BY GARY HAWKINS
Hurricane Sandy has virtually guaranteed that the remainder of the high school soccer tournament games this week will be played on artificial turf.
Both the Richmond girls and Hall-Dale boys will lose home-field advantage this week as their games have been moved to turf. Top-seeded Richmond faces No. 2 Greenville today in the Western Maine Class D championship game at North Yarmouth Academy while No. 1 Hall-Dale plays No. 3 Waynflete for the Western Maine Class C boys title at Thomas College on Thursday.
“My field is under water,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said. “We have a chance to play on a nice turf field. We’d play at 8 a.m. if we had to.”
Richmond (14-0-1), the two-time defending Class D state champion, beat Greenville twice during the regular season, 5-0 and 3-0, but Kendrick is taking nothing for granted.
“The coach (Chris Fenn) keeps them pretty organized,” he said of the Lakers. “They do a good job defensively. They kind of stack it up in the back and look to break out on counter attacks which can be dangerous.”
The Bobcats return nearly all the team that won the title last year, minus career scoring leader Danica Hurley who graduated. They’ve made up for that nicely with a trio of goal scorers in Noell Acord (24 goals), Amber Loon (22) and Sadie Gosse (15 goals, 22 assists). Both Loon and Acord scored twice in a semifinal win against Buckfield.
“Lately they’ve been playing well together,” Kendrick said.
Goalkeeper Kelsie Obi is new but she has a veteran defense in front of her in Bri Snedeker, Haley Murphy, Ciara Lancaster and Marlene Carter. The group has combined to allow just four goals this season. The only blemish on Richmond’s record is a 1-1 tie against Waynflete, which is playing in the Western Maine Class C final.
Hall-Dale and Waynflete played to a scoreless tie through two overtime periods in last year’s regional final with Waynflete winning on penalty kicks. The Flyers went on to win the state championship, their first in Class C and fourth overall. They took a 2-1 win in the semifinals against St. Dominic, which Hall-Dale tied during the regular season.
“We’ve seen them play a couple of times,” Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell said. “They have an outstanding attack and creative midfield and also a very underrated defense.”
Both teams return the majority of their starters from a year ago. Waynflete coach Brandon Salway cites four-year starting goaltender Zander Majercik, striker Peabo Knoth and center midfielder Paul Runyambo as key players on his team. Knoth, who has 11 goals and 11 assists, was the Class C player of the year last season.
Hall-Dale outscored opponents 103-4 during the regular season with goalkeeper Sam Shepherd recording 10 shutouts. Zack McNaughton led the Bulldogs in goals with 24 while Nat Crocker and Colin Lush each scored 23.
“They’ve got quickness up top,” Salway said. “We know we’ve got to be strong defensively. I think our schedule helps us improve but ultimately it comes down to who plays better Thursday.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638