YARMOUTH—After having to come from behind to beat Freeport in both regular season meetings, Yarmouth’s girls’ soccer team ensured that wouldn’t happen again in the squads’ Class B South quarterfinal Wednesday evening.

That’s because if don’t concede a goal, you don’t have to rally.

The second-ranked Clippers shut down the seventh-seeded Falcons’ attack and while it was a frustrating night for Yarmouth’s offense as well, junior standout Ava Feeley scored late in the first half and that was enough to produce a 1-0 victory.

The Clippers improved to 14-1-1, ended Freeport’s season at 8-8 and in the process, advanced to host either No. 3 Medomak Valley (13-2) or No. 6 Wells (9-5-1) in the semifinal round Saturday at 1 p.m.

“This was a tough matchup,” said Yarmouth coach Andy Higgins. “We felt like after we played them last time that it wasn’t one of our best showings and we had some unfinished business we needed to take care of.”

Familiarity

Normally the No. 2 seed provides for a relatively easy/favorable quarterfinal round matchup, but Yarmouth couldn’t have been too pleased when the final standings revealed that it was on a collision course with a Freeport team which gave it fits during the regular season.

The Clippers were able to take both meetings, but had to rally each time, first erasing a two-goal deficit with five unanswered tallies, then coming back to win again after tying it late, then scoring in overtime.

Yarmouth started the year with a 2-0 setback against visiting Cape Elizabeth, 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). After settling for a 1-1 home tie against two-time reigning Class D champion North Yarmouth Academy, Yarmouth blanked host Gray-New Gloucester, 3-0, then rallied to shock host Cape Elizabeth, 3-2, with three straight second half goals. After edging visiting Freeport, 3-2, in OT, the Clippers closed by sandwiching shutout wins at York (1-0) and Wells (3-0) around a 5-1 home victory over Greely.

Yarmouth took care of No. 15 Poland in Friday’s preliminary round, 6-0.

Freeport, meanwhile, began with home losses to York (2-1) and Yarmouth (5-2) and a 3-0 setback at Greely, then blanked visiting Lake Region (7-0). After a 2-0 home loss to Cape Elizabeth, the Falcons rattled off four straight victories, 4-0 at Fryeburg Academy, 1-0 at Gray-New Gloucester, 7-1 at home over Fryeburg Academy and 2-0 at home over Wells before losing at York, 3-0, and for a second time to host Yarmouth (3-2, in overtime). After a 2-1 home win over Greely and a 4-2 victory at Poland, Freeport closed with a 4-0 loss at Cape Elizabeth.

Saturday, in the preliminary round, the Falcons eliminated 10th-ranked Gardiner, 4-0.

The Clippers were 2-1 all-time versus the Falcons in the playoffs, with a 3-2 victory in the 2018 Class B South quarterfinals the most recent.

Wednesday, Yarmouth was able to advance, but it took 80 minutes of hard work to do so.

Freeport senior Helen Pope kicks the ball away from Yarmouth freshman Taylor Oranellas during the Clippers’ 2-1 win in Wednesday’s Class B South semifinals. Hoffer photo.

The Clippers had the first chance when junior Macy Gilroy launched a nice cross which Freeport sophomore goalkeeper Amanda Panciocco knocked away.

In the 15th minute, the Falcons nearly got the jump on a shot from senior Ellie Whittier, but Yarmouth sophomore keeper Regan Sullivan dove and made the stop.

After Feeley missed just wide for the Clippers, Freeport junior Emily Olsen took a 25-yard free kick which Sullivan stopped.

Late in the half, after Feeley twice missed wide, Yarmouth earned a corner kick and struck.

Gilroy served the ball in beautifully and with 1:39 on the clock, Feeley ran on to the ball and banged it home for a 1-0 lead.

“That goal was super-big,” Feeley said. “It set the tone for the next half. It brought everybody up. We always know there are more opportunities coming, but it was nice to get that one. All the balls Macy plays in are perfect. She’s so good at taking corners. I knew the placement was perfect so I just had to get a foot on it.”

“The first goal is huge, especially in the playoffs, and the later it comes, the tighter you get, so that was a huge momentum shift,” Higgins said. “We were able to take a deep breath. That was a great kick. Macy played it well and Ava just shook off her defender. That was Ava being Ava in a big moment. It’s been great to see her grow from a freshman to now and she’s elevated herself to one of the best goal-scorers around. She has the numbers, but she doesn’t care about her numbers and that’s Ava being Ava too.”

Shots and corner kicks were even in the first half and there wasn’t much separation in the second half either.

Early in the half, Yarmouth looked to double its lead, but after taking a pass from junior Grace Lestage, Gilroy missed just wide, then sophomore Aine Powers crossed the ball off a Falcons defender, but Panciocco got to the ball just in time.

With 34:22 remaining, sophomore Rosie Panenka fired a blast from up top for Freeport, but Sullivan went sprawling to make the save.

With 30 minutes left, Feeley came within inches of scoring for the second time, as she took a pass from Gilroy, drew Panciocco out, then fired a shot over the keeper, but it rang off the crossbar and Panciocco fell on the rebound.

“The wind definitely was a big aspect of today’s game,” said Feeley.

With 26:52 to go, the Falcons got a corner kick, but Sullivan caught it.

A minute later, Freeport got another corner, but the ball was cleared.

With 7:39 left, in transition, sophomore Pearl Peterson had a good look for the visitors, but Sullivan denied her.

The Falcons got one more corner kick opportunity with under four minutes remaining, but the serve sailed behind the goal.

With 3:15 left, Whittier crossed the ball after a turnover, but there was no one there to receive it and the ball was cleared.

Yarmouth then ran out the clock and celebrated its 1-0 victory.

“We know the rankings don’t show who a team is,” said Clippers senior standout Katelyn D’Appolonia, who helped anchor the defense. “We never underestimate Freeport. We expected them to come out hard and they did and it was a tight game the whole time. It was tough to hold them off, but we stayed compact and connected and communicated. They’re fast in transition, which was hard on us, but we held them off.”

“The kids battled all the way through,” Higgins said. “They had us on our heels at the start a little bit. We wanted to limit their set pieces and corners. It was pretty nerve-wracking when they got what they got.”

Shots on frame ended 6-6. Sullivan made six saves for Yarmouth, while Panciocco stopped five shots for Freeport, which had a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.

“This was a heartbreaker,” said Falcons coach Dave Intraversato. “These kids came so far. I’m so proud of them. We always have to go through Yarmouth to get to Cape, or go through Cape to get to Yarmouth, but we feel comfortable playing here. The kids aren’t scared to come here. Yarmouth’s good. They have good players and they’re tough. I put girls in different places today than they’ve played before and they answered the call. It looked like Yarmouth packed it in pretty tight in the box. We should have taken longer shots. I’ll stay up all night thinking about that.”

Freeport will return a lot of talent in 2022 and could make an even deeper run.

“I think next year will be a different story,” Intraversato said. “We’re heavy with sophomores on this team. I’m confident we’ll be back next year and will have a higher seed.”

Not looking ahead…Sort of

Yarmouth wasn’t sure of its semifinal opponent at press time. The Clippers won their finale at Wells, 3-0 and are 2-1 all-time versus Wells in the playoffs, with a 1-0 win in the 2017 Class B South quarterfinals the most recent. Yarmouth beat Medomak Valley in the teams’ lone prior playoff meeting, 2-0, in the 2019 Class B South semifinals. The teams don’t play in the regular season.

If the Clippers can find a way to advance, a highly-coveted showdown with top-ranked Cape Elizabeth could be the reward.

“We’ve made it really far,” said Feeley. “We have a great group this year.”

“We just have to come out and practice hard tomorrow and Friday,” D’Appolonia said. “We don’t know who we’re going to play, but we just need to come out like we do every time. I’d love to play Cape again, especially as a senior. They’ve always been my favorite team to play. Every year it’s tight between us. It would be a dream come true to play them again.”

“Now, we’ll get ready for who’s next,” Higgins added. “We have to keep working hard. We have tighten things up. We can’t concede any goals and we have to make the most of of our chances. We love playing at home and we’re psyched to be here one more game.”

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

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