FALMOUTH—Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team is back in a familiar place.

Atop the Class B heap.

Saturday morning at Falmouth High School, the Clippers culminated a dominant season with a workmanlike 3-1 victory over Caribou in the state final and as usual, Yarmouth got key contributions from myriad sources.

After sweating out a couple Vikings’ close calls in the first half, the Clippers went on top to stay with 3:03 remaining before halftime, as senior standout Alejandro Coury pounced on a loose ball in the box and sent it home with his left foot.

Yarmouth got some breathing room with 22:23 on the clock, as senior Liam Ireland was taken down in the box, then converted the ensuing penalty kick.

Coury scored for the second time, unassisted, with 11:44 to go and while Caribou got on the board with 8:09 remaining, as junior Ethan Holdsworth scored his 38th goal, the Clippers slammed the door from there to finish it off.

Yarmouth finished the season 15-0-3, ended the Vikings’ campaign at 15-1-2 and captured Class B for the fifth time in six years, won a Gold Ball for the 10th time under coach Mike Hagerty and for the 13th time overall.

“The past four years have been amazing,” said Ireland. “I’m fortunate to end up on top. It’s been an amazing four years. I’ve made really good friends. It’s a really strong soccer community in Yarmouth. It’s a bittersweet feeling that it’s ending, but we were fortunate to build it the way we did.”

A baker’s dozen

The seeds of the 2019 championship were planted Oct. 26, 2018, when Yarmouth was upset, 2-1, by Cape Elizabeth in the Class B South semifinals, ending its four-year title reign.

This fall, the Clippers were deemed the favorite and while there were a few slip-ups, but nary a loss, they fulfilled their destiny.

Yarmouth started with a 3-1 home win over York, then blanked host Lake Region (7-0), host Cape Elizabeth (1-0), visiting Greely (4-0), host Freeport (1-0) and visiting North Yarmouth Academy, the defending Class D champion (8-0). After a 9-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy, the Clippers blanked visiting Poland (7-0), host York (3-0) and visiting Cape Elizabeth (3-0). After settling for a 1-1 home tie against Freeport, Yarmouth played host Greely to a 1-1 draw, then did the same thing at Gray-New Gloucester, before closing with a 3-0 win at defending Class C champion Waynflete.

The Clippers had little trouble with No. 8 Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinal round, winning, 4-0, then got a battle from No. 4 Freeport in the semifinals, but won, 2-0, then erupted for five second half goals in a 5-1 regional final victory over Greely Wednesday.

“I was psyched we had the three teams we tied as playoff opponents,” Hagerty said. “Those 1-1 games turned into an 11-1 stretch. We knew we matched up well with our playoff opponents.”

Caribou, which boasts several members of last winter’s Class B boys’ basketball state championship team, won 12 games and tied two others in the regular season, then ousted No. 9 Lawrence (9-0) in the quarterfinals, fourth-ranked Presque Isle, the defending state champion (3-0), in the semifinals and No. 3 Mt. Desert Island (1-0) in the regional final.

Yarmouth had played in 13 previous state games, winning 11 outright, losing another and playing Ellsworth to a 1-1 draw in 1989, when both teams were credited with a championship (see sidebar, below, for previous state game results).

Caribou, meanwhile, was making its initial state game appearance.

The teams had never met before in a countable game.

Saturday, on a sunny but chilly (32 degrees at kickoff) morning, the Clippers did what they do best and another coronation was the end result.

Yarmouth’s first chance came in the third minute, as Coury set up sophomore Steve Fulton for a shot which Vikings’ junior goalkeeper Cory Herbert saved, setting up a corner kick.

On the corner, the ball came free to senior Aidan Hickey, but his shot was blocked.

The Clippers earned another corner kick and the ball sat free in the box before being cleared at the last moment by Caribou senior back Parker Deprey.

The Vikings got their first shot in the 14th minute, as Deprey sent a free kick in to senior captain Alex Bouchard, who was denied by Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Isaac Owen.

After Herbert stopped a low shot by Coury, Ireland tried to set up Coury in the box, but Herbert got to that ball as well.

With 17:51 to play in the half, off a Deprey free kick, Holdsworth got his head on the ball, but Owen made a save.

Caribou got another chance two minutes later, as Deprey sent the ball in and Holdsworth got his head on it. This time, the ball appeared goal-bound, but Clippers’ senior back Will Nicholas headed it out of harm’s way and a follow-up rebound attempt from senior Hayden Hunter went wide.

Late in the half, Ireland was twice denied by Herbert and a Yarmouth corner kick was cleared.

Then, with 3:03 on the clock, the Clippers finally broke through.

Fulton got the ball in the box and tried to turn, but the ball was knocked away to senior Jason Lainey, whose shot was blocked. Yarmouth then got a break as the deflection came right to Coury, who settled it, then fired it with his left foot past Herbert for a 1-0 lead.

“It was disappointing to not get that early lead, but we did well to stay composed and we knew the chances would keep coming,” Coury said. “It was just a lucky bounce, I guess. I just tried to put it one frame. That quelled our nerves and gave us confidence for the second half that we could take it to them.”

“(Alejandro’s) a special kid,” Hagerty said. “He dribbles the ball well and draws so much attention. He’s one of the best dribblers we’ve ever had. He just finds the ball.”

Just before the half, Lainey missed just wide and the Clippers took a one-goal lead to the break.

Yarmouth had a 6-2 advantage in shots on frame and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks, but five saves from Herbert kept things close.

“We knew (Caribou) defended well and they were athletic,” Hagerty said. “We knew we had to attack wide because they’re not used to playing on an 80-yard-wide field. We had a couple close chances early. We could have been up 2-0 at halftime and that could have loosened things up. We didn’t stay wide as much as we should have in the first half. We got a little direct, but overall, I thought our kids controlled the pace of the game.”

The Clippers, who scored five second half goals in Wednesday’s regional final win over Greely, hoped to duplicate that type of production, but were initially stymied before opening it up.

After a Yarmouth corner kick was cleared, Ireland had a free kick saved.

With 28:53 to go, Hickey nearly doubled the lead, but after taking a pass from Ireland, he was denied by Herbert.

After successive corner kicks didn’t result in a shot, an Ireland bid sailed just wide.

Then, with 22:23 left, the Clippers scored their second goal.

Ireland ran into the box up the right side and after being tripped by a defender, a penalty kick was awarded.

Ireland stepped to the line and beat Herbert to his left to make the score 2-0.

“We wanted to get more goals and get a more secure lead,” said Ireland. “I got the ball quickly, I sensed a guy behind me, did a quick turn and he took my leg out.

“I keep an eye on the goalie and I just bring it back to practice. I try to keep a calm mindset. Not much trickery. Occasionally, I’ll kind of glance over the left a little bit and shoot to the right, but I just kind of do the same thing every time. I buried it.”

“That was a legit PK,” Hagerty said. “Liam got his foot swept. I’d like to think he’d have scored on that ball if he didn’t get tripped. Liam has played literally three or four positions for us and his work rate has been so fabulous. He and John Clinton, Jason Lainey and Steven Fulton set the pace in the midfield.”

Three minutes later, the Vikings had a great chance to answer, as the ever-dangerous Holdsworth and senior Jacob Berkoski raced in 2-on-1. Holdsworth then got the ball behind the defense and with Owen cutting off the angle, Holdsworth tried to tuck the ball in inside the far post, but he sent it just wide.

After Coury missed an open net at the other end, the standout, who returned to the program this fall after playing academy soccer the past two years, scored for the second time, with 11:44 to play.

Junior Evan Van Lonkhuyzen sent a long ball in which Coury won from a defender, then Coury finished to all but salt away the win.

“I wanted to get that second one, especially after missing the last chance,” said Coury. “I was disappointed in that. I knew I could get past a couple defenders.”

Caribou wasn’t willing to roll over, however, and Holdsworth got another chance with 8:09 left, outracing the defense and this time tucking home a shot past Owen to cut the deficit to 3-1.

“You can’t give good forwards like that chances and he buried it,” Hagerty said.

That’s as close as the Vikings would get, however, and at 11:43 a.m., the final horn sounded and the Clippers engaged in a familiar celebration after their 3-1 victory.

“This feels great,” said Hickey, who is Hagerty’s nephew. “We’ve been working for this moment all season. Going into preseason, we knew the seniors could get the job done and we prepared for it. We really deserved it. We knew their striker was definitely their best player and that they’re big and athletic and they’re good on set pieces, but overall, I think we came in pretty well prepared. After the first 10 minutes, we played incredibly well.”

“How cool was it that I got to coach my nephew to a state championship?” Hagerty said. “That’s something we’ll talk about the rest of our lives.

“This is a tribute to our youth program. Our Yarmouth Colts club gets kids doing the right thing early. A lot of these kids play year-round, even though they’re multiple sport athletes, as they should be.”

Yarmouth had a 13-4 shots advantage, got three saves from Owen and had an 11-3 edge in corners.

The Clippers’ defense was phenomenal like always.

“Our defense has been unreal,” Hickey said. “Our back line has been shifted multiple times, but everyone who goes back there definitely gets the job done.”

“Our team defense has been consistent all year,” said Hagerty. “We gave up seven goals in 18 games. We’ve had teams that have given up fewer goals, but this is our most technical team. We’ve had bigger, strong, faster teams, but we haven’t had a team that plays the ball as fast as this group does.”

Caribou got 10 saves from Herbert and impressed with its effort.

“We were only three minutes from getting to half (scoreless),” said Vikings’ coach Scott Hunter. “They put some great pressure on us early and had some great chances. Then I thought there was about a 20-minute span there where we had the ball and generated some really good chances ourselves. I thought we had them maybe a little stunned, but we couldn’t put it in and against a great team like Yarmouth, you have to capitalize on our chances. The PK was a dagger. It was nice to see Ethan slot that one home at the end.

“These guys left it all out there. I’m so proud of them. These kids are homegrown, multi-sport athletes. The club opportunities aren’t really there for them, but they play a lot of soccer. Yarmouth’s a great team and to stand up to them, I couldn’t be more pleased. ”

Starting over

Yarmouth has to say goodbye to a dozen seniors who enjoyed their share of glory over the years.

“It’s one of our best senior classes and they’re super-close,” Hagerty said. “They’re very supportive of each other.”

The Clippers will feature a lot of new faces in 2020, but the goal will be the same.

Playing on the final Saturday and raising a Gold Ball to the heavens.

“We lose some great players, but we have a really good returning group,” Hagerty said. “We have a good returning junior class and our sophomore class is loaded. I’d like to think we’ll keep reloading.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Previous Yarmouth state games

2017
Class B
Yarmouth 2 Winslow 1 

2016
Class B
Yarmouth 5 Winslow 2

2015
Class B
Yarmouth 3 Erskine Academy 0 

2014
Class B
Yarmouth 1 Ellsworth 0 

2010
Class B
Yarmouth 5 Ellsworth 0

2008
Class B
Yarmouth 1 Presque Isle 0

2005
Class B
Yarmouth 3 Presque Isle 0

2004
Class B
Yarmouth 1 Ellsworth 0

1997
Class B
Yarmouth 2 MCI 1

1991
Class B
Camden-Rockport 2 Yarmouth 1

1989
Class B
Yarmouth 2 Ellsworth 2 (tie)

1982
Class C
Yarmouth 2 Piscataquis 1

1973
Class B
Yarmouth 3 Van Buren 1

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