HAMPDEN — With its fourth state championship since 2010, the Yarmouth boys soccer team is part of a much larger dynasty. For the 23rd consecutive season, the Gold Ball in Class B went to a South regional team Saturday at Hampden Academy.

Junior Luke Groothoff scored a pair of first-half goals, Yarmouth added two more in the first five minutes of the second half and the Clippers cruised to a 5-2 win over Winslow at McGraw Field for their third consecutive Class B title.

“This is the town’s 11th (state championship),” said Yarmouth head coach Mike Hagerty, who has been at the helm for 20 years. “Today is our 11th total, which I think makes us tied for most in the state. We’re pretty proud of that.”

It was a clinical and efficient effort from Yarmouth (15-2-1), which scored twice off set pieces and once on the counter-attack, controlled the midfield and nearly nullified entirely two of Winslow’s most significant contributors.

Armed with a 3-1 lead to open the second half, the Clippers wasted little time stomping on any hope Winslow (16-1-1) had of a comeback. Sophomore Eric Labrie made two explosive moves to evade defenders along the left side of the 18-yard box to free himself up for a cracker of a goal, his 16th of the season, in the 43rd minute, and two minutes later senior Matt Dostie drilled a low rocket through traffic on a free kick from 20 yards out to build a 5-1 lead.

“It feels great,” Groothoff said of a third straight state title. “I’m sure the seniors are happy to have things go this way.”

Winslow head coach Aaron Wolfe conceded that the opening minutes of the second half made all the difference on Saturday.

“The second half was really the key,” said Wolfe, whose team pulled one back on Isaac Lambrecht’s header shortly after the hour mark. “They came right out and scored those two, boom-boom, that really set it. As great a team as they are, it’s difficult to come back.”

The Black Raiders got an early glimpse at what they were up against with Groothoff’s first tally in the 13th minute. As his teammates feigned setting up for a play off a free kick from 25 yards, and with Winslow trying to organize a wall and its marking assignments in front of goalkeeper Jake Lapierre, Groothoff opted for a quick restart. He pushed a perfectly placed shot along the ground inside the far post while the Black Raiders stood silently stunned.

It was the first goal Winslow conceded that didn’t result from a penalty kick since Oct. 11.

“I guess we were just looking for a quick one,” Groothoff said. “There was a bunch of space on the back post, so I decided to hit it and see if it would go in.”

“That’s just a soccer IQ play by Luke. I would like to think that any high school coach in the country tells his kids that if the goal is open, don’t worry about the play and shoot it,” Hagerty said. “The guy on the ball is supposed to be aware while everyone else is setting up.”

Jake Warn equalized four minutes later, which provided a boost of momentum and some measure of moral victory for Winslow. Yarmouth hadn’t allowed a goal against in a state championship game since 1997, spanning across six other shutout state championship victories.

But whatever boost was provided by the tying goal, it was quickly gone when Black Raider center back Mike Wildes deflected a Tahj Garvey cross past Lapierre (nine saves) for an own goal in the 24th minute. A weak clearance in the 32nd minute fell to Groothoff, who finished from 20 yards with a bullet and a 3-1 lead.

“You have to mark as much as you can and try to hold your ground and get position on the goal. It’s really all about who reads the ball the best at that point,” Wolfe said. “It wasn’t necessarily that our defending was bad, it was just that (two of the) goals were strong shots in the back of the net. The second one was a great shot, perfect placement. Can’t do anything about that.”

Despite creating some chances against a number of second team players for Yarmouth over the final 20 minutes of the match, the four-goal deficit proved too tall a task to overcome. Wildes pushed forward into an attacking role alongside Warn once the disadvantage grew to four goals, but Hagerty admitted that his side was paying special attention to both players — at both ends of the pitch.

“We knew how fast (Warn) was,” Hagerty said. “He’s just dangerous. We had somebody watching him the entire time… (Wildes) is one of their other best players, when he steps into the midfield, he leaves a whole big gap in front of their fullbacks. We knew if we could get one-on-one situations in front of their backs, behind (Wildes), it would lead to good things.”

Travis Barrett —621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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