BAR HARBOR — Eight days after playing to a stalemate, the Mount Desert Island High School and Ellsworth High School boys’ soccer teams appeared headed for the same result on the same field.
After last Tuesday’s back-and-forth affair saw neither team gain the upper hand, MDI and Ellsworth were again deadlocked in a winner-take-all playoff game Wednesday.
With only the last dozen or so minutes remaining in this Northern Maine playoff battle, it appeared as if overtime or penalty kicks would be needed to determine which team would break the two-game stalemate.
Then, in a flash, Nick Dmitrieff changed everything.
Dmitrieff highlighted a hat trick with two second-half goals Wednesday to give MDI a 4-1 win over Ellsworth in the Class B North quarterfinals. The senior’s three tallies marked the first multi-goal game of his career and sent the Trojans to the regional semifinals for the first time in five years.
“I’ve never scored more than once in a game, so this is kind of amazing,” Dmitrieff said. “This is the playoffs, and it’s important to be able to step up when it matters.”
Sixth-ranked Ellsworth (5-8-2) got off to the better start to the game, possessing the ball in the attacking half and keeping the Trojans from making any noteworthy pushes toward goal.
The Eagles put significant pressure on the MDI defense through Tulas Weaver, who sent a shot just high of the crossbar with 19 minutes left in the first half.
Against the run of play, No. 3 MDI (11-2-2) took a 1-0 lead through Dmitrieff 15 minutes, 44 seconds before halftime. The goal came as Dmitrieff beat the Ellsworth defense on the right side of the 6-yard box and sent a rolling shot to the bottom-left corner.
Ellsworth continued to create scoring chances for the remainder of the first half, though, and the Eagles tied it less than five minutes into the second as Matt Reid’s well-placed header found the back of the net. The visitors continued their offensive onslaught over the next 20 minutes and nearly took the lead with 15 to play when Reid struck the football crossbar.
Yet with 12:17 remaining, MDI scored against the run of play a second time as Dmitrieff guided a loose ball in the penalty area into the back of the net to give the Trojans a 2-1 lead. Four minutes later, he bagged his third goal of the night with a long-range shot from the edge of the 18-yard box to the bottom-right corner.
“I had a chance like that last time we played Ellsworth, and I wanted to take advantage this time,” Dmitrieff said of his third goal. “I didn’t overthink it; I just shot it, and it went in.”
The Trojans scored their fourth and final goal with 3:29 play as Ieuan Howell fired a powerful shot into the top-right corner. That goal put the result beyond a shadow of a doubt and capped off a scoring barrage that MDI had been trying desperately to find.
“We spoke at halftime about how one [goal] wasn’t going to do it because one never does it,” assistant coach Max Mason said. “Playing a full game means playing a full 80 minutes, and we found a way to get those goals by playing MDI soccer.”
The Trojans will be back at home against No. 10 Foxcroft (9-7) on Saturday, Nov. 2. A time for that game has yet to be announced.
MDI and Foxcroft met once this season with the Trojans beating the Ponies 3-0 in Bar Harbor.
“We have great team chemistry right now, and we obviously want to keep going as long as we can,” Dmitrieff said. “It’s great that we’re playing our best soccer at the right time, and I’m glad I can be a part of it.”