SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Ellsworth High School boys soccer coach Brian Higgins knows there are times when all you can do is tip your hat to your opponent.
And that’s exactly what he did following Falmouth High School’s impressive 3-0 victory over his Eagles Saturday afternoon in the state Class B final.
“We did the best we could do. Speed-wise, this was one of my fastest teams. But Falmouth just put on a clinic,” said Higgins, whose team finished 16-1-1.
“As a coach, it’s fun to watch Falmouth play. I hope my kids learn some things from them,” added Higgins, who is in his 36th year at Ellsworth.
“They were definitely the best team we’ve played,” said Eagles senior sweeper Brad Folmer.
The 16-0-2 Yachtsmen, who won their third title in four years, outshot Ellsworth 31-7.
The hardworking Eagles settled in nicely after an early Falmouth onslaught and went into the intermission tied.
But senior striker Gabe Hoffman-Johnson scored his 28th goal of the season just 1:32 into the second half and the Yachtsmen never looked back.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Goffin made a top-notch save on Matt Duhaime’s 21-yard free kick to preserve the 1-0 lead before dominant midfielder Sam White extended the lead with 26:16 remaining and Alec Dunn capped the scoring moments later.
“That first goal really opened things up for us,” said Dartmouth College-bound Hoffman-Johnson. He scored with a 7-yard header off a perfectly placed cross from Dunn, who maneuvered along the end line.
“We made eye contact and I like to make a near-post run behind my [defender]. [Dunn] put it in there perfect for me,” said Hoffman-Johnson.
“There was nothing I could do about it,” said Eagles sophomore goalie Tom Sawyer. “He headed it to my right.”
Moments later, Duhaime rifled a scorching, chest-high free kick around the wall but Goffin snared it.
“I was happy with it. I put it where I wanted to, but it wasn’t the right outcome,” said Duhaime.
“He hit it well, but the wall was placed right and I was there,” said Goffin, who made two saves before Jeremy Lydick (1 save) finished up.
“That was very big for us. That could have let them right back in the game,” said Hoffman-Johnson.
White, who controlled the midfield with his terrific ball skills, pinpoint distribution and attacking flair, sewed up the win with his goal.
Dunn passed it up to him and he made a run to the left of middle with Folmer in hot pursuit.
“I decided to make a run to the left instead of the middle,” said White. “Then I saw [Sawyer] was on the near post and the back post was wide open. I was hoping for the best.”
“I came out to cut down the angle, but he placed it perfectly to the right-side panel,” said Sawyer of White’s low, left-footed, 18-yard bullet.
A precise long diagonal pass from White to an umarked Ford Bohrman in the right side of the box set up the third goal.
Sawyer, who ended up with seven saves, scrambled across to make a great stop off Bohrman, but the ball deflected off his hip to Dunn at the far post and Dunn tucked it home.
“You have to give Ellsworth a lot of credit. They’ve been here a number of years and they hustled all over the field from the beginning of the game to the very end,” said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan, whose Yachtsmen scored 106 goals and gave up six this season.