ELLSWORTH — Undefeated and untied teams are a rarity in Maine's schoolboy soccer world this fall.
The Ellsworth Eagles remained one of just two teams statewide still boasting an unblemished record Wednesday evening, using two second-half goals by Cote Card to fend off stubborn John Bapst of Bangor 2-0 on Senior Night at Del Luce Stadium.
The win leaves coach Brian Higgins club at 13-0 with just its regular-season finale at Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor next Monday separating the defending Eastern Maine Class B champions from regular-season perfection. Calvary Chapel of Orrington, at 11-0 the top-ranked team in Eastern D, is the state's only other unbeaten and untied club.
"It's very important," said Ellsworth goalie Jordan Carter, who made four saves to preserve the Eagles' 10th shutout victory of the season. "Not only for an undefeated season, but because we have a chance to go No. 1, which is huge for getting home field throughout the playoffs."
That quest did not go unchallenged by a John Bapst team seeking to secure one of the final playoff berths in Eastern B. The Crusaders (6-6-1) frustrated Ellsworth during a scoreless first half, with sophomore goalie Adam Strang coming up big on several occasions, before the Eagles finally converted twice after intermission off a pair of restarts.
"Coach Higgins is one of the best coaches in the state hands down, and on set pieces his guys know where they are going at all times," said John Bapst coach Sean Smith, whose team is now ranked eighth in the division — nine advance to the playoffs — with a road game remaining at No. 10 Hermon on Friday. "They've got a sick lineup, athletic as all heck, and they boot and chase, they possess, they do whatever they need to do and they don't change their game for anybody.
"But I thought we played well. We possessed the ball as well as we can, and Adam played out of his mind in goal."
Card scored the first goal of the match 5:47 into the second half from a scramble in the goalmouth after a corner kick by teammate Jake Jordan. Jordan's kick was headed toward the left goal post by teammate Andrew Austin, and Card was in position to gather in a deflection and score from just outside the goal line.
"Andrew headed it and it hit a player and bounced in front of me and I just kicked it in," said Card, one of seven Ellsworth seniors honored before the Eagles' final home game of the regular season.
Ellsworth padded its lead 11 minutes later as Card skimmed a header just inside the right goal post after receiving a long flip throw-in by Austin from the left wing.
Card barely made contact with the ball — a fact that was disputed by the John Bapst coaching staff.
"I definitely got it," said Card, "but it was close."
Ellsworth finished with a 26-8 shots advantage, with Strang making 13 saves for John Bapst.