HAMPDEN — When Henry Coolidge moved to Yarmouth three years ago, he was amazed at his first varsity soccer game as a freshman.
“The stands were packed,” he said. “Before, I just played in front of moms and dads. This was a whole new level.”
Yarmouth likes its soccer.
And the level is top-notch.
Yarmouth continued its dynasty in boys’ soccer on Saturday, beating Winslow 5-2 for the Class B state championship at Hampden Academy. It was the Clippers’ third straight championship, and their 11th overall.
The Clippers are 11-1 in state title games, including one Class C championship in 1982.
This was the first time Yarmouth has won three straight.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Clippers Coach Michael Hagerty.
Luke Groothoff scored twice to lead Yarmouth (15-2-1). Tahj Garvey, Eric LaBrie and Matt Dostie also scored.
Winslow (16-1-1) got goals from Jake Warn and Isaac Lambrecht.
The Clippers took a 1-0 lead on a strange set play outside the Black Raiders’ box. While everyone was still getting into position, Groothoff drilled a shot past an unsuspecting keeper with 24:29 left in the first half.
“It’s one of those unwritten rules in soccer,” Hagerty said. “As we’re setting up for our set piece, if the shooter sees the goalie setting the wall up, he has free reign to go. Just a soccer IQ play by Luke … If the goal is open, don’t worry about the play, shoot it.”
It was a blow to the underdog Black Raiders.
“Our defense was looking for a whistle, and they put it in,” Winslow Coach Aaron Wolfe said. “That killed us.”
Still, Winslow answered. Warn took advantage of a Yarmouth defensive breakdown to tie the game. That ended the Clippers’ streak of six state title games without allowing a goal.
But soon Yarmouth had the lead for good. Garvey sent a ball into the box, and the Black Raiders knocked it in themselves with 18:44 left in the half.
“That (first) goal and then an own goal,” Wolfe said. “There are two goals you don’t see all year, but then the state game …”
Groothoff tallied again about six minutes later, giving Yarmouth a 3-1 halftime lead.
Wolfe had to gamble. He moved one of his best players, defender Michael Wildes, closer to midfield.
“I had to make adjustments,” Wolfe said. “I had to go more offensive. I knew I was going to open myself up.”
Yarmouth knew it, too.
“When (Wildes) steps to the midfield, he leaves a whole big gap in front of the fullbacks,” Hagerty said. “We knew if we could get one-on-one situations, it would lead to good things. Eric snuck right into the hole like he was supposed to.”
LaBrie got the ball, beat his defender and scored to the far post three minutes into the second half.
Moments later, Dostie scored on a set play for a 5-1 lead.
“They came out and scored right off, boom boom,” Wolfe said. “Against a great team like they are, it was difficult to come back.”
Lambrecht scored for Winslow on a header with 20:08 remaining.
But soon the Clippers were celebrating another Gold Ball. And don’t think the dynasty is fading any time soon.
“This freshmen class is probably our best freshmen class since I’ve been here,” Hagerty said. “I think we’ll be in good shape for years. That’s a tribute to our youth program and the fact that kids grow up loving soccer and want to keep playing.”