The Star-Herald

Sprague’s hat trick lifts Tigers to victory

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Alex Sprague spent his first three high school soccer seasons at Limestone Community School, where the LCS/MSSM Eagles were never able to muster a playoff victory.

Sprague experienced his first such win on a blustery Friday afternoon and the senior transfer ended up playing a major role.

Sprague racked up three goals as the No. 4 Tigers blanked No. 13 Schenck of East Millinocket, 5-0, in the Class D North preliminary playoff match.

“It’s incredible,” Sprague said. “I never got this opportunity in Limestone, so my first playoff win feels amazing.”

Fort Fairfield’s Dawson Watson gets up high to settle the ball as Schenck’s Austin DeRoos (26) and Nicholas Power play defense during Friday’s preliminary playoff match in Fort Fairfield. The Tigers won, 5-0. (Kevin Sjoberg | Star-Herald)

He said the transition to Fort Fairfield initially wasn’t easy, but he believes he has found his niche.

“It took awhile to adjust to the system they have set in place, but I’m glad I came here,” Sprague said. “I think I’ve fit in pretty well.”

Fort Fairfield advanced to the quarterfinals next Wednesday, Oct. 25, when they will host Ashland, the No. 12 seed, who upset fifth-ranked Jonesport-Beals, 2-1.

The Tigers enjoyed a 22-2 advantage in shots on goal as they wore down the much younger Wolverines. It was a major contrast in age and experience as 13 of Fort Fairfield’s players are juniors and seniors, compared to just five for Schenck.

“We aren’t the oldest group out there,” said Wolverine coach Aaron Hutchins. “We brought up five eighth-graders and when we match up against a team like Fort Fairfield, it’s a different caliber.

“They have good skill, possess the ball well and are one of the more physical teams we play,” he added. “Hats off to them, they really outplayed us.”

Many of the Tiger players also have many post-season games under their belt as the team has been to the last three regional championship games and won a state title in 2015. Fort Fairfield downed Schenck in last year’s quarterfinal matchup, 9-1.

Sprague tallied Fort Fairfield’s first goal at the 26:18 mark of the first half after Jared Harvey sent a kick into the box which pinballed to Sprague, who ripped a shot from the top of the 6-yard box just inside the right post.

Italian exchange student Lorenzo Viano netted the Tigers’ second goal less than two minutes later before Sprague made it 3-0 by converting a header off a long throw-in by Harvey with 11:40 left before intermission.

“Jared has a gifted talent,” Sprague said on Harvey’s throw-in ability. “Even when it’s not a windy day, he can get it into the penalty box.”

Fort Fairfield kept the pressure on in the second half, with Chris Gill scoring off another Harvey assist at the 31:58 mark before Sprague capped things off an assist by Avery Cormier with 6:11 to play.

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