HAMPDEN — Luck can be as important as skill in a generally low-scoring game such as soccer, and the Falmouth High School boys took advantage of both in winning their eighth state Class B title Saturday.
Grant Burfiend scored two goals, one luckily and one skillfully, to lead the Western Maine champion Yachtsmen to a 2-1 victory over East titlist Camden Hills of Rockport.
“That’s soccer,” said Camden Hills senior goalkeeper Ian Cushing. “If we played 10 times, they’d win five and we’d win five.”
Sam Predham scored the lone goal for the East titlist Windjammers (17-1) late in the first half to forge a 1-1 tie, but Burfiend blasted home the game-winner in the 27th minute of the second half to give the Yachtsmen the win.
Falmouth (13-3-2) applied most of the pressure early in the game, and the Yachtsmen capitalized on it eventually with Burfiend’s first goal, which was the lucky one.
With 28:53 left in the first half, J.P. White fired a direct kick that was headed for the lower right corner of the net, near the goalpost, but Cushing knocked it away.
The ball crossed the endline, though, setting up a corner kick on the right side.
Burfiend’s boot curled toward the goal. Cushing, who was closely pressured, reached up to swat the ball away, but it deflected off his left arm into the net.
“I just tried to get it into the front post,” admitted Burfiend.
That close pressure had a hand in the score, literally, according to Cushing.
“He (Burfiend) hit a great ball in,” said Cushing, “but a Falmouth player was standing right beside me. He grabbed my right arm. I just had my left hand, and that was not enough to slap (the ball) away.”
The Windjammers’ offense started working better after that, but had nothing to show for it until Predham took advantage of a Falmouth defensive mishap to record the tying goal.
Camden Hills kicked the ball long down the right side of the field.
Falmouth goalie Will D’Agostino came out to play it, but got his feet tangled with one of his defenders on the ground and a CH forward. D’Agostino also fell to the ground.
“Once I saw it bounce, I jumped, but I got tripped,” said D’Agostino.
The ball squirted loose, and Predham blasted it from 15 yards out into the goal.
“I knew there was going to be a bit of a collision,” said Predham, who collected the loose ball on the right side a couple of steps inside the 18, and drilled a low shot into the far left corner of the wide-open goal.
“I just happened to have an open net,” he said, matter-of-factly.
The Windjammers’ intensity crept up another notch after that, and the play became a lot more even as Falmouth also applied pressure late in the half.
“Kids started getting a little too amped,” said D’Agostino. “We had to calm them down.”
In the second half, Camden Hills started strong, but a breakaway attempt by ’Jammer Malcolm Steele was smothered and a 15-yard blast from the left-center of the penalty area by Evan McLean went over the crossbar.
With 19 minutes remaining, Falmouth’s Brandon Tuttle booted one from the far left side that curled around Cushing and headed for an apparently open net. But Camden Hills’ Peter Vannorsdale raced in from the right side and kicked it clear.
With 13:11 remaining, Burfiend was able to break through for the winner.
The junior forward ran onto a kick blasted down the center of the field and quickly dribbled through traffic. Cushing came out to block the angles, but Burfiend worked the ball around him and booted it into the center of the net.
“Once I saw (Cushing) make his move, I played it by him and went in,” said Burfiend.
“I wasn’t expecting him to get through the defense like that,” said Cushing. “The ball got through and he got to it first.”
Camden Hills tried to retie the game once more, drawing its backs almost to midfield for extra offensive pressure, but Falmouth held on.
“You’ve got to have a little bit of luck, a little bit of skill,” acknowledged Predham. “We just came up a little short at the end.”