FARMINGTON — On the coolest night of the season, the Cony High School boys soccer team assured itself it would not be left out in the cold.

Senior Brad Houston equalized in the 29th minute, and the Rams saw it through to earn a 1-1 draw with Mt. Blue in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference regular season finale for both Monday night at Caldwell Field. While Cony entered the week clinging tenuously to the final spot in the Class A North Heal point standings, the deadlock assured the Rams a spot in the regional tournament.

“It was huge for us. This was a big game,” said Cony goalkeeper Nick Robinson, who made nine saves, including two in extra time. “I’m really proud of my team for pulling together and getting a tie.”

Immediately following the final whistle, Cony head coach Jon Millett lauded the effort from his side, pointing out that the result was as good as a win for the Rams (4-6-4) — who are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

“We had to at least get a tie to guarantee that we were going to make it in, so that was the mindset,” Millett said. “That’s all we had to play for. We had no pressure on us, except to hold the tie.”

Mt. Blue (8-4-2) carried the play early in the evening, scoring just nine minutes in when Alden Thompson-Vought cleverly followed up on a combination play for a second-chance strike to put the Cougars on top.


All of the Mt. Blue possession continued to add up, but when Cony finally put itself on the scoreboard just inside of 30 minutes — when Houston intercepted a weak pass from Mt. Blue back Joe Crandall intended for his own goalkeeper, Tucker Carleton, and went in alone for the easy strike — the game changed dramatically.

Cony’s back four of Mike Levesque, Vlasta Horak, Ian Bowers and Ben Crocker-Maillett were both organized and skilled, and they began to insert their will into the proceedings the longer things progressed. Where the Cougars could still win aerial challenges and play the ball into wide spaces, the Ram back line made sure they could not find incisive balls into danger areas.

Aside from corner kicks and long throw-ins taken deep in the attacking third, Mt. Blue could not penetrate the 18-yard box.

“We played the way we wanted to. We really closed down the middle,” Robinson said. “The wings did a great job getting all the through balls out and really cleaning it up back there.”

Mt. Blue coach Joel Smith, whose team appears on target to face Edward Little in the regional quarterfinals, conceded that Cony played a part in making things frustrating for his attack. He also sought more from his group.

“We were getting impatient, and our lack of patience fed into what they wanted to do,” Smith said. “When we penetrated was when we put the ball on the ground and moved the ball around to feet. When we did that, we were OK.


“The problem is that we weren’t patient enough to do it for 80 minutes. That was our inability.”

Robinson made sure the game would stay a draw late in regulation time, when Cougar junior Sam Smith turned and fired against the grain in the 78th minute. Robins dove with only his right arm outstretched to make a dramatic save at the left post.

In the 88th minute, deep into extra time, Robinson again made a great save on Smith’s free kick from inside 25 yards.

Robinson confirmed that he had some anxious moments in goal.

“Whenever they’d get the ball on our side of the field,” Robinson said, laughing.

Cony had the best chance for either side to win the game outright, in first-half stoppage time. When Carleton (two saves) misjudged a ball into his box, he reached out to drag Cony’s Simon McCormick to the ground to avoid surrendering a goal into an empty net. The play drew an obvious penalty.


James Olivier stepped over the spot kick, lining his low drive past a diving Carleton and off the left post. The rebound ricocheted off the opposite post before somehow settling under the desperately recovering keeper.

But near misses aside, Cony did what it had to do to extend its season on a night when the temperature dropped into the low 40s against the backdrop of a steady wind. It was the kind of weather that awaits in the playoffs, which is where the Rams are headed.

“The plan was to play solid defense, and that’s what we came out to do today,” Millett said. “This was a playoff game for us.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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