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Another huge road win for Greely boys' soccer

Sports

Another huge road win for Greely boys' soccer

FALMOUTH—After losing in its home finale to Cape Elizabeth Oct. 2, the Greely boys' soccer team had dropped two of three games, had a record of 7-4 and was searching for its identity. With a trio of road tests looming to finish the year, the Rangers were staring at a .500 record and a low playoff seed.

Then, the Rangers stared back and produced arguably the greatest four-day stretch in program history.

After handling defending Class C state champion Waynflete, 4-1, Wednesday, Greely shrugged off a nine-game, five-year losing streak to powerhouse Yarmouth 2-0, Thursday night. Saturday evening, the Rangers came to defending Class B state champion Falmouth with a chance to avenge their most agonizing loss of the 2012 season.

On Sept. 11, Greely was literally seconds away from a key win over visiting Falmouth, but the Yachtsmen drew even with 3.4 seconds remaining, then triumphed in double overtime.

Thirty-two days later, the Rangers had their shot at revenge and an opportunity to put a punctuation mark on the regular season and did so in dramatic fashion.

After a first half marked by missed opportunities on both sides, Falmouth controlled play in the second half, but couldn't break through. Then, with 8:42 to play, Greely got a rare chance and freshman Jacob Nason delivered, firing a shot that deflected past Yachtsmen junior goalkeeper Will D'Agostino for the game's lone goal. The Rangers went on to a 1-0 win to finish the regular season 10-4, lock up the No. 3 spot for the playoffs and drop Falmouth to 8-3-2.

"We knew this game didn't matter that much for us for the (standings), but it did for us, especially after the way we lost the first time," said Greely coach Mike Andreasen. "We beat everybody on the schedule. We've improved. I thought Falmouth had the better of play tonight, but these guys can bounce back from any setback."

Prelude

Greely missed the playoffs in 2010, got back last fall (falling to Scarborough in the Western A quarterfinals) and this year, had high hopes, but through 11 games, the Rangers' seven victories had been counter balanced by four tough setbacks: to Falmouth (3-2, in double overtime), York (1-0), Yarmouth (1-0) and Cape Elizabeth (1-0). That last loss appeared to doom Greely's hopes for a high seed, but everything changed in the regular season's final days.

Falmouth, which peaked late in 2011 and won yet another Class B championship, has also been dominant at times this autumn, while suffering some frustrating results along the way. The Yachtsmen's eight victories came by a composite 36-3 margin. Falmouth settled for ties at Yarmouth (2-2) and York (1-1) and fell at home to the Clippers (2-1, in double overtime) and at Cape Elizabeth (1-0).

Entering Saturday's contest, dating back to 2001, Falmouth had won 15 of 23 meetings against Greely, with five of those contests ending in draws. This time, however, on a chilly night with a raucous crowd on hand, the Rangers had the last word.

Just 68 seconds in, the tone was set when Falmouth senior Cooper Lycan got a look, but shot high. Moments later, sophomore Luke Velas' shot from the side was denied by Greely senior goalkeeper Elijah Leverett and a free kick by senior J.P. White was punched away by Leverett and cleared by the Rangers' defense.

Greely's first chance came in the 11th minute when a cross from Nason was cleared.

The Rangers then had three golden opportunities, but D'Agostino stood tall.

With 26:02 to go in the first half, Nason fed sophomore Ben Ingraham, but D'Agostino cut off the angle and Ingraham shot wide. Two minutes later, Nason took a pass from junior Aidan Black and fired a shot that D'Agostino had to dive to save. With 20:37 left before halftime, Nason fed sophomore Mitchel Donovan, whose shot forced D'Agostino to go all out again in horizontal fashion to deny the goal.

At the other end, Lycan had a look, but Leverett made a save.

With 13:26 to go in the half, a low shot by White forced Leverett to dive to make the save.

Falmouth senior Grant Burfeind then got in on the act, but twice shot wide.

With 3:20 remaining, White sent a back heel pass to Burfeind, who ran up the left side before crossing to Lycan in front of the box. Lycan had a great look, but shot high and the game remained scoreless at the break.

While te first half was relatively even, most of the second belonged to the Yachtsmen.

With 37:08 left in regulation, a shot by White was deflected off the side of the net, setting up a corner kick.

Three minutes later, Burfeind burst past a defender, but Leverett denied his left-footed flick.

With 24:05 remaining in regulation, a throw from Falmouth junior Nick Burton was headed on goal by Velas, but Leverett made the save.

Five minutes later, a Velas cross was headed on target by Burfeind, but again Leverett stood tall.

With 18:01 left, Burfeind outfought a defender for a loose ball in the box, but his shot went wide.

With just over 10 minutes to go, Burfeind's cross was deflected on target, but again Leverett snared it.

Then, Greely transitioned to offense, finally got a break and cashed it in.

With 8:42 to play, Nason, the super frosh, did the honors, beating a defender and attempting a cross which wound up bouncing off another defender and beating D'Agostino low into the far left side of the goal.

"I was just taking whatever I could get because they were man-marking me with (senior Tom Wilberg)," Nason said. "When I saw I beat him, I just took it. I didn't mean to shoot it. It was a cross. It was a lucky deflection. I'll take it."

"I think these two goalies are as good as anybody," Andreasen said. "I thought a goal would have to be fluky. Jacob's like a junior or senior with his headiness. I'm glad I have him three more years. He's special. He scores big goals."

Falmouth, which has made a habit of salvaging wins or ties from late deficits this fall, pushed to answer, but other than a corner kick with 6:32 remaining (which didn't even result in a shot) and a Burfeind cross in the final minute that was headed out of harm's way by Rangers senior Nicholas Shain, it couldn't generate chances.

The final horn sounded and Greely had completed its regular season in stirring fashion.

"It feels great," Nason said. "We really brought it. I knew we could do it. Last time was hard. It crushed my heart. Today was good. We knew we weren't communicating well. In practice, we started to peak this past week. It's paid off."

"We were searching for answers," Andreasen said. "We were searching for playmakers. I think we found one. Not just (Nason). Elijah Leverett's a playmaker. (Junior defender) Sam Porter's a playmaker. (Junior midfielder) Matt Crowley's a playmaker. (Senior) Doug Mitiguy played well for us in the second half. He had a bloody nose. Not everyone can run with Grant Burfeind and he did. Burfeind can make people look silly. He's so fast and so good. Mitchel Donovan told me before the game he had a knee injury and needed shorted minutes. Shortened minutes were from 80 to 72. He's a warrior. If he has one leg, he'd hop around. That's the kind of kid you need.

"We got back on the map last year. This year we wanted to go a step further and make a dent. We've made strides. I didn't think we'd get to 10-4 when we were 7-4, but the kids persevered and were mentally tough."

Falmouth shook off the defeat as a solid effort which just wasn't rewarded.

"You don't get points for possession," said Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. "You have to put the ball in the net. It was a great game. Both teams played well, getting ready for the tournament. (Greely) should do exceptionally well in the A tournament. They've come a long way, which is what I hope we're going to do. I'm not upset at my players. I wish I could be upset with something we didn't do, but we just didn't put the ball in the net. If we hadn't created opportunities, I'd be more concerned. "

Look ahead

Falmouth and Greely almost always enjoy regular season success, but these programs are all about winning championships and each has a very good chance to do so in the weeks the come.

The Yachtsmen appear moored to the No. 3 spot in the Western Class B Heal Points standings. Falmouth closes at home versus No. 4 York Tuesday in a contest which could shake things up a bit.

Regardless of where they finish, the Yachtsmen have what it takes for another championship run. Overlook them at your peril.

"We don't worry about the (Heal Points)," Halligan said. "We just worry about what we can take care of. We had a tough ending stretch with Cape, Yarmouth, York and Greely. I think we're making progress."

Greely will be third behind Scarborough and Gorham (who are still battling it out for the top spot) in Western A. The Rangers won't take the field again until the quarterfinal round Oct. 24.

After this great regular season-ending run, Greely will enter the postseason full of confidence.

"I think we have a good run in us," said Nason. "We'll have a good week of practice. I think we're in good shape."

"Scarborough and Gorham have similar firepower to Falmouth," said Andreasen. "It comes down to a play here or there. What I like about our team, for as long as I can remember, we've had a better road record than home record, which means we can get on a bus and go win. I'm happy this team has heart and playmakers. We could lose our first game, but I think we're in a pretty good position. We'll give it our best. If it's not good enough, it's not good enough."

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

Recent Falmouth-Greely meetings

2012

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 2 (2 OT)

2011

@ Falmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 1 Falmouth 0

2010

Falmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0

2009

Falmouth 4 @ Greely 2
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 1

2008

@ Falmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)

2007

@ Falmouth 2 Greely 1
Falmouth 2 @ Greely 1

2006

@ Greely 2 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)

2005

Falmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 1

2004

Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 2 Greely 0

2003

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2

2002

@ Falmouth 4 Greely 1
@ Greely 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)

2001

Falmouth 3 @ Greely 0
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 0

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