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Cheverus seniors Tanner LaFlamme, left, and Owen Burke celebrate Burke’s go-ahead goal during the Stags’ 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Falmouth Tuesday afternoon.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—In Saturday’s regular season opener, Cheverus’ boys’ soccer team scored first and lost.
Tuesday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, the Stags fell behind visiting Falmouth, 1-0, on sophomore Gus Ford’s goal with 35:35 to play, but this time, it was Cheverus saving its best for last.
Thanks to its skill on set pieces.
First, the Stags drew even with 25:23 to play when senior Tanner LaFlamme scored on a rebound off a corner kick.
Then, with 11:14 to go, again off a corner kick, senior Owen Burke headed the ball into the goal to give Cheverus the lead for good and the Stags went on to a 2-1 victory.
Cheverus evened its record and handed the Yachtsmen a tough defeat in their opener.
“This was a big game for us,” said Stags coach Matt Andreasen. “The guys righted the ship and played with urgency, which was nice to see. This was a big one for us. These (Heal Points) are valuable. We’ll look back on this at the end of the season and feel fortunate.”
Falmouth and Cheverus entered play Tuesday having met just twice previously, on both occasions in Falmouth. In the 2014 Western A quarterfinals, the Stags sprung a 2-1 upset en route to a surprise state title. Last Sept. 5, the host Yachtsmen eked out a 1-0 victory.
This fall, big things are expected of both squads after each reached the playoffs a year ago.
Cheverus got to the Class A South quarterfinals before losing at Gorham, 3-2. The Stags opened the 2018 campaign Saturday with a 2-1 loss at Kennebunk.
Gorham ended Falmouth’s season as well in the semifinals, 1-0.
Tuesday, on a sizzling 82-degree afternoon, the Yachtsmen visited Boulos Stadium for a countable game for the first time, but left on the wrong side of the score after Cheverus made the most of its limited chances.
In the first half, both teams hit the goal foundation and were left frustrated.
In the fifth minute, Falmouth junior Tom Fitzgerald eluded a defender, pulled Cheverus junior goalkeeper Harrison Bell out of the goal then lofted a shot that grazed off the top of the crossbar.
After Bell saved long shots from Fitzgerald and senior Kyle Bouchard, the Stags’ first good chance came off the foot of senior Jack Mullen, but it was denied by Yachtsmen sophomore goalkeeper Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillina.
With 19:06 left in the first half, senior Michael Nason had a great chance to put the hosts on top, as he got the ball after a turnover, but his bid rang off the near post.
Later in the half, Falmouth junior Joseph Dye just missed and sophomore Connor Quiet and Fitzgerald had shots blocked and the game went to the break scoreless.
In the first half, the Yachtsmen had a 3-2 edge in shots and the Stags a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Both teams offenses then showed up in a dramatic second half.
With 38:34 left in regulation, it appeared Falmouth took the lead, as a free kick from sophomore Ben Greene hit the post, Fitzgerald headed a rebound off the post, then after another Fitzgerald header was saved by Bell, junior Nik Hester scored on the rebound, but after the goal was initially allowed, it was waved off as Hester was ruled to be offsides.
“I thought on the header that the guy who finished was offsides,” Andreasen said. “I have good kids. They’re honest. They’re savvy enough to know when someone is offsides.”
The Yachtsmen did go on top with 35:35 on the clock, as Fitzgerald set up Ford on a breakaway. Ford dribbled around Bell, then finished for a 1-0 lead.
That goal awakened the Stags and they fought back.
After a long shot from Burke was saved by Fuentes-Cantillina, a Burke cross was headed away by Ford.
With 25:30 remaining, Cheverus earned a corner kick and seven seconds later, after Nason got a piece of senior Nolan Doherty’s serve, LaFlamme buried a rebound past Fuentes-Cantillina to tie the score, 1-1.
“We have a lot of high IQ players,” Andreasen said. “Tanner’s skill-set you can’t measure in statistics. He anticipated well and was in the right place at the right time.”
Fitzgerald almost put the Yachtsmen back on top with 13:29 remaining, but he missed just wide.
The Stags then counter-attacked and earned another corner kick, which led to the winning tally.
With 11:14 on the clock, Doherty again served the ball into the box where Burke leaped and headed it into the net for a 2-1 lead.
“We stayed on our feet and stayed positive,” Burke said. “We kept pushing and we got the two goals back. It was a great ball by Nolan. I just got up and got my head on it and it got through.”
“Owen is a big target and he’s an aggressive kid,” Andreasen said. “He plays basketball and it was like going for a rebound. Jack did a nice job screening the keeper and we were fortunate. I think the kids were aggressive. They did a good job finding space.”
“We made some young mistakes at bad times,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “That what happens in a first game. Some guys try to do too much or look for someone else to do it. They’ll sort it out.”
Falmouth’s last chance came with just under a minute to go when Fuentes-Cantillina took a long free kick and sent the ball into the box, but Bell punched it away and the Stags went on to the 2-1 victory.
“This was a big win for us,” said Burke. “We needed to bounce back. It lifts us up after our loss. We’re excited. Falmouth’s a great team. We just stayed together. We were a pack. They almost broke us down, but we stayed together.”
“(Dave Halligan’s) probably the greatest coach we’ve ever seen in Maine, so to beat a Halligan-team, that means your team played well,” Andreasen said. “We looked very much like a preseason team against Kennebunk. They’re good. They’re going to surprise a lot of people, but doubt can creep in, even though it’s early.
“We battled back, down a goal against a really good team today. To score twice in the second half and win was good for morale. This is good for our program, to let people know we’ll be around this year.”
Cheverus got eight saves from Bell and held a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks, two of which led to goals.
Falmouth finished with a 9-7 edge in shots and got five saves from Fuentes-Cantillina.
“We hadn’t played in two weeks with the heat and the holiday,” Halligan said. “We possessed the ball and got opportunities, but they were individual opportunities. We were one three-man combination away. We got two, but not three. We were either too early or too late.”
Falmouth has its home opener Saturday against Noble. A trip to defending regional champion Portland follows Tuesday of next week.
“It’s disappointing, but we’ll go back to work,” Halligan said. “We have a lot of new pieces, but they’re good pieces.”
Cheverus remains home Saturday to battle Massabesic. A trip to Bonny Eagle looms Tuesday of next week. The Stags then host Portland two days later.
“We’ll see how we measure up,” Andreasen said. “There’s never a night off in the SMAA.”
Cheverus senior Michael Nason defends Falmouth senior Carl Saba.
Cheverus senior Owen Burke sends the ball on goal.
Falmouth sophomore goalie Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillina makes a save.
Cheverus junior goalkeeper Harrison Bell leaps in vain for a shot that hits the crossbar.
Cheverus junior Ethan Hammond boots the ball.
Falmouth junior Joe Dye boots the ball away from Cheverus senior Michael Nason.
Falmouth sophomore Gus Ford (8) watches his shot roll into the net.
Falmouth junior Josh Lefebvre (10) and sophomore Gus Ford celebrate the Yachtsmen’s lone goal.
Cheverus senior Owen Burke (8) heads the ball into the goal for the game winner.