ELLSWORTH — An unusual Senior Night setting gave the Ellsworth boys’ soccer team an added boost.
In a twist from a typical season, Ellsworth honored its 10 senior boys’ soccer players prior to Tuesday night’s season opener rather than the regular season’s final game. Fueled by the emotions of Senior Night and the urge to put an offseason lengthened by the pandemic behind them, the Eagles wanted nothing short of a complete effort on their home turf.
“We wanted to come out with a lot of passion,” Ellsworth senior Matt Reid said. “We’ve bonded really well, and with everything going on and us finally getting to play our first game of the year, we really wanted to show that.”
Ellsworth did no less in its season opener on a foggy, drizzly night at Del Luce Stadium. Now, the Eagles are hoping a strong showing can be the springboard for a season that, although relatively shorter, still has a chance to be a special one.
Ellsworth got off to a roaring start to its 2020 season Tuesday night with a 2-0 home win over Hampden Academy. The Eagles got goals from Reid and Pascal Poirier and limited the visiting Broncos to few scoring opportunities at the other end in the victory.
Less than five minutes after kickoff Reid produced the game’s first scoring chance after collecting the ball just inside the final third and maneuvering between two Hampden defenders. The senior then fired a winding shot over the goalkeeper’s head from distance to put the Eagles up 1-0 just 4 minutes, 27 seconds into the contest.
Controlling tempo and possession for the remainder of the first half, the Eagles (1-0) maintained their one-goal advantage going into the break. Then, with 28:12 remaining in the second half, Pascal Poirier scored from close range to double Ellsworth’s lead.
“I was going down the right side of the [18-yard box], and I knew I needed to power through because I had a guy right on me,” Poirier said. “I was able to get through to the ball, and when the keeper stepped up, I just poked it through his legs.”
The Eagles produced more scoring opportunities in the final 25 minutes but were unable to find a third goal. Yet the home team got a key save from goalkeeper Hunter Curtis on a free kick and kept Hampden from creating any real threats from open play down the stretch to notch a season-opening win.
Ellsworth head coach Paul Lock was more than pleased with team’s showing in the victory. Even when the Eagles weren’t producing chances on goal, Lock’s team was bossing the midfield, winning aerial battles and snuffing out the visiting Broncos’ few scoring opportunities.
“I was really proud of their effort and teamwork,” Lock said. “For the first game, it was great to see how they really come together. From the start of the game right up until the very end, they played together as a team.”
Fittingly, both of Ellsworth’s goals in this Senior Night win came courtesy of its senior captains. Whereas Poirier’s second-half goal gave the Eagles a relatively comfortable advantage, Reid’s opening tally set the tone for the home team to take command.
“If I’m being honest, I didn’t think I hit it hard enough for it to go in,” Reid said of his first-half strike. “Either way, I was just super excited. It was good for us as a team to get that first goal right away in the first game of the season.”
Ellsworth will play the first of three consecutive road games when it faces Bucksport at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1. The Eagles will then face Mount Desert Island at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 6, before facing Hampden in a rematch at that time next Friday, Oct. 9.
With no away fans allowed at games this season, Ellsworth players will have to navigate that difficult road stretch without their parents or fellow students present to support them. Yet if the Eagles can do so, they’ll be plenty confident as they fight their way through a season unlike any other.
“We’re definitely hoping we can keep this up for the rest of the season,” Poirier said. “We were pretty good all around tonight, and if we can keep moving the ball in the midfield and locking on defense, I think we can have a really good year.”
Bucksport boys, EHS girls lose openers
The Ellsworth boys weren’t the only local team in action Tuesday as the Bucksport boys’ and Ellsworth girls’ teams fell to one-goal defeats in their respective season openers.
Bucksport was host to the first soccer game of the season in Hancock County as the Golden Bucks (0-1) fell 2-1 to Bangor Christian. Jacob Brezovsky scored Bucksport’s lone goal with 8:14 remaining in the contest.
The Ellsworth girls (0-1) traveled to Hampden and fell 3-2 to the Broncos. The Eagles fought back from a 2-0 deficit with goals from Addi Laslie and Sierra Andrews before Hampden scored the winner in the final minute.
After hosting Ellsworth, the Bucksport boys will be on the road for a rematch against Bangor Christian at 4 p.m. next Friday. The Ellsworth girls are scheduled to play at home against Bucksport at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, and on the road against Mount Desert Island at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, Oct. 7.