HAMPDEN — Freeport’s deliverance from 40 years in the soccer wilderness appeared at hand Saturday.

Early in the first overtime against Presque Isle in the Class B state final at a windy Hampden Academy, Jesse Bennell seemingly won it for the Falcons, but a glorious ending wasn’t to be.

The goal was waved off when the ball was ruled to have hit the football crossbar, not the soccer goal post, before bouncing in off keeper Mason Young.

Instead of a victory, Freeport suffered an agonizing 3-2 loss when Drew Cameron scored for Presque Isle with 9:32 to play in the second overtime.

The Falcons (12-4-2) couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead, missed some great chances and were stymied throughout by Young.

“This game does not define our season,” said Bob Strong, the first-year coach for Freeport. “I’m so proud of these guys.”

With 7:39 remaining in the first half, Will Winter got to a long feed from Owen Patrick and headed it over Young to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

Freeport then appeared to open some breathing room with 35:25 left in regulation when Winter again scored with his head, redirecting a cross from Bennell past Young for a 2-0 advantage.

But Presque Isle (15-1-2) came right back, scoring about 2 1/2 minutes later when Kyler Caron connected out of a scrum.

The tying goal was as sudden as it was improbable.

Conner Michaud lofted a long shot from the other side of midfield. It landed well in front of Freeport keeper Atticus Patrick, then bounced over his head and in.

“We were a little too comfortable after going up 2-0, and we didn’t keep playing the way we wanted to play,” Winter said.

After Young twice robbed Shea Wagner late, the game went to overtime.

There, Freeport seemingly ended it on Bennell’s strike, and the Falcons raced onto the field to celebrate before the goal was waved off.

“The ball hit my fist, went up and over, hit the post, hit my calf and went in, and I thought it was over,” said Young, who finished with 16 saves. “I was relieved when they waved it off.”

On the winning goal, Presque Isle played the ball ahead, Patrick collided with a Presque Isle attacker, the ball squirted free to Cameron on the right, and he finished to give the Wildcats their first championship.

“I just can’t believe it,” Cameron said. “I’m so happy. The ball bounced out and came right to me, and I did what we do in practice and hit it low and hard. It went in, and I was swarmed by my teammates.”

Presque Isle didn’t just win for the first time, it snapped a 24-game skid by North/East champions in Class B state finals.

“It’s a miracle, underdog story,” said Wildcats Coach Joseph Greaves. “It’s a dream come true for these guys.”

Freeport had an 18-8 advantage in shots on frame, got five saves from Patrick and had a 10-1 edge in corner kicks, but its championship dream came up one goal short.

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