HAMPDEN – Maranacook High School senior forward Alex Tooth netted the eventual game-winner a little over five minutes into the opening half and the Black Bears clamped down defensively to coast to the Class C boys soccer state championship on Saturday at Hampden Academy.
Maranacook (16-0-2) junior forward Kodey Solmitz would add an insurance marker five minutes into the second half for the 2-0 victory over the Madawaska Owls.
“It’s awesome. Coach wanted this — he’s been waiting for this,” Tooth said. “We’ve never had a state championship for this school. To do it this year — I couldn’t have dreamed of doing it with a better group of guys. It was amazing.”
The Black Bears controlled the game from the opening tap until the Owls (16-2-0) evened up the play in the last 10 minutes. Madawaska senior goalkeeper Tim Deschenes made two huge stops in the opening half, one of the diving variety on a free kick two minutes in to keep it scoreless and the other on a corner kick around the 27-minute mark to keep the Owls within one.
Tooth’s tally came after a scramble inside the 18-yard box pulled Deschenes out of position, allowing the striker a clear look at the goal around the 6-yard box.
Madawaska senior forward Ian Lee, who holds the schoolboy state record for goals scored, was held in check for most of the match.
“We put some of our best athletes on him and he still created some stuff,” Maranacook head coach Don Beckwith said. “He’s a heck of a player. He’s definitely one of the better players in the state.”
Although his touches were limited, Lee still managed to produce the Owls’ best chance of the match after he drew a free kick from 25 yards out with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Lee’s kick, however, was deflected into Maranacook senior netminder Brad Worster’s arms to preserve the shutout.
“I thought we played really good defense,” Beckwith said. “I was impressed with the way we marked. We were pretty organized. We should’ve had a couple more goals I think, but I don’t think we gave up many opportunities, especially around the 18 [yard box].”
“We just lost to a better team today. It was a very well-played game, but we got the short end of it,” Madawaska head coach Dean Gendreau said. “I would have liked to possess a little bit better. We had the ball in the air a lot more than I would’ve liked. If we could’ve grounded the game a little more we might have been able to do a better job.”
Madawaska managed to produce two more quality chances in the closing moments of the half but could not find the back of the net.
The Black Bears retook the momentum in the second half thanks to some suffocating defense that held the Owls to just one shot on net the entire 40 minutes.
Solmitz’s goal came on a rebound chance after senior Taylor Wilbur’s shot was saved by Deschenes. His shot ricocheted off the far post before crossing the goal line to give the Black Bears some breathing room at 2-0.
Maranacook held a 12-4 advantage in shots on goal and a 7-2 edge in corner kicks.