WATERVILLE — The golden goal materialized out of thin air, and Avery Pomerleau made sure it wasn’t going to come crashing back to earth.

The Monmouth Academy striker’s sizzling volley in the 83rd minute whistled across the grain into the far corner of the net, lifting the Mustangs over Hall-Dale in extra time, 3-2, in a Mountain Valley Conference game at Thomas College on Thursday afternoon.

After 80 minutes of little to nothing from Pomerleau — who was even shuffled back into a defensive midfield role for a stretch late in the first half as a way to try and find a place for his work rate to pay off — the senior made sure he’d make good on one of the few touches Hall-Dale’s defending offered him. Junior Nate Ashton won possession in the right corner and crossed into the box, where Pomerleau finished off the afternoon’s festivities.

“I had faith in Nate,” Pomerleau said. “Whenever he wins a 50-50 ball, he’s skilled enough to play that ball across to the far post. I stayed there. I didn’t have enough time for a touch, so I went for the scissor kick.

“I saw that the defender was going to miss it over his head, and I didn’t want to take the chance of it hitting the turf or anything.”

As the Mustangs (5-0-0) filed onto the pitch to begin the extra session, Monmouth head coach Joe Fletcher pulled Pomerleau aside.

“He was the last player I talked to, and I said to him, ‘Great players rise to the occasion.’ He did,” Fletcher said. “He told the players to get him the ball and he’d put it in the net, and that’s what he did.”

For Hall-Dale (2-1-0), which saw a 2-0 halftime lead evaporate, seeing Pomerleau strike the final blow was unsurprising.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Hall-Dale head coach Andy Haskell said. “You can’t let Avery Pomerleau get a backside service. I thought we neutralized him the whole game, but that’s what top players do. They take advantage of the situations, and he did.”

Early on, it seemed that there was no chance of the game getting to extra time. And then it felt like an inevitablity. Finally, late in the second half, when Bulldog sophomore Josh Nadeau streaked in on goal alone from the right side of the 18-yard box, it appeared Hall-Dale had enough to eke out the win after all.

But Nadeau’s bid in the 63rd minute, which had Monmouth goalkeeper Bradley Neal beaten, clanged off the left post.

“We didn’t make enough plays in the critical scoring areas, and (Monmouth) did,” Haskell said. “We played well enough to win. … That’s early-season soccer right there.”

Hall-Dale got started early, flying out of the opening tap to create a pair of gorgeous chances in the first three minutes, but Neal was up to the task, robbing Bulldog striker Alec Byron with a leaping save on a shot ticketed for just under the crossbar.

When an attack stalled out in the left corner in the 25th minute, Nadeau and older brother Tyler Nadeau linked up to find junior midfielder Matt Albert for a long-range strike and a 1-0 lead.

Byron doubled the lead in the 40th minute, hunting down a loose ball along the goal line when Monmouth’s defenders failed to clear Josh Nadeau’s free kick from 20 yards out.

Neal did all he could to make sure that the lead wasn’t bigger at the break, that the Mustangs would have a chance at stealing points of the match in the second half, by making eight of his 13 saves in the first half.

“Obviously, I was a little worried, but this team has a lot of heart, really good skill and lot of really good players,” Neal said. “I knew if we went out and got the first goal, we’d be back in it.”

After halftime, the game settled down — and for the longest time it felt like it was just the game Hall-Dale wanted. But a pair of set pieces two minutes apart generated the goals that Monmouth desperately needed.

Senior Nate Camire pulled the Mustangs within 2-1 off a corner kick in the 55th minute, and back Dylan Goff ran onto Shane Keniston’s service from right side to punch home the equalizer in the 57th minute.

“Honestly, we don’t spend a lot of time with restarts. We probably should,” Fletcher said. “We have such skilled players, I trust them. They have a pretty good understanding of what we want to do.”

The goals allowed the game to continue on into extra time, where Pomerleau ended it.

“This is big,” Pomerleau said. “It’s two local teams, and I believe in our conference we’re the two best teams. We have the upperhand on them now.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC