Greely earns rare sweep of Falmouth
CUMBERLAND—Eight days after a surprisingly easy win at Falmouth, the Greely boys' soccer team hosted the Yachtsmen again and knew full well a season sweep wouldn't come without a tussle.
That's because the Rangers hadn't swept Falmouth this century.
Saturday afternoon at Glenn Hutchins Field, Greely went out and made history, but it didn't come easily.
Just over eight minutes into the contest, the Yachtsmen, who have struggled all season to find the net, scored an opportunistic goal to get the jump.
Even playing without several injured starters, these Rangers wouldn't be denied, pulling even in the 14th minute, when freshman Hunter Graham scored on a rebound.
Then, just before halftime, Greely senior standout Matt Crowley put on a show, blowing past a defender before firing a shot into the net to put the Rangers on top to stay.
Down the stretch, Falmouth had its chances, but the Rangers defense and senior goalkeeper Alex McAdoo slammed the door and even though Greely had two late goals waved off, it still had enough to prevail, 2-1, as it improved to 8-1-1, dropping the Yachtsmen to 4-3-2 in the process.
"We knew Falmouth's a good team and probably felt a little embarrassed after last time, so we knew they'd come out hard and we'd have to come out as hard as them," Crowley said. "It feels good being a part of Greely history."
First time in a long time
Greely has had more success than Falmouth this fall, but both teams have had their moments.
The Rangers dominated visiting Fryeburg, 7-0, in their opener, then let a 2-0 lead slip away in a frustrating 2-2 home draw versus Yarmouth. Greely then beat visiting Gray-New Gloucester, 1-0, but slipped up at Kennebunk, falling, 2-1. The Rangers then came to life with wins at Cape Elizabeth (2-1), at home against Freeport (4-0), at Falmouth (3-0), at a York team which hadn't given up a goal all season (3-0) and at home against Kennebunk (1-0).
The Yachtsmen, the two-time defending Class B state champions, opened with victories over host Gray-New Gloucester (4-0) and visiting Kennebunk (2-1, in double overtime), then ran into an offensive drought. After settling for a scoreless home tie against Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth again was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at York. After beating visiting Poland, 4-0, the Yachtsmen fell for the first time, 3-0, at home against Greely, then lost again, 1-0, at Yarmouth Monday. Falmouth got back on track Wednesday with a 1-0 win at Cape Elizabeth, on a dramatic late goal from standout junior Luke Velas.
Entering Saturday's contest, dating back to 2001, Falmouth had won 15 of 25 meetings against Greely, with the Rangers prevailing five times and five of those contests ending in draws (please see sidebar, below).
Whether the century was the 20th or the 21st, whether Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barack Obama occupied the White House and whether the Red Sox and Patriots could only dream of championships or were winning them, Greely simply couldn't beat Falmouth twice in one season.
Twice previously this century, the Rangers won the first meeting, but couldn't win the second.
In 2004, eventual Class A champion Greely won at then four-time defending Class B champion Falmouth, 2-0, but the Yachtsmen prevailed in Cumberland, 2-1.
In 2006, the Rangers won at home, 2-0, but in the rematch at Falmouth, the Yachtsmen, en route to a title, played Greely to a scoreless tie.
Last year, the Rangers might have come within 3.4 seconds of a sweep, as they allowed a Falmouth tying goal (J.P. White did the honors) in the first meeting with that much time remaining, then lost, 3-2, in double overtime, on Grant Burfeind's tally. Greely then won on the Yachtsmen's turf, 1-0.
The Rangers' 3-0 win at Falmouth last week was their most lopsided over the Yachtsmen this century. Saturday's contest, not surprisingly, was much closer.
Greely almost scored in the third minute, but junior Ben Ingraham, on a feed from senior Aidan Black, fired a shot which hit the side netting.
At the other end, Velas launched a left-footed shot which forced McAdoo to make a diving save, setting up the game's first corner kick, which McAdoo punched out of harm's way.
The first goal of the contest began innocuously, as senior captain Nick Burton sent a throw toward the box. The ball was headed by a Rangers' defender, but instead going away from trouble, it caromed toward the goal, where Yachtsmen junior Ben Lydick was eagerly waiting. Lydick opportunistically headed the ball past McAdoo and into the net, making it 1-0 Falmouth just 8:12 in.
"It was a little miscommunication on my part," McAdoo said. "It's tough to give up an early one, but we had to keep playing hard and we got it back."
"(The same thing) happened to us earlier in the season at Kennebunk," Crowley said. "We knew we had to keep our heads up and keep at it."
"I don't know if it was fluky," added Greely coach Mike Andreasen. "It's a set piece they have. It hit our kid's head, they made a nice run to the back post and we didn't cover it well. What I thought we did well was coming back. "
Sure enough, ti took the Rangers just over five minutes to tie the score.
After Falmouth senior goalkeeper Will D'Agostino made a save on a Black shot, the hosts kept the pressure on and were rewarded as Crowley fired a shot which was blocked by a defender right to Graham, who one-timed the ball past the diving D'Agostino to the goalie's left to level the score.
"Hunter did a nice job finishing that," said Crowley.
"We hadn't given up a goal in four or five games, so it was like a fighter who's been cut," said Andreasen. "We responded."
The game appeared as if it would go to the half tied, as Greely couldn't finish a few opportunities (sophomore striker Jacob Nason headed a Black corner kick wide, junior Ben Leverett charged into the Falmouth box only to be broken up by Yachtsmen sophomore Jack Engelberger and Nason's left-footed shot was saved by D'Agostino) and Falmouth missed some chances of its own (junior Gabe Mahoney had a low shot denied by McAdoo and Velas had a shot saved as well).
Then, with 3:57 showing, the hosts got some separation, thanks to a great effort from Crowley.
Crowley took a long pass from sophomore Lucas Watt, found some operating room, sped past a defender, then went one-on-one with D'Agostino, whom he beat with a low blast to the goalie's left, making it 2-1 Rangers.
"I sort of drove to the net, saw an opening and got a shot off," said Crowley. "D'Ags is a good goalie, but I just tried to keep it low and on net. I thought it would be 1-1 at the half, but we got one late."
"Matt's very sneaky that way," said Andreasen. "The thing about Matt Crowley is you don't realize how good he is until you take him off the field and see what we don't do. He's one of the best around. He never takes a play off. He just goes 24/7."
A minute later, the hosts almost scored again, but Graham was ruled offsides on a Crowley free kick.
In the first 40 minutes, Greely outshot Falmouth, 9-5, and had a 3-2 edge on corner kicks. Both goalies made four saves.
Neither squad would score in the second half (officially), but there were opportunities.
With 33:50 to play, Velas got the ball in a dangerous position, but he couldn't get much on his shot and McAdoo made the save.
With 31:27 remaining, Greely senior defender Joe Saffian headed the ball out of the box. A minute later, Saffian did it again.
The Rangers are playing without senior all-star defensive standout Sam Porter (sidelined with injury), but his teammates have stepped up their games.
"Joe and (junior) Harry (Shain) have done a great job in the middle," McAdoo said.
"We've been without Sam Porter for five games," Andreasen said. "Harry Shain and Joe Saffian and (senior) Pat O'Shea and Lucas Watt have really stepped up. They've played well as a unit."
Nason had a couple chances moments later, but D'Agostino stopped him.
With 19:04 to go, McAdoo came out to beat Yachtsmen freshman Jonah Spiegal to a loose ball.
Two minutes later, a throw from the far side by Burton landed in the box and Spiegal, right in front, got his head on it, but McAdoo stood tall and made the stop.
With 13:25 showing, Spiegal got some room and fired a low shot, but again McAdoo made the save.
At the other end, with 12:29 remaining, the Rangers appeared to have a third goal, as Nason scored, but offsides waved it off.
Two minutes later, Nason scored an apparent goal on a header off a corner kick, but he was ruled to have pushed off first.
With 8:05 to go, Falmouth earned a corner, but it was headed away.
With 1:17 to play, Yachtsmen senior captain Dane Paul served the ball into the box for sophomore Jesse Melchiskey, but McAdoo beat him to the loose ball.
Then, with 20.7 seconds to go, on Falmouth's final chance, McAdoo came way out to beat Melchiskey to a loose ball.
That was that and Greely slammed the door on its history-making 2-1 triumph.
"When we beat them 3-0 last week, I knew they'd come out hard this time," McAdoo said. "We knew they'd take it personally. Greely-Falmouth is a great rivalry. We knew we had to come out hard. It's tough to hold the lead, especially when your defense is going hard for 40 minutes. It's sketchy at times, but our offense played great, our midfield played great, we possessed well all game."
"I thought of (Falmouth's comeback last year at the end of the game)," Andreasen said. "We put Ben Ingraham back in and last year he didn't have his mouthguard so he didn't get in. I told him to make sure he had his mouthguard this time. We were trying to play with the ball in the middle of the field. All I could see was the counter. We didn't want to give up a lead late. If we learned anything from the Yarmouth game, we learned you have to keep playing to win.
"Falmouth's a good team. They're not their best right now, but they'll be dangerous. They'll get better because (longtime coach Dave Halligan is) the master at that. His coaching alone will have them ready. One game against anybody, watch out for them. (Today wasn't) making history so to speak, but playing good soccer. We made history because they're going to get better and it probably won't repeat itself."
The Rangers finished with a 16-8 shots advantage and had a 7-4 corner kicks edge. McAdoo made seven saves.
"We didn't know what we'd have coming in this year in the goal," Andreasen said. "Alex is doing a really good job. He's a confident kid. He'll take responsibility. A lot of kids don't want to do that. He's been a great find for us."
Falmouth got five saves from D'Agostino and competed well only to come up short.
"Our kids are progressing," Halligan said. "We're not the strongest team, but we're making process. I can't be upset with the effort. When you get these teams together, it usually comes down to a one-goal game. You play to the final whistle. We pushed it to the end, but they did a good job keeping it out."
Heal Points up for grabs
Falmouth (eighth in the Western A Heal Points standings) needs to get right back on the horse, as it has its second showdown in just over a week against Yarmouth Tuesday, this time at home. The Yachtsmen then play host to York before going to Kennebunk and Freeport and finishing at home versus perennial Western C contender Waynflete.
"We are progressing, but it's difficult," Halligan said. "We don't get a breather. We'll try to get better. We need confidence. I don't think we can move up the standings."
Greely (second to Yarmouth in the Western B Heals) has a difficult closing stretch as well. It starts Tuesday with a home game versus York. After playing host to Cape Elizabeth in the home finale Saturday, the Rangers have a pivotal showdown at Yarmouth Oct. 16, in a game which will likely determine the top seed for the upcoming Western B playoffs, before closing at Lake Region three days later.
"We've had a tough schedule and everyone's had to step up and play big," said McAdoo. "Going 3-0 this week with three big wins, especially coming back on Kennebunk after our loss, feels great. I think we made a statement that we can be at the top of the league."
"I feel pretty good about our season," Crowley said. "I'm looking forward to playing Yarmouth again. That's our most important game. We still have other big games. We have to take it one game at a time like we've been doing all season."
"I wish we were healthier, but hopefully that comes along," Andreasen added. "This reminds me a little of last year, when we won three in a row at the end of the season. Doing it without three or four of our regulars is good for us We'd rather play on turf, but there's no place like home. Now, it's just a question of kids being ready between the ears. We're getting closer to finding ourselves."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
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@ Greely 0 Falmouth 0 (tie)
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