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Two local boys’ soccer teams rode breathtaking wins to the regional finals, while three others were ousted in the quarterfinals last week.
In Western Class B, Falmouth, the second seed, blanked No. 7 Lincoln, 3-0, in the quarterfinals behind two goals from senior Brandon Tuttle and another from junior Grant Burfeind.
“We outshot them, 26-3, but their goalie made some nice saves,” said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “Sometimes in the first tournament game you press and try too hard.”
Saturday, in the semifinals against a sixth-ranked Fryeburg Academy squad coming off an upset over Yarmouth, the Yachtsmen had to scratch and claw to advance.
Falmouth raced to a 1-0 lead on junior J.P. White’s goal in the first minute, but the Raiders tied it before the half and went on top, 2-1, with 25 minutes to go. The Yachtsmen were still down 2-1 until the 75th minute when junior Luke Andrews bailed them out. With the game apparently heading for overtime, senior Jeremy Lydick stepped up and played the hero, scoring with only 14 seconds to go for an improbable 3-2 victory.
“This ranks right there,” said Halligan. “We’ve won some games in overtime, but not being down a goal with five minutes left. (Fryeburg) has talented players. They were difficult to contend with. We kept pushing. The kids did a great job. We sent extra players forward and took chances and it worked out for us.”
The Yachtsmen earned a trip to top-ranked York for the regional final Wednesday. The teams split in the regular season, each winning at home (Falmouth, 2-1 on Sept. 16 and York, 4-0 on Oct. 12). The last playoff meeting between the schools came in the 2007 quarterfinals (a 3-0 Yachtsmen win). Falmouth led the all-time series, 4-0.
“We’ll go down there and try to compete,” said Halligan. “York’s probably the best team. They’re legit. It’s a veteran, senior team. We have veteran underclassmen. We need to match their intensity and be stronger in the air.”
If the Yachtsmen reach the state final for the eighth time since 2000, they would face either Camden Hills (16-0) or Presque Isle (14-1-1) Saturday at a time to be announced at Hampden Academy.
Defending Class B champion Yarmouth hoped for another showdown with Falmouth in the semifinals, but the Clippers couldn’t advance past the quarterfinals.
Yarmouth, ranked third, fell behind No. 6 Fryeburg, 1-0, three minutes into the game and despite pushing the remaining 77 for the tying goal, never got it and finished 9-5-1.
“I told the kids afterwards that we didn’t play badly,” said Clippers coach Mike Hagerty. “We held a good team to two shots. Part of it was because they sat back and weren’t attacking. We had three chances in the first half that I thought would be goals, but (seniors) Sam Torres and Ryan Maguire had to take an extra touch and got blocked by a defender and if (senior) Eamon (Costello) hadn’t had a haircut, he would have had a goal. He missed it by a fraction of an inch. We got close, but we couldn’t quite get over the hunt. We won so many close games this year, maybe some we shouldn’t have. Maybe it caught up with us. We didn’t have the offensive firepower to overcome mistakes.
“It’s the first time we’ve lost in the quarterfinals and the first time we lost to Fryeburg,” he added. “The seniors didn’t want to turn out the lights. It was heartbreaking for them, but given the obstacles we had to overcome, we have a lot to celebrate. We competed in every game. To go 10 games without a loss in our conference is significant. I feel really badly for Sam, Ryan and (senior goalkeeper) Chris (Knaub) who took turns carrying us and (senior) Josh (Britten) who didn’t get to play.”
Look for Yarmouth to bounce back in 2012.
“I’m already looking forward to next year,” Hagerty said. “I like what I have coming back. Our young kids played well this year.”
Freeport, the eighth seed, went to No. 1 York for the quarterfinals and gave the Wildcats a scare before falling, 1-0, as its season concluded at 7-8-1.
“The last game of the season was one of our best,” said Falcons coach Joe Heathco. “(Senior) Alex Campbell was finally feeling better from his midseason concussion and did a terrific job in net. He made a couple of fantastic saves to keep us in the game. We did not have a lot of shots, but this team never really took that many shots. We were on the cusp of breaking in on goal several different times and were a constant threat to score. Everyone played to the level that we asked. We ended with a free kick just above and to the side of the box and brought everyone in but could not get the tying goal with 30 seconds left in regulation.
“I’m really pleased with how the season went. The boys were very competitive and we were a much better team at the end of the season. This group was intelligent in their play and did a good job of adjusting their game tactically to accomplish goals at different points in the season.”
Freeport will be hard hit by graduation, but figures to rebound nicely.
“We graduate 10 players in all and many starters,” Heathco said. “It will be especially tough to replace Alex in goal after the season he has had as well as (senior) Jack Dawe and Zach Greene at forward who were a threat to score every time we got possession of the ball. We are returning both center-backs and two midfielders, so hopefully we can put another strong group on the pitch who will compete with the best again next season.”
In Western C, North Yarmouth Academy has done it again. After getting to the regional final as a No. 7 seed in 2009 and to the state final as an eight seed last autumn, the Panthers were the ninth and final team in the regional tournament this fall, but once again have overcome. NYA blanked No. 8 Mt. Abram, 5-0, in the preliminary round, then went to No. 1 St. Dom’s for a renewal of an old rivalry in the quarterfinals.
There, senior Ryan Rousseau played the hero, tying the game at 2-2 in the second half, then getting credited for the winner with five seconds to go (on an own goal), which completed a hat trick and gave the Panthers a stirring 3-2 triumph.
“I just tried to give it a little tap and see what I could do,“ Rousseau said. “(Assistant) coach Will Pike has always told us hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard, so we worked hard all game.”
“We knew in relative terms, compared to the teams above us, we were every bit as competitive,” NYA coach Martyn Keen said. “All I asked (the guys) to do was remember that we’re the defending regional champions no matter what the seedings say and to defend the title with honor and integrity. To go behind twice and show the resiliency we did, I’m very proud.”
That sent the Panthers to No. 4 Lisbon for a thrilling semifinal Friday. NYA took a 1-0 lead on a goal from freshman D.J. Nicholas off a corner kick, but the Greyhounds drew even in the second half. Again, NYA would win it late as sophomore Jackson Cohan-Smith scored on a long blast with 13:05 to play and the Panthers made it stand up to win, 2-1.
“Our wings, we were putting them out wide, and we had a lot of space to go up the middle,” Cohan-Smith said. “I think they got caught back a little and I had a lot of time to dribble. I was just kicking it. I was just trying to make good contact.”
“Lisbon made it very difficult, they’re a very tenacious group,” Keen said. “It’s kind of funny that that keeps happening to us. We have such a tough schedule. I was telling (my assistant coach) earlier, we’re 19-17-4 in three regular seasons, and 8-2 in the playoffs, and all on the road.”
NYA returned to the road Wednesday when it met No. 2 Waynflete in the regional final. The Panthers might have gotten an edge as the game was moved from Waynflete’s snow-laden grass field to the turf at Fitzpatrick Stadium. NYA plays its home games on turf.
The teams played two tight games in the regular season, settling for a 1-1 draw at Waynflete Sept. 14 and a one-goal thriller 16 days later in Yarmouth (won by the Flyers, 2-1). Last year, in the regional final, the Panthers shocked Waynflete, 1-0.
“We’re very pleased to be back in the regional final, especially given the rocky road we had to travel this regular season,” Keen said. “We find ourselves once again paired up with Waynflete. The teams and players know each other well and I would like to think there is a great mutual respect. We played two close games this season. There is no doubt that going in, they’re the favored team, but we are well used to the underdog role and we know that on any given day, anything is possible. We would love to get back to the state final, but so too would Waynflete, so it should be a great game. I know my boys are playing very good soccer right now and hopefully they have peaked at the most opportune time.”
If NYA makes it back to the Class C state final it will meet either Houlton (13-2-1) or Orono (11-4-1) Saturday at a time to be determined at Hampden Academy.
In Western A, Greely got back to the playoffs this fall after a year away and earned the No. 8 seed. The Rangers held off Marshwood in overtime in the preliminary round and gave top-ranked Scarborough a scare in the quarterfinals, but ultimately fell, 1-0, to finish 8-7-1.
“I thought we could have won,” Greely coach Mike Andreasen said. “We dominated the second half, but only had one real good chance. (Scarborough’s) tough defensively, although they’re a cut below where they’ve been offensively.
“Our team and our entire program feel real good about our season and our outlook for 2012 looks good as well, he added. “We blended some experienced players with some newcomers to rejoin the playoff scene after missing it a year ago. Several underclassmen played key roles in our development and our 10 seniors provided leadership and drive toward our postseason run. In addition, our JV team won the ‘Best of the West Tournament.’ Overall, it was an extremely positive season for our entire program.”
Sun Journal staff writers Kalle Oakes and Justin Pelletier contributed to this story
Greely senior Joshua Nason gets his head on the ball during last week’s quarterfinal round loss at Scarborough.