ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth boys soccer team used 65 minutes of dominant play to build a three-goal lead against Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor on Wednesday evening.
The Eagles then hung on for the final 15 minutes of play, withstanding a two-goal comeback by the Trojans to salvage a 3-2 victory in a Class B matchup at Del Luce Stadium.
Junior Nick Holt scored two goals and classmate Kyle Haslam added a goal and an assist as coach Brian Higgins’ Ellsworth club improved its early season record to 3-0.
MDI dips to 2-1.
Ellsworth outshot MDI 19-4 in the opening half while building a 2-0 lead, but that lead might have been greater but for eight saves by MDI goalie Richard Helmke and two more saves by defender Sam Burr as he turned away headers by Ellsworth that were otherwise destined for the back of the net.
“I think we played a lot better in the first half,” said Ellsworth senior midfielder Andrew Austin. “We definitely had a lot of throw-ins and corner kicks and a lot of good shots on goal.”
The Eagles took the lead just 94 seconds into the match, when Holt sent Haslam down the left sideline with a long lead pass and Haslam then maneuvered past an MDI defender before scoring with a sharp-angled shot inside the near goalpost.
“We look for spots like that open inside the 18 to get good shots off, and I saw Kyle open and I knew if I got it to him he’d get off a good shot.”
Austin’s long, cartwheeled throw-ins gave Ellsworth several other scoring opportunities, but MDI held on defensively until just under 11 minutes left in the first half.
Sophomore Josh Bean lofted a centering pass from the right wing that Haslam was able to skim behind him with a header — right to Holt near the far post, from where he headed the ball into the left side of the goal.
“We go over that in practice,” said Holt. We have a lot of taller guys in the box in those situations, and this time I let [Haslam] take it and I went to the other post and followed it right in.
“I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, but it’s something we do in practice every day.”
Ellsworth seemingly broke the game open 93 seconds into the second half when Holt scored from the goal crease on the rebound of a shot by Bean from just to the left of the goal.
The Eagles continued to control the play until MDI struck suddenly on a counterattack with 14:43 remaining as sophomore Chris Clemens blasted a shot from just beyond the 18-yard line on the right side inside the left goal post.
The Trojans made it a one-goal game less than three minutes later, with senior Jake Jordan heading in Burr’s long throw-in from the left wing.
“I thought we played a lot better in the second half,” said MDI coach John Rosenfeld, whose team was minus one of its top playmakers in senior forward Dennis O’Neil, who was injured in the Trojans’ win over John Bapst of Bangor on Monday.
“We really went to the ball, and once we started doing that better things happened for us. I’m really pleased that after getting down 3-0 we didn’t give up. A lot of teams in that situation will just pack it in, but we didn’t. They continued to play hard, and I give the kids a lot of credit for doing it and getting us back into it.”
Ellsworth finished with a 33-10 advantage in shots. Jordan Carter made five saves for the Eagles, while Helmke made 13 saves and Audyn Curless two for MDI.