Working overtime

By Mark Haskell | Oct 27, 2010

With my head on a swivel going back and forth, I do my best to take in the action from the soccer games going on around me. Amidst a sea of Camden Hills boys and girls soccer students, parents, teachers and fans, I was sure to miss something. There's no avoiding it.

I wouldn't say I drew the short straw in terms of game coverage Thursday afternoon, Oct. 21, but I certainly would have my work cut out for me. With Sports Editor Ken Waltz making the long trek to Rumford for the Georges Valley girls Mountain Valley Conference championship and sports reporter Fritz Freudenberger heading to Belfast to cover the Busline League field hockey championship, that left me heading to Augusta to cover the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship, where both the Windjammer boys and girls teams would be vying for their respective league titles.

Both games began at 3 p.m. on adjacent fields, roughly 30 yards apart.

The situation was ideal from a standpoint of taking photos. I could simply bounce back and forth from field to field, taking plenty of photos of both games, keeping notes on my tape recorder and giving both teams the most balanced possible coverage.

I began at the boys game snapping photos on the far end and caught the Windjammers' first goal when Malcolm Steele intercepted a pass in the Maranacook end and booted it past the keeper to put the Windjammers up a goal, then shortly thereafter moseyed over to the girls game to capture more action.

Windjammer Melanie Vangel (get used to hearing that name over the next four years) had a breakaway on the goalie, who then turned and took Vangel down, resulting in a penalty kick, which the talented freshman promptly buried. Both Camden Hills teams were up 1-0 at halftime.

In the second half the Maranacook boys and Leavitt girls responded, each scoring goals to tie the games 1-1.

Then with both games still knotted with less than 10 minutes to go, the thought dawned on me:

"What if both games go to overtime? What do I do?"

I'll be sure to miss something, I thought to myself. Someone's trophy presentation, someone's game-winning goal or the gleeful reaction of a handful of players. Something will surely fall through the cracks here.

Then, when both clocks hit zeroes, I made a phone call I didn't want to have to make.

My grandmother's birthday was scheduled for later that night, which I believe was her 15th or so consecutive 60th birthday party. I called my mother to let her know I would be late.

"Why?" she asked.

I explained to her I was covering two important KVAC championship games in Augusta, and that I would be there just as soon as I could.

"I don't know what a KVAC is but I can tell by your tone it's important," she said. "Just hurry up."

I still don't know how I became a sports fan with my two parents. Absolutely baffles me at times.

Regardless, now guilt-free with the approval of my mother (at 29 I have no idea why that is still important to me), I prepare to start shooting photos of both overtime contests.

I bounced back and forth from game to game and walked up to Camden Hills athletic director Bill Hughes, who was standing with principal Nick Ithomitis and boys basketball coach Jeff Hart, among others, perfectly positioned between both fields.

"This is brutal," I said. "There's no way I'm not going to miss something here."

They agreed and chuckled in unison, likely with glee that they did not face the same dilemma.

I then walked up to the end line of the boys game and began snapping photos. Then, in the distance, I heard it.

A whistle.

I turn around and at the other field, on the far side of the field mind you, is Vangel, lining up for a potential championship-winning penalty kick — her second penalty kick of the day.

"Noooooooooo!"

Not that I actively root for either team, but in this instance, and for my own selfish reasons, I hoped for a miss so I would get another opportunity to be there with my camera to capture the championship-clinching moment.

Unfortunately, in this case (for me, not the Windjammers), Vangel is very, very good at soccer. She buried it.

With the celebration officially on, I sprinted to the field to get as many celebration photos as possible and to get photos of the championship plaque being presented to the newly-crowned KVAC champs.

Once all the hoopla was at an end, one of the girls exclaimed to the others that it was time to run over to the boys game to cheer them on. After all, with all their own excitement, the girls probably weren't actually aware the boys were also in overtime. They sprinted to the other field, championship plaque in tow, to cheer on their schoolmates.

After arriving moments later to the same spot I stood just 15 minutes prior before looking over and seeing Vangel's game-winner, not 30 seconds after I returned, the boys celebration was on.

Steele put a shot on goal and as boys coach Ryan Hurley put it, Sam Predham "got a toenail" on the ball on the redirect, and almost in slow motion, the ball trickled into the goal for the game-winner.

Predham went down immediately with what later proved to be a cramp, but based on his initial reaction, and my limited capacity as a doctor, I diagnosed in my head as a season-ending injury as he clutched his leg in agony. His teammates rushed to him and crowded around, but moments later they began to jump and cheer in unison. Perhaps I should just stick to writing.

Regardless, given the gravity of both games and the amount of time I had to get everything I needed, I was pretty pleased with the way everything turned out. Two KVAC championship wins ending in the same score for two teams from the same school within 15 minutes of each other, both in overtime. Needless to say I'll remember this one for a while.

Just over an hour later I arrived at my parents' house, just a bit late for my grandmother's party. My mother met me at the door.

"What school is KVAC?" she asked.

"Ugh. Can I have some cake?" was my response.

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