Oliver Johnston of the Mount Desert Island High School varsity boys’ soccer team looks to pass as Ellsworth’s Pedro Little-Siebold rushes to defend during the first half of a high school boys’ soccer game Sept. 18 in Ellsworth. MDI won the game 1-0. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Trojan soccer grounds Eagles

ELLSWORTH — Owen Mild had the chance to change his team’s season Monday night, and he took it.

Less than four minutes remained in the game between Mount Desert Island High School and Ellsworth, and overtime and a potential scoreless draw loomed large. The Trojans had had their chances to score, but so far, they hadn’t found the breakthrough.

Yet Mild, a senior for MDI, saw an opening. Ellsworth had left space down the right wing, and Mild made his way to the side of the box and dribbled toward the goal. With defenders sprinting back to close the gap, he took his shot.

By a matter of inches, the ball cleared diving Ellsworth goalkeeper Hunter Fernald. Mild pumped his fist toward the MDI fans in the crowd as his teammates jumped on his back and ran toward midfield to celebrate.

Mild’s winning goal with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left to play Monday gave MDI a much-needed win against its biggest rival. It was the first victory of the season for the Trojans, who had been on the losing side of several tight contests in the season so far.

“I can’t even describe how big this win was for us,” Mild said. “After all those losses, we were hungry for this. We wanted it so much.”

Although Ellsworth had a slight edge in possession, both teams had plenty of opportunities throughout the first half. The Eagles had the first chance of the game less than five minutes after the opening kickoff, but a big save kept the game scoreless early.

With 22:37 seconds to play in the first half, Ellsworth’s Sam Horne made a crucial clearance to send away an MDI shot that seemed destined for the back of the net. He was called into action once again three minutes later when he headed a hard-hit free kick away from goal.

An Ellsworth corner kick with 16:51 to play almost led to the opening goal, but a header from Zach Harris narrowly flew over the top-left corner of the net. The Eagles (3-3-1) came close to scoring twice more in the half via free kick, but it was to no avail.

MDI stepped up the offensive pressure in the second half. A long-range attempt by Nick Duley and a close-range attempt by Leao Nelson were saved in the center of the goal.

Ellsworth was on the offensive for much of the final 20 minutes, but with less than four minutes left, Mild took over.

“There was a lot of space in the 18[-yard box], and no one was in there,” Mild said. “I stepped in and saw the ball coming right to me, and I just let it rip.”

Right as the final buzzer sounded, Mild ran over to MDI’s bench to hug his head coach, Tyler Frank. For a team that had lost four of its first five games by a single goal, a win by that same margin against its No. 1 rival meant everything.

“We were 0-5 in the record [book], but as everyone saw tonight, we were better than an 0-5 team,” Frank said. “This team was so hungry for this, and we couldn’t have had a better game for everything to come together.”

Prior to last season, it had been over a decade since the MDI boys had beaten Ellsworth. The Trojans have now won two in a row against the Eagles dating back to last year, and the team will have a chance to stretch that streak to three when the teams meet in the final game of the regular season Oct. 16 in Bar Harbor.

“MDI played a tenacious defense, and I’ve got to hand it to them for how well their team played,” Ellsworth Coach Paul Lock said. “It came down to that one shot, and their player made it count.”

MDI’s next game is on the road against Presque Isle on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. The game will be the second part of a doubleheader for the boys’ and girls’ teams, the latter of which was scheduled to face Ellsworth on Tuesday.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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