CUMBERLAND—Even if history suggests that Yarmouth’s boys’ soccer team has dominated rival Greely in recent years, victory usually doesn’t easily.

Wednesday afternoon at Glen A. Hutchins Field, the Clippers beat the Rangers again, but not without an 80-minute fight to the finish.

In the 10th minute, Yarmouth went on top to say, as senior captain Truman Peters served in a perfect ball off a corner kick and senior captain Stevie Walsh soared to head it home.

The Clippers took a 1-0 lead to the second half and doubled it with 24:12 remaining, when Walsh scored on another header, this time off a long throw from senior captain Liam Hickey.

But Greely roared right back two minutes later, as senior standout and captain Ethan Njitoh earned a penalty kick and buried it to cut the deficit in half.

The Rangers had opportunities to tie it up, but Yarmouth’s defense, led by Hickey and junior Sam Lowenstein, slammed the door and the Clippers escaped with a 2-1 win.

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Yarmouth made it four straight victories, improved to 4-0-1, stayed unbeaten against Greely in the teams’ last 20 meetings and in the process, dropped the Rangers to 1-2-1 on the season.

“I thought after the first half, if we had played that well in the second half, it would have been comfortable, but credit to Greely, they stepped it up and we didn’t,” said longtime Clippers coach Mike Hagerty. “If we can put two halves together and play like we did the first half, we’ll be very good.”

Still chasing

Since upsetting Yarmouth in the regional final and going on to win its most recent championship in 2013, Greely, along with just about everyone else in Class B, has been chasing the Clippers.

To no avail.

Yarmouth won four straight Class B crowns between 2014-17 and after being upset by Cape Elizabeth in the 2018 semifinals, the Clippers turned around and took home Gold Balls again in 2019 and 2021 (there was no postseason in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign).

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Throughout that span, Yarmouth has had its way with Greely. Last year, the Clippers took both meetings, 2-1 in Yarmouth and 2-0 in Cumberland to extend their record to 18-0 (with one tie) versus Greely in the teams’ last 19 meetings (see sidebar, below, for recent results).

While the Clippers appear to be their usual title-worthy selves this fall, the Rangers believe that they can be the team to ultimately dethrone them, even if early results have been mixed.

Greely opened with a 9-0 home blanking of Poland, then lost at Cape Elizabeth (4-0) and Saturday, settled for a 3-3 home draw with Freeport.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, had a 1-1 home draw against Cape Elizabeth in its opener, then rallied late to stun host Freeport (2-1) before blanking visiting York (5-0) and edging visiting North Yarmouth Academy Monday (2-1).

Wednesday, on a summer-like mid-September afternoon (a beautiful 78 degrees at kickoff), the Rangers sought their first win over Yarmouth since Sept. 9, 2014 (1-0 at Yarmouth) and their first over the Clippers on their home field since Oct. 10, 2007 (1-0), but Yarmouth did just enough to stymie Greely once more.

Greely junior Eric Asherman plays the ball while Yarmouth junior Justin Dawes defends early in the Clippers’ 2-1 victory Wednesday. Hoffer photos.

The Rangers had the first chance, in the third minute, but senior Tate Nadeau’s header off senior Cam Irish’s corner kick was blocked.

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At the other end, a promising Hickey throw skittered untouched through the box.

Then, with 30:16 to play in the first half, the Clippers struck.

Off a corner kick, Peters curled the ball toward the back post and Walsh leaped and the optimal time and headed the ball past Greely freshman goalkeeper Landon Dominski into the net to make it 1-0.

“I was hanging out back post,” Walsh said. “The wind kept the ball in the air. It was a great ball from Truman and I just had to get my head on it.”

“(Steven’s) been really good at defensive headers his first three years and it’s part of his growth that he’s been much better at offensive headers this year,” Hagerty said. “We tried to draw something up to have a couple options and Truman’s supposed to choose which option looks open and I thought he made a great choice. We’re blessed with smart kids. It’s a player’s game. You can set them up, but they have to do it. Truman had a beautifully weighted ball there.”

Yarmouth junior Sam Lowenstein tries to keep up with Greely senior Ethan Njitoh.

The rest of the half saw few good scoring chances either way.

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After Rangers junior Keegan Hale missed wide, Yarmouth sophomore Zacarias Binda had a shot blocked off a corner.

With 15:57 to go before the break, a header from Clippers freshman Gideon Ahrens, set up by junior Justin Dawes, was saved by Dominski.

After Dawes missed just wide, Njitoh got his first chance, but O’Connor came out to break up the play.

After junior Max Gilbert missed high for Yarmouth, Njitoh took a long feed from senior Sean-Marley Rwabira and got into box and was tripped up, but much to Greely’s chagrin, no call was made.

Late in the half, Hickey delivered a throw into the box to junior Luis Cardoso, but his bid was blocked, Gilbert sent a deflected Hickey throw high and at the other end. O’Connor saved a shot from senior captain Tommy Bennert to send the game to the break with the Clippers still ahead, 1-0.

The Rangers looked to answer early in the second half, but Lowenstein broke up a rush by Bennert and off a Njitoh free kick from the side, Hale sent a header wide.

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With 27:22 to go, it appeared Yarmouth had doubled its lead, as Gilbert set up Cardoso for a one-timer past Dominski, but Cardoso was carded for interfering with Dominski on the play and the goal was waved off.

Yarmouth senior Liam Hickey throws the ball in with Coach (and his Uncle) Mike Hagerty looking on.

That just delayed the inevitable, as with 24:12 to play, off a throw, Hickey sailed the ball into the box and Walsh again was in the right place at the right time to head it into the net for a 2-0 advantage.

“We have set spots and the ball came to me at my spot and I just had to get a flick on it and put it in the back of net,” Walsh said.

“On this field, throwing downhill is hard and the wind hurt too, but Steve and Liam have a synergy,” Hagerty said. “That’s a benefit of kids playing together so long. They just have that connection.”

The second goal awakened the home team and the Rangers quickly countered to make things most interesting.

With 22:24 on the clock, Njitoh and O’Connor converged on a loose ball in the box and while O’Connor knocked the ball away, he was called for a foul on Njitoh in the process and that resulted in a penalty kick opportunity.

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On the kick, Njitoh hesitated, got O’Connor leaning to his right, then buried a shot in the opposite corner to put Greely on the board.

Yarmouth then had to hold on for dear life.

With 19:24 to play, Njitoh appeared to have room again, but Hickey knocked the ball away, setting up a corner kick.

Njitoh served the ball in and sophomore Mason Rodgers got his head on it, but sent it wide.

The Clippers nearly pushed the lead back to two with 16:06 showing, as Peters served in another nice corner kick to Hickey, but his header hit the post.

At the other end, Njitoh had a rush broken up by Hickey, but the ball came out to Bennert, who sent a shot way high.

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With 13:15 remaining, Peters fired a low blast which Dominski saved.

The rest of the game was played in Yarmouth’s defensive end and after Lowenstein broke up a promising pass from sophomore Owen Piesik to Njitoh, Peters cleared a long free kick from Rwabira, Clippers senior captain Owen Redfield headed away a cross from Njitoh to sophomore Bezabeh Mendelsohn and a Greely corner kick was headed out of harm’s way by Hickey.

Yarmouth was able to run out the clock from there and celebrate its 2-1 victory.

Yarmouth junior goalkeeper Ian O’Connor is congratulated by his teammates at the final horn.

“Greely’s a great team,” said Walsh. “It’s a tough game every year. They got that PK and we just had to dig deep and find it within us to pull it out in the end.”

“Greely stepped up their effort and we got caught up too much in clearing the ball, not passing it,” Hagerty said. “Their ball pressure did that. We got away from our passing in the second half and Ethan is so dangerous. Tommy Bennert is one of the best players in the league too. They do a nice job moving him around and he creates a lot with his effort.”

Yarmouth out-shot Greely 5-3 on frame, got two saves from O’Connor and had an 8-4 edge in corner kicks.

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The Clippers’ defensive effort was ultimately the difference.

“Greely’s really talented and (Ethan) plays with a lot pace, so identifying him and being able to stay on his front shoulder was critical,” said Lowenstein. “As a defense, it’s about trying to take away shots and finding feet in the midfield because we have talented players there who can distribute the ball. Liam’s a big help. He’s been there before and helps calm me down. We communicate well with each other. I like playing with him. It’s nice for me to have the opportunity to step and I hope to make the most of it.”

“Sam did a fabulous job,” Hagerty said. “If he’s not our most improved player, I don’t know who is. His consistency in the back and ability to be strong without fouling is fabulous. Liam calms everyone down and his goal kicks are weapons. When he’s fresh, he can hit a ball thunderously. To be able to attack on a goal kick is great.”

Dominski saved three shots for the Rangers, who battled back valiantly, but once again, fell just short against their rival.

“We didn’t quit,” said longtime Greely coach Mike Andreasen. “They got two goals on set pieces, both headers and the same kid scored them. We have to be better in the boxes. We played better in the second half and put a lot of pressure on them. We had better chances, but they made their chances. Their headers were on frame. If they miss, it’s a save, and when we miss, it’s a goal kick.

“We just didn’t play as urgent as I hoped we would the last 10 minutes. That’s their trademark. When Yarmouth’s losing a game late, they throw their kitchen sink at you and I’m not sure we even turned the water on. I thought we had a good chance to win this game, so it’s frustrating.”

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Lighter stretch

Greely hopes to right the ship Friday at Lake Region. The Rangers return home next Tuesday to meet Gray-New Gloucester.

“We’ve given up nine goals to (Yarmouth, Cape and Freeport) and they’re all good teams,” said Andreasen. “It’s all about where you go in (to the playoffs). You hope maybe you get a seed away from everyone else. Now we have to play them on turf and it’s hard to get them there. We only have to beat Yarmouth once and it’s got to happen eventually. Hopefully before I retire.”

Yarmouth is at Poland Saturday, then is idle until next Thursday when Fryeburg Academy pays a visit.

“We’ve got a great group of guys who are all determined to go far and make a run,” Walsh said. “We’re just looking to get better every day. We’re going deep in our bench every day. It’s a group effort.”

“I feel like overall, we’ve done a good job so far, but we can definitely clean some things up,” Lowenstein said. “If we can clean up miscommunication and work on finishing more, we’ll be really dangerous.”

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“If everyone holds serve, it’s probably all going to shake out like we thought,” Hagerty added.

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

Recent Greely-Yarmouth results

2021
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 0

2020
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 0
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 2

2019
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Class B South Final
Yarmouth 5 Greely 1

2018
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 1
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1

2017
Yarmouth 5 @ Greely 3
@ Yarmouth 5 Greely 0

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2016
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 1
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1
Class B South semifinals
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 2 (OT)

2015
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 0
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
Class B South semifinals
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 1

2014
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0
Class B South Final
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 2

2013
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 2 (tie)
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 1
Western B Final
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1

2012
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0

2011
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 0
Yarmouth 2 @ Greely 1

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2010
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 3
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 0

2009
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 0
Yarmouth 4 @ Greely 0

2008
Yarmouth 1 @ Greely 0
@ Yarmouth 2 Greely 1

2007
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

2006
@ Yarmouth 0 Greely 0 (tie)
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1 (2 OT)

2005
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 1 (tie)
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2004
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 1
Greely 1 @ Yarmouth 0

2003
@ Yarmouth 1 Greely 1 (tie)
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 3 (tie)

2002
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1

2001
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Greely 2 @ Yarmouth 1

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