HAMPDEN – Central Aroostook may have been making its first appearance in a state boys’ soccer championship game, but the boys from Mars Hill understood it was an 80-minute contest.

Defending champion North Yarmouth Academy scored 79 seconds into Saturday’s Class D title game at Hampden Academy on a rebound goal by Chas Rohde and appeared ready to pile up more goals.

But gradually the tide shifted and two late goals by Bryan Anthony allowed Central Aroostook to cap its 15-0-3 season with a 2-1 win.

“We definitely came and wanted it. I knew once they scored that goal early on we just needed to step up our game a lot,” Anthony said.

Anthony, a junior, tied the game with a left-footed blast with 6:30 to play. He produced the winner when he ran onto a long pass from Hayden Kingsbury near the top of the box, got some space, and placed a right-footed shot past onrushing NYA keeper Alex Saul (eight saves) with 1:12 remaining.

“The whole season we’ve worked together and when (Kingsbury) looks at me, and I look at him, I know he’s going to send me. I’m always running,” Anthony said.

North Yarmouth (9-8-2), which won the South region as the No. 7 seed, piled up 18 shots in the first half. Central Aroostook keeper Brayden Bradbury made nine saves.

“The first 10 minutes they really pounded us hard,” Bradbury said. “After that we calmed down, started playing some clean soccer and it was a lot of back-and-forth from there until the end.”

NYA suffered a significant loss when junior midfielder Mason Bull took a Central Aroostook pass off his head, staggering him to the turf with 10:20 left in the first half. Bull was not able to return.

“Mason Bull, who’s a huge X-factor for us, gets injured,” said first-year NYA coach Tom Masters. “We were holding onto this game for a good 50, 60 minutes. That team deserved to win.”

In the second half, Central Aroostook kept its midfielders deep to keep NYA at bay. Once the Central Aroostook gained possession they were able to move quickly in transition to free Anthony and Joshua Thomas for dangerous forays.

“That wasn’t the first time we’ve been behind,” said Central Aroostook Coach Wallace Endy. “We can handle that pressure and we don’t get down on ourselves. My guys, they’re a second-half team. They have been all season.”

Bradbury’s lone second-half save was huge. With the game tied, 1-1, he tipped away a curling corner kick by Kulhanek that appeared headed to the far, top corner.

It proved to be the last shot for NYA, which returned three starters from the 2018 title team and started the season 2-7-2.

“We always knew we had a state championship (caliber) team in us, it just took us awhile to find ourselves,” said Chas Rohde, a senior captain. “I couldn’t be prouder of where we started and where we finished.”

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