HERMON, Maine — With a showdown looming Saturday against defending Eastern Maine Class B champion Presque Isle, the Ellsworth boys soccer team might have been guilty of looking past Hermon on a crisp, red-sky Thursday evening at Pottle Field.
But that was nowhere near the case, as senior Matt Duhaime scored three goals and classmate Alex Emeigh dominated the midfield as the Eagles earned a 4-0 victory.
“That’s probably the best we’ve played for a whole game so far,” said veteran Ellsworth coach Brian Higgins, whose team is now 3-0 and has outscored its opposition by a combined 12-1. “We had a couple of sluggish first halves against John Bapst and Old Town, but tonight I think we played pretty well early and [Hermon] was good.
“I don’t know what happened in the second half, but they didn’t have the opportunities in the second half that they did in the first half.”
Ellsworth returns several key players from its 2008 team that finished 14-2-1 after dropping a 2-0 decision to Presque Isle in the regional semifinals, and all of them made significant contributions against a stubborn Hermon squad.
In addition to Duhaime and Emeigh, senior sweeper Brad Folmer anchored the defense while junior goalie Jordan Carter preserved the shutout with four saves on 10 Hermon shots before giving way to backup Justin Kane in the final minutes.
Ellsworth outshot Hermon 31-14 for the game, with Kane adding one save for the Eagles. Hermon goalie Justin Cullens made 12 saves.
Duhaime — who also had a hat trick against Hermon last year — opened the scoring 7:50 into the match. Freshman Josh Bean gained control of the ball on the right side about 30 yards out and fed it ahead to Kyle Haslam. Haslam dribbled the ball in and passed toward Duhaime at the near goalpost. The ball bounced off a defender and then across the goal crease, and Duhaime won the race to the loose ball and scored into an open net.
Hermon (0-2) countered with its best sustained play of the night, as Jesse Graham and Colton Gross were among the Hawks pressuring the Ellsworth defense.
But they were unable to break through, and Ellsworth extended its lead to 2-0 before intermission when Duhaime scored off a long, somersault-style throw-in from the left wing by Andrew Austin. Austin’s throw sailed into the goal crease, where Duhaime headed the ball off a defender near the far goal post and then scored on the deflection.
Emeigh quickly ended any hopes Hermon had of a second-half comeback, scoring 39 seconds after intermission on a blast from just beyond the 18-yard line.
The play began with a corner kick by Duhaime out to Haslam, who was confronted by a defender but noticed Emeigh just to his left.
“Kyle chested it down but didn’t have a shot so he laid it off to me and I shot it as quick as I could and luckily it went in,” said Emeigh.
Drew Barkhouse set up Ellsworth’s final goal with 22:23 remaining, gaining control of a Hermon clearing pass near midfield and feeding Emeigh, whose shot deflected off a defender and was redirected to Duhaime, who scored from close range.
The win sets up an early season battle of unbeatens between the last two Eastern Maine Class B champions, as Presque Isle also improved to 3-0 on Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over Fort Kent.
“We want to play tough against Presque Isle,” said Emeigh, who was part of Ellsworth’s 2007 Eastern B championship team. “That’s what we’re looking forward to right now, redeeming ourselves from last year.”
JV: Ellsworth 6-0