Yarmouth senior Gibson Harnett is congratulated after scoring the first goal of the Clippers’ 2-0 home win over Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday night.
Joe Carpine photos (365digitalphotography.com).
More photos below.
YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team has won a lot of games in its two decades under the leadership of coach Mike Hagerty.
One team the Clippers had never lost to in that time, Gray-New Gloucester, paid a visit for a pivotal contest Tuesday afternoon and much to the hosts’ glee, form held.
Yarmouth controlled the ball for almost the entire first half, but only managed one goal, when junior Tahj Garvey ripped a shot off the crossbar and senior Gibson Harnett rebounded it into the goal in the seventh minute.
The song remained the same in the second half, as the Clippers were frustrated on several occasions, but with 12:04 remaining, junior Max Coury, who was robbed in the first half, put a fortuitous bounce off a defender and in to put the game away.
Yarmouth’s smothering defense did the rest and the Clippers went on to a 2-0 victory.
Yarmouth won its fourth game in a row, improved to 8-2 and dropped the Patriots to 6-4-1 in the process.
“This was an important Heal Points win for us and an important lesson in patience,” Hagerty said. “Gray is very well coached. They had nine guys behind the ball and they crowded it up.”
After twice surrendering five goals to rival Falmouth in a nine-day span, Yarmouth’s season was at a crossroads, but the Clippers have responded like the champions they are and hope to be again.
Yarmouth opened the 2016 season with a 1-0 home win over Cape Elizabeth. The Clippers then handled visiting York, 5-1, before losing at Falmouth, 5-0. After holding on for a thrilling 3-2 victory at Cape Elizabeth and blanking visiting Kennebunk, 3-0, Yarmouth was humbled by Falmouth again, this time at home, 5-3. The Clippers then won three road games last week, surrendering only two goals in the process. After a 4-1 victory at defending Class C South champion Waynflete, Yarmouth blanked Fryeburg Academy, 5-0, then downed rival Greely, 4-1.
“Falmouth was a wakeup call for us,” Harnett said. “Since then, we’ve worked really hard to get back on track.”
Gray-New Gloucester has been very good this fall. The Patriots started 5-0-1, tying Kennebunk, 0-0, and downing York, Wells, Poland, North Yarmouth Academy and Freeport. Three straight one-goal losses followed, as Gray-New Gloucester was bested by York, Fryeburg Academy and Cape Elizabeth, but Saturday, the Patriots blanked visiting St. Dom’s, 2-0.
Last year, the Clippers beat Gray-New Gloucester, 3-0, in Yarmouth and on a pleasant and sunny Tuesday afternoon, they did it again.
After Patriots senior goalkeeper John Henry Villanueva saved the Clippers’ first good look, a short shot from senior Matt Dostie, Yarmouth got the only goal it would need with 33:26 to play in the first half.
Garvey almost got the goal himself, as he got some room in front and ripped a shot on goal, but Villanueva tipped it off the crossbar and Harnett was there to bury the rebound, just over Villaneuva’s outstretched fingertips, before the keeper could recover.
“I try to follow up shots, but all the credit to Tahj,” said Harnett. “I was just trying to make sure I wouldn’t shank it. We all have trust in each other because anyone on this team can finish.”
The Clippers then looked for a second goal, but a Harnett shot was deflected wide, junior Eric Loomis had a shot saved, Villanueva denied junior Max Corey with a gorgeous dive, Dostie had a shot saved and junior Luke Groothoff shot high.
With 5:58 to play before halftime, Gray-New Gloucester finally managed a shot, but senior Bryce Hayman shot wide.
Hayman registered his team’s first shot on goal three minutes later, but Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Cal Owen made the save.
In the final minute, Hayman made a big defensive save, blocking a great look from Clippers sophomore Eric LaBrie, and the game went to halftime 1-0.
Yarmouth continued the onslaught in the second half, but for a time, Villanueva held the Clippers at bay.
With 36:51 to go, Villanueva got bailed out by Hayman, who cleared a loose ball from the box.
Villanueva then saved a soft header by freshman John D’Appolonia and twice denied senior Bill Jacobs.
“Billy had one of his best games today,” Hagerty said. “He’s finding a place to contribute, which is what a good senior athlete does.”
Villanueva also saved a shot by LaBrie and with 15:55 remaining, made a terrific point blank save on LaBrie, who had weaved through the defense.
With 14:05 to go, it was senior Henry Coolidge’s turn to be robbed, as Villanueva was able to block his point blank shot.
The Clippers finally got their second goal with 12:04 remaining, as Coury fought for the ball and managed to get a shot off. It deflected off a defender and with Villanueva going to his left, the ball instead rolled inside the near post for a 2-0 lead.
“I felt like we’d get another one,” Coury said. “It was coming for a long time. We were pressuring them. It did deflect off a defender, but I’m happy it went in. It gave us some breathing room. It’s great knowing everyone has your back. The goal I scored was won in the midfield and things happened from there. There’s so much more than just the goal.”
Down the stretch, the Patriots earned a free kick just outside the box, but Yarmouth broke it up and Villanueva made one last highlight reel save, robbing Dostie with 3:39 to go.
The Clippers then closed out their 2-0 victory.
“We expected them to pack it in,” Harnett said. “They had eight players in the box every time we got in there and they didn’t want to give up a shot. We knew they’d be a tough, athletic opponent. A shout out to their goalie who made some great saves today.”
“Our backs did a really good job limiting their chances,” Hagerty said. “We had a 10 minute stretch in the second half where we let balls bounce, which is frustrating, because they create chances, but once we took them out of the air, we did a better job handling the game.”
Yarmouth finished with a commanding 14-1 shots advantage and took 9 corner kicks to none for the Patriots. Owen only had to make one save.
A dozen saves from Villanueva kept Gray-New Gloucester in the contest.
“We had one-on-one opportunities with the goalie and he stonewalled some of our best players,” Hagerty said. “He’s a terrific player. It could have been 4-0, but ironically, the goals we scored were off a deflection and one he almost got up and made a save on, so it could have been 0-0 too. We’ll take the result. We’re at the stage where Heal Points-wise, we have to win out to finish first.”
The playoffs are just a couple of weeks away and both teams figure to be heard from.
Gray-New Gloucester (fourth in the Class B South Heal Points standings) is back in action Monday at Greely. A home battle with Falmouth and a trip to Wells wrap up the regular season.
Yarmouth is again looking to finish as high as possible in the standings and avoid a playoff trip to Readfield. At press time, the Clippers were first in Class B South, but they have work to do to stay there, even though they’ll be favored in the rest of their games. Yarmouth is at Wells Thursday, hosts Freeport next Tuesday, then closes with games at York and at home versus Greely.
“It’s really fun to play with this team,” Coury said. “We have great team chemistry. I think there’s still another level of play we can reach and I think everyone expects that out of us and once that happens, it’ll be great.”
“We have one more game this week, which on paper is a game we should play a bunch of kids, then we get to rest,” Hagerty said. “I think it’s going to be wide open this year. Cape will be tough. I think Greely is the most deceiving sub-.500 team I’ve ever seen. They’ve got athleticism. Gray will be a tough out in the playoffs. York all of sudden has beaten Greely twice. What I’m hoping is because we had to play Cape, Greely and Maranacook last year, karma will get us back and we won’t have to play any of them this year.”
Gray-New Gloucester senior goalkeeper John Henry Villanueva lies on the ground in frustration after Yarmouth senior Gibson Harnett beats him on a rebound for the game’s first goal.
Yarmouth junior Tahj Garvey launches a blast.
Gray-New Gloucester sophomore John Martin heads the ball away from Yarmouth freshman John D’Appolonia.
Yarmouth freshman Aidan Hickey sends a shot on goal.
Yarmouth junior Tahj Garvey tries to fight past Gray-New Gloucester senior Nathan Brindley.