For Yarmouth High School, that home-field advantage only doubled when Telstar, a team that plays and practices exclusively on grass, is forced to play on a turf field against a heavily favored opponent.
The home turf was kind to the second-seeded Clippers just like it had been during the regular season as they topped seventh-seeded Telstar, 3-0, in a Class C quarterfinal game Tuesday. Yarmouth will host the winner of Lisbon/Dirigo, a game postponed due to rain, on Oct. 28.
“I think it’s an advantage if we’re able to use it,” Yarmouth coach Mandy Lewis said. “It’s one thing we talk about preparing for a game when we know we’re facing a grass team is how can we use our strengths against them? Our passing game was key for us today. The speed we can have with our passing and our sticks down in the circle was definitely something we used today.”
Yarmouth’s speed and passing were on display early. The Clippers forced back-to-back penalty corners within 25 seconds of one another seven minutes into the contest. They didn’t score on their first attempt, but they did on the second. Abby McDowell set the penalty corner in motion by finding senior captain Kallie Hutchinson at the top of the circle. With no defender within five yards of her, Hutchinson blasted the ball past Telstar goalkeeper Meg Glover to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead.
“I was wide open,” Hutchinson said. “That’s the best way to be on a corner and the pass was perfect. When I can see both left and right corner, that’s when you know. I just rip it and hope it goes in.”
As one of three seniors, Hutchinson wasn’t ready to have her career end in the quarterfinals.
“There’s only three of us and we’ve been here since the beginning,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve built this program and we’ve gone from nothing to everything in four short years. I just think we have the ability to use our potential and use the drive we have. Right now we’re fourteen-and-one and that’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also positive pressure because it says we have the ability to do it. I will be very sad when the season ends. I hope we still have another full week and we’ll make it to the final game.”
The Clippers dominated possession in the first half, but the Rebels’ defense held firm to keep them within arm’s length of the lead. But Yarmouth found the back of the net with 3:44 left in the first half to cushion its lead. The Clippers crashed the cage as Telstar’s backs struggled to control a bouncing ball. It found McDowell’s stick and she knocked it home for a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Yarmouth was in full attack mode in the second half, setting up 11 penalty corners in the final 30 minutes. The Clippers had five chances within the first 10 minutes and two more over the next five minutes.
It was the eighth penalty corner of the half that led to Yarmouth’s final goal. Breanna Morrill iced it with a shot into the bottom left corner of the net with 11:12 remaining after receiving a pass from Hutchinson. It seemed fitting for Morrill to ice the game, since she spent the better half of the second half icing her shin when she was hit with a shot in the early part of the second half.
The Clippers held an 8-2 advantage in shots on goal and a 16-4 edge in penalty corners.
Telstar coach Gail Wight said she knew it would have been a tall order for her team to upset the No. 2 seed, especially on turf.
“It’s anybody’s game come playoffs, but it’s hard now that turf comes into play,” Wight said. “I’ve been coaching long enough to know that a turf team has an advantage over a grass team unless you play some of your games on turf. I’m not making an excuse, but it’s a totally different game.”
With the Dirigo/Lisbon game scheduled for Tuesday postponed, the Clippers will have to wait until Friday to know who they will play in the semifinals. What they do know is it will be played on their home turf.