Clippers win state soccer title 1-0

first_imgEllsworth soccer player Jack Weeks goes for the ball in the Class B State Championship on Saturday at Deering High School in Portland. Click here for more photos. PHOTO BY TAYLOR VORTHERMSPORTLAND — Ellsworth Eagles Coach Brian Higgins had one goal for his soccer team heading into the Class B State Championship on Saturday.It wasn’t to win or even to end a scoring drought that has plagued Ellsworth in state title games for the past decade.The objective was simple.“Don’t embarrass ourselves,” Higgins said before the Eagles’ matchup against the Western Maine champions, the Yarmouth Clippers.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textThat pessimistic outlook was justified. An Eastern Maine team has not won the Class B state title in 21 years. The last to do it was Ellsworth in 1993.For the past 10 years, Ellsworth has competed in five state championships without ever scoring a goal in those games. The Eagles experienced their widest scoring deficit in 2010 in a 5-0 loss to Yarmouth.But this time, at Deering High School’s Memorial Field, the Eagles played better than Higgins had hoped. They kept with the Clippers defensively and only trailed them 1-0 with the final period coming to a close.Ellsworth soccer player Dagan Berenyi goes for the ball in the Class B State Championship on Saturday at Deering High School in Portland. PHOTO BY TAYLOR VORTHERMS“I was thinking, even with three minutes left: ‘Wow, we played pretty good today,’” Higgins said. “’We lost, but we didn’t get embarrassed.’”Forty-one seconds later, that changed for Higgins and the Eagles.With the ball on Yarmouth’s half of the field, a referee blew his whistle and pointed far from the play to Ellsworth defender Brady White, who stood next to a Yarmouth player lying on the ground.“I saw that,” the referee yelled while jogging to the scene. “Stop the clock.”With the clock stopped at 2:19, players from both teams rushed into the mix. Some tried to prevent the escalation of the fight by clutching the back of players’ jerseys or guiding teammates away. Others engaged in the pushing and shoving that ensued.Before it was over, head referee Larry Giddings issued four red cards — all to Ellsworth players.“We just lost our composure,” Higgins said. “In the end, it was pretty embarrassing.”Higgins said he tried to substitute out the players involved in the confrontation, but the officials beat him to it. White, Griffin Nightingale, Kyle Golding and Jarred Whitney were ejected from the game.Ellsworth soccer player Anthony Gardner heads the ball in the Class B State Championship on Saturday at Deering High School in Portland. PHOTO BY TAYLOR VORTHERMS“There’s not much you can do as a coach,” Higgins said. “You can tell them before the game and at halftime: ‘Don’t foul, stay composed,’ but in the heat of play…. We were yelling at them, but nobody could hear us anyway. Everyone was screaming so much.”Higgins said that kind of behavior was not representative of his team.“That’s not us,” he said.Different factors likely played into the breaking point for the Eagles.First in question was the officiating.“We’re just used to referees calling tighter games,” Higgins said. “In the different parts of the state you go to, it’s just not consistent.“So we got aggressive, too.”Players from both sides were constantly on the ground from hard collisions while going for the ball.“It was a very physical game,” Higgins said. “This referee seemed to want to let them play, and I think that came back to bite him in the end. Maybe he should have had a little more control of the game.”Another issue for the Eagles was the placement of fans. Before the game, Ellsworth fans were escorted from the bleachers behind the team benches to the other side of the field. They were told the fan sections must be kept separate.A block of Yarmouth students replaced Eagles fans behind the Ellsworth bench. Ellsworth players told Higgins that throughout the game, Clippers fans were calling out their numbers and names and even throwing things at them.“Their fans were right behind us, razzing us the whole game,” Higgins said. “That didn’t sit well, either.”After the ejection of the four Eagles, the Yarmouth student body was relocated away from Ellsworth’s bench.And on that note, the Eagles ended their season 16-1-1.Rewind to the beginning of the day.The Eagles boarded a school bus at 6 a.m. in the EHS parking lot for their three-hour journey to Portland for the 10 a.m. game.Parents decorated the bus with balloons and streamers and painted the Ellsworth players’ numbers on the windows. Paper bags of treats were arranged on the seats, each with the written-note: “Good luck!”Although Higgins said his team would need some luck, they also strategized a way to keep a win within reach. The key was defense.“We had a plan going in,” Higgins said. “We brought an extra defensive player back for the entire first half.”Midfielder Dagan Berenyi helped out in the backfield, which proved effective. Although the Clippers controlled possession for most of the game, they didn’t record their first shot until 13 minutes in.“Dagan was one of the keys in the first half,” Higgins said. “He did a great job in the middle deflecting balls and knocking balls away.“Defensively, we played with them.”The Clippers scored their first and only goal with 13:29 left in the first half. Ellsworth goalkeeper Nick Bagley blocked Adam LaBrie’s first shot from 15 yards out, but couldn’t hang onto the ball. Patrick Grant crashed the goal and capitalized on the error.“Nick made a great initial save,” Higgins said. “We couldn’t quite corral the ball, and they just had a guy maybe a little quicker than we did.”In the first half, Yarmouth outshot Ellsworth 8-2.“We didn’t take a lot of chances early in the game, basically because we were in defensive mode,” Higgins said. “Then we sort of loosened up in the second half.”In the second period, Ellsworth created a few dangerous situations for the Clippers.Anthony Gardner put a shot into the back of the net with 28 minutes left, but the goal was called back after an Ellsworth foul in the box.“I didn’t see what happened,” Higgins said. “Whether we pushed or tripped somebody… They didn’t call it all game, why would they call it there?”With 5:34 left, Jeff Weeks dribbled from midfield and drove a hard shot into Yarmouth goalie Alexander Lyon’s stomach. Lyon dropped to the turf, wincing in pain. Conor Maguire slid in for the rebound, but Lyon never let go of the ball.After the altercation at the end of the game, Ellsworth’s shot at tying the score was gone. The Eagles were forced to play the remaining two minutes and 19 seconds down four members.With the 11-on-7 matchup, Higgins conceded. A Yarmouth player stood over the ball while the Eagles watched the time run off the clock.“At that point, they could have scored five goals,” Higgins said. “They were happy just to hold it in the corner, and I was happy just letting the game go and not have anymore flare-ups.”Yarmouth outshot Ellsworth 8-3 in the second half. Ellsworth took four corner kicks in the game while Yarmouth had three.Bagley, who usually shares playing time with the injured Bruce St. Peter, played the entire game and totaled five saves.“We didn’t really know how good he was because our defense is so good that, usually, the goalies don’t have to do much,” Higgins said. “Nick did a great job.”But for many Ellsworth fans, the last two minutes of the game tainted what was, for the most part, an impressive season for the Eagles.“For a team to play that well for 78 minutes and then lose their composure at the end, it’s pretty tough to take as a coach,” Higgins said. “What are you going to remember: the 78 minutes you played well or the two minutes you lost your cool in the end?” Part 2: When the injury is inside your head, some “don’t get it” – July 26, 2016 Bio Latest posts by Taylor Vortherms (see all) Part 1: Invisible, incapacitating concussions are sidelining high school athletes – July 19, 2016center_img Latest Posts Taylor VorthermsSports Editor at The Ellsworth AmericanTaylor Vortherms covers sports in Hancock County. The St. Louis, Missouri native recently graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Ellsworth American in 2013. EHS names new boys’ soccer coach – July 13, 2016last_img

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