Falmouth boys hold off Yarmouth, give Halligan landmark win

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

Falmouth senior Michael Sanzari, far right, hugs junior Nate Arrants after one of the Yachtsmen’s five goals in Saturday’s 5-3 victory at Yarmouth. Falmouth swept the Clippers in the regular season for the first time since 2008.

Mike Strout photos.

Falmouth coach Dave Halligan looks on during the victory. Halligan earned his 350th win in his 30 years with the Yachtsmen.

More photos below.

YARMOUTH—Something about the Yarmouth Clippers makes Falmouth’s boys’ soccer team take offense.

Or should I say produce offense.

In prodigious fashion.

Saturday afternoon, eight days after a stunning 5-0 home win over the two-time defending Class B champion Clippers, the Yachtsmen paid a visit to Yarmouth’s turf and picked up where they left off.

And in the process, Falmouth gave its legendary coach a landmark victory.

The Yachtsmen needed just 4 minutes, 30 seconds to break the ice as senior John Mullin set up classmate Michael Sanzari for a 1-0 lead.

That goal awakened the Clippers, who carried play for the next 20-plus minutes, and after several near-misses, the hosts drew even on a gorgeous blast from senior Matt Dostie with 16:08 remaining in the half.

The opportunistic Yachtsmen then retook the lead, as Sanzari scored for a second time with 11:10 to go in the first half and a mere 83 seconds later, junior Nate Arrants produced a highlight reel goal for a 3-1 advantage at halftime.

Falmouth seemingly ended all doubt early in the second half, when senior Jonah Spiegel got the ball ahead to Arrants, who scored his second goal for a 4-1 lead and moments later, senior Hayden Farr scored, but the Clippers wouldn’t go quietly.

With 32:43 left in regulation, sophomore Eric LaBrie scored to cut the deficit to three and seven minutes later, senior Gibson Harnett made things interesting when he scored to make it a two-goal game.

Yarmouth had chances to draw even closer, but couldn’t do so and the Yachtsmen prevailed, 5-3.

Falmouth swept the regular season series for the first time in eight years, improved to 5-1-1, dropped the Clippers to 4-2 and most importantly, gave Dave Halligan his 350th victory in his 30 years as Yachtsmen’s coach.

“It was a typical Falmouth-Yarmouth game where anything can happen,” Halligan said. “There’s no quit in them and there’s no quit in us. They came back and put all kinds of pressure on us and we had to hold the fort and we did.”

A coach with no peer

Halligan came to Falmouth in the fall of 1987 after spending eight years at Cape Elizabeth (where he won 79 games). He didn’t immediately turn the Yachtsmen into the state’s premier power. In fact, in two of his first three seasons, Falmouth had a losing record (see sidebar below), but the Yachtsmen have only finished under .500 once since. Halligan won Class C crowns in 1996 and 1997, then won nine Class B championships between 2000 and 2012. Even since moving up to Class A in 2013, Falmouth has remained competitive, although it hasn’t ascended to the pinnacle just yet.

Along the way, Halligan has been fortunate to coach some of the best players to come through Maine high school soccer, but his ability to move players around and get the best out of all of his athletes has placed him on a pedestal that others can only dream to attain.

This fall, Falmouth opened with a 1-0 home win over Greely and after settling for a scoreless draw at Cape Elizabeth, downed host York, 4-0, and crushed visiting Yarmouth, 5-0, and visiting Waynflete, 5-0. Tuesday, the Yachtsmen came back to earth with a 2-1 loss at Greely.

Yarmouth opened the 2016 season with a 1-0 home win over Cape Elizabeth. The Clippers then handled visiting York, 5-1, before losing at Falmouth. Tuesday, Yarmouth held on for a thrilling 3-2 victory at Cape Elizabeth and Thursday, the Clippers blanked visiting Kennebunk, 3-0.

Entering Saturday’s contest, since the start of the 2001 season, Falmouth had 17 wins, Yarmouth 13 and six other meetings ended in ties (see sidebar, below), but since the start of the 2010 campaign, the Clippers had won 10 of 14 games.

This time around, Yarmouth was hoping to avenge its loss from last weekend, but for the first time since 2008, the Yachtsmen won both regular season meetings.

And left no doubt about their dominance.

Dostie had the game’s first chance, but his bid from the side in the third minute was saved by Falmouth senior goalkeeper Jack Scribner, who made his return from injury.

The Yachtsmen then got the jump in quick fashion, as Mullin got past a defender and instead of keeping the ball and going to goal, he fed Sanzari and Sanzari beat Clippers junior goalkeeper Cal Owen inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.

“John is very crafty and creative,” Sanzari said. “He’s quick and strong and so good with the ball.”

Yarmouth then tilted the field and eventually drew even, but it took awhile.

After senior Henry Coolidge shot just high, Dostie got through the defense and sent a left-footed shot past Scribner, but in slow motion, the ball rolled and rolled and just kissed off the outside of the far post.

After Scribner broke up Coolidge in the box, then punched out a free kick off the foot of junior Luke Groothoff, junior Silas Chappell’s header on a corner kick went just high, LaBrie had the ball taken away from him in the box by Falmouth senior Olin Rhoads and a pair of Dostie shots were saved by Scribner.

With 16:08 showing in the first half, Dostie finally broke through, getting the ball from senior Chris Romano before rocketing a shot just inside the near post to make it 1-1.

Halligan felt the ball went out of bounds before it came to Romano, but the goal stood and the hosts appeared to have all the momentum.

Until the Yachtsmen wrestled it back.

Yarmouth did have one look at the lead, but Scribner knocked the ball away from Dostie at the last second.

Then, with 11:10 remaining in the first half, Falmouth went on top for good.

Mullin again set it up, this time with a nice run. A defender knocked the ball away as Mullin reached the box, but Sanzari pounced on it and with Owen out of the cage, fired a shot into the net for a 2-1 advantage.

Arrants then scored his first goal with 9:47 to go before halftime, as off a Sanzari throw, Arrants won the ball from a defender, then spun around and buried a shot off his left foot to make it 3-1.

“If I could sum up our offense in a couple words, it’s confidence and finishing,” Sanzari said. “Nate is one of the greatest finishers ever. He’s always on target. I look to him as an example of what I need to do…control the ball and put it in the corners.”

Neither team had a good chance from there and the Yachtsmen took their two-goal advantage to the break.

The second half then proved to be full of action, a little contention and drama down to the wire.

Falmouth needed just 76 seconds to add to its lead, as senior Jonah Spiegel fed Arrants ahead of the defense and Arrants chipped a shot past Owen to make it 4-1.

Hagerty was livid, as he felt a foul was committed before the goal was scored.

“I think it’s unfortunate they got that fourth goal, then a fifth,” Hagerty said. “At midfield, they won the ball with a foul first and then they scored. It was a frustrating situation because it was a play from behind and should have been a foul. If that doesn’t happen, maybe we get it back to 3-3.  The ref doesn’t win or lose the game. He didn’t shoot shots, but it was a huge momentum change.”

The Yachtsmen weren’t content and with 35:42 to play, were rewarded with a fifth goal.

Junior Brendan Hickey got free up top and sent a shot over Owen, but it sailed just a little too high and ricocheted off the crossbar. Farr didn’t quit on the play, however, and was rewarded by cleaning up the rebound to extend the lead to a seemingly safe four goals.

To Yarmouth’s credit, it refused to quit and made things interesting.

With 32:43 left, Dostie crossed the ball in front, where LaBrie was there to head it home.

That gave the Clippers life and they stayed on the attack, but Coolidge shot just wide and Groothoff had a free kick blocked by Spiegel.

With 26:57 to go, Sanzari was on the verge of completing his hat trick, as he left two defenders in his wake and went one-on-one with Owen, but Owen made an incredible save.

Then, at the other end, after Scribner came out to play a ball, he was bumped by a Clipper and retaliated with a trip and was given a red card, forcing him to leave the game. Yarmouth senior Billy Jacobs and Falmouth senior Ben Field were given yellow cards on the play.

As play resumed, the Clippers struck again, as Groothoff threw the ball in, it came to Romano and Romano headed the ball toward the goal, where Harnett was there to bang it home, cutting the deficit to 5-3.

With an easy victory no longer guaranteed, the Yachtsmen tried to return to their offensive ways, but Owen denied senior Andrew Muscadin with Chappell clearing the rebound and Muscadin got another look, but Owen made the save.

The Clippers then pushed mightily to pull within one, but couldn’t manage to do so.

After Coolidge had a good look with 22 minutes to go, only to shoot high, Dostie had a rush broken up by Spiegel. 

With 18:13 to play, Mullin almost put the game away, but with Owen out of position, Romano cleared his shot off the line.

Down the stretch, Dostie had a shot blocked, Dostie’s shot deflected off a defender and LaBrie couldn’t quite get to it, Dostie was robbed by backup goalkeeper, senior Nicholas Buckley, on a nice shot through a screen, Dostie shot just wide and Coolidge’s shot hit the side of the cage. 

“We kind of lost our composure, but luckily we were still up,” Spiegel said. “We had to defend the rest of the game. Had we not put our chances away early and had it been tied, like it could have been, it might have been a different story.”

After Falmouth cleared a free kick and a corner kick and Dostie missed just wide, at 3:07 p.m., the Yachtsmen were finally able to celebrate their 5-3 victory and gave Halligan a well-deserved (and considering the opponent, fitting) milestone.

“It means I’ve had some awfully good players and coaches in the program,” said Halligan. “I was hoping to get here, but you never know.”

Halligan earned praise postgame from both sides.

“When I entered high school, we were rebuilding after the back-to-back championships (in 2011 and 2012) and what I’ve learned in four years, is you have to buy in and trust what Coach says and when you do, good things happen,” Spiegel said.

“Coach has taught me to be very confident,” Sanzari said. “He’s taught me to look for the ball and be strong on the ball. He’s a great teacher.”

“Good for Dave,” Hagerty said. “That’s certainly something to be proud of. I’m sure it means more that it came against Yarmouth. And I hope it’s Falmouth when I get there.”

Yarmouth had a 9-8 edge in shots, but five of Falmouth’s bids found the net.

“I’ll take making five of seven shots,” Halligan said. “Yarmouth brings out the best in us. When you play a great team, you have to raise your game up. The guys have done that for two games. Now, we have to keep that up. No loss is good, but we learned a few things from (Greely). We were a little beat up and tired, but I think the guys did a good job preparing during the week and getting ready.”

Scribner made four saves before leaving the game and Buckley made two saves late in the contest.

“Our senior keeper came in and gave up one early, then made a couple big saves down the stretch,” Halligan said.

Owen made two saves for the Clippers, who held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.

Yarmouth has already given up almost twice as many goals in six games this fall (13) than it did in 18 games (7) in 2015.

“If you score three goals, that should be enough to win any game,” Hagerty said. “The irony is we only gave them three shots in the first half. I’m shocked at their shooting percentage. We gave up quality shots and they buried them. We gave up a little too much space, but it was a good defensive effort. We outshot and outpossessed them, but we still lost. They played really well and they defended well. Scribner is a great goalie. We had to score great goals to beat him and the goals we scored were great goals. I wasn’t all that disappointed, believe it not, by how we played between the 18s. Inside the 18s, we didn’t take care of business.

“I really think at the end of the year, we can be as good as them. What’s frustrating with the schedule this year, is that we won’t have a chance to show it. We’ve talked about grit and heart and we showed it today. We didn’t play well enough to win, but I think we played well enough to tie. I think a 3-3 draw would have been a fair result.”

Digging for gold

Falmouth and Yarmouth won’t play again this fall, but both figure to be in the hunt for championships in November.

The Clippers (currently ranked third behind Maranacook and Gray-New Gloucester in the Class B South Heal Points standings) take to the road, as they visit Waynflete, Fryeburg Academy and Greely next week. After a home game versus Gray-New Gloucester, the regular season concludes with a trip to Wells, a home game versus Freeport, a game at York and a home showdown versus Greely.

“We have a lot of (Heal) Points left on the board, but our schedule isn’t easy,” Hagerty said. “Now we need some help to win the Brady Cup (bestowed upon the best team among Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth). Falmouth has the inside track, especially with the head-to-head tiebreaker against us. We’d won it five years in a row and it’s a point of pride.

“We’re starting to figure things out. I think we’re seeing who plays well together. We have to keep responding the right way and I know that we will.  We just have to get a little tougher.”

The Yachtsmen (second to Thornton Academy in Class A South) go to Wells and host Freeport next week. Home games with Cape Elizabeth and York and a trip to Gray-New Gloucester also remain.

“We’ve played one of the hardest starts to a schedule and we’ve done well,” Sanzari said. “Now, we can’t have a let down in trap games.”

“Compared to last year, we’re looking good, but we’re not there yet,” Spiegel said. “We have a lot of potential. We’ll respect all and fear none.”

“We’re done with Yarmouth and Greely and we haven’t played Cape yet,” Halligan added. “Our schedule has made us better. Hopefully we can keep it up. We have to be the best we can be and get a little bit better every day. That’s been our philosophy from the get go.”

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

Yarmouth freshmen Aidan Hickey heads the ball away from Falmouth senior Schuyler Parkinson.

Falmouth junior Nate Arrants beats Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Cal Owen for one of his two goals as Clippers senior Tucker Whitney arrives too late.

Yarmouth senior Henry Coolidge fires a shot as Falmouth senior Olin Rhoads defends.

Yarmouth junior Luke Groothoff heads the ball away from Falmouth senior Jonah Spiegel.

Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Cal Owen dives to keep Falmouth junior Brendan Hickey from a rebound.

Yarmouth senior Matt Dostie gets the ball past Falmouth senior Jonah Spiegel.

Dave Halligan’s record at Falmouth

1987 11-7

1988 6-7-1

1989 6-7-1

1990 7-5-2

1991 10-5

1992 9-5-3

1993 7-4-3

1994 9-3-4

1995 14-3

1996 14-1-2

1997 18-0

1998 12-3-2

1999 6-7-1

2000 17-0

2001 17-1-1

2002 16-1-1

2003 17-0-1

2004 11-3-2

2005 12-3-1

2006 15-1-2

2007 14-3-1

2008 13-1-3

2009 16-0-2

2010 11-5-1

2011 13-3-2

2012 13-3-2

2013 9-5-2

2014 11-2-2

2015 11-4-1

2016 5-1-1

TOTAL 350-93-44

Recent Yarmouth-Falmouth results

@ Falmouth 5 Yarmouth 0 

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 0

Falmouth 5 @ Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 3 @ Falmouth 0

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 1

@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (2 OT)
Falmouth 2 @ Yarmouth 0 (Western B Final)

@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 (OT) (Western Class B Final)

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie) 
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B Final)

@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 1 (OT)
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (Western Class B Final)

Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 1 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 1 
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0

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