Yarmouth, Greely split soccer twinbill
YARMOUTH—Two of the state's premier soccer schools met for a pair of games on the turf of Yarmouth High Thursday evening.
When all was said and done, each school had something to brag about.
The boys' contest came first and the defending Class B champion Clippers parlayed two early goals into a 2-0 victory, leaving them and the Rangers at 1-2 in the early going.
The girls' game went better for Greely as it displayed its myriad weapons and went on to a 2-1 triumph, which made the Rangers 3-0 and dropped Yarmouth to 0-3.
Not much separation
The boys' game came first and as expected and as is usually the case, it was close and entertaining.
Coming in, Greely and Yarmouth had played 20 times since 2001, with each team winning on eight occasions, with the other four games ending in a tie.
The Clippers had won the prior six, however, including 4-3 and 3-0 triumphs in 2010. The Rangers' last win over Yarmouth came Oct. 10, 2007 (1-0 at home).
The Clippers entered the game reeling as a combination of graduation and injuries left the squad with far less firepower than previous editions. In the opener, Sept. 2, Yarmouth at home to Cape Elizabeth, 2-1, its first regular season loss since Sept. 27, 2008 (1-0 at home to Falmouth) and its first in any game since Nov. 4, 2009 (3-0 to Falmouth in the Western B Final). Tuesday, the Clippers went to dangerous York and again fell by a 2-1 score.
Greely, meanwhile, opened with a 2-1 double-overtime home loss to York, then triumphed, 4-0, at Poland Tuesday.
This time around, Yarmouth came out full of intensity and rode that emotion, as well as a nice combination of senior and underclassmen contributions, to a victory.
A little over three minutes in, senior Ryan Maguire set the tone with a vicious left-footed blast that had more movement than a Tim Wakefield knuckleball and forced Rangers' junior goalkeeper Elijah Leveritt to knock it out of bounds, setting up a corner kick. The Clippers wouldn't convert, but did take a 1-0 lead later in the half.
With 24:57 to go in the 40-minute first half, Maguire did the honors, taking a picture perfect feed from junior Griffin O'Rourke and one-timing a shot with his powerful left foot into the net to break the ice.
"Both our games we played this year, we got off to terrible starts," Maguire said. "We weren't bringing it early. This game was a little different. We were playing for the seven players who are injured. It helped us. I think it was a key to winning today, getting at it early.
"Griffin O'Rourke played it down the wing. He's been playing great. He didn't play varsity last year, but I've been thrilled with his effort. He didn't give up on the ball, persevered and crossed it and it fell right to my left foot and I just volleyed it one time. Just like we practice. I have to give him credit. It was perfect placement. He made it happen."
Greely nearly answered 2 minutes, 22 seconds later when senior Will McAdoo fed junior Nicholas Shain for a great look at the goal. His left-footed shot was to the left of Yarmouth senior keeper Chris Knaub, but rattled harmlessly off the right post.
The Clippers pounced again with 18:20 left in the half and doubled their lead thanks to a stellar effort from some youngsters.
Sophomore Wes Crawford got things started, sending a pass to freshman Nate Gallagher who lofted a shot over Leverett that appeared ticketed for the net. At the last minute, sophomore Travis Hamre raced in and banged home his varsity goal and Yarmouth was in command with a 2-0 advantage.
"The freshman, Nate, in his first varsity minutes, battled and got space to get a beautiful cross and I just finished it," Hamre said. "He did most of the work. It felt pretty great. I played first team last year, so it's a good change of pace. We have a lot of young guys who haven't played varsity before. We just had to get used to the pace. I've played so many positions, it's almost ridiculous. Coach has moved everyone around and we've been adaptive."
The Rangers had a 3-1 edge in corner kicks in the first 40 minutes and had their share of possession and opportunities, but were in a deep hole.
The second half was more even and Greely looked to cut into the deficit.
With 30:15 to play, sophomore Ted Hart chased after sophomore Matt Crowley's nice through-ball, but Knaub got there first.
Six minutes later, Hart looked to make another rush, but Clippers' senior Sam Torres, playing the unfamiliar role of sweeper, was there to knock the ball away.
"I played defense in middle school and premier," Torres said. "It's a natural spot for me. I'm doing what the team needs. Whatever the team needs, I'll do it. The team needs wins. We make adjustments throughout the game, whatever we need."
With 23:03 to go, junior Benjamin Giffard fed the ball toward the right post, but it barely eluded a couple of charging teammates and went out of bounds.
With 11:42 showing, Greely's last, best chance came when senior Gavin Collins served a free kick and Hart unleashed a shot, but Knaub was there to deny it.
Yarmouth took care of business from there and went on to the 2-0 triumph, answering the bell and getting in the win column.
"It was tough to start 0-2, especially losing to Cape at home," Torres said. "It was a tough start, Cape, York and Greely. We knew it would be hard. We'll see them again. A lot of people were doubting us and we used that as motivation. We're playing through injuries, but people are stepping up every game. We're working hard and we'll just get better.
"Our mindset in this game was to come out hard and get off to a good start. A given in every single game is to outwork our opponent. Everyone works hard, but we want to outwork our opponent and the soccer will take care of itself. It seems like every single game we lose someone, but we have other kids step up, like (freshman Adam) LaBrie, Travis Hamre and (junior Ethan) Cyr coming in and playing good D. (Senior Alex) Kurtz coming out in his first year, playing hard."
"We hadn't lost a regular season game in two straight years," Maguire said. "Coming off last season, it was a bit of a shocker, but we kept up our intensity and our effort. The first three games were tough, but I think this is a good momentum shift."
Longtime Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty had much to praise.
"I was saying before the game that I'm the happiest 0-2 coach you'll ever meet," he said. "It was a tough open. Boom, boom, boom with (Cape Elizabeth, York and Greely). Except for the first half against Cape, we really played well. The kids have done a lot of things right, but they're just young. They work really hard. We decided a couple games ago with all the injuries we have to play as many bodies as we can to stay fresh. What we're lacking in skill at this point, we're making up for in effort.
"It wasn't as clean a game as we'd like technically. The pressure created turnovers and chances to counterattack. (Ryan's) dangerous from almost any range. He's just finally getting back in shape. Knaub's as good as it gets back there. The other senior who's really stepped up is Peter Zeitz. He's doing a nice job. He can sneak up and steal the ball. I'm pleased with the effort and really proud of them.
"The younger kids have to play big roles. Travis played three different positions tonight. (Junior) Michael Smith played two different positions. Ryan and (sophomore) David Murphy played two different positions. Ethan Cyr and (junior) Mark Brown took turns trying to match up with (Greely's) top midfielder. It was lovely to see that much work."
Greely will learn from the loss and move on.
"I thought it was a fairly played game," said Rangers' coach Mike Andreasen. The game was even, we just made, I thought, two mistakes in the back. where we didn't give depth and Yarmouth made us pay. We played OK. A decent game, but two mistakes against Yarmouth usually means a loss."
Greely returns to action Saturday at home versus Fryeburg. The Rangers travel to York Monday and then have games at home against Cape Elizabeth, Freeport and Yarmouth (Sept. 22).
As for the Clippers, their brutal early season slate eases for the time being as they don't play again until Wednesday, at home versus Fryeburg, then get Freeport two days later. Look for Yarmouth to keep improving.
"It all counts in October," Hamre said. "In September, we just have to jell as a team."
"As long as we maintain this effort, I think we'll get cleaner, Hagerty said. "The multi-sport athletes will play soccer by October and hopefully we'll get some injured kids back.
"Greely will get better. They have young kids working hard. In two weeks, when we play over there, I'm guessing it will be a one-goal game."
Taking care of business
The girls' matchup hasn't been as even over the past decade as Greely had a 12-2 edge with five ties dating back to September of 2001. Last year, Yarmouth won at home in overtime, 2-1, but the Rangers answered with a 1-0 home triumph in the regular season finale.
Greely has sizzled in the early going, blanking host Wells (9-0) and visiting Poland (7-0) in its initial outings.
Yarmouth, meanwhile, entered 0-2 after a 4-0 setback at Cape Elizabeth and a hard-fought 2-1 home loss to York Tuesday.
Those trends continued Thursday, but the result was in doubt until the final horn.
The Rangers took the lead for good in the 18th minute on a picture-perfect combination.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Graham played a through ball to senior tri-captain Libby Thomas and Thomas fired a shot that Clippers' junior goalkeeper Claire King slowed, but couldn't stop and when it tickled the twine, Greely had a 1-0 advantage.
"It was a fantastic ball from Kaitlyn Graham," said Thomas. "Coach has been pulling for me to make that weakside run. It's kind of been frustrating, because I didn't always get the ball, but it was perfect. She split the defenders. I took a few touches and luckily hit it hard enough to get it in. We came out strong and played the right way."
With 10:14 to go in the first half, Thomas almost doubled the Rangers' lead, but King robbed her point blank.
Greely would get some breathing room early in the second half.
Three minutes after a long bid from senior tri-captain Parolin went high, she was able to finish. The play started on a rush up the right side by junior standout Sammi Toorish. Toorish's cross came to Parolin and the captain fired a shot that deflected home for a 2-0 lead.
"Technically, it hit off the other defender, but I put pressure on them," Parolin said. "It was a great run from Sammi. Getting the ball and putting it across and I just happened to be there."
To its credit, Yarmouth didn't go quietly.
With 26:53 left, junior Tess Merrill broke in on goal, but Greely's senior keeper (and the other tri-captain) Lindsey Arsenault managed to get a hand on the ball and make the save. With 7 minutes to go, senior Ricki Pierce perfectly placed a high free kick which appeared ticketed for the goal, but Arsneault punched it away, leading to a corner kick that didn't result in anything.
"I had a few big saves, not a lot," Arsenault said. "You have to work when the big saves come. The defense has been working well with me. I was nervous at the beginning and worked hard in warmups. I had to stay focused and confident."
The hosts finally broke through with 1:04 remaining as Pierce set up junior Olivia Conrad for a shot that got past Arsneault, suddenly making it a 2-1 game.
"I almost got a hand on it, but I didn't," lamented Arsenault, making her first start after junior Caton Beaulieu played the first two games. "It went under my hand."
The Rangers, however, would close the game out from there to stay perfect on the young season.
"I absolutely love this team," Parolin said. "We have great leaders. There are five seniors and we all connect so well. I think it trickles down to the team. We have two strong freshmen. Everyone is working hard to get better. It really shows on the field. I think we've done a really good job so far."
"It's what we needed," said Greely coach Michael Kennedy. "That first half showed we hadn't played a competitive game since we won the Challenge Cup on this field at the end of the summer. It's what I thought would happen on fast turf. The speed of the ball hurt us and the quality of opponent showed. We tried to go out and score 14 goals. Our goals tend to come off of very thoughtful buildup and are well-constructed. We played our game in the second half. We moved the ball. Sammi and Audrey and Libby got more involved and that made the difference for us. That's our game. I wanted Lindsey to get a shutout. It was unfortunate. It's a good win for us. We needed a test.
"The seniors are awesome. We're a lot calmer this year. There isn't a lot of stress. They love to play in the system. The three captains are awesome. We're a pretty confident team. We're playing well. This is a good learning experience. My first year was with this senior group. I'm very close with them. Every game is a different milestone. It's such a special group."
Yarmouth is 0-3, but all is not lost for the Clippers.
"I'm not disappointed," said longtime Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. "We have a few things figured out as to who plays where and who will do the scoring. That kind of stuff. We're moving forward and it'll be OK. It's a tough start with the three tough teams at the beginning of the year. We had some things to figure out and Greely might be the best of the three teams so far."
The Clippers' schedule eases going forward. They're next at Fryeburg Wednesday. A home game versus Lake Region follows before Yarmouth goes to Greely in two weeks.
"The next games are an opportunity to see how much we've improved," Smith said.
As for Greely, it has another tough test Monday when it hosts perennial power (and often thorn in the Rangers' side) York. Next Friday, the Rangers go to resurgent Cape Elizabeth.
"We always have a rough game with York," said Parolin. "It's very physical. Strange things happen. I love those games because it's also about skill and who has the most heart. York always brings it. They're extremely fast up top and move the ball around well. It'll be a test for us. I'm excited going into that game."
"There's always room for improvement," said Thomas. "If you look at our first half, our touches were off. We're always looking to get better. We all work well together."
"We have some adjustments to make," Kennedy added. "Last year at this time, we'd won our first two games by 16, then lost three in a row. I told the girls not to get too big in the head and that we had to get some grind-em-out wins. I'm happy we got this one. It's a good start. York is always a battle. They've turned into a big rival. We played two great ties with them last year."