DIXFIELD — Scoring with eight seconds left in the first half was important for Dirigo, but the Cougars didn’t know at the time just how important it would prove to be.

The Cougars went up by two with Mateo LaPointe’s second goal of the first half, but then Dirigo had to weather a second-half storm from rival Mountain Valley for a 2-1 MVC boys soccer victory at Harlow Park on Wednesday night.

“It was big,” LaPointe said. “We almost had a couple for a third one, but two were big because we knew if they scored one they were still in the game.”

LaPointe opened the scoring 5:23 into the game when he converted a penalty kick. He said that goal gave his team a “big boost because they’ve had our number for I don’t know many years, and we just wanted to come out strong.”

Mountain Valley coach JT Taylor said his team weathered a storm of its own after giving up the early goal, with the Cougars (3-2) controlling most of the play early in the first half. But the Falcons (0-5) finally did find the frame themselves after the first 15 minutes, though Dirigo goalie Loegan Hodgkins stopped all three shots he faced in the first half.

Mountain Valley keeper Caleb Frisbie faced seven shots in the first half, and stopped five straight after LaPointe’s penalty try. It looked like it might be a clean first-half sheet otherwise after that, until LaPointe looped a high shot from more than 20 yards out in the waning seconds. The shot snuck under the bar and past a retreating Frisbie.

“I didn’t even know the time. We just knew we had to chip the goalkeeper and we had it,” LaPointe said. “I was happy. Surprised.”

“Mateo’s very experienced. He’s clutch,” Dirigo coach Bob Karcher said. “I mean, he got the game-winning goal against Buckfield, too, on a direct with literally three seconds left. He seems to come up big when we need him to.”

Taylor called the goal a “back-breaker,” but he liked how his team responded in the second half.

That response finally netted a goal with just under 18 minutes left in the game. Kaleb Noyes’ corner kick — just the second of the game for the Falcons — pinballed around in the box before it got to Henry Noh, whose shot went off the left post and in.

“Truthfully nothing you could do on that one,” Karcher said. “But they had some chances for sure.”

Those chances kept coming for the Falcons, but the goals didn’t follow. Hodgkins only saw one more shot on goal the rest of the way and he made the save to keep his team ahead. Mountain Valley’s best chances were sent off-target.

“I feel like that goal is the size of a golf ball right now. We’ve scored two goals in our first five games. So it’s frustrating,” Taylor said. “I mean, the effort of my guys was phenomenal, so I like that, but just we got to continue to work on finishing in the final third. That’s kind of been what’s killing it.”

LaPointe, who wanted a hat-trick-completing third goal “bad” but missed just wide on his best chance, said seeing all of the Falcons’ second-half chances was stressful.

“They just kept having good balls, good looks,” He said.

The Cougars were playing the second half without John Snowman, one of just four seniors on the team, after he was injured midway through the first half. Karcher said that didn’t help his young team in trying to hold off a more-experienced rival.

“We held tight. In the end we did enough to win,” Karcher said. “I’m happy. I would have been happier if it was 3-1. But I’ll take it, against these guys.”


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