Oxford Hills goalkeeper Sam Morton comes out of the net to deny Mt. Blue’s Sam Smith in first-half action at Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris on Tuesday. (Brewster Burns photo)
Mt. Blue goalie Xander Gurney, left, Oxford Hills’ Will Dieterich (13) and the Cougars’ Eli Yeaton (19) and Dominic Giampietro (16) leap for the ball in front of the Mt. Blue Net in the first half of a soccer game in South Paris on Tuesday.
PARIS — Oxford Hills never stopped harassing Mt. Blue, but when the Vikings made it a one-goal game around the middle of the second half, that goal was like a jolt of dark-roast coffee for the Cougars.
The Cougars knew a 2-1 lead was just too close for comfort, so they reeled off another three goals for a 5-1 victory on a warm Tuesday afternoon.
“We were creating chances all the way around,” Mt. Blue coach Joel Smith said. “I thought we had some chances at the beginning of the game.
“I thought (Oxford Hills’) Tommy Bancroft, he did a great job working on Sam (Smith), and they know each other from skiing. There is a little bit of rivalry there, but it’s friendly. I think that he did a good job and there was frustration on both sides.
“We were getting chances, but we weren’t finishing them. So that was frustrating us.”
The first half featured missed opportunities for both sides. Mt. Blue’s Finn Towle broke the ice with a goal thanks to an assist from senior Sam Smith at the 30:47 mark in the first half.
The Cougars’ one-goal lead held up through halftime.
The first 25 minutes of the second half was a rerun of the first half, with more stop-and-go action without a goal in sight.
“We had opportunities in the half,” Oxford Hills coach Matt Dieterich said. “We have got to convert those opportunities in the first half.
“It is the second game in a row when we outplayed the opposition, especially in the first half, had chances, but we don’t score. If we score first, the whole complexion of the game changes — they are on their heels and we probably get another goal or two along the way.
“So we are improved. I think it is going to be a good season. It is an experienced crew. We got a couple of dangerous players. They were both involved in that goal.”
Mt. Blue senior Chris Marshall shook up the game his goal on a Towle assist at 23:28 to make it a 2-0 game.
The Vikings struck back with their only goal of the game when senior center midfielder Will Dieterich decided to use his head to score with 17:20 left in the game. Senior stopper Spencer Strong picked up the assist on the play.
Dietrich’s header turned out to be the Cougars’ wake-up call.
Smith retaliated with his goal a little more than two minutes later on a Jack Murray assist. The Cougars could breathe a little easier with a 3-1 lead.
“I thought overall we stayed cool, for the most part, in the second half, which we did a little better than at Brunswick,” Smith said.
But the Cougars were on a tear and Marshall and Smith each drilled an unassisted goal to put the game well out of reach.
“I am happy that more guys got their hands in the pot, so to speak,” Smith said.
Mt. Blue defender Dom Giampietro keeps Oxford Hills’ Spencer Strong away from the ball during the first half at Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris on Tuesday. (Brewster Burns photo)