LISBON — Leaders of struggling high school sports teams, here’s a free tip from one of your brethren, first-year Mountain Valley boys’ soccer coach Todd Papianou: Do more kayaking.

Hours after the Falcons’ most disheartening loss of the season, with appropriate permission, Papianou took a midweek afternoon off and let his team engage in an old-fashioned tradition that was only recently permitted at Mountain Valley — the captains’ practice.

“I met with them and  said, ‘You want me to drop a bag of balls off? They said, ‘Yeah, do that.’ It was the day it was flooding and it looked like it was going to be nice,” Papianou said. “I came by and they were out there after playing a couple of games just having a fun time.”

The fun hasn’t stopped since. Mountain Valley picked up its second MVC victory in less than 48 hours Saturday morning, beating Lisbon, 2-1.

Sophomores Niklas Dupont and Chris Bouret scored first-half goals for Mountain Valley (3-5-1), which topped Spruce Mountain by the same score Thursday.

“We don’t like to lose, so we definitely used that (as motivation),” tri-captain Austin Glover said of Tuesday’s damp 4-0 road loss to Mt. Abram.

On the heels of a tie against Wiscasset and one-goal losses to Monmouth and Winthrop early in the season, Mountain Valley’s frustration already was at a boiling point.

Papianou was so worried about the psyche of his tri-captains — Glover, Alex Witas and Garret Carver — that he asked them point-blank if they wanted to turn in their jerseys and call it a season. Of course they refused.

“I’ve been saying to these guys all along, we had so many close games against good teams early on, and we just weren’t finishing,” Papainou said. “When doubt creeps in, it’s like poison. They said, ‘Look at our record. It’s depressing. It sucks.’ But I said, ‘I’m not quitting. I’m not giving up. You guys are playing good soccer.'”

Mountain Valley needed only two minutes and four seconds to keep the momentum rolling against Lisbon (2-5-1).

Dupont scored on a nifty give-and-go with Shawn Bennett, firing a low shot that deflected off the body of Lisbon’s freshman goalkeeper, Nate Bergeron, and inside the near post.

“We weren’t looking for that, especially when we were controlling play quite a bit,” Lisbon coach Dan Sylvester said. “We were trying to limit those opportunities and those two mistakes clearing the ball cost us.”

The second miscue came later in the half, when Bouret blasted one home from 18 yards after a corner kick.

“We’re finishing, and we’re giving 80 minutes with no let-up,” Papianou said.

The 2-0 lead held up most of the way.

Lisbon made a game of it when Mountain Valley was whistled for a hand ball in the box with 11:41 remaining. Austin Fournier planted the penalty kick past the dive of Falcons keeper Dakota Jacques.

Tyler Bard’s flip throw-ins yielded the Greyhounds a few good looks at the equalizer down the stretch, but Lisbon couldn’t get a foot on the ball at the right moment.

“That’s our whole season. We’ve been down every game by a couple of goals and we’ve always found a way to come back,” Sylvester said. “We’ve got to finish. That’s the story line: Finishing. We had our opportunities, that’s for sure. I thought that’s the best we’ve looked so far, our most complete game.”

Mountain Valley appears locked solidly into a Western Class B playoff spot after its two straight wins.

“The Heal Points don’t move around much at this point in the season,” Papianou said. “Now we’re looking at our games against (undefeated) St. Dom’s and Hall-Dale as how competitive can we be?”

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