ELLSWORTH — Looking to conjure up a late goal, Lelia Weir put the ball where only her teammate could reach it.
Less than four minutes remained in Thursday’s game against Ellsworth when Weir, a sophomore midfielder on the Mount Desert Island girls’ soccer team, stepped up to take a corner kick. Spotting her teammate, Daisy Granholm, 30 yards away, Weir put her right boot to the ball and sent it flying toward the middle of the 6-yard box.
Had Weir’s kick been even 3-4 inches higher, it would’ve soared over Granholm’s head; had it been 6 inches lower, Ellsworth goalkeeper Kayla Duhaime would’ve gathered the ball with ease. Instead, it flew squarely onto Granholm’s forehead, producing a wide-open header to break open a game that seemed destined for a scoreless draw.
Weir and Granholm’s connection with 3 minutes, 44 seconds left to play Thursday gave MDI a 1-0 win over Ellsworth at Del Luce Stadium. The goal stretched the Trojans’ winning streak to nine games with the regular season reaching the home stretch and playoff time approaching.
“That was the perfect goal,” MDI head coach May Dow said. “Lelia takes great corner kicks, and she was able to get it to the exact spot where Daisy could head it [into the net]. It was two awesome players making an awesome play.”
Ellsworth got the first major scoring opportunity when Sara Shea was fouled in the penalty area inside two minutes, but the game remained scoreless as Addi Laslie’s penalty kick went inches wide of the left post. Laslie made amends at the other end of the pitch moments later, though, as she snuffed out a promising MDI attack that nearly put Granholm in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper.
Midway through the opening half, Duhaime was forced to leave the game temporarily after suffering a minor injury. Yet she returned after just five minutes to make a pair of key saves, and the Eagles (5-6) were able to withstand MDI’s remaining first-half scoring threats to keep the score level going into the break.
MDI (10-1) forced Duhaime into another save in the opening minutes of the second, but the next 20 minutes belonged to Ellsworth as the home team controlled possession in the midfield and threatened offensively through junior Lexi Rossi. Yet the Trojans survived the Eagles’ barrage through solid goalkeeping from Sabine Costello-Sanders and were able to go back on the attack in the final 10-15 minutes.
“We started winning more balls and started pushing forward,” Weir said of the Trojans’ resurgence late in the second half. “The time was starting to wind down, and we had to show how much we wanted it.”
MDI put the ball in the back of the net with six minutes left to play, but the goal was nullified as the Trojans were called for a handball. Yet the visitors got another opportunity when an Ellsworth clearance behind the goal line set up the deciding corner kick, and neither Weir nor Granholm let that chance go to waste.
The game-winner marked the 35th goal of the year for Granholm and the 16th assist of the year for Weir. The two have formed one of Class B North’s deadliest attacking tandems this season with every one of Weir’s assists to date going to Granholm.
“I love playing with Daisy,” Weir said. “She’s been such a difference maker for us this year. She’s a great player and a great captain for our team.”
The 77th-minute goal marked the latest opening score for MDI all season. Ellsworth’s use of Laslie and Sawyer as part of a back three instead of as attackers gave the Eagles the speed needed to mark Granholm, who was nearly held scoreless for the first time this year.
“Those girls are great soccer players,” Dow said. “They have a lot of speed, and with the knowledge of the game they have, they can play back there and do very well. They did a great job of marking Daisy.”
The game was Senior Night for Ellsworth’s Silvana Diaz, Marissa Havey, Alicia Kelly, Audrey Ward and Emma Whitney. The 10th-place Eagles will play on the road against Maine Central Institute (6-5) at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14.
MDI will face No. 2 Hermon (10-0) on the road at 1:30 p.m. Monday. That game will have plenty on the line with the Trojans aiming to avenge their only loss thus far and Granholm needing just two goals to set the team’s single-season record, but the primary task, Dow said, is for MDI to play the Hawks tougher than it did Sept. 9.
“When we played Hermon down [in Bar Harbor], we didn’t give them our best game,” Dow said. “We had a few moments in that one where we broke down, and they capitalized. Our girls are ready to step up this time and give them a battle.”