Game Report by Jeremy Durost
MARS HILL — Penobscot Valley High School of Howland captured the Class D North boys soccer championship on Wednesday night, beating host Central Aroostook 3-2.
The Howlers (16-1) will play South winner North Yarmouth Academy (15-2) in Saturday’s state title game in Bath.
Penobscot Valley which lost to CAHS in the semifinals a year ago, is making the program’s first trip to the state game since 1991. The Howlers have won 15 in a row.
The Howlers came out fast and scored only a minute and a half into the game. Reece Carter’s shot attempt from outside the 18 was blocked by defender Ethan Pryor, but the rebound bounced off another defender right to Grant Kidon’s feet near the penalty kick line. After sidestepping a few defenders, he shot past ‘keeper Brayden Bradbury.
Both teams had good chances as a low liner by Brad McKechnie of PVHS deflected by Bradbury’s fingertips and then off the post. The Central Aroostook duo of Hunter Wardwell and Ben Thomas had some good opportunities as well.
At the 11-minute mark in the first half, Wardwell found some daylight and sent a hard shot to goalie Elijah Wood’s right. Wood was able to deflect the ball, but left wing Samuel Rowe was there to stuff it into the net.
Less than three minutes later, CAHS struck again. This time it came on a penalty kick after Howlers sweeper Bradon Blish collided with Wardwell. Ben Thomas took the PK and put it just out of reach of Wood’s hands. The hosts led 2-1 at halftime.
In the second half, the Panthers had the better of the play for the first 10 minutes, but Penobscot Valley started to get better looks on net. Kidon struck again at the 21-minute mark as he took a pass from Zach Doore, made a move to the left, and scored over Bradbury’s head to tie the game.
Less than three minutes later, the Howlers were awarded a corner kick. Zach Doore sent the corner toward the back post and Reece Carter headed the ball toward the opposite corner, just over sweeper Lane Grass’s attempted header, giving the Howlers a 3-2 lead.
With under three minutes to play, Bryan Anthony of CAHS fired a hard shot from just outside the 18. Wood made a diving stop, but the ball trickled behind him, slowly bouncing toward the goal line. Wood quickly got up and pounced on the ball before it crossed the line as Panther players converged on him.
For Central Aroostook, which finished at 16-1 and was the regional runner-up for the second straight year, Brayden Bradbury made 5 saves on 12 shots for the Panthers, who finished as Northern Maine runner up for the second year in a row.
Elijah Wood stopped 8 of 14 shots for PVHS.