SOUTH PORTLAND – Eighth-grader Matt Hammond showed a flare for big goals Wednesday.

Hammond scored the winner in the second overtime to give fourth-seeded Greater Portland Christian a 2-1 victory against fifth-ranked Buckfield in a Western Class D quarterfinal on a damp, foggy day at the Wainwright Complex.

Hammond scored with a shot off a slide tackle in the 96th minute. Just 3:20 remained before penalty kicks loomed.

The assist was from goalkeeper Jacob Rudolph, who was converted just Tuesday to goalie — one of the many last-minute shifts that paid dividends for the Lions.

The Lions (7-6-1) will play at top-ranked Greenville in the semifinals Friday.

“I saw him busting his butt the whole game. I knew if he kept at it, he’d get one,” said Matt Hammond’s older brother, Ben, who has 42 career goals for Greater Portland Christian but was converted to defense for this game. “I was so happy for him.”

Coach Chris Spaulding moved forwards Ben Hammond and Anthony Simpson to defense to counter Buckfield’s speed, which led to two victories against the Lions in the regular season.

“We really wanted to secure our defense,” said Spaulding.

The Lions broke a scoreless tie with eight minutes left in regulation.

Sam Whiting scored with his knee, finishing a cross from Matt Hammond at the far post.

“We’ve had such great contributions from all the younger players,” said Rudolph, who finished with nine saves.

Buckfield (7-5-1) scored a dramatic tying goal with 40 seconds left in regulation when Devon Carlile knocked in a loose ball off a direct kick by Cam Allen.

The first overtime passed with opportunities missed on both sides. Tophe Woodward, another eighth-grader for Greater Portland Christian, headed a ball just over the crossbar. Trevor Averill countered for Buckfield with a run up the right flank and a low shot to the far post that went just wide.

“Right up until they scored, it was going like we hoped,” said Spaulding. “We were willing to go to OT and penalty kicks.”

Matt Hammond scored after 6:40 of the second overtime.

“I just ran after the ball and tipped it in,” he said. “It was really exciting. There was a lot of intensity in this game.”

Buckfield Coach Travis Magnusson said his team was surprised to see the last-minute switches by the Lions.

“That was definitely a surprise and a big adjustment that worked for them,” said Magnusson.

“It took our offense out of it.”


Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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