Yarmouth boys earn hard fought victory at Cape Elizabeth

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Yarmouth senior captain Matt Dostie, left, is congratulated by junior Tahj Garvey after giving the Clippers a 2-0 first half lead at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday night. Yarmouth held on for a 3-2 victory.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

CAPE ELIZABETH—Coming off its worst loss this century, Yarmouth’s two-time defending Class B state champion boys’ soccer team wasn’t just looking to get back in the win column Tuesday evening at Hannaford Field.

The Clippers were also seeking to restore the program’s pride and confidence.

That didn’t come easily against a talented Cape Elizabeth squad, eager to beat Yarmouth for the first time in a long time, but the Clippers did just enough to right the ship.

Yarmouth got a huge break in the game’s third minute, when a Capers defender headed the ball into his own goal with Clippers senior Matt Dostie credited for the tally.

Dostie added a goal the old fashioned way with 2:49 left before halftime for a 2-0 lead, but Cape Elizabeth was a different team in the second half.

Just 19 seconds in, the Capers turned momentum back in their favor when senior standout Connor Thoreck scored a sudden goal.

Cape Elizabeth then pushed hard for the equalizer, but Yarmouth’s defense and junior goalkeeper Cal Owen held strong and with 21:24 to play, the Clippers showed how quickly they could strike, as sophomore Eric LaBrie weaved through three defenders and tickled the twine in highlight reel fashion for a 3-1 lead.

Yarmouth wasn’t home free yet, however, as with 8:43 to go, after Cape Elizabeth senior Nicolai Sabbatini was taken down in the box, a penalty kick was awarded and senior Quinn Hewitt converted to again cut the deficit to just one.

The Capers had a couple good chances down the stretch, including a corner kick in the waning seconds, but the Clippers managed to hold on and prevail, 3-2.

Yarmouth is now 12-0-1 versus Cape Elizabeth in the past 13 meetings and improved to 3-1 on the season, ending the Capers’ four-game win streak and dropping them to 4-2-1 in the process.

“We talked about the pride that the kids who graduated the past 20 years put in this program and the amount of effort it takes to live up to those standards and that the guys should welcome that pressure,” said longtime Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. “If (Falmouth) was our low point and I expect it will be, we’ll learn from it.”

Fight to the finish

Yarmouth has had the edge in the rivalry for quite awhile, including last year, when the Clippers enjoyed a pair of four-goal victories in the regular season and a 2-0 quarterfinal round playoff win a year ago. Yarmouth also opened the 2016 season with a 1-0 home win over the Capers.

The Clippers then handled visiting York, 5-1, before losing at Falmouth Friday, 5-0.

“That game brought us down to Earth, maybe to a subterranean level,” Hagerty said. “Some of the kids didn’t realize how tough these games are and how you have to gut out 80 minutes. I didn’t have to play up the loss and make it any worse than it was. We talked about how a number of goals were preventable and that we should have lost, but it should have been more like 3-1. We had fun the next day, we had a little kids clinic, then we got ready for Cape.”

Cape Elizabeth bounced back from its season opening loss with a scoreless home tie against Falmouth, then beat visiting North Yarmouth Academy (2-0), host Poland (6-0) and Greely (1-0) and visiting Fryeburg Academy (6-1). 

Tuesday, the Capers sought their first win over Yarmouth since Sept. 2, 2011 (1-0 in Yarmouth) and their first in the series on their home turf since Oct. 4, 2008 (3-1), but the Clippers continued to hold the upper hand.

Yarmouth got an immediate gift and infusion of confidence when a long shot played into the box saw Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Sean Agrodnia come out to catch the ball, but a defender tried to head it away and the shot deflected backwards into the empty goal.

Dostie, the closest Clipper, was credited with the goal and the visitors were up, 1-0.

“That’s what happens in high school soccer,” lamented Capers coach Ben Raymond. “Goals come from mistakes just as much as they do from individual great plays. There was good build up from both teams, but in the end, it’s about who makes fewer mistakes.”

Yarmouth had the better of the play in the first half, but wasn’t able to double its lead until just 2:49 remained.

After a throw in and a subsequent clear, Clippers junior back Silas Chappell, playing for injured junior Max Coury, sent a long pass up ahead to Dostie on the right flank. The ball deflected off a defender, allowing Dostie to break in free, and Dostie beat Agrodnia with a low shot for a 2-0 advantage.

“Silas squeaked the ball by the defender’s foot and I just took a touch and shot,” Dostie said.

“Dostie is so active,” Hagerty said. “He’s now played four different positions for us. Silas Chappell did a good job tonight matching up with Thoreck physically and his decision making was excellent. He made the best of his opportunity with Max hurt.”

In the final minute of the half, each team had a good look, as a cross from senior Henry Coolidge was headed just wide by Yarmouth senior Gibson Harnett and a long free kick from Sabbatini was deflected out, leading to a corner kick as time wound down, which was cleared, keeping the score, 2-0, at the break.

Cape Elizabeth then started the second half in dazzling fashion to get back in the game.

The Clippers kicked off to begin the half, but Sabbatini stole the ball and fed Thoreck breaking in. Thoreck got around one defender, got Owen leaning one way, then beat him to the other to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 39:41 still to play.

“They kicked off, we put them under pressure right away, Nico and Connor really created problems for them up top and Connor put one home, which was great,” Raymond said.

“It was a breakdown in the back,” Coolidge said. “After that happened, we kept our heads high and chins up from then on.”

“We got away from what we should have done,” Hagerty said. “That turnover led to a goal. We don’t kick the ball off much, thankfully, call that bad coaching, but I like how we responded.” 

The Capers then pushed hard for the equalizer, controlling play for 18 minutes.

After Owen saved a Thoreck shot off a cross from junior Matt Concannon, senior Elliot McGinn sent a one-timer just high. Senior Jacob Allen and Thoreck both missed wide, junior John O’Connor’s free kick just went wide of the far post and a low blast from Sabbatini was saved.

After Cape Elizabeth earned a corner kick, Owen punched the ball out and Yarmouth transitioned the other way for a highlight reel goal, courtesy LaBrie.

LaBrie eluded a couple defenders, got the ball in the middle and with teammates on either side and just two defenders back, he eschewed the pass, got past one more hapless defender, then beat Agrodnia with a low, left-footed shot for a 3-1 lead with 21:24 to play.

“It’s always fun to watch (LaBrie),” said Dostie. “He cuts left, he cuts right, he shoots, he’s a great finisher.”

“I was screaming at him to pass with guys to his left and right and he decided to do it himself,” Hagerty said. “He’s so good going to his left, it’s almost his preferred shot now. He keeps his shot low with his left foot which is a tough shot for the keeper to stop.”

“We got a little antsy in the back and tried to step up and win a ball instead of containing and we got beat,” said Raymond. “We tried to be more offensive than we were earlier.” 

The Clippers appeared to have salted away the win, but with 8:43 remaining, Sabbatini was pushed down in the box and the Capers were awarded a penalty kick.

Hewitt did the honors and he beat a diving Owen with a low shot just inside the near post to cut the deficit to 3-2.

“Nico did a great job earning that PK,” said Raymond. “He put himself in a dangerous spot. Quinn buried the PK.” 

“This is not a field we like,” said Hagerty. “It’s a hard place to play, always windy and cold. It’s always wet, the ball always skips and we always seem to give up a penalty kick here and that one was deserved.”

A minute later, Thoreck appeared to be primed to tie the game, but after breaking free behind the defense, he was ruled offsides.

With 1:50 left, sophomore Nick Aceto served the ball into the box for Thoreck, but Clippers junior back Eric Loomis headed it away.

Then, with 15 seconds to play, Cape Elizabeth earned a corner kick, but Owen knocked the ball away and that brought the curtain down on Yarmouth’s palpitating 3-2 victory.

“All of us were dejected after Falmouth and we wanted to come out and have a great performance and I think we did against a great opponent,” Dostie said.

“We just dug deep and all came together as one,” Coolidge said. “You have to fight and grind. These are the games you circle on the schedule and they’re the most fun to play.” 

“We needed to come out with more emotion,” Hagerty said. “We were really flat against Falmouth and we responded the right way tonight. The two MVPs of the game were Henry and (senior) Luke (Groothoff). Henry played outside back for 80 minutes and gave us offense out of that position and Luke Groothoff asked to be put at center back the last 20 minutes. He’s got the best first touch on the team and he settled things down. Two of our captains really stepped up.”

Cape Elizabeth finished with an edge in shots (7-6), got four saves from Agrodnia and produced more corner kicks (6-4), but fell just short.

“We didn’t play poorly in the first half, but we had more intensity in the second half,” Raymond said. “We did a much better job of getting to the first ball. They were better in the air in the first half, the second half we were better in the air. We created more opportunities in the second half. There was more urgency, without a doubt. We put them under more pressure in the second half. We had a great look at the end.

“It’s encouraging to see we’re on the same level as Yarmouth. We had just as many chances in this game. Our kids understand we’re not even halfway through the season. Both teams will make the playoffs. We have to figure out how to be the better team if we see them again.”

The Capers got the Clippers’ attention.

“Cape’s going to be a dangerous team come playoffs,” Hagerty said. “They have a nice combination of skill, athleticism and size and that’s a tough matchup for anybody. I have a lot of respect for how hard they play and they’re a much better team than they were a year ago. They have to be one of the favorites.”

Playoff jockeying

There’s a good chance Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth will meet a third time in the postseason, but neither squad can think that far ahead due their daunting slate.

The Capers hope to rebound Saturday when revenge-minded Greely pays a visit. Next week brings trips to dangerous Kennebunk and Gray-New Gloucester. Cape Elizabeth also has home games remaining versus York and Freeport and trips to Falmouth and York.

“We’ve played well,” Raymond said. “We’re improving and we’re trying to pick out the little things we need to do better every game. As a team, we’re moving in the direction we want to be. We’re scoring more goals, playing better as a unit and figuring things out.” 

The Clippers host Kennebunk Thursday, then get another crack at Falmouth Saturday at 1 p.m., this time in Yarmouth. Trips to Waynflete, Fryeburg Academy and Greely are followed by a home game versus Gray-New Gloucester. The regular season then concludes with a trip to Wells, a home game versus Freeport, a game at York and a home showdown versus Greely.

“We need to get in a flow and a rhythm,” Coolidge said. “I think we can work on our finishing a little bit. Our team chemistry is really good, but I think it could always be better.”

“Our young players are progressing wonderfully,” Dostie said. “The freshmen have been up to the task. We’re ready to see Falmouth again. We’ll play really hard. It’ll be fun.”

“If we can continue to play this hard and improve our skill, we’ll just get better,” Hagerty added. “We can beat anybody, which is the good news, but we can also be beaten by anybody. There’s still a lot of work to do.” 

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cape Elizabeth senior Connor Thoreck, who scored the first Capers’ goal, heads the ball.

Yarmouth senior Henry Coolidge controls the ball as Cape Elizabeth senior Owen Thoreck closes in.

Yarmouth senior Matt Dostie and Cape Elizabeth junior David Hare meet in the air.

Cape Elizabeth senior Noah Bates races up the field as Yarmouth senior Henry Coolidge gives chase.

Yarmouth sophomore Eric LaBrie and Cape Elizabeth senior Jon Fiutak fight for the ball.

Yarmouth freshman Aidan Hickey heads the ball away from Cape Elizabeth junior John O’Connor. Hickey made his varsity debut Tuesday.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth results

2016

@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

2015

@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 1 
Class B South quarterfinal
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0 

2014

@ Yarmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 3
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1 

2013

Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (OT)
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 3 (tie)
Western B semifinals
@ Yarmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 0

2012

@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2011

Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Yarmouth 1
Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2010

 Cape Elizabeth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 1

2009

@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)

2008

@ Yarmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 1

2007

@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 1 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 1

2006

@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2005

Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Yarmouth 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)

2004

Yarmouth 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2003

Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2002

@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

2001

@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Yarmouth 1

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.