The result was the same as it has been so often in recent seasons. The Yarmouth High boys’ soccer team won the Class B South championship for the fourth straight year, and for the third straight season, the Clippers did it by beating Cape Elizabeth by one goal.

But Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Deering High’s Memorial Field was different, too, because Yarmouth did things it hadn’t done all season.

The only goal was Max Gilbert’s first of the season. A senior who normally plays outside back, Gilbert was in a scoring position after being moved to midfield because his quickness and smarts matched Cape’s similar players.

Yarmouth hadn’t man-marked an opponent all season. But rugged senior back Justin Dawes stuck with Cape Elizabeth’s Sam Cochran for the entire match.

Finally, Yarmouth uncharacteristically spent the second half playing almost entirely in its own defensive third. A program known for its skill, and at times its flair, Yarmouth leaned into this year’s top quality of a strong backfield. Backs Jonathan Fulton, Sam Lowenstein, and Will Redfield, and midfielders like scrappy Matt Gautreau repelled repeated balls played into the box and then simply boomed them away.

“We know how good Cape is offensively,” said Yarmouth Coach Mike Hagerty. “We played them straight up twice and we outshot them the second game, where they beat us 3-1. So we knew if we make mistakes and you give Cochran an inch, you’re in trouble. So we did have a defensive mindset.”


Yarmouth also needed one exceptional save by Ian O’Connor (five saves) midway through the second half on a point-blank blast from Tully Haydar, and a final clean up by O’Connor on a last-minute bid by Henry Moore.

“I’ve been waiting for four years for a save like that,” O’Connor said of the shot by Haydar, “because our backs never give up shots like that.”

Yarmouth (15-2) advances to the Class B championship game Saturday at Mt. Ararat High in Topsham. It will be a rematch against John Bapst (15-1-1), which beat Ellsworth, 3-2, in the North final. Yarmouth won 3-2 in last year’s state final.

Yarmouth has won three straight Class B titles, seven of the past eight state championships, and 12 Gold Balls in Hagerty’s 27-year tenure.

Gilbert’s goal came on Yarmouth’s only shot in the first half, with 21:34 remaining, when Cape Elizabeth was unable to clear out a long throw-in by Fulton. For the game, the Clippers had two shots.

“It’s a role that’s new to me. It just dropped perfectly to me and I was able to put it in,” Gilbert said.

Cape Elizabeth (11-5-1) was trying to reach its first state title game since 1997, when it won the Class A title, capping a 12-year run in which the Capers captured eight Class A titles and 10 Western Maine crowns. While the first half was a relatively even game in terms of possession, the Capers held the ball in Yarmouth’s end for the vast majority of the second half. But they could not break through, and another close-but-not-quite outcome against Yarmouth in the South final was the result, joining a 3-2 loss a year ago and a 2-1 setback in 2021.

“I don’t think we would want to play any other team in this game,” said Cape Coach Ben Raymond. “We want to be competing with the best team. We want to continue to strive, and I think the more times we play in this game, each team pushes each other. They’ve made us a better club because they’ve been so good.”

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