Falmouth-Yarmouth meet again in regional final
(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Scarborough, NYA-Waynflete and Yarmouth-Fryeburg game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)
It's Falmouth and Yarmouth.
One more time.
The Western Class B championship game Wednesday evening (please see theforecaster.net for the most detailed coverage) featured the two schools who have combined for the past 12 Class B championships (eight for the Yachtsmen, including last year, and four for the Clippers).
Both longtime rivals had scares in the early rounds of the playoffs, but managed to advance.
Yarmouth, which earned the No. 1 seed with a 10-1-3 regular season record, drew eighth-ranked Fryeburg for the quarterfinals last Wednesday. Last year, the Raiders upset the Clippers in the first round and when they went up, 1-0, early, Yarmouth had to be feeling some deja vu.
But instead of panicking, the Clippers turned their game up a notch and drew even when Ben Decker scored midway through the first half.
"We're one of those teams that when we settle in, we know we'll score goals," said Decker. "It's just a matter of when. Maybe I should have been more worried, but I wasn't."
A tally from David Clemmer put Yarmouth on top to stay with 31:27 to play in regulation and 11 minutes later, Wyatt Jackson finished to give the Clippers a 3-1 win.
"Giving up the first goal we were worried, but we responded quickly and I think that was important," said Clemmer. "After our first goal, I felt the momentum shifted toward us. We ramped it up. We used last year as motivation to help us beat them this year. We do this for the seniors also. We couldn't give up this game for them. It's a new year, but we did remember last year."
"Our midfield has been so consistent and when we started playing the ball on the ground, we were fine," Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty said. "Fryeburg's athletic and we talked about the ball having to be the fastest working thing on the field tonight. We knew we had better depth. We knew if we used our depth on this field, (the Raiders would) eventually tire and they did in the second half."
The Clippers then hosted No. 4 York in the semifinals Saturday. Yarmouth edged the Wildcats twice in the regular season and had a 7-5 all-time edge in the postseason. This time around, the Clippers had to scratch and claw, but did manage to prevail.
With 17 minutes to go in the first half, David Murphy gave Yarmouth the lead on a free kick. It stayed 1-0 until just over six minutes remained, when Adam LaBrie finished. The Clippers went on to a 2-0 victory to advance.
"It was a terrific game," said Hagerty. "Both teams really played well and for the third time this year, I think it was our depth that made the difference. We had the better of the play in the first half and really played well. On our offensive end, David got the game winner with a beautiful free kick from about 20 yards out, one of the finest free kicks I have ever seen. It was perfectly placed over the wall and under the crossbar. We held that lead until LaBrie snuck in behind their defense and did what he does. He used his speed and finished a lefty blast for the ages and one that did more than double our lead, it broke York's will."
Falmouth finished the year 9-3-2 and third in Western B behind Yarmouth and Maranacook. The Yachtsmen handled No. 6 Gray-New Gloucester, 4-0, in the quarterfinals behind goals from Nick Burton, Cooper Lycan, Luke Velas and J.P. White.
Falmouth's semifinal at Maranacook Saturday was a far greater challenge.
The Yachtsmen took an early lead on an Ian McBrady header, but the Black Bears tied the score and after 30 minutes of overtime settled nothing, it was on to penalty kicks. Falmouth has seen its season end at Maranacook in PKs before, but it wasn't happening this time, as White, Luke Velas, Tom Wilberg and Lycan buried shots to give the Yachtsmen the 2-1 (4-1 PK) victory. The Black Bears only took three shots as they made their first, had their second denied by Falmouth goalkeeper Will D'Agostino, then missed their third. Lycan's shot clinched it.
Entering the regional final, Falmouth and Yarmouth had met nine prior times in the postseason with the Yachtsmen holding a 6-3 edge. The teams met in the Western B Final in 2008 (a 2-1 Clippers' upset), 2009 (a 3-0 Falmouth win) and 2010 (a 1-0 Yarmouth victory, in overtime).
Both coaches (and local fans) expected a classic in the de facto state final (the East hasn't won the state game since 1993) in the latest installment of the best rivalry in southern Maine high school sports.
"When all the dust is settled it comes down to Falmouth vs. Yarmouth once again," said Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. "If you are a high school soccer fan, you couldn't ask for a more exciting matchup. I think both teams came through tournament play with an eye on what the other was doing. Both teams have a proud tradition of success in tournament play and feature solid lineups with many outstanding players. For either team to be successful. they will have to finish their opportunities and avoid costly mistakes. When Falmouth and Yarmouth get together, buckle your seatbelts."
"I do look for Wednesday to be another classic and having it on Halloween just makes it more interesting," Hagerty said. "At this point, with Falmouth's seniors and our health, I would give them the slight edge as favorites, but that just means we will need to work harder, smarter and together like never before in order to pull it off. Knowing the character of my players, I would not bet against us this year."
The winner advanced to play in the Class B state final Saturday at 3 p.m., at Scarborough High School, against either Ellsworth (15-1) or Camden Hills (14-2), two teams who have been state final victims in the past.
Yarmouth tied Ellsworth, 2-2 in the 1989 state final and beat the Eagles in the state game in 2004 (1-0) and again two years ago, 5-0. The Clippers have never played the Windjammers in the state game.
Falmouth beat Ellsworth by 3-0 scores in both the 2007 and 2009 state games and held off Camden Hills last year, 2-1, to win its record 10th championship.
Freeport, Greely and North Yarmouth Academy also made the playoffs, but were ousted before the regional final round.
The Falcons rode a late surge to a 3-9-2 record, earning the 10th seed in Western B in the process. After dominating seventh-ranked Spruce Mountain, 7-1, in the preliminary round, Freeport went to No. 2 Maranacook last Wednesday for the quarterfinals and met its match, 4-1.
The Black Bears took a 2-0 lead at halftime and added another for a 3-0 lead before the Falcons broke through on a goal from Connor Dietrich. Maranacook scored the next goal, however, and went on to the victory, ending Freeport's season at 4-10-2.
"It was nice to finally play a little better and to make the playoffs," said Falcons coach Joe Heathco. "I was proud of the boys for keeping a positive attitude and for continuing to work together to be their best in the face of difficult competition and overall poor results. I think it says a lot about the boys' character that they were able to get a playoff berth with a positive result in the last game of the season and then a terrific win in the preliminary round.
"It will be tough to replace some of our seniors who will be moving on, but we have a good core of young players coming back. Our ability to grow and mature physically will be the biggest question mark going into next season. Our success will rely on our depth and our ability to work together."
The Rangers were as hot as anybody going into the playoffs, winning their final three games at defending Class C champion Waynflete, at longtime nemesis Yarmouth and at defending Class B champion Falmouth to wind up 10-4 and third in Western A.
Greely first drew No. 11 Noble in the quarterfinals. The Rangers fell behind 1-0 early, but scored the next five goals to win, 5-1. Jacob Nason tied the score, Aidan Black put Greely ahead to stay and Ben Ingraham, Nason again and Nicholas Dunnett accounted for the other goals.
The Rangers then went to No. 2 Scarborough for the semifinals Saturday. The game was the teams' seventh playoff meeting in nine season, all at Scarborough.
Greely fell behind early, but a Nason goal late in the first half tied things up. The Red Storm carried play in the second half and with 10:45 to go, broke the deadlock on a ball which deflected in off a group of players in front of the Rangers' goal. The play was set up by a foul call that Greely wasn't happy with and ended in disaster.
"Everything was wrong with that play," said Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. "It was too bad. We were holding on in the second half. We looked tired. We have kids who are injured. It's hard to lose and lose that way. If they came down and scored a nice goal it would have been different. I'm struggling with that right now. When we play Scarborough, it usually comes down to something out of the ordinary, interesting or maybe even controversial. it'll give people something to chew on for the next 10 months."
Greely couldn't rally and saw its season end at 11-5 with a 2-1 setback.
"It's a team that's as close as I've had," said Andreasen. "We didn't have any divisions. They gave their very best. We always we play from behind better than anyone, but late in the game, I think emotionally we were spent."
The Rangers lose 11 seniors, but return some multi-talented underclassmen, suggesting they'll build on this year's accomplishments in 2013.
"There are bigger things ahead for us," said Andreasen. "Our goal this year was to go further than last year. It will be hard to replace the heart of the seniors. They were great leaders. The others have to step up to a leadership role. That will be our charge to get them going. With the talent coming back, we should be right in the thick of things."
The Panthers went into the Western C playoffs sixth after an 8-5-1 regular season and immediately drew third-ranked, defending champion Waynflete in the quarterfinals.
NYA was hoping to spring an upset, but fell behind 1-0 in the sixth minute. Freshman goalkeeper Cam Spear kept the Panthers alive momentarily with a great save on a penalty kick, diving to his left to rob Waynflete's Paul Runyambo.
"Cam is going to be a top class goalie, but it's very difficult as a freshman to play against physical players," said Panthers coach Martyn Keen. "His PK save was tremendous. He's got great athleticism."
Instead of turning momentum, the Flyers kept the pressure on and scored four more goals before halftime. Waynflete added two more in the second half, while NYA got a late tally from Jacob Scammon to account for the 7-1 final score, which ended the Panthers' season at 8-6-1.
"(Waynflete's) a quality team," said Keen. "They've got depth and talent all through. Waynflete's better than us this year, but it's cyclical. This was our thinnest year since I've started to coaching. To lose as many players as we did made it tough. They're a wonderful group of kids. I have no complaints."
NYA will graduate several seniors, but also returns many of its key players, suggesting it will be right back in the hunt in 2013.
"I like what we have coming back," said Keen. "I think it will be a very good matchup (with Waynflete) next year."