Portland and TA settle for scoreless draw

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PORTLAND—In a season of unprecedented balance and parity in Southwestern Maine Activities Association boys’ soccer, it’s not surprising that Portland and Thornton Academy found no resolution in their showdown Tuesday evening at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

The Bulldogs, who entered the game already having settled for a scoreless draw earlier in the year, wound up participating in another one.

Not that each squad didn’t have opportunities.

Portland put the Golden Trojans on their heels in the first half and had some great chances, but the Bulldogs were either off the mark or denied by Thornton Academy senior goalkeeper Andrew Coleman.

Play was more even in the second half and Bulldogs senior keeper Bobby Brittingham was equal to the task and after neither team tickled the twine, it was on to overtime.

When 10 more minutes failed to produce a goal, the teams settled for the 0-0 tie and split valuable Heal Points.

Portland is now 2-0-2 on the season, while Thornton Academy is 3-0-2.

“It is what it is, the old kissing your sister thing,” said longtime Bulldogs coach Rocco Frenzilli. “They’re a good team and we knew what to expect from them. All in all, I was just pleased with our effort.”

Top contenders

With the SMAA seemingly as wide open as any year in memory, both Portland and Thornton Academy have high hopes.

The Golden Trojans started with a 4-0 win at Massabesic and after a 1-1 home tie against Westbrook, beat host Marshwood, 4-0, and visiting Sanford, 6-0.

The Bulldogs opened with a scoreless home tie against defending Class A champion Cheverus, then won at Noble, 3-0, to give Frenzilli his 200th career win. Friday, Portland handled visiting Windham, 3-0.

Last year, Thornton Academy came to Portland and won, 3-1.

Tuesday, the Bulldogs sought their first win over the Golden Trojans since a 2-0 victory two years ago and their first victory over Thornton Academy at home since 2012, but they never could get the goal which would have made that happen.

While Coleman looking into the sun in the first half, Portland pressed the attack and there was no such thing as a bad shot.

In the fifth minute, junior Alex Frank served the ball in and senior Sam Farr got his head on the ball, but he couldn’t get much on it and Coleman made the save.

A minute later, Frank fired a high shot which Coleman bobbled, but a defender cleared the ball out of harm’s way.

After sophomore Emmanuel Yugu headed a shot high for the Bulldogs, the Golden Trojans had their first look in the eighth minute, but after taking a pass from senior Simon Trcka, senior Cameron Twombly shot high. 

With 28:54 left in the first half, Farr almost put Portland ahead, but after eluding two defenders, his rocket was tipped over the crossbar by a leaping Coleman, setting up a corner kick, which was headed away.

In the 16th minute, Frank fired a one-timer which just off the mark.

With 22:01 to go before halftime, Frank took a pass from Yugu and his left-footed bid trickled just wide of the post.

After Frank shot just high, Coleman broke up senior Josh Irving’s feed to junior Luca Serio. 

Brittingham didn’t have to make a save until the 33rd minute, when he snared a cross from Thornton Academy senior Edwin Kayumba. 

With 5:15 left in the half, the dangerous Trcka got a little operating room and launched a blast that Brittingham  was able to punch away at the last minute.

Trcka then had a shot partially blocked by a defender.

In the 36th minute, in the last good look of the half, Yugu took a pass from senior Brady Cyr and headed the ball, but it went just high.

Portland enjoyed an 8-4 shots advantage in the first half (5-3 on frame), but Coleman’s five saves kept the game scoreless.

And that’s how it would stay in a second half which didn’t feature as many good chances.

Early in the half, Cyr got his head on a corner kick, but Coleman made the save, Yugu, after eluding two defenders, bent a promising shot which Coleman had to save, Farr shot just wide and Cyr was denied by Coleman.

With 20:48 to play in regulation, disaster almost struck for the Bulldogs, when a defender inadvertently sent the ball toward the goal, but Brittingham reacted quickly and got to the ball just before it crossed the line.

After Brittingham saved bids from Kayumba and senior Dan Marsh, he beat junior Dalton Moore to a through ball.

After Portland senior Pavel Bobe had a low shot denied, Kayumba got some space with 11:39 to play, but shot high.

Both teams had corner kicks in the waning moments, but had nothing to show for them and the game went to overtime.

In Maine high school boys’ soccer, teams play two, five-minute “sudden victory” OT sessions and if no one scores, the game goes in the books as a tie.

In the first overtime, Brittingham had to break up a feed to Kayumba and a rebound bid sailed high. Brittingham then had to deny Moore and he sprawled to get to a through ball from Twombly to Kayumba.

The Bulldogs had a couple chances in the final five minutes, but Farr shot way wide and a corner kick with time winding down was cleared, ending the contest, 0-0.

“The kids kept their head in the game the whole time,” Frenzilli said. “We had some chances, they had a couple.”

Final shots read 19-10 Portland (13-7 on frame). Brittingham made seven saves.

“Bobby came up big and controlled the box back there,” Frenzilli said. “His defense played strong in front of him. He didn’t get complacent. He’s kept his head in the game.”

Thornton Academy got 13 saves from Coleman and had a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.

No breathers

Thornton Academy returns home Thursday to face Windham.

Portland plays at Marshwood Thursday, then hosts Massabesic Monday. Games against Westbrook, Scarborough, South Portland, Gorham and Deering still remain.

“I really like the way we’re playing,” Frenzilli said. “You look around the league and there isn’t a night off for anybody. That makes for great soccer and the kids really enjoy it. You have to get up for every game. We talk about trying to not give balls away in spots where it will come back and hurt us. Not much has gotten through. We have a long road to hoe with all these other good teams. We just have to tweak a few things and we obviously have to put the ball in the net.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Portland sophomore Emmanuel Yugu goes skyward to play the ball as Thornton Academy freshman Jacob Nason looks on during the teams’ scoreless tie Tuesday night.

Mike Strout photos.

Portland senior Wade Faria battles Thornton Academy junior Dalton Moore for possession.

Portland senior Pavel Bobe heads the ball away from Thornton Academy senior Simon Belliveau.

Portland senior goalkeeper Bobby Brittingham makes a save as classmate Erick Molina gets out of his way.

Portland junior Alex Frank and Thornton Academy junior Noah Niles go up for a header.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.