ORONO, Maine — Orono High School junior Nick Peterson is a defensive midfielder.
But it was his offense that supplied his fourth-seeded Riots with a 1-0 victory over previously-undefeated Penobscot Valley of Howland in their Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon.
Peterson scored his fourth goal of the season with just 1:26 left in regulation as the 13-1-1 Riots advanced to a semifinal matchup with top seed Madawaska, 12-2-1, on Friday.
Fifth-seeded Penobscot Valley finished up at 14-1.
It was a defensive struggle as both teams defended with conviction and impressive efficiency. Scoring chances were few and far between.
Both teams received timely tackles and interventions to prevent quality scoring chances.
Junior sweeper Phil Benoit turned in an exceptional performance for the Riots as did backs Cam Rose and Charlie Boyle. PVHS received exemplary play from defenders Tyler Brzowski, Adam Callender and David Hallett.
It was a corner kick by Orono’s Sean Kilpatrick that resulted in the game-winner.
“I was trying to get it to the near corner of the six so Miguel [Caballero] could skim it into the goal area,” said Kilpatrick.
“I skimmed it to the far post,” said Caballero, whose header pinballed around until it wound up on Peterson’s foot, 10 yards from goal.
Peterson had his back to the goal.
“I saw Miguel running in and he had the header,” said Peterson. “I turned around, juggled it a little bit, controlled it and then turned and shot it. It went far post.”
Standout Penobscot Valley junior goalie Jake Jones had no chance.
“It was a good shot,” said Jones. “There was a mixup in the defense and we couldn’t get it cleared out. There were too many people in the way.”
Just eight minutes earlier, before the goal, Jones had made the save of the game by scrambling off his line to smother Kilpatrick’s open point-blank shot.
“I was very relieved when [Peterson] scored,” said Kilpatrick. “ They played real tough. Their defense and goalie played really well. But we persevered, controlled most of the game and came out on top.”
Orono was the more skilled team and had more possession but the Howlers offset it with their athleticism, hustle and grit.
“I’ve scored a lot of goals this year by having the ball switched over to me and not having the [opposing] midfielders running back [to cover me],” said Orono right wing Dan Lesser. “But they had guys on me pretty much the whole time.”
“It was a pretty decent battle. It could have gone either way,” said PVHS coach Ryan Reed. “We knew it was going to be a defensive battle. We had a few chances we could have capitalized on. They’ve got a quick back four.”
A.J. Coleman made two saves on 13 shots for Orono and Jones finished with seven on 15 shots.
“We played hard, they played hard. It’s just the way it went, I guess,” said Jones.
Orono coach Larry Berthiaume said his team has been a good second-half team and loves going toward the goal closest to the school.
“They love scoring in that goal. They have all season,” he said.
PVHS’ Brzowski and Tyler Wood received red cards after the game for verbally abusing the referees.