Ellsworth’s Sam Holler and Mount Desert Island’s Nick Dmitrieff battle for the ball during the first half of a high school boys’ soccer game Oct. 22 in Bar Harbor. MDI and Ellsworth drew 1-1 to force a playoff rematch at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Bar Harbor. ISLANDER PHOTOS BY MIKE MANDELL

MDI, Ellsworth play to 1-1 draw

BAR HARBOR — After closing out the regular season with a tense battle, the Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island High School varsity boys’ soccer teams have unfinished business.

Try as they might, neither MDI nor Ellsworth could gain the upper hand Tuesday night in a back-and-forth battle at MDI. With nothing separating the two sides, the Eagles and Trojans are set to do it again next week.

MDI and Ellsworth played to a 1-1 in Tuesday’s regular season finale in Bar Harbor. The result forced a Class B North playoff showdown between the two teams, which will meet on the same field next week with a regional semifinal berth on the line.

After the two teams started the game on level footing, Ellsworth (5-7-2) forced the MDI defense into action seven minutes after kickoff with a dangerous cross into the 18-yard box. Yet the Trojans cleared the threat, and the home team took a 1-0 lead just two minutes later as Leao Nelson beat the offside trap and fired past the Eagles’ Mason Tupper from close range.

Minutes later, Ellsworth would find an equalizer. The tying goal came as Tulas Weaver’s shot deflected off of MDI goalkeeper Nate Philbrook’s hands and fell to Holler, who scored on an open net with 26 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the first half.

MDI (10-2-2) nearly regained the lead with 13 minutes left in the first half, but a diving save from Tupper kept the score level. The Trojans had two decent scoring chances in the final minutes of the half, but the Ellsworth held firm.

Ellsworth put heavy pressure on the MDI defense midway through the second half but was unable to find the final touch needed for the go-ahead goal. The Trojans then came away empty on three scoring chances toward the end of regulation, and the game ended in a stalemate after neither team could find a winner in overtime.

MDI, which beat Ellsworth 3-0 when the teams met Oct. 2 in Ellsworth, saw its streak of six consecutive victories snapped with the draw. Yet the Trojans, who saw seniors Oliver Blank Shane Bonilla, Nick Dmitrieff, Ben Hulbert, Trevor Morrison and Nate Philbrook recognized for Senior Night, remain unbeaten since Sept. 17 in what’s been one of the program’s strongest seasons in years.

“We’ve been working hard since preseason workouts in July, and being able to see the growth as a team has been wonderful,” assistant coach Max Mason said. “It’s always your goal to keep playing as long as you can, and the season that we’ve had gives us that chance.”

The teams’ Class B North quarterfinal showdown is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at MDI. The game will be the first playoff matchup between the two teams since Ellsworth beat MDI 3-0 in the 2011 Eastern Maine quarterfinals.

The winner will advance to face No. 2 Winslow, No. 7 Waterville or No. 10 Foxcroft in the regional semifinals later next week. A chance to earn an offseason worth of rivalry bragging rights and move within one win of a regional championship game appearance is sure to light fires between both teams as they prepare for a do-or-die battle.

“What anyone’s done up to this point doesn’t matter now,” Mason said. “Everybody is 0-0, and you’re only guaranteed one more game. We’ll have the week to prepare, and it’ll be a good opportunity for both of us.”

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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