Mt. Ararat’s John Martin steps in front of Brunswick defender John Banks during a boys soccer game Tuesday in Topsham. Eric Maxim/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — The Brunswick and Mt. Ararat boys soccer teams enjoy a healthy rivalry, amplifying every showdown.

Tensions only intensify when both teams are turning out standout seasons — as is the case this fall.

The teams met Tuesday night in the regular season finale, and it was the Eagles who came away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory. Brady Merrill converted a header midway through the first half to help the Eagles — ranked second in Class A North — improve to 11-1-2. Brunswick dropped to 10-3-1.

The Eagles closed the regular season on an eight-game win streak. Playoff matchups will be finalized Thursday.

The two teams fought for field position in the early going. Brunswick had the game’s first good scoring chance, when John Banks blasted a shot that sailed just over the crossbar about nine minutes into the game. The Eagles then charged down the turf with their own attempt, only to have Ben Therriault’s shot get turned away by Brunswick goalie Brady Laforge.

About eight minutes later, the Eagles capitalized on a corner kick, when Merrill headed a Ewan Alexander boot over a crowd of defenders and into the back of the net with 20:18 left in the half.


“He (Alexander) always puts good balls in so I wasn’t  surprised to see it,” said Merrill. “I wanted to make sure I got a head on it. I thought about putting it toward the right, but I just wanted to put it on net.”

Mt. Ararat goalie Jacob Fullerton denies a shot from Brunswick’s Iain Clendering as Eagle defenders converge during a boys soccer game Tuesday in Topsham. Eric Maxim/The Times Record

“Brady’s been huge for us all season,” added head coach Jack Rioux. “He’s our target in there.”

Brunswick’s next best scoring opportunity came with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half when David Nzuzi broke through a pair of defenders, but his attempt sailed over the crossbar.

Both sides took advantage of strong defenses, limiting opportunities.

Brunswick became more aggressive in the second half, working to keep the ball on its offensive side of the pitch. Strong play from Lucas Orthober and Banks in the midfield kept the pressure on the Eagles defense.

However, the Mt. Ararat defense — anchored by Merrill, John Martin, Keegan Rowe and Ethan Berry — minimized the number of shots goalie Jacob Fullerton (four saves) faced.


“Our defense played their hearts out (Tuesday). I told them at halftime it’s our last regular season game and leave it all on the field and maybe something good will happen,” said Rioux.

Mt. Ararat’s Brady Merrill denies Brunswick’s Iain Clendering a line to the goal late in the second half of a boys soccer game Tuesday night in Topsham. Eric Maxim/The Times Record

Rioux praised the play of Fullerton.

“Jacob was thrown into the fire his freshman year and he’s been our starter since,” said Rioux. “We’ve seen so much growth from him since then and the guys have all the confidence in him.”

Brunswick was unable to muster any strong attempts down the stretch. After the game, the Dragons shifted their focus to the A North playoffs.

“I told the team we got to fight another day,” said Brunswick coach Mark Roma. “Hats off to them, they played a heck of a game, but (we’d) play them again tomorrow. There is no one in this league we’re afraid of. I hope we play them again.”

Laforge, Brunswick’s keeper, said the Dragons will be amped for the playoffs.

“They’ve got some good kids over there, they played a good game,” said the senior keeper. “We’ve been here before, we know what we need to do.”

Comments are not available on this story.