High school boys soccer

Wildcats escape Panthers' claws to spoil squad's unbeaten campaign

No. 7 York upsets No. 2 Medomak Valley in Class B South quarterfinal playoff game
By Ken Waltz | Oct 31, 2019
Photo by: Ken Waltz Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman, middle, cuts between York defenders on Oct. 30 in high school boys soccer at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle. The visiting Wildcats beat the Panthers 2-1 in a Class B South quarterfinal playoff game.

Newcastle — Seemingly, in the blink of an eye, under the glaring night lights, the Medomak Valley boys soccer team's lead — and continuation of an historic and unblemished season — was gone and the Panthers were left with one unsettling thought: What just happened?

What happened was an inspired second-half performance by York as the Wildcats wiped out a 1-0 halftime deficit and scored two goals in the final 20 minutes — including the winner with less than five minutes left — to oust the higher-ranked Panthers from the regional tournament.

The No. 2 Panthers (12-1-2) led No. 7 Wildcats (9-7-1) 1-0 at the end of a competitive first half and looked to maintain the upper hand and earn a hard-fought postseason victory.

However, despite a Starr (make that Aiden) performance by its goalie and many additional chances to score, the Panthers fell short 2-1 in a Class B South quarterfinal playoff game on the turf field at Lincoln Academy.

Watch video and see more photos below.

The game could not be played on the natural grass at Medomak Valley due to considerable recent rain that saturated the field and made it unplayable. Thus, the move to the turf field down Route 1 about 18 miles away.

Of course, one could make the case the change of venue — to the faster turf field that allows higher ball bounces and much faster rolls — benefited the fast, hard-nosed Wildcats, who also beat No. 10 Lincoln Academy of Newcastle 5-1 in a regional prelim encounter.

Thus, it also was interesting York beat visiting LA earlier in the playoffs, then traveled to that same school to play a different opponent in the next round, which also resulted in a victory.

With the win, York moves on to play at No. 3 Greely of Cumberland (9-2-4) in the semifinals.

For the Panthers, the most successful and one of the most memorable boys soccer regular seasons in the school's 50-year history came to an abrupt conclusion.

"After such a successful regular season it was a heartbreaking loss for the boys," said Medomak Valley coach Brian Campbell. "As coaches we reminded them how proud we are of them and all they have accomplished this season. We have areas to improve on for next season to be able to compete with the highly-skilled Class B South teams and we will work hard and remain focused on returning Medomak Valley to the postseason next year."

In Wednesday's playoff game under the lights, Will Smith scored on a header from Ian Doughty's cross just 4:55 into the game to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

For York, Josh Gennaaro, assisted by Dillon Brodsky, scored with 17:58 left in the second half to tie it 1-1 and Quenton Convery, unassisted, knocked home the game-winner with 4:33 remaining to stun the Panthers.

In the evenly-played, competitive contest, York held an 11-10 edge in shots and 3-2 advantage in corner kicks.

Aiden Starr turned into a tremendous all-around performance in goal and actually played a key role in keeping the Panthers in the game, with many acrobatic and leaping stops. He finished with nine saves, while York keeper Alex Neilson had 10.

Coach Campbell fully understood his squad would be in for a tough first-round match despite the standing and records of the opponents, given teams from southern Maine historically play tougher overall regular-season competition and seem to be highly-prepared for the toughest games in the playoffs

"Even though we played on a neutral field away from home, we had a tremendous turnout from the MVHS community, which helped keep the playoff atmosphere electric for the entire game," Campbell said. "We knew that York was a dynamic team who brings a high-tempo offense. We felt like we had a good game plan to slow their attack.

"As in a majority of our games this season, we were able to strike early on a designed play on a corner kick where Ian Doughty found Will Smith on the far post. We then were able to hold York scoreless for 63 minutes as they put constant pressure on our defense.

"Goalkeeper Aiden Starr was phenomenal in net making several incredible saves. But York continued to attack and after tying it up with 17 minutes to play, we surrendered the game-winning goal with four minutes remaining on a remarkable shot from Quenton Convery."

Also this fall, Medomak Valley won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title and Campbell was named the league's coach of the year, along with being the first Panther boys varsity soccer club to finish a regular season unbeaten.

York at Medomak Valley boys soccer
Medomak Valley hosts York on Oct. 30 in high school boys soccer at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle. (Video by: Ken Waltz and Zack Miller)
Medomak Valley's Parker Morrison. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Blake Morrison, left, and York's Tyler Rivers. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zack Winpenny, left, and York's Tyler Rivers. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
A bundle of players, including Medomak Valley's Patrick McKenney, middle, vie for the ball. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
A bundle of players, including Medomak Valley's Patrick McKenney, vie for the ball. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman, left, and York's Roan Spencer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman, left, and York's Roan Spencer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Parker Morrison, right, and York's Brian Kenealy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman, left, and Justin Mahoney, middle, among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jake Bickmore, right, and York's Dillon Brodsky. Panther Will Smith is back. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jake Bickmore, right, and York's Brian Kenealy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Arie Vannoy, with York team members behind on the sideline. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Aiden Starr in the middle of things. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman, right, and York's Roan Spencer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Justin Mahoney, middle, along with York's Brian Kenealy, left, and Gray Messersmith. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Justin Mahoney, front, York's Gray Messersmith. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Will Smith, right, and York's Brian Kenealy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zack Winpenney (22), Jake Bickmore (24) and Patrick McKenney (3), along with York's Dillon Broadsky. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zack Winpenney. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Will Cheesman. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Will Cheesman, right, and York's Gray Messersmith. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Coleman Swain, left, and York's Riley Cronin. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Will Cheesman, left, and York's Gray Messersmith. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Aiden Starr, middle. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Will Cheesman. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Will Cheesman. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Zach Cheesman, right, and York's Roan Spencer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ian Doughty, right, and York's Brian Kenealy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Coleman Swain, front. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ian Doughty, left, and athletic trainer Lynsey Carr. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
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