FALMOUTH—Sitting on a one-goal lead for 71 minutes is far from ideal, but if your team’s strength is defense, there’s nothing to fret.
Falmouth’s boys’ soccer team isn’t as explosive or as highly touted as so many other program juggernauts over the past couple decades, but that doesn’t mean that the Yachtsmen aren’t enjoying yet another successful season.
Tuesday night, Falmouth hosted Class C power Waynflete and got pushed for 80 minutes, but found a way to stay undefeated.
The Yachtsmen got the jump when junior Michael Sanzari scored a difficult goal in the ninth minute, but despite ample opportunities, they couldn’t add to their lead.
Falmouth didn’t allow the Flyers many chances, but with 13:25 to play in regulation, Waynflete’s top scorer, senior Ahmed Mohamed got a gift, a loose ball in front, but his game-tying bid sailed high and the Yachtsmen went on to a 1-0 victory.
Falmouth stayed unbeaten all-time against the Flyers, improved to 4-0 on the season and handed Waynflete its first loss in three contests.
“”It was more difficult than it had to be because we missed some opportunities,” said longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. “(Waynflete’s) well-organized, well-coached, dangerous. Last year, we won, 1-0, and they went a long way in the tournament and they’ll go a long way again this year.”
Falmouth and Waynflete are two of the state’s premier programs, but haven’t met much over the years.
In 2010, the Yachtsmen won in Portland, 3-0. Two years ago, Falmouth triumphed at home, 2-0. Last season, the Yachtsmen held on for a 1-0 victory at Waynflete.
This fall, the Flyers opened with a 6-0 home victory over Traip Academy, then held off visiting Fryeburg Academy, 2-1.
The Yachtsmen rallied past host Gray-New Gloucester in the opener, 3-1, then beat visiting Kennebunk by the same score. Thursday, Falmouth blanked visiting Greely, 2-0.
Tuesday, the Yachtsmen got the only goal they’d need when Sanzari somehow got a shot past, or perhaps more accurately, through Waynflete’s standout senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau in the ninth minute.
“I was supposed to cross that, but I was thinking (Milo) is very aggressive and if he comes out, I’ll slot it,” Sanzari said. “It bounced off him. I was lucky. I saw it and I capitalized.”
“(Michael) has the ability to do that,” Halligan said. “He’ll score more before the season’s over. We’ll spread out the scoring. That’s one of our strengths this year.”
Waynflete wasn’t able to generate much in the way of good chances in the first half.
“The guys were fired up to come here,” said longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “(Falmouth’s) a program we haven’t gotten a result against. We were hoping to do it. We were sluggish to start. I think we were a little hyped up. Our composure on the ball early wasn’t there. The speed of play isn’t what we’ve been used to lately. Once we adjusted, we played with them.”
In the second half, twice Falmouth appeared certain to double its lead, but it didn’t happen.
The first close call came with 25:26 to play when junior Devin Russell crossed the ball to junior Hayden Farr, who beat Belleau with a one-timer, only to see the shot carom off the far post.
With 22:30 left in regulation, senior Nigel Dunn bent a free kick through the Waynflete wall. It appeared to be hooking into the net, but senior Jared Nolan redirected it just wide of the target.
That almost proved costly with 13:25 to go, when the Flyers almost got a gift goal.
Mohamed, no stranger to tickling the twine this season, found the ball at his feet after a carom and despite being right in front of the goal, he couldn’t finish as he sailed a shot just over the crossbar.
“We didn’t create enough chances,” Salway lamented. “In games like this, you only need one because Milo kept us in it and (senior captain and back) Willy (Burdick) played great. It would have been nice to get the equalizer.”
In the 77th minute, Mohamed got one final look, but shot wide in transition.
The Yachtsmen held on from there and prevailed, 1-0.
“(Waynflete’s) a fast team,” Sanzari said. “They’re fast on the attack. They’re scary at times.”
The Flyers weren’t too disappointed with the result.
“We learned a lot and we got better,” Salway said. “These games are so valuable for us. They make a difference later on. It’s a no-lose situation if you come out healthy. Overall, it was a pretty good effort. Falmouth is so good technically. Their first-touch and movement off the ball is clinical.”
Waynflete hopes to bounce back Thursday at Lake Region. Monday brings a showdown at rival North Yarmouth Academy. The Flyers also have games remaining against the likes of Yarmouth, Kennebunk and Gray-New Gloucester.
“We know what to work on going forward,” Salway said. “I really like this team. It’s a very positive group. Senior-laden. They’re hungry. The chemistry is good at this point. They’re accountable. I like our chances. We just have to get better. It won’t get easier. NYA is still dangerous. Yarmouth’s very good. Our record may not be great at the end, but we’ll be battle tested.”
Falmouth welcomes Cape Elizabeth Thursday, then goes to York Tuesday.
“I think our team has unbelievable potential,” said Sanzari. “When we play as a team and we keep our heads, we’re unstoppable. We have great depth. If we work hard, results will come. Shooting and finishing still need work.”
“We’re young, but we’re learning on the job,” Halligan said. “I’m pleased with our progress. We have to continue to work on our team concepts, cleaning up our first touches and playing the ball with more of a purpose.”
Waynflete senior goalkeeper Milo Belleau goes up for the ball as senior back Aaron Lee keeps Falmouth junior Olin Rhoads at bay during the teams’ contest Tuesday night. The Yachtsmen got a first half goal and made it stand up in a 1-0 victory.
Mike Strout photos.
Falmouth senior Jack Engelberger defends Waynflete senior Ahmed Mohamed.
Waynflete senior Aaron Lee stymies the progress of Falmouth junior Jon Mullin.
Waynflete senior Willy Burdick and Falmouth junior Schuyler Parkinson go for a loose ball.
Waynflete senior Tommy Silk skies to head the ball.
Falmouth junior Matt Polewaczyk is defended by Waynflete senior Cullen Bollinger.
Falmouth junior Olin Rhoads tracks down a loose ball between a couple Waynflete defenders.