READFIELD — Richard Down didn’t get all of his foot on the ball, but he didn’t need to. In hindsight, he probably didn’t want to, anyway.

Down chipped home the golden goal in the 84th minute Tuesday night at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams, vaulting Maranacook over Winslow 1-0 in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference finale for both teams — and catapulting the Black Bears into the top spot in the Class C South Heal point standings in the process.

“I hit it and the keeper just nicked it, and it went in,” Down said. “Our whole team worked really hard. I think we deserved it.”

Maranacook senior Connor Stockwell’s cross from the left side caromed in heavy traffic in the box as Winslow goalkeeper Jake Lapierre came out to play it. The ball bounced off a Black Raider defender onto Down’s foot, and the junior striker was able to get just enough of it to chip it over the 6-foot-4 Lapierre and under the crossbar in extra time.

“I wasn’t assuming it was going in,” Down said. “But I’m always looking for the ball, and it just came to me so I hit it.”

“The ball got played across the box and there was a header played my way, which I thought was an easy get,” Lapierre said. “But it was deflected off of one of our own players as well, so it bumped it right over the top and it went in unfortunately.”

Lapierre (six saves) would otherwise have been in perfect position to make the grab, as he’d done on Silas Mohlar’s header from a dangerous area earlier.

“I think he’s more vulnerable when he gets roaming,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said of Lapierre. “I think that’s what we want (him to do). I think at the end he stepped out and that’s kind of what burned him a little bit. But he’s a good athlete.”

Winslow (11-3-0) saw its eight-game winning streak snapped by Down’s deciding strike. Until that point, the Black Raiders spent much of the second half defending extremely well in the absence of senior center back Mike Wildes, who was serving his one-game ban for an accumulation of yellow cards. Aside from Jake Warn’s near-post miss on the counter-attack late in regulation, Winslow was happy to try and see through what would have been their second scoreless draw at Maranacook in the last two seasons.

“I’m still very happy with how our team played,” Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe said. “Obviously, it’s unfortunate that a deflected ball bounces up and goes in. There’s nothing you can do about it. It happens.”

Maranacook, which entered the night third in the regional standings, leapfrogged both Monmouth and Hall-Dale into the top spot in C South with the win. The Black Bears will enjoy home-field advantage through the regional finals.

“That puts us in first place and sets up a lot of different things down the road,” Beckwith said. “It puts us in a good spot.”

Most of the match featured intriguing chess matches in all areas of the pitch. There was Warn against Maranacook’s Jack McPhedran or Black Bear striker Micah Charette against Winslow center back Jack Morneault. Mohlar stacked up nicely in the midfield with Black Raider Bryce Hillier, too. None of those individual battles did enough to move the contest in either direction.

What did do enough to change it, though, was the absence of Wildes. Wildes simply gives Winslow a more dynamic transition game when he’s dressed, and it was clear to both sides how different things looked without him.

“He’s our best player, and I haven’t seen anyone in the conference better than him,” Wolfe said. “We had to switch things around a little bit, so I expected that we wouldn’t have as much offense as we otherwise might have. But they’re a good defensive team and don’t give up many chances, anyway.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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