HERMON — The high-scoring striker is now the goalie, while the veteran center midfielder is the striker.
Such are the adjustments not atypical to a young soccer team, but for Hermon High School those changes produced success Wednesday evening as Taylor Gross scored the only goal of the match and Kevin Frederick made seven saves to earn the shutout as the Hawks edged Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor 1-0 in a Class B match at Pottle Field.
Hermon is now 2-2-2 on the season, while MDI dips to 2-2-1.
“We are a very young team, and we’re getting significantly better every time out,” said Hermon coach Scott Deabay, whose roster boasts as many freshmen — four — as seniors. “I think the second half of the Ellsworth game [Monday] was the turning point of our season. We lost 2-0, but the kids came out and played well and played the full 80 minutes, and we did that again tonight.
“We had a few defensive lapses, but the goalie came up with a couple of big saves and really saved us.”
That goalie, Frederick, scored five goals in his team’s first two games this fall, but when Hermon needed to shore itself up defensively, the goal scorer became the goal stopper.
The junior wasn’t tested that often by MDI thanks in part to the work of a defensive tandem that included junior sweeper Braddock Deabay and sophomore stopper Nick Carle, but Frederick did punch a shot by MDI’s Sam Burr over the crossbar with 29 minutes left in the match, and three minutes later he made a close-range save on Trojans’ striker Dennis O’Neill.
Then with eight minutes left, Frederick blocked away a straightaway 25-yard direct kick by Ben Steel to thwart MDI’s last best scoring chance.
“Kevin’s a real trooper,” said coach Deabay. “He has probably the hardest foot I put out there, but I have some young goalies coming up who will be ready next year and he’ll be able to go back to striking then, but we just needed somebody for this year and he’s stepped up. Every game he’s getting better, too, because he hasn’t played goal since junior high.”
Hermon finished with a 15-11 edge in shots, building up most of that advantage after intermission.
MDI — a similarly youthful team with just five seniors — got off to the quicker start, with O’Neill, Steel and Nick Shaw among those applying offensive pressure.
“They kept pounding it in on us for the first 20 minutes but then they pulled a couple of their strikers early on and we picked up momentum from there,” said Braddock Deabay. “They were fast but we just tried to clear the ball out to give our offense some chances.”
Gross, the converted midfielder, had the two best scoring chances of the opening half. A long goal kick by Frederick sent the Hermon senior in just ahead of the defense, but his grounded shot from the left side rolled just wide of the right post with 16 minutes left.
A moment later, freshman Jacob Rioux passed ahead to Gross for a straightaway shot, but this time MDI goalie Richard Helmke was able to knock it away.
Gross finally broke through with 32:03 left in the match, gathering the ball near midfield and dribbling through several defenders before lofting a shot into the upper right corner of the net.
“I got it at half and drove it past a few guys and tucked it in the corner,” said Gross.