Windjammers work overtime to pass rugged Mariner testBlackwell lifts Camden Hills with game-winner in second overtime
Rockport — No matter how well it is playing entering its annual homecoming game, the Camden Hills boys soccer squad always seems to be involved in tough, one-goal affairs — that include dramatic endings — during that particular contest, and this year proved no difference.
The only difference was this year's opponent, Oceanside of Thomaston/Rockland, pushed the Windjammers to the brink before Camden Hills rallied for a hard-fought, 2-1 double-overtime victory on rain-soaked Don Palmer Field.
Oceanside looked for several things Saturday afternoon, Sept. 22 — namely to record a win over perennial state championship contender Camden Hills to spoil the Windjammers' homecoming festivities and halt the hosts' impressive regular-season unbeaten streak or, worse case, to forge a tie to secure a bundle of important tournament Heal Points.
When all was said and done, the visiting Mariners experienced none of those things as the Windjammers again found a way to win, something they have done often during coach Ryan Hurley's tenure.
At last year's homecoming, the Windjammers fell behind 2-0 midway though the first half — the first time the team had surrendered goals all season through 11 games — before sailing to a 6-2 win over Maine Central Institute. At the 2010 homecoming, the Windjammers earned a 2-1 win over Winslow to stay undefeated, with a Sam Predham goal with 1:01 left in regulation proving to be the difference.
"Frankly, I think I'm going to start boycotting homecoming," said Hurley. "Since I've come here we've come out and just not done what we needed to do now for three years in a row. I don't know what the deal is. But, fortunately, we got hungry the last 15 minutes and we made it happen."
Camden Hills has not lost a regular-season game in Hurley's two-plus seasons. That unbeaten mark stands at 35 games, as the Windjammers are 33-0-2 during the regular season under Hurley's direction. In the postseason, Camden Hills has advanced to the regional or state final the last two years.
So Oceanside players, coaches and fans understood a road victory in Rockport would be a big deal and help shoot the Mariners into stronger playoff position.
But the Windjammers spoiled Oceanside's plans.
On Saturday, the visiting Mariners took a 1-0 lead at halftime before Camden Hills rallied for the tying goal early in the second half and then notched winner late in the second five-minute overtime.
Alex Blackwell, on an assist from Kienan Brown, gave the host Windjammers a happy ending with the game-deciding goal with 2:05 left in the second OT. Camden Hills had tied the game 1-1 when Peter Vannorsdall creased the net with 38:02 remaining in the second half.
Oceanside grabbed a 1-0 advantage with a goal by Chrisitan Straka, assisted by Drew Townsend, with 20:59 remaining in the first half.
Philip Atwood (12 saves on 15 shots) played in goal for Oceanside and Marshall Spear (11 saves on 12 shots) in net for Camden Hills. The Windjammers held a 6-2 edge in corner kicks.
"I thought we competed well today," said Oceanside coach Josh Mahar. "I think that was the best we've played all year. We're young and we've got a lot of things to work on, but I feel we can keep working hard and hopefully we'll get some more wins."
Hurley was upset with his players at the end of the first overtime and let them know about it between periods.
"At the end of the first overtime there was six seconds left and guys are just walking around," Hurley said. "I just said, 'Guys I've been in games before that we've won with three seconds on the clock.' You can't quit until the last whistle blows. And that's the way we want to play and thankfully they got after it after that."
The game was a highly-competitive, back-and-forth affair, with both squad having plenty of scoring chances. But Blackwell's goal with time winding down in the contest proved to be the difference.
"[Kienan] worked the ball down the sideline, got around and got to the endline and played the ball across [the field]," said Hurley. "It was a beautiful cross and Alex … the ball was up by his head but he settled [it] and he finished it."
After Saturday's game, in the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B, Camden Hills (6-0-1, 41.9643 points) is first and Oceanside (3-4-1, 9.3750 points) ninth in the 18-team region. The top 12 teams qualify for the playoffs.
In seven games this season, the Windjammers have outscored opponents 18-3, with five shutouts. Camden Hills also has a scoreless tie with Winslow.
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