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YARMOUTH—Instead of revenge being served cold, we got a taste of deja vu Tuesday evening.
Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team hosted Greely in an early season showdown and 10 months removed from one of the most agonizing losses in program annals, it sought to even the score, but more frustration would be in store for the Clippers.
With both teams sporting a lot of new faces in new places, good scoring opportunities were few and it would be the Rangers producing the game’s lone tally.
In the 53rd minute, after Yarmouth failed to catch Greely off guard with a short corner, the Rangers caught the Clippers in transition and senior Ben Ingraham set up junior Jacob Nason for a breakaway and Nason wouldn’t be denied, finishing to put Greely ahead.
While Yarmouth would scratch and claw until the very end and just miss the target on a couple occasions, in the end, the Rangers held on for a 1-0 victory.
Greely took the first of this year’s showdowns, improved to 2-0 on the young season and dropped the Clippers to 1-1 in the process.
“I didn’t really know where we stood,” said longtime Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. “We’re both a step off right now from where we were. They’re not quite as dominant, but I still thought they were the better squad in terms of overall possession play. It came down to one play. We’ll both be a lot better. Tonight was just round one.”
Last year’s regional final setback was undoubtedly one that lingers still. Rest assured that as soon as this year’s schedule was released, that the Clippers had Tuesday night circled in ink.
The Yarmouth-Greely rivalry was always strong, but it was escalated last fall due to the Rangers moving down from Class A, meaning a playoff meeting was likely.
The teams met three times in 2013, with little separation.
In the first contest, in Cumberland, the Clippers rallied late from a 2-0 deficit to forge a 2-2 tie. Yarmouth then rolled at home in the regular season finale, 4-1, to lock up the top seed for the tournament and seemingly stake its claim as the team to beat.
Then came the regional final.
There, the Clippers, coming off a stunningly easy 5-0 win over Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, got a quick jump and appeared headed to another lopsided triumph when Max Watson scored in the second minute.
But Greely refused to go quietly and turned momentum seven minutes later on a goal from Nason.
Then, with just 8:09 to play, Matt Crowley cemented his legend with a gorgeous individual goal and after the Rangers fended off some late Yarmouth forays, they celebrated a 2-1 victory.
The Clippers were left forlorn, while Greely went on to edge Camden Hills, 1-0, to win the Class B championship.
While both teams have a different look in 2014, both see themselves as title-worthy again.
Yarmouth opened with a 7-0 win at Poland, as longtime coach Mike Hagerty earned his 200th victory with the program.
Greely also won its opener, 7-0, over visiting Fryeburg.
Entering the first of two (possibly three) meetings this fall, Yarmouth held a 13-9 advantage (with five ties) since the start of the 2001 season (see sidebar, below).
Tuesday evening, in front of a large and vocal gathering, the Clippers hoped for a small dose of revenge from last year, but instead, the Rangers made it two in a row at Yarmouth.
Neither team enjoyed much breathing room in the first half and there were only a couple of instances that resembled anything close to a scoring chance.
The first came in the 12th minute when Clippers junior Patrick Grant fed the ball to dangerous senior Adam LaBrie, but Greely senior goalkeeper John Wright came out to snare the ball.
Seven minutes later, the Rangers almost went ahead, but junior Nick Pronovost shot just high.
Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Alex Lyon was forced to make a save in front on a one-timer off the foot of Greely sophomore Paul Bischoff in the 21st minute and with 16:50 to go before halftime, Clippers junior Nick Kamra had a look, but Wright stopped it.
“It felt like both teams were a little bit ramped up and not playing with the skill they have,” Hagerty said. “There wasn’t a lot of possession in the first half especially.”
Things remained tight in the second half and the feeling was that either a mistake or a nice individual play would decide matters.
After Grant had a cross broken up by Wright and Rangers sophomore Hunter Graham shot just wide at the other end, the decisive sequence occurred.
With 27:55 left in regulation, Yarmouth senior Connor Lainey rocketed a shot that showed great promise, but Wright tipped it over the crossbar setting up a corner kick.
“We were concerned because (last year’s goalie) Alex (McAdoo) was bigger and could go up high better, but tonight, John had to come up big and he did,” said Andreasen.
The Clippers scoring chance didn’t go as scripted, however, as they played the corner short, turned the ball over and in the blink of an eye, Greely went the other way for the goal.
it would be Ingraham delivering the perfect pass on to the foot of Nason, the player who doesn’t miss when he goes one-on-one with a goalie, and Nason sent a shot past Lyon to make it 1-0 with 27:21 to play.
“I got it on transition and I saw it was two-on-one, so I just waited for the defender to commit and I played it to Nason in space,” said Ingraham. “I knew he’d finish.”
“I just waited for my turn and hoped to capitalize,” said Nason, who has long had a flair for the dramatic goal. “I saw Ben counter. I saw the center-back shift one way so I held my run. Ben played a brilliant ball and I just one-touched it. The goalie came way out. I couldn’t take a touch.”
“That was great,” added Andreasen. “It’s kind of the way you draw it up. Ben drew (Yarmouth junior defensive standout) Walter (Conrad) toward him and Walter’s so good. If you get Jacob a look, you know he’ll bury it.”
Yarmouth could only tip its cap.
“(Greely) showed why they’re dangerous,” Hagerty said. “They got a counterattack goal that was a nice finish. they took advantage of our mistake. The guys have the freedom to call the short corner. I actually think it would have worked if we did it earlier. I think it’s a good play that will work.”
A lot of time still remained and the Clippers would be on the offensive for most of the rest of regulation.
With 15:11 to play, LaBrie sent a blast just wide.
Four minutes later, Lyon kept his team’s hopes alive by saving a header by Graham off a free kick from junior Lucas Watt.
With 8:09 showing, a Conrad left-footed rocket from 40 yards out just sailed over the crossbar.
“We have kids who can snipe from a long distance,” Hagerty said.
Three minutes later, Yarmouth earned a corner kick, but a shot from junior Matthew Beatty hit the side netting.
With 2:52 left, Lainey sent a floater that barely stayed high and that proved to be the Clippers’ last chance.
Just as they did last November, the Rangers managed to slam the door, run out the clock and celebrate a victory on Yarmouth’s turf.
“This shows we can come together and win,” said Ingraham. “We had a rough preseason, but we finally came together. Our defense is learning and they played really well this game. It was high pressure at the end. They gunned for us, but we held them off. We knew LaBrie is one of their top players, but we just focused on playing good defense.”
“Yarmouth’s good,” Nason said. “After last year, they were raring to come at us. We knew we had to step it up early and stay strong. I thought we held our own and we kept going. We handled it pretty good.”
On the flip side, the Clippers came up short again against the Rangers, but they promptly put the defeat in perspective.
“It’s something we can learn from,” Hagerty said. “The effort was there. We worked hard. I don’t feel like we got outplayed badly. I thought we actually had a good second half, we just need to get cleaner and I think we can. They exposed some things we’ll get better at.
“I don’t think anyone in Class B will go undefeated like we did last year. We’ll have a lot of games like this. (Yarmouth-Greely) is becoming a great rivalry again. It was always a great game, but now with playoffs at stake and since it’s a Brady Cup game, that adds more to the mix. It’s a healthy rivalry. It was a fun atmosphere. The fans were rocking. We respect Greely. Mike and I are good friends. These kids play together in the offseason. I think this rivalry will stay good for a long time.”
Both teams will have to quickly get over this emotionally draining affair as they each face more tough tests in the days to come.
Yarmouth will need to rebound and refocus, as Cape Elizabeth pays a visit Friday night. The Clippers then play host to Freeport and York.
“This can be a very productive loss for us,” Hagerty said. “I think Cape is on paper the favorite, but if we can play with the intensity we had today, with a little more composure, we’ll be fine.”
Greely has another brutal road test awaiting it, as it goes to Falmouth Saturday night. Before the Rangers host Yarmouth Oct. 17, they’ll play preseason favorite Cape Elizabeth twice, Falmouth again and York twice.
Suffice it say, there’s still a long way to go.
“We’re playing as one,” Nason said. “We’re getting better each day, but so will (Yarmouth).”
“Falmouth will be another big test,” said Ingraham. “It really helps us get ready for the season, playing teams like that at the beginning. It wasn’t the cleanest game tonight. We need to possess more in the midfield. We just need to play together more and pass the ball.”
“This is good for confidence, but now we have to jump in and play Falmouth,” Andreasen added. “This conference, the tough games never end.”
Greely senior Ben Ingraham holds Yarmouth sophomore Henry Coolidge at bay.
Yarmouth senior Garrett Flanagan heads the ball.
Greely sophomore Hunter Graham and Yarmouth junior Matthew Beatty fight for possession.
Greely senior Ben Leverett plays the ball as Yarmouth junior Andrew Beatty gives chase.
Greely junior Jacob Nason skies to head the ball away from Yarmouth junior Walter Conrad. The matchup between one of the state’s prolific scorers and one of its premier defenders was a highlight of the contest.
Greely junior Nick Pronovost tries to get around Yarmouth junior Patrick Grant.
Greely junior Lucas Watt boots the ball over Yarmouth junior Patrick Grant.
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@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)
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Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 1
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Yarmouth junior Patrick Grant splits Greely defenders sophomore Dylan Fried (11) and junior Austin Nowinski during the teams’ showdown Tuesday night. Just as they did in last year’s regional final, the Rangers went into Yarmouth and came out with a victory, this time by a 1-0 margin.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.