Overtime thriller: Belfast nips Mount View in end-of-season classicWaldo County rivals appear poised to meet in preliminary playoff
Thorndike — The regular-season finale between the Mount View and Belfast boys soccer teams literally had it all.
High drama between two rival Waldo County high schools, a hat trick, two penalty kicks, a backup goalie, a late goal in regulation and a game-winner in the second overtime all played a part in the thrilling campaign-ending contest Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 16 on a rain-soaked field in Thorndike.
And it appears the Mustangs and Lions may not have seen the last of each other this fall, with the postseason a few days away.
On Tuesday, the Mustangs rallied to knot the game three times during the contest, but Belfast's Ryan Rice found the net with 4.9 seconds remaining in the second five-minute OT as the Lions avenged their earlier loss to Mount View with an exciting 5-4 win on senior night in Thorndike.
Yanni Rakis played a part in all five Belfast goals Tuesday, notching three goals and adding two assists in the victory. Tyler Baker and Rice also creased the net for the winners, while Cristian Williams and Jake Levangie-Thompson both added assists for the Lions.
Lorenzo Milani had a goal and an assist for the 'Stangs, while Trevor Diemer, Jack Simpson and Kyle Crowell all creased the net and James Philbrick added an assist for the hosts.
"It's really a testament to both teams," said first-year Belfast coach Kevin Coombs. "I have so much respect for Mount View. They continue to play. They were down two, they came back and tied it, we went ahead, they came back. It was back and forth the entire game."
"Today's game had the feel of a playoff atmosphere," said Mount View coach Chris Hink. "Two teams fighting for a home playoff game. There is no better soccer when both teams play with the intensity that was displayed today. Whenever we play Belfast there is always a level of excitement that makes you want more. You could tell that both teams wanted it. We will learn a lot from this game and we know we have our work cut out for us from here on out."
Mount View had beaten Belfast 6-1 in a game earlier this season in Belfast.
While the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Eastern Class B are not final, as of Tuesday night, Belfast (8-4-2, 79.0179 points) is eighth and Mount View (9-4-1, 76.7847 points) ninth. If those seeds hold, the Lions will host the Mustangs in a preliminary playoff game, likely on Saturday, Oct. 20, time to be determined.
On Tuesday, Baker not only scored a goal for Belfast, but also turned away four of seven shots late in the game, when Lion keeper Sam Kulikowski was forced to leave the game after colliding with a Mount View player with 8:21 remaining in regulation.
The Lion defense staved off three straight corner kicks midway through the second overtime, including a rocket shot from Milani that was stopped by Baker, to set up Rice's late-game heroics.
"I don't know too many keepers that make that save," said Coombs. "That kept us in the game."
On the deciding goal, Rakis served the ball up the left side to Rice with time winding down in the second OT and Rice booted the ball across the box. The ball kissed the far post and crossed the line for the winning goal.
"It was a great run by Yanni and it just deflected off one of their players and I just happened to be there and hit it in for us," said Rice.
A senior, Rice said Tuesday's game is not the only time the Lions have played down to the wire in overtime against the Mustangs.
"We've been through that experience before," he said. "Same thing happened last year where they tied it up to go to overtime and they beat us in double-overtime at our field [late in the season]. So it feels good to get it back on [their] senior night."
Kulikowski made seven saves on 18 shots in goal for the Lions before leaving the game, while Mikey Hustus made 11 saves on 23 shots in net for the Mustangs. Mount View led 7-2 in corner kicks.
Kulikowski's status for the postseason is uncertain.
The Lions took a 1-0 lead early in the first half when Baker put a shot on goal from the right side that Hustus made a terrific diving, one-handed save on, which Hustus consequently deflected into the middle of the box to the unmarked Rakis, who scored with 29:50 remaining.
Belfast added another score on a goal from Baker, but Mount View rallied to tie the game on consecutive penalty kicks from Diemer and Milani with 9:39 and 6:14 remaining in the first half, respectively.
Rakis and Simpson then traded scores in the second half before Rakis scored again with 21:21 remaining in regulation to put the visitors up by one goal.
Then, with time winding down, a Mustang player served the ball into the box, which was dug out by Crowell on the left post, and he popped it past Baker with 1:04 left in regulation to force the OTs.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.