Yarmouth boys survive Cape's upset bid

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YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team isn’t perfect, but the Clippers remain unblemished nonetheless.

Friday evening, Yarmouth hosted longtime rival Cape Elizabeth in a contest that most expected the Clippers would win with ease, but at halftime, it was the Capers who had the lead, 1-0, on a goal from junior John O’Connor in the 27th minute.

To no one’s surprise, Yarmouth came out strong in the second half and got a little luck as well, as with 27:11 to play, senior Max Coury’s shot deflected off a defender and into the net to tie the score.

Then, with 20:05 remaining, junior Jack Jones buried a rebound and the Clippers were on top.

Cape Elizabeth tried to answer, but couldn’t do so, and Yarmouth remained perfect with a 2-1 victory.

The Clippers stayed unbeaten in the past 14 meetings between the perennial contenders, improved to 7-0 and dropped the Capers to 3-2-1 in the process.

“At halftime, our kids realized they just needed to play harder,” said longtime Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty, who earned his 251st victory with the program. “We didn’t play as fast as we can in the first half and we adjusted. We stopped thinking too much about tactics and just played soccer. We erased everything we had written on the board. We had to just play, win 50-50 balls and communicate.”

Tougher than expected

Yarmouth has won three straight Class B state titles and is viewed as a prohibitive favorite to win a fourth this autumn.

The Clippers haven’t disappointed to date.

Yarmouth had no trouble with visiting Gray-New Gloucester in its opener, winning, 5-0. The Clippers then went to Greely and rallied for a 5-3 win. Yarmouth followed that up by blanking visiting Poland, 9-0, holding on for a 3-2 victory at York, blanking visiting Greely (5-0) and rolling at Poland (7-0)

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, has been in a tough game virtually every time out. After starting with a 1-0 home win over Freeport, the Capers fell at home to York, 2-1. Shutout home wins over Wells (4-0) and Fryeburg Academy (2-0) were followed with a scoreless home tie versus Greely Tuesday in a playoff rematch.

Last year, Yarmouth won both meetings: 1-0 at home and 3-2 in Cape Elizabeth.

Friday, on a pleasant early autumn evening, the Capers sought their first win over Yarmouth since Sept. 2, 2011 (1-0 in Yarmouth), but the Clippers found a way to prevail and improve to 13-0-1 against their rival in the past 14 meetings.

Yarmouth carried play most of the first half, but couldn’t score and with 13:22 to go, Cape Elizabeth stunned the hosts with a dazzling goal.

The tally was set up by senior Matt Concannon, who passed to O’Connor, whose header eluded Clippers senior goalkeeper Cal Owen.

“John’s our most talented player,” said Capers coach Ben Raymond. “He works his tail off. He runs our midfield and creates chances. It was nice to have Matt back tonight. That made a difference as well.”

“Cape came out and got a good goal,” Hagerty said. “O’Connor is a nice player. We had two (defenders) drop and gave him room to finish. It was a good goal. It was a great shot. I think Cape is better than they were last year.”

The Capers had the lead at halftime, but the Clippers also trailed at Greely at the break, by a more daunting 3-0 margin, and rallied to win that one, so it didn’t come as a surprise that Yarmouth was able to roar back.

The tying score came with 27:11 on the clock, as Jones passed to Coury in the box and Coury’s shot deflected off a defender and got past Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Sean Agrodnia to make it 1-1.

“I didn’t think we’d be shut out,” Hagerty said. “It was a matter of us scoring early enough to regain momentum. Jack and Max are often in the right place at the right time. They’re wonderful teammates. They understand each others’ movements. Against a good team like Cape that was playing us straight up, we needed to find alleys.”

Once they pulled even, the Clippers weren’t content and soon grabbed the lead.

With 20:05 remaining in regulation, Yarmouth’s go-ahead goal was set up by senior Luke Groothoff, whose free kick bounced off a defender, but was collected by Jones, who finished for a 2-1 advantage.

“We got two good goals tonight,” Hagerty said. “Jack is always in the right place. He’s scored a handful of intelligent goals this year. He thinks about where the rebound might go.”

Down the stretch, the Capers had a couple chances to answer, but a long free kick was cleared by the Clippers’ defense and with just over a minute left, O’Connor’s free kick found the head of sophomore Charlie Dall, but Dall headed it over the frame.

Yarmouth then went on to prevail, 2-1.

“We came out and played smarter in the second half,” Hagerty said. 

The Clippers outshot the Capers, 20-3 (7-3 on frame), and had a 10-1 edge in corner kicks.

Owen made two saves for the hosts, while Agrodnia stopped five in defeat.

Cape Elizabeth fell short, but gained a lot in the process.

“I think we played very well defensively and Sean played really well in goal,” Raymond said. “We capitalized on our offensive opportunities. We didn’t have a lot, but we made them count. We still had a free kick at the end. We did a lot of good things.”

Points to be had

The teams will play again Oct. 14 in Cape Elizabeth, but a lot of soccer will be played between now and then.

While Yarmouth appears to have a stranglehold on the top seed in Class B South, the Capers are in the running for a high playoff seed as well.

Cape Elizabeth (sixth in the Heal Points standings at press time) looks to bounce back Tuesday when Gray-New Gloucester pays a visit. Trips to York, Freeport, Greely, Gray-New Gloucester and Waynflete then loom.

“We’re trying to get a little better every day,” Raymond said. “We’re pleased with the way we competed tonight, but we’re not pleased with the result. The kids are more confident about who they can compete with and where they stand. It doesn’t get any easier.”

The Clippers face one of their few remaining big tests Tuesday when York pays a visit. If nothing else, Yarmouth knows that no one will roll over for it in the weeks to come.

“York’s forwards are most dangerous, Cape’s midfield is the best and Greely’s defense is the best, so we can’t do the same thing against each opponent,” Hagerty said. “York’s a big one and we still have Cape over there.”

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

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth results

2016

@ Yarmouth 1 Cape Elizabeth 0
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 2

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.