ROCKPORT, Maine — Lea Smith was doing everything but trying to score during the final seconds of the first half Tuesday.
That the Camden Hills junior wasn’t trying made the result of her work all the more stunning, an accidental yet perfect shot that gave the third-ranked Windjammers the breathing room they needed to hold off No. 6 Ellsworth 2-1 in an Eastern Maine Class B girls soccer quarterfinal at sun-splashed Don Palmer Field.
Smith’s goal with 5.8 seconds remaining in the opening half, which gave Camden Hills a 2-0 lead, came on a kick from about 35 yards away along the left wing.
The high-arching shot sailed toward the far goal post beyond the reach of outstretched Ellsworth goalie Jessica Toothaker and nestled just under the crossbar in the upper right corner of the net.
“I was just trying to get the ball out of the zone,” said Smith. “I just kicked it and it went into the goal. It was a total accident.”
The goal proved devastating in the short term for Ellsworth, which needed much of the second half to regroup before mounting some consistent offensive pressure late in the match.
“I think that with so little time left in the half often times people forget we’re still in the game and we mismarked,” said Eagles’ coach Katye Lacasse. “We didn’t mark and it was a beautiful shot, and unfortunately that hurt morale a little bit.”
Camden Hills mounted several threats early in the final period including two by senior midfielder Kristina Alex, who caromed one shot off the crossbar and later sent another attempt just over the net.
Windjammers’ sophomore goalie Rachel Pease made the save of the match with three minutes left, rising to block away a dangerous 20-yard bid by Ellsworth’s Emily Berry bound for the upper right corner of the goal.
Katey Curtis finally scored for Ellsworth with 10.9 seconds remaining, but the clock ran out on the Eagles and Camden Hills (13-2) earned a berth in Saturday’s semifinals against the winner of Tuesday’s match between No. 2 Hermon and No. 7 Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.
“The first half was very much a good indicator of what we’re capable of doing,” said Camden Hills coach Meredith Messer, “As always, when you’re ahead by two you kind of sit back on your heels a bit so I thought we could have put together a better second half, but all that matters is you score one more than the other team.”
Ellsworth outshot Camden Hills 12-11, with Pease making five saves for Camden Hills and Toothaker making six stops for Ellsworth.
Ellsworth (11-5) opened the match with some fairly consistent offensive pressure, including some threatening long throw-ins by Berry and Cristin Wright.
But Camden Hills took a 1-0 lead with 32:24 left in the first half when Cailand Sweeting — one of 11 seniors on the Windjammers’ roster — drilled a straightaway 20-yard shot just beyond Toothaker’s outstretched right arm into the left side of the net.
Camden Hills then maintained that advantage until Smith supplied some accidental offense just before intermission.
“I’ve been after the girls all year to just put the ball on frame because you don’t know what will happen, and Lea was just trying to put the ball on frame,” said Messer. “Nobody could have stopped it.”