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Yarmouth sophomore Aidan Hickey, left, and senior Tahj Garvey congratulate junior Eric LaBrie after one of LaBrie’s three goals in Saturday’s 5-0 home win over Greely.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
YARMOUTH—Saturday evening, for the second time in a little over a week, Greely’s boys’ soccer team found itself hanging tough with the powerhouse, three-time defending Class B state champion Yarmouth Clippers.
And once again, the Clippers flipped the switch and left the Rangers in their wake.
Nine days after rallying from a three-goal halftime deficit with five second half goals of its own, Yarmouth grabbed a 1-0 lead over its rival when junior standout Eric LaBrie scored in the game’s 10th minute.
The Clippers couldn’t add to the lead, however, thanks in large part to some stellar goalkeeping from Greely senior Brandon George, which kept the score 1-0 at halftime.
That score remained until 25:39 was left in the game, when the Yarmouth offensive juggernaut roared to life on a nice goal from junior Jack Jones.
The bottom then fell out for the Rangers, as LaBrie scored twice more and Jones added the final nail as the Clippers went on to a 5-0 victory.
Yarmouth continued its recent dominance over Greely, improved to 5-0 and dropped the Rangers to 2-3 in the process.
“We were almost there in the first half,” said longtime Clippers coach Mike Hagerty, who earned his 249th victory with the program. “I thought the kids did a really nice job getting refocused after a frustrating first half and came out and played faster and cleaner.”
Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer program has a storied history dating back to the 1970s, but the Clippers have never enjoyed a run of dominance like the one they’re currently in the midst of.
Yarmouth’s Gold Ball in 2016 was its third in a row, a program first, and with an abundance of talent back this fall, the Clippers are viewed as a heavy favorite to join Scarborough (1973-76) and Falmouth (2000-03) as big schools to win four consecutive state crowns.
Yarmouth had no trouble with visiting Gray-New Gloucester in its opener, winning, 5-0. The Clippers then went to Greely on a Tuesday night and after 12 scoreless minutes, the game was called due to lightning. It resumed less than 48 hours later and the Rangers staggered Yarmouth with three first half goals before the Clippers regrouped and scored five unanswered tallies in the second half for a 5-3 win. Yarmouth followed that up by blanking visiting Poland, 9-0, and holding on for a 3-2 victory at York.
Greely started with a 3-2 home loss to York and a 5-3 home setback to Yarmouth, then defeated visiting Freeport (3-2) and Gray-New Gloucester (3-0) to even its record.
Entering play Saturday, Yarmouth held a 21-10 (with six ties) advantage in the rivalry since the start of the 2001 season (see sidebar below). The Rangers sought their first win since Sept. 9, 2014 (1-0 at Yarmouth), but instead, the Clippers won their sixth straight in the series and improved to 9-0-1 versus their rival in the past 10 meetings.
Yarmouth threatened early, but George denied LaBrie and senior Luke Groothoff and LaBrie was twice taken down in the box with no call.
Then, with 30:43 remaining in the first half, senior Tahj Garvey had a shot saved by George, but LaBrie was there to bury the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
The Clippers looked to keep the goals coming, but LaBrie headed a Groothoff cross just wide of the mark, LaBrie got past the defense and rifled a shot high and a Jones shot off a throw from sophomore Aidan Hickey was denied by George.
Greely’s first good chance came in the 18th minute, but a 30-yard blast from sophomore Matt Kramlich was saved by leaping Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Cal Owen.
After Owen denied Kramlich again, Jones set up LaBrie for a shot which was denied.
With 11:51 to go in the half, senior Max Coury got the ball to LaBrie, but he was robbed by George.
George then made consecutive impressive saves on shots by senior Luke Waeldner and Groothoff.
Just before the half, George had to sprawl to get to a LaBrie shot which was deflected and a Greely corner kick was cleared at the last second, keeping the game 1-0 at the break.
George’s heroics kept the Rangers within hailing distance.
“I felt pretty good at halftime,” said Greely coach Mike Andreasen. “We had some chances and Brandon played really well. He made one save that was the best save I’ve seen all year by anybody. He and (senior) A.J. (Eisenhart) are pretty equal right now.”
Yarmouth kept pressuring in the second half, but it took awhile to be rewarded.
In the early moments, Groothoff sent a header high, a Waeldner cross forced George to sprawl and make the save and a long rocket by Groothoff was just off the mark.
With 35:30 left, Rangers senior Hazael Tshituka was taken down just outside the box. As a result, Greely earned a free kick, but senior Quinn Molloy’s shot was blocked.
After George denied Waeldner, Groothoff appeared to double the lead when he headed home a corner kick, but a push on a teammate was called, negating the score.
George then continued to stymie the Clippers, turning away shots by LaBrie and Waeldner twice.
Finally, with 25:39 on the clock, Yarmouth doubled its lead, as after a turnover, LaBrie passed to Jones for a one-timer that George could do nothing about and the score was 2-0.
“Thankfully, we have speed,” Hagerty said. “It helps to have Luke in the midfield orchestrating everything. It helps to have Eric and Jack up top. It was Jack’s first start of the season. They did a great job finishing.”
After Molloy hit the top of the crossbar, the Clippers struck again to put it away.
With 16:54 left, Groothoff gobbled up a turnover and fed LaBrie, who broke in and finished for a 3-0 lead.
“We were frustrated in the first half,” LaBrie said. “They had more energy. Later in the game, they got tired and we came out strong. Once we got momentum, their heads were down and we use that to our advantage. The third goal is the most important goal. They couldn’t come back from that.”
LaBrie completed his hat trick (on another feed from Groothoff) with 14:31 to play.
“Luke’s a great player,” said LaBrie. “He has great vision and knows what kind of ball to play for my speed and how to put weight on the ball.”
“LaBrie is just a hard kid to cover,” Hagerty said. “He’s got to be one of our best strikers. We haven’t had many pure strikers and he and his brother (Adam, Class of 2015) might be the best. He creates a lot by himself and Luke plays super with him. Adam was more acrobatic and elusive. Eric just goes. He’s fast.”
With 12:17 on the clock, Jones rebounded his own shot into the goal to account for the final goal and Yarmouth went on to a 5-0 victory.
“We were more prepared this game for what they do,” LaBrie said.
“(Greely’s) tough,” said Hagerty. “They had nine guys behind the ball. They’re organized and hard to score on down the middle. We had to go wide and our depth kicked in. We can play 16, 17, 18 kids. Almost everyone got a break today. Greely will be tough in the playoffs. I’d prefer not to play them.”
The Clippers finished with a 20-7 shots advantage (12-3 on frame). Owen made three saves, while Yarmouth’s defense put forth its best effort of the season.
“We cleaned it up in the back,” said Hagerty. “(Sophomores) Jason Lainey, Aidan Hickey and John D’Appolonia did a nice job and (senior) Silas Chappell and (junior) Michael Guertier did a nice job marking Hazael. He’s dangerous.”
Greely got multiple big saves from George, but it wasn’t enough, as the offense couldn’t find the net.
“Last time, we caught them by surprise and got breathing room,” Andreasen said. “This time, there were no surprises. We had some chances, but what I found most disconcerting was that they had that run late and we gave up some easy ones. They exerted more effort than we had. They’ll do that to you. You have to play them 80 minutes and bend but don’t break. They’re really good. It was fire and fury. They don’t relent.”
It’s quite possible that the rivals will square off in the postseason for the fifth straight year, but both teams have work to do before even thinking about the playoffs.
Greely hopes to bounce back Tuesday at Cape Elizabeth in a playoff rematch. The Rangers come home Friday to face Lake Region.
“Cape is a big one,” Andreasen said. “I look at (Class) B and I see Yarmouth at the top, then York a little below, then the rest of us are fighting for (the 3-seed). Cape, us and Freeport are in the same mix.”
Yarmouth looks to stay undefeated Tuesday at Poland, then has back-to-back home tests against Cape Elizabeth Friday and York on Sept. 26.
“We’re up to the challenge,” said LaBrie. “We don’t let things get to our heads.”
“We love being the favorites,” Hagerty said. “I think these kids understand they can be that good.”
Yarmouth senior Luke Groothoff soars over Greely senior Hazael Tshituka to head the ball.
Yarmouth senior Tahj Garvey races up the field with the ball.
Yarmouth junior Eric LaBrie and Greely senior Evan Goettel fight for the ball.
Greely senior Michael Geary and Yarmouth senior Tahj Garvey battle for the ball.
As usual, a big crowd was on hand Saturday.
Yarmouth 5 @ Greely 3
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 1
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
Class B South semifinals
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 2 (OT)
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 1
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 1
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 3 (tie)
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1