ELLSWORTH – The boys soccer teams from Ellsworth and George Stevens Academy committed a total of 39 fouls during their game at Del Luce Stadium on Wednesday evening, but only one of those violations mattered in undefeated Ellsworth’s 1-0 victory.
With 18:47 left in the first half, GSA sweeper Chris Baldwin briefly touched the ball after it took an off-kilter bounce in the GSA penalty area.
Ellsworth was awarded a penalty kick. Senior striker Darby Higgins, took the kick and drilled a hard shot past diving GSA goalie Andrew O’Neil for the game’s only score.
“It was the case of an unfortunate bounce,” sad GSA coach Dan Kane said.
GSA had several unfortunate turns in a game it desperately needed to move up in the Heal point standings in Eastern Maine Class B. The GSA Eagles of Blue Hill, now 7-5-1, are currently in ninth place and are battling for a playoff spot.
“They had enough cracks tonight, but we just couldn’t put any quality passes on the ball,” Kane said.
With 6:41 left in the first half, GSA had a chance to tie it up when a direct kick nicked keeper Ryan Conley’s hand and bounced off Ellsworth’s crossbar. Ellsworth defenders Mike Sirois and Jamie Maleck cleared the ball, but Conley said he was shaken up by how close GSA came to scoring.
“I guess I touched it just enough. We’re just lucky we had enough defense to clear it out,” said Conley, who shined in goal with six hard-earned saves on 14 GSA shots. Substitute goalie Victor Chan entered the game for a little more than two minutes when Conley left the game to clear his head after a collision.
“Darby is one of the best shots in the game, and if I can get his shots in practice, then it’s a boost and I know that I can save anyone’s shots,” Conley said.
O’Neil saved seven of Ellsworth’s 17 shots on goal.
If not for some of those shaky bounces and shots at the crossbar, the result could have been different. GSA defenders Baldwin and Dan Hemmerly-Brown were solid in the backfield and Josh Hatch was glued to Higgins for the entire game – the two almost got into a fight late in the second half when the elbows and pushing escalated.
“Josh Hatch did a great job,” Higgins said. “He didn’t leave me that much breathing room.”
In third-place with a 13-0 record, Ellsworth’s playoff spot is secure, and coach Brian Higgins said his Eagles are looking to improve their seeding and get some homefield games.
“The goal has been, ever since the first game, to try to get the best position we can and get as many home seeded playoffs we can,” Brian Higgins said. “We have an outside shot at a one or two seed. The kids know that.”
JV: Ellsworth 4, GSA 1