Oxford Hills’ Cole Pulkkinen (9) watches as goalie Sam Morton, Tommy Bancroft and Mt. Blue’s Adam Lowwen (11) and Finn Towle (9) go up for the ball in the first half of a soccer game at Caldwell Field in Farmington on Tuesday evening. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

FARMINGTON — Oxford Hills boys soccer coach Matt Dieterich said his Vikings played with character, but it sure didn’t hurt to have a goalie like Sam Morton in net.

Morton made eight saves to help Oxford Hills come out on top with a nail-biting 2-1 win over Mt. Blue on Tuesday at Caldwell Field.

“They are working hard,” Dieterich said. “They are not settling for 50-50 balls. They are going hard after the ball. They are winning the balls if they need to. They are showing a lot of character. We’ll get some Heal points out (the win). It is always a big rivalry.

“I liked the heart,” he added. “We don’t give up. Sometimes it gets a little physical out there, but most of the time, we react to it in a positive way. These games are just tough. We play in a tough league. Class A North is deep, and you know you’ve to be resilient.”

The Vikings seemed to own the first half and their diligence and perseverance gave them a goal less than six minutes into the game.

Junior midfielder Daniel Paine took a feed from junior forward Sergio Cervantes and scored to put the Vikes on top, 1-0.

But the Cougars caught a break about little over a minute later when Oxford Hills was called for pushing infraction. Senior Jack Murray got the call to take the penalty shot and he promptly blasted it past Morton at 33:24, tying the match at 1-1.

The game remained locked up in a tie until the Vikings and Cougars turned the second half into a free-for-all, with plenty of missed opportunities on both sides of the ball.

For instance, the Vikings were handed the perfect opportunity to score after the the Cougars were called for a penalty. But Paine’s penalty shot sailed over the net.

The Cougars also saw an opportunity go up in smoke when one of their point-blank shots missed the mark and then a Mt. Blue indirect kick was stopped cold by Morton.

“He’s a senior; he is fantastic,” Dieterich said. “He has been like that all year. He is our  MVP, by far. He makes spectacular saves. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He plays like a senior should. He is a really good, solid player.”

Mt. Blue coach Joel Smith also was impressed with Morton.

“We had plenty of opportunities, and I spoke to their keeper at the end of the game,” Smith said. “You know, he has played great the last couple of years for them, and if memory serves me correct, I think I voted last year when we were voting, and he was one of my picks for keepers.”

Smith said the Cougars performed a bit better after halftime.

“I think in the second half, we woke up a little bit,” he said. “We talked; we made some adjustments. We need to get out there harder and win those 50-50 balls, and I think we did that the second half. I think the keeper did a nice job keeping them, and when they had opportunities, they struck … and we had opportunities and we didn’t.”

The Vikings delivered the final blow with 4:43 left in the game.

Sophomore Andrew Merrill took a pass from junior midfielder Keegan Watson and fired a shot toward the net. Mt. Blue goalie Xander Gurney initially caught the ball, but when he landed on the ground it broke free from his hands and wandered into the net for the winning goal.

Oxford Hills goalie Sam Morton looks at the ball after Mt. Blue’s Jack Murray scored on a penalty shot in the first half at Caldwell Field in Farmington on Tuesday. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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