For the third straight season, the Camden Hills Regional High School boys soccer team was so close to winning a coveted state Class B championship that the Windjammers could literally taste it. Then, like a cruel joke being told over and over, an opponent pulled the mouthwatering, gold-plated, seemingly-delicious dish off the table.

Thus, the previously-unbeaten Windjammers suffered their first loss of the season at the most heartbreaking time — in the state finale.

That happened Saturday night, Nov. 9 when the best of the West and East battled for the coveted high school state pitch crown on the fast artificial surface at cold, blustery Hampden Academy — and, ultimately, got a late start doing it.

That did not stop, however, a common, annual theme from playing out. In fact, history continued to repeat itself — and the Windjammers, undoubtedly, are beginning to dislike that subject.

For Camden Hills, the quests Saturday night were straight forward: To win a gold ball that had eluded the Windjammers the previous two seasons and do something no Eastern Maine team had done since 1993.

Eastern champion Camden Hills battled Western titlist Greely of Cumberland for 80 tense, competitive minutes in a game that was suppose to begin at 5:30 p.m., but started much later when the girls state finale went to overtimes and penalty kicks, as Cape Elizabeth beat Waterville 2-1.

In the nightcap, the boys state championship game, Greely made an early goal hold up en route to a 1-0 victory to dash the Windjammers' title hopes for third straight season.

Click for photos from the state championship game.

Camden Hills finished 17-1-1 overall, including winning the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship. Greely finished 14-2-2.

"Three years in a row, twice on the same field. It's devastating," said Windjammer senior captain Peter Vannorsdall. "I don't know. I'm trying to look at the positives right now but they're all clouded by this loss. We played a hell of a season and it was a hell of a game. Greely's a great team, it just came down to one goal."

Four minutes into the contest, Jacob Nason scored what would, to perhaps everyone's suprise, turn out to be the game-winner. Ranger Aidan Black stole the ball at midfield and quickly touched the ball to Nason in the right corner. Windjammer goalie Marshall Spear initially came out to cut off the angle and then doubled back, but Nason put the ball over the defense from 15 yards as the ball snuck between Spear and the near post.

"There may have been a little miscommunication [on the goal]," Vannorsdall said. "Marshall was a little hesitant [and] his angles may have been off. But he more than made up for it on the penalty kick save [later in the game]."

"I'm bummed out for the seniors," said Windjammer coach Ryan Hurley. "These guys worked hard. A few of them have played in this game three years in a row. They deserved to win, but it doesn't always happen."

Hurley praised Nason for his individual effort and lamented the fact the Windjammers, who scored with ease in most games this fall, could not put a ball in the back of the net when it matter most.

Camden Hills outscored opponents 96-10, with nine shutouts (including the league championship game), this fall.

"Nason's a fantastic player," the coach said. "He had somebody on him and he really had no angle, he was falling over sideways and he ripped the ball. That was a heck of a shot … It was a rope. It was a fantastic shot. In the end you've got to score goals to win and we didn't score any goals."

There were not many quality scoring chances for either team during the game. However, Spear did make a diving stop of a penalty kick by Greely's Matthew Crowley with about 10 minutes left in the second half. A Ranger player was tripped at the top of the box for the penalty.

Crowley ripped the penalty kick to Spear's right and the senior keeper made a stellar diving save and also got a hand on a second-effort shot attempt by Greely as Spear knocked the ball out of bounds to set up a corner kick.

"Every time someone makes a noticeably great play it obviously rallies the troops," Vannorsdall said of Spear's save. "And our fans were great. On every play we were trying to salvage some sort of energy … but I think, at the end, we were just gassed."

"We caught [Greely] on their heels a little bit after [the penalty kick] and that was cool," Hurley said of his team's effort to score the equalizer down the stretch. "We didn't quit. There's no quit in these guys."

Thus, for the final 76 of the 80-minute game neither team could crease the net. Official shots on goal, corner kicks and keeper saves were not compiled.

"I thought we came out pretty hard [and] we were playing well for a while," Hurley said. "Obviously they got the quick goal early [and] that was a little bit of a heartbreaker, but I thought we responded well. We had some really good possessions in the next 20 minutes of the game. I think we just didn't quite get the ball to the wings and the areas that we needed to and we kind of got away from our game plan a little bit."

"We were prepared for them," Vannorsdall said. "Coach did a great job scouting them. We knew where their key players were. I thought it was a pretty even game."

Camden Hills also played in the previous two state championship games, but lost a pair of 2-1 battles with Falmouth, which has since moved up to Class A.

Western squads have had a stranglehold on the state Class B gold ball since Ellsworth won the title in 1993 over Marshwood 2-0. Since then, it has been all Western Maine – Falmouth eight times, Yarmouth six times, Marshwood and York both twice and Scarborough, and now Greely, both once.

Interestingly, this year's two state finalists were the second seeds in their respective regional tournaments, eventually upending the top-ranked squads.

The Rangers bested previously-unbeaten and top-seeded Yarmouth (13-1-3) 2-1 in the Western regional final on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The same day, Camden Hills outlasted No. 1 Ellsworth (15-1-1) 1-0 in the Eastern regional championship.

Greely outscored foes 44-10, with 12 shutouts, this season. The Rangers lost to Kennebunk 2-1 and Yarmouth 4-1, and tied Yarmouth 2-2 and York 0-0, during the regular season.

Earlier in the Western playoffs, Greely bested No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester 3-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 3 York 1-0.

In this year's postseason, the Windjammers beat Maranacook of Readfield 3-1 in the league title game, then, in the regional tournament, defeated No. 7 Erskine Academy of South China 4-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Winslow 4-1 in the semifinals.

Under the guidance of fourth-year coach Hurley, the Windjammers are 64-6-3 overall.

Camden Hills has never won a boys state soccer title, but the former Camden-Rockport High School won the 1991 state crown (2-1 over Yarmouth) under the direction of Don Palmer, for whom the current school's soccer field is named. CRHS also lost in the state final to York 2-1 in 1990 and to Marshwood 1-0 in 1995.

Greely has won a bundle of state titles in Class A and B. In Class A, the team won in 2007 (1-0 over Brunswick), 2004 (3-2 over Hampden Academy), 1998 (5-1 over Hampden Academy), 1992 (2-1 over Ellsworth) and 1979 (1-0 over Madawaska). In Class B, the team won in 1974 and 1975.

Recent Windjammer playoff history

For the fourth straight season, Camden Hills played for the Eastern Class B championship. The Windjammers won the previous two regional titles, including beating Ellsworth last year, while losing to the Eagles in the finale three years ago.

In 2012, Camden Hills was 11-1-2 during the regular season and ranked second. Camden Hills lost to Maranacook 1-0 in the KVAC title game, then beat No. 7 Hermon 4-0, No. 3 Winslow 2-1 in overtime and No. 1 Ellswoth 2-1 in overtime in the regional playoffs. The Windjammers then lost to Falmouth 2-1 in the state final.

In 2011, the Windjammers were 14-0 and ranked first, won the league title, then downed No. 9 John Bapst of Bangor 4-0, No. 5 Mount View of Thorndike 2-0 and No. 3 Presque Isle 1-0 in the regional playoffs, before falling to Falmouth 2-1 in the state championship game.

In 2010, Camden Hills was 14-0 and ranked second, won the league title, then downed No. 7 John Bapst of Bangor 5-2 and beat No. 3 Presque Isle 1-0 before falling to No. 1 Ellsworth 3-2 in the regional final.