North Yarmouth Academy junior Angel Huntsman shields the ball from Yarmouth sophomore Neena Panozzo during Tuesday’s contest. Huntsman scored early, but the game ended in a 1-1 tie. Hoffer photos.

YARMOUTH—North Yarmouth Academy’s girls’ soccer team has run roughshod over the opposition so far this fall and the Panthers were eager to measure themselves against a powerhouse foe when they crossed Route 1 and visited the Yarmouth Clippers Tuesday evening.

And while NYA wasn’t able to bring home a victory, it made a statement nonetheless and earned an abundance of confidence after a strong 90-minute effort against a Clippers squad which continues to play at a high level as well.

The Panthers came out strong and were rewarded in the 15th minute when senior captain Maggie Holt served up a corner kick that found the head of junior Angel Huntsman for a goal and a 1-0 lead.

NYA had chances to add another, but couldn’t do so and clung to that advantage entering the second half.

Then, Yarmouth came to life and with 37:54 remaining in regulation, junior Macy Gilroy set up sophomore Aine Powers for the tying tally.

Neither team could score the rest of regulation or in 10 minutes of overtime and the contest ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Panthers suffered their first blemish of the year but are still 6-0-1, while the Clippers boast a record of 6-1-1.

“It was very exciting,” said NYA coach Ricky Doyon. “We needed this. I’m very pleased. It felt like a playoff atmosphere. I’ve been looking forward to this game. It’s a great rivalry and Yarmouth’s always been on top.”

“(NYA’s) as good as their record indicates,” said Yarmouth coach Andy Higgins. “They’re a phenomenal team and Ricky does a great job with them. I don’t care what class they’re in, they’re as good as anybody we’ve seen this season.”

Soccer-town

NYA and Yarmouth have enjoyed plenty of soccer success over the years, but Tuesday likely marked the teams’ best combined record heading into a meeting.

The Clippers started the year with a 2-0 setback against visiting Cape Elizabeth, the two-time reigning Class B champion, then hit their stride with victories over host Freeport (5-2), at home over York (3-0), at Greely (2-1), at Poland (9-0), at home over Fryeburg Academy (6-0) and at home over Lake Region (7-0) Monday on Senior Night.

The Panthers entered play Tuesday having easily handled their six previous foes. NYA started by blanking visiting Old Orchard Beach (9-0), then downed visiting Richmond and Waynflete by 5-0 margins, defeated visiting St. Dom’s (6-1), then blanked visiting Traip Academy (6-0) and host St. Dom’s (5-0).

Last year, host Yarmouth beat NYA, 3-1.

Tuesday, on a cloudy, autumn-like afternoon (64 degrees at the start), the Panthers sought their first win over the Clippers this century, but had to settle instead for their first result against Yarmouth since a scoreless tie way back on Oct. 4, 2001.

Yarmouth senior Kaitlyn D’Appolonia defends NYA freshman Emily Robbins in the first half.

NYA started fast with a couple corner kicks and shots on goal from senior Jazzy Huntsman (saved by Clippers sophomore goalkeeper Regan Sullivan) and Angel Huntsman (just wide) before it was rewarded with 25:27 remaining in the first half.

The Panthers have perfected the art of scoring off a corner kick and did so again, as Holt served the ball in front and Angel Huntsman headed it past Sullivan for a 1-0 lead.

“A great goal,” said Doyon. “That’s the fourth time we’ve done that this season.”

Yarmouth awakened and tried to answer, but both junior Kate Sahagian and Feeley missed just wide.

NYA then tried to extend its lead, but Sullivan robbed Angel Huntsman before sprawling to deny Huntsman again.

With 9 minutes left in the half, Feeley sent one of her trademark free kicks into the goal, from 35-yards out, but it didn’t count as it came on an indirect kick and no other player touched it first.

Late in the half, Holt was just high with a free kick and had another bid saved by Sullivan.

Feeley then had two golden chances to tie it, the first off a pass from Powers which was denied by Panthers junior goalkeeper Charlotte Harper-Cunningham and a second, with 36 seconds to go, which hit the underside of the crossbar, keeping the score 1-0 at the break.

When the second half began, Feeley didn’t retake the field, as she was sidelined with an apparent leg injury.

Compounding matters for the Clippers, junior Grace Lestage also had to leave momentarily when a ball deflected off her face (she would ultimately return).

Regardless, Yarmouth bounced right back and tied the score with 37:54 to play in regulation.

Off a free kick from the side, Gilroy sent the ball through the box and Powers got to it and sent it into the goal to make it 1-1.

“Our top goal scorer went down, but it’s a testament to the kids how much they fought to get back in it,” said Higgins. “That’s what Aine does. She’s a scorer. Whether it’s soccer or lacrosse, she finds a way to be dangerous.”

“We got on our heels the last 15, 20 minutes of the first half,” Doyon said. “We made some adjustments, but then they scored right away.”

NYA freshman Emily Robbins keeps the ball away from Yarmouth freshman Taylor Oranellas.

That would be it for scoring, but not chances.

With 29:22 left, it was NYA’s turn to be frustrated, as Jazzy Huntsman’s promising blast hit the crossbar and the rebound was cleared.

With 12:40 left, Angel Huntsman took a free kick from 30-yards out, but Sullivan made the save.

With 4:56 to go, Lestage got to a loose ball and had a chance to break the tie, but Harper-Cunningham stood tall.

With just seconds remaining, Holt took a free kick from just outside the box, but sent it high and the contest went to overtime.

The first five-minute, “sudden victory” extra session saw the Panthers threaten, but a cross from Jazzy Huntsman in front was cleared by Yarmouth sophomore back Neena Panozzo and junior Michala Wallace missed wide.

At the other end, Lestage got around a defender and had a chance to end it, but missed just high.

In the second OT, freshman Emily Robbins missed just wide after a rush for NYA and the Clippers had a pair of corner kicks, but the first was headed out and the second deflected to Powers, who missed wide and that ensured the contest would end, 1-1.

“We had our opportunities,” Doyon said. “We have good speed and we owned the outside. We owned the first overtime. I thought we were going to finish it off.”

The Panthers finished with a 9-5 edge in shots on frame and got four saves from Harper-Cunningham.

Yarmouth got eight saves from Sullivan and had a 14-5 advantage in corner kicks.

“For large stretches today, they were just tougher than us,” Higgins said. “They beat us to everything and they competed. They’re a really tough team, a team I’m glad we’re not going to have to see in the postseason. They have some great players. Maggie works so hard. She’s such a competitor. Angel scores goals for a reason. She’s very good and very fast. Neena did a great job with her and the combination of Aine and Grace up top helped her out.

“It was a good test. It’s tough to come back in the afternoon after you play an emotional night game on Senior Night. We got on our heels early, but the girls battled back. We had to battle back a little bit short-handed. In the second half, I thought we took it to them a little bit, but they were still dangerous. We changed some things and the girls responded well.”

Refocusing

NYA looks to return to the win column Saturday, when it plays at Sacopee Valley. Monday brings a trip to Old Orchard Beach.

“We want to keep playing our game,” said Doyon. “We take a lot of good things out of this and we’ll build on it.”

Yarmouth is back in action Thursday at Gray-New Gloucester, then can look ahead to another showdown at Cape Elizabeth, next Tuesday.

“We have a good day of practice coming up, then a tough game at Gray and then we have Cape, so we have to figure some things out,” said Higgins.

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

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