, Gassman added a goal and with 17:56 on the clock, Schwartzman (again from Sliwkowski) tied the score.

With 14:46 left, the tandem connected again and Schwartzman’s goal put Kennebunk back on top, 8-7.

Yarmouth refused to buckle and with 6:05 to play, Powers tied the game, but with 4:30 remaining, Sliwkowski weaved through the defense and finished to give the Rams the lead for good.

After Schwartzman won possession again, Kennebunk milked the clock for over three minutes before freshman Ivy Armentrout set up senior Skylar Maloney for a clinching goal and the Rams went on to a 10-8 victory.

Schwartzman had a game-high four goals and also won 18 of her 20 draw opportunities to help Kennebunk improve to 4-0 and in the process, drop the valiant Clippers to 1-1.

“It feels really good to come out on top in the most competitive game we’ve had so far this season,” said Schwartzman, who is bound for Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York next year. “We’ve been preparing for it, mentally and physically, so it feels great to beat such a great opponent like Yarmouth.”

Longtime rivals

Yarmouth and Kennebunk have long been among the best girls’ lacrosse teams in the state and have played some memorable games, including five in the state final.

The Clippers beat the Rams to win championships in 2002 (13-8), 2007 (7-5) and 2015 (11-10, in overtime) and Kennebunk returned the favor in 2016 (9-7) and 2017 (5-4).

The teams are now in different classes, but the rivalry remains strong and the squads always bring out the best in the other.

Yarmouth opened its season Wednesday with a 9-3 victory at Cape Elizabeth.

The Rams, meanwhile, started with a 13-2 win at Cape Elizabeth, then handled visiting Marshwood (14-3) and host Biddeford (19-2).

Yarmouth captured the teams’ most recent meeting, 7-6, May 3, 2019 in Kennebunk.

Friday, on a 57-degree evening with the rain falling from the midway point of the first half on, the Clippers pushed the Rams to the brink, but Kennebunk saved its best for last to stay unblemished.

Yarmouth had the first good look at the goal, but Rams sophomore goalie Lizzie Hayes denied Lowenstein.

Then, with 21:58 to go in the 25-minute first half, Schwartzman opened the scoring, finishing unassisted.

After Sliwkowski had a goal waved off (the officials ruled the ball didn’t go in), Kennebunk doubled its lead with 18:53 on the clock, as Gassman beat Clippers junior goalie Juliet Meas on a free position to make it 2-0.

Meas then turned momentum by twice robbing sophomore Rebecca Taggart on the doorstep and saving a bid from Sliwkowski as well.

Yarmouth got its offense going with 15:06 remaining before halftime, as senior Anna Thornton found Moll in front and Moll finished to cut the deficit in half.

With 13:33 on the clock, the Clippers tied it up.

Powers earned a free position, but instead of taking the shot, the freshman quickly fed Lowenstein, who shot past Hayes before the Rams’ goalie couldn’t respond.

It then took Yarmouth just 59 seconds to go on top for the first time, as Powers set up D’Appolonia for the goal.

Hayes momentarily held the Clippers at bay by saving shots from Lowenstein and Bergeron and after Meas denied Schwartzman on a free position, Yarmouth took a 4-2 lead with 31.5 seconds to go, as Powers finished a free position.

But when it appeared the Clippers were going to take all the momentum to halftime, Schwartzman won the ensuing draw and Kennebunk finally ended its 18-minute, 41-second drought when Archibald scored on a free position with 12.8 seconds left.

Yarmouth took a 4-3 lead at halftime, but it was far from safe.

In the first 25 minutes, Schwartzman won seven of eight draws and each team took nine shots.

The Clippers tried to get some breathing room in the second half, but the Rams refused to let it happen.

Yarmouth needed only 58 seconds to extend its lead, as Hayes stopped a shot from senior Natalie Teare, but Lowenstein was there to pounce on the rebound and finish to make it 5-3.

Then, with 21:54 to play, D’Appolonia found Powers, who scored for a three-goal advantage.

Kennebunk answered 52 seconds later, as Sliwkowski found the sliver of room she needed and worked her way to the goal and finished.

The Clippers came right back and went ahead by three again, 7-4, as D’Appolonia found Bergeron on the doorestep and Bergeron finished with 19:53 to play.

But that’s as good as it would get for the visitors.

Schwartzman won the ensuing draw to Sliwkowki and Sliwkowski got the ball back to Schwartzman, who shot and scored with 19:31 to go.

Schwartzman won the next draw too and with 18:53 left, Sliwkowski found Gassman for a goal which cut the deficit to one and forced Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as again Schwartzman won possession and with 17:56 on the clock, Sliwkowski set up Schwartzman for the tying tally.

Kennebunk then went ahead with 14:46 remaining, as Sliwkowski again found Schwartzman and Schwartzman beat Meas to make it 8-7, the Rams’ first lead since the score was 2-1.

“Ruby and I work well together,” Schwartzman said. “We’re friends on and off the field. That type of chemistry works well together.”

Meas then kept it a one-goal game by robbing Archibald and the Clippers set out to draw even.

They would do so, but it took awhile.

That’s because Hayes saved shots by Lowenstein and Teare.

Then, with 6:05 to play, Powers managed to shoot through traffic and beat Hayes to tie the game for the third and final time, 8-8.

But the Rams wouldn’t buckle.

After Schwartzman won another draw, Gassman had a pair of shots saved by Meas, but Kennebunk got the ball back and Sliwkowski took matters into her own stick, weaving through several defenders before scoring with 4:30 on the clock to put Kennebunk in front for good, 9-8.

After Schwartzman won the ensuing draw, the Rams managed to milk three minutes off the clock before Armentrout spotted a wide-open Maloney in front and Maloney finished for some breathing room.

One more Schwartzman draw win allowed Kennebunk to run out the clock and the Rams were able to celebrate their dramatic 10-8 victory.

“We want the best for ourselves, so we do everything we can to come out with a win in games like this,” said Schwartzman. “We have some younger girls, so it’s been an adjustment. Our freshmen and sophomore players have never seen a varsity game of this caliber. We were a little frazzled, but we shook off those nerves and made sure we played as a team. It was just a case of settling down. Our coaches gave us everything we needed to come out on top. We just had to play the way we know how to play.”

“We dug deep, the seniors held it together and now the younger kids now know what it is to do it,” said Kennebunk’s longtime coach Annie Barker. “We (coaches) learned a lot about them. It was good to see we had the grit. It was really good to have a close game. Yarmouth’s a great team. They’re coached really well. They play the game the way we play the game.”

Schwartzman had a game-high four goals, but that only the beginning of her story. She also shared game-high honors with Sliwkowski for ground balls with eight and was superb in the draw circle, winning 18 of 20 opportunities.

“The biggest thing is just working with the other girls on the circle and trusting each other,” said Schwartzman. “Communication is something we rely on in scenarios like that. I think we’re so unique this year because of the trust we have.”

“Lily winning the draw that many times in a row and having the ball was huge,” Barker said.

Gassman scored twice, Sliwkowski also had two goals, as well as four assists, and Archibald and Maloney added one goal apiece.

Armentrout also had an assist.

Hayes made five saves and got great support from her defense, which came up huge down the stretch.

“I think our defense is one of things that we’ve been most successful with,” Schwartzman said. “We’ve had a few girls move around and our defense is able to adapt. They’re all versatile and they all trust each other. All of our defenders want to come up with those ground balls. We have a sophomore and a junior goalie. They’ve traded off games because we can’t tell who’s better because they’re both so good.”

Kennebunk had a 21-17 edge in shots (19-13 on cage) and overcame 21 turnovers.

“We made several mistakes in a row and we just had to calm down,” Barker said.

Building block

For Yarmouth, Powers paced the offense with three goals and a pair of assists. Lowenstein added two goals, while Bergeron, D’Appolonia and Moll finished with one apiece.

D’Appolonia also had a pair of assists while Thornton added one.

The Clippers had a 37-35 edge in ground balls (Thornton had a team-high six, while Bergeron, D’Appolonia, Lowenstein and senior Maddie Marston all finished with five) and committed 19 turnovers.

Meas stopped nine shots.

“There’s nothing to hang our heads about,” said Holt. “I was super-impressed with how my team played. It was fun to play a game like that. We love the rain. I think we did a lot of good things. Everyone stepped into their role. This was game two and it was a game. Kennebunk’s a great team and I think we showed poise. We had it. They were nervous. We can play with them. We just had too many turnovers and couldn’t get the ball.

“Our defense was rock solid. (Senior) Lizzie (Guertler) and Maddie were incredible. (Seniors) Eleanor (Donahue) and Kathryn (Keaney) are holding their own. I couldn’t ask anything more of Juliet. She’s making huge saves and that’s credit to our defense cutting down the angles. They all played a fabulous game. Almost every shot was contested.”

A new month

Kennebunk looks to keep the good times rolling Monday at Portland. The Rams then visit South Portland next Friday. Kennebunk does have potential tests down the road, as it hosts Windham and goes to Massabesic and Falmouth (for a rematch of the 2019 Class A Final, won by the Yachtsmen).

‘We want games like this,” Schwartzman said. “We want to play the Yarmouths and the Falmouths and the Windhams because they prepare us. We can use games like this to our advantage. We’ll have other close games. Lessons we can learn from tough opponents will make us a tougher team overall.”

‘We’ll just keep growing from here,” Barker said. “We’ll keep putting the pieces together. We’ll use this to move forward.”

The Clippers continue their season opening road tour by visiting Waynflete Monday. Yarmouth finally plays at home Wednesday when Greely pays a visit.

“We take nothing but good things from this one,” Holt said. “I’d love 10 more games like this. We need to get a little grittier on ground balls and work on the draw. We need to work on some shot selection and turnovers.

“Now, we get to play some rivals and we finally get to play at home. We’ll have some fun. We’re feeling so good about just being able to play and being together. The girls are working hard and I can’t ask for anything more.

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

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