CUMBERLAND — It takes about five minutes to confirm what you’ve heard.

The Groothoff brothers – senior Jonathan and sophomore Luke – really will be difference makers for the Yarmouth High boys’ soccer team.

The transfers from California have the dribbling skills to take on a tackler, absorb contact and spin away with the ball still at their feet. They play with their heads up, looking to slide a pass along the ground and into a vacant space, or chip a ball to a spot that forces defenders to retreat hastily while teammates advance menacingly.

So the next question is: What prompted the Groothoff’s cross-country move from Santa Rosa, California, where the sun shines on average 256 days a year, to Yarmouth?

“Dad retired and his mom had a house out on Chebeague Island,” Jonathan Groothoff said. “So when she died, he inherited it, and when he retired it was time to downsize.”

Formerly home-schooled, Luke is now taking some classes at Yarmouth High and plans to attend full-time as a junior.

“I really like it,” Luke said. “I’m glad I’m going there full time next year. All the people here have been super nice.”

Jonathan said he split time between his high school and taking college courses at a community college last school year.

“This year I decided I’d rather be at Yarmouth full-time,” he said.

Jonathan said the idea of moving was immediately exciting (“a new adventure”), and the fact that Yarmouth had won the 2014 Class B state championship was also a positive.

Still, he wondered what the soccer would be like.

“To be honest, when I heard about Maine soccer I was like, ‘is it going to be long ball, direct?” Jonathan said. “But when we came here, (Coach Mike Hagerty) is really pushing a possession-oriented style, so it hasn’t taken much to adapt. It’s been a great level.”

And fun.

“The build-up is a lot quicker,” Jonathan said. “Even though it’s kept on the ground, we’re going at them 100 percent all the time. We have a deep bench. We know we can go with as much as speed as we can get. It’s definitely less of keeping possession for possession sake, and more of effective possession going forward as fast as possible.”

In the second game of the season against rival Greely, both Groothoffs scored, with Luke assisting on his older brother’s first-half tally and then icing the 2-0 win with a pinpoint 25-yard direct kick that curved into the top left corner.

Jonathan also scored twice in a season-opening 9-0 win against Poland.


Hagerty said when he first heard about the impending additions to his team, he started to do some research and found out both had played for Santa Rosa United, an elite club team in northern California.

Then he had a conversation with their father, Ehrhardt.

“When parents tell you how great their kids are, they’re often not,” Hagerty said. “Their father downplayed them – ‘Hoping they can find a place on your team,’ and that kind of stuff. So the more he downplayed them, the better I knew they were.”

The next step was to make sure they melded well with a team that was returning most of its lineup.

“You have to think, too, we have two or three kids on the bench who aren’t playing because of them,” Hagerty said. “But the best part about the Groothoffs is not what they do on the field. It’s the kind of guys they are off the field. They’re gentlemen. They’re polite. They’re a great reflection on their family. They’re thoughtful kids. As good as they are, they don’t act it.”

Hagerty related that on the first day of practice, both ran the mile in less than five minutes and 30 seconds. The standard is to run it in under six minutes.

“And Jon ran all the way back because we had a goal of getting all of our juniors and seniors under that six-minute mark, and he ran all the way back and ran the last 200 yards with the last-place kids, cheering them on, and they all made a six-minute mile,” Hagerty said. “So Day 1, he comes in and he wants to be a leader and a part of the team. They’ve both fit in beautifully.”


Yarmouth senior midfielder Nicholas Kamra said he got a summer scouting report from Henry Coolidge, a junior who played with the Groothoffs for Seacoast United.

“Coolidge said they were unbelievable. As soon as they came, we had expectations that were pretty high, and they fulfilled them pretty well,” Kamra said. “When kids are good, they’re usually cocky, but these kids are the complete opposite of that. (And) they are pretty good.”

The brothers possess the necessary physical tools – speed, good stamina, and tactical ball skills. They also display an acute understanding of the game. Jonathan is listed as a forward and Luke is listed as a midfielder on the roster, but against Greely they overlapped often, working in concert while maintaining field balance.

The Groothoffs have already helped the Clippers, especially in the wake of senior captain and all-West defender Walter Conrad breaking his ankle in the preseason.

“Having the quality of players that the Groothoffs are means we have two kids who would normally be starting coming off the bench,” Hagerty said. “You can’t imagine that you lose your best player and you’re pretty confident about the season, but that’s how we feel.”