YARMOUTH—Steve Fulton just gets the job done.

Sometimes quietly.

And other times, like Wednesday afternoon in the Class B South quarterfinals, he steals the show.

Fulton’s Yarmouth Clippers, the top-ranked boys’ soccer team in the region, hosted No. 8 York and Fulton ensured his squad would advance without major difficulty, first scoring in the 21st minute, from his brother, sophomore Jonny Fulton, then adding a second goal in the 31st minute, assisted by senior Isaac Grondin, for a 2-0 halftime advantage.

Fulton would complete his hat trick midway through the second half, heading home a corner kick serve from senior Truman Peters and Yarmouth, which allowed just one shot on frame, went on to a 3-0 victory.

The Clippers improved to 14-0-2 on the year, ended the Wildcats’ season at 7-7-2 and in the process, advanced to set up a delicious semifinal round showdown against No. 5 Freeport (11-4-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m., at home.

“York’s always a tough team and they always put up a great fight,” said Steve Fulton. “We were prepared and fired up. Everyone here wants to win, it’s playoffs. Every game we approach the same. It doesn’t matter who we play.”

The beat goes on

Yarmouth has been the unquestioned Class B gold standard for nearly a decade now and the 2021 season has been no different for the Clippers.

Yarmouth started with a 2-0 win at Cape Elizabeth. After a 4-0 home victory over Freeport, the Clippers downed host York (4-0), visiting Greely (2-1), host North Yarmouth Academy (5-1) and visiting Poland (6-0). After settling for a scoreless draw at Freeport, Yarmouth bounced back with an 8-0 win at Wells, then downed visiting Gray-New Gloucester (7-1) and blanked visiting Cape Elizabeth (2-0), host Fryeburg Academy (5-0), visiting York (6-0) and host Greely (2-0), before settling for a 1-1 home tie against two-time reigning Class C champion Waynflete in the regular season finale.

The Clippers again earned the top seed in Class B South and in last Friday’s preliminary round, dominated No. 16 Morse, 8-0, to advance.

York was up and down in a 6-6-2 regular season, then advanced with a 2-1 home victory over No. 9 Leavitt in Friday’s preliminary round in a game which featured 48 penalty kicks before the Wildcats prevailed.

Yarmouth dominated both regular season meetings, as coach Mike Hagerty reached the 300-win plateau with the Clippers in the first meeting.

After bad weather moved the contest from Tuesday to Wednesday, conditions weren’t much better at kickoff (50 degrees with an 18 mile-per-hour north wind and occasional rain), but Yarmouth did what it needed to do to win a quarterfinal round game for ninth consecutive tournament.

Yarmouth senior Steve Fulton knocks the ball past York sophomore Landon Morrison during the Clippers’ 3-0 victory in Wednesday’s Class B South quarterfinal. Fulton scored all three goals. Hoffer photos.

The Clippers possessed the ball much of the first half, but initially were stymied, as York sophomore goalkeeper Haydn Forbes beat senior Sutter Augur to a feed from Peters and a header by junior Stevie Walsh off a long free kick from classmate Liam Hickey was saved by Forbes.

But with 19:01 to go before halftime, Yarmouth wouldn’t be denied, as Jonny Fulton deferred to his older brother and set him up in the box where Steve Fulton took a touch, then shot past a diving Forbes for a 1-0 lead.

“It’s great to be out on the field with (Jonny) and connect with him.,” Steve Fulton said.

After Forbes denied a low blast by senior Owen Gillan and a shot from Augur, Fulton struck for the second time with 9:16 left in the half, as Grondin sent the ball over and Fulton banged it home to double the advantage.

“Isaac was really unselfish,” Fulton said. “He could have turned and shot, but he laid it off to me.”

The Clippers came out strong to start the second half as well, looking for a third goal to put it away, but Forbes made a sprawling save on a shot from Steve Fulton, then he denied Augur before making a terrific save on a Fulton one-timer.

With 20:49 to play, Fulton got the last laugh and completed his first career hat trick, this time off a corner kick, Yarmouth’s 12th of the game to that point.

Peters served the ball perfectly, past most of the defense and Forbes and the ball bounced in front of Fulton, who just had to lean down and head it into the net for a 3-0 lead.

“My teammates made it really easy for me today,” Fulton said. “All three goals were one-touches after they set me up perfectly. That was a perfect ball by Truman. I just had to put my head on it. We’ve worked hard on corners all season and it was great to execute it.”

“(Steve) saved his goals for playoffs,” said Hagerty. “I thought he was the best player on the field today and he’s been the best player on the field in a lot of our games. He exploded today. All those finishes were calm and strong, like his game. That goal was difficult the way the ball bounced. That was technical and quick.”

Yarmouth couldn’t score again, as sophomore Adam McLaughlin had a shot saved by Forbes.

York had one look down the stretch, but a shot from freshman Jack Joyce off a corner kick was blocked by a defender.

The Clippers then closed out their 3-0 victory.

Yarmouth senior goalkeeper Cole Snyder jumps for joy as the Clippers celebrate their win.

“I thought our kids did a good job,” Hagerty said. “It’s hard to play a skillful, controlled game and be intense at the same time. The wind was tough. We had to keep the ball on the ground and play to feet. We went in with a game plan thinking what (York would) do. We have more upperclassmen than they do and I think we played like that tonight. York always fights. They had a great run. They’re heading in the right direction. I’m glad to get this game out of the way. They’re dangerous.”

Yarmouth out-shot York, 12-1, got one save from senior goalkeeper Cole Snyder and took 14 corner kicks to the Wildcats one.

Forbes made nine saves for York.

Buckle up

There’s no love lost between Yarmouth and Freeport and the Falcons would love nothing more than to end the Clippers’ season prematurely Saturday.

Yarmouth handled the visiting Falcons in the first meeting, 4-0, but in the second, at Freeport, the squads played to a 0-0 draw.

The Clippers are 6-1 all-time versus the Falcons in the playoffs, with a 2-0 victory in the 2019 Class B South semifinals the most recent.

“It’s going to be a great game,” Steve Fulton said. “We have to keep the same energy we had today. They’ll want it badly. We have to execute to our full potential and play our best. Freeport is well-coached and they have a really good system with really good players. It’ll come down to who wants it more and who plays the hardest.”

“They’ll be tough to beat,” Hagerty said. “Thankfully, they play a similar style to York. We’ll have to win in the final third offensively and defensively. We’re home, which is really nice. It looks like weather will be wet and gross, but it’s playoff soccer.

“Next game will be our hardest game of the year.”

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

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