Camden Hills girls claim KVAC Class B soccer crownWindjammer boys downed by Maranacook in tight league affair
Augusta — The four most talented and highest-ranked squads in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference's Class B met on the pitch Thursday afternoon, Oct. 17 to vie for league championships, and both games did not disappoint high school soccer fans as each contest featured motivated student-athletes looking to surge into the regional playoffs with an edge.
In the end, in games at the Capital Area Soccer Association fields, the Camden Hills girls and Maranacook boys claimed coveted conference titles, each earning 1-0 victories.
The Windjmmer girls bested Morse of Bath, while the Black Bear boys of Readfield edged the Camden Hills boys.
The third-seeded Camden Hills girls begin their quest for a regional championship Tuesday, Oct. 23, where they will host No. 6 Ellsworth (11-4) at 3 p.m. in an Eastern Class B quarterfinal. The Windjammers and Eagles do not face each other during the regular season.
Additionally, the second-seeded Camden Hills boys, also the reigning regional champions, will host No. 7 Hermon (6-5-4) Wednesday, Oct. 24, also at 3 p.m., in an Eastern Class B quarterfinal. The Windjammers and Hawks do not play each other in the regular season.
The following is a recap of both conference championship games.
The battle between the 'Jammers (13-2 overall) and Shipbuilders (12-2-1 overall) was a defensive affair with neither team wanting to give an inch and to take the rubber match of what proved to be three games between the clubs this fall.
In the end, it was a goal from Camden Hills' Lea Smith with 6:45 remaining, on an assist from Hannah Wincklhofer, that was the difference as Camden Hills clinched the league crown.
Rachel Pease made three saves in goal for Camden Hills, while Sadia Crosby made nine saves in net for Morse. Camden Hills outshot Morse 15-6, while the Shipbuilders led 4-2 in corner kicks.
"It feel great," said Camden Hills coach Meredith Messer on claiming the conference championship. "You always want your kids to reward themselves on a good season with a great game and going into the [upcoming regional] playoffs with a performance like that is certainly uplifting."
The teams were scoreless for much of the 80-minute affair, though the 'Jammers went on the offensive in the second half and finally broke through with time winding down in regulation.
"We were coming down and we switched the field and went to the far side and Hannah received the ball from Biz [Pree] and just served it over and Lea was right there on the far post and slid it by the keeper," said Messer. "It was a beautiful goal."
Morse bested Camden Hills 3-0 in Rockport Oct. 10, while the Windjammers earned a 3-2 win over the Shipbuilders Aug. 31, the first game of the regular season, at Bath.
Messer said her team changed its formation from its most recent game, which proved more effective against Western Maine's top-seeded team.
"They're very strong up the middle and their attack is in the center mid[field] up to the front line so we made some adjustments with that," she said.
As far as a letdown for the Windjammers going into the regional quarterfinals? Messer thinks her team has plenty left in the tank for a run deep in the playoffs.
"We want to go as far as we can into the postseason, but I think it's great to have those motivators as you go along," she said. "I'd rather be playing a game like this [going into the playoffs] than just a scrimmage where the girls aren't emotionally invested. They really had to dig deep and play hard today. Hopefully we can keep that going."
The Windjammers (11-2-2 overall) and Black Bears (12-0-2 overall) are two evenly-matched clubs and proved it again Thursday with their hard-nosed, gritty play against one another for the conference's richest prize.
In the end, the Black Bears found a way to crease the net to clinch the league crown.
The Windjammers also played without senior Trueman Moore, who suffered a knee injury prior to the game. His status for the regional playoffs is up in the air, said Camden Hills coach Ryan Hurley.
Maranacook's Zach Elwell scored the lone goal of the contest with 26:29 remaining in the first half.
"It was just a ball that got served in the box and it was bouncing around," said Hurley of Elwell's goal. "We didn't clear it and they knocked it in."
Both Windjammer goalie Marshall Spear and Black Bear keeper A.J. Freeman finished with seven saves. Maranacook outshot Camden Hills 11-7, while the 'Jammers held a slim 1-0 edge in corner kicks.
In the past two weeks, the Windjammers and Black Bears have played 190 minutes of soccer against one another, scoring only one goal. The two squads played to a scoreless, double-overtime tie Oct. 5 at Point Lookout in Northport.
"They've got some great kids and some great players," said Maranacook coach Don Beckwith of the Windjammers. "They play a lot of soccer and that really makes a difference."
"I think we're pretty even," said Hurley of the Windjammers and Black Bears. "I think if we played 10 times it'd be 5-5 or something like that. But hopefully both of us do a little better scoring in the playoffs so we can play longer."
After the game, in a show of respect, the two teams posed for a photo together. Hurley was the junior varsity coach at Maranacook for two seasons under Beckwith before coming to Camden Hills and has coached several of the Black Bear players.
"We're good friends," said Hurley of Beckwith. "We do a lot of things together and I think it's important for the kids to see that its O.K. to come out here, work your tail off, fight and battle really hard and then afterwards, let it go."
"I love him to death," said Beckwith of Hurley. "He's a good friend and a good coach. I think he's one of the best young coaches in the state. Camden [Hills is] lucky to have him."
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.