BAR HARBOR — After closing out the regular season with a tense battle, the Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island boys’ soccer teams have unfinished business.
Try as they might, neither Ellsworth nor MDI could gain the upper hand Tuesday night in a back-and-forth battle at Mount Desert Island High School. With nothing separating the two sides, the Eagles and Trojans are set to do it again next week — and this time, someone will have the last laugh.
MDI and Ellsworth played to a 1-1 draw in Tuesday’s regular season finale in Bar Harbor. The result forced a Class B North playoff showdown between the two teams, which will meet on the same field next week with a regional semifinal berth on the line.
“It’s a hard-fought game every time it’s Ellsworth and MDI, and it was tonight, too,” Ellsworth senior Sam Holler said. “We lost to them the first time and tied them this time, and now we get to see who decides it.”
After the two teams started the game on level footing, Ellsworth (5-7-2) forced the MDI defense into action seven minutes after kickoff with a dangerous cross into the 18-yard box. Yet the Trojans cleared the threat, and the home team took a 1-0 lead just two minutes later as Leao Nelson beat the offside trap and fired past the Eagles’ Mason Tupper from close range.
Ellsworth, though, would find an equalizer minutes later. The tying goal came as a shot from Tulas Weaver deflected off of MDI goalkeeper Nate Philbrook’s hands and fell to Holler, who scored on an open net with 26 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the first half.
“It was just right place, right time,” Holler said. “Tulas made a great run, and after the ball came off their goalie’s hands, it was right there for me.”
MDI (10-2-2) nearly regained the lead with 13 minutes left in the first half, but a diving save from Tupper kept the score level. Although the Trojans had two decent scoring chances in the final minutes of the half, the Ellsworth defense held firm to keep the Trojans from adding a second goal.
Ellsworth put heavy pressure on the MDI defense midway through the second half but was unable to find the final touch needed for the go-ahead goal. The Trojans then came away empty on three scoring chances toward the end of regulation, and the game ended in a stalemate after neither team could find a winner in overtime.
For sixth-ranked Ellsworth, the result capped off a four-game unbeaten run to end the regular season. The Eagles got off to a slow start to the year but entered Tuesday’s game in form after beating Presque Isle, Maine Central Institute and Hermon.
“We’ve had adversity in various sectors, but what our players are doing now is playing as a team and playing for each other,” Ellsworth head coach Paul Lock said. “You can see in their eyes that they trust each other and know what they can do.”
Third-ranked MDI, which beat Ellsworth 3-0 when the teams met Oct. 2 at Del Luce Stadium, saw its streak of six consecutive victories snapped with the draw. Yet the Trojans remain unbeaten since Sept. 17 in what’s been one of the program’s strongest seasons in years.
“We’ve been working hard since preseason workouts in July, and being able to see the growth as a team has been wonderful,” assistant coach Max Mason said. “It’s always your goal to keep playing as long as you can, and the season that we’ve had gives us that chance.”
The teams’ Class B North quarterfinal showdown is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Bar Harbor. The game will be the first playoff matchup between the two teams since Ellsworth beat MDI 3-0 in the 2011 Eastern Maine quarterfinals.
The winner will advance to face No. 2 Winslow (11-2-1), No. 7 Waterville (7-7) or No. 10 Foxcroft (7-7) in the regional semifinals later next week. A chance to earn an offseason worth of rivalry bragging rights and move within one win of a regional title game appearance is sure to light fires between both teams as they prepare for a do-or-die battle.
“What anyone’s done up to this point doesn’t matter now,” Mason said. “Everybody is 0-0, and you’re only guaranteed one more game. We’ll have the week to prepare, and it’ll be a good opportunity for both of us.”
Sumner completes unbeaten regular season
The Sumner boys’ soccer team completed the first undefeated regular season in program history with a 7-1 win Tuesday over Lee Academy.
With the win, Sumner improved to 13-0-1 on the season and clinched the No. 1 seed in the Class C North playoffs. The Tigers will host either No. 8 Houlton (6-5-3) or No. 9 Narraguagus (8-4) in the regional quarterfinals Wednesday, Oct. 30.
George Stevens Academy, the No. 4 seed in Class C North, will take on fifth-ranked Washington Academy (10-3-1) in the quarterfinals. The time and date for that game have been announced.