TOPSHAM — Senior captain Chris Hall scored late in the first half, and keeper Zach Sutherland made the lead stand as sixth-seeded Messalonskee edged third-seeded Mt. Ararat 1-0 in an Eastern Class A boys’ soccer quarterfinal Wednesday.

The host Eagles (8-2-5) had a pair of golden opportunities in the opening five minutes but were thwarted by Sutherland. The visitors then started to get the better of play midway through the first half and eventually cashed in as Messalonskee (11-2-2) set up a semifinal Saturday against No. 2 Bangor.

Hall’s goal, which came with 3:37 remaining in the half, was a beauty. Ryan Erskine took a corner kick from the right and sent a line drive beyond the back post, where an unmarked Hall charged forward and rammed a header into the right side of the goal.

“I saw it coming and my eyes just lit up,” Hall recalled. “It was a great ball, and I was able to finish.”

Hall, who is listed as a defender but seemed to be everywhere, nearly made it 2-0 nine minutes into the second half when his blistering 20-yard direct kick got past the wall, forcing keeper Nate Bryant to make a terrific lunging save.

“I kind of hooked it around the defense, but he made a great save,” Hall said.

At the other end, Sutherland’s aggressive style of coming out of the net helped prevent Mt. Ararat from getting any offense going.

“I knew they liked to go over the top,” Sutherland said, “so I came out to help my defense and play off the line.”

Early in the first half, Sutherland grabbed a high cross by Brett Martin just before Dan Purinton could get it. A minute later, he almost got caught in no-man’s land against the same duo. Martin sent a breakaway feed to Purinton on the left side, and Sutherland came out, then realized he wouldn’t get there in time and hesitated. Purinton got the ball and had a lot of open net, but shot it into Sutherland’s chest as the keeper went down.

“When I knew he’d get there first, I tried to stop and slipped, so I just tried to get my hands up, and he hit it right at me,” said Sutherland.

Bryant robbed Hall on a breakaway before Mt. Ararat forced an extended scrum in front after a Martin throw-in with five minutes left. But the hosts never did get a shot off – a familiar theme for the evening.

“The difference in this game and the first one was their long throw-ins,” Messalonskee Coach Tom Sheridan said, referring to the teams’ prior match, in which Mt. Ararat erased a 2-0 second-half deficit to earn a 2-2 tie.

“They scored their goals off long throws and crosses, and we were prepared for that this time. We did a lot of drills on those situations.”

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