AUGUSTA — Nothing about Friday afternoon’s game came easily for the Gardiner boys soccer team. But nothing has over the course of the season, either, so the Tigers felt right at home.

Braden Dorogi scored two goals, the winner coming with 15:32 to play, to lift Gardiner to a 2-1 victory over rival Cony. Gardiner improved to 9-3-1, while Cony fell to 7-5-1.

“We’re a really resilient group,” said Dorogi, who also scored on a penalty kick with 30:31 to go. “There are plenty of games where we’ve gone into halftime 0-0 or 1-1, and we’ve always dug deep and fought back. It’s a tough group, and (Cony’s) a fantastic team. … That’s just our toughness showing through.”

Close games aren’t the only adversity Gardiner has faced in a season in which it has had to use the University of Maine at Augusta as a home field during Hoch Field’s construction.

“I like where we’re standing. I like the resilience the team is showing,” Gardiner coach Nick Wallace said. “We started off 1-2, we had a nice team meeting after the loss to Leavitt, and I think we just kind of woke up and said ‘Listen, we’ve got to start doing this. This is the last opportunity.'”

Cony got its goal from Saged Albadri, who tied the game at 1 with 21:41 to play. The Rams had some promising chances to get the tying goal in the closing minutes, but injuries to Albadri and Martin Ferrusca left Cony shorthanded.

“We came to win this game today,” Cony coach Marcio Biasuz said. “We have to make some corrections in our team, (there are) some defensive mistakes that we continue to make. When we make a defensive mistake when we’re winning 4-0 or whatever, then it’s not that big a deal. But when a game is on the line, 0-0, 1-1 and you make those mistakes, it’s costly.”

Gardiner had to fight for its game-winning goal too. Patrick Mansir had a long free kick into the box, and Cam Lasselle had a point-blank opportunity to put the Tigers in front. Cony keeper Brennan Madore stopped the shot, but the ball found Dorogi, who eventually got the ball past Madore for the lead.

“A lot of our goals are dirty. It’s not pretty,” Dorogi said. “It’s all of us crashing the net, and that’s just Cam Lasselle getting in there, firing one at the keeper, the keeper didn’t catch it, that falls to my feet. So that’s all on the strikers right there, I can’t take credit for that.”

He could take credit for the first one. Mansir went down in the box and the official called a foul on Cony, resulting in a penalty kick and golden chance for Gardiner to break the scoreless tie. Dorogi was tabbed for the shot, and he nonchalantly put it in the right side of the net for the 1-0 advantage.

Cony sophomore Yousif Ibrahim, left, and Gardiner sophomore Grayson Allumbaugh make contact as they go for the ball during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game Friday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Patty set us up today,” Dorogi said. “We were debating on who was going to take it, but I felt like, as a senior and a leader, I had to step up. If I miss, it’s on me, and I’ll take responsibility. But I was happy Coach put trust in me there, and it worked out.”

Biasuz disagreed with the call.

“They called a penalty that didn’t exist,” Biasuz said. “That kind of threw us off, because our team was playing well, we were secure, we were holding, we were attacking together. The team kind of suffered with that goal, but we fought and fought.”

Cony evened the game up just under nine minutes later, with Albadri getting the ball out in front and firing a shot that was blocked by the Tigers’ Caleb Gardner. The ball kicked right back to Albadri, however, and the Cony senior shot again on net as he was falling to the ground and this time found twine.

Six minutes later, however, Gardiner showed it, too, could capitalize on a rebound.

“That’s one thing our team’s done well, is those second- and third-chance goals,” Wallace said. “Even the ones a yard off, just (kicking) it in and fighting. That’s the piece where they don’t want to lose. They want to be together as long as they possibly can.”

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