Yarmouth surges into playoffs after shutout of Falmouth

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FALMOUTH—Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team saved its best for last this regular season and as a result, the Clippers enter the postseason as the team to beat in Class B.

Tuesday evening, four days after a pivotal one-goal victory at defending state champion Greely, Yarmouth made another short road trip to take on a longtime rival, in this case a Falmouth squad which pounded the Clippers in Yarmouth two weeks ago.

This time around, the Clippers were the squad taking care of business.

In the 14th minute, on a corner kick, senior standout Adam LaBrie scored a goal and Yarmouth got the jump, but unlike the last meeting, where the Yachtsmen quickly turned the game in their favor, the Clippers never allowed them to answer.

Yarmouth had ample opportunities to extend its lead, but didn’t manage to do so until 12:15 remained, when LaBrie took a pass from junior Nick Kamra, got behind the Falmouth defense and scored again for a 2-0 lead.

Then, with 8:44 to go, LaBrie finished his hat trick, the first against the Yachtsmen in memory, and the Clippers went on to a decisive and impressive 3-0 victory.

Yarmouth finished its superb regular season at 10-2-2 and dropped Falmouth to 11-1-2.

“The three-goal differential was certainly unexpected,” said Clippers coach Mike Hagerty. “I thought there would be three goals tonight, but not all three for us. The past four halves we’ve played have been so consistent. That’s what I’m so pleased with. The guys sticking with the game plan and playing with each other.”

Revenge served cold and wet

Yarmouth came to Falmouth Tuesday with the top seed in Western B locked up, but while the Yachtsmen appeared to have much more to play for at first blush (they needed to win to leapfrog Scarborough for the No. 1 ranking in Western A), rest assured that the Clippers had no trouble getting up for this one.

For starters, a Yarmouth win would allow it to capture the Brady Cup, the prestigious annual round robin between the four Western Maine Conference powers (Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth).

Perhaps an even bigger impetus was what occurred Oct. 4 in Yarmouth, when the Yachtsmen put on a dizzying display of finishing in a shockingly decisive 5-2 victory over the Clippers.

That was only one of two losses on the season for Yarmouth.

The Clippers won their opener, 7-0, at Poland, then fell at home to Greely, 1-0. Yarmouth then enjoyed a 5-3 home victory over Cape Elizabeth, a 5-0 home blanking of Freeport, a 3-1 home win over York and a 7-0 romp at Kennebunk, before letting a 2-0 lead slip away in a 2-2 home draw versus Waynflete. After earning a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Cape Elizabeth, the Clippers were staggered by visiting Falmouth, 5-2. Yarmouth then settled for a scoreless tie at York and only beat visiting Kennebunk, 1-0, before the offense returned in an 8-1 victory at Gray-New Gloucester. Friday, Yarmouth eked out a 1-0 win at Greely to clinch the top seed in Western B.

The Yachtsmen, who only made it to the quarterfinals in 2013 in their first year in Western A for the playoffs, have returned to form big-time this season.

Falmouth held off visiting Gray-New Gloucester in its opener, 2-0, then won at Kennebunk, 4-1, before settling for a scoreless home tie versus defending Class B state champion Greely. The Yachtsmen then won at Waynflete (1-0) and after playing host Cape Elizabeth to a 1-1 draw, Falmouth blanked visiting York (3-0) and host Poland (7-0) and Greely (1-0). Then came the decisive victory at Yarmouth, which was followed by victories over visiting Cape Elizabeth (3-0), host York (2-1, in double overtime), visiting Freeport (4-0) and visiting Kennebunk (3-0).

Entering Tuesday, since 2001, Falmouth had won 16 times, Yarmouth 11 and five other contests had ended in draws (see sidebar, below).

This time around, the Clippers carried play most of the way and despite a steady rainfall, imposed their will and found the net on three different occasions.

Less than two minutes in, Yarmouth set the tone when sophomore Matt Dostie took a cross and had a good look, but shot just wide.

After Dostie sent another blast high, junior Walter Conrad unleashed a low, 30-yard blast which Falmouth junior goalkeeper Jesse Melchiskey had to dive to save. Melchiskey then had to slide to get to a cross off the foot of Clippers junior Patrick Grant. He momentarily bobbled the ball, then snared it just in time.

Then, in the 14th minute, Yarmouth earned a corner kick and pounced.

Senior Connor Lainey played the ball in and it skittered to Grant, who flicked it to LaBrie at the far post and there was no stopping him there as LaBrie tucked the ball home for a 1-0 lead.

“I just finished my run and the ball squeaked through,” LaBrie said. “It didn’t touch anyone. I just put it in.”

Grant then had two chances to double the lead, but with Melchiskey out of the goal, he shot high and a minute later, his shot forced Melchiskey to dive to make the save.

After Yarmouth senior Ben Vigue headed a corner kick wide, Conrad got his foot on the ball on a corner kick and from just outside the box sent a blast high.

Late in the half, Falmouth senior Gabe Mahoney managed a shot which Clippers senior goalkeeper Alex Lyon saved.

Yarmouth then went back on offense where Conrad sent a low bender on target on a corner, forcing Melchiskey to sprawl to save it, and on another corner, the ball sat free in front momentarily before being cleared.

Despite enjoying a 10-4 shots advantage (5-1 on frame), having seven corner kicks and controlling play for most of the 40 minutes, the Clippers’ lead was just 1-0 and was far from safe.

Play was more even in the second half.

Just 35 seconds in, Kamra managed a left-footed shot which Melchiskey had to save in sprawling fashion.

With 31:44 to play in regulation, Falmouth almost drew even, but a shot from senior Ben Lydick was saved by a diving Lyon.

After Conrad was denied by Melchiskey on a low shot at one end, the Yachtsmen pushed again, but Yarmouth junior Andrew Beatty cleared the ball from the box. It found its way to senior Jake Grade, but Grade shot high.

With 17:40 left, Grant stole the ball and had a lot of net to shoot at, but sent his bid wide.

While Grant has seen his share of hard luck the past two games (he was robbed on a breakaway and hit the post Friday at Greely), Hagerty believes his time will come.

“Pat had a huge impact on the game,” Hagerty said. “He bothered their backs. He pestered them, forced them into turnovers. His effort had as much to do with Adam’s three goals as the passes that led to the three goals. He’s only played forward for three games. I thought his effort was phenomenal and contagious. It’s going to come for him. How much attention will Adam get in the playoffs? Pat will benefit from that.”

Before the visitors put it away, Falmouth did have two more chances to tie.

The first came with 14:48 to play, but a long free kick from dangerous senior Luke Velas was blocked by a defender.

Then, with 13:27 left, a shot from sophomore Olin Rhoades went wide.

Yarmouth then got some breathing room.

With 12:15 to go, Kamra threaded a pass past a defender and LaBrie, who managed to stay onsides, collected it and raced in on Melchiskey. Melchiskey came out to cut off the angle, but LaBrie sent the ball by him and into the net for a 2-0 advantage.

“We started to get worried after they got some chances, but we started to put some through balls through,” LaBrie said. “Kamra set me up. I felt like I was onsides. I just had to stay composed.”

Less than four minutes later, the Clippers struck again.

This time, it was Grant sending the ball ahead to LaBrie, who managed to get around a defender before finishing for a 3-0 lead with 8:44 left.

“It was the same kind of goal,” LaBrie said. “Patty set me up with a good ball.”

“Adam’s just awesome,” Vigue said. “He’s awesome up front. He can score goals.”

“Adam’s got 18 goals,” Hagerty added. “He’s one away from (former standout and current assistant coach Eoin Lynch’s) record. Hopefully he has four more games to get that record. The difference between this year and last year is last year, he took hits and missed time. This year, he’s staying in. He’s gotten a lot stronger, a lot tougher. He’s able to avoid hits because he’s so athletic and wiry. He can absorb contact and stay on his feet. He didn’t try to do too much. He kept the ball on the ground and beat the goalie low and tight.”

Falmouth never could answer from there and Yarmouth put the finishing touches on the 3-0 triumph.

“We got them here, 6-1, last year, then they came in and got revenge and we wanted to get one back tonight,” said LaBrie. “We knew what they were going to do. We did a good job defending.”

“This was so much fun,” Vigue said. “We wanted to go into playoffs strong. We remembered how they beat us last time. It was a great team effort. We moved the ball well and communicated well. It was a great team win tonight.”

“As good as our offense was, I thought our defense was terrific tonight,” Hagerty added. “We cut down passing lanes. We closed down space and angles. No one person tried to do too much. We stayed organized. We moved the ball well on a cold night. It was rainy and cold, but playing simple and fast works in any weather. They play long balls really well, but a little pressure on a wet night and long balls aren’t as effective. It’s hard to be accurate. We were confident that if we played our style, it would be better than their style. The first half, our production was excellent. In the second half, we sat back a little bit. When we got back to possessing the ball, we were fine.”

As much as the win meant for bragging rights for Yarmouth, the Clippers also retained the Brady Cup.

“The Brady Cup means a lot,” Hagerty said. “We’re really proud of it. We had to win tonight to win it outright.”

Yarmouth finished with a 17-10 shots advantage (9-2 on frame). Lyon made two saves. The Clippers had all seven of the game’s corner kicks.

Even though he didn’t factor into the scoring, Hagerty credited Vigue’s play for being a big reason the Clippers prevailed.

“Ben’s kind of the glue that binds us,” he said. “His energy, enthusiasm and focus. He does a lot of the dirty work out there. He’ll make the extra run, get the extra touch on the ball. Offensively and defensively, Ben’s our best communicator. With him there, he makes other people better. He had a huge impact on this game and Greely as an outside back.”

Falmouth got six saves from Melchiskey and tipped its cap in defeat.

“They were the more motivated team tonight,” said longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. “Yarmouth did a great job in the first half. In the second half, we started getting things going our way, but they’re a veteran team. Their big-time players stepped up in a big-time way. They didn’t sit back and try to lose by one goal (the first game) and we didn’t either. We pushed players forward and we got caught.”

Two titles?

While Falmouth and Yarmouth have both won an abundance of championships, only once has a season ended with both squads hoisting Gold Balls. That happened in 1997, when the Clippers won Class B in Hagerty’s first year, while the Yachtsmen took Class C for the second year in a row.

There’s a decent chance both powerhouses will reach the pinnacle Nov. 8, but both have a lot of work to do first.

The Yachtsmen will be the No. 2 team in Western A and will host either No. 7 Cheverus (6-4-4) or No. 10 Portland (6-6-2) in the quarterfinals Tuesday of next week. Falmouth didn’t play either team this fall. The Yachtsmen were eliminated by the Bulldogs in last year’s quarterfinal round.

This time around, Falmouth believes it can go all the way and add a Class A championship to those won in Classes B and C.

“I’m pleased with what we’ve accomplished, but I feel we can accomplish a lot more,” Halligan said. “It will be interesting to see how these guys respond and turn things around. I think we can make a run. We’ve played well. There’s more positives than negatives. We’ve got some time to prepare. Anybody can win.”

Hagerty believes the Yachtsmen are on the short list of favorites.

“Dave will have them primed for the playoffs,” he said. “They’re 100 percent a threat. They defend really, really well. They won’t give up three goals the rest of the year. They’re a really good turf team. Dave scouts as well as anyone I’ve ever met. He’ll have his team prepared for whoever they play. The Class A teams won’t be as prepared for the little tweaks he’ll make. I think Class A is more wide open than it’s ever been. Scarborough, Falmouth, Deering and Gorham all have a legitimate shot to win it.”

The Clippers, meanwhile, are the top seed in Western B for the third year in a row, but they know that guarantees them nothing, as they’ve dropped the regional final on their home turf each of the past two seasons. Yarmouth will host a quarterfinal Tuesday, likely against Fryeburg Academy or Leavitt.

This time around, the Clippers seek to finish the job and they have the look of a team capable of hoisting a Gold Ball.

‘We’ve accomplished so much,” LaBrie said. “We just need to play our game, play team soccer, Yarmouth soccer. When we do that, we’re unstoppable. We’re very confident.”

“We’ve come together as a team at the right time,” Vigue said. “We’re looking good. We just have to play hard and play our game. If we focus on what we can do, we should be fine.”

“We’re playing with passion and heart,” Hagerty added. “We like that we’ll be on our turf. We’re playing well.”

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

Falmouth junior Jack Engelberger gets his head on the ball.

Yarmouth junior Patrick Grant runs down a ball before Falmouth sophomore Jonah Spiegel can reach it.

Falmouth sophomore Jonah Spiegel tries to slow the train known as Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie.

Falmouth senior Gabe Mahoney heads the ball as Yarmouth senior Conor Hoehle defends.

Falmouth junior goalkeeper Jesse Melchiskey falls on a loose ball as Yarmouth junior Nick Kamra closes in.

Falmouth senior Luke Velas plays the ball as Yarmouth junior Andrew Beatty defends.

Yarmouth senior Ben Vigue heads the ball away from Falmouth senior Luke Velas.

Falmouth freshman Ben Wuesthoff, the hero of the first meeting, plays the ball while Yarmouth junior Conor O’Donnell defends.

Recent Yarmouth-Falmouth results

2014
Falmouth 5 @ Yarmouth 2

2013
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 1

2012
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (2 OT)
Falmouth 2 @ Yarmouth 0 (Western B Final)

2011
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 1
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0

2010
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 0 (OT) (Western Class B Final)

2009
@ Yarmouth 1 Falmouth 1 (tie)
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B Final)

2008
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 1 (OT)
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 1 (Western Class B Final)

2007
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 1 @ Falmouth 0
@ Falmouth 1 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

2006
@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

2005
Yarmouth 2 @ Falmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2004
@ Falmouth 0 Yarmouth 0 (tie)

2003
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2002
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0
Falmouth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Falmouth 2 Yarmouth 0 (Western Class B semifinals)

2001
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 2 (tie)
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 0

Sidebar Elements


Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie turns to shoot as Falmouth senior Gabe Mahoney, left, and junior Nigel Dunn defend during Tuesday night’s showdown in the rain. This one was all Clippers and all LaBrie, as the standout had all three goals in a 3-0 victory.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

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