ELLSWORTH — With its back line hounding Old Town striker Katie DeShane all over the Del Luce Stadium turf Friday night, the Ellsworth girls soccer team was waiting for someone to step up and provide some offensive heroics.
It was only fitting that in a match where the Eagles’ young defenders certainly earned their wings, freshman Katey Curtis swooped in and delivered the knockout punch.
Curtis scored on a breakaway with 23:35 remaining in regulation and Ellsworth’s defense held on from there as the eighth-ranked Eagles earned a 1-0 Eastern Maine Class B preliminary win over the No. 9 Coyotes on a chilly, breezy evening.
Coach Jen Myers’ club (9-3-3) will play top-ranked Caribou in a Tuesday quarterfinal while Old Town finished 5-6-4.
Caribou defeated Ellsworth 3-0 in their only regular-season matchup on Sept. 23.
Both clubs struggled to generate high-percentage scoring opportunities on this gusty evening, but when Curtis got behind the Old Town defense near the midway point of the second half, she took advantage.
The freshman midfielder headed a clearing pass near midfield, took a few dribbles, got past Old Town goalkeeper Annie Cashon and easily placed the ball inside the far post.
“One person cleared it and I just headed it and took it down,” said Curtis. “It was really important. We all worked together.”
The Coyotes’ best chance came just a few minutes later on a corner kick.
DeShane sent a perfect, arching ball into the box, which Ashley Abbott was able to eventually get a foot on, but the ball clanged off the crossbar.
That was one of few opportunities coach Chuck Neely’s club had, and as was the case in the Coyotes’ final two regular-season matches, a 2-0 loss to Hermon and 0-0 tie against Bucksport, Old Town couldn’t finish its chances.
“We had the wind against us the first half, we wanted it that way, we figured we’d take advantage in the second half. For whatever reason when we had our chances, we just did not finish,” Neely said.
Ellsworth, which tied Old Town twice during the regular season, was a bit relieved once Curtis’ shot found the cage.
“That was really important for us. We’ve tied this team twice, so getting a (win) against them is a big deal,” said senior back Holly Wadman. “We didn’t want it to stay 0-0 and have to go to overtime again.”
Wadman, Kaiti Kinney, Taylor White, Cristin Wright and Rachel Ball excelled on defense for the Eagles, with Kinney, a freshman, drawing the tough assignment of marking DeShane and doing a solid job of keeping her outside the penalty area.
“She did a really nice job,” Wadman said. “We didn’t let (DeShane) get many chances.”
Wright, a sophomore, was also able to set up some scoring opportunities for the Eagles with her flip throw-ins, which can be just as effective as corner kicks.
“We’ve been able to capitalize on those and we had our chances with them today,” Myers said. “She’s consistent with it now.”
The shots at goal were fairly even — Ellsworth had a 12-7 advantage in that department — and Myers figured it would be that type of a game.
“I figured probably just from our two matchups before, where we really match up pretty even,” she said, “it was going to come down to somebody getting a lucky break.”
Once they fell behind, the Coyotes pushed their attackers up, but the Eagles’ midfielders and backs were quick to 50-50 balls and didn’t let Old Town generate any serious threats.
Jessica Toothaker had four saves in goal for Ellsworth, while Cashon had five for Old Town.