Cape Elizabeth senior Nick Clifford and Greely senior Chase Cornwall fight for possession early in the Capers’ 2-0 victory. Clifford scored both goals.  

CAPE ELIZABETH—Like every other high school athlete in the state of Maine, Cape Elizabeth senior Nick Clifford was thrilled to return to action Friday night.

Unlike just about everyone else, however, Clifford came out with an absolute vengeance and as a result, the Capers began their season with a flourish.

Hosting ancient rival Greely at Hannaford Field, Clifford broke the scoring ice in the fifth minute, then he added another goal in the ninth minute to spark Cape Elizabeth to an early lead.

While the Rangers settled down and threatened in the second half, they couldn’t answer and the Capers went on to a 2-0 victory.

“I’m so grateful to be out here and play with all my teammates,” said Clifford. “When I found out we were going to be able to play (this season), it’s probably the happiest I’ve been in months. We took the opportunity early. We could have been a little sharper, especially in the second half, but we started out hot.”

At last

After multiple fits and starts due to COVID-19, the Capers and Rangers competed in a countable game some three weeks later than originally scheduled.

Greely reached the Class B South Final a year ago, losing to eventual champion Yarmouth, 5-1, to wind up 10-3-4.

Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, finished 7-7-1 following a 3-2, double-overtime loss to Freeport in the quarterfinals.

The teams have played a lot of close games over the years (see sidebar, below) and Friday, under clear but chilly skies (55 degrees), the Capers got the jump and didn’t look back.

The only goal Cape Elizabeth would need came with 35:18 to play in the first half. Senior Dylan Hewitt set it up, sending the ball to Clifford in the box and Clifford did the rest, sending it past Rangers’ senior goalkeeper Daniel Geary for a 1-0 advantage.

“Dylan played a great ball and I was able to get lucky and take a touch and put it in the corner,” said Clifford.

“That was a nice serve and finish,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond.

Clifford wasn’t finished.

With 31:09 left in the half, Clifford played the ball near the sideline and from 40-yards out, sent it on goal where it took a short hop which Geary couldn’t handle and the ball found its way into the goal for a 2-0 lead.

“I was looking for (senior) Archie (McEvoy) actually, but it snuck in,” said Clifford.

“Nick hit (the ball) really hard and good things happened,” Raymond said. “It was a great start. We played really well in the first 20 minutes and moved the ball really well.”

The Capers weren’t able to produce a third goal that would clinched the victory, however, as freshman Sam Cochran rang a shot off the crossbar and Hewitt missed just wide, keeping the score, 2-0, at the break.

At halftime, Greely coach Mike Andreasen replaced Geary in goal with junior Luca Duina and the Rangers came out with much more confidence in the second half.

Just over a minute in, senior Benjamin Hirsh took a pass from junior Thomas Bennert and had a great scoring opportunity, but Cape Elizabeth junior goalkeeper Quinn Gordon dove and made the save.

Three minutes later, senior Lucas Goettel fired a low blast just wide of the near post.

After Goettel chipped a shot high, Gordon made a save on a long Goettel free kick.

Down the stretch, Goettel redirected senior Jonathon Piesik’s free kick just wide and Greely earned three straight corner kicks, but couldn’t put a shot on frame.

The Capers then ran out the clock and celebrated their 2-0 victory.

“We’re looking strong,” said Clifford. “Everyone stepped up today. We have strong captains. (Senior back) Gavin (Simopoulos) is really strong in the back and (sophomore) Ben Altenburg played really well in his first game ever.”

“The kids were excited to play,” Raymond said. “When they were warming up, they were getting excited and that was good to see. They’ve missed competing with their teammates against someone else, especially a rival. Nothing else is the same. Greely played much better in the second half and had more possession. You know it’s always going to be close no matter what when we play each other.”

Cape Elizabeth finished with an 8-3 shots advantage and got three saves from Gordon.

The Rangers took eight corner kicks to the Capers’ three and got five saves from Duina and one from Geary.

“I did think we had better chances in the second half,” Andreasen said. “We’re a young team. Two of my starters from last year, Chris Williams and Sam Jenkins, didn’t play tonight. We’ll get them back. Tommy Bennert played very hard. (Sophomore) Ethan Njitoh played hard. We just have to find the goal. Luka played well in the second half. He made some nice saves for us.

“It was nice to be out here playing. You just don’t know what will happen going forward.”

Next time out

Greely plays its first home game Thursday of next week versus Freeport.

“Every game is a tough game for us,” Andreasen said. “We have Cape, Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth. There are no easy ones. The moral victory for us is that we played with them, but our program isn’t into moral victories. We want real victories.”

Cape Elizabeth goes to Scarborough Wednesday of next week.

“We get to play top teams, which is awesome and we get to play our rivals and Falmouth too,” said Clifford. “We’re excited.”

The beauty of the schedule we’re playing this year is that they’re competitive games against great programs,” Raymond said. “The kids have a great attitude about getting out there and competing every chance they can and having fun.”

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

Recent Greely-Cape Elizabeth results

2019
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 2 (tie)

2018
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
@ Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

2017
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
Cape Elizabeth 2 @ Greely 1
Class B South quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1

2016
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1
Class B South quarterfinals
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1

2015
Greely 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Greely 5 Cape Elizabeth 0

2014
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1
Western B semifinal
@ Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

2013
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 0

2012
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0

2011
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Greely 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Greely 1

2010
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Greely 0 Cape Elizabeth 0 (tie)

2009
Greely 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0

2008
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (OT)
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Greely 0

2007
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
Western A quarterfinals
Greely 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2006
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth
Western A quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0 (OT)

2005
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 2 (tie)
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 1 (tie)

2004
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0

2003
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Greely 0
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2002
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 0
Western A Final
Greely 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

2001
Greely 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Greely 1 Cape Elizabeth 0

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