ELLSWORTH, Maine — It’s not a good sign for any soccer team when barely a minute into a game it’s already lamenting the goal that might have been.
Fortunately for Camden Hills of Rockport, senior Zach Pitcairn was able to cash in on one of the subsequent opportunities that came his team’s way, and then the second-ranked Windjammers used their defense to win their third straight Eastern Maine Class B championship Wednesday evening by outlasting top-seeded Ellsworth 1-0 in a battle of unbeatens at Del Luce Stadium.
The win advances coach Ryan Hurley’s club (16-0-1) to Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. state final at Hampden Academy against Western Maine champ Greely of Cumberland Center.
Camden Hills will enter that match hoping to end the West’s run of consecutive state titles in the division since Ellsworth last won it all in 1993.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time and it hasn’t happened yet,” said Hurley, whose team fell to Falmouth in each of the last two state championship games. But we’re excited.”
Pitcairn’s goal came with 16:56 left in the first half.
Teammate Jack Gallagher lined a left-footed cross from near the sideline on the left wing toward the far goal post, from where Eric Blohm headed the ball over a defender to Pitcairn, who waited for Ellsworth goalie Steven Mahon to come toward him before popping the ball over his head and under the cross bar for what turned out to be the winning goal.
“It was a little scrappy out there. We were trying to send balls in and they were clearing them out,” said Pitcairn. “I was just hanging out in the box behind the last defender and Eric got me a perfect ball between the ’keeper and the defenders and they didn’t know what to do. I had a defender on my right and I saw the goalkeeper coming out and just touched it over his head.”
The goal — just the fifth allowed by Ellsworth this season — came after a period of fairly sustained offensive pressure by the 15-1-1 Eagles, though Camden Hills had the best bid of the early going less than a minute into the match.
That came on a quick counterattack when Colin Morse was sent in on Mahon with only a defender to his right. Morse was able to muscle the defender far enough away to launch a hard, low 18-yard bid toward the right post, but Mahon made a diving save.
“Steven for sure kept us in the game early,” said Ellsworth coach Brian Higgins. “If they had scored in that first minute it could have been a long day.”
Neither Mahon (11 saves on 15 Camden Hills shots) nor Camden Hills goalie Marshall Spear (10 saves on 21 Ellsworth attempts) was forced to come up with many highlight-reel saves, though Ellsworth did find a second offensive wind midway through the second half.
Many of Ellsworth’s late chances stemmed from re-starts, either corner kicks or long throw-ins by senior midfielder Sid St. Peter.
“I wish we hadn’t sagged off in the last 20 minutes,” said Hurley. “We just backed it in and allowed them to get into that space … but [Ellsworth] pushed hard.”
But the Camden Hills defense, including backs Jonah Cameron, Tristan Fong, Matthew Crockett, William Bracher and Gallagher, protected Spear well and limited the direct bids against him.
“It was a pretty good defensive game,” said Higgins. “We had three or four half-chances, I call them, and they probably had about the same. It just didn’t happen for us. There were quite a few knockarounds, but in the game of soccer sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.”