Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team celebrates one of its five goals during Saturday’s 5-2 win over Winslow in Saturday’s Class B state final. The Clippers won their third successive championship and 11th overall.
Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News photos.
More photos below.
HAMPDEN—Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team had to rely on its offense this season, but what an offense the Clippers boasted.
The Clippers could score during the run of play or on a set piece, from inside the box or well beyond.
Saturday afternoon at Hampden Academy, Yarmouth’s offense once again roared to life and as a result, the Clippers managed to do something unprecedented in their storied history.
Win a third straight state championship.
One week after its season came within four minutes of an early end, Yarmouth put Winslow on its heels from the get go and was rewarded with a familiar shiny prize.
In the 12th minute, junior standout Luke Groothoff caught the Black Raiders napping on a free kick and sent a shot into the goal for a quick 1-0 lead.
To its credit, Winslow roared back and tied the score four minutes later, when dangerous junior Jake Warn benefited from a rare goalie assist by junior Jake Lapierre and found the net to make it 1-1.
The Clippers then reasserted control when junior Tahj Garvey was credited with an “own goal” when his shot went off a Black Raiders’ defender in the 22nd minute and Yarmouth was on top to stay.
Groothoff produced a second goal in the 28th minute and the Clippers enjoyed a 3-1 lead at halftime.
Yarmouth was far from content and just 2 minutes, 23 seconds into the second half, sophomore Eric LaBrie left the defense in his wake as only he can before finishing for a 4-1 advantage.
Less than a minute later, senior Matt Dostie buried a free kick of his own and the Clippers were well on their way.
Winslow got a goal back with 20:08 to play, when sophomore Isaac Lambrecht scored on a header, but Yarmouth, which played a mindboggling 31 players on the afternoon, slammed the door from there and went on to a decisive 5-2 victory.
Four different players scored as the Clippers finished their season at 15-2-1, ended the Black Raiders’ campaign at 16-1-1, won a record 10th Class B championship and tied ancient rival Falmouth for the most boys’ Gold Balls in state history regardless of class with 11.
“It feels amazing,” said Groothoff. “It’s been our goal all year to get back to this point. I’m really proud of how we fulfilled the dream. We took care of business.”
Yarmouth has a long and triumphant soccer history, especially during the two decades Mike Hagerty has run the program, but until Saturday, the Clippers had never played in a state game three years in a row.
The road to Hampden wasn’t easy this fall, but despite a few stumbles, Yarmouth got there.
The Clippers won 11 games by a composite 44-7 margin, but suffered a pair of surprisingly lopsided losses to rival Falmouth (5-0 and 5-3) and settled for a 1-1 tie at York which ultimately cost them the top seed in Class B South (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).
“The two losses to Falmouth made us work harder and made us mix up our formation a little bit,” Dostie said.
“We owe Falmouth a thank you for the spankings they gave us midseason,” said Hagerty. “That woke us up. The kids responded to changes and playing different roles well. Some kids didn’t play as much and stayed mature and put the team first and other kids made the most of their opportunities.”
As the No. 2 seed, Yarmouth ousted No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester, 2-0, in the Class B South quarterfinals, rallied for palpitating 3-2 overtime win over sixth-ranked Greely in the semifinals, then Wednesday night, got an early goal from LaBrie and made it stand up in a 1-0 triumph at top-ranked Maranacook.
Yarmouth had played in 11 previous state games, winning nine outright, losing another and playing Ellsworth to a 1-1 draw in 1989, when both teams were credited with a championship (see sidebar, below, for previous state game results).
Winslow’s two lone prior state game appearances ended with losses to Falmouth in 2002 and 2003.
This fall, the Black Raiders won 13 games by a composite 66-7 margin and settled for a scoreless tie versus Maranacook. As the No. 2 seed in Class B North, Winslow advanced by virtue of wins over No. 11 Mt. Desert Island (3-0), No. 3 Medomak Valley (3-0) and No. 1 John Bapst (3-1).
Saturday afternoon, under chilly 42 degree skies, the teams met for the first time ever and Yarmouth put on another clinic.
Winslow got the first chance as it earned a corner kick in the fourth minute, but the Clippers cleared it.
Yarmouth then went on the attack, only to see Garvey shoot just wide and a corner kick hit the side netting.
Then, with 28:35 to go in the first half, after senior Gibson Harnett was fouled, Groothoff lined up a free kick from 25 yards out and while Lapierre was setting up his defensive wall, Groothoff went quickly and lofted a shot into the right corner of the net for a quick 1-0 lead.
“I saw the keeper was next to his post setting up the wall,” Groothoff said. “The ref kept asking if I wanted 10 (yards). I said, ‘No’ and just hit it.”
“I think Groothoff was the best player on the field today,” said Hagerty. “He’s calm and selfless and talented. I hope he’s an All-New England selection. He showed what he brings to the field. We needed someone like him to calm the game down.”
After Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Michael Hagerty Jr. denied a bender by Winslow junior Daylon Carpenter, the Clippers earned a corner kick which almost resulted in a Yarmouth goal, then stunningly produced a Black Raiders’ tally instead.
The ball was served in by senior Henry Coolidge and ultimately came in front to Groothoff, who tried a highlight reel scissors kick, which Lapierre snared.
Lapierre then boomed the ball down the field where Warn collected it on the left flank, raced in and with Hagerty coming out to cut off the angle, Warn shot the ball back across Hagerty’s body and the keeper couldn’t handle it as it tickled the twine to tie the score, 1-1, with 24:29 to play in the first half.
The goal was the first allowed by Yarmouth in its last seven state games.
“That was a miscommunication in the back,” Coolidge said. “It was unfortunate. We man-marked (Warn) and tried to keep him out of the game and let the others do what they could.”
The Clippers were unfazed and after Dostie shot wide and Groothoff had a shot saved, Garvey got the ball on the right side, served it in and it deflected off a Winslow defender and past a helpless Lapierre into the net to put Yarmouth ahead for good, 2-1, with 18:44 remaining in the half.
With 12:24 to go, Groothoff struck again, ripping a blast from 25 yards out just inside the far post for a 3-1 lead.
“I just saw an open gap,” Groothoff said. “He was hugging the near post again and I hit it.”
Late in the half, Yarmouth couldn’t convert three corner kicks, Hagerty saved a shot by Lambrecht and Dostie shot just high, keeping the score 3-1 at the break.
In the first half, the Clippers only had a 4-3 advantage in shots on frame, but three went in.
The onslaught continued in the second half.
Again, the Black Raiders got a quick corner kick, but a shot by senior Ben Smith was punched out by Yarmouth junior keeper Cal Owen, who replaced Hagerty at halftime.
The Clippers then transitioned to offense and with 37:37 remaining, Garvey got the ball to LaBrie, who weaved through three defenders before pounding the ball past Lapierre for a 4-1 lead.
“Eric goes through defenders like butter,” Dostie said.
It took all of 55 seconds for Yarmouth to strike again.
After Dostie was fouled just outside the box, he took a free kick, and ripped a low blast inside the near post to make it 5-1.
“We had a false wall, so I just shot it and the goalie didn’t see it,” Dostie said. “It went right under him.”
The Clippers wouldn’t score again, but the result was never in doubt.
Winslow would cut the deficit to 5-2 with 20:08 remaining when Smith served the ball in, it bounced and Lambrecht headed it past Owen into the goal.
“That was my fault,” Coolidge said. “I missed a header.”
The Black Raiders tried to make things even more interesting, but Carpenter shot wide, senior Spencer Miranda had a shot blocked, Miranda sent a shot just high and with 3:13 to go, Yarmouth senior back Miles Thompson swept the ball off the line at the last second to preserve the lead.
The Clippers ran out the clock from there and at 2:13 p.m., celebrated a 5-2 victory and another championship.
“It’s amazing to win three in a row,” Dostie said. “That was the goal from the beginning, to three-peat. We made sure to win all the first and second balls. We played to feet and we have such great talent up top, so we could put some goals in. We’re really tight-knit. We joke around, we love each other.”
“This is great,” Coolidge said. “It’s awesome to be a part of this three years in a row. We stuck together and stayed focused. We knew what we wanted and we got it. We’ve been so lucky to have so much firepower and develop a strong midfield and back line. To have all three groups so sound, it worked out great. I’m so lucky to have been part of this program. I moved from Portland after freshman year and never regretted it. I got to be part of three championships.”
“It’s pretty special,” Hagerty added. “It’s the first three-peat in Yarmouth history and now we’re tied with Falmouth for 11 titles. I got to coach my son and he got to start in a state championship game and my nephew (freshman Aidan Hickey) did also. That might put this one at number one.
“If you asked me midseason, I’d have said we needed to fix things. It’s a nice result considering where we were. The last nine games, we had four different starting lineups and it didn’t matter, the kids responded. Our kids love soccer. It’s a great town to coach in, to have players like that.
“Today, we liked the matchups on the outside. We knew we had more kids who had played in close games. I thought (Winslow) fought. They never quit. We hoped to put it away in the second half. We got 31 kids in the game today. We wanted a lead so all the kids could play and say they were on the field for a state final.”
Yarmouth outshot Winslow, 9-6, and had eight corner kicks to the Black Raiders’ three. Hagerty had one save, Owen made one and two defenders made one apiece. Lapierre made four saves.
The Clippers’ win made it 23 straight for the South (or previously the West) in the Class B state game and even better, turned Yarmouth into Soccer Titletown, as the girls’ team earlier beat Waterville, 3-1.
Following the game, after the Clippers were awarded the Gold Ball, they showed it off to their fans, then, in a poignant touch, they ran outside the fence surrounding the field and brought the ball over to Ellen Wing, the wife of longtime Yarmouth assistant Dale Wing, who is battling cancer.
“She’s been given the kids’ well wishes and prayers and it’s a nice touch that they did that,” Hagerty said. “It’s great that she made it up here today.”
Yarmouth will have to part with 11 seniors, including several who contributed to multiple championships.
“The seniors are such good people,” Groothoff said. “They made a huge difference. They were a big help to the rest of us.”
“All the seniors are special,” Hagerty said. “Henry has been a great leader in our program. He knew about the history. He wasn’t involved in the youth program, but he bought in really quick. He was an important piece and he was selfless.”
After hurdling the three-peat obstacle, the Clippers will now take aim at making it four in a row, something only Falmouth has done in Class B (2000-03).
“It would be great to get here again,” Groothoff said. “That’s definitely our goal. We just have to grow a little bit, then it will be perfect.”
“I think we have the potential to be better next year, which I’m excited about,” Hagerty said. “Next season can’t start soon enough.”
Yarmouth sophomore Eric LaBrie fights Winslow junior Jackson Morneault for the ball. LaBrie scored a second half goal.
Yarmouth senior Gibson Harnett gets past a Winslow defender.
Yarmouth junior Max Coury tries to get the ball away from Winslow junior Jackson Morneault.
Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Cal Owen and junior Tahj Garvey lead the rush on to the field to celebrate the win at the final horn.
Yarmouth players and the Clippers’ large fan section share a Gold Ball moment after the game.
Class B South semifinal
Yarmouth 3 Greely 2 (OT)
Yarmouth 1 Ellsworth 0
Yarmouth 5 Ellsworth 0
Yarmouth 1 Presque Isle 0
Yarmouth 3 Presque Isle 0
Yarmouth 1 Ellsworth 0
Yarmouth 2 MCI 1
Camden-Rockport 2 Yarmouth 1
Yarmouth 2 Ellsworth 2 (tie)
Yarmouth 2 Piscataquis 1
Yarmouth 3 Van Buren 1
Falmouth 6 Winslow 1
Falmouth 2 Winslow 1