Falmouth girls stay perfect after hard-fought win at Yarmouth
YARMOUTH—We're midway through the 2013 season and the beat goes on for the Falmouth girls' soccer team.
Unheralded in the preseason, the three-time defending Class B state champion Yachtsmen will be in Class A this postseason, but they're spending the regular campaign measuring themselves against longtime rivals.
So far, so good.
Falmouth paid a visit to Yarmouth Monday and as expected, got a test, but not surprisingly, found a way to prevail yet again.
The Yachtsmen took just 81 seconds to score first, as senior Taylor Russell banged home classmate Megan Miller's corner kick, but the Clippers soon took over and in the 31st minute, freshman Gretchen Barbera tied the score.
Yarmouth appeared to have momentum going into the second half, but it would be Falmouth coming through in the clutch.
After sophomore Tyler Spence was taken down in the box, Miller banged home a penalty kick to put the Yachtsmen ahead for good with 25:24 remaining in regulation.
Nine minutes later, Spence one-timed home a shot for some breathing room and Falmouth went on to a 3-1 victory, improving to 7-0, while dropping the Clippers to 4-2-1.
"We're struggling to put 80 minutes together right now, but to be 7-0 without putting together an 80-minute game is good for us," said first-year Yachtsmen coach Andrew Pelletier. "Yarmouth's a good team. They wanted to make a statement on their turf, but fortunately for us, we came out and put it together."
Falmouth move to Class A this year makes no one happier than Yarmouth, after the Yachtsmen eliminated the Clippers from the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and six times in seven postseason encounters dating back to 2002.
Despite limited attention coming into the season, Falmouth has been up to its old tricks so far in 2013. The Yachstmen opened with a 4-0 win over Gray-New Gloucester, triumphed at Kennebunk, 3-0, knocked off Cape Elizabeth, 2-0, on the Capers' turf, beat visiting York (4-1), then won at Poland (3-0) and Greely (2-1).
Yarmouth, meanwhile, has been a very pleasant surprise. After losing their opener at Greely, 3-0, the Clippers defeated visiting Freeport (1-0), host York (1-0), host Kennebunk (5-0) and visiting Wells (4-0), before earning a confidence-building tie at Cape Elizabeth Friday (1-1).
Falmouth has had its way with Yarmouth in recent seasons, not just in the postseason, but in the regular season as well.
Last fall, the teams played to a 0-0 tie in Yarmouth before the Yachtsmen prevailed in Falmouth, 3-1. Since 2005, the Yachtsmen had won 13 times, the Clippers three and five other meetings ended in ties.
Monday, Falmouth struck quickly, then got the job done with the game on the line.
In the first minute, the Yachtsmen put the pressure on and quickly earned a corner kick. Miller sent the ball into the box, where it sat loose, and Russell was there to pound it past Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Shannon Fallon for a 1-0 lead.
Yarmouth had a couple chances to draw even, but senior Abby Belisle-Haley's header off a corner was saved by Falmouth senior goalkeeper Maggie Seitz and a header by junior Sarah Myers was also denied by Seitz.
The Clippers eventually drew even courtesy one of their many talented newcomers, Barbera, who chased after a through ball and after Seitz couldn't corral it, pounced on the loose ball and directed it home to make it 1-1.
"It took awhile to get over that (Falmouth) goal, but we bounced back and controlled play," said longtime Yarmouth coach Rich Smith. "We had good scoring opportunities. I'm proud of the girls for stepping up. Gretchen had a great hustle goal. It was nice to come back and tie it up."
"After we scored, their pressure skyrocketed," Pelletier said. "We relaxed and were content with a 1-0 lead. You can't do that in these kinds of games. It's never a good sign when you relax."
Late in the half, Miller was twice frustrated and Yarmouth was twice saved by the goal itself.
With 6:22 remaining, Miller's blast from about 20 yards off kissed off the top of the crossbar and over.
With 4:38 left, on a free kick from 25-yards out, Miller again had a great look, but this time the ball deflected off the post and off of Fallon out of bounds, setting up a corner kick, which didn't result in anything.
For the first 40 minutes, Falmouth outshot Yarmouth, 11-8 (7-4 on frame). Fallon made six saves, while Seitz saved three shots. The Yachtsmen had a 3-1 edge in corners.
Falmouth eventually re-established control in the second half, but first, Clippers junior Emma Torres fired a long shot that Seitz had to save and freshman Katie Clemmer sent a blast just high.
Then, with 25:24 to play, Spence got free behind the defense and was brought down in the box. The official stopped the clock and awarded the visitors a penalty kick, but first, Spence had bigger concerns.
“I thought I broke my collarbone again and I got scared,” said Spence, who was sidelined with that injury as a freshman. "I fell down spinning. It was terrifying. I thought I heard a pop, but everything is fine. Thank God"
Miller stepped to the line and calmly strode into the ball and sent it past Fallon to the goalie's right for a 2-1 lead.
“I take a lot of PKs," Miller said. "I don't think about it too much. I know where to place it every time. I don't even look at the goal. I just hit it I knew I hit it well."
"She's very good at taking penalty kicks, but we have several others who could step up and take one confidently if called upon," Pelletier said.
Fallon momentarily kept it a 2-1 game with a save on a 40-yard free kick blast from senior Laura Bauer and a nice hustle play to beat Miller to a loose ball in the box, but with 16:15 to go, Russell got the ball to Spence, who didn't hesitate and Spence blasted a shot into the net to make it 3-1.
“I was heading back because I thought something might come to me and suddenly (the ball) was there," Spence said. "I hit it and it felt good."
Down the stretch, Clemmer had three shots that were either wide or saved and a perfectly served corner from sophomore Lilly Watson skittered untouched through the box and that was that.
Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1.
"(Yarmouth is) always a big game," Miller said. "We knew we had to come out hard and match their intensity in the second half. I think we did that. We lost seven starters. We're a really new team, but we have a lot of talent. To be 7-0 is really exciting."
"I thought the middle of the field was big," Pelletier said. "In the first half, Yarmouth kind of dominated us in the middle. We talked about taking the space away and having time. We did that and it led to our two second half goals."
Statistics suggested the game was even, as both teams had 14 shots, Falmouth had a 3-2 edge in corner kicks and Fallon made eight saves to six for Seitz.
The Clippers certainly had their chances.
"I felt like in the second half, we were still controlling momentum and had more shots," Smith said. "When they got the PK, I never felt like we were out of it. Even after they made it 3-1, we had looks."
See you next week
The Clippers and Yachtsmen square off again Tuesday of next week, this time in Falmouth, but both teams have a pair of stern tests first.
Yarmouth (now third behind Cape Elizabeth and Greely in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) welcomes York Wednesday and plays host to Cape Elizabeth Saturday. After going to Falmouth, the Clippers welcome Kennebunk and Greely, visit Poland, then close at Gray-New Gloucester.
"We'll be fine," said Smith. "We have a very difficult schedule. We play all the best teams. Every week it seems like we go Cape, Greely, Falmouth, York. We get experience each game and learn from the positives and negatives. Bouncing back will be key. We're definitely getting there. The girls are working together and coming together as a team."
Falmouth (first in its region) isn't ready to think about potential Class A playoff foes, although the postseason isn't far off.
"I see the next game and that's it," Spence said. "I won't look ahead, but I will eventually."
"We've heard all about the Class A teams," Miller said. "We've heard all about Scarborough and Windham. People say they're the teams to beat and I'm excited to prove them wrong."
The Yachtsmen have plenty of business to take care of in the meantime. Falmouth is home with Cape Elizabeth Wednesday and hosts Greely Saturday. After the Yarmouth rematch, the Yachtsmen go to York, welcome Kennebunk and Freeport, then close at reigning Class C champion Waynflete.
"We just have to listen to Andrew," Spence said. "He knows what to do with us. He leads us in the right direction. I trust him completely."
"We've beaten all of our big rivals so far," Miller said. "We have to keep it up and we'll go far."
"We haven't had a game yet where we walked in knowing we'd win if we didn't show up," Pelletier added. "Our schedule's brutal and we've been tested. Every single game almost is a rivalry game for us. We know we can score and defend, but we have things we can still improve upon. We have three big tests this week. If we don't put 80 minutes together, we'll be tested even more than we have been so far."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Yarmouth-Falmouth results
@ Yarmouth 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western B quarterfinals)
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0 (OT)
Yarmouth 1 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B quarterfinals)
Falmouth 2 @ Yarmouth 1 (OT)
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
Falmouth 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 1 (Western Class B Final)
@ Yarmouth 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0 (2 OT)
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0 (OT) (Western Class B Final)
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 3 Falmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 1 (Western Class B semifinals)
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 3
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 1 (Western Class B semifinals)
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 (2 OT)