Medomak Valley, Belfast provide late-half offensive fireworksPanthers earn 2-1 girls soccer win over Lions; Smeltzer, Kunesh, Lovejoy score goals
Waldoboro — For about 77 of Thursday afternoon's 80-minute pitch battle, Medomak Valley and Belfast stood toe-to-toe in a competitive, defense-dominated, late-season high school girls soccer game, but during a 2:30 span at the end of the first half, the Panthers and Lions exchanged offensive fireworks.
Three goals in less than a three-minute span to close the first 40 minutes were the only scores by the teams, which directly led to a 2-1 victory for the home-standing Panthers on Oct. 13.
Cassie Smeltzer and Hallie Kunesh scored for Medomak Valley and Olivia Lovejoy creased the net for Belfast. Interestingly, two of the goals were on set plays — direct and corner kicks.
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Medomak Valley continues to make a push to qualify for the playoffs and probably must win its final regular-season game at Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield on Tuesday, Oct. 18 to solidify a spot. If the Panthers lose that finale, the prospects of postseason play become more muddied.
In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Class B North, Medomak Valley (5-8, 27.6020 points) is 15th and Belfast (0-13, no points) tied for 19th. Waterville (14-0, 143.2143 points) is first in the 19-team region. The top 13 teams qualify for the playoffs.
At this point, Mount Desert Island (5-8, 29.2857 points) is 13th, the final playoff spot, as the Trojans hold a slim margin No. 14 Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft (4-8, 27.6531) over Medomak Valley.
Nonetheless, the five-victory Panthers and winless Lions battled hard through Thursday's game played under gray, threatening skies.
Chelsea Ripley and Shera Hilt played in goal for the Panthers and Lions, respectively. Both made several strong saves, as Hilt had the tougher shots to face. Both teams had similar shots and corner kick totals.
Smeltzer gave the Panthers a 1-0 advantge with 2:36 left in the first half with a rocket shot past Hilt. But no sooner had the hosts' celebration ended then Lovejoy knotted the game 1-1 with a sweet corner kick that sailed directly into the net. The kick came from Ripley's right and sailed over her outstretched hand and curled into the far corner.
That goal celebration also was short-lived as Kunesh tallied the game-winner on a direct kick from about 35 yards straight out on a ball that sailed over Hilt and into the net. There was 14.4 seconds remaining in the half.
The teams continued to have scoring chances in the second half, with a few more opportunities by the hosts. However, Belfast had a golden chance to notch the equalizer in the final minutes, but Panther Gabby DePatsy made a key player-save on a shot away from screened Ripley in heavy goalmouth traffic.
Medomak Valley also handed the then home-standing Lions a 2-1 loss on Sept. 8.