DIXFIELD — Dirigo took control late in a high-scoring first half against Telstar in both teams’ inaugural 8-person soccer playoff game Wednesday afternoon.

Dirigo’s Damien Virgin, left, celebrates with Dalton Hodgkins after Hodgkins scored a goal against Telstar during Wednesday’s 8-player South boys soccer quarterfinal in Dixfield. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

All five of the game’s goals came in the opening half-hour as the Cougars defeated the Rebels 3-2 in a South regional quarterfinal at Harlow Park.

Third-seeded Dirigo (8-5-2) faces second-seeded Greenville (12-3) at 3 p.m. Friday.

Cougars coach Randy DeRoche said getting out to a fast start Wednesday was important for Dirigo, especially after goalie Travis Wright made a save in the first minute of the game.

“We try to start off strong in most games,” DeRoche said. “Travis, our goalie, he saved our butt over the season — I can’t tell you how many times. He’s our rock back there. I try to preach to these guys early, ‘A game with space at the beginning will get us a spark.'”

It’s the second time Dirgo has beaten Telstar this season — the first time came on Sept. 14 when the Cougars won 4-2 in Dixfield. The second meeting on Oct. 6 was a 1-1 tie in Bethel.


Sixth-seeded Telstar (3-8-2) coach Nik Conrad said Wednesday’s game was a hard-fought battle.

“It just slipped away from us at the very end,” Conrad said. “It was a very physical battle. The boys, I am very proud of how we conducted ourselves; we had a lot of opportunities to win the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up like that.”

Dalton Hodgkins — who scored two goals for third-seeded Dirigo — said the Cougars knew it would be another close game with Telstar.

“We knew coming into game three (against Telstar) it was going to be a battle, and it was going to be a dog fight for sure,” Hodgkins said.

Hodgkins opened the scoring for the Cougars in the third minute when his line-drive shot in the 18-yard box found the back of the net.

“Sometimes I am lucky. I like to strike the ball,” Hodgkins said. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”


After Hodgkins had a 25-yard shot go wide in the 16th minute, Telstar went on the offensive attack and Cyrus Mills slid a shot past Wright to tie the game at 1-1.

Nicholas Zolad finished a nice assist in the box from Travis Decareau to give the Rebels their first lead of the game in the 20th minute.

Conrad said Telstar did well passing the ball.

“We had a lot of triangle passes with Nick, Cyrus and Travis,” Conrad said.

Dirigo had a strong final seven minutes of the first half — which are 30 minutes in 8-person soccer — starting when Alessandro Tammaro powered his way into the box and fought off Telstar defenders before his shot evened the game at 2-2 in the 23rd minute.

“That was a fumbling goal there,” DeRoche said. “You don’t really practice those, but if you have someone there that’s hungry enough, you get them in any time, right?”


Hodgkins scored his second goal of the first half in the final two minutes to give Dirigo a 3-2 lead. It came two minutes after he hit the crossbar from 35 yards out.

“I was trying to put that in,” Hodgkins said of his long-distance miss. “I thought I had that for a second.”

DeRoche said when Hodgkins is focused, there’s no stopping him.

“He’s a heck of a soccer player when I get him out there and I can keep his head on (straight), he turns into a different animal,” DeRoche said.

The second half was a very defensive contest, with both teams struggling to get scoring chances.

DeRoche wanted an insurance goal but was pleased with how Dirigo defended in the final 30 minutes.

“Our halftime talk was, ‘Let’s get one.’ When we didn’t, we sat back and let them come to us and got the ball going forward,” DeRoche said.

Telstar made a push in the final minutes of the game, when the Rebels appeared to be going into the box but got called for offsides in the 26th minute. Shortly after, Zolad had a shot go wide of the net.

“We had that one minuscule run with about (four) minutes left; that could have been an opportunity to equalize the game,” Conrad said. “Who knows what would have happened; maybe we would be still playing, going to OT or PKs, who knows. I am very proud of the boys for fighting.”

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