Everyone's a winner in first Greely-Yarmouth showdown
CUMBERLAND—The Greely-Yarmouth boys' soccer rivalry has been quite intense over the years, but in the past, the neighbors and longtime powers knew they'd meet twice in the regular season, then go their separate ways.
Now, a potential playoff meeting looms and as a result, the intensity has ratcheted up dramatically.
Tuesday evening at Glenn A. Hutchins Field, the Rangers (ranked third in the Fifth Quarter/Forecaster state boys' soccer poll) hosted the No. 2 Clippers in the teams' first meeting as Class B equals and as expected, a memorable contest ensued.
One that ultimately didn't have resolution, but one that can be viewed as an instant classic nonetheless, one more suitable for October (or even November) than the second week of the season.
Despite carrying play much of the first half, Yarmouth found itself down, 1-0, at halftime after Greely sophomore standout Jacob Nason scored a goal in the 12th minute. When Nason headed home another goal with 26:15 to play, the Rangers appeared destined for a win, but the Clippers, showing the character of the champion they hope to become, pulled within one when senior Wyatt Jackson finished a feed from classmate Ben Decker with 17:22 to go.
Less than eight minutes later, Yarmouth completed the comeback as junior Ben Vigue scored off a corner kick and the game went to overtime.
There, each squad had a golden opportunity to win, but ultimately couldn't score and the contest ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
"I thought a tie was a great result, to be honest," said longtime Greely coach Mike Andreasen. "The first half we outscored them, but it was more their game. The second half was more our game. When we got ahead, 2-0, then it became theirs again."
Ninety minute show
When Yarmouth beat Greely, 1-0, last September in Cumberland, the Clippers stretched their winning streak over the Rangers to nine games (please see sidebar, below), but late in the 2012 regular season, in Yarmouth, Greely finally got off the schneid and blanked the Clippers, 2-0.
Both teams then went on to suffer tough playoff defeats: Greely, 2-1, to eventual champion Scarborough in the Western A semifinals, and Yarmouth, 2-0, to eventual champion Falmouth in the Western B Final.
Each squad entered 2013 full of optimism that this could be their year and both impressed in their respective openers, as the Rangers dominated visiting Fryeburg, 7-0, while the Clippers handled visiting Poland, 4-0.
Tuesday's game was supposed to be played on Yarmouth's new turf field, but it wasn't ready to go and the teams flipped home dates.
As a result, Greely was seeking its first home victory over the Clippers since a 1-0 triumph Oct. 10, 2007, which oh by the way, just happened to be the Rangers' last championship season.
Tuesday's encounter had a postseason feel and both teams displayed what they do best.
Yarmouth outshot Greely, 11-2, in the first half, but the Rangers struck first as a fortunate bounce found its way to Nason on the Clippers' side of midfield and he was able to race past the Yarmouth defense and fire a shot past junior goalkeeper Alex Lyon from 30-yards out to make it 1-0.
Yarmouth pushed hard for the equalizer, but Greely senior goalkeeper Alex McAdoo saved bids by Clippers senior Wyatt Jackson, junior Adam LaBrie and Vigue.
With 1:22 to go before the half, Yarmouth appeared to draw even when senior Wes Crawford served a ball in front where Jackson tipped it past McAdoo. Unfortunately for the Clippers, Jackson was ruled offsides and Greely took a 1-0 lead to the break.
"Statistically, I think we did a really good job in the first half," said longtime Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. "We outshot them, 11-2, but those shots weren't dangerous."
The playing field leveled in the second half and the fun continued.
After a low shot by LaBrie just 23 seconds in was saved by McAdoo, the Rangers began attacking consistently for the first time.
First, Lyon broke up a Nason rush, then he saved a low bid off the foot of junior Reid Howland.
On a free kick with 26:15 to play, Lyon had no answer for Nason, who headed home senior Matt Crowley's serve (bloodying his nose in the process) and Greely appeared in control with a 2-0 advantage.
Nason continues to earn the admiration of the opposition.
"He's a very quick player," said Clippers senior Chandler Smith, who tried his best to stay with Nason for 90 minutes. "He's also a very nice guy. It's a pleasure to play against him. I hope his nose is doing alright."
Coaches will tell you that a 2-0 lead is the worst advantage you can have in soccer and sure enough, Yarmouth roared back.
The Clippers returned to their first half ways of possessing and threatening and finally, with 17:22 to play in regulation, they got on the board officially as Decker sent a beautiful cross into the box where Jackson (surprisingly unmarked) finished to make it 2-1.
Exactly a minute later, LaBrie took a pass from Jackson and broke in on McAdoo. He couldn't get much on the shot, however, and McAdoo was able to stop the shot.
Yarmouth's hopes appeared to take a hit with 12:56 to when Jackson was given a yellow card (for delay of game) and sent to the sidelines for 10 minutes.
The Clippers' attack didn't relent, however, and after McAdoo denied a LaBrie rush, they tied the score off a corner kick.
With 9:48 left, Crawford sent the ball into the box. It was batted around and took a fortuitous bounce off a defender right to Vigue at the near post and he booted it into the net to make it 2-2.
"We know that we outwork every team and we keep fighting," said Vigue. "Eventually, we found the goal. We felt we were going to come back. Wyatt's goal gave us confidence. He carried the team up front. (On my goal,) we were supposed to put it back post. Somebody got a foot on it and came front post where I was and I just had to get it in. It felt good."
"Even in the second half, the kids showed resiliency, coming back from 2-0, having a goal called back earlier," Hagerty said. "That can be deflating. They responded the right way. That's the benefit of quality senior leadership. We moved some kids around in the second half and tried some different things. We love when we score goals on a set piece. It's not always the first ball. It's kids finishing their runs and getting in the right spot for deflections."
Two goals in a 7:34 span had turned a likely defeat into a brand new game.
The contest would eventually go to overtime, but not before Lyon desperately cleared the ball away from a charging Nason and Nason headed away a last second Clippers' corner kick.
Yarmouth finished regulation with a 16-5 shots advantage and a commanding 10-1 differential in corner kicks.
In Maine high school boys' soccer, teams play two five-minute "sudden victory" overtimes. If no one scores, the game results in a tie.
This one would end deadlocked, but there was ample excitement in the extra sessions.
Just 42 seconds into OT, Nason was brought down in the Yarmouth box, but no call was made (Andreasen was apoplectic, clamoring for a penalty kick) and play went on.
At the other end, LaBrie hit the ground in the box, but again no call was made.
With 2:38 left in the first OT, a shot from Yarmouth senior David Clemmer was saved by McAdoo. A minute later, a long shot from Clippers senior Max Watson went wide and it was on to the second overtime.
Yarmouth got possession and had a great chance to win when Watson broke in on goal from the left side. His blast resulted in McAdoo's best save of the night, but the rebound came to Decker. Decker had a good look at the goal, but shot wide and the teams played on.
"That was our third best chance," Hagerty said. "(McAdoo) made a great save."
After LaBrie had a long shot saved with 1:41 left, Greely transitioned and almost won it on three separate occasions.
First, with 1:20 to go, Nason crossed a ball in front of the goal, seemingly setting up senior Joe Saffian for the win, but the ball caromed away from the target.
Then, with 15 seconds left, the Rangers had a flurry in front, but somehow Vigue managed to break it up.
"I saw the guy behind me and I just jumped on it and got it out of there," Vigue said.
"Ben had a goal and he also had a big save," Hagerty said. "That's a plus-two in his department. I thought he was fabulous."
Greely wasn't done and got one final look, but Saffian's shot in front was saved by Lyon with 3 seconds to go.
At last, the horn sounded and the two-hour passion play came to a close with each team registering two goals and neither earning a victory.
Yarmouth, considering its comeback, enjoyed the tie more than Greely.
"It was an awesome game," Smith said. "It's always a boost coming from behind, especially when the team comes together. Our bench was awesome. We really picked it up. The midfield was great tonight. We do have a young goalie, but he's really improving. Defensively, we had a really solid effort tonight. We mixed up our formations. Aside from a few errors, it was a solid effort. The rivalry has heated up. The guys on our team know a lot of the guys on their team, so it's kind of a friendly rivalry. They're fun to play against."
"Greely's very good," Hagerty said. "I'm so pleased with the effort. I just love how we never stop working. I thought the kids played hard and played clean. It was a hard fought game. These are fabulous games. The kids stepped up when they had to. They showed heart. Nason had four good chances tonight and scored twice. When you limit their top player, who they're targeting, to four chances, that's great. Crowley and Nason are so dangerous. They're so quick in the midfield, you can get in trouble. They'll beat a lot of teams."
The Rangers felt like they let one slip away.
"They tied it up so early, so it wasn't like it was last second, like Falmouth last year (a gutwrenching 3-2 loss after the Yachtsmen tied the game in the final seconds)," Andreasen said. "You need intensity because Yarmouth plays intense soccer. If you're not intense, they'll run away from you. A 2-0 lead against that team is not safe. I don't like my kids to take a play off. (Mike) doesn't like his kids to take a play off. We mirror each other. If you take a play off, it's a goal.
"We like to rely on our skill, but they were fresher than us late. We have a lot of kids out there who needed a test like this. Nason, Crowley, (Senior Sam) Porter, they're our rocks. Other than that, we have a new cast and they needed to be exposed to this. We had to play in a pressure-cooker and make plays and we did. Those are plays you need to make to be a championship team."
While this encounter was a great barometer for Greely and Yarmouth, even if it didn't result in either side claiming bragging rights, it will quickly be forgotten as both squads have huge tests to come.
Greely is back in action Monday, when it hosts Gray-New Gloucester. The Rangers then visit Kennebunk and Cape Elizabeth back-to-back.
Yarmouth visits Freeport Monday, then finally gets on its turf when it hosts York and Kennebunk.
"We need to stay healthy," said Vigue. "When we're healthy, we're really, really good."
"We've been faced with a little uncertainty with players being out and being shaky on when the turf would be ready, but from now on, we're focused and ready to go the rest of the season," said Smith.
"I think we'll be better on turf and we haven't played on turf," Hagerty added. "I think we have more levels in us."
The Clippers will host the Rangers Oct. 16.
"We look forward to playing them on our turf," Smith said.
"It's going to be exciting when we play them again," Vigue said.
"At least getting a tie (tonight) was big in helping us get homefield down the road," Hagerty said. "The next time we play will probably be for homefield advantage."
Greely's also aware of the rematch.
"We play them again, but it's a long ways away," Andreasen said. "It used to be nice to play Yarmouth twice and say see ya, but not anymore."
Looking even further ahead, there's also a good chance, that for the first time 1975, the teams could square off in the crucible of the playoffs.
Local soccer fans should be so lucky.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Greely-Yarmouth results
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 1
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 1
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 3 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1