HERMON, Maine – The defending three-time Class B North champion Hermon High School girls soccer team had its 52-game winning streak against North region opponents (including playoffs) severely threatened by an impressive Ellsworth High School team on Thursday night in a mutual season-opener on the new artificial turf at Pottle Field.

But sophomore forward Madison Stewart broke a 2-2 tie with 16:55 remaining, and Hermon hung on for a hard-fought 3-2 win in the entertaining and fiercely contested game.

The Ellsworth girls opened the scoring 11:40 into the game as sophomore forward Lizzie Boles, a 19-goal scorer a year ago, scored the first of her two goals.

Senior midfielder Izzy Byram tied it with 13:27 left in the half, and sophomore forward Natalie Tardie supplied Hermon with its first lead of the game just 2:53 before the intermission.

Boles equalized 13:45 into the second half before Stewart notched the game-winner.

The speedy Tardie assisted on Stewart’s goal as she put the ball across the goalmouth from the far post after Brooke Gallop lofted a long free kick that wound up at her feet.

“I had jumped to head [Gallop’s free kick] but I missed it,” said Stewart, who scored 29 goals a year ago. “Natalie kicked it back across and I was able to collect it, take a couple touches and shoot it.”

Stewart’s well-placed shot from 12 yards out tucked inside the post to the left of Ellsworth goalie Jayden Sullivan.

Hermon goalie Bella Bowden finished with seven saves on 16 Ellsworth shot attempts, while Sullivan also had seven stops on 21 Hawk attempts.

“It was very competitive, back and forth, and our girls did just enough to get it done,” said Hermon coach M.J. Ball. “Our girls played really well. They were up for the occasion. I expect us to have a lot of competitive games like this.”

Ellsworth coach Eric Terrill said the game “could have gone either way.

“We had a lot of opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, but we didn’t finish when we should have,” said Terrill. “Our goals played really well and with a lot of heart. Hermon was clinical with their finishes.”

Hermon beat Ellsworth 6-1 and 4-0 a year ago and never allowed more than one goal against a Class B North opponent.

Hermon lost to Yarmouth 3-2 in double overtime in the state final.

Boles gave the visitors a 1-0 lead when Kelsie Lambert gave her a nice through ball and she was able to burst past the Hawk defenders before slotting a left-footed shot past Bowden into the corner.

Byram tied it off a Lily Bean assist as she took a stride into the ball at the top of the penalty area following a scramble and slid a low shot into the corner to the right of Sullivan.

Tardie, a 15-goal scorer last fall, gave Hermon the lead off a Sam Grover pass as she rifled a rising shot over Sullivan’s head and arm from 15 yards out.

Boles, who was a constant threat throughout the game, tied it when a loose ball landed at her feet in the penalty area and she ripped a left-footed shot into the near corner from 10 yards out.

Boles had to be carted off the field to her bench with 8:20 left after she stumbled and fell in the penalty area as she tried to get free to take a shot. She was attended to for 15 minutes before being taken to her bench.

“I strained a muscle and when I went down, I completely stopped breathing and hyperventilated,” said the talented Boles. “But I’m good now.”

Moments after Stewart’s game-winner and a great diving save by Sullivan off Stewart, Lambert nearly equalized for the Eagles when she rattled a powerful 8-yard shot off the near post.

Prior to the game, Hermon High graduate and former CEO of Pottle Transportation Barry Pottle, whose family donated $400,000 to Hermon for athletic facility upgrades, cut the ribbon to celebrate the new artificial turf surface.