Falmouth rallies to stun Scarborough in OT

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A host of Scarborough and Falmouth players go for a header on a corner kick during their contest Tuesday night. The Yachtsmen rallied to win in overtime, 2-1. 

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

FALMOUTH—The first countable regular season meeting in 15 years between perennial boys’ soccer powers Falmouth and Scarborough was certainly worth the wait.

That’s because when the Red Storm and Yachtsmen finally did square off Tuesday evening, 80 minutes weren’t enough to determine a winner.

After a scoreless first half, Scarborough stunned the hosts just 21 seconds into the second half when junior Noah Drapeau set up senior Brandon Wasser for the game’s first goal.

The Red Storm managed to protect that advantage until 14:53 remained, when determined Falmouth sophomore Tom Fitzgerald willed the ball into the goal to tie the score.

The contest would go to overtime and there, 3 minutes, 29 seconds in, senior Nate Arrants produced his latest game-winner, burying a shot just inside the far post, to give the Yachtsmen a critical, inspirational 2-1 victory.

Falmouth improved to 8-2, remained atop the fluid Class A South Heal Points standings and dropped Scarborough to 7-3, ending the Red Storm’s five-game win streak in the process.

“It’s always nice to play a good, well-coached team,” said longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan, who won his 365th game with the program. “You look forward to games like this.”

Old friends

Falmouth and Scarborough once met regularly when both were part of the Western Maine Conference. That changed in 2003, when the Red Storm joined the Southwestern Maine Activities Association and there were many years over the next decade when the two powers were arguably the state’s best, but never met in a countable game (Scarborough won a Class A title with Falmouth taking Class B in both 2009 and 2012). 

The squads did meet in the 2015 Western A semifinals, which Scarborough won, 3-0, en route to a trip to the state final.

This fall, with Falmouth becoming a member of the SMAA, the rivalry is renewed and both teams are, to no one’s surprise, near the top of the standings.

The Red Storm started with a 1-0 loss at Deering, then blanked visiting Thornton Academy, 4-0 and rallied for a 3-2 home win over Westbrook. After a 3-0 loss at defending regional champion Gorham in a playoff rematch, Scarborough blanked visiting Biddeford (6-0), host Massabesic (4-0) and visiting Noble (11-0). The Red Storm then downed host Kennebunk (3-1), giving longtime coach Mark Diaz his 250th career win and Thursday, shut out visiting Windham, 5-0.

Falmouth blanked Cheverus in the opener (1-0), then lost at Bonny Eagle, 2-1. The Yachtsmen then rattled off six in a row, downing host Noble (7-0), visiting Portland (1-0, in overtime), host Sanford (1-0), visiting Westbrook (3-0), host Marshwood (2-1) and visiting Deering (2-1), before falling at South Portland, 2-0.

Tuesday, on a chilly evening (57 degrees), in the team’s first countable regular season meeting since Sept. 23, 2001 (a 3-1 Yachtsmen victory in Falmouth), the hosts dug a hole, but extended the game before ending it in memorable, triumphant fashion.

Fitzgerald almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute, eluding a defender before just missing wide.

A minute later, at the other end, Yachtsmen freshman goalkeeper Alvaro Fuentes-Cantillana got to a through ball just before Wasser, who was tackled in the process.

After Arrants sent a blast high in the 10th minute, a Fitzgerald shot was deflected and saved.

With 24:06 left in the first half, Yachtsmen junior Niklas Hester had a great bid, but Red Storm senior goalkeeper Morgan Pratt dove to make the save.

After Pratt denied a header by Falmouth junior Josh LeFevre, a Fitzgerald throw-in was knocked over the head of Pratt, but was cleared off the line by a Scarborough defender at the last second.

Late in the half, Fitzgerald and Arrants just missed wide, Red Storm senior Nick Anderson sent a header just high and Wasser shot wide, sending the game to the half still scoreless.

It didn’t stay scoreless for long when the second half commenced.

Before the Yachtsmen knew what hit them, Scarborough was racing down the field and Wasser passed to Drapeau, who gave the ball back and Wasser one-timed a shot past Fuentes-Cantillana to make it 1-0 just 21 seconds into the second half.

“It was a lack of communication,” Halligan said. “You have to finish the play.”

The Red Storm then managed to protect the lead for quite awhile.

After Pratt denied LeFevre in front, he stopped a shot from the side by Fitzgerald, then dove to deny senior Eli Friedman. That led to a corner kick that was cleared out to Arrants, whose shot was saved by Pratt.

After Falmouth senior Ben Wuesthoff shot high, Hester and junior Kyle Bouchard had shots saved by Pratt, a Fitzgerald rush was broken up and a Fitzgerald free kick was headed away by a defender.

After Hester just missed on a header with 18:45 remaining, it appeared Scarborough might just get out of town with a victory, but the Yachtsmen’s next scoring chance produced the equalizer.

With 14:53 to play, Fitzgerald fought his way into the box, had an initial shot blocked, then got the ball back and poked it past Pratt to make it 1-1.

“We knew with that many shots, we were bound to score one eventually,” Arrants said. “We didn’t give up. Tom had plenty of chances and he got that one.”

“Tom did a nice job fighting for that ball,” Halligan said. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Diaz felt the goal should have never happened. 

“It should have been a foul, then they slid the ball over, the shot got deflected, then he went and got it and finished,” Diaz lamented. “We should have cleared it, but he made a nice move on my back.”

After Arrants missed on a go-ahead bid with 6:47 to play, he got another chance as time wound down, but Pratt made the save and the game would go to overtime.

In the first of two potential five-minute, “sudden victory” extra sessions, Falmouth completed the comeback with a sensational goal.

Bouchard had a the first chance, just 84 seconds in, but Pratt went all out and dove to make the save.

At the other end, Scarborough got a free kick, but junior Liam Bridgham’s long serve was punched away by Fuentes-Cantillana.

The Yachtsmen then transitioned back to offense and Hester passed to Arrants on the left flank. Arrants then dribbled into the box and with a defender in front of him, stopped, got a glimpse of daylight and with 1:31 on the clock, rifled a shot into the upper right corner of the net, just inside the post for a 2-1 victory.

“We pressed them hard the whole time,” Arrants said. “We had the momentum at the end of the second half. We were playing better soccer. We knew we’d get an opportunity and had to finish it. Coach told me to not hit a home run, but hit a single. I stopped the ball and mentally, everything slowed down, I saw the corner and I sent it in. It’s always fun to score a winning goal.”

“It was nice to see Nate step up,” Halligan said. “He’s been a marked man all season. He became a scorer instead of a shooter and that’s what we need from him. I was pleased that we got down and didn’t quit. Good players make adjustments. I was hoping we’d get one. You never know in this game.”

“It was a nice goal at the end,” Diaz said. “He cut it back inside and we didn’t slide over in time. We sold out a little bit on the free kick. We went for the win.”

Falmouth finished with a 13-2 advantage in shots on frame and a 5-1 edge in corner kicks. Fuentes-Cantillana made one save.

Pratt stopped 11 shots for the Red Storm, but it wasn’t enough.

“We played well enough to win, but (Falmouth) played well too,” Diaz said. “They’re a good team. My guys battled and it could have gone either way.”

There for the taking

Without a clear favorite in Class A South, both Falmouth and Scarborough can entertain legitimate title dreams. Each has work to do in the final two weeks of the regular season.

The Red Storm (now sixth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) hope to bounce back Thursday when they host Cheverus. After playing at Bonny Eagle next Tuesday, Scarborough welcomes Portland and closes at Sanford.

“This would have been a nice win, but we’ll have to reload on Thursday,” Diaz said. “I think the top nine teams could beat anybody. There’s a lot of parity. I don’t know if some of these games are upsets. You have to be ready to play every night. We have to move the ball better and get a little stronger on the ball and we will.”

The Yachtsmen are at Thornton Academy Thursday, host Gorham next Tuesday, then close with games at Biddeford and at home versus Kennebunk.

They hope to remain on top of the standings to be able to play on turf in the postseason.

“Things are going great,” Arrants said. “We’ve been working hard. We weren’t projected to finish that high, so we want to prove ourselves and that’s what we’ve been doing. We have the biggest field and we love that.”

“As long as I keep seeing improvement, I’ll be satisfied,” Halligan said. “A lot of teams are improved with the opportunity to play club soccer, so we have to continue to improve. We can’t rest on our laurels. This was a big game, now the next big game is Thornton. We want to play on our big field, not on a small, grass field. That’s important for the style we play.”

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

Falmouth senior Nate Arrants works on a couple Scarborough defenders. Arrants had the game winner in OT.

Falmouth senior Brendan Hickey plays the ball.

Scarborough senior Nick Anderson knocks Falmouth sophomore Tom Fitzgerald off the ball.

Scarborough senior goalkeeper Morgan Pratt leaps to make a save.

Falmouth senior Eli Friedman plays the ball up the sideline as Scarborough junior Collin MacLeod tries to keep pace.

Falmouth senior Ben Wuesthoff heads the ball.

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