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Greely takes a pair at Yarmouth

Sports

Greely takes a pair at Yarmouth

YARMOUTH—Heal Points galore, and a big dose of bragging rights to boot, were there for the taking Thursday evening when Greely and Yarmouth did battle in a soccer doubleheader.

At the end of the night, both the Rangers girls' and boys' teams headed back to Cumberland happy and triumphant.

In the girls' game, Greely fell behind early when Clippers senior Tess Merrill scored in the fourth minute, but the Rangers came out sizzling in the second half, drew even on freshman Izzy Hutnak's tally and went ahead for good with 27:36 remaining when senior Julia Mitiguy scored. Greely's defense did the rest and the Rangers improved to 8-3-1 with a 2-1 victory, dropping Yarmouth to 3-6-4.

In the nightcap, history was made as the Rangers snapped a five-year, nine-game losing streak to the Clippers. After a scoreless first half, Greely got the only goal it would need just 74 seconds into the second half, thanks to a great individual effort from sophomore Mitchel Donovan. With 27:16 to go, Rangers freshman Jacob Nason finished a feed from junior Matt Crowley and the Greely defense did the rest, slamming the door on a 2-0 win which lifted the Rangers to 9-4 and dropped Yarmouth to 9-1-3.

Closing strong

The Yarmouth girls didn't enter the game with a glowing record, but the Clippers have been a thorn in the side of good teams this fall, tying two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth and perennial contender York. Yarmouth was riding a three-game unbeaten string, having tied host Freeport (1-1) and visiting Gray-New Gloucester (0-0) last week before downing visiting Fryeburg (1-0) Tuesday.

Greely was just 3-3 after six games, but has come on big-time since. The Rangers entered the game on a 4-0-1 run, a surge that started with a 3-0 victory at Gray-New Gloucester and continued with a 3-0 home win over Yarmouth Sept. 27. After beating visiting York in impressive fashion (4-0), Greely settled for a scoreless tie at Cape Elizabeth, then defeated visiting Waynflete (3-0).

Entering the game, the Rangers had beaten the Clippers 15 of 22 meetings (with five ties) dating back to the start of the 2001 season (please see sidebar), including each of the past four encounters

Thursday, Yarmouth got a quick jump when Merrill scored in the fourth minute, unassisted, for a 1-0 lead. The Clippers almost extended the lead, but Greely managed to dodge a few bullets (Rangers senior goalkeeper Caton Beaulieu twice came out late in the half to break up rushes from Merrill and junior Alexa Sullivan).

"It was a great first half," said Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. "We didn't give them many opportunities at all. We had really good opportunities. We sailed one over the net, sent one wide and their keeper made a great save."

"It was a funky first half for us," said Greely coach Michael Kennedy. "It's hard for us to play against through ball teams. It's so different than what we play. We find ourselves either watching the ball go back and forth or not playing our game. We've only given up five goals all year. It wasn't a great goal. We gave that one to them."

The Rangers were clearly a different team in the second half and soon drew even.

With 31:53 to play in regulation, on a corner kick, junior Leah Young sent the ball on goal. It came to Mitiguy, who redirected it in front, where Hutnak was there to send it into the net, making it 1-1.

"We definitely picked it up, came out and set the tone," said Mitiguy. "We were first to the ball and set the pace. We didn't come out ready to play. They set the tone in the first half, but we turned that around and had more intensity in the second half. It's important to score early in the second half."

Four minutes later, Greely had the lead.

After Yarmouth failed to clear the ball out of the zone, Mitiguy collected it at the top of the box and had a clear look at the cage. Her shot eluded Clippers sophomore goalkeeper Shannon Fallon (three saves) and the Rangers had the lead, 2-1.

"I think the ball just came to me," Mitiguy said. "I couldn't have asked for a better ball. I just had to finish."

"I told (the girls) that during the playoffs, second half adjustments make the difference," Kennedy said. "It was good experience for us to be down today. We had to make adjustments and get focused. They did a great job. I'm really proud of them for that. In the second half, we played our game. We had combinations and scored early goals. We have the three-headed monster of Julia, (junior) Allie (Morrill) and Izzy. It's hard to track the three of them. They're always moving. It's hard to keep them down for two halves."

Yarmouth's best chances to tie the game came with 25:50 remaining when Sullivan's rush was broken up by Beaulieu (one save) and with 8:17 left when Merrill's rush was thwarted by Greely freshman Margaret Hatch.

The Rangers closed the door from there and prevailed, 2-1.

"(The girls) did a good job keeping their composure," said Kennedy. "Second half, we played our line higher and played better. There's still a ways to go. It's a younger team. We're still getting it. In the last six games, we've only given up one goal."

Yarmouth continued its season-long trend of playing tough teams close with no victory to show for it.

"The second half, (Greely) put more numbers up and we didn't mark them like we needed to," Smith said. "They're definitely a good team and they stepped up. We didn't match them. I feel like we're close. We're as good as anybody. When the girls put their minds to it, they can do it. We've played good teams tough."

Yarmouth (ninth in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) closes the regular season Saturday at home versus York. Smith would like a tie or win to ensure the Clippers are one of the 11 teams to make the postseason cut.

"We're trying to stay positive and make it into the playoffs," Smith said. "We might need to win (Saturday)."

Greely moved up to fifth in Western A with the win and finishes with games at Falmouth Saturday and Lake Region Monday. The Rangers, who will be bolstered by the return from injury of standout senior defender Holly Rand, could be quite a handful when the playoffs begin.

"I definitely think we're peaking at the right time," said Mitiguy. "You can never stop improving."

"We're moving in the right direction," Kennedy said. "Saturday's a big game. The past two years we've had great success on (Falmouth's) field. I'd love to stay in sixth and stay in the 2-3 side of the bracket. We're heading in the right direction."

Main event

Both boys' teams are jockeying for playoff positioning and the winner knew it would be helped immensely in its quest.

Greely has been competitive all season, but one goal losses to Falmouth (3-2, in double overtime), York (1-0), Yarmouth (1-0) and Cape Elizabeth (1-0) had pushed them back in the standings. A 4-1 victory at Waynflete Wednesday helped the cause, but didn't give the Rangers much time to prepare for the Clippers.

Yarmouth has played very well all year, beating Cape Elizabeth twice (4-1 and 2-1) and tying and beating rival Falmouth, but since the win over the Yachtsmen, the Clippers haven't been at their best, settling for a 0-0 home tie versus Freeport and barely edging host Gray-New Gloucester (2-1) and host Fryeburg (1-0, in double OT, avenging last year's playoff loss in the process).

The rivalry has been decidedly in Yarmouth's favor since 2007 (please see sidebar), as the Clippers entered the game on a nine-game win streak versus the Rangers, taking 10 of 11 overall in that span, including a 1-0 win in Cumberland Sept. 27 on junior Max Watson's early goal, which held up.

Thursday, Greely's agony finally came to an end.

There weren't many chances for either team in the first half.

In the 11th minute, Donovan's through ball to Nason was snared by Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Andrew Fochler.

The Rangers had back-to-back corner kicks with 26 minutes to go, but no shots resulted.

The hosts' first good chance came in the 21st minute when dangerous junior David Murphy fired a low, 30-yard free kick just wide of the goal.

Five minutes later, the Clippers' best opportunity sailed high as Watson, after a taking a pass from junior Travis Hamre, had a great look from the top of the box, but misfired.

In the 28th minute, a low shot by Yarmouth sophomore Adam LaBrie was saved by Greely senior goalkeeper Elijah Leverett.

With 10:19 to play before halftime, a low, bending free kick by Watson was saved by Leverett at the far post.

With 8:05 remaining, a rush by Nason was broken up by Fochler.

The complexion of the contest took on a somber note with 7:36 left when Yarmouth senior captain Thomas Sullivan, one of the league's top grinders, lost his balance on the sidelines and suffered a leg injury.

The second half would belong to Greely and finally, the Rangers got to play the Clippers from ahead, thanks to Donovan.

Just 1 minute, 14 seconds into the second half, Greely senior Nicholas Shain threw the ball ahead to Donovan on the left sideline. Donovan shook off Yarmouth senior defender Ethan Cyr and raced in one-on-one on Fochler. Donovan fired a low shot to the near side and the diving Fochler couldn't get a hand on it.

Greely 1 Yarmouth 0.

"It was a great throw by Nick," said Donovan. "I just went down the line and saw the goalie cheating for a cross, so I put it near post."

"Mitchel's goal was big, but the problem was it was early," said Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. "If there's a team, this side of Falmouth, who can come back, it's Yarmouth. We were concerned. I liked that we kept attacking."

"Great players make great plays," said Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. "I think Mitchel is one of the most underrated players in our conference because he's so dangerous. He scored a great goal. That changed things."

The Clippers had only trailed two previous times this fall, by a 2-0 margin in a season-opening 2-2 draw at North Yarmouth Academy and 1-0 early at Cape Elizabeth, in the 2-1 win. The risk of a Yarmouth comeback was real, but Greely's staunch defense and Leverett didn't let it happen.

In the 48th minute, a free kick by Murphy, intended for LaBrie, was headed out by a Rangers defender to Clippers junior Ben Decker, whose shot was deflected.

Two minutes later, a free kick just outside the box by Decker was chipped just over the crossbar.

Greely transitioned back to offense and with 27:16 to play, got a huge second goal.

Crowley got the play started by saving the ball on the end line and turning to pass to Nason, who one-timed a shot through a screen that Fochler (three saves) couldn't stop.

Greely 2 Yarmouth 0.

"At the beginning of the season, we were struggling to find a perfect shot, but now, we take shots and they're bound to go in," said Leverett.

"That second goal, Andrew will make that save nine of 10 times," said Hagerty. "It went under his hands. He'll beat himself up mentally, but his teammates need to block that shot. He didn't play poorly."

As expected, the Clippers pushed hard to answer, but never had a great chance.

With 19:23 to play, a serve by senior Drew Grout was punched away by Leverett.

With 8:55 to go, Shain cleared a shot attempt by Yarmouth junior Wyatt Jackson.

With a minute remaining, a Clippers' corner kick landed in the box, but Greely senior Connor Kinkead sent it out of harm's way and the visitors were never threatened again.

At 7:49 p.m., after five years and one day, after nine bouts of futility and disappointment and for the first time since this year's seniors were seventh graders and this year's freshmen were in the fourth grade, the Rangers were able to celebrate a victory over the Clippers, 2-0.

"It feels so good," said Leverett, who had previously lost to Yarmouth as the starting goalie as a sophomore, junior and senior. "We knew they'd come out as hard as we do, so that meant we had to go that much harder. We knew we could win it."

"It's big for us going into the playoffs," said Donovan. "It made us feel like we can go in strong and win some games. It's been a long time. It's great to get a win over them at their own house. We played really well and gutted out a win. We knew we had a good opportunity because we had a lot of chances in the first game."

Andreasen hopes this win is a sign of things to come.

"The last time we beat them was in '07, which kind of springboarded us to win the whole thing," Andreasen said. "We also beat them in '04, when they were undefeated (and we went on to win a championship). Hagerty and I do camps together. It will be nice to go to a camp having him not beat me. I think our kids were ready. Our big thing tonight was the second half. I thought we carried play in the first half. I'm really pleased. Yarmouth's a quality team.

"We have kids who can play. These games are great preparation. It's like a playoff game, but it's more important to have kids healthy and ready. We have 11 seniors. There was a lot of motivation. We've had a rough go with Falmouth and Yarmouth the past couple years. It was good to hold on to a lead against a quality opponent. It gets the proverbial monkey off our backs."

Greely's defensive effort was stellar for 80 minutes.

"Everyone was getting back as fast as possible," said Leverett, who made just one save, but did a tremendous job directing his defenders throughout. "We did well with man marking. They have great throw-ins and can get it in the box. We got it right out. I just yell, 'Away!' and they do a great job."

"Our big concern is the final third," said Andreasen. "(The Clippers) make a lot of out nothing, but we were around. They had very few free looks. We negated their runs tonight. Our backs did a good job getting in between the ball and their guys. We wanted to make (Yarmouth) beat us in transition. Our defense is really nice. (Junior) Sam (Porter) and (senior) Nick Dunnett and Elijah, who doesn't get his due. He had a shutout tonight. He beat the big boys tonight. He's got a busted finger, but he's passionate. He deserves his due. In goal, he's been our rock. For us to go far, we need a good defense and goalkeeper, which I think we do."

Yarmouth wasn't able to solve the Rangers and fell from the unbeaten ranks.

"It was a great game," Hagerty said. "(Greely) played great. I thought they outplayed us the first game. They outscored us this game. We just didn't play well enough to win. The whole game, they seemed cleaner and tighter than we did. Give them credit tonight. We weren't clean enough in our offensive third, deciding when to play wide, cross the box or turn and look to shoot. That's also because Greely's pretty good. Their midfield, Crowley and Donovan and (junior Aidan) Black, are as good as anybody. Nason is just nasty, quick and dangerous. Their backs played well tonight. They clogged up our lanes.

"We never mentioned the fact we hadn't lost this year. With our schedule, we don't expect to go undefeated. It's really hard to do that. Our goal seems silly, but we always worry about the next game. We were disappointed that Sully's hurt. He may be OK. It may be more of a hyper-extension, maybe. His effort is so contagious for us. He's not the cleanest player technically, but the kids love to work with him and for him. We really didn't play poorly. Adam hadn't played much until this week. We missed him on offense since he opens it up a lot. We didn't get many shots off. We had 15 or 20 in the other games, but not that many on frame. We don't have a prolific scorer. We've had to shuffle kids around a little bit."

Greely finished with an 8-6 shots advantage (5-1 on frame). The Rangers also had a 3-2 edge in corner kicks.

The Clippers (a close second to Maranacook in the Western B Heals) finish at home Saturday with York in another pivotal showdown. Yarmouth may have lost its opportunity to finish first, but is still hoping for a couple of home playoff games and wants to go into the postseason on a high note.

"Going undefeated was never a goal," said Hagerty. "Our goal is to get a top four seed in the playoffs, preferably a top two seed. If we win or tie Saturday, I think we'll hold the number two seed. That's not a bad place to be."

The Rangers (now third in Western A) close at Falmouth Saturday. Greely, which expects to have injured senior defender Liam Campbell and junior scoring threat Ted Hart back in uniform for the postseason, has the opportunity finish third and vanquish two nemeses as an appetizer to the big show.

"We'll be ready for the next one," said Donovan. "That's a big rivalry. Can't wait for it."

"We're feeling great right now," Leverett said. "The guys are coming together. I feel like it will be a good year for us."

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

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Greely senior goalkeeper Elijah Leverett punches away a corner kick from Yarmouth junior Wyatt Jackson as Rangers junior defender Sam Porter looks on. Leverett and his defense kept the potent Clippers off the board.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth junior Max Watson blows past prone Greely senior defender Doug Mitiguy.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth junior Chandler Smith and Greely senior Richard Stone fight for the ball.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Greely junior Matt Crowley fires the ball ahead.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth junior Ben Decker plays the ball up the field.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Yarmouth junior Chandler Smith eludes Greely sophomore Mitchel Donovan.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Greely sophomore Ben Ingraham heads the ball away from Yarmouth senior Michael Smith.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Greely freshman Jacob Nason (12) and senior Nicholas Shain celebrate Nason's goal, which gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

Recent Greely-Yarmouth results

Girls

2012
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0

2011
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 1

2010
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1 (OT)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

2009
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

2008
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0 (OT)

2007
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 2 (tie)

2006
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)

2005
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1

2004
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)

2003
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)

2002
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1

2001
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 5 @ Yarmouth 1

Boys

2012
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0

2011
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 1

2010
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 3
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 0

2009
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 0
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 0

2008
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1

2007
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

2006
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)

2005
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2004
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 1
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2003
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 3 (tie)

2002
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1

2001
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1