BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 13 Greely 8

G- 4 4- 8
Y- 7 6- 13

First half
21:15 Y Teare (unassisted)
19:26 G Dean-Muncie (free position)
17:30 Y Powers (free position)
13:37 Y Bergeron (unassisted)
12:32 Y Powers (unassisted)
12:03 G Dean-Muncie (C. Taylor)
10:05 Y D’Appolonia (Thornton)
7:45 G Dennen (Dean-Muncie)
4:24 G C. Taylor (free position)
3:32 Y Powers (Thornton)
1:40 Y Powers (unassisted)

Second half
24:12 G Goldburg (unassisted)
23:25 G Goldburg (unassisted)
21:06 Y Lowenstein (free position)
15:38 G A. Taylor (free position)
14:34 Y Lowenstein (free position)
12:23 Y D’Appolonia (free position)
7:23 Y D’Appolonia (free position)
6:41 Y D’Appolonia (unassisted)
5:33 Y Teare (D’Appolonia)
4:34 G Goldburg (free position)

Goals:
G- Goldburg 3, Dean-Muncie 2, Dennen, A. Taylor, C. Taylor 1
Y- D’Appolonia, Powers 4, Lowenstein, Teare 2, Bergeron 1

Assists:
G- Dean-Muncie, C. Taylor 1
Y- Thornton 2, D’Appolonia 1

Draws (Yarmouth, 12-11)
G- Goldburg 11 of 23
Y- Lowenstein 7 of 13, D’Appolonia 4 of 6, Thornton 1 of 4

Ground balls:
G- 30
Y- 38

Turnovers:
G- 17
Y- 13

Shots:
G- 19
Y- 25

Shots on cage:
G- 17
Y- 20

Saves:
G (Perfetti) 7
Y (Meas) 9

PORTLAND—This time, Yarmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team wouldn’t be denied.

And even though the top-ranked Clippers got pushed by second-seeded Greely for most of Saturday morning’s Class B state final at Fitzpatrick Stadium, they never let the Rangers catch up or go ahead and with the championship hanging in the balance, two of best players on the team, and in the state, came up huge to help Yarmouth enjoy a long overdue celebration and coronation.

The Clippers, the clear favorite in Class B since day one, went up early on a goal from senior Natalie Teare, but Greely tied it when senior Elsa Dean-Muncie converted a free position.

Yarmouth’s freshman sensation, Aine Powers, then took over, sandwiching goals around one from sophomore Annie Bergeron to make it 4-1.

After Dean-Muncie and Clippers junior standout Katelyn D’Appolonia traded goals, sophomores Lauren Dennen and Charlotte Taylor scored to pull the Rangers within one, but late in the half, Powers scored twice more and Yarmouth took a 7-4 advantage to the half.

Greely senior star Samantha Goldburg then took over early in the second half, scoring twice in a 47-second span to make it a one-goal game again.

Clippers senior standout Annie Lowenstein then scored on a free position, but with 15:38 to go, senior Abby Taylor converted a free position to make it a one-goal game once more.

But that’s as close as the Rangers would get.

After Lowenstein scored her second goal on a free position, D’Appolonia scored twice on free positions, then added another goal after a great individual effort to open it up.

Teare scored one final goal for Yarmouth and while Goldburg answered, Greely could draw no closer and the Clippers went on to a 13-8 victory.

D’Appolonia and Powers both scored four goals as Yarmouth capped its season on a 13-game surge, finished 14-1, ended the Rangers’ fine season at 12-4 and in the process, won its first Class B title since 2015 and the program’s eighth overall.

“The girls worked really hard,” said longtime Clippers coach Dorothy Holt, who won her 188th game and sixth title in her tenure. “As coaches, we gave them the recipe and they had to execute. Everybody, all 25 of them, stood in there and performed when they needed to.”

Monkey off the back

Yarmouth won back-to-back Class B titles in 2014 and 2015, but has fallen agonizingly short every year since, including a triple-overtime loss to Cape Elizabeth in 2019. After having no season at all in 2020, the Clippers came into the 2021 campaign looking to return to the pinnacle.

And they were nearly perfect in the regular season, losing only by two goals at undefeated Class A champion Kennebunk, while beating their other 11 foes by a composite 143-64, to earn the top seed in Class B yet again (see sidebar, for links to previous game stories).

Yarmouth figured to get tested by guess who, No. 9 Cape Elizabeth, in the state quarterfinals, but instead, rolled to a 17-4 victory. In the state semifinals, the Clippers eliminated No. 4 York, 19-8.

As for Greely, it won its first two games, then lost decisively to Falmouth and Yarmouth before closing on a 7-1 surge, losing only at home to Yarmouth by two goals while making a powerful statement with wins over Cape Elizabeth, Freeport, Lake Region and Scarborough.

As the No. 2 seed in Class B, the Rangers blanked No. 15 Westbrook, 15-0, in the state preliminary round, raced to a 10-0 halftime lead en route to an 11-2 victory over No. 7 Brunswick in the quarterfinals, then punched their state game ticket Wednesday with a 14-3 victory over third-ranked Messalonskee in the semifinals.

The teams had met just once previously in the playoffs and never before in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era. Back in the 1997 Division II semifinals, Greely edged Yarmouth, 6-5.

The Rangers played in one of their three state games that year, losing to Waynflete ((see sidebar for state game previous results). Greely’s lone title came the year before and its last appearance came in 2000.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, was taking part in its 18th state final (dating to 1993) and entered 7-10.

Saturday, on a beautiful morning (66-degrees at the start and only getting hotter from there), the Clippers faced some anxious moments, but responded like the champions they deservedly became.

Despite having never played on the big stage, the Rangers came out confident, as Goldburg won the opening draw, then got a great look 49 seconds in, but her shot hit the post.

Yarmouth then went on on the attack and with 21:15 to play in the first half, Teare scored unassisted to break the ice.

Clippers junior goalie Juliet Meas saved a Goldburg shot, but with 19:26 to go, Dean-Muncie was awarded a free position shot and beat Meas to tie it up.

Yarmouth would answer with 17:30 on the clock, as Powers, who had a freshman season to remember, scored on a free position shot of her own to put the Clippers ahead to stay.

“I was so nervous,” Powers said. “It was hard to sleep last night, but it’s just a game, so we had the right mentality. That goal felt so good. It got me started.”

Goldburg looked to tie it, but missed wide and with 13:37 remaining in the half, Bergeron, after forcing a turnover, raced in one-on-one on Greely senior goalie Hannah Perfetti and finished for a 3-1 lead.

A mere 65 seconds later, Powers scored for the second time, as her shot deflected off a stick and in to make it a three-goal game, forcing Rangers coach Becca Koelker to call timeout.

Greely quickly responded, as Charlotte Taylor set up Dean-Muncie for a goal with 12:03 on the clock, but with 10:05 remaining, senior Anna Thornton found D’Appolonia in front and D’Appolonia sent a low, back-handed shot into the goal for a 5-2 advantage.

The Rangers would answer, as after Meas saved a shot from Charlotte Taylor, Dean-Muncie fed Dennen for a goal with 7:45 left before halftime.

After Perfetti robbed Thornton at one end, Greely pulled within one, as Charlotte Taylor scored on a free position shot with 4:24 remaining, pulling the Rangers within 5-4.

But the rest of the half would belong to Yarmouth, as Thornton set up Powers for a goal 52 seconds later and after Perfetti denied D’Apponia, Powers scored unassisted, her fourth goal, with 1:40 on the clock to extend the lead to 7-4.

“The connection from my teammates, I couldn’t have done it without them,” Powers said. “Their support is amazing.”

“Aine is amazing,” said Lowenstein. “She has skill and I love how she’s confident despite her age. She knows she’s a trusted player and she can put the ball in the back of the net. She really steps up in big games.”

“We’ve had conversations with Aine to keep her calm, but when you have that supporting cast, Katelyn and Natalie and Anna and all of them, feeding you the ball, how can you not score?” Holt added.

The Clippers nearly added another goal before the break, but Bergeron had a shot saved, then took another shot which hit the post before D’Appolonia missed wide in the waning seconds.

Yarmouth had a slim edge in draws and shots in the first half, but wasn’t able to put Greely away.

And the Rangers roared back to start the second half.

Forty-eight seconds in, after winning the draw, Goldburg scored unassisted.

Goldburg won the next draw as well and with 23:25 remaining, Goldburg scored another unassisted goal and just like that, Greely was only down by one, 7-6.

“We needed Sam to step up in the second half,” Koelker said. “She’s our leader. She can change momentum of a game. She came up big-time.”

The Clippers didn’t buckle, as after D’Appolonia missed just wide and Teare had a shot saved, Lowenstein, who didn’t attempt a shot in the first half, earned a free position and with 21:06 to go, beat Perfetti to push the lead back to two.

The goal was the 100th of Lowenstein’s high school career.

In just three seasons.

“(That goal) was a relief,” said Lowenstein. “I tune the whole world out when I’m playing.”

“Annie played the role of a feeder in the first half, then we spoke to her and told her it was time for her to score,” Holt said.

Yarmouth nearly got another goal seconds later, but Thornton missed wide and Bergeron hit the post again.

Then, with 15:38 on the clock, Abby Taylor’s free position goal pulled the Rangers within once again.

But again, the Clippers countered, as Lowenstein won the draw and with 14:34 left, she earned another free position and scored for a little breathing room.

“I’m not somebody you’d expect to do well on the draw,” Lowenstein said. “I’m shorter, I have a lower center of gravity and going up a taller, skilled player like Samantha, I almost put her in a position where she doesn’t like to be. I’m low and she had to come down to me to keep our sticks level.”

“Halfway through the season, Annie asked for a shot on draws,” Holt said. “We have such quick reaction on the circle. Annie’s first twitch is great and we knew if we could get the ball outside the circle, we could get possession.”

Dean-Muncie tried to answer, but Meas made the save and with 12:23 to go, D’Appolonia earned a free position and scored to make it 10-7.

Meas denied freshman Eva Williams and Dean-Muncie hit the post and after running some time off the clock, Yarmouth went back on the attack and with 7:23 to play, D’Appolonia scored on another free position.

“We practice free positions every day,” D’Appolonia said. “We know they’re key goals to get. If we don’t feel confident, we pull the ball out and settle it and move it around because we want to get a good shot off.”

Lowenstein won the ensuing draw and the Clippers prepared to milk some time off the clock, but D’Appolonia saw a sliver of space and that’s all she needed, as she cut through the defense and scored unassisted for the veritable dagger and a 12-7 advantage.

“Katelyn can do it all,” Holt said. ‘She reads it, she sees it, she’s calm, cool and collected. She’s very understated. She’s going to go places. I’m super-proud of her. She’s a silent leader, but she’s so encouraging to everyone on the team.”

Yarmouth scored once more, as D’Appolonia set up Teare with 5:33 to play.

“We played our game,” said Lowenstein. “We didn’t let the opponent get into our head. We play Yarmouth lacrosse and that makes us such a threat. It was important to not only keep the lead, but when they scored, not to put our heads down.”

Fifty nine seconds later, Goldburg scored on a free position, but after forcing a turnover, the Clippers were able to run out the clock and at 11:34 a.m., they celebrated their long coveted championship.

“I’ve never been so happy,” said Lowenstein. “We worked so hard this season knowing we had such a huge senior class and we’ve had the stress of losing two (championship) games before this. Getting one to go our way is incredible. It’s incredible for us to give to Dorothy, for Dorothy to give to us, for us to give to our parents, who come to every single game. We felt some pressure, but we were confident and we took comfort in the fact that we were here together. Our team is like no other team I’ve been on. There’s so much love, trust, compassion and support all around.

“It’s hard work to stall. It’s the most intense part of lacrosse, seeing where an open player is, knowing where to go, where to be off-ball. In the end, we did what we needed to do. In past years, sometimes the stall didn’t work. Today, it was a perfect stall.”

“It’s unbelievable, such an adrenaline rush, especially after (losing) my freshman year,” said D’Appolonia. “We were able to pick it up and prevail. We managed to keep the lead the whole time. That was extremely important. We stayed strong. We pumped each other up in timeouts and on the field. Even when Greely scored, we just kept up our pace and kept it going. This team is just unbelievable. Other teams have come close, but this team is awesome.”

“It feels so good,” said Powers. “The seniors who didn’t get a season last year really earned this. I’m so happy for them. It was a team effort and we played hard to the end.”

“It feels amazing,” said senior defender Kathryn Keaney. “We wanted this really badly. We were really determined. The seniors knew this was our last shot to prove ourselves. I was nervous, but I had my other defenders around me supporting me. We knew we had to keep our heads up and keep the lead.”

“We were so blessed to have this season,” Holt added. “I have to say thank you to the (Maine Principals’ Association) and the officials. It was their grit and determination that allowed this to culminate. We cherished every moment we were together. We knew Greely is tough and well-coached. We knew it would be a good game. The girls finally settled down. I’d have loved to have seen what our 2020 team could have done. This win was for them and for us.”

Yarmouth’s scoring balance has been a critical component to its success all season and its final game was no exception as six girls played a role in scoring goals.

D’Appolonia finished with four goals and an assist and Powers also tickled the twine on four occasions.

Teare scored twice in her swan song, while Lowenstein, who is off to play next year at Bates College, had two goals of her own and was a difference-maker in the draw circle.

Bergeron also scored a goal, while Thornton finished with a pair of assists.

“We knew they might face-guard Aine or Annie and we worked on that,” Holt said. “We had a few different tools we could use and mixed things up. When you have so many shooters, you can’t target one.”

Meas capped her strong season by making nine saves.

“Juliet was on fire, making some key saves,” Holt said.

Meas got plenty of help from a strong defense.

“The defense, Kathryn, (seniors) Lizzie (Guertler) and Maddie (Marston) and Eleanor (Donahue) have jelled the past few weeks and their communication was spot-on. I was really proud of them.”

The Clippers won 12 of 23 draws, enjoyed a 38-30 advantage on ground balls (D’Appolonia and Thornton shared game-high honors with seven apiece), had a 25-19 edge in shots (20-17 on cage) and only turned the ball over 13 times.

A run to remember

For Greely, Goldburg scored three goals, Dean-Muncie added two and Dennen, Abby Taylor and Charlotte Taylor each finished with one.

Dean-Muncie and Charlotte Taylor also had one assist apiece.

Perfetti made seven saves.

Williams had a team-high six ground balls, while Abby Taylor collected five.

The Rangers turned the ball over 17 times.

“I thought we played well with (Yarmouth) for about 80 percent of the game,” Koelker said. “It felt like it was close and we were in it until about the 10-minute mark. They’re a perennial powerhouse and they’re well-coached, but today, I think the biggest difference was they took care of the little things better than we did. We talked about possession, but we had too many turnovers and they took advantage.

“I’m so proud of the girls. For us to be so young and to overcome quarantine and injuries, they’ve done more for this program than any other team. They have so much to be proud of.”

Greely graduates six seniors, including Dean-Muncie, Goldburg, Perfetti and Abby Taylor, but now that they’ve come this far, rest assured that the 2022 Rangers will want to return and finish the job.

“The seniors were really influential,” Koelker said. “They worked so hard to get here. There’s no group that deserves it more than these guys.

“We have lots of good young players coming up. Work starts tomorrow. I think watching the other team celebrate with the trophy is a good motivator.”

All A’s in 2022?

Yarmouth’s senior class won a state title and easily could have ended up with two or even three. That group made one of the finest seasons in program history possible.

“We have so many seniors and they’re all such great leaders,” D’Appolonia said. “All the underclassmen look up to them on and off the field. They played an important role for us.”

“I’ve learned so much from the seniors,” Powers said.” My lacrosse IQ and ability has stepped up so much playing with them. They’re really good players. It’s so fun to play with them at this level.”

“This team is in the top three I’ve coached for sure and we’ll lose a lot,” Holt added.

The 2022 team will start with a nucleus of Bergeron, D’Appolonia, Meas and Powers. Look for several of this season’s role players to step into bigger roles and newcomers to quickly make a name for themselves.

The Clippers plan to move to Class A and that will make it even more challenging to capture another championship.

“I want to do it again so badly,” Powers said. “I think we can do it if we really put our minds to it.”

“Our underclassmen are very strong and we have some good freshmen,” D’Appolonia said. “I’m excited for the incoming class as well. It’s going to be a great year next year too.”

“I think we’re going to move up to Class A,” Holt added. “We’d rather play the best teams. The next couple years will be rebuilding, but these underclassmen are amazing and their learning curve is quick. We’re really lucky.”

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

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