YARMOUTH—North Yarmouth Academy’s girls’ soccer program has enjoyed no shortage of glorious moments over the years, as 10 Gold Balls would attest, but try as they might, the Panthers had never been able to solve crosstown rival Yarmouth.

Until Thursday afternoon at Lewis Field.

NYA, the three-time reigning Class D champion, nearly beat the Clippers a year ago before settling for a tie and this time around, the Panthers weren’t willing to settle for anything short of victory.

In the 14th minute, senior standout Angel Huntsman sent a long pass ahead to classmate Anna Belleau who scored to put NYA ahead to stay.

Seven minutes later, Huntsman finished herself, eluding several defenders along the way to make it 2-0.

Not surprisingly, Yarmouth answered, as its senior star, Boston College-bound Ava Feeley, scored with 13:21 to go in the first half, but the game turned for good 23 seconds later, when senior Leah Dube scored a stunning goal for a 3-1 halftime lead.

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Instead of sitting on the advantage, the Panthers continued to attack in the second half and were rewarded with 26:43 remaining, when sophomore Emily Robbins produced a beautiful goal off a free kick.

NYA’s defense and junior goalkeeper Sarah Moore locked it down from there and the end result was an historic 4-1 victory.

The Panthers improved to 5-0, extended their three-year unbeaten streak to 25 games, dropped the Clippers to 4-2 and in the process, authored arguably the finest regular season victory in program history.

“This is big,” said NYA coach Ricky Doyon. “It’s awesome, it really is. The girls played really well today and we played an excellent team. We got the bounces and we took advantage of our opportunities.”

Friendly neighborhood get-together

Yarmouth and NYA have long excelled in their respective classes, with the Clippers capturing four Class B crowns and the Panthers seven titles in Class C and the past three in Class D.

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A year ago, Yarmouth lost to Cape Elizabeth in the Class B South Final while NYA was in the process of its three-peat and early that season, the teams produced a memorable 1-1 draw on the Clippers’ home turf. That marked the first time in 20 years that the Panthers had gotten a result against Yarmouth and was part of an undefeated campaign.

Both squads have excelled in the early going this fall.

NYA beat host Old Orchard Beach in its opener, 4-1, then blanked visiting Richmond (8-0) and won at St. Dom’s (5-1) and Traip Academy (2-0).

Yarmouth started with a 2-1 loss at Cape Elizabeth, then blanked visiting Freeport (3-0), downed host York (2-0), edged visiting Greely (3-2) and handled visiting Poland (8-2).

Thursday, on a chilly (58 degrees) afternoon, the game began in light rain and ended with sun shining upon the turf and upon the Panthers.

The Clippers had the first chances, but crosses from senior Grace Lestage and junior Aine Powers sat free before being cleared.

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NYA then tilted the field and got a great look off a corner kick, when Robbins sent the ball into the box to junior Hayden Wienckowski, who was robbed by Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Regan Sullivan, setting up another corner kick.

This time, Robbins’ serve came in front to Huntsman, who fired what looked to be a sure goal, but Clippers senior back Nori Schneider was in the right spot to sweep the ball away.

After Huntsman set up Wienckowski for a shot which went just wide, the Panthers broke through.

The goal was set up by Huntsman, who sent a long pass ahead to Belleau, who had a step on the defense. At first, it appeared Sullivan would win the race to the ball, but just before the sliding keeper got there, Belleau one-timed it past her and into the net for a 1-0 lead with 26:28 left in the first half.

“It was great to get off to that fast start,” Belleau said. “We were hyped. Angel set me up with a long ball. I was determined to get there. That was big.”

“Anna’s fast,” said Doyon. “All our mids are fast. That goal set the tone.”

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Yarmouth hoped to answer, but Moore saved a one-timer off the foot of senior Macy Gilroy and a high lofting shot from sophomore Taylor Oranellas.

Then, with 19:35 left in the half, Huntsman took center-stage.

Huntsman, one of the state’s elite three-sport athletes regardless of class, got the ball in the middle, dribbled around a couple defenders, then fired a hard shot that Sullivan couldn’t stop and the lead was 2-0.

“I was just mad,” said Huntsman, who also is an elite point guard in basketball and was part of a lacrosse state championship team last spring. “When I’m mad, I have to go. I’m mad that they’re Class B and we’re Class D. I have a chip on my shoulder. I play mad all the time.”

“Angel and Michala (Wallace) awo big seniors, not in stature, but in play for sure,” Doyon said. “Angel’s all about leadership and she hates to lose. She wants to play well and wants to hold the team accountable to play well.”

The Clippers, who were without coach Andy Higgins, who missed the game due to illness, refused to buckle and were able to answer.

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After Moore denied Powers and Lestage, Feeley cut the deficit in half with 13:21 on the clock, taking a pass from junior Kadin Davoren, pushing it past a defender with a beautiful first touch, then launching a low shot that Moore couldn’t handle and just like that, the score was 2-1.

For all of 23 seconds.

Undaunted, NYA immediately restored its two-goal bulge, as Wienckowski sent a long pass ahead to Dube, who went one-on-one with Sullivan and beat her with 12:58 remaining in the half.

“It was important to get that goal,” Dube said. “That was a team effort. Hayden tapped it out to me and gave me the opportunity. I was just thinking, ‘I better make this or my team’s going to mad at me.'”

“The big thing when they got their goal, we got one right back,” said Doyon. “That kept us going.”

Late in the half, Feeley tried three times in 90 seconds to rally the Clippers, but her first shot went just wide, the second sailed just high and the third went wide as well.

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With 15 seconds left, Gilroy served the ball toward Feeley in the box, but sophomore back Ella Giguere cleared it away and Powers tried a shot just before the horn, but Moore saved it and NYA took a 3-1 advantage to the half.

Prior to the start of the second half, Doyon made it clear that he wasn’t going to change the Panthers’ approach and he didn’t want to sit on the lead.

“Coach just wanted us to act like it was 0-0,” Robbins said. “We knew they could come back. They’re a good team.”

“Even at halftime, being ahead by two goals, we knew we’d pay for it if we sat back, so I told them to keep attacking,” Doyon said.

Sure enough, Yarmouth came out strong after the half, but Moore saved a shot from Powers, Feeley redirected a Gilroy corner kick just high, a Gilroy free kick was saved and Feeley missed just wide.

With 26:43 to play, NYA earned a free kick just outside the box and Robbins did the honors, striking the ball perfectly, sailing it over the defensive wall and over Sullivan’s outstretched hand as well into the net to make it 4-1 Panthers.

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“I was afraid I was going to miss it,” Robbins said. “I just took a second and looked at the goal and kicked it.”

“Emily’s got a great shot and she wanted it,” Doyon said. “I’m glad she did.”

Down the stretch, Moore broke up a long feed from Feeley to Gilroy, Moore juggled, then saved a long shot from sophomore Eleanor Ting, then Moore made two more saves on Feeley shots.

The clock hit 0:00 at 5:35 p.m., and NYA rushed the field to celebrate its biggest win to date and a program first.

Senior Anna Belleau and her teammates rush the field for the victory celebration. Hoffer photo.

“I came in here last year not knowing the reputation Yarmouth had, but it’s great to beat them, especially on our field,” said Belleau.

“This shows us we can do anything if we all put our minds to it and work as a team,” Dube said.

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“Every year I’ve been here, it’s either a tie or a loss by one against Yarmouth,” Huntsman said. “It’s always been close. Senior year, I wanted to finish off with a win, so it feels great. We had to have it this year.”

“Everything went to plan,” Doyon added. “We were fired up. I wanted to stay up with them and see what happens and we got a couple in early. I could tell during warmup that this was going to be our game.”

Moore excelled with 13 saves and NYA’s defense, led by senior Vy Tran’s effort marking Feeley, stood tall.

“We assigned Vy to shut (Ava) down and she did an amazing job,” Huntsman said. “The defense really stepped up today.”

“Sarah did a great job in goal,” Doyon said. “We won the middle of the field and controlled play. Obviously, Ava is outstanding and we got away of our normal play of attacking with our outside backs, but we had speed up top and control in the middle.”

Yarmouth finished with a 14-8 advantage in shots on frame, a 4-2 edge in corner kicks and got four saves from Sullivan.

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Another day, another game

Both teams immediately return to action Friday.

Yarmouth travels to Fryeburg Academy Friday, then goes to Lake Region Tuesday of next week.

NYA welcomes Waynflete, then goes to Richmond Wednesday of next week.

“We have to keep our intensity,” Huntsman said. “Every game is a new game, so we have to play our hardest.”

“This is an exciting win, but we have a new game tomorrow against our rival and just because we beat Yarmouth doesn’t mean we’ll beat Waynflete,” Robbins said.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Doyon added. “We’re playing a tough team tomorrow. I told the girls to enjoy tonight, then we’re starting back over tomorrow. We wanted to beat Yarmouth and same thing, we want to beat Waynflete.”

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

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