WALES – The game began just as it ended for the Oak Hill boys’ soccer team.

The Raiders swarmed the Rockland net early and were pressing hard in the closing minute. The only difference was Oak Hill scored an early goal, but couldn’t get the much-needed late tally in a 2-1 loss to Rockland.

The Raiders scored in the first minute with strong pressure on the Tiger defense, but Oak Hill couldn’t add to its lead. Instead, Rockland rallied.

“That’s been the story the whole year,” said Oak Hill coach Joe Fletcher. “We haven’t been able to get the big goal when we’ve needed it. That might have sealed the victory for us.”

The Raiders’ best chance came with about 12 minutes remaining. Kevin LaPlante redirected a cross in front, but Rockland keeper Garrett Worster made a diving save. He also made stops in the second half on Nate McDonald and Tom Edgecomb.

Oak Hill outshot Rockland 23-11.

“We had all kinds of opportunities,” said Fletcher. “The goalie made a real big save (on LaPlante) late in the game. That save preserved the win, I think.”

The Raiders (3-8-1) had hoped to bolster their standing in Western B. Oak Hill was ranked sixth in the latest standings. Instead, 10th-seeded Rockland (3-7-2) helped its cause in Eastern B.

“We need to obviously win some games,” Fletcher said. “We hope some teams that we beat will continue winning and give us what we need. It looks as though we’ll make it, but we’d like to avoid a preliminary game if possible.”

Oak Hill burst out to a 1-0 lead when Ethen Guerette snuck through the defense and got a shot off as he stumbled 49 seconds in. LaPlante and Kenny Clarke each had quality chances to add to the lead, but Worster made the saves.

Rockland tied it with 16:49 left in the half on a shot from outside the penalty area by Brian Walton.

“I was happy with the way we battled back,” said Rockland coach Josh Mahar, whose club beat Oak Hill, 4-2 earlier in the year.

The Tigers had more intensity in the second half and got the winner from Julian Wienecke, an exchange student from Germany. He beat the defense and tucked in a low shot to the right corner with 27:51 left for his team-leading 13th goal.

“He’s good,” said Mahar. “Sometimes he tries to do too much. That’s what he was trying to do in the first half. When he trusts his teammates, things tend to work out better.”

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