(Ed. Note: For the complete Yarmouth-Mountain Valley football, Greely-York and Yarmouth-Greely boys’ soccer and Greely-Yarmouth and Yarmouth-Fryeburg Academy girls’ soccer game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)
Whether you prefer futbol or football, there was no shortage of playoff excitement in Forecaster Country last week.
As always, local soccer teams are among the final few standing, as Greely’s girls and Yarmouth’s boys played for regional titles Wednesday night.
On the gridiron, three squads played their first postseason game last Friday and all three, one in stunning fashion, advanced to the semifinals.
Here’s a glimpse of what transpired last week and what’s to come:
Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team was halfway to defending its Class B championship at press time.
The Clippers, ranked second behind Maranacook in the Class B South standings, survived a test from No. 7 Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals, advancing, 2-0, behind goals from Patrick Grant and Matt Dostie.
Saturday, Yarmouth hosted Greely for a compelling semifinal.
The Rangers, ranked third, were coming off a 3-2 win over York in their quarterfinal. In that game, played on the turf at North Yarmouth Academy due to bad weather, Greely shot to a 3-0 halftime lead behind goals from Nick Pronovost, Jacob Nason and Hunter Graham, but the Wildcats battled back and made things very interesting before the Rangers held on to advance.
“It got a little nervewracking toward the end, but I was confident we could hold them off,” Pronovost said. “We played more defensive and didn’t take risks.”
“It’s about winning and it’s about advancing,” said Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. “It was well in hand, but you can’t sit on leads against teams.”
In Saturday’s showdown, the Clippers took a 1-0 lead just 40 seconds in when Dostie scored.
“That put (Greely) on their heels,” Dostie said. “They’re a really good team. It was good to make them squirm.”
Greely roared right back and tied the score, 1-1, on a goal from Graham, but late in the first half, Grant scored on a rebound to put Yarmouth ahead for good. Early in the second half, Dostie provided some breathing room with a perfectly placed rocket (off his left) foot for a 3-1 lead.
“It was a breakaway,” said Dostie. “It was a great opportunity. I took a few touches and shot. My left foot is pretty good. I’ve been working on it a lot.”
While the Rangers had chances late, they couldn’t answer and the Clippers went on to a 3-1 victory.
“We knew it would come down to us and Greely,” Grant said. “The seniors met before the game and talked about how this would probably be our last game here. That’s what we were playing for today.”
“I’m really pleased in the team effort today collectively against a very good team,” Clippers coach Mike Hagerty said. “We limited their chances. I thought the game would be wide open. We got three.”
Yarmouth (14-1-1) went to No. 1 Maranacook (16-0) for the regional final Wednesday. The Clippers and Black Bears have played three previous times in the playoffs. Maranacook won the first one, 1-0, in overtime, in the 2003 Western B semifinals. Yarmouth prevailed, 2-0 in the 2004 regional final and 3-0 in the 2009 semifinals.
“I want to go to Maranacook and show them what our conference is all about,” said Hagerty. “They had a quote in the paper about liking to beat Western Maine Conference teams.”
The Yarmouth-Maranacook winner will face Ellsworth (13-2-1) or Erskine Academy (13-4) in the Class B state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at 5:30 p.m.
The Clippers beat Ellsworth, 1-0, in a red card-marred state final a year ago.
Greely finished 9-4-3, but surged late and had a lot to feel good about.
“The kids played hard all season,” said Rangers coach Mike Andreasen. “We were a very good team at playing down this year. I think we were the second-best team this year. It was a great season for us. I’m pleased overall.”
Falmouth was ranked fourth in Class A South and advanced with a 1-0 overtime win over No. 5 Portland in the quarterfinals, thanks to Jonah Spiegel’s breakaway goal. Saturday, however, the Yachtsmen had no answer for top-ranked Scarborough and lost, 3-0, to finish 11-4-1.
In Class C South, NYA was optimistic of making a playoff run, despite its number five seed, but last Wednesday, the Panthers let a 2-0 lead slip away in a 3-2 loss at No. 4 Monmouth Academy and finished 10-5.
“It was bitterly disappointing,” said NYA coach Martyn Keen. “We outshot them 24-4 and we missed too many sitters and cost ourselves. It’s our own fault for not getting homefield. Kudos to Monmouth for hanging in and scoring on three of four shots.”
Greely’s girls’ soccer team has reached the regional final for the third year in a row and was hoping the third time was the charm.
The Rangers, who started 12-0 this fall before losing their final two games at Yarmouth and York, took the top seed into the postseason and handled No. 9 Lincoln Academy in the quarterfinals by a 7-0 score, as Izzy Hutnak had three goals and Lilly Black, Kelsey Currier, Anna DeWolfe and Lanie Kropp all added one. That win sent Greely to the semifinals to host No. 4 Yarmouth.
The Clippers won their playoff opener, blanking No. 12 Fryeburg Academy, 3-0, in the quarterfinals, as Sara D’Appolonia, Gretchen Barbera and Katie Clemmer all scored.
“I think we just started finding connections and we had some really good through balls,” D’Appolonia said.
“I think we’ve been really good, but we haven’t gotten goals in,” Barbera said. “We’re putting them in now and it’s awesome.”
“At halftime, we talked about the first half being slow and how we needed to pick up the pace,” Clemmer said. “I wanted to go as hard as I could and get one.”
Saturday, in the first-ever playoff meeting between the neighbors and rivals, Greely got the jump on Yarmouth when Ellie Schad scored in the 31st minute for a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, Hutnak eluded three defenders, then sent the ball off the inside of the far post and in for a 2-0 lead.
“We were frustrated early,” Hutnak said. “Yarmouth’s an excellent team and they were playing with five defenders, which got in our heads. I got a beautiful pass and that set me up nicely. It was more of a cross than a shot, to be honest.”
The Clippers almost answered, but D’Appolonia hit the crossbar. Late in the game, Yarmouth finally got on the board as Clemmer was taken down in the box and Cory Langenbach converted the ensuing penalty kick, but Greely managed to hold on, 2-1.
“We lost to them last time and Yarmouth usually gives us a good fight,” Muscadin said. “Losing that (previous) game wasn’t a bad thing at all. That particular loss, we didn’t play the way we usually play. Yarmouth just came out strong and did a great job.”
The Rangers (14-2) hosted No. 2 York (10-3-3) in the regional final Wednesday night. The teams split during the regular season, with Greely winning 2-0 at home Oct. 2 and losing to on the road, 1-0, 18 days later in the finale. The teams had only met once in the playoffs, a 1-0 Rangers’ win in the 2013 semifinals.
Greely is ready to take that final step and advance to meet either Oceanside (14-0-2) or Hermon (14-0-2) in the Class B state final Saturday at 3 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
“This is the first year we’ve really believed it’s our year,” Hutnak said. “We’re planning for our season to end November 7th.”
“We have to take the monkey off our backs,” Muscadin said. “That’s the bottom line. It’s up to the girls to go out there and step up. The whole idea is to go out and perform.”
Despite a strong effort, Yarmouth’s loss at Greely ended its year at 7-6-3.
“We hung in until the end,” Clippers coach Rich Smith said. “We gave up two in the first half and it could have gone either way. We asked the girls one final time for 40 minutes and they went out and didn’t quit. I’m really proud of the girls for the way we fought. The senior leaders were awesome. We had a lot of up and down things that happened this year.”
Greely Magic lives on.
The Rangers, who have bounced back from adversity too many times to count this fall, then shocked the local football world by handing Falmouth in its first loss in the regular season finale, earning a playoff berth in the process, penned another stunning chapter Friday night in the Class B South quarterfinals.
Greely, the No. 7 seed, went to second-ranked Leavitt, a program accustomed to deep playoff runs, and not surprisingly, fell behind early, 8-0.
“Our opening drive was stopped and we snapped the ball over the punter’s head and they got the ball and scored,” said Rangers coach David Higgins. “
After a pass interference penalty got it close, Greely answered with a touchdown run from quarterback Nick Gauvin and two-point conversion pass from Gauvin to Chase Steuer to tie the score. Leavitt then sandwiched a touchdown pass and a TD run (with a second remaining) around a Gauvin-to-John Riolo scoring pass to lead, 20-14, at halftime.
The Rangers then stepped up and won the second half and the game.
First, Gauvin hit Joey Cassella for a long scoring pass and Sam Peck added two points with a conversion rush for Greely’s first lead, 22-20. Early in the fourth quarter, Gauvin scored on a TD run to make it 28-20. When Steuer returned an interception 30 yards for a score, the Rangers were on the brink, but the Hornets scored late to pull within eight. Greely then slammed the door and celebrated the first playoff win in the program’s 13-year history (the Rangers had lost their previous six postseason contests), 34-26.
“It’s history,” said Gauvin, who had two rushing and two passing touchdowns. “Absolutely amazing. Guys are pumped up. It’s great. I love seeing happiness on the faces of my team.”
“Nick Gauvin was the key,” said Peck, who rushed for 132 yards on 38 carries. “He had a tough situation at the beginning of the year (when expected starting quarterback Matt Pisini was lost for the season with injury). That’s tough shoes to fill. He came in tonight and played the best game I could have asked for. We rallied as a team. We’re a good team now. We’re a full team. We’re peaking at the right time for sure.”
“The kids are doing a very good job,” Higgins added. “They kept coming back. We played well in the second half. It was intense (in Turner). It’s like the old Mountain Valley days. We’ve had a lot of adversity, but it’s a good thing it happened early. Just about every week, something’s happened, but the kids have worked hard and bought in and stepped up. It’s the best team I’ve had in terms of having each others’ backs.”
Greely (now 4-5) goes to No. 3 Marshwood (7-2 after downing No. 6 Kennebunk in the quarterfinals), the defending state champion, in the semifinals Friday night. The teams have no playoff history. Back on Sept. 11, the Hawks won in Cumberland, 49-12, but the Rangers are a vastly different team now.
“Marshwood’s a tough team and they’ve had our number, but I think everybody’s very excited,” Higgins said. “We relish being the underdogs. At the of the third quarter last time it was 28-12, then they put it to us in the fourth quarter. It’s a big hill to climb, but we’re a different team now. Hopefully we’ll give them a game.”
Top-seeded Falmouth bounced back nicely from its regular season-ending loss to Greely with a decisive quarterfinal round win over No. 8 Morse. The Yachtsmen jumped to a 13-0 lead after one quarter behind touchdown runs of 3 yards from Connor Aube and 34 yards from Noah Barney. By halftime, Falmouth led, 33-13, behind a 75 yard Aube TD run, a 20 yard Jack Bryant-to-Sean Bryant scoring pass and a 6 yard Aube scoring dash. A 33-yard Aube run and two-point conversion stretched the lead to 41-13 after three periods. In the fourth quarter, Aube scored for the fifth time, from 21 yards out, and Coleman Allen finished the scoring with a 51 yard burst and the Yachtsmen prevailed, 57-13.
Falmouth (8-1) will next host No. 5 Westbrook (6-3 after upsetting fourth-ranked Biddfeford in its quarterfinal) Friday at 7 p.m. in the semifinals. Back on Sept. 11, the Yachtsmen won at Blue Blazes, 14-7. The teams also met in the 2011 Western B quarterfinal, a game won by visiting Westbrook, 12-7.
Aube had 150 yards and five touchdowns on a dozen carries and returned a punt for 75 yards. Jack Bryant completed 14 of 29 passes for 293 yards and one score.
Yarmouth earned the top seed in Class C South after a perfect regular season and had no trouble with No. 8 Mountain Valley in its quarterfinal.
After Yarmouth stopped a pair of Mountain Valley drives, the hosts took the lead for good on a 30-yard touchdown scamper from Lucas Uhl. In the second period, after Michael Hagerty booted a 27-yard field goal, Jack Snyder scored on runs of 6-yards and 5-yards for a 24-0 halftime advantage.
If that wasn’t enough, the Clippers quickly put the game away in the third quarter behind huge plays from special teams and defense.
First, Snyder returned the second half’s opening kickoff 76-yards for a touchdown.
“It was a perfect seam and great blocking,” Snyder said. “That’s a pretty demoralizing play (for the other team).”
Then, Ricky Tillotson, who anchored the Clippers’ superior defensive effort, sacked Falcons quarterback Alex Ridley, forced a fumble and Joey Fortin pounced on it and returned it 14-yards for another TD, which induced a mercy rule running clock.
“I just beat the lineman and got the quarterback right when he was throwing it,” Tillotson said. “It was a right place at the right time kind of play. Joey made a nice scoop-and-score.”
After junior Remi Leblanc scored on a 1-yard run, Uhl broke free for another long score, this one from 56 yards, and Yarmouth had a commanding 50-0 lead heading for the fourth period. There, Mountain Valley got on the board with a pair of touchdowns, but the Clippers went on to a decisive 50-15 victory.
“We played much better against them this time than last time,” said Yarmouth coach Jason Veilleux. “We executed on offense. We kept penalties down. Our special teams did great tonight. I’m really happy with this performance.”
The Clippers had 362 yards of offense. Snyder finished with 89 yards and two TDs on eight rushes, three catches for 22 yards, a kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception to boot. Uhl led the team in rushing with 120 yards and scored twice on eight carries.
Friday at 7 p.m., Yarmouth (9-0) will host No. 4 Fryeburg Academy (6-3) in the semifinals. The Clippers won, 48-12, Sept. 26 in Fryeburg. The teams have no playoff history.
“We’re not really focused all the pressure and hype,” Tillotson said. “We just stay grounded and try to perfect our game and make it about us and not our opponent.”
“We’ll get in the film room tomorrow and see what we did right and what we did wrong, then we’ll get ready,” Snyder said.
Sun Journal staff writer Kalle Oakes contributed to this story.
Yarmouth senior Ricky Tillotson exults after causing a fumble which led to a touchdown during the Clippers’ 50-15 win over Mountain Valley in Friday’s Class C South quarterfinal.
Greely junior Hunter Graham tries to keep the ball from Yarmouth junior Henry Coolidge during the Clippers’ 3-1 win in Saturday’s Class B South semifinals.
Greely’s Ellie Schad fights off Yarmouth’s Lilly Watson and scores the first goal of the Rangers’ 2-1 win in Saturday’s Class B South semifinal.