CUMBERLAND—The Yarmouth boys’ soccer team gave up a goal for the first time this season, then a second and a third, but the Clippers still found a way to stay undefeated.
Yarmouth responded well to its first dose of adversity this season, riding junior Sam Torres’ goal with 20:09 to play to an entertaining 4-3 victory at Greely Monday night.
The goal capped a hat trick for Torres and the Clippers had to hold on for dear life down the stretch as they improved to 5-0, dropping the gritty Rangers to 3-2.
“It was an interesting game,” said Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty. “I’m glad we snuck out of here with the Heal Points.”
Yarmouth had been close to perfect so far in 2010, blanking host Freeport (3-0), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (6-0), visiting Falmouth (1-0) and host Wells (9-0).
Greely won its first three contests by shutout, 1-0 over visiting Gray-New Gloucester, 11-0 at Wells and 10-0 at home over Poland, but were coming off a 1-0 home loss to Cape Elizabeth Thursday.
The Clippers came to Cumberland riding a four-game win streak over the Rangers, including 3-0 and 4-0 triumphs a year ago.
Yarmouth’s shutout streak would become a thing of the past, but the Clippers demonstrated from start to finish just how potent they are on offense.
In the seventh minute, Torres had his first look at the goal as he broke in, but Greely sophomore goalkeeper Elijah Leverett made the save.
With 29:21 to go in the 40-minute first half, Torres was able to finish, taking a serve from senior Luke Pierce and fighting his way around two defenders before firing a shot into the goal.
Two minutes later, the Clippers threatened to go up 2-0, but junior Ryan Maguire was denied point-blank.
With 24:04 left in the half, the hosts tied the score.
Senior Jonathan Coyne, who’s been hampered by injury this fall, made his presence felt when he took a long lead pass, beat a defender, then drilled a left-footed blast past Yarmouth junior goalie Chris Knaub to make it 1-1.
The Clippers didn’t let up on offense and soon answered.
With 7:30 to go in the half, Yarmouth’s dynamic junior Spanish exchange student, Pao Carnero Melero, did what he does best, elude defenders and race in on goal, but at the last second, junior Josh Nason prevented him from getting a good look.
Greely wasn’t able to escape, however, as the ball came to Torres, who set up Maguire for a goal.
Then, with 22 seconds remaining before halftime, Melero again put on a clinic at the midfield and put the ball on Torres’ foot. Torres calmly sent a shot past Leverett and the Clippers appeared in control at the break, up 3-1.
The Rangers came out strong in the second half, showing that they weren’t considering themselves out of the game.
With 31:59 left in regulation, Greely’s tenacity was rewarded with Coyne was brought down in the box, leading to a penalty kick. Coyne did the honors and beat Knaub to the goalie’s right and the Rangers were back in the game.
“The key for us is having Coyne back,” said Greely coach Mike Andreasen. “He creates things for us. He’s so fast.”
Over the next four minutes, Greely had its share of chances, but senior Sean Ross’ serve into the box after beating two defenders was swept away and an ensuing corner kick went for naught.
Yarmouth then looked to go up 4-2, but senior Campbell Belisle-Haley, who was a force all evening, fired a blast wide, Leverett denied Pierce and Torres back-to-back and Torres shot high with Leverett out of position.
With 21:14 remaining, the hosts tied the score when senior Brandon Pinette set up Ross, who settled the ball in the box, then fired it past Knaub to shockingly make it 3-3.
“We felt pretty good at halftime, believe it or not,” said Andreasen. “(Yarmouth) seemingly put it out of reach, but I thought possession-wise, we did a good job. We knew if we got one it would make it interesting and we went from there. The problem is Yarmouth is the kind of team that when their backs are to the wall, they came out strong.”
Sure enough, just 65 seconds after Ross tied the score, Torres put the Clippers back on top. This time, Belisle-Haley set him up.
“We knew what we wanted to do coming into the game,” said Torres. “Greely’s really strong in the middle. We pushed from the sides. We talked about that pregame and were able to execute. (The go-ahead goal) started in the back with our defense. Luke and Campbell in the middle command so much attention that it opens up a lot for me. I got some breaks tonight.”
“We responded right away,” Hagerty added. “Sam played a terrific game tonight. He’s reading the game really well right now and is timing his runs. Campbell played a heck of a game tonight. He was so powerful in the air tonight.”
The Clippers (who had a 9-7 edge in shots on frame) almost made it 5-3 with 15:25 to go when senior Kyle Groves’ long free kick landed right on Pierce’s dangerous foot, but Leverett made(five saves) the stop to keep his team in the game.
Down the stretch, the Rangers had their chances to answer.
With 7 minutes to go, senior Ben Shain got his head on junior Gavin Collins’ corner kick, but the ball went right to Knaub.
With 2:35 left, Knaub bobbled the ball in front of the goal, but managed to get to it before several converging Rangers.
With 1:11 to play, Rochon’s long free kick on goal hit Shain’s head near the far post, but it went wide of the goal.
As time wound down, Greely transitioned one final time and earned a free kick when Groves was given a yellow card (senior Jeff Stuart and both Hagerty and assistant Dale Wing also received yellows on the night) with 12.9 seconds left.
Rochon then sent one final long bid on goal where Knaub (four saves) leapt and shakily cradled the ball to his chest as he fell to the ground.
“It was nice to see Chris respond the way he did,” said Hagerty. “He can go a whole half without touching a ball, but his decision making was good coming off his line. I liked the fact he was in the right spot.”
Time ran out, Yarmouth escaped and was quick to give credit to its foe.
“Greely’s a very strong team,” said Belisle-Haley. “They have firepower up front. They were right back in it. We had to play harder to make sure we got the fourth goal and won. I was making sure our team was playing with our heads and not letting emotions get the best of us. We had adversity in this game.”
“Give Greely credit,” Hagerty added. “I thought they played a lot better than they did earlier in the season. Sean Ross did a nice job at midfield. Coyne up top gives them another dimension. He’s a nice player.
The Rangers lamented the one that got away, but were happy with their second half rally.
“This was an old fashioned shootout,” Andreasen said. “We had chances at the end. One thing I’ve questioned about this group is how deep are we willing to dig? We were seemingly out of it tonight and came back and hopefully we’ll build on that.
“Yarmouth is, if not the best team we play, they’re one of the best. Last year was a bit of an anomaly since they handled us twice. Generally, when we get together, it’s going to be a war. Pierce is a bull. Campbell is too. They’ll go in with their torsos. If you go in halfway with them, you have no chance. We need to improve on that. (Falmouth senior standout) Sam White won’t be any easier.”
Greely hosts the Yachtsmen next. The game was scheduled for Wednesday, but due to College Night at the school, has been tentatively rescheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. Saturday, the Rangers go to Lake Region.
“I think if we can score three goals against a team like Yarmouth, we’re going to win games,” said Andreasen.
While the Clippers are unblemished, they know they still have work to do.
“I think we still have room for improvement,” Belisle-Haley said. “We have to keep working toward our ultimate goal of a state championship. We could be just as strong as last year. If we work as hard as we can, we can be at that level.”
“In both thirds, we’re still not as clean as I’d like,” added Hagerty. “We didn’t time runs right and in the box, we still had some balls bounce a little bit. We have to figure out our depth.”
Yarmouth returns to action Thursday at red-hot Cape Elizabeth. Friday, the Clippers visit Fryeburg.
“Cape’s’a really good team,” Torres said. “Hopefully we’ll be ready for them.”
“Cape looks really good, especially in the midfield,” Hagerty added. “They have kids up top who score. They have to be one of the early favorites in Class A.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com