ROCKPORT, Maine — The Camden Hills boys soccer team hadn’t needed many late rallies while playing its way to the last two Eastern Maine Class B championships.
This season similarly has been void of such scenarios — until Tuesday when the Windjammers refused to shrink from just such a challenge during their Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference battle of the unbeatens against Maranacook of Readfield.
After falling behind midway through the second half, Camden Hills used a goal by senior Zach Pitcairn with 8:46 left in regulation to earn a 1-1 tie with the Black Bears at Don Palmer Field.
“We talk a lot about enjoying those kinds of situations, and the kids really rose to that occasion,” said Camden Hills coach Ryan Hurley. “After (Maranacook) scored you could see everyone getting excited instead of getting down, and the last 20 minutes we were pretty much in their half.”
The result leaves the Windjammers with an 11-0-1 record with regular-season matches remaining against Waterville and Lincoln Academy of Newcastle.
Maranacook, now top-ranked in Western Maine Class C this fall after dropping from Class B by enrollment after last season, is 11-0-2.
These teams were expected to battle for KVAC supremacy regardless of their classification this fall, and the reasons for those expectations were visible during a hard-fought yet precision-packed 90 minutes of play that included two scoreless five-minute overtimes.
“This game was pretty physical,” said Maranacook senior Alec Daigle. “Coach (Don Beckwith) had watched them a few times so we kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into.”
Maranacook outshot the Windjammers 7-5 over the first 40 minutes, and its quickness seemed even more pronounced early in the second half.
The Black Bears finally capitalized on that effort with 22:26 remaining when Daigle headed a long throw-in from the right wing by Taylor Wilbur over Camden Hills goalie Marshall Spear and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
That adversity served to motivate Camden Hills, which generated some sustained offense throughout the remainder of regulation time.
“Every time we fall behind, we just know what we have to do,” said Camden Hills senior midfielder Peter Vannorsdall. “We do a lot of work in practice where our squad will be down a goal and have to score two goals in five minutes. It’s a practice scenario we just have to perform in the game.”
The Windjammers nearly scored the equalizer with 16 minutes left when Yani Stancioff gained control behind the Maranacook defense with only goalie Brad Worster in his way, but a quick one-on-one shot sailed over the cross bar.
But the territorial advantage was rewarded several moments later.
Vannorsdall’s throw-in from the right wing was skimmed through the goal crease but Jake Davee was able to track the ball down before it crossed the end line beyond the far post. Davee then lined a sharp-angled cross back through the crease and past Worster to Pitcairn, who headed the ball into the open net to tie the match.
It was just the third goal of the year allowed by Maranacook, which entered the match with 10 shutouts already this fall.
“It’s good to get a playoff-type game in against a physical team that plays clean, hard soccer,” said Hurley, whose team has now outscored its opposition 70-5 this season. “We would have liked to win, but they don’t really give up goals so for us to get one back was good.”
Camden Hills finished the match with a 14-13 shots advantage, with Spear making six saves for the Windjammers while Worster had three stops for Maranacook.