Yarmouth surges in second half to sweep Falmouth

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FALMOUTH—At first glance, there didn’t appear to be much at stake when defending Class B state champion Yarmouth traveled to Falmouth for Tuesday night’s regular season boys’ soccer finale.

After all, playoff positioning for each squad was more or less established and the teams are now in different classes, precluding a late-October or early-November showdown.

But if you know anything but this rivalry, it’s that emotions run high and that the pride of victory can’t be quantified.

In the first half, multiple yellow cards affected the pace of play and the high-powered Clippers couldn’t generate any chances while the Yachtsmen had one golden opportunity on which they failed to convert.

Then, in the second half, Yarmouth asserted its control and after a couple near misses, got the only goal it would need when junior Matthew Dostie completed a sensational individual effort for a 1-0 lead with 24:29 to play.

Falmouth couldn’t answer and with 7:06 left, after another tremendous individual show, senior Chris Pidden provided the dagger and the Clippers went on to an impressive 2-0 victory.

Yarmouth capped its strong regular season at 12-1-1, looks more than capable of repeating for the first time in a decade and dropped the Yachtsmen, who also have to like their playoff chances, to 10-3-1 in the process.

“It’s been a great season,” said Clippers coach Mike Hagerty. “The way the kids have responded to everything has been quite nice.”

Hard hitting

Falmouth and Yarmouth have excelled most of the autumn.

The Yachtsmen rallied past host Gray-New Gloucester in the opener, 3-1, then beat visiting Kennebunk by the same score. After blanking visiting Greely, 2-0, Falmouth held off visiting Waynflete, 1-0, and won at home over Cape Elizabeth, 4-0. After finally meeting their match at York, 2-1, the Yachtsmen crushed visiting Poland, 13-0, and played host Greely to a scoreless tie, then lost at Yarmouth, 1-0. Falmouth bounced right back from that defeat, winning at Cape Elizabeth (4-1), at home against York (5-0) and at Freeport (3-0) and Kennebunk (4-1).

The Clippers opened with a 9-0 home win over visiting Poland, then enjoyed a 2-0 victory at Greely. After a 4-0 home win over Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth won at Freeport, 5-0, blanked visiting York, 3-0, and dominated visiting Kennebunk, 8-0, then finally met its match, losing, 2-1, at Waynflete. After getting back on track with a 5-1 victory at Cape Elizabeth, the Clippers edged visiting Falmouth in a thriller, 1-0, then won by shutout at York (4-0) and Kennebunk (4-0) and at home over Gray-New Gloucester (3-0) before settling for a 1-1 home tie against Greely Saturday.

Entering Tuesday’s contest, since the start of the 2001 season, Falmouth had 16 wins, Yarmouth 12 and six other meetings ended in ties (see sidebar, below), but since the start of the 2010 campaign, the Clippers had won nine of 12 games.

In the last meeting, physicality ruled the day and Yarmouth saw three players, senior Jonathan Groothoff, junior John Lane and junior Gibson Harnett, sidelined with injuries in the aftermath.

This time around, it the final meeting this fall between the ancient rivals, the Clippers found a way to smother the Yachtsmen again.

The best chance in an even first half came with 12:09 to go, when Falmouth sophomore Ben Wuesthoff, he of the highlight reel bicycle kick goal in last year’s Yachtsmen win at Yarmouth, got the ball on the side and with Clippers sophomore goalkeeper Cal Owen out of the play, had an open net at which to shoot, but he missed wide, keeping the game scoreless.

“The one kid I didn’t want to have the ball had a wide open look,” Hagerty said.

Three yellow cards were given in the first half, including one just 23 seconds in, as the officials were mindful of preventing physical play.

In the second half, the Clippers focused on playing their game and it led to scoring chances and ultimately to goals.

In the second minute of the second half, sophomore Luke Groothoff had a rush broken up, but got the ball back and he launched a low blast that appeared goal-bound before Falmouth junior keeper Jack Scribner dove and made a terrific save.

A minute later, Dostie fought his way through the Yachtsmen defense and got the ball to senior Henry Becker, but Becker’s shot sailed just wide.

With 35:58 to play in regulation, Yarmouth earned a corner kick and senior Conor O’Donnell got his head on the ball, but Scribner leaped to make the save.

After a Groothoff free kick was headed out and Clippers senior Patrick Grant had a shot booted away, Falmouth had its best chance of the second half, but junior Schuyler Parkinson shot wide on a rush.

With 24:29 left, Yarmouth finally broke through.

Dostie did it himself as he got to a deflected ball, eluded a defender, then launched a low, left-footed blast to Scribner’s right. Scribner dove, but this time it was to no avail and the ball tickled the twine for  a 1-0 lead.

“We picked up the intensity, we played to feet, had some combinations and got some good opportunities,” said Dostie. “I’m always confident that we’ll put one in. We have a lot of talent on our team. It was just a deflection that came to me. I took a touch and I hit it. I wasn’t sure if (the goalie would) get to it. He was close. I thought we needed another one, but I knew 1-0 would hold up because we have a stellar defense.”

“Jack had made some terrific saves, so I knew it would take terrific shots to beat him,” Hagerty said. “Dostie’s had two or three like that this year. It’s not an anomaly. I give him credit. (Assistant coach and former standout player) Eoin (Lynch) has been working with Dostie talking about where to get the ball and what to do with it. I think it was one of his smartest games today.”

A minute later, the Clippers almost doubled their lead, but Dostie’s feed to sophomore Max Coury resulted in a flick that went just high.

With 19:43 remaining, Groothoff shot just high.

At the other end, the Yachtsmen looked to draw even, but senior Brody Lycan’s cross skittered untouched across the goal mouth and seconds later, a free kick hit the football crossbar.

Falmouth’s last chance came with 7:56 left when junior Jon Mullin stole the ball and had a look, but shot wide.

Yarmouth then pushed the other way and wound up doubling its lead as Groothoff got the ball to Pidden, who deked a defender, took a step to his right, got Scribner leaning to his left, then shot back toward the left post. The ball hit the inside of the left post and went into the goal and the Clippers had a 2-0 advantage.

“It was nice to get one,” Pidden said. “I thought I hit it wide, actually. It was just a great feeling because we knew we closed them at this point.”

“I knew Chris had so much energy and he was sitting on a yellow (card),” Hagerty said. “I didn’t want him to go back in and get a second yellow and miss a playoff game. I told him he had five minutes to go in and give us a boost of energy. His energy is so contagious. He gave us a lift. It was still anyone’s game at 1-0, but good for him. That was a great goal.”

Late in regulation, Yarmouth pressed for a third goal, but sophomore Tahj Garvey’s shot was saved by Scribner and a rebound bid went wide.

The Clippers slammed the door from there and completed the 2-0 victory, giving them two shutouts in one season against Falmouth for the first time this century.

“It was a real tight game last time at home and everyone was gassed up for this one,” said Pidden. “We started a little flat. There were a few yellow cards. The key in a tight game like this is 50-50 balls and we did that better in the second half. Beating Falmouth twice senior year is just the best feeling.”

“There were still some leftover emotions from the first game in the first half,” Hagerty said. “I think we came out in the second half with better purpose, where we wanted to play the ball. Our backs were great all game. I think in the second half, (junior) Henry Coolidge and Luke Groothoff really controlled the pace of the game in the midfield. I thought their touch and decision making was excellent. They worked so well together. They didn’t score the goals, but they made the difference.”

Yarmouth was the favorite entering the season, but has been hindered by injury (senior standout Walter Conrad was lost to a knee injury before the season, the three players were hurt against Falmouth and senior Noah Pellerin was lost for the year after being involved in an accident).

Somehow, the Clippers have continued to thrive.

“Every game we talk about playing for the five, six guys who aren’t coming back,” Pidden said. “Having them in the back of our heads has helped a lot.”

“Our seniors have been steady,” said Hagerty. “It starts with Walter, who got hurt in preseason. He and Patrick have been our heart and soul. The captains and senior class have been so wonderful. They’ve been enthusiastic and fun. Walter’s showed up at practice and was a great captain. The others can’t help but work their hearts out for him. He’s arguably the best defender in the state, but he’s missed this and he never complained once. Noah’s alive and the knee and ankle (injuries) will heal. I like to think the perspective they’ve received will help them in the playoffs.”

Yarmouth finished with a 12-4 edge in shots (8-3 on frame). Owen made three saves and the Clippers had the game’s lone corner kick.

The Yachtsmen got five saves from Scribner, but couldn’t solve the Yarmouth defense.

“It was a dysfunctional game,” said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “It started dysfunctional and ended up dysfunctional. That’s the way it goes. It would have been helpful going into playoffs if this was a good, hard, competitive game, but it wasn’t.”

Digging for gold

Falmouth in Class A and Yarmouth in Class B both like their chances to win a state championship Nov. 7.

The Yachtsmen project to be the No. 4 seed in Class A South and if so, would next play Wednesday of next week in the quarterfinals against a yet to be determined foe.

“We’re 0-0 now, just like everyone else,” Halligan said. “We’ll get refocused. Every Class A team is good. We’ll give it our best shot. If we can put three, four good games together, we’ll be there.” 

The Clippers will be second behind Maranacook in Class B South and will begin their repeat bid next Wednesday.

“We’ve welcomed the expectations,” Dostie said. “We knew we had talent and just needed to build up our chemistry and we’ve done that. We just have to keep working hard in practice. I feel we do have what it takes. We just have to keep playing our best.”

“We know no matter how well prepared we are, it comes down to that night,’ Pidden said. “It’s the same every year. Every playoffs has upsets and games that are tight, but we’ll be there fighting.”

“I think we’re ready for a playoff run,” Hagerty added. “I’m excited. We want to get healthy. The guys really like each other. They’ll enjoy the next week of practice. I hope we have three more weeks together.”

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

Yarmouth celebrates one of its second half goals during Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Falmouth.

Chris Lambert photos.

Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Cal Owen leaps to make a save.

Yarmouth sophomore Luke Groothoff crushes the ball.

Falmouth senior Jack Engelberger strikes the ball as Yarmouth senior Chris Pidden gives chase.

Falmouth junior goalkeeper Jack Scribner makes a save.

Yarmouth senior Henry Becker tries to fight past Falmouth junior Olin Rhoads.

Yarmouth senior Matthew Beatty tries to keep up with Falmouth junior Jon Mullin.

Sidebar Elements

Recent Yarmouth-Falmouth results

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 

Falmouth 5 @ Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 3 @ Falmouth 0

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 1

@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (2 OT)
Falmouth 2 @ Yarmouth 0 (Western B Final)

@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 (OT) (Western Class B Final)

@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie) 
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B Final)

@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 1 (OT)
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (Western Class B Final)

Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 1 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 1 
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.