Dave Halligan has coached soccer for 33 years, the last 25 at Falmouth High School where he has won nine state championships. This winter he’ll begin his 25th season as head basketball coach with the Yachtsmen, having won four state titles.
Dozens of his former players have gone on to succeed in college soccer, including Roger Levesque, who was named Pac-10 Player of the Year at Stanford and currently plays for the Major League Soccer Seattle Sounders.
Halligan recently answered questions about his soccer program for a Q-and-A:
Q: What makes Falmouth soccer so successful?
A: "We have a good program and we have a lot of good people running it, right from Saturday morning soccer to travel teams to guys that work in premier programs."
Q: How involved are you outside the high school team?
A: "When my kids went through I was involved in everything. I started youth, travel, premier and instructional programs. The first year we had 38 kids in the program. Now we have over 600. I think the key is numbers playing. (At the high school) we have 62 boys and 42-plus girls playing."
Q: How did you get into coaching?
A: "I played soccer in college but I went to school to be a basketball coach. I coached JV soccer at Greely for a couple of years then I went
to Cape Elizabeth and worked with Leroy Rand. After that I came to Falmouth. Back then there were no state championships, just a few teams
playing in (the) Triple C (Conference).
Q: How does Maine high school soccer stack up against other states?
A: "We have some excellent programs and players. The state is so spread out, but we have some kids playing pretty well. We have a lot of kids playing at the NESCAC schools. That’s pretty good soccer. Just because you’re from Maine it doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to the highest levels. If they want to play hard and work hard they can accomplish a lot."
Q: What do you do in the offseason?
A: "What’s an offseason? The offseason is the two weekends I spend with my wife."
Q: What’s the biggest difference between coaching soccer and basketball?
A: "Basketball is more like chess where you can adjust every time down the floor. Soccer is more like checkers. Once the game starts there’s not a lot you can do."
Q: How have premier teams changed the game?
A: "I think it’s broken down some of the (high school) rivalries. They’re friendly rivalries now but I think they play harder. They don’t want to
lose to their buddies."
Q: Why do players need high school soccer?
A: "Because of some of the other values we try to teach. The goals in high school are a lot different than in premier. In high school, 90 percent of the players aren’t going to go on. Last year when we didn’t win (the state title) the kids said what they liked most was going to practice."
Q: How is this season playing out?
A: "We lost 2-1 to Yarmouth and beat Cape, 2-1. Cape beat Yarmouth 2-1 so it’s pretty even. We lost a lot of kids from last year’s team. We’re
basically a young team but we have high expectations. We’re probably doing better than we hoped for. .I’ve been real pleased with my kids."
Q: Do you employ a specific style at Falmouth?
A: "Obviously we like to control the ball. We like to play with speed and skill. We don’t want to slug it out with you. We want to be more skilled
if we can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t."
Q: How long do you anticipate coaching?
A: "As long as I’m having fun, as long as I enjoy practice and enjoy the kids. I still do."
BOYS' SOCCER TOP 10
3. Camden Hills
9. Mt. Ararat
GIRLS' TOP 10
3. Cape Elizabeth
FOOTBALL TOP 10
1. Cheverus (4-0) — The Stags rolled to their fourth straight easy victory, downing Sanford 41-8 behind three touchdown passes by Cam Olson. So far, Cheverus has outscored its opponents 177-47. Dating back to last year’s Class A state championship season, the Stags have won 16 games in a row.
2. Lawrence (4-0) — The Bulldogs walloped Mt. Ararat 48-6 as Shaun Carroll, the Pine Tree Conference’s leading rusher, ran for 108 yards
and two touchdowns on eight carries. Lawrence has outscored opponents, 129-33.
3. Deering (4-0) — The Rams defeated Portland 28-7 in the 100th regular season meeting between the two Portland schools. This season they’ve outscored opponents 129-55.
4. Mt. Blue (4-0) — After several years in Class A, the Cougars are thriving in Class B this season. They knocked off unbeaten Gardiner, 43-26, last Friday behind two rushing and two passing touchdowns from quarterback Jordan Whitney. They have a big game looming against
unbeaten Leavitt on Oct. 7.
5. Mtn. Valley (4-0 — The defending Class B state champs have yet to be tested. They rolled over Gray-New Gloucester 53-0 last week and have outscored opponents 176-23.
6. Brunswick (4-0) — The Dragons lost by a point to Bangor in their season opener after committing six turnovers. They’ve coasted since and
have outscored opponents 129-33. Next up is Cony.
7. South Portland (3-1) — One bad half against Cheverus led to the Red Riots only loss. Last week they made believers of a lot of fans by
dominating unbeaten Massabesic, 39-7.
8. Leavitt (4-0) — The Hornets are coasting behind a strong defense that has allowed just 23 points and an offense, led by quarterback Jordan Hersom and running back Jake Ouellette, that has scored 201 points. They’ll find out where they stand Oct. 7 at Mt. Blue.
9. Wells (4-0) — The Warriors are cruising, outscoring the opposition 128-20. The irresistible force meets the immovable object when they host Mountain Valley on Oct. 7.
10. Bangor (3-1) — Despite graduation losses, the Rams keep finding a way to get it done. They can’t look past anyone, but a big game looms in three weeks at Messalonskee.
Weekly honor roll
Skowhegan running back Tyler Savage gained 236 yards on 37 carries in last week’s 35-28 loss to Lewiston.
Traip Academy junior Cory Aldecoa rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-0 win against Old Orchard.
Mt. Blue quarterback Jordan Whitney completed 12 of 20 passes for 176 yards and rushed for two scores as the Cougars downed Gardiner 43-26.
Waterville senior Aaron Saucier rushed for 150 yards and four touchdowns in a 53-18 win against Morse.
Cheverus quarterback Cam Olson went 9 for 11 passing fro 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-8 victory over Sanford.
Cheverus receivers Louis DiStasio caught four passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-8 win against Sanford.
Deering quarterback Matt Flaherty completed 10 of 13 passes for two touchdowns in a 28-7 win against Portland.
Portland and Deering met for the 100th time during the regular season last Friday in a football rivalry that dates back to 1891. Deering won
28-7 but Portland still holds a commanding 61-29-10 edge in the regular season. The two teams will also play for the 100th time this
Thanksgiving Day. Portland also holds the advantage there, 54-38-7.
Overall, the Bulldogs have 115 wins over Deering with 67 losses and 17 ties.
Over 60 high schools and 1,200 runners will compete at Troy Middle School in Belfast on Saturday in the 10th annual Festival of Champions.
Kennebunk's Abbey Leonardi and Madison's Matt McClintock will be on hand to defend their titles. Leonardi set the meet record of 17 minutes, 58.52 seconds last year while Brunswick's Will Geoghean of Brunswick set the boys record of 15:33 two years ago. McClintock would like a shot at that record.
Girls Coaches Poll
3. Camden Hills
5. Mt. Ararat
6. John Bapst
7. Cape Elizabeth
Boys' Coaches Poll
5. South Portland