PORTLAND—When the Yarmouth boys’ soccer team is clicking, it has no peer and when the Clippers are able to produce consistent goal scoring, something which hasn’t always been the case this season, they’re close to unstoppable.
After a frustrating week in which Yarmouth failed to score in one game and benefited from two “own goals” in another, the Clippers took their show to always-dangerous Waynflete Tuesday afternoon.
It took just 81 seconds for Yarmouth to end its scoring woes, as sophomore Adam LaBrie finished a breakaway, but despite dominating the rest of the first half, the Clippers couldn’t build on their 1-0 lead.
Then, in the second half, Yarmouth got some breathing room as senior Ben Decker scored eight minutes in and with 21:29 to play, Decker assisted on a tally by senior Chandler Smith and the Clippers went on to an impressive 3-0 victory at Fore River Fields.
Yarmouth improved to 4-0-2 on the season and handed the Flyers their first loss in five outings.
“It’s always tough when you don’t score too much, but the biggest thing is that everyone on the team has confidence,” Decker said. “Coming into the season, one of the biggest things I’ve realized is that this is the last time I’ll be playing soccer. Soccer’s a huge part of my life. Ever since freshman year, being able to put on the shirt with the ‘Y’ has been indescribable. We know we have something to play for. I look to my left and I look to my right and realize I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else. I think we all trust each other. We know when it comes time to score goals, we’ll have people who are able to do it.”
Waynflete and Yarmouth have enjoyed their share of soccer glory this century, but entering Tuesday’s game, the teams had only met twice since the turn of the millennium, a 0-0 tie at Yarmouth in 2007 and a 2-0 Clippers’ victory the following year in Portland.
Both squads have lived up to preseason billing this fall.
Waynflete, a regional finalist in 2012, opened with a 5-0 win at Traip, then held off host Fryeburg, 2-1, blanked visiting Lake Region, 8-0, and came from behind to win at Gray-New Gloucester, 3-1.
Yarmouth, also a regional finalist last fall, opened 2013 with a 4-0 home win over Poland. After rallying for a 2-2 tie at Greely, the Clippers handled host Freeport, 5-1. A scoreless tie at York last week was followed by a 2-0 win at Kennebunk.
Tuesday, Yarmouth put on a display of possession and passing and yes, at last, finishing as well.
It took all of 81 seconds for the tone to be set, as LaBrie stole the ball, broke free and beat Waynflete sophomore goalkeeper Milo Belleau for a quick 1-0 lead.
“The games we’ve played, we’ve had a lot of good chances, just not a lot of great chances,” said longtime Clippers coach Mike Hagerty. “Adam did a nice job capitalizing, stealing the ball and going in. That’s what smart players can do.”
Yarmouth had ample looks to make it 2-0, but couldn’t do so before halftime.
A long bender from LaBrie was saved by Belleau in the fifth minute.
Three minutes later, on one of senior David Murphy’s patented long throw-ins, senior Wyatt Jackson sent a header on target, but Belleau made the stop.
Later in the half, senior Travis Hamre, LaBrie and Hamre again had shots saved, Murphy twice shot wide and a blast from LaBrie went just off the mark, meaning the Clippers still clung to a 1-0 lead at the break.
Just when it looked like frustration would be the overriding theme again, Yarmouth tickled the twine twice in the second half.
After Jackson and LaBrie both had shots saved by Belleau, junior Ben Vigue beat a defender, stepped to his right, dribbled toward the end line, then crossed the ball to Decker, who directed it home to make it 2-0 with 32:02 to play.
“I just had to tap it in,” Decker said. “That’s the nicest kind of goal.”
“In the second half, we got the ball faster forward and that gave us more time in the final third to make better decisions,” said Hagerty. “Ben let the goalie move out of the way and he tucked it in. He was more composed than I would have been in the box. He took the time to see what was in front of him and he buried it nicely.”
With 28:46 remaining, the hosts had their best scoring chance, as with Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Alex Lyon way out of the goal, talented Waynflete junior Harry Baker-Connick had a great look, but his blast was tipped aside by Lyon, keeping the score 2-0.
Then, with 21:29 left, the Clippers struck again.
On a free kick, senior Wes Crawford sent the ball into the box. It came to Decker, who had a shot blocked, but Decker got another look and sent it past Belleau toward the goal. At the last second, Smith swooped in and tucked the ball home and Yarmouth had a commanding 3-0 advantage.
“The ball just came to me, I kicked it across the face of the goal and Chandler did exactly what he should have done,” Decker said.
“We have a lot of really unselfish kids,” Hagerty said.
The Clippers took care of business from there and celebrated their 3-0 victory.
“Overall, we worked pretty hard,” Decker said. “That’s something Coach Hagerty has established firmly as a base expectation for our team. We moved the ball pretty well. Personally, I was trying to make sure every time I got the ball, I had my head up. Adam and Wyatt made huge impacts up top. Chandler’s rock solid in the back. David’s solid in the middle. The one word that characterizes my involvement on the team is trust. I enjoy being with everyone. When it comes time to do what we have to do, we’ll have guys who can do it. “
“We had to do a better job getting the ball forward to feet,” Hagerty said. “At halftime, we said everything was fine, but we needed to be quicker. I thought we played faster in the second half and the quality of our chances were better. We settled for bad angles in the first half. We rushed shots. Kids do that. That’s a lack of communication. They have to be peeking all the time and talking to each other more. I don’t think we talked enough in the first half.”
The stats were firmly in Yarmouth’s favor, as the Clippers had 32 shots (18 on frame) to just two (one on frame) for the hosts. Yarmouth also had eight corner kicks to none for Waynflete.
“We knew (Waynflete would be) a strong team,” said Clippers sophomore Walter Conrad, who helped completely smother the Flyers’ attack. “We’d heard a lot about them. We tried to come in with high spirits and take it to them. Teamwork is big this year. We have a bunch of guys with skill. We work together to get plays going. It’s great to see when they come together. I have great respect for the seniors. They’re great leaders. It’s not always easy to get goals. We try to move the ball, but goals don’t always come. We have to understand that.”
Waynflete got 15 saves from Belleau (Lyon made one for Yarmouth). While crediting the Clippers, longtime Flyers coach Brandon Salway wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
“Yarmouth’s obviously a great team, a traditionally strong program, top tier,” Salway said. “You have to play well anytime you come up against them. They’re quick and put pressure on, but we’re a little disappointed in our showing today. They exposed our weaknesses. Our marking was really poor. Our organization was markedly weak. We wound up defending 75 percent of the game because we couldn’t hold on to the ball. Our first touch wasn’t good. It wasn’t a good game for us today. The whole team is disappointed with how we played. Not necessarily disappointed with the result, but what went into the result. We weren’t that competitive, which is disappointing. You just can’t give a quality team chance after chance. We have to work on that. “
Waynflete (seventh in the Western Class C Heal Points standings) is back in action Friday at Poland. The Flyers then host rival North Yarmouth Academy next Wednesday. Waynflete still has games remaining at NYA and two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth.
“Hopefully this will be a jumping off point for us to improve,” said Salway. “We certainly know what we need to work on going forward. It’s more communication than anything. Our effort needs to be better as well. These types of games are good for us. We know it’s one of 14. We’re down to nine left. We have to take advantage and get better each week. These games will help us for the C tournament in the long run. We found out what we need to work on.”
As for the Clippers, Hagerty expects his charges to remain humble and focused.
“These guys don’t think that they’re all that terrific,” he said. “They have a really nice sense of how good they are and how much better they can get. Part of that is having Eoin Lynch, the best player we’ve ever had at Yarmouth, come to practice a couple days a week. When he comes to practice and he tells the guys what they do wrong, they realize they’re not as good as they think. None of these guys will ever be as good as he was.”
Yarmouth goes home for its next three, but those games are against Cape Elizabeth (Friday), Falmouth (Monday) and York (Wednesday of next week). The Capers then go to Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth and close the regular season with home games versus Kennebunk, Greely and Gray-New Gloucester.
No rest for the weary.
“I think every game is something to build on,” Decker said. “At this point, we have to put our heads down and realize what we can make of this. We have a tough schedule coming up. It’s something we definitely look forward to. It will be a lot of fun.”
“It all starts in practice,” Conrad said. “We have to focused there so we can bring it to the field.”
“In the first handful of games, we played a lot of kids,” Hagerty said. “We’ve tried to play our reserves at different positions, so they can see the field differently. We’ve done a good job getting a lot of kids playing time. When they get out there, it won’t be completely foreign to them. We’ll have to use our depth. Our depth will help us. We need to get faster and cleaner. If we can get faster on the turf, that will provide a nice homefield advantage the rest of the way.”
Yarmouth sophomore Patrick Grant and Waynflete senior Carter Burrowes meet in midair.
Waynflete senior Joey Schnier tries to stop the rush of Yarmouth senior David Clemmer (15) as Clippers senior Travis Hamre joins the play.
Waynflete sophomore goalkeeper Milo Belleau makes a save as Yarmouth sophomore Patrick Grant closes in.
Yarmouth 2 @ Waynflete 0
@ Yarmouth 0 Waynflete 0 (tie)
Waynflete sophomore goalkeeper Milo Belleau dives for a loose ball as senior Carter Burrowes protects the goal while Yarmouth freshman Henry Coolidge (27) and senior captain Chandler Smith look on. The Clippers stayed undefeated Tuesday with a 3-0 win over the host Flyers.
Brandon McKenney photos.
More photos below.