CAPE ELIZABETH—One week after beating rival Cape Elizabeth in surprisingly easy fashion, the Yarmouth boys’ soccer team knew that a second win wouldn’t come easily.
Especially on the Capers’ turf.
That was indeed the case Saturday evening at Hannaford Field, but despite an early deficit, the Clippers found a way to do it again.
Junior captain Ben Decker tied the score in the 28th minute and with 25:49 to go in regulation, sophomore Adam LaBrie, who scored twice a week ago, pounced on a Cape Elizabeth mistake and finished to put Yarmouth ahead to stay.
The Clippers’ defense did the rest, holding the Capers at bay, and Yarmouth improved to 4-0-1 with a 2-1 victory, dropping Cape Elizabeth to 1-3-1.
“It’s a big emotional victory,” said Decker. “Everyone gave their all. Even the bench cheered us on. It was good. We knew (Cape) wanted to win. This is the kind of game we like. When we want to win and they want to win and we know it will be a fight. It was a lot of fun out there.”
Since Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth play in different classes come playoff time, Saturday’s meeting was the final one of 2012.
The Clippers entered the game red-hot. After rallying to tie host North Yarmouth Academy, 2-2, in the opener, Yarmouth had defeated visiting Lake Region (4-0) and Cape Elizabeth (4-1) and host York (1-0).
The Capers had opened with a 1-0 loss to Falmouth, then earned their first win, 1-0, over visiting Fryeburg. Cape Elizabeth then lost at Yarmouth and settled for a 1-1 home draw against York.
Entering the game, the Clippers had won four and tied two of the previous seven meetings between the rivals.
Saturday, Yarmouth found a way to prevail again.
The Capers, perhaps still feeling the aftereffects of the first meeting, were a little tentative in the early going and the Clippers almost took the lead in the 10th minute, but sophomore Brendan Dioli couldn’t quite get to a bouncing throw-in from junior David Murphy and Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Austin Andrews snared the ball.
The Capers then transitioned to offense and after a foul, sophomore Griffin Thoreck set up for a free kick about 35 yards out.
What transpired was simply breathtaking.
Thoreck unleashed a perfect kick, sending the ball soaring over the head of Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Andrew Fochler and into the net for a stunning goal and a 1-0 Cape Elizabeth lead.
Suddenly, the Capers were feeling pretty good about themselves.
“It was a great goal,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond. “It put us off to a good start. We try to put balls in dangerous spots. It was a great hit. He put other balls in dangerous spots later, but their keeper got to them.”
“(Cape) had a great goal,” said Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. “That almost makes it easier, when they score a great goal and you can just clap for them. It was a great hit.”
Less than a minute later, the Capers almost doubled their lead as junior Florian Krause (who scored in the first meeting) broke in on goal, but Fochler raced out to break up the play and was injured in the process (he would promptly return to action).
Yarmouth then began to carry play as it sought the equalizer.
In the 16th minute, a high shot from junior captain Chandler Smith was saved by Andrews.
With 20:58 to go before halftime, Murphy fired a low shot that Andrews saved, but the keeper bobbled the ball, allowing Clippers junior David Clemmer to race in for the rebound,, however, at the last second, Andrews got to the ball to deny the threat.
With 12:40 showing in the half, Yarmouth drew even.
The play began with LaBrie outracing a back on a run down the left side. LaBrie then sent a low cross across the goalmouth that appeared ticketed for the foot of junior Wyatt Jackson, but i was just out of Jackson’s reach.
The Capers weren’t able to clear the ball, however, and Decker ran it down, took a touch to his left to avoid a defender, then fired past Andrews to tie the score.
“Adam had a heck of a game,” said Decker. “The ball was just sitting there for me. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
“I’m not surprised it was Ben and Adam,” said Hagerty. “They go hard all the time.”
Late in the first half, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Cole Caswell’s header on a Thoreck free kick was saved by Fochler, a low shot by Clippers senior captain Thomas Sullivan was just wide of the mark and Fochler broke up a long lead pass from junior Charlie Laprade to junior Omar Khalidi to send the game to the half deadlocked at 1-1.
The threats continued in the second half.
Early on, a Murphy free kick sat free in the Capers’ box, but was cleared at the last second.
In the 45th minute, Fochler made a leaping save in traffic on a long free kick from Thoreck.
Two minutes later, a low shot from Laprade hit the side of the goal.
With 30:25 to go, Decker came up huge in the defensive end. Defending the far post, Decker kicked away a sure goal off the foot of Caswell just before the ball crossed the line.
“It was a 50-50 ball and I just kicked it,” said Decker. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”
After Fochler made a save on a Thoreck free kick and a Caswell shot went just wide, the visitors went on top.
The goal came benefit of a failed clear in the defensive end. The confusion allowed LaBrie to collect the loose ball and beat Andrews to make it 2-1 Clippers.
“It was a misclear and there was a big scramble,” said LaBrie. “I just ran for the ball and tapped it in.”
“We have to be better in our defensive box,” said Raymond. “Every mistake can cause a goal. Yarmouth does a great job of capitalizing on our mistakes. We didn’t make many, but we made one in the second half and the kid was there and scored. That’s the difference.”
Dioli almost gave Yarmouth a two-goal lead in the 60th minute, but Andrews made a bang-bang save at the last second.
Down the stretch, the Capers pushed for the equalizer.
With 13:53 left, a shot from sophomore Noah Haversat was just high. Five minutes later, with Fochler out of position, a Clippers defender cleared the ball away.
With 7 minutes to go, Cape Elizabeth earned back-to-back corner kicks, but couldn’t generate a shot.
Andrews kept the deficit at one with 2:51 remaining when he made a save on a low shot from Sullivan, then collected the rebound.
The Capers then had one last chance with a long feed, but Fochler got to the ball first and Yarmouth was able to run out the clock on the 2-1 victory.
“It means a lot for us,” LaBrie said. “It gives us a big push into the big games coming up. We had the attitude to keep playing. There was nothing we could do about their nice shot. We just had to get on the board. In the second half, we played harder, stayed composed and played Yarmouth soccer.”
“That first game was an oddity,” Hagerty said. “I think we played about as well as we’ve played in a bunch of years and we caught them on a good night for us and a bad night for them. I thought this game would be more indicative of how good they are. They have dangerous kids. They’re close to that last ball. It’s just not there. If they get a little cleaner, they’ll beat a lot of teams. They’ll be worth some Heal Points down the road.
“I was pleased with our depth. We subbed in six or seven guys. I feel like that was the difference in the second half. Our legs were fresh. Our starters don’t have to play 80 minutes. We’re not the biggest team, but I don’t think anyone works harder than us when it comes down to it. I’m really psyched about the second half. I’m proud of how we played. We started the half with three forwards up top, then we dropped back a bit. We were still able to get some numbers forward. Tonight, we came back from 1-0 down. The kids work hard for each other.”
Cape Elizabeth has made strides in a week, but still fell short.
“We played a little bit better than last week,” Raymond said. “The game was pretty darn even. Each team had chances. That’s what we come to expect. Both teams were better than they were a week ago, which is a good sign.
“Things are definitely coming along. We’re learning what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. The kids are figuring out when to put the ball where. When to possess. We can’t just program it for them. It doesn’t work that way. They have to be able to read situations. It’s just playing more and getting them more time together as a group. Out of people who played last year, our sophomores probably played most. The upperclassmen didn’t play a lot.”
Yarmouth finished with a 12-7 edge in shots (10-4 on frame). Andrews made six saves to three for Fochler. The Capers took seven corner kicks to five for the Clippers.
Cape Elizabeth is idle until Friday when it hosts rival Greely.
“If there’s any team we need to stay ahead of, it’s Greely,” Raymond said. “We compete for one or two (playoff) spots.”
Yarmouth is home against Poland Tuesday, then welcomes rival Falmouth for the first of two regular season showdowns Saturday afternoon. The Clippers play at Greely and Falmouth the following week.
Yarmouth feels it’s up for the challenge.
“We definitely have a team atmosphere,” Decker said. “We’re having fun. We have to keep enjoying it and keep pushing.”
“When we go Cape-York-Cape, you think it can’t get any harder, but it can when you go Falmouth-Greely-Falmouth,” Hagerty said. “If we keep using our depth, we should have the legs to do it. I’m excited.”