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Teammates mob Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Cal Owen following the Clippers’ 3-1 win over rival Greely in Saturday’s Class B South semifinal.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
YARMOUTH—For much of the first half of Saturday’s Class B South semifinal round playoff game, it appeared Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team was repeating the script of one of the most agonizing losses in program history, a setback which came at the hands of the Clippers’ opponent, the Greely Rangers.
Second-ranked Yarmouth took the lead just 40 seconds in, when junior Henry Coolidge set up junior Matthew Dostie for a quick goal.
In the eighth minute, however, No. 3 Greely answered, as junior Hunter Graham finished senior Nick Pronovost’s cross to tie the game, 1-1.
That back-and-forth was eerily similar to what happened in the 2013 regional final, when the heavily-favored Clippers scored early, the Rangers roared right back, then won late.
This time around, Yarmouth made sure history didn’t repeat itself as senior Patrick Grant scored with 5:10 to go in the half, restoring momentum to the Clippers’ side.
Just over five minutes into the second half, Yarmouth got some breathing room when Dostie ripped a left-footed blast into the net for a 3-1 lead.
While Greely pushed hard until the final horn, it couldn’t get back in the game and the Clippers went on to the 3-1 victory.
Yarmouth improved to 14-1-1, ended the Rangers’ season of resurgence at 9-4-3 and advanced to meet top-ranked Maranacook (16-0) in the Class B South Final Wednesday in Readfield at a time to be announced.
“We knew it would come down to us and Greely,” Grant said. “The seniors met before the game and talked about how this would probably be our last game here. That’s what we were playing for today.”
If it weren’t for the vagaries of the Heal Points, Yarmouth should have hosted Greely in the regional final, or if soccer fans were really fortunate, they’d play in the state final.
The Clippers did a fine job defending their title, winning 12 of 14 games (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories), losing only to Waynflete and tying Greely in the regular season finale. Yarmouth was dominant in its 12 victories, scoring 50 times while surrendering a single goal (at Cape Elizabeth). For the season, the Clippers gave up four goals, total.
Yarmouth finished second behind reigning Class C champion Maranacook (which moved up this year) in Class B South and blanked No. 7 Cape Elizabeth in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, 2-0.
Greely started the year 1-3-1, then absolutely caught fire, going 7-0-2 down the stretch to wind up with the No. 3 seed in the region. Wednesday, in a game moved to North Yarmouth Academy due to field conditions, the Rangers held off No. 6 York, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
The rivals played two close games this fall, as the Clippers won in Cumberland, 2-0, Sept. 8, then the squads settled for a 1-1 tie Oct. 17 in Yarmouth.
Greely had won three of the previous four playoff meetings, but the squads split the past two regional finals, as the Rangers shocked the host Clippers, 2-1, two years ago before Yarmouth earned a measure of revenge in 2014, prevailing, 4-2.
Saturday, the Clippers continued what has been a season of dominance and brilliance.
Yarmouth wanted to deliver a quick haymaker, but probably surprised even itself by the way the game began.
Just 40 seconds in, Dostie collected a pass from Coolidge and beat Greely sophomore goalkeeper Brandon George for a 1-0 lead.
“Someone sent it in and someone booted it out, then Henry headed it back to me and I shot it,” Dostie said. “That put them on their heels. They’re a really good team. It was good to make them squirm.”
The Rangers have been playing uphill since mid-September and not surprisingly, responded in the eighth minute, when Pronovost crossed the ball to Graham, who beat Yarmouth sophomore goalkeeper Cal Owen with a shot to tie the score, 1-1.
Things then calmed down until 5:10 remained in the half, when Grant found himself in the right spot to score the go-ahead goal.
Senior Topher Pidden set it up by drawing the defense and after the ball was sent in by senior Andrew Beatty and George couldn’t clear it, Grant tucked home the rebound for a 2-1 lead.
“Topher put the pressure on and two or three guys followed Topher and the ball and I just was there to follow up with the volley,” Grant said.
The Clippers didn’t sit on their lead as the second half began and were soon rewarded.
After senior Henry Becker beat a defender and set up Pidden, only to have the shot go just wide, Yarmouth converted its next chance.
After Greely senior Kalle Eckholm had a rush broken up by Coolidge, the Clippers transitioned to offense and sophomore Luke Groothoff fed Dostie, who got some room on the left side of the box and Dostie let fly with his left foot from about 20 yards out and the ball rocketed up and past George into the net for a 3-1 lead.
“It was a breakaway,” said Dostie. “It was a great opportunity. Luke passed it to me, I took a few touches and shot. My left foot is pretty good. I’ve been working on it a lot.”
“Hagerty always says a third goal is the most important goal in the game, but a third goal for us was huge for security,” Grant said.
“Dostie can hit a ball with his left and his right,” Hagerty added. “He’s stopped worrying about hitting it hard and he’s just worried about good form. It’s like when you see a home run swing that’s effortless. That’s all form.
“We changed our formation at halftime. Patrick suggested it. We switched to a 5-3-2, which we won the states with last year and that calmed the game down. That was a good suggestion.”
Greely coach Mike Andreasen could only shake his head.
“In 30 seconds, I thought we had a goal, then they scored,” Andreasen said. “I thought it was 2-2, then it wound up 3-1.”
Yarmouth tried to put it away, but freshman Eric LaBrie shot wide, then had a shot saved by George, two corner kicks didn’t result in anything, Becker shot high, George tipped a blast from LaBrie over the crossbar and George made a diving to save to rob senior Conor O’Donnell on a header.
Down the stretch, Greely turned it up a notch and came close to cutting into the deficit.
Graham and senior Jacob Nason couldn’t convert on free kicks and Nason’s header off a subsequent corner was saved by Owen.
Three more corners didn’t produce anything and with 38.8 seconds left, after a Nason free kick was knocked down by Owen, the rebound came right to Eckholm who shot over the open goal, allowing Yarmouth to put the finishing touches on its 3-1 victory.
“The defense really stepped up,” Dostie said. “Greely’s definitely a very hard opponent. This is a big confidence boost to beat them.”
“What’s different this time is we knew what we had to do,” Grant said. “We had the potential to fight back and we kept playing our game.”
“I’m really pleased in the team effort today collectively against a very good team,” Hagerty added. “(Seniors) Matt Beatty and Andrew Beatty and Conor O’Donnell don’t get enough credit defensively and they took Jacob Nason, who is very likely is the best scorer in the state, and did a tremendous job on him. We spent about seven days before our three games preparing for him. He’s that good. We limited their chances. I thought the game would be wide open. We got three. We just didn’t want them to get three. Greely’s a grass team, but they play great on turf. That’s because they have great players and they’re well coached.”
Greely accomplished a lot after its slow start to the season, but fell short of its ultimate goal.
“(Yarmouth’s) very good,” said Andreasen. “We have a few holes at times and they find them. That’s what it is about a good team. Our kids played hard, but they were better. We weren’t much worse. We’ll tip our hat. They’re a very skilled club. They capitalized on our mistakes.
“The kids played hard all season. We were a very good team at playing down this year. I think we were the second best team this year. Early on, it was a case of personnel, then we got healthy. It was a great season for us. I’m pleased overall.”
Greely graduates several key players, including Nason, Pronovost and defensive standouts Austin Nowinski and Lucas Watt, but returns several key players who saw ample playing this fall.
Look for the Rangers to make another run at a title in 2016.
“Losing Nason is huge, but our junior class is very solid,” Andreasen said. “I have three of my four backs back and my first guy off the bench. We’ll be solid defensively.”
Yarmouth doesn’t play Maranacook during the regular season.
The Clippers and Black Bears have played three previous times in the playoffs. Maranacook won the first one, 1-0, in overtime, in the 2003 Western B semifinals. Yarmouth prevailed, 2-0 in the 2004 regional final and 3-0 in the 2009 semifinals.
“We’re on a high note,” Dostie said. “I think we’ll compete in practice and in the games and it will work itself out.”
“I want to go to Maranacook and show them what our conference is all about,” said Hagerty. “They had a quote in the paper about liking to beat Western Maine Conference teams.
“If we were healthy, it would be even better, but the team has responded well. We have good karma.”
The Yarmouth-Maranacook winner will face Ellsworth (13-2-1) or Erskine Academy (13-4) in the Class B state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at 5:30 p.m.
Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant, who scored the go-ahead goal, shields the ball from Greely junior Dylan Fried.
Yarmouth sophomore Luke Groothoff is sandwiched by Greely senior Lucas Watt, left, and junior Eric Kinkead.
Greely junior Hunter Graham plays the ball away from Yarmouth junior Henry Coolidge.
Yarmouth freshman Eric LaBrie and Greely junior William Borden battle for the ball.
Greely junior Will Pidgeon tries to get past Yarmouth sophomore Tahj Garvey.
Yarmouth senior Patrick Grant is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go-ahead goal late in the first half.
2014 Western B Final
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 2
1975 Western B semifinals
Greely 3 Yarmouth 0
1974 Western B Final
Greely 1 Yarmouth 0