THORNDIKE, Maine — Sometimes the most productive practices have little to do with running drills.
For the Mount View boys soccer team, a strong season was being threatened by inner turmoil, so the Mustangs used practices this week not to work on offense or defense, but for a team-building effort that led to their most satisfying win to date Wednesday, a 2-1 victory over Camden Hills of Rockport.
“We’ve had issues,” said Mount View coach Chris Hink, whose team was coming off back-to-back losses to Oak Hill of Sabattus and Winslow, the Mustangs’ only defeats this season. “We’ve had some team chemistry issues and it took a while, but they realized what those issues were and they dealt with it.
“The last two days of practice had a different feel. It’s the first time in two weeks I’ve gone home happy, and I had a good feeling about today.”
Dylan Keller, one of 10 Mount View players honored during a pregame Senior Day ceremony, scored the game- winner with 4:41 left in the team’s regular-season finale.
The goal came shortly after a 20-yard direct kick by Eike Dominiak. Dominiak’s quick re-start from the right side skimmed just over Camden Hills’ defensive wall, and while Windjammer goalie Ian Cushing got his hands on the ball, he couldn’t maintain control.
The ball caromed toward the left goal post, where Keller was waiting to break the 1-1 tie.
“I just stayed back, hoping to play the ball when it got flushed out, and luckily I got a foot on it,” said Keller. “It was really just a 50-50 ball I got a foot on, there were a bunch of people in front of the net.”
The win lifted Mount View (11-2-1) from fourth place to first in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal point ratings, just ahead of second-place Presque Isle.
With Presque Isle and fellow top contenders Ellsworth and Camden Hills all still with games remaining, the Mustangs may not remain atop the standings, but the win over the Windjammers could give Mount View a top-two finish when the final Heal points are counted next week.
And that’s a much more pleasant thought than those that had consumed the team’s energy in recent days.
“The last couple of practices were spent doing team-building, not really touching the ball much, just getting our team back together because we’ve had a lot of complications, a lot of people fighting on and off the field,” said Keller. “We just had to come together as a team, and we did.”
Camden Hills (11-2-0) controlled play for much of the game and earned a 15-9 advantage in shots. Nick Knight made seven saves for Mount View, while Cushing had four stops for Camden Hills.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Camden Hills coach Mike Grey. “We had the ball in their end most of the time, but it was one of those games where we couldn’t catch a break, and they caught them and took advantage.”
Dominiak gave Mount View a 1-0 lead on a direct kick with 5:52 left in the first half, a play set up when Camden Hills was whistled for pushing just outside the penalty area as Keller was trying to establish position to receive a pass.
Dominiak curled a high shot over the defensive wall set up 10 yards away and just under the crossbar to Cushing’s right.
“Dylan told me I should take my time but all the others were yelling ‘Shoot it, shoot it,’” said Dominiak. “I just took my time and the goalie was right behind the wall, so I just had to chip it over the wall.”
Camden Hills tied the match on a goal by Jimmy Weferling with 22:22 left in the second half. The play began as Zach Wincklhofer gained control on the right side and crossed the ball to Malcolm Steele, who was running down the left wing.
Steele gained possession and then crossed the ball back toward the far goal post, where Weferling had run to redirect the ball into the net from close range.
Momentum was with the Windjammers, but Mount View regrouped — together.
“I think in the last [few] games we were a little too comfortable, we felt too much like we were already the winners of the game,” said Dominiak. “Today we had to show everybody that we’re a good team, so we played like a team.”