Let the dog hang around long enough, however, and you’re bound to get bitten. Monmouth nipped at NYA’s heels, using a pair of brilliant executed set plays to pull even.

Then the Mustangs sank in their teeth in the fading daylight and gnawing stress of overtime. After Mat Foulke’s initial shot squirted through the hands of Panthers’ goalkeeper Zach Woods, Pomerleau pushed it home for an improbable 3-2 win.

“Coach (Joe Fletcher) always says go to the goalie, and if they make one mistake, you’ve got to capitalize,” Pomerleau said.

Pomerleau also scored the equalizer with 19:28 remaining in regulation. The end came 2:17 into the first of what could have been two 15-minute overtime sessions.

Monmouth (12-3) will travel to Mountain Valley Conference rival No. 1 Hall-Dale for Friday’s semifinal round.

Thomas Pitts and Bobby Murray scored for NYA (10-5), which has won eight state championships and 10 regional titles while playing in the traditionally powerful Western Maine Conference. It was only the second time all season that the Panthers gave up three goals.


“It’s a beautiful game, and it’s one of those nuances of it,” NYA coach Martyn Keen said. “I’ve been around the game a long time. I’ve won games I didn’t deserve to win, and I’ve lost games I should have won. Today was one of them, but it is what it is.”

NYA nudged ahead 10 minutes into the game when Pitts headed in Jeremy Thelven’s direct kick.

Murray made it 2-0 with a brilliant individual effort, slicing through three defenders for an uncontested shot at Monmouth keeper Bradley Neal.

“It looked like most of their game was around 4 (Murray), trying to get the ball to him as much as possible,” Monmouth junior midfielder Hunter Richardson said.

Playing without striker Gage Cote and frequent free kick specialist Chandler Harris, Monmouth got on the board thanks to a booming boot by Shane Kenniston from 35 yards.

Julian Gomez-Vallejo emerged from the scramble with the ball and dropped a pass to Nick Sanborn, who redirected it with 10:24 left in the half.


“We worked the last 10 days or so on the set pieces,” Fletcher said. “They’re a great team. They’re relentless. We had a couple of chances early in the match. Then they just came at us in waves and we didn’t have an answer.”

The game turned on a bizarre sequence midway through the second half. After an NYA injury timeout, one of the referees stopped play and issued Woods a yellow card for playing without a mouthpiece.

Senior Trevor Lachance was forced to replace Woods for 10 minutes — more than enough time for Pomerleau to knot the game. It was the second card against NYA for an equipment infraction in the game. Keen received the first one after Murray’s goal, when it was determined the player’s mouthpiece was clear in color.

“It’s really frustrating that the goalie gets taken out of the game. The first one, he’s been playing with that mouthpiece all season and nobody said anything. The second one, with the injury, he came over to get a drink of water and didn’t put it back in,” Keen said. “There were some really, really, really tough calls. You come up here and you know the refereeing is going to be different than what you’re used to down south. “

Richardson steered Kenniston’s free kick to Pomerleau, who potted the tying tally.

“I just tried to take a shot on net and see what happened,” Pomerleau said. “Any shot is a good shot, especially because they goalie unfortunately for them got a yellow card.”


Neal made 14 saves for Monmouth, which was outshot 24-6.

The most spectacular stops came in the final five minutes of regulation — a one-handed denial of Pitts and a stifling of Murray on a similar play to his earlier scoring sequence.

“I just came out and got a hand on the ball when I thought I could,” Neal said. “After that first goal, I tried to come out a little better.”

Long throws by Travis Hartford gave Monmouth multiple chances at the end of regulation, but Richardson and Pomerleau were unable to get a foot on the ball.

Both teams struggled with the muddy turf, which is a far cry from NYA’s artificial pitch at home.

“We couldn’t play our regular style on this field. They knew that and they adapted well,” Keen said. “Good luck to Joe and his boys. They fought hard and they battled back. I would expect on a different day on a different field to win the game comfortably, but that’s why we play.”

Kenniston, Sanborn, Hartford and Nick Dovinsky were outstanding defensively for the Mustangs, who lost their final two games of the regular season after sitting atop the standings much of the season.

“We haven’t faced a player like (Murray). We’ve scouted them three times and we knew he was good, but we didn’t know he was that good,” Fletcher said. “That was just a team effort and heart.”

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