FALMOUTH — The Falmouth girls soccer team needed three coaches to get through the season, but just one goal to win the Class B state championship.
The Yachtsmen, playing on their home field, used Jessica DiPhilipo’s penalty kick with 15 minutes left in the second half Saturday to outlast stubborn Caribou 1-0.
It feels great,” said DiPhilipo, one of 10 seniors on the Falmouth roster. “After all we’ve been through, with our (first) coach resigning and then being coachless it seemed for a while, it makes winning feel that much better. I’m just so happy for our team.”
Jon Shardlow began his second season as the team’s head coach this fall but resigned after four games. Cooper Higgins then took over on an interim basis before Jon Meek, who started the season as an assistant, returned to take the head coaching reins and guide Falmouth to its second state title in three years and fourth in the past six seasons.
But it wasn’t for lack of effort by Caribou, which was playing in its first state final since competing as a Class A program in 1988.
“We worked as hard as we could,” said Vikings senior midfielder Jenna Selander. “We tried to control the ball and I think maybe the match took a twisty turn with the PK. That’s luck pushing their way, but maybe the next time we’re here we’ll get it.”
DePhilipo was awarded her penalty kick — Falmouth’s first of the season — after Caribou was red-carded for a deliberate hand ball near the goal line as the Yachtsmen applied major pressure after a corner kick.
Caribou junior goalie Morgan Swan guessed correctly on DiPhilipo’s shot, dove left and got her left hand on the ball, but she could not prevent it from going into the net.
“I got my hand on it and it felt so good, but then I brought my hand up too early and the ball just spun under me,” said Swan. “It’s something that we’ve worked on all year and something I’ll be able to work on next year, but there’s nothing I can do about it now.”
The goal was representative of a dominant second half by the Yachtsmen, who outshot Caribou 10-1 after intermission and largely pinned the Vikings in their defensive end.
Caribou had to play one player down after the penalty kick due to the red card, but generated its best bid of the second half with 2:40 left on a direct kick by Paige Small that sailed just over the crossbar.
“I think the longer the game went on, on our bench, at least, we thought that it was going to come down to one goal,” said Meek. “It was a state championship game because there were two very good teams out there, and Caribou, without a doubt, was a very good team.”
Falmouth (12-5-1) finished with a 17-7 advantage in shots, with the Yachtsmen’s Elizabeth Estabrook preserving the shutout with five saves — all in the first half. Swan made six stops for 14-3-1 Caribou.
“The girls played hard and the field was big,” said Caribou coach Todd Albert. “In the first half we had three or four real good chances, and if we could have scored on one of those it could have been a different game.
“But they have 28 Premier (Soccer) players and we have zero, and they could only beat us 1-0 on a PK. Our girls showed a lot of heart and a lot of skill.”
The Vikings indeed may have had the best scoring chance of the first half, 10 minutes into the period when Small worked the ball deep on the right wing, then grounded a pass to the goal crease that teammate Lydia Kieffer one-timed toward the net, only to have Estabrook make a sliding save.
Selander also had a couple of early bids, one a shot from the left wing three minutes into the match that Estabrook caught at the near post, and the second a similar blast from 25 yards out with 2:40 left in the period that Estabrook tipped just wide of the right post.
“The first half we knew that Caribou was going to come here and give us a right good go, and that’s what they did,” said Meek. “They worked phenomenally hard in the first half and caught us a little square in the back and took advantage of that on a couple of occasions. I think as the game went on because of the hard work they put in maybe the doors closed a bit, and in the second half we did a better job of keeping up with the ball and moving it around a bit better and connecting on our passes, and the opportunities started to come.”