Falmouth and Greely fit to be tied

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FALMOUTH—There was no shortage of firepower on the field Saturday evening at Falmouth High School, but the host Yachtsmen and visiting Greely Rangers weren’t able to produce any offense in an early season boys’ soccer showdown.

The Rangers, who not only won a Class B state title a year ago, but swept Falmouth for the first time this century in the process, couldn’t generate many chances, despite several corner kick opportunities, as junior standout Jacob Nason was held in check by the Yachtsmen’s defense.

Falmouth, meanwhile, did knock loudly at the goal, especially late in regulation, but Greely wouldn’t budge and after 80 scoreless minutes it was on to overtime.

Where 10 more minutes resolved absolutely nothing.

After Yachtsmen junior star Luke Velas had a late free kick blocked, the clock ran out and the ancient rivals were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw.

Both teams are now 2-0-1 on the young season.

“I can’t fault the effort,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “I would have liked a better result. It’s something we can build on. Some of our young players made young mistakes and some of our veteran players made young mistakes. That’s why we play teams like Greely, Cape, Yarmouth and York. It helps us get better by the end of the season.”

“Falmouth’s a good team,” said Greely’s veteran coach, Mike Andreasen. “Last year, we were a little better. They returned a lot more than we did. I think we handled what they threw at us fairly well.”

Neighbors and rivals

Falmouth and Greely had passed their first two tests.

The Yachtsmen held off visiting Gray-New Gloucester in their opener, 2-0, then won at Kennebunk Tuesday, 4-1.

The Rangers opened their title defense with a 4-0 victory at Fryeburg, then made an early statement with a 1-0 win at Yarmouth Tuesday in a rematch of last year’s regional final.

Falmouth and Greely are longtime foes and always produce entertaining contests. Entering Saturday, since the start of the 2001 season, the Yachtsmen had won 15 of 26 meetings against Greely, with the Rangers prevailing six times and five of those contests ending in draws (please see sidebar, below).

Last fall, Greely swept, winning 3-0 at Falmouth and 2-1 at home.

This time around, there was no separation and not a single goal to be found.

Both teams played it safe in the first half and chances were few.

Each squad did earn three corner kicks, but nothing came of them.

The Yachtsmen put a shot on goal in the fourth minute, when Velas set up junior Nigel Dunn for a left-footed blast, but Rangers senior goalkeeper John Wright made the save.

Midway through the half, Falmouth junior Nick Sanzari got the ball to his sophomore brother, Michael Sanzari, but his shot was high.

In the 30th minute, Nason tried to feed sophomore Hunter Graham, but the pass was a little too strong and Falmouth junior goalkeeper Jesse Melchiskey got to the ball first.

While Nason was being held in check by the Yachtsmen’s defense, the Rangers were doing the same to Velas.

“I liked the play of (junior) Austin Nowinski,” Andreasen said. “He and (senior) Harry (Shain) anchored the defense. It seemed like (Falmouth) got through our midfield a lot and those two did a good job. Luke is tough to defend.”

Things opened up in the second half, but the twine was never tickled.

With 36:52 remaining in regulation, Greely junior Nick Pronovost got a great opportunity when he pounced on a failed clear, but Melchiskey dove to knock the ball away, setting up a corner kick, which ended when Melchiskey punched the ball out of harm’s way.

A minute later, at the other end, Velas ran down a loose ball, made a nifty move past a defender and got off a shot, but Wright turned it aside.

After Falmouth senior Ben Lydick had a low shot saved and freshman Ben Wuesthoff just missed high, senior Jake Grade got his head on a corner kick, but sent it just over the crossbar.

With 18:58 showing, Wright beat sophomore Matt Polewaczyk to Lydick’s feed.

Six minutes later, Grade shot just wide.

With 10:11 to go, a cross from Wuesthoff was punched away by Wright.

A minute later, Wright got to a loose ball in the box just before Velas swooped in.

Down the stretch, Velas’ one-timer off a deflection was saved, a header off a corner from senior Caleb Lydick was saved, a header from sophomore Jonah Spiegel was turned aside and a left-footed shot from sophomore John Mullin was denied.

After Melchiskey punched away a long free kick from Rangers junior Lucas Watt with just over a minute to go, it was on to overtime.

In Maine high school boys’ soccer, teams play two, five-minute, “sudden victory” sessions and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie.

That’s the way it played out and neither squad was too disappointed when the final horn sounded.

After little happened in the first overtime, there was only one good scoring chance in the second, when Velas got to take a free kick from about 20-yards out.

Had he put it on goal, Wright might have had trouble with the shot, but the ball was blocked by a defender from Greely’s wall and that was all she wrote as the contest ended in a scoreless draw.

“We gave up three goals (to Greely) in the second half last year,” Halligan said. “The kids weren’t going to let that happen this time. We had chances and didn’t put them away. You don’t get many quality chances against a team like Greely.”

“Coming into the week, we had a lot of question marks,” Andreasen said. “In the preseason, we gave up 11 goals and scored one. Coming into this week, we wanted a positive result. We’ll take a win and a tie. We could have done better on corners. We mis-kicked balls. Little things. Tonight, it look like the turf hurt us and usually we’re a turf team. We didn’t have good first touches. Jake Nason wore two defenders. We knew that would happen. Someone else had to step in that role and get a goal for us and that didn’t happen.”

See you soon

The teams square off again Sept. 30 in Cumberland and in the meantime, they both will face their share of tests.

Greely hopes to get back in the win column Tuesday at Gray-New Gloucester. After a trip to Kennebunk Friday, the Rangers host dangerous Cape Elizabeth Tuesday of next week.

“It’s good to get a week away (from the powerhouse teams), but last year we went to Kennebunk undefeated and didn’t come back undefeated,” Andreasen said. “Gray is dangerous. We won’t see many nights off. I think we’ll have more success next week.”

Falmouth looks to stay unbeaten when it visits Western C contender Waynflete Tuesday. After going to Cape Elizabeth Friday, the Yachtsmen visit York the following Tuesday.

“I feel good, but a little frustrated because I think it’s the tip of the iceberg with these guys,” Halligan said. “I don’t think they know how good they can be. We have another tough week. Waynflete’s good and Cape is dangerous.”

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

Recent Falmouth-Greely meetings

2013

Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1
Greely 3 @ Famouth 0

2012

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 2 (OT)

Greely 1 @ Falmouth 0

2011

@ Falmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 1 Falmouth 0

2010

Falmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0

2009

Falmouth 4 @ Greely 2
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 1

2008

@ Falmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)

2007

@ Falmouth 2 Greely 1
Falmouth 2 @ Greely 1

2006

@ Greely 2 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)

2005

Falmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 1

2004

Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1
Falmouth 2 @ Greely 0

2003

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2

2002

@ Falmouth 4 Greely 1
@ Greely 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)

2001

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0

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