LIVERMORE FALLS — Some boys’ soccer teams would be overwhelmed by the thought of needing to beat two higher-ranked rivals, on back-to-back days, just to make the playoffs.
Not Livermore Falls, in part because the Andies have been in catch-up, win-or-else mode ever since they ripped September’s page off the calendar.
“We’ve been watching it. I hate point chasing. We shouldn’t even be in this predicament to begin with,” said Livermore Falls coach Bill Acritelli. “There are some games that we should’ve had, but we’ll take it.”
Livermore Falls stayed alive Monday afternoon, scoring twice in the first half and hanging in by its nibbled fingernails for a 2-1 Mountain Valley Conference victory over Telstar.
Pat Ryan and Henry Seideler each scored off a corner kick for Livermore Falls (7-5-1), which avenged a 5-3 loss last month in Bethel.
Now comes a trip to Dixfield today for a rescheduled regular-season finale against Dirigo. Win or tie, get some help and the Andies might make the eight-team Western Class C quarterfinal field. They entered Monday outside the loop at No. 11 in Heal Points.
“It feels really good to see the improvements we've made,” said Tom Bizier, whose defensive work helped Livermore Falls stave off a steady stream of Telstar scoring opportunities in the second half. “We’re really coming together and can get it done now.”
No. 7 Telstar (8-4-2) saw its four-game unbeaten streak snapped and now must await the outcome of several games, including Livermore Falls-Dirigo, to learn its playoff fate.
Daniel Vaughn gave the Rebels a chance when he scored with 15 minutes remaining. Elek Pew delivered the assist after Tyler Brown gained possession in the Andies’ defensive zone.
Brown had a good look at the potential equalizer with six minutes left. Livermore Falls goalkeeeper Ethan Hutchins dove to the left post and tipped the ball over the end line for one of his 14 saves.
Zach Vigue cleared the ball out of harm’s way for Livermore Falls after the resulting corner kick.
Pew rattled the crossbar late in the first half and Nick Mills repeated the feat shortly after intermission for the Rebels. Mills’ shot was one of a dozen unanswered shots by Telstar to start the second half.
“That’s the way the bingo bongos this year,“ said Telstar coach Greg Luetje. “Sometimes the breaks don't go your way. I thought for sure we’d be able to put in more than a couple in the second half with our offense. We found the bars instead of that nice sound of the net.”
Bizier, Seideler, Ryan and Keith Jewett shone defensively under constant duress for Livermore Falls. Telstar enjoyed a 21-6 advantage in shots for the second half and 31-13 overall.
The game was marred by a brief scuffle with 4:51 left. Ryan left the game with a twisted left knee for the Andies.
Brown was issued a yellow card and Mills a red card for the Rebels. The ejection means that Mills would not be eligible for Telstar’s first playoff game, if his team advances.
“I think they were all just kind of jumping in and a lot of them were grabbing jerseys,” Luetje said. “I’m not condoning it or saying that it was right, but I think a lot more people were involved and we got a short shake on that one.”
“It’s too bad it had to end that way,“ Acritelli said. “It got a little physical toward the end, but my boys kept their head like they’re supposed to do.”
Livermore Falls used Seideler’s speed in the midfield to nurse its lead to near-perfection.
The Andies had two legitimate scoring chances in the first half and put both in the net.
Ryan bent a corner kick beautifully from the left wing, catching goalie Rick James and the Rebels defense by surprise as the windblown ball rattled through the keeper‘s hands.
“I tried to put some spin on it, and the wind carried it,” Ryan said.
Kyle Sawyer took Livermore Falls’ other productive corner, one that followed a similar, perilous arc toward the cage.
This time a Telstar defender soared above the pack and headed it to temporary safety. But Seideler, a Brazilian exchange student, was there for the follow-up.
“Lucky shot,” Seideler said to a chorus of laughter from Ryan and Bizier.
“His shots are all lucky. That’s what he says,” Acritelli said. “He’s been really great to have this year. He’s taught the kids a lot. The kids needed a while to get used to somebody like that, because the ball is where it’s supposed to be all the time.”