HAMPDEN, Maine — As the teams lined up across the Weatherbee Complex field for lineup introductions Saturday, the Yarmouth High School boys soccer team’s size advantage over its opposition from Winslow was hard to ignore.
But it was more than sheer physicality that propelled the Clippers to a 5-2 victory and a third consecutive Class B state championship.
There were soccer smarts — Yarmouth scored its first goal as Winslow was still setting up its defense for a direct kick — and a bevy of playmakers at both ends of the field, but one of the team’s newer members says the roots of that success run even deeper.
“Yarmouth just has a great program,” said junior forward Luke Groothoff, who moved to the area from California a year ago and scored twice as the Clippers capped off a 15-2-1 season. “The parents, the community, everybody supports the soccer team and we have a great coaching staff with five or six volunteers. It’s just a really great culture that supports soccer.”
This marked the 23rd straight year the West/South representative has won the Class B boys state crown. Ellsworth was the last East/North winner in 1993.
And it took coach Mike Hegarty’s club less than 12 minutes to build on the momentum already in the air after Yarmouth defeated Waterville 3-1 earlier in the day to win the Class B girls state final.
The Clippers’ Gibson Harnett was tripped about 25 yards from goal on the left wing, setting up a direct kick. But noticing an opportunity even before his own team had set up offensively, Groothoff curled the kick around the defensive wall and inside the right post to give his team a 1-0 lead.
“It’s one of those unwritten rules in soccer that as we’re setting up for our set piece if the guy on the ball sees the goalie setting up the wall he’s got free rein to go, so that was just a soccer IQ play by Luke,” said Hegarty, whose team captured the school’s 11 state title overall and eighth of his 20-year head coaching tenure. “I’d like to think that any soccer coach in the country tells his kids that, that if the goal’s open don’t worry about the play, shoot it.”
The play surprised Winslow, but the Black Raiders countered exactly four minutes later when Jake Warn corralled a long punt along the left wing and grounded a shot toward goal on the artificial turf that Yarmouth first-half goalie Michael H. Hegarty deflected but could not stop it as it trickled inside the far post to tie the match.
Yarmouth took the lead for good with 18:44 left in the half on an own goal as a shot from deep along the right wing by Tahj Garvey deflected off a Black Raiders’ defender and past goalie Jake Lapierre to make it 2-1.
“Part of it was a little unlucky,” said Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe. “On the first one goal our defense was looking for a whistle and didn’t get a whistle and they put it in. That was how the game started, and then the second goal was an own goal. That’s two goals you don’t see all year and it happens in a state game.”
Groothoff made it 3-1 with 12:23 left before intermission, gaining control of the ball in the center of the field 20 yards out after Winslow was unable to clear a Yarmouth corner kick and lined a shot high into the net.
The Clippers then put the match away on goals by Eric LaBrie and Matthew Dostie 54 seconds apart in the opening 3:18 of the second half.
Winslow (16-1-1) cut the gap to 5-2 with 20:08 left when Isaac Lambrecht converted off an assist from Ben Smith.