GARDINER — The calendar shows the high school soccer playoffs don’t begin for another week, but some teams are already facing win-or-go-home scenarios in hopes of reaching the postseason.

The Gardiner boys and girls found themselves fighting for their playoff lives. As of early Thursday night, both were both ranked 13th in the Class B North Heal points standings, one spot out of a playoff berth.

The boys helped their cause with a 4-0 win over Nokomis on Thursday. Yet despite improving to 7-5-1, the Tigers head into the weekend on the outside looking in with one game remaining — a home contest against Erskine on Monday.

Gardiner caught a tough break on Tuesday when Hermon beat previously unbeaten Ellsworth, 1-0. The Heal points the Hawks (3-7-2) collected from Ellsworth allowed them to leapfrog several teams into a playoff spot and essentially help Caribou bump the Tigers to the No. 13 spot.

“They jumped 21 points in that one game against Ellsworth,” Gardiner coach Nic Wallace said. “Without that game, we’re in.”

The Tigers could still get in with a win or tie against Erskine (8-4-0), but that would also depend on the outcome of Caribou’s two remaining games — against Presque Isle Thursday and Class D Madawaska next Tuesday — and Hermon’s game next Tuesday against Foxcroft.

The girls (5-5-3), meanwhile, tied Nokomis 1-1 on Thursday and are just a couple of points behind Foxcroft for the 12th and final spot. Like the boys, a win or tie against Erskine on Monday could get them in, but they would need help.

“It’s like a playoff game for us,” Gardiner coach Chad Kirk said. “We can beat them. We lost 4-2 (on Sept. 11 in Gardiner) but we were up 2-1. Even if we lose, I’m still happy with the year we’ve had. Winning five games is pretty good in Gardiner.”

Kirk and Wallace expressed frustration that the Tigers and other KVAC Class B teams have to battle for playoff spots with teams from northern Maine who have several Class C and D teams on their schedule. But both added the Heals can be very fickle from year to year.

“Two years ago, we got in with a 6-7-1 record and 28 points (in the Heals’ tournament index),” Wallace said. “Now, we could have over 50 points and not get in.”

• • •

After a 1-3 start, Mt. Blue’s girls closed their season on a strong note. The Cougars won three straight — including a 2-1 win over Messalonskee in Thursday’s season finale to finish 7-6-1 — but they know they are in the Class A North playoffs. Mt. Blue will just have to wait to find out who it will play and when.

“We’re probably playing a prelim. We’re hoping to be able to host a game but Edward Little has a couple of games left,” Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue said. “Brewer beat us, so it will be tough to catch them (and get a first-round bye).”

“We’re in and that’s all that matters,” he added.

Conlogue and the Cougars would love to have a home game, but added there isn’t much separating the teams in the mix for prelim games — Lewiston, Edward Little, Brewer, Hampden Academy and the Cougars — so who the opponent and where it is played won’t make much difference.

“We beat Lewiston in double overtime, we tied Edward Little in double overtime and we lost to Hampden in double overtime,” Conlogue said. “All four of us are very similar and the same thing happened in all of the games they all played against each other. All of them were tight, as well.”

Most of those teams don’t end their season until Friday or Saturday, so the Cougars will be keeping a close eye on those results as well as some others — such as the Lawrence-Oxford Hills on Friday — to find out if they’ll have a game in Farmington.

Eryn Doiron scored her 49th career goal in the win over Messalonskee, adding to the school record she broke earlier in the season. Caitlin Kane scored the game-winner late and Britlin Karkos did an outstanding job marking Eagles star McKenna Brodeur, Conlogue said.

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The Mountain Valley Conference championships will be played next Wednesday at Thomas College, with the girls game starting at 4 p.m. Madison, the defending champion, will face St. Dominic.

At 6 p.m., Hall-Dale will face Mountain Valley in a rematch of last year’s boys’ game, which the Bulldogs won, 1-0, on Tyler Nadeau’s goal on the fourth set of penalty kicks. The Bulldogs are seeking their third straight conference title.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors. The rain date is next Thursday.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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