KENNEBUNK — Kennebunk High’s boys’ soccer team had to play a Class A South preliminary round game because it struggled down the stretch.

The Rams won that game on Saturday, 2-0 against Deering, because they responded well to in-game adversity.

No. 7 Kennebunk (10-3-2) will visit No. 2 Falmouth (11-2-1) for a regional quarterfinal on Wednesday. The teams played to a 2-2 tie in the regular season.

No. 10 Deering ends with a 5-7-3 record.

Through its first nine games, Kennebunk appeared on its way to a first-round bye with a 7-0-2 record. But a 4-3 loss to Scarborough was soon followed by a 5-0 loss to a strong Portland team, and then a 2-0 loss to Sanford, which had a 2-10 record.

Kennebunk got off to a good start Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead on Tyler Hurlbert’s goal in the 10th minute. The hosts controlled the rest of the first half, piling up a 10-0 shot advantage.

“It set the mood for us for the rest of the first half,” Hurlbert said.

In the second half, however, Deering began to win its share of 50-50 balls and got some forward momentum behind the play of Carlo DeMucci in the back and Bernard Ndayishimiye and Henrique Muaka in the midfield. Good scoring chances weren’t coming, but as long as it stayed a one-goal game, Kennebunk remained in danger of a slip-up.

“I don’t know if tense is the word. I did feel Deering had settled into the match and was dictating the pace of play,” Kennebunk Coach Greg Cavanaugh said.

With 14 minutes left, Kennebunk’s Sam Tartre directed Ariel Calandri’s free kick to the front of the goal, finding Max Murray, the Rams 6-foot-5 center midfielder. Normally a threat to score in the air, this time Murray scored from the seat of his pants.

Murray slipped on his first shot, but after the ball nicked off Deering keeper Max Morrione (eight saves), both Murray and Morrione were on the turf with the ball between them. Murray was able to chip it past the keeper, and it rolled in for the key second goal.

Murray credited Tartre for getting him in position to score. A junior forward with the willingness and ability to win balls and distribute, Tartre had missed the Portland and Sanford games because of an ankle injury.

“It’s good to have him back because he brings a spark and another offensive threat,” Murray said.

Deering’s best chance, make that chances, came a few minutes later. Kennebunk keeper Benson Furber (three saves) made a poor clearing pass that went right to Deering’s Muntasir Ahmed in scoring position. Furber reacted quickly and made three point-blank saves on Ahmed shots.

“I was proud of him for his resiliency,” Cavanaugh said of Furber. “After a goalie mishits a ball right to an opponent at the 6-yard line, it’s usually a pity party. Instead, he stayed with it and made a character play.”

“That’s something we’ve struggled with all year, finishing our chances,” said Deering Coach Joel Costigan.

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