AUGUSTA — The Mt. Blue boys soccer team kept pushing, looking for the goal that would make its trip to Augusta a victorious one. And Cony, leaning first on one goalkeeper and then another, kept hanging on.

When it was done, neither team had gotten the breakthrough. The Cougars and Rams played to a 0-0 tie Tuesday afternoon, but both came away with further evidence that they could be on their way to competitive seasons in Class A North after disappointing autumns just a season ago.

“That was a very difficult game from start to finish. They had a lot of pressure on us for probably the first half of the game, and our keeper and our defense were outstanding the whole game,” said Cony coach Jon Millett, whose Rams are 2-0-2 after going 5-9-0 last year. “Mt. Blue’s a very good team. I’m not surprised it was a draw. … This was the most competitive game we’ve had so far this season.

“Our two teams are going to be battling for playoff position, I think.”

Mt. Blue coach Joel Smith was disappointed in the draw, especially considering his Cougars (2-0-1) had the majority of the scoring opportunities late, but said he’s happy to see his team playing the way it has been to start the season.

“If we stick to our gameplan, and kind of execute the opportunities we do get, we’re fine,” said Smith, whose team went 2-9-3 last year. “It’s disappointing to come away with a tie, but at the same point, we didn’t lose, we’re not losing ground for the playoffs, we’re getting points that are accumulating toward the playoffs. That’s a good thing.”

There was no score, but that’s not to say there wasn’t offense. Both teams threatened to get on the board in the second half, with Cony’s best chances coming in the 48th minute, when a ball lobbed over the defense barely eluded a broken-free Simon McCormick, and in the 68th when McCormick played a ball up to Zach Whitney, who was stopped up close from the right side.

As the second half wore on, however, Mt. Blue began to control the pace. Cougars forward Sam Smith was involved in one attack after another, even appearing to put Mt. Blue ahead when he finished off a cross drilled from the right side in the 59th minute, but an offsides call nixed the score.

“I thought I was pretty close to the ball, but I guess I was off,” Smith said. “It was just another opportunity, and we should have capitalized on other ones.”

Cony’s defense and keepers had a lot to do with the missed chances. Starter Hussein Albraihi made 12 saves, none bigger than a stop he made on Smith when the junior tried to knock in a shot from left of the net up close in the 76th minute. The strong play in net continued in overtime after Millett took Albraihi out to use him as a field player, replacing him with Nick Robinson, who made the afternoon’s biggest stop when he came up to cut off a shot from Smith after he dribbled by two Cony defenders in the 84th minute.

“I can’t really say one’s a backup over the other,” Millett said. “(Robinson) made a huge stop when our defense had a faux pas. … Having two equivalent keepers, I’m able to play one on defense and then the other came in fresh to go on offense. We were able to give a different look, and that’s a nice thing to have on a team.”

As Mt. Blue’s pressure increased, Cony in turn dedicated more attention to its defense, keeping as many as six players in back. But Millett said he wasn’t settling for a draw.

“We were playing for the win. We weren’t playing for a draw today,” he said. “That’s why we made the keeper switch. And we didn’t get it, but we got a draw, both teams got points and it helps us against other teams.”

Coach Smith, likewise, said his team wasn’t aiming to leave with a tie, and that his players’ reactions afterward provided him with an indication of the team’s progress.

“This team’s 2-0-1. Last year, at this point in the season, we hadn’t won a game,” he said. “They weren’t happy with a tie, which tells me how much they’ve grown. … There’s no satisfaction. This team is hungry.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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