AUBURN—Mission almost accomplished.

Because there’s one more massive mountain to climb.

The Yarmouth/Freeport co-op girls’ hockey team played like the champion it hopes to become Tuesday evening in the North Region Final at the Norway Savings Bank Arena, avenging a loss from two weeks ago in the process.

The top-ranked Clippers figured to get a test from the second-seeded Penobscot Pioneers, a co-op made up of players from Bangor, Brewer, Hampden Academy, Hermon, John Bapst, Old Town and Orono, but they had the answers when it mattered most.

Yarmouth/Freeport, which lost at home to the Pioneers two weeks ago, got the all-important first goal at 8:23 of the first period, as junior Emma White scored from senior Sophie Smith.

With Clippers freshman goalie Lexi Wiles holding her own against the Pioneers, senior Isabel Peters scored less than two minutes into the second period to double the lead.


Penobscot then had an apparent goal waved off, but the Pioneers fought hard to the end and with 3:12 remaining, made things most interesting, when junior standout Jordin Williams scored, but Yarmouth/Freeport wasn’t about to be denied and with 36.6 seconds left, sophomore Adelaide Strout clinched it with an empty net goal and the Clippers prevailed, 3-1.

Yarmouth/Freeport got 20 saves from Wiles, goals from three different players and won its second straight regional crown, improved to 17-4, ended Penobscot’s fine season at 16-5 and in the process, advanced to the state final Saturday at 6:10 p.m. in Auburn versus either reigning state champion Cheverus (16-1) or Gorham (14-6).

“It feels great,” said White. “This was a big goal of ours and we knew we could do it. Coming off a loss last time, we were ready. We have a huge team atmosphere and that played a huge role.”

Single purpose

Yarmouth/Freeport was exceptional in 2022-23, posting the best record in program history (17-4) and getting all the way to the state final before dropping a close 3-2 decision to Cheverus.

This season, Yarmouth/Freeport has been nearly as strong (see sidebar for links to previous stories), losing only to Cheverus (while also handing it its only loss), the Portland/South Portland/Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete co-op team, Brunswick and Penobscot, while winning its other 14 outings.


Yarmouth/Freeport earned the top seed in the North region for the second year in a row and advanced by virtue of wins over No. 8 Mt. Ararat (9-1) and No. 5 Winslow (7-1).

“We really rebuilt and worked on our chemistry and came together and now, we’re here,” Peters said. “Our two towns have meshed together well. We’re all such good friends and I think that shows on the ice.”

Penobscot, a regional finalist last winter, also went 14-4 this season and as the second seed, advanced by downing No. 7 Edward Little (12-3) in the quarterfinals and third-ranked Brunswick (3-0) in the semifinals.

The teams split two regular season meetings, which came over an eight-day span in late January. Yarmouth/Freeport won on the road, 6-5, then the Pioneers returned the favor in Yarmouth, 4-1.

The teams’ lone prior playoff encounter came in last year’s regional final, a 3-1 Yarmouth/Freeport victory.

Tuesday’s game, in front of a large and vocal crowd, wound up with the same result, but the Clippers couldn’t exhale until the final horn.


Yarmouth/Freeport came out strong, testing Penobscot sophomore Abbie Derosier early, but Derosier stopped shots from Peters, Strout and senior Rosie Panenka.

The Pioneers then got a great chance, but Wiles stood tall to deny freshman Ella Davis after a turnover.

After Strout ripped a shot off the post, Yarmouth/Freeport went on top to stay at the 8:23 mark of the first period, as Smith, near the boards, sent the puck to White, who ripped a one-timer past Derosier and just inside the near post for a 1-0 advantage.

“Coming out quickly was important,” said White. “It was a big goal of ours. We wanted to set the tone. Sophie got me the puck. We’ve talked all season about taking quick shots. I shot it and hoped it went in. It was exciting to score that first goal.”

“We came out super-strong and fast and showed them who we are as a team,” Peters said.

Both teams had chances late in the first period, but Wiles denied senior Kaylin Morrison, Williams and senior Meghan Delahanty, while at the other end, Derosier stopped a pair of bids from Panenka to keep the score 1-0.


The Clippers then doubled their lead at 1:54 of the second period, as junior Drea Rideout had a shot saved, but Peters was there to finish.

“It just tipped off the goalie and I was on the back corner to put it in,” Peters said.

“Tonight, we got a couple goals early and we held it,” said Yarmouth/Freeport coach Dave Intraversato. “The way that second goal was scored was beautiful. It pumped the girls up because it was so pretty.”

After Wiles dove to deny Delahanty, the Clippers then had consecutive power play opportunities to really open the game up, but despite shots from Strout and Panenka on the first chance and bids from Strout, senior Amanda Panciocco and Smith on the second, a goal wasn’t to be.

Penobscot then went on the power play, but Wiles saved shots from senior Anna Molloy, Delahanty and junior Paige Oakes.

At 9:04, the Pioneers appeared to break through, as Williams raced up the ice as only she can, turned the corner on a defender, got Wiles moving, then tucked the puck into the net while falling.


But after a discussion, it was ruled that the net was dislodged and the goal was disallowed.

Which was a huge change in momentum.

“That put it into perspective for us that we had to keep up the intensity and get another (goal),” Peters said.

Penobscot did get to go on the power play again, but Wiles stood tall, saving bids from Molloy, Davis, Williams and Molloy again.

“That was a great break for us,” said Intraversato. “It was no goal and we killed the penalty.”

Late in the period, Wiles saved a shot from Delahanty and freshman defender Erica O’Connor was there to clear the rebound.


Wiles then denied Molloy and as time wound down, a Williams rush was broken up by senior Ella Zur Muhlen to allow the Clippers to preserve their two-goal advantage heading into intermission.

Yarmouth/Freeport came out in the third period hoping to score a third goal and essentially put it away, but Derosier stopped shots from Panenka, Smith, Strout, Panenka again, Rideout and sophomore Celia Zinman.

After Wiles kept the lead at two by denying Oakes, Molloy, junior Delaney Carr (with sophomore Sophie White clearing the rebound) and sophomore Bella Saucier, the Pioneers called timeout with 3:21 remaining.

And whatever coach Jarrod Williams said worked like a charm, as nine seconds later, Jordin Williams fought through traffic before finally finding the net to make things most interesting.

Intraversato then immediately called timeout to calm his players.

Penobscot had two looks to tie the score, but Delahanty, after taking a pass from Williams, was denied by Wiles’ blocker, then with Derosier pulled for a 6-on-5 advantage, Williams had a shot saved and Zur Muhlen cleared the rebound.


Yarmouth/Freeport then put the wraps on its victory, as Strout won possession of the puck and fought her way up the left side, turned the corner and sent the puck into the empty net with just 36.6 seconds remaining.

“I was just trying to get out of the zone,” Strout said. “I saw my chance to score and took it. I just did it for our team. I wanted our team to go further.”

“I saw (Adelaide) getting closer to the goal and I knew we had it,” Peters said.

“Adelaide helps us every game,” said Emma White. “She’s so strong. I trust her with the puck.”

“There’s no one I wanted with the puck on her stick in situation more than Adelaide,” Intraversato added. “I knew she’d power her way out of the zone.”

The Clippers ran down the clock from there and at 8:32 p.m., got to celebrate their 3-1 triumph.


“It feels great,” Strout said. “It’s the second one in the books for us. We put all our effort into it. Coach just told us to play our best. We did that and I’m really happy. It was a team show. I’m happy for the seniors. We came in not being cocky. Our seniors helped the younger players lighten up.”

“We knew it would be a challenge,” said Intraversato. “They have some talented skaters over there who can move and they’re snipers. I had so much confidence in our five defenders. We roll them out there every single game. They know who they’re playing with. We just executed better tonight. We had a lot of turnovers last game and we didn’t do great killing penalties.

“It’s been really hard. Our schedule was tough this year. We played the top teams twice. We had some exhibition games against top New Hampshire teams. We really tested ourselves to get ready for this.”

Yarmouth/Freeport had a slight 22-21 advantage in shots on goal and got 20 saves from Wiles, who didn’t even play hockey until this year.

“Our freshman goalie is insane,” Emma White said. “We love her. She’s a bundle of joy and she never gets down on herself and carried us through this one.”

“I love Lexi, she’s amazing,” Strout said. “She’s done so well. It’s so nice to know she’s back there behind me and she can stop the puck.”


“Lexi keeps us in every game,” said Peters. “She has such a positive attitude. We’re lucky to have her.”

“Lexi came up huge tonight,” Intraversato added. “We talk about how a good offense starts with a good defense. We knew we had to take the puck away from them before we could do anything.”

While Panenka didn’t score, Intraversato singled her out for praise following the win.

“Rosie was just unbelievable tonight,” he said. “She was all over the ice. Out there every shift, playing with her heart. It’s hard to stop her when she gets going.”

The last step’s a huge one

Yarmouth/Freeport split with Cheverus this year, losing on the road, 3-0, Dec. 9 and prevailing at home Jan. 12, 2-1. Last year’s state game showdown was the lone prior playoff meeting between the teams.


Yarmouth/Freeport twice beat Gorham this season, 6-5 on the road Dec. 6 and and 5-0 at home Jan. 15. The teams have no postseason history.

Regardless of which team the Clippers see Saturday night, they know they’ll have to be on their game to capture the first championship in program history.

“I think we’re just going to out and do the same thing we did here,” said Strout. “It’s going to be fun and hopefully, we’ll bring it home.”

“We’re super-excited,” Peters said. “It should be a good game coming up, but I hope it’s a different outcome this time. We’ll keep working on our chemistry and I think if we play our game, we can come out with a win.”

“I think we can do it,” said Emma White. “Trust, confidence, work ethic. Coach says that constantly. We’ll be ready for it.”

“We have to get (a goal) early,” added Intraversato. “We want to score, then play defense. This is where we want to be.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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