READFIELD — There were tears, plenty of them. But there were smiles, too. Even in the minutes after the Maranacook boys soccer team’s 1-0 loss to Yarmouth in the Class B South final, when disappointment abounds and perspective can be in scarce supply, the Black Bears and their coaches had little trouble finding some.

“We’ve only lost three games in, what, five years? I mean, who’s done that?” coach Don Beckwith said. “We’re pretty spoiled here, with our kids. If that’s the worst that can happen with them, we’re pretty lucky.”

There’s no question it hurt, however. Eric LaBrie’s goal early in the first half provided the only scoring necessary for the Clippers to earn the victory in a rematch of last year’s South final, a 3-2 Yarmouth victory in double overtime.

It was the first loss for the top-seeded Black Bears (15-1-1), who hit the crossbar with about 19 minutes to play, while No. 2 Yarmouth improved to 14-2-1.

“I’m not surprised we got this far,” senior midfielder Nathan Delmar said. “Again, we proved that we’re one of the best teams in the state; we can compete with anyone. We’re not a shrug-off. We’re an excellent team.”

They had a match once again in the Clippers, however, and Yarmouth didn’t take long to strike. Gibson Harnett tried a shot from the right side that deflected toward the left, where LaBrie was standing all alone. The sophomore quickly fired a shot back toward the right side of the net and in, putting Yarmouth in front only 8:46 into the game.


It was déjà vu for the Black Bears — LaBrie scored the game-winner in last year’s game.

“He loves coming here. It’s crazy,” Yarmouth coach Mike Hagerty said. “Eric does read the game really well, and he was in the right spot.”

It was just the start Beckwith didn’t want to see in a game he knew would be tightly contested throughout.

“That was my worry, the first 20 minutes of the game,” he said. “We had the first 20, and I thought we’d be OK.”

“It kind of put a damper on it,” senior striker Sam Wilkinson added. “But we kept working through it, we pushed through it. We fought to the end.”

Maranacook had chances to even the score. Connor McSweeney had a look from the left but fired high in the 48th minute, and Delmar had a feed up to Dennis Chiappetta in the 54th that was smothered before Chiappetta could fire off a shot.


“We knew they’re a good team. We’re also a good team, so it was going to be a mental battle,” senior back Hayden Elwell said. “See who can hold out the longest.”

The best chance of all came early in the 61st minute. Wilkinson had a direct kick and played it down the right side to Elwell, who snuck behind the defense and knocked a cross over to Max McQuillen, who was sprinting toward the net.

They were inches off. McQuillen’s header went off the crossbar, and Maranacook couldn’t try a follow-up before Yarmouth swept the ball away.

“It worked just perfectly the way we’ve been practicing it. It really did,” Beckwith said. “It worked perfect. Other than going in the net.”

Coming close didn’t deter the Black Bears, who also had a close call on a direct kick in the 70th minute before a sprawling save by Yarmouth’s Cal Owen.

“I think that whole second half, we were amping up,” Wilkinson said. “I think it amped us up more to know that we were getting chances and we were getting closer and closer.”


That tying goal never came — Adam Dunbar had a long shot go just right of the net in the closing seconds — and Yarmouth prevailed in the tight going, which Hagerty said wasn’t an accident.

“We played Falmouth twice, Cape (Elizabeth) twice, York twice, Greely twice. We’re in close games all the time,” Hagerty said. “I think if you asked coach Beckwith, that’s probably his only complaint. A lot of his games are blowouts.”

Beckwith, whose team won six games during the regular season by five or more goals, agreed.

“I’d love to be in a situation like this all the time. I really would,” he said. “This makes these guys better. We could have been a lot better if we played that type of competition all the time.”

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