Falmouth dazzles in statement victory at Yarmouth

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YARMOUTH—Last fall, Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team went to Falmouth and handed the Yachtsmen their worst defeat this century.

And Falmouth didn’t forget.

Saturday evening on Yarmouth’s turf, the Yachtsmen again dug an early hole and once again the final score would be lopsided, but not in the Clippers’ favor.

On a foggy and drizzly night which didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd, Falmouth reminded everyone that as the state’s most storied program, its pride and quest for excellence never abate.

And if they ever “went away,” there’s now no question that the Yachtsmen are “back.”

The latest chapter of the state’s best rivalry began with a tribute to those fighting and those who have survived breast cancer.

Then, not long after the contest began, it was clear that great chances would be prevalent on both sides.

Moments after missing a wide open net, Yarmouth senior standout Adam LaBrie got a second chance and in the ninth minute, he gave the Clippers the jump.

But instead of spurring Yarmouth on to another easy victory, it awakened a sleeping giant.

Falmouth would take advantage of several Clippers mistakes and no one makes you pay like these Yachtsmen.

With 24:15 to play in the first half, Falmouth drew even when sophomore Jonah Spiegel’s shot deflected off a Yarmouth defender into the net.

With 10:57 remaining, the Yachtsmen’s stellar senior striker, Luke Velas, got his chance after a turnover and he wouldn’t be denied to put Falmouth on top to stay.

Then, with 9:20 to go, after another failed clear, senior Jake Grade scored to make it 3-1, capping a three-goal surge in slightly less than 15 minutes of play.

For the Yachtsmen, the fun was just beginning.

Early in the second half, Falmouth freshman Ben Wuesthoff ensured that he is now a household name by producing one of the most amazing goals you’ll ever see at this level, a bicycle kick, to make it 4-1.

Velas’ second goal, with 23:16 to play, ended the Yachtsmen’s onslaught and while LaBrie did score his second goal, two minutes later, that was a mere speed bump as Falmouth put the finishing touches on an emphatic 5-2 triumph.

The Yachtsmen remained undefeated, improved to 7-0-2 and dropped the shellshocked Clippers to 6-2-1 in the process.

“This is a serious confidence boost,” Wuesthoff said. “Yarmouth’s a great team. This is amazing to come in here and do so well.”

Nothing compares

For many years now, when the Falmouth and Yarmouth boys’ soccer teams square off, drama, intrigue and high-quality soccer ensue. When the Clippers and Yachtsmen were in the same class for the postseason, the argument could be made that there no better rivalry in the state of Maine, in any sport, and that still may ring true even if they’ll max out at two meetings this fall.

Last year, for the first time this century, there was no possibility of a playoff meeting once Falmouth moved up to Class A, but both games were compelling for different reasons.

In the first meeting, host Yarmouth eked out a 1-0 win. Then, at Falmouth, the Clippers absolutely erupted for a stunningly decisive 6-1 triumph.

Entering Monday’s meeting, since the start of the 2001 season, Falmouth held a 15-11-5 series advantage (please see sidebar, below), but since 2010, Yarmouth had won seven times to the Yachtsmen’s two (with another game ending in a tie).

Both teams have excelled as usual this fall.

Falmouth held off visiting Gray-New Gloucester in its opener, 2-0, then won at Kennebunk, 4-1, before settling for a scoreless home tie versus defending Class B state champion Greely. The Yachtsmen then won at Waynflete (1-0) and after playing host Cape Elizabeth to a 1-1 draw, Falmouth blanked visiting York (3-0) and host Poland (7-0) and Greely (1-0).

The Clippers won their opener, 7-0, at Poland, then fell at home to Greely, 1-0. Yarmouth then enjoyed a 5-3 home victory over Cape Elizabeth, a 5-0 home blanking of Freeport, a 3-1 home win over York and a 7-0 romp at Kennebunk, before letting a 2-0 lead slip away in a 2-2 home draw versus Waynflete. Tuesday, the Clippers went to Cape Elizabeth and earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

Saturday, Yarmouth hoped to extend its unbeaten streak in the regular season against Falmouth to five, but the Yachtsmen would beat the Clippers for the first time since the 2012 Western B Final and for the first time in the regular season since Oct. 15, 2011.

Prior to kickoff, Clippers coach Mike Hagerty, in a humorous and poignant presentation, compared the Falmouth and Yarmouth programs to the Celtics and Lakers of the 1980s (signifying a once-contentious rivalry between the schools in the late 1990s and early 2000s) and the Red Sox and Yankees of today (signifying a now respectful admiration between the programs) and read the names of the many members of the Falmouth and Yarmouth communities who are battling, have beaten or sadly, in some cases, lost their battles with breast cancer (a list that included his mother, Yvonne, who passed away in 1990).

Then, it was on to the game where Falmouth would leave Yarmouth in a fog, literally and figuratively.

While some big games start with teams being passive, feeling each other out, these two heavyweights came out swinging haymakers and scoring chances and goals came fast and furious.

In the sixth minute, LaBrie blew past a defender and went one-on-one with Falmouth junior goalkeeper Jesse Melchiskey. Melchiskey had little chance to make the save and could only hope that LaBrie misfired and that’s exactly what happened, when LaBrie pounded the ball over the crossbar.

He wasn’t about to be denied twice, however.

With 31:17 to play in the first half, LaBrie took a pass from sophomore Henry Coolidge, again raced in untouched and this time rocketed a shot past Melchiskey into the net for a 1-0 Yarmouth lead.

Last year, the floodgates might have opened and Falmouth might have lost decisively, but this is 2014 and the Yachtsmen responded like the champions they hope to become.

Falmouth immediately put pressure on the Clippers and in the 11th minute, a long free kick from senior Ben Lydick was bobbled by Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Alex Lyon. The rebound sat in front of the goal and Wuesthoff got to it, but like LaBrie earlier, Wuesthoff sailed his great opportunity high.

And like LaBrie, Wuesthoff would have another chance and would he ever atone for his miss.

After Yarmouth junior Matt Beatty cleared a Velas cross at the last moment, the Yachtsmen pulled even.

With 24:15 to play in the half, Velas beat a defender and served the ball toward the goal. Clippers junior defender Conor O’Donnell knocked the ball out, but it came to Spiegel, who fired a hard shot that hit a defender and ricocheted past Lyon into the net to make the score, 1-1.

“Jonah’s goal was a good goal,” Hagerty said. “We missed a clear, but it was a deflection and on a wet night, that will happen.”

Falmouth kept the pressure on, looking to go ahead, but a Velas blast hit the outside of the near post and Yachtsmen sophomore Michael Sanzari’s left-footed rocket was bobbled, but ultimately snared by Lyon.

After LaBrie sent a long left-footed shot skittering over the top of the crossbar at the other end, the visitors went ahead.

With 10:57 remaining before halftime, Yarmouth wasn’t able to clear the ball, Grade collected and passed out wide to Velas, who easily slipped his defender, closed in on Lyon and blasted a low shot into the net to put the Yachtsmen on top to stay, 2-1.

“We know they’d come out aggressive and if they put a goal in, we’d had to keep working,” Velas said. “We got our conidence back (when Jonah scored) and that allowed us to get a few more. I just tried to get wide and open up space. It was a great through ball and we executed it perfectly.”

“Velas has gotten a lot better this year at putting shots on goal,” said Hagerty. “He’s gotten better playing with his back to the goal and involving other people.”

If that wasn’t enough to swing momentum, a mere 97 seconds later, Falmouth struck again, with a little help.

After another miscue on a clear, Wuesthoff got the ball to Grade and after assisting on the last tally, Grade finished this one, tucking the ball into the net for a 3-1 advantage.

“I have faith in our team,” said Wuesthoff. “We fight back. A goal goes in, but you know your teammates will back you up.”

“Yarmouth came out 100 miles an hour,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “They’re very aggressive. Once the game settled in, we started doing some things. Last year, it might have been different. We talked about last year coming in.”

The Clippers were staggered.

“We missed some clears on a wet night and they buried them,” Hagerty lamented. “You can’t give a good team one of those, let alone three.”

Late in the half, Melchiskey punched away a free kick by Yarmouth senior Connor Lainey, then he pounced on a free kick from junior Walter Conrad to preserve the 3-1 advantage.

The Clippers trailed Cape Elizabeth by two goals in a victory earlier in the season, so there was reason to believe a comeback was possible, but it didn’t take long in the second half for Falmouth to squash any remaining hopes.

Yarmouth did get one quick chance, but a LaBrie rush was broken up by Yachtsmen junior Nick Sanzari.

Falmouth then went back on the attack and produced a highlight reel goal for the ages.

After a sure goal by sophomore Matt Polewaczyk was cleared by a Clippers defender at the last instant, the Yachtsmen earned a corner kick. The ball came into the box, bounced off a few bodies, then fell behind Wuesthoff.

Wuesthoff, channeling his inner Pelé, then threw caution to the wind, contorted his body and lofted a perfect bicycle kick over Lyon and a defender, who futilely leaped to try to head the ball out of harm’s way, and the breathtaking shot found its way into the net for a 4-1 lead.

“I can’t even remember it that well,” said Wuesthoff, who will have a pretty tough time coming up with an encore for the memorable goal he delivered in just his ninth varsity game. “All I know is that the ball was up in the air. I was facing away from the goal and I saw the ball and I didn’t even think about it. I just went up, kicked it and it went in. I had a sense it was a good shot. I tried my best. Everyone went crazy. I love when my teammates hug me. These guys are awesome. I love it every time I step on the field. I’m greeted with all these smiles.”

Falmouth and its raucous cheering section erupted.

“I’ve never seen a shot like that,” said Velas, who has scored on numerous huge shots of his own. “It was a perfect goal.”

“(Ben’s) good,” Halligan said. “That was a spectacular shot. I don’t know how he did it, but I’m glad he did.”

Yarmouth could only tip its cap in admiration.

“It was a gorgeous goal,” Hagerty said. “Spectacular. I’ve known Ben since he was little. Sometimes you have to just clap for the other team.”

After Melchiskey preserved the three-goal bulge with saves on LaBrie (off a corner) and Coolidge, the Yachtsmen added a fifth goal.

It came with 23:16 to play, as Velas took a pass from Spiegel and wouldn’t be denied, beating Lyon to make the score 5-1.

“Luke’s taken his game to a different gear,” Halligan said. “It’s nice to see from a senior. He knows he’s coming up to the end of his (high school) career.”

Suddenly, Falmouth was on the verge of reversing the score of last year’s rout, but the final goal of the game would go to the home team.

After sophomore Matt Dostie missed a shot just wide, LaBrie finished another nice pass from Coolidge and with 21:18 to go, Yarmouth was back within three, 5-2.

“I still think Adam’s the best striker in the state and I think he showed tonight how dangerous he can be,” Hagerty said.

The Clippers hoped to draw closer still, but in the final 10 minutes, Melchiskey broke up a rush by junior Patrick Grant at the last instant, a Grant cross was deflected wide and a shot from Lainey on a corner was blocked.

The Yachtsmen then ran out the clock on their 5-2 triumph.

“We remembered last year,” Velas said. “We’ve worked really hard in practice. We focus on preparing for each game. That really paid off today.”

“We played very well against a very good team,” Halligan said. “We didn’t get a lot of shots, but we were opportunistic on the shots we did have.  These kids have been very focused this year. I think last year was an aberration. These kids have seen Falmouth’s (previous) success and they want to be part of it. They aren’t going to be denied.”

While the scoreboard was lopsided, the final statistics were not, as shots were actually even, 14-14, although Falmouth put nine shots on frame to seven by the Clippers.

Melchiskey made five saves and he and his defense did enough to keep LaBrie and his teammates from handing them a defeat.

“(LaBrie’s) a great player,” Velas said. “He’s really aggressive. He was the main concern for us.”

“LaBrie’s one of the best players in the state,” Halligan said. “You can’t shut him down. You can just hope to slow him down.”

Yarmouth had a 4-3 advantage on corner kicks and got four saves from Lyon, but suffered its most decisive loss since a 4-0 setback at Falmouth Sept. 6, 2002 and gave up its most goals since a 6-1 home loss to Falmouth in the late 1990s.

“I thought we’d play better tonight,” Hagerty said. “What’s disappointing is that it should have been closer. I think a more fair result would have been 3-2. I don’t think we played well enough to win by any means and they’re a much better team than they were a year ago. Give Falmouth credit. They did a great job. They played their style better than we played our style. They played direct to feet. They have good strikers. They did a great job counter-attacking and their forwards found nice gaps. They created mistakes with their pressure.”

Wins needed

Both teams are hoping for a top finish in their respective regions and both will have ample chances to accumulate big Heal Points in the days to come.

Yarmouth (second to Greely in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) hopes to get back in the win column Tuesday when it goes to York. After playing Kennebunk in the home finale Saturday, the Clippers finish with games at Gray-New Gloucester, Greely and Falmouth (on Oct. 21).

“(Tonight was) frustrating because we won’t get many more opportunities to get (Heal Points) to jump into first,” Hagerty said. “Tonight was a Brady Cup game (the round-robin, bragging rights competition between Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth), which is huge, and it was a big Heal Points game. I do think we’ll respond. We have to win the large majority of the rest of our games to get the top seed. We hope to put this behind us quickly.”

The Yachtsmen (who moved into first in Western A by virtue of Saturday’s victory) have another big test coming up Tuesday when Cape Elizabeth pays a visit. After going to York Thursday, Falmouth closes with home games versus Freeport, Kennebunk and Yarmouth.

“You always have to keep going strong,” Wuesthoff said. “You can’t get cocky. We just have to keep playing like we’re playing. We’re on a good roll right now. We just need to keep it going.”

“I think we’re better equipped for a run this year,” Velas said. “We have a lot of returning players. We have a strong senior class and some great underclassmen.”

“We play the best teams and there’s a reason we do it. To get better,” Halligan added. “We need to keep doing what we’re doing, which is working hard in practice. We want to keep getting better. We’ll get better just be playing the best teams.”

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

Yarmouth sophomore Henry Coolidge shoots as Falmouth senior John McConnell closes in.

Yarmouth junior Walter Conrad boots the ball as Falmouth freshman Ben Wuesthoff defends.

Falmouth senior Ben Lydick launches a corner kick into the fog.

Yarmouth junior Patrick Grant goes one-on-one with Falmouth junior goalkeeper Jesse Melchiskey.

Yarmouth sophomore Billy Jacobs does his best to defend Falmouth senior Luke Velas.

Yarmouth junior Nick Kamra tries to steer the ball away from Falmouth sophomore Matt Polewaczyk.

Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie and Falmouth senior John McConnell chase after a loose ball near the end of the contest. The scoreboard speaks volumes.

Falmouth seniors Caleb Lydick (12) and Ben Lydick, along with Yarmouth junior Matt Beatty (4) and sophomore Matt Dostie all look to head the ball.

Falmouth’s fan section had several opportunities to express their appreciation Saturday night.

Following the victory, Falmouth senior Jake Grade lets the world know where his team should be ranked and based on what the Yachtsmen produced Saturday, it’s hard to argue with him.

Recent Yarmouth-Falmouth results

2013
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 1

2012
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (2 OT)
Falmouth 2 @ Yarmouth 0 (Western B Final)

2011
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0

2010
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 (OT) (Western Class B Final)

2009
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie)
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B Final)

2008
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 1 (OT)
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (Western Class B Final)

2007
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 1 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

2006
@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

2005
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2004
@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

2003
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2002
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

2001
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0

Sidebar Elements


Members of Falmouth’s boys’ soccer team were all smiles after senior Luke Velas (19) scores his second goal during Saturday’s showdown at Yarmouth. That tally produced the final margin of 5-2 Yachtsmen as they stayed undefeated on the season.

Ben McCanna photos.

More photos below.

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