Yarmouth boys hold off Cape to extend streaks

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Yarmouth senior Jack Jones jumps for joy after senior Eric LaBrie (23) scores a second half goal during the Clippers’ 2-1 come-from-behind home win over Cape Elizabeth Tuesday night.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—As the gold standard in Maine boys’ soccer, the Yarmouth Clippers know that they’ll get their opposition’s best effort night after night and for 160 minutes this fall, the Clippers have been pushed and pushed hard.

But Yarmouth keeps pushing back.

And the Clippers keep winning.

Tuesday evening, Yarmouth hosted Cape Elizabeth, perhaps the squad best equipped to end the Clippers’ run of four consecutive Class B state championships, and when Capers senior standout John O’Connor completed a terrific individual effort and scored with 19 seconds left on the first half clock, Yarmouth found itself down by a goal.

But as they did in a 4-1 win at York to start the year, the Clippers rallied.

Less than five minutes into the second half, senior Michael Guertler crossed the ball to senior star Eric LaBrie, who headed it into the net to tie the score.

Then, with 32:17 remaining, sophomore Cam Merrill got through the defense before setting up LaBrie in front and LaBrie finished to put Yarmouth on top.

Cape Elizabeth nearly tied the score late, but the Clippers were able to hold on and prevail, 2-1.

Yarmouth improved to 2-0 on the season, stretched its three-year win streak to 25 games, its unbeaten streak to 32, beat the Capers for the 11th consecutive time and improved to 15-0-1 in the teams’ last 16 meetings.

“Coach (Mike Hagerty) said at halftime that (the Capers) were everything we expected,” said LaBrie. “We just had to play our game.”

Winners

Yarmouth has been rewriting the boys’ soccer record books. Last year’s state title, the program’s record-tying (for a big school) fourth in a row, made it 12 overall, which put the Clippers atop the heap.

Yarmouth hasn’t lost a game since Sept. 24, 2016 (5-3 to visiting Falmouth), hasn’t lost a game to a Class B foe since Sept. 9, 2014 (1-0 to Greely) and entered Tuesday’s contest having won 24 straight overall and being unbeaten in 31 consecutive contests.

That includes Friday’s season-opening win at York, where the Clippers scored three second half goals.

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, got to the semifinals a year ago before losing to York in penalty kicks. The Capers opened their 2018 campaign with a scoreless home tie against Greely Friday.

Entering play Tuesday, Yarmouth had beaten Cape Elizabeth in 10 straight meetings, including a pair of 2-1 victories a year ago, and was 14-0-1 against the Capers in the teams’ past 15 meetings (see sidebar below).

This time around, on a pleasant evening (72-degrees at kickoff), Cape Elizabeth nearly ended the Clippers’ streaks, but the defending champions managed to dig deep and do what they always seem to do.

Win.

LaBrie had a pair of nice chances in the opening minutes of the contest, but his header off a throw from junior Aidan Hickey was saved by Capers senior goalkeeper Harry Baker and LaBrie’s shot on a rush was also turned aside by Baker.

After senior Jack Romano missed just wide for the hosts, the Capers nearly broke through, as junior Jonas Moon’s rush was broken up and senior Phil Tarling’s rebound attempt was blocked.

After Yarmouth senior Jack Jones got his head on a corner kick only to have Baker make the stop, LaBrie set up Jones with a cross right in front, but a Cape Elizabeth defender was able to clear the ball away at the last second.

The game appeared destined to go to half scoreless, but with 19.1 seconds remaining, O’Connor, getting a step on three defenders, managed to loft the ball over junior goalkeeper Isaac Owen and into the net to put the Capers on top. Junior Jack Dresser was credited with an assist.

“I think there was just a little mis-communication between our backs and we gave him a little open opportunity to capitalize,” Hickey said. “He’s really talented. Definitely their best player. You can’t give him space.”

“We didn’t play a horrible first half, you just can’t give one of the best players in the state time and space,” Hagerty said. “We needed to put pressure on him, but give him credit. It was a great goal.”

Yarmouth could have put its head down, but instead, the Clippers entered the second half determined to rally.

Just 4 minutes, 52 seconds in, the hosts pulled even, as Guertler played the ball around a defender to the right side, then crossed it right on to the head of LaBrie, who flicked the ball past Baker inside the back post to tie the score, 1-1.

“I saw when (Michael) was going to cross it and jumped out, said LaBrie. “I was just trying to get my head on it and put it on frame.”

“LaBrie was alone a lot in the first half, so we wanted to make sure we partnered him up with somebody,” Hagerty said. “We added a body up there to give him someone to play off of. (Michael) put it in a great spot and Eric knew to get to the back post. He did a really nice job making that run.”

The go-ahead tally was set up by Merrill, who made a great move around a defender before dribbling up the end line and serving the ball to LaBrie, who just had to steer it past Baker for a 2-1 advantage.

“I was just there waiting,” said LaBrie. “Everyone was crashing the front post and I was just there.”

“Coach said we didn’t have a bad (first) half, so we needed to come out with more intensity and move the ball and play as a team,” Hickey said. “We needed to play feet and not play their game of kicking it around. (LaBrie’s) so good. It’s so helpful to have him on our team. He can beat three guys, serve a beautiful ball. He makes it look so easy.”

“Cam has that burst and we just need to see it more,” Hagerty added. “We’re glad that he’s getting a chance to play with (sophomore) Ian LaBrie out.”

Cape Elizabeth refused to go quietly, as senior Nick Aceto had a shot saved by Owen and O’Connor took a free kick, which was blocked.

With 14:05 on the clock, the Capers believed they earned the equalizer, as O’Connor served a free kick into the box and when Yarmouth couldn’t clear the ball, a shot was taken which Owen saved, but a rebound rolled toward the goal line. Hickey cleared it, but the visitors believed they had tied the score.

“I thought the ball was over the line,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “We’ll know when we see the film. It looked like it crossed the line to me, but I didn’t have the best view. The kids reacted, so that’s usually something. Who knows?”

Not surprisingly, the Clippers viewed the play differently.

“That wasn’t a goal,” Hickey said. “I was the one who cleared it. I was just there at the right time. They headed it, it hit off a player and went to one of their guy’s feet, he hit it, it was rolling in and I cleared it and we hit it out of bounds.”

“Aidan said he cleared it before it crossed the line,” Hagerty said. “We didn’t clear the ball. Isaac made a terrific first save, then they got it. It was just a scrum. We have to get better defending set pieces.”

After O’Connor just missed on a long free kick in the 68th minute (after which Owen was replaced in goal by junior Spencer King), the Capers earned one final chance, but a corner kick off the foot of junior Killian Lathrop was snared by King and the Clippers closed out their 2-1 victory.

“We’re really young,” Hagerty said. “We didn’t have more than three seniors on the field ever and sometimes just one. A lot of sophomores and juniors got minutes tonight.”

Yarmouth had a 4-3 edge in shots on frame and got two saves from Owen. The Clippers took three corner kicks to one for Cape Elizabeth.

Baker made two saves for the Capers.

“We played really well at times,” Raymond said. “We fought hard and should be proud of that. They had a few more opportunities than we did. It took us awhile to get started. The second half was pretty even. They’re dangerous, obviously, but we had possession and got opportunities. They have good players and scored good goals. I can’t fault the competitive effort.”

Long road ahead

Cape Elizabeth hopes to get in the win column Thursday when it visits Fryeburg Academy. The Capers return home Saturday to meet York and also host Wells Tuesday of next week.

“We have areas we need to continue to work on,” Raymond said. “Communication and other things. We have anticipate a little bit more. Again, it’s our second game. It’ll take us some time to figure it out. I don’t expect either team to be the same when we play again (Sept. 29). I’d expect both teams to be better.”

Yarmouth looks to keep its good times rolling Saturday at Greely. The Clippers host resurgent Freeport Tuesday.

“I think we have a good team and we’ll keep improving,” said Hickey. “We’re very young and we’ll get past those bumps. There’s pressure, but Coach doesn’t talk about winning championships. He says if we play our best soccer, the winning will take care of itself. We just need to keep playing as a team and we’ll get to where we want to be.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Yarmouth senior Eric LaBrie gets past Cape Elizabeth junior Jack Dresser.

Yarmouth junior goalie Isaac Owen boots the ball.

Yarmouth junior John Clinton and Cape Elizabeth senior John O’Connor go skyward to reach the ball.

Cape Elizabeth senior Sam Dresser rushes out in an attempt to stop Yarmouth senior Eric LaBrie.

Yarmouth junior John Clinton plays the ball away from Cape Elizabeth senior Nick Aceto.

Cape Elizabeth senior goalkeeper Harry Baker gets to the ball a split second before Yarmouth senior Jack Jones as Capers junior Charlie Dall looks on.

Yarmouth senior Michael Guertler is defended by Cape Elizabeth senior Nick Aceto.

Cape Elizabeth senior goalie Harry Baker leaps in vain for Yarmouth senior Eric LaBrie’s goal as Clippers junior Aidan Hickey (5) and sophomore Will Dickinson (55) look on.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth results

2017
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 1
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2016
@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 2

2015
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
Class B South quarterfinal
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0

2014
@ Yarmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 3
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1 

2013
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (OT)
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 3 (tie)
Western B semifinals
@ Yarmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 0

2012
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2011
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2010
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 1

2009
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)

2008
@ Yarmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 1

2007
@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 1

2006
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2005
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)

2004
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2003
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2002
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

2001
@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 1

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.