OAKLAND — A slow start couldn’t stop the Messalonskee boys soccer team.

James Kouletsis scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Eagles to a 3-1 win over Cony in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game Friday. Cony took an early 1-0 lead with a goal by Brett Sproul, but Kouletsis struck twice near the end of the half to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.

Messalonskee put the game away early in the second half when Ryan McCarthy knocked his shot home for the final 3-1 score.

“We came together, and after that first 10 minutes, we played phenomenal from there on out,” Kouletsis said.

The win was a nice rebound for the Eagles (3-2-1) coming off an 8-2 loss to Camden Hills on Tuesday. The loss snapped a two-game win streak for Cony, which has already surpassed its win total last year with a 3-2-1 record.

The Rams put the pressure on early to start the game, keeping the ball deep on the Messalonskee side of the field. Sproul was able to get an open shot, which found the back corner of the net to give Cony the lead.

The score seemed to shake the Eagles back into the game. Messalonskee turned the tide possession-wise, keeping the pressure on the Rams. With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Kouletsis was able to knock a rebound into the net to tie the game at 1-1.

The momentum shifted fully toward Messalonskee with 30 seconds remaining in the half, when Kouletsis was able to slip another shot into the net for a 2-1 score.

“That’s kind of our thing this year, we’ve let up a couple goals in the first five minutes (of games) this year, we’re trying to break the habit out of that, but it came back today” Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said. “The kids came out and played well today. We did some different things we haven’t done in a couple games, some possession stuff, very unselfish play. We had a lot of chances up front.”

Cony was able to put offensive pressure back on the Eagles to start the second half, but Messalonskee was able to take advantage of its opportunities. Kouletsis sent a beautiful cross to the foot of McCarthy, who promptly knocked the ball into the net for a 3-1 lead with 31 minutes remaining in the game.

“I think it was Shea McCann that played me out wide and I took a touch,” Kouletsis said. “Ryan was making a great run to the middle (of the field), I just put it right there and he was able to put it home.”

The Rams continued to keep some pressure on Messalonskee, but were unable to finish offensively. The closest Cony came to a goal in the second half came on a breakaway by Connor Perry, but his shot was stopped cold by Messalonskee goalie Dylan Jones.

Both teams displayed a rough, physical style throughout the game, which boiled over at times. Kouletsis was given a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct with 28 minutes to play, but returned with 10 minutes to play to finish the contest.

“James had a hell of a day out there, other than the card,” Sheridan said. “Sometimes emotions get the better of you.”

Nick Robinson finished with three saves for Cony.

“My hats off to (Cony’s) defense,” Sheridan said. “They had some nice plays.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5639

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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