ELLSWORTH, Maine — For freshman midfielder Jack Gallagher of Camden Hills Regional High School of Rockport, getting his first high school goal felt great.
It also proved to be opportune as he booted home a loose ball 1:23 into overtime to power the defending champion Windjammers to a 2-1 upset of top-seeded Ellsworth in the Eastern Maine Class B boys soccer final Thursday.
“That was my first one. I can’t believe it myself,” he said with a big smile across his face.
“If we go into overtime, we always step up and win that game,” said Camden Hills’ senior midfielder Colin Morse, who scored the goal that eventually sent the game into overtime.
The Windjammers of Rockport (14-1-2) will take on West champ Falmouth (12-3-2) for the state title at 3 p.m. Saturday in Scarborough. That’s a rematch of last year’s state game won by Falmouth.
The winning goal at chilly Del Luce Stadium came off a long throw-in by Peter Vannorsdall from the right sideline.
“Originally, the goalie [Steve Mahon] jumped and got the ball, but someone hit it out of his hands,” said Gallagher.
Despite the fact he hadn’t scored all year, Gallagher never hesitated.
“It came to me right in front of the net and I just kicked it,” said Gallagher, who converted from 12 yards out.
His kick hit the underside of the crossbar and came down just inside the net, but it was enough.
“Soccer is a game of breaks, and it was their break tonight,” said longtime Ellsworth coach Brian Higgins.
“They’ve been through a lot of adversity this year,” said Camden Hills coach Ryan Hurley. “The guys really rise to the occasion. It was pretty awesome.”
The Eagles (15-2) opened the scoring when senior midfielder Josh Bean drilled a direct kick into the upper right corner out of the reach of ’Jammer goalkeeper Marshall Spear 6:14 into the game.
Ellsworth attempted several times to increase its lead. Bean was the Eagles’ go-to man on throw-ins, and his long tosses into the goal area gave Ellsworth its best chances at a second goal.
With 9:50 left in the first half, he tossed one into the box which Spear but dropped, but one of his backliners cleared it. Five minutes later another Bean throw-in hit the ground and sophomore forward Anthony Gardner tried to bump it in. He missed and Spear grabbed the ball.
Three minutes after that, Bean threw one in from in front of the Camden Hills bench. Senior midfielder Maks Grover, who was facing Bean, got low to try to redirect the ball with his head, but it sailed over him right to Spear.
Camden Hills tried a different approach to the game in the second half. The ’Jammers started booting the ball out of their defensive end as quickly and as far as possible. If they could get control again, they would then work plays.
“I feel like we carried the play over the last 20 to 30 minutes,” Hurley said. “And we limited [the Eagles’] opportunities in the [penalty area].”
Still, Grover made a clear run at Spear from the left side with 10:48 left in regulation, and Spears was able to deflect it past the goal on the right.
The Windjammers finally got on the board on Morse’s hard shot from inside the goalie box off a goalmouth scramble with 7:56 remaining in regulation.
“It was a scrum. I just happened to be there,” said Morse. “I kicked it as hard as I could.”
The ball zipped into the left side of the goal.
“Right before that, I was really calm,” said Hurley. “I said, ‘We’re going to score.’”
When the goal came moments later, he wasn’t so sure it was going to happen.
“I kept thinking they were going to clear it,” said Hurley, “and they didn’t.”
“It just kept pinging around,” said Morse.
Camden Hills picked up a couple of more tries and Ellsworth had another good one in the closing minutes of regulation. None connected, and time ran out, setting up Gallagher’s kick.
Higgins, whose teams have won a state-record 522 games, was understanding about the loss.
“It was a game of restarts both ways,” he said. “They’d get a throw-in, we’d get a throw-in. They’d get a corner kick, we’d get a corner kick.
“They just got the knock-in.”
Camden Hills’ Spear finished with six saves on 11 shots, while the Eagles’ Mahon made five saves on 11 shots.
“Both goalkeepers kept their teams in the game,” said Higgins.
Gallagher just took a little peek ahead to Saturday.
“I’m ready to beat Falmouth,” he proclaimed.