DOVER-FOXCROFT — It wasn’t quite desperation time.
But as the second half of Saturday’s Eastern Maine Class C boys soccer prelim between Foxcroft Academy and Piscataquis of Guilford began to wind down, the host Ponies weren’t certain they could overcome a 1-0 deficit.
“We couldn’t get any shots finished,” said Foxcroft junior striker Colby Bombero. “We had chances, we just couldn’t put them away. At the half we were wondering if we were going to get back into it. We knew we could, but whether we actually would or not and get a goal, we didn’t know.”
Finally, Foxcroft finished. Bombero and freshman H.P. Park each scored within a 64-second span to rally the eighth-ranked Ponies to a 2-1 victory over the ninth-seeded Pirates at the Harold Alfond Soccer Field.
“I was getting worried with about 20 minutes left,” said Foxcroft senior Joel Massa, who helped set up both Ponies goals. “We had to step this up, and I was getting mad at myself because I felt like I wasn’t playing to my potential because we were losing. I was glad Colby put that first one goal in the net, that gave us confidence.”
The win advances the Ponies to a quarterfinal rematch at top-seeded Fort Kent (10-1-3) on Wednesday. Fort Kent defeated the Ponies a year ago en route to the Eastern C title.
“Four hours away,” said Massa. “I can see Canada from my soccer field.”
Foxcroft and Piscataquis split two regular-season meetings, and that parity played out for much of the first half.
Piscataquis junior Dustin Yonkin scored the lone goal of the period 9 minutes, 12 seconds into the match. Teammate Devin Smith worked the ball deep on the left wing before grounding a centering pass that made it through the goalmouth to Yonkin, who was stationed at the far post about 15 yards from the end line. Yonkin settled the ball, moved toward the goal against a defender and then lined a sharp-angled shot back through the crease past diving Foxcroft goalie Kevin Leary and just inside the left goal post to give coach Tom Cyr’s club a 1-0 lead.
“That goal on the counterattack really took something out of us,” said Foxcroft coach Glenn Hodgkinson. “Guilford counterattacked well the whole day and we weren’t really alive to that and it affected our confidence.”
Foxcroft had its own chances later in the period, including a blast by Bombero off the right goalpost, but didn’t gain control of the play until after intermission thanks to the work of an effective Piscataquis defense.
“As players get more tired you get more space and time with the ball, and I think that suited our game a little more than it suited them,” said Hodgkinson. “We were always vulnerable to their counterattack, but I told the guys at halftime that if we were patient the goals would come.”
That patience was rewarded with 17:09 left in the match. Bombero gained control in the middle of the field and sent the ball to his left where sophomore Josh Bombero and Park both had chances to gain control. Finally the ball was sent back to the center of the field near the 18-yard line, where Colby Bombero gained possession, worked to his right and rifled a low shot past Piscataquis goalie Dylan Izbicki.
Park scored the game-winner barely a minute later, taking a long lead pass down the center of the field from Massa, working around a defender and scoring just inside the left post from about 12 yards with 16:05 to play.
“This is my first goal of the season,” said Park. “Even if I’m forward I couldn’t score for the whole season. I can’t believe it. I think I beat one defender, then I missed the ball but their defender couldn’t clear it so I just ran after it.”
Park, a reserve, has seen his playing time increase since Foxcroft lost starting striker Ethan Kelly — also a freshman — to injury earlier in the season.
Foxcroft (8-4-3) finished with a 26-22 shots advantage, 12-6 during the second half. Leary made eight saves to preserve the victory, while Izbicki made 12 stops for 7-7-1 Piscataquis.