EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Like Rocky Balboa, the Katahdin boys soccer team withstood every scoring punch Richmond through at it, responding valiantly every time.
The Cougars of Stacyville battled like true warriors, and wound up with the belt, or in this case, the Class D boys soccer championship.
Marshall Davis and Ethan Qualey spearheaded a three-goal, second-half flurry as Katahdin annexed its first state title with a dramatic 5-4, come-from-behind victory over the defending state champion Bobcats.
The undefeated Cougars, who finished up 17-0-1, found themselves down 4-2 1:17 into the second half, thanks to Andy Harrington’s third goal of the match.
Davis started the comeback 18 minutes later, as he found himself unmarked at the goalmouth and struck home a Qualey rebound.
Qualey, who was credited with the assist on that play, tied the match at 4 with 17:39 to play with a penalty kick.
That was set up after a Cougar attacker was pushed down by a Richmond defender inside the penalty area.
Davis put Katahdin on top with 5:11 to play, taking a clearing pass down the right side, beating his defending and striking the ball into the right post.
The play wouldn’t have been possible had Cougar keeper Matt Tarr (five saves) hadn’t made a point-blank save on Harrington seconds before.
Both teams were evenly matched and well-skilled at all positions, and played aggressive yet clean soccer.
Harrington put Richmond on the board three minutes into the game while Qualey scored his first at the 35:06 mark.
Harrington would score again with 19:50 to play to put the Bobcats back up 2-1, but Kolby Gallagher headed home a beautiful cross from Davis.
Harrington set up Eric Murrin, who also recorded two assists, with a pass down the middle just before halftime to give the Bobcats a 3-2 edge at intermission.
Bruce Carver recorded five saves for Richmond, which was outshot 14-13.