Falmouth sophomore Ben Greene exults after scoring the first goal in the Yachtsmen’s 1-0 victory at Scarborough Monday afternoon.
Derek Davis / Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
SCARBOROUGH—On Sept. 4, Falmouth’s boys’ soccer team surrendered two goals in a loss at Cheverus.
The Yachtsmen have been impossible to score against ever since.
And impossible to beat.
Monday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, Scarborough became the latest team to be frustrated by Falmouth, which extended its shutout streak to a mind-boggling 821 minutes and 14 seconds.
Less than two minutes into the teams’ pivotal Class A South showdown, the Red Storm earned a penalty kick, but senior Matt Ricker hit the post and Scarborough was never able to put the ball in the net.
In the 21st minute, the Yachtsmen got the only goal they would need, as sophomore Ben Greene converted a free kick.
Falmouth’s defense and standout sophomore goalkeeper Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillana continued to stymie the Red Storm in the second half and with 24:23 to play, senior Nik Hester produced an insurance goal, allowing the Yachtsmen to go on to a 2-0 victory.
Falmouth’s unbeaten streak reached 10 games, the Yachtsmen improved to 9-1-1 and in the process, handed Scarborough its second straight loss and dropped the Red Storm to 8-3.
“It’s a team concept and it’s hard to explain, but we have a lot of pride in our defense,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “We practice how we play and (the defenders) practice against some good offensive players. Those units make each other better and Alvaro back there is our rock. This group is right up there with the best I’ve had.”
Falmouth started with a 2-1 loss at Cheverus, then blanked visiting Bonny Eagle (3-0) and Noble (5-0). After settling for a 0-0 tie at Portland, the Yachtsmen blanked visiting Sanford (2-0), host Westbrook (5-0), visiting Marshwood (3-0) host Deering (3-0), visiting South Portland (2-0) and visiting Thornton Academy (3-0).
Scarborough, meanwhile, started with shutout victories over visiting Deering (3-0) and at Thornton Academy (2-0) and Westbrook (3-0). After a 4-0 setback at home to Gorham, the Red Storm rattled off five straight victories: 3-0 over visiting Massabesic, 1-0 at Noble, 3-0 at Biddeford, 1-0 at home over Kennebunk and 4-0 at Windham. Last Thursday, Scarborough dropped a 1-0 decision at Cheverus.
From Sept. 23, 2002 through Oct. 3, 2017, the teams didn’t meet in a regular season countable game (they did play in the 2015 Western A semifinals, a 3-0 Red Storm victory).
Last year, the rivalry was renewed with a thriller, as Falmouth rallied to prevail, 2-1, in overtime, on Nate Arrants’ goal.
Monday, on a cloudy and chilly (54-degree) afternoon, the Yachtsmen did it again, this time in 80 minutes.
Scarborough had great energy to start, earned a corner kick and on the corner, a Falmouth defender was called for a hand ball in the box, giving the Red Storm a penalty kick with 38:01 left in the first half.
Ricker stepped to the line and blasted a low shot that beat Fuentes-Cantillana, but rang off the near post to keep the game scoreless.
“I thought (Ricker) was going to go to my left,” said Fuentes-Cantillana. “I missed, but it hit the post. It would have been hard being down 1-0 a couple minutes in, but thankfully it didn’t happen.”
“That was huge,” Greene said. “That was a game-changer. Then we woke up and started focusing better.”
“We got some luck from the post,” Halligan added. “We knew the first 10 minutes would be important, that they’d come out with high intensity. We almost cracked and we kept playing our game.”
Scarborough kept the pressure on, but a long free kick from senior David Trammell was saved by Fuentes-Cantillana, senior Elliot Dumais had a shot that Fuentes-Cantillana had to sprawl to get to, junior Jacob Haggerty’s shot was saved and a blast by junior Ben Hatch forced Fuentes-Cantillana to go to the ground again to corral.
“Our defense works hard every single day and it’s a good group,” said Fuentes-Cantillana. “We learned from our mistakes. The first game was tough, but we learned from it.”
After Red Storm senior goalkeeper Nathan Taggart denied junior Joe Dye, Falmouth went on top.
With 19:03 on the first half clock, Greene lined up a free kick from 30-yards out and sent the shot low and past Taggart just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.
“I just saw an opening in the open right corner, hit it and it went in,” Greene said. “That’s where I was trying to go. It felt good.”
“Any shot that goes in is a beautiful goal at this time of year,” said Halligan. “It’s nice to see the hard work paying off, especially for the younger guys.”
Late in the first half, Fuentes-Cantillana collided with Dumais and had to momentarily leave the game, but he returned and preserved the advantage going into the break.
Falmouth took six corner kicks in the first half, but wasn’t able to extend its lead.
That would happen in the second half.
First, Scarborough looked to equalize, but a free kick off the foot of senior Liam Bridgham was cleared by a defender and a shot after a rush by Hatch was snared by Fuentes-Cantillana.
Then, after sophomore Sam Gearan missed just wide for the visitors, Hester opened it up.
After a foul just outside the box, Hester took the ensuing free kick and buried a low blast to Taggart’s left for a 2-0 lead.
“The seniors hold us together and that’s what seniors do, see an opening and take it,” said Halligan.
The Red Storm’s last chance came on a shot from the side off the foot of Haggerty, but Fuentes-Cantillana saved it and Falmouth went on to a 2-0 victory.
The Yachtsmen finished with a 10-6 edge in shots, a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks and got six saves from Fuentes-Cantillana.
Scarborough managed six shots and got eight saves from Taggart, but couldn’t finish.
“We had a good opportunity right away and didn’t score and that’s just the way it goes,” lamented longtime Red Storm coach Mark Diaz. “We had some more opportunities later on, but they play well defensively. I think we play well defensively too, but those free kicks should not have gone in. We’ll have to learn from our mistakes. The last two teams we played had solid keepers and are defensive-oriented. Scoring has been a concern for us for most of the year.”
Scarborough (now seventh in the Class A South Heal Points standings) looks to get back on track Tuesday at home versus Bonny Eagle. After going to Portland Friday, the Red Storm close at home against Sanford Tuesday of next week.
“We have to be ready to go tomorrow and we’ll get ready to make a run,” Diaz said. “I think there’s five or six teams that can make a run. No matter where you are, you’ll draw a difficult opponent who can beat anybody. We’ll see where we end up.”
Falmouth (third in Class A South) has another big showdown Tuesday at Gorham. After hosting Biddeford on Senior Night Friday, the Yachtsmen close at Massabesic Tuesday of next week.
“(Playing Gorham is) going to be exciting,” said Fuentes-Cantillana. “We’ve looked forward to this game all season.”
“We have to stay focused for tomorrow, eat well, do everything,” Greene said. “It’ll be a good game.”
“We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens,” Halligan added. “(Gorham’s) legit. They deserve to be on top. We’ll see what we can do with them.”
Falmouth sophomore Gus Ford is defended by Scarborough seniors Noah Drapeau, left, Brian Farino and Liam Bridgham.
Scarborough senior goalkeeper Nathan Taggart punches the ball away from Falmouth senior Nik Hester.
Falmouth senior Kyle Bouchard heads the ball while Scarborough senior Noah Drapeau defends.
Scarborough senior Liam Bridgham heads the ball away from Falmouth senior Nik Hester.