ELLSWORTH, Maine — These are the early season tests that provide motivation for the games to come — particularly when they involve teams expected to contend for a championship.
Presque Isle, the defending Eastern Maine Class B soccer champion, and Ellsworth, the 2007 regional titlist, renewed their rivalry at Del Luce Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and the 1-1 tie in double overtime that ensued suggested both will be postseason factors again this fall.
“It was two good teams going at it,” said Ellsworth sweeper Brad Folmer, whose team fell 2-0 to the Wildcats in last year’s semifinals. “Probably we’ll see each other in the playoffs. This will make us better for the playoffs, we have to learn from this experience and go forward.”
The Presque Isle girls, also a 2008 Eastern B champion, used a goal and an assist from sophomore Kayla Richards to defeat Ellsworth 4-1 in the first game of the doubleheader.
In the boys game, Wilder York’s header for a goal with 29 minutes, 5 seconds left in the second half enabled Presque Isle to earn the stalemate in its first road match of the season.
“Ellsworth is always very tough, very athletic and very well coached,” said Presque Isle coach Scott Young. “They play as hard as they possibly can all the time. Every play means something to them, and we learned the same thing about us, that we can play hard consistently.
“We were questioning where the toughness was going to come from, and we found it today. Ellsworth helped us with that, they pushed us to the limit.”
Ellsworth controlled play for much of regulation, outshooting Presque Isle 13-8 in the first half alone.
Coach Brian Higgins’ Eagles took a 1-0 lead with 6:31 left in the opening half when midfielder Zach Emeigh dribbled the ball down the left side of the field before grounding a late cross that freshman Max Grover one-timed past Wildcats’ goalie Dillon Kingsbury.
That lead stood until Presque Isle earned a throw-in from the right wing 10 minutes into the second half. Riley Norton’s throw sailed toward the goal, from where Isaac Lajoie skimmed a header across the crease to York, who headed the ball past Ellsworth goalie Jordan Carter.
“We were pretty flat in the first half so we got a good little speech during halftime and we came out strong in the second half so we knew we could play with them,” said Kingsbury.
Ellsworth outshot Presque Isle 24-17, with Kingsbury making 13 saves and Carter nine stops.
Both teams are now 3-0-1.
In the girls game, Presque Isle overcame the built-up fatigue of playing its fifth match in eight days to improve to 5-0.
“We knew when we saw our schedule that we were going to have these five games early, including two of our biggest County rivals in Caribou and Fort Kent,” said Presque Isle coach Ralph Michaud. “But we had enough left in the tank to get through it.”
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when Richards headed in a pass from freshman Karlee Bernier.
“I just looked up and saw that Karlee had the ball and she kicked a perfect ball right to my head and I just flicked it and it went over the goalie’s head,” said Richards.
Presque Isle doubled that margin seven minutes later when freshman Chandler Guerrette took a pass from Richards at the center of the field some 18 yards from the goal, wheeled around and grounded a shot inside the right goalpost.
Jenna Stephenson gave Presque Isle 3-0 lead with 7:07 left in the half.
Teammate Chelsea Nickerson took a shot from the 18-yard line that deflected off the toe of a defender, causing the ball to have a sideways spin as it bounced toward Ellsworth goalie Jessica Toothaker. Toothaker was unable to grab the ball as it spun away, and Stephenson was standing near the goal line to score into an open net.
Ellsworth senior Gabrielle Huebner scored the first goal allowed by Presque Isle this season with 12:59 left in the match after the Wildcats were whistled for an obstruction near the 18-yard line. The restart was tipped to Huebner, who blasted a quick shot to the left of both Toothaker and Ellsworth’s defensive wall and inside the far goalpost.
Presque Isle’s Shae Adler added an insurance goal with 6:19 left with shot from the right corner that deflected off the inside of the far goalpost and went into the net.
Presque Isle outshot Ellsworth 23-10. Kelsey Park and Meredith Stewart combined to make six saves for the Wildcats, while Morgaen Jones and Toothaker combined on eight stops for 0-3 Ellsworth.