WINSLOW — When they got back to their bench following their Class B North quarterfinal round matchup against Mount Desert Island, members of the Winslow boys soccer team were joking about having “Reversed The Curse” on Tuesday afternoon at Kennebec Savings Bank Field. While that might have been overstating the situation just a bit, there was a tangible sense of relief after the unbeaten No. 2 Black Raiders dispatched of the No. 7 Trojans by a convincing 3-0 score to advance to the regional semifinals on Saturday.

Two years ago, following nearly as strong a campaign as this season’s, an upstart MDI side came into Winslow and knocked the Black Raiders out of the tournament just as soon as it began. Last year, after losing just once in the regular season, Winslow was again ousted in the quarterfinals.

“The last two years have been tough for us,” said Winslow head coach Aaron Wolfe, whose team improved to 14-0-1 this season. “The big difference this year, I think, is that we’ve been healthy. The last few years, we’ve had big players out (for the playoffs).”

One of those players this time around is junior Jake Warn, who broke his wrist early in the season and missed four games. He’s back to full speed now, scoring twice in the first half against MDI (7-7-2) and creating Matt Phillips’ goal in the second half to put the game away.

Warn’s first goal came against a stiff wind in the 25th minute, when Daylon Carpenter flicked a Spencer Miranda free kick to the far post, where Warn ran it down and fired a hard shot off MDI goalkeeper Kendrew Van Gorder (11 saves) that bounced over the goal line. Five minutes later, a quick counter up the right side ended with Phillips crossing again for Warn, who finished his run to the back post off with a lunge at the ball to poke it into an open net.

Both goals seemed to best illustrate Winslow’s day: While MDI enjoyed better stretches of possession, particularly in the first half, the Black Raiders were deadly on the counter-attack.

“I think we were a bit nervous (until the first goal),” Warn said. “I think that got us into our rhythm so we could start playing our own game.”

“I don’t think we possessed as well as we would have liked to, but the thing I liked today was that we were doing a much better job of moving without the ball,” Wolfe said. “That moving off the ball created a lot of opportunities.”

Midway through the second half, Phillips added a third goal to the lead on a play Warn made that won’t show up on any stat sheet anywhere.

Warn pressured MDI right back Avery LaValle into an ill-advised pass into his own 18-yard box, where Phillips gained possession and finished for the game’s final goal.

“We were just pressuring their backs, and that’s how I got my goal,” Phillips said. “It’s really about runs. We focus on making those runs as a team, and working with each other on splitting and crossing to get good passes.”

“We think of our front line as our front line of defense, so that’s where we start defending, right up top,” Warn said of his contribution to the goal. “We feel like we can get a few opportunities from that.”

Wolfe said it’s been an emphasis of his this season.

“That’s something we’ve been preaching a lot this year and that we really wanted to do in this game,” Wolfe said. “Whenever they’re passing out of the back, we really want to pressure that and make them make a mistake.”

Whether it was counter-attacking or a solid possession game in the midfield over the final 15 minutes to see out the final score, or some combination of both, Winslow — for the first time in a few years — has a date in the regional semifinals.

“We’ve had trouble the last two years, and we wanted to make this one count,” Warn said. “They beat us two years ago, and we wanted a ‘W.’ We just tried to capitalize on every opportunity we had.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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