HAMPDEN, Maine — Early momentum could have evolved into frustration as scoring chances went unrewarded for the Hampden Academy boys soccer team Wednesday, but the Broncos merely kept applying pressure as the second half of their Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal against Edward Little of Auburn evolved into overtime.
Finally they converted, with senior Ian Miller scoring on a deflection off a defender with 32.6 seconds left in overtime to lift third-ranked Hampden Academy to a 2-1 victory over the sixth-seeded Red Eddies at the Weatherbee Complex.
Miller was running downfield along the right wing when he took a lead pass from Eric Babbitt, dribbled to the corner of the field and lined a crossing pass toward the goal crease that got past EL goalie Llewellyn Jensen before deflecting into the net off a Red Eddies defender.
“Eric Babbitt saw me making the run and their midfielder was behind me,” said Miller, “so he played the ball to me and I made the run to the end line, served it in front of the crease and [Hampden teammate] Tristan [Gardner] said a defender hit it into the net.
“I was just looking to service it, but I’m happy with the goal.”
Babbitt’s pass caught Miller perfectly in stride to set up the game-winner.
“I tried to free myself up in the middle of the field and I heard Ian calling and saw a seam through to him,” said Babbitt, a junior who was seeing extra duty in the midfield because of an ankle injury that sidelined senior Cooper Antone with 12:14 left in the second half. “We practice that a lot, and it worked out.”
Coach Josh Stevens’ Hampden club, featuring a vastly different roster from the 2011 team that reached the Eastern A final, is now 9-1-5 after avenging its only loss so far this fall. The Broncos advance to Saturday’s regional semifinals at No. 2 Lewiston, a 2-0 winner over No. 10 Lawrence of Fairfield on Wednesday.
Hampden and Lewiston played to a scoreless stalemate at Lewiston on Sept. 25.
Edward Little, which defeated Hampden 2-1 on Oct. 2, ends its season with a 7-7-1 record.
Hampden finished with a 23-10 shots advantage, with Zach Gilpin making six stops for the Broncos and Jensen credited with 14 saves — one on a penalty kick — for Edward Little.
“We knew we getting closer and closer,” said Miller of Hampden’s offensive edge. “We were getting the opportunities, and eventually we knew one would go in the net and it did.”
While Hampden was threatening fairly regularly only to be stymied by Jensen, the Broncos’ defense focused its attention on EL freshman standout Maslah Hassan. Hassan did score the Red Eddies’ lone goal, but his chances were limited throughout the second half and overtime.
“He’s the one who hurt us the last time even though he didn’t score any of the goals,” said Hampden junior defender Cameron Scott. “He set up their first goal and drew two penalty kicks, so we knew we had to defend against him this time.
“They’re a great team, but I think our defensive strategy worked out.”
Hampden took a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the match on a goal by junior Ben Foster. Foster was straightaway to the goal about 30 yards out when he took a pass from left to right by Antone.
Foster’s ensuing shot was a knuckleball that snuck into the net between Jensen and the right goal post.
Jensen came up big through the rest of regulation, stopping a penalty kick by Gardner with 20:49 left in the opening half and denying the Broncos’ sophomore standout again with 14:44 left in the second half after he redirected a pass from Dan Good from point-blank range toward the left side of the net.
Hassan scored the tying goal for EL with 17:57 left in the first half. The play began on a restart that teammate Zach Tannenbaum blasted toward the goal from about 25 yards out on the left wing. The shot caromed off a Hampden defender right to Hassan in the center of the field near the 18-yard line.
Hassan quickly shot the ball, driving it off the inside of the left goal post and into the net.
“It very well could have been 2-0 had that penalty kick not been saved, but we showed a lot of character in coming back and giving ourselves a chance to win the game,” said Edward Little coach Matthew Andreasen. “Unfortunately when you get into these sudden-death situations more often than not it just takes one mistake and we were the team to crack tonight.”